Earlier this week, my colleague and WingsNation writer Nick Seguin broke down the naughty and nice list of this year’s Detroit Red Wings team in an annual column. Feeling the need to stay in the holiday cheer, I decided to pen this piece giving gifts specifically to certain players on the team based on their particular needs, regardless of whether they made the naughty or nice list. My goal is for this to be a humorous and reflective look at the season so far and a decent preview of the months of
pain hockey to come in Hockeytown.
Jeff Blashill – A new blender
The Detroit Red Wings’ coach has been known for his use of the so-called “blender” to mix up the team’s lines when losing ensues, which has frankly been the entire season. The line blender has long been criticized by the fanbase and so it is only fair to help Jeff out by giving him a new blender for Christmas because the current one ain’t working. The Red Wings are at the bottom of the NHL in both goals-for and goals-against, and, while yes, the talent on this team is not great, it feels like Blashill would be better served to lay off the blender more and let lines build chemistry together. Therefore, this blender has a short battery life and can only be used a few times per month, a fitting gift for a Red Wings coach who may well be on his way out of town this coming year.
Robby Fabbri – Socks
Look, I had to come up with something insignificant for Fabbri, because, well, he already got his Christmas present earlier this year: getting traded to a hockey team that could give him consistent top-6 minutes. Being maybe the brightest light in this dark season, Fabbri’s 16 points in 21 games makes it clear he will be a piece of the franchise moving forward. With his gift coming back in November, we mustn’t spoil Robby and give him an old classic: Socks.
Anthony Mantha – The Ghost of Bob Probert attached to his hip
If there’s one thing that’s clear about Anthony Mantha’s career, it’s that he is a very talented hockey player who, for some reason, attracts the worst enemies. His season last year was derailed by a fight with now-Red Wing Patrik Nemeth. This season he’s already been hurt twice, the second time in another fight, this one with Jake Muzzin. It’s now obvious that Red Wings fans need some way to protect our giant Frenchman and the only answer is to resurrect the ghost of Bob Probert and attach him to Mantha’s side. With one of the two Bruise Brothers protecting Mantha, no one will mess with him again.
Brendan Perlini – A goal
Yes, I know this is a bit of a cheap shot, but in all seriousness Perlini has shown some flashes of potential. Unfortunately, he has been unable to get a single break the entire season, with just two assists and zero goals to show for it. The good news is that, sometimes, it often takes just one lucky opportunity to get the car rolling and that’s what we are giving Perlini: A goal to get him going. A free puck in the crease, or an easy shot at the empty net, or a two-on-one with an easy pass to set up a wide open net, something. Hopefully that first goal is what breaks the levee.
Filip Zadina – A Speedway Gift Card
Look, I know that NHL players have far more information about roster status than we do, and most don’t actually travel to the team they’ve been assigned if they know they’re going to be recalled soon. But in my head they do, and poor Filip Zadina has been shuffled back and forth between Grand Rapids and Detroit (including Monday) so much this year that he’s gotta be running up a lopsided credit card balance at the gas station. That’s where we come in to give him a hefty gas gift card to ease the mind and allow him to focus on the only thing he should be pondering: How much better he is at hockey than Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Darren Helm – A trade to a contender
Helm has been a pleasant surprise this season for the Red Wings, with 5 goals and 3 assists for 8 points and only a -1 (for what that’s worth). His advanced metrics are solid too and now down to the final 1.5 years of his contract, there could hypothetically be a scenario where a contender trades for the scrappy fourth-liner in February. We, wielding our magical powers, are going to make that happen, and allow Helm to go to a Cup contending team for at least one more run at a second ring.
Filip Hronek – An All-Star Game appearance
Thanks to the NHL’s rules about representation at the All-Star Game, the Red Wings are guaranteed one player at January’s ASG in St. Louis, despite having a historically poor record. This gift is actually quite realistic then, as there is a good chance that Filip Hronek is selected as Detroit’s only All-Star representative, given the Atlantic Division’s glut of forwards. A trip to St. Louis is the least we can give to Filip Hronek for having to endure 23 minutes of ice time per night with this team, and the young defender has earned it.
Jonathan Bernier – Some more assists
Being a goaltender for this Detroit Red Wings team has to be excruciating. Playing behind a defense that hemorrhages chances like it’s nobody’s business cannot be fun. And with Jimmy Howard being hurt, Bernier has had to shoulder more of the load. The one silver lining for Bernier is he somehow already has three assists, which is by far a career high for a single season (never had more than one in a previous season). Even though his job is to stop the opponent’s offense, not contribute to his own, why can’t Bernier have a little more fun in this lost season? We’re going to give the man a few more assists.
Steve Yzerman – Another team giving up on a young player
So far in Stevie Y’s tenure as Red Wings GM, we have seen him become a reclamation project guru, trading for both Perlini and Fabbri early in the year, consistently staying aggressive on that front. Surely given another opportunity, he will strike again, and we are going to make it happen for him this Christmas. Which team? Unclear, but there are certainly a myriad of options, from Edmonton and Jesse Puljujarvi to New York and Lias Andersson. In our world, one of these teams will place a young, talented player on the trade-block and give Yzerman another chance to pull-off some 1-for-1 magic.
Hockeytown – Alexis Lafreniere
This is a gift for all of us diehard Red Wings fans. We have suffered through the pain and despair of a team with just 9 wins out of 38. We deserve something nice. We also have been screwed by the lottery three straight years. This is our time to get a lucky bounce. We have earned it by watching this team night in and night out. And in this perfect world, it happens: Alexis Lafreniere will be ours. Happy 2020!