April 01, 2002

Now that the Red Wings have clinched the Presidents' Trophy and home ice throughout the playoffs, should they be forced to put their best team on the ice the rest of the season? Many of their concluding games are against teams jockeying for playoff position or fighting just to make the playoffs. The NHL says the team can rest players "within reason", but I think the Wings have earned the right to sit out anyone and everyone they want (irrespective of the league's ambiguous "reasonableness" standard) in order to get rested and ready for the playoffs. Any thoughts?

posted by holden to hockey at 06:36 PM - 12 comments

The Red Wings should be able to do what they want. I would sit Hasek, Shanahan, Hull, Yzerman, and Chelios. They are all old(relatively), and a cheap last minute injury to any of them before the playoffs would be a pretty stupid price to pay. The NHL has left it ambiguous, they've given an inch, so take a mile. They have so many stars, even if they sit their top two lines, they still have a strong team. I don't really see what the big deal is, especially with only 6 or 7 games left in the season.

posted by insomnyuk at 06:59 PM on April 01, 2002

Of the 6 remaining games after tonight, 5 of the games are against teams fighting for playoff spots in their conference: St.Louis (2 games), Chicago, San Jose and Los Angeles. Those teams are all separated by 5 points. If Detroit decided to rest their stars for any of these games, then it makes a difference in the standings for these teams if the quality of their opponent is lower than usual. It also makes a bigger difference for teams like Dallas, Edmonton, Phoenix and Vancouver who are chasing these 4 teams for playoff spots. The integrity of the game is at stake. If teams are allowed to rest players at the end of the season when there are playoff spots on the line for other teams, then what's to stop a team from deciding that they want Team A to win because it keeps Team B in 8th place and makes for a better first round opponent? Why didn't Detroit rest them during the middle of the season? Shanahan, Hull and Chelios have missed 0 or 1 game each so far, so I don't think the "need the rest" or "fear of injury" makes sense. They could have rested them at any time, and an injury could have happened in any previous game. You can't predict it. That said, I'd have no problem if they rested one or two of the players at a time for a game, but to sit them all down for an extended period would be wrong.

posted by grum@work at 09:50 PM on April 01, 2002

It's crazy to play your stars full out when your playoff position is guaranteed. If one of them became injured and lost for the playoffs in one of these meaningless games, your chances for the Cup could be diminished. Detroit will do what teams always do in this situation -- they'll pay lip service to the notion of going full out for competitive reasons, but they'll sit their stars as much as they can get away with.

posted by rcade at 06:46 AM on April 02, 2002

But isn't it a bit silly to think that your players will only get injured in the last 6 games? I've seen this argument all the time, and I can't recall a single incident in the past 10 years where a player has gotten injured in the last 10 games and missed the entire playoffs after his team has completely clinched 1st over all. If you're going to be paranoid about injuries, you should be paranoid for the entire season and rest these players as often as possible to avoid those injuries.

posted by grum@work at 07:00 AM on April 02, 2002

As this season's tight playoff race is an aberration in the Western Conference, the question of recharging players for the post season is especially tricky. Normally, I 'm all for it. If a team is good enough not to need all the games other teams need to get into the playoffs, that team can do whatever it feels like with those games. But this year, in doing so will upset the balance of the vancouvers and the edmontons that are playing playoff hockey, but may not make there because of a plethora of reason. One of which may be payroll envy. Another, having to play the Wings before they clinched everything. I'm torn. I'd like to see the Blues and the Stars miss the cut. They are the teams that should win. Always for the underdog, I'd like to see the teams that weren't given a hope in hell at the beginning of the season beat these perennial favorites. Why? I love some of those team's players, and would like to see them succeed. But the thing about hockey is that the underdog can win. A team can win purely on heart. Look at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Crappy team overall. They lose st.louis and modin before the olympics, which comprise two of their top 3 pointgetters, and what do they do down the stretch, (up until last week) get the most points of any team since the break. Heart, people. As a team, the Wings can do what they will. But speaking from an overall league perspective, beat those puss-filled-bags-of-salary just like you did all season.

posted by garfield at 08:48 AM on April 02, 2002

I think the Wings should be able to do whatever they want with their players. They've got enough points to guarantee the best record in the league, and have no need to win any more games until the playoffs. As far as I'm concerned, they've earned the right to play whatever players they please. They can dress their entire AHL affiliate, or a bunch of monkeys or midgets if they want. It would be something of a dick move for the Wings to rest all of their good players (unless they dressed midgets and monkeys, which would be great), but I think that should be the coach's call - like running up the score against a bad team in football.

posted by Samsonov14 at 09:55 AM on April 02, 2002

All I know is that karma can be bitch, and if Detroit were to deliberately tank games (or rest all their stars), I'd bet big money on Edmonton upsetting them in the first round as payback. But then I'm a Leaf fan and old rivalries die hard.

posted by grum@work at 11:37 AM on April 02, 2002

great win last night for the leafs, apart from the blown lead and all....that mccabe kid is great.

posted by garfield at 01:10 PM on April 02, 2002

The hell with the other teams, it's time for Detroit to look out for THEIR best interests. If they feel that resting their star players is doing their team good, then rest them. It's the other teams that have put themselves in positions of fighting for playoff spots and rankings. Detroit should reward themselves and rest up for the real season.

posted by bambino at 01:47 PM on April 02, 2002

It doesn't really matter, I think. If Detroit chooses to rest it's star players (either by having them sit out, or play very little in the game - let 3rd/4th lines do the work), then they risk losing a couple of games, and since momentum is REALLY important (ie. Edmonton) a losing streak would just handicap them going into the first round. Then again, Detroit is deep enough to win games without those players. (and yeah, McCabe has developed nicely over the last year and a bit - he's becoming a strong blue line threat, and with the still developing Kaberle at his side, the Leaf's have a nice pair of future defensive stars.)

posted by mkn at 01:34 AM on April 03, 2002

Two things that haven't been mentioned yet: 1) Detroit has 3 young forwards fighting to keep their spot when Yzerman returns. (Avery, Datsuyk, Williams) 2) Last year late season injuries were a big factor in Detroit's loss in the first round.

posted by tj at 02:18 PM on April 03, 2002

They are doing a pretty good job of rotating the sitting players. Cheli and Hasek Monday, Larionov and Fedorov last week, Lidstrom last week, and they still played competitively. Even with most of those players sitting, they still have a team that can match just about any other. Besides, you hockey fans know Bowman...even if he was forced to dress some vets as opposed to allowing them to sit, they would play a few shifts and chill out on the bench. The Wings earned the right to sit tight by thier awesome play over the course of the year and the ridiculous lead they built. With the nondisclosure allowances about teams revealing injuries, the minor bumps and bruises that some of the players have (Duschene, shoulder...Shanahan, wrist...Lidstrom, groin) may be nothing at all. They are not required to disclose. I agree with the momentum issue, but then again, they really need Yzerman back. The intangibles (aside from the tangibles) that he brings to the rink are unvaluable. And Detroit is not deliberately tanking games...far from it. They could have folded against the Leafs but they scored two quick ones in the third to force overtime, and they got a point out of it. I've seen this argument all the time, and I can't recall a single incident in the past 10 years where a player has gotten injured in the last 10 games and missed the entire playoffs after his team has completely clinched 1st over all. Wrongo. Yzerman broke his leg blocking a shot against Philly in one of the last games of the regular season. He couldn't skate on it and that was (along with Shanny doing the same thing in the first game against L.A.) the major reason they lost to L.A. and choked last year. It is more about nursing injuries that would NOT have the players normally resting. As Yzerman has said, if the playoffs were today, he would play.

posted by adampsyche at 05:54 PM on April 03, 2002

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