Friday, February 16, 2007

Forsberg Not A Wing? There Goes The Cup! (Maybe)

The big, bruising defenseman that the Red Wings just HAD to have was still available as the trade deadline approached. He toiled for the dregs of the league, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and would be a free agent at the end of the season. The prototypical rent-a-player.

He was the nasty, physical presence that the bleating critics said the Red Wings needed, or else Lord Stanley's Cup would go to another team. He was a MUST have, despite his impending free agency. The final piece.

But then, on March 19, 2002, Darius Kasparaitis was traded ... to the Colorado Avalanche!



Red Wings fans cursed the luck. Not getting Kasparaitis and his 5'11", 215-pound frame was bad enough; but for him to go to the hated Avs? If this was Montreal, they'd have screamed "sacre bleu!"

"#$!&," the fans screamed. "The #$@! Avs just traded for the Stanley Cup!"

A little over two months later, the Red Wings skated against the Avalanche in Game 7 of the Conference Final, and as the Joe Louis Arena crowd roared and laughed, the Red Wings beat the Avs, 7-0. Five games later, the Red Wings were Cup champions.

Darius Kasparaitis and his Cup-bound Avalanche watched the Finals on TV, it's presumed. Or maybe listened to them on the golf courses.

Peter Forsberg is another of those "missing pieces" guys. He can, when healthy, score, assist, and still skate like the wind. He's a wizard with the puck and has immeasurable playoff experience. The Red Wings, it was widely speculated, were frontrunners for his services. Another rent-a-player, though. Forsberg can be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

But Forsberg and his nifty resume won't be coming to Detroit. The Nashville Predators were willing to pay the steep price, sending several players and some draft picks to the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday.

Yes, the Nashville Predators, occupants of first place in the Central Division, just ahead of the Red Wings.

Doubtless some in Detroit are screaming that the Predators have the missing piece that is still missing from the Red Wings roster. They don't want to be consoled by the fact that there are still other missing pieces out there: Billy Guerin, Keith Tkachuck, Todd Bertuzzi. And probably others. All they know is, Forsberg was "the man," and now he's going to be wearing the ugly gold and brown of the Preds.


But the Avalanche traded for Darius Kasparaitis in 2002, robbing the rival Red Wings of that missing piece, supposedly. Yet the Red Wings won the Cup without that piece, although they did trade for Jiri Slegr -- kind of a Kasparaitis Lite.

As for Kasparaitis, he became a free agent on schedule, and signed a fat contract with the New York Rangers.


There are other fish in the NHL sea. Wings GM Kenny Holland will probably find one on his hook before the deadline arrives on the 27th. Maybe it'll be Forsberg Lite.

We can only hope.

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