Jeff Riger: Detroit’s All Time “Almost Had Em”
I know there was a ton to watch this weekend and on a Monday after Michigan State won a huge game in storybook ending fashion and with the Lions losing — and being accused of being heartless and classless — everybody has forgotten the Wings played on Saturday night. And that is a great thing! In case you missed it, well, you should be thankful. The Capitals’ were 6-0 while Detroit was 5-0 and at the end, Washington remained undefeated by winning 7-1. Yep, that’s right, no need to go back and read that last sentence again, the Wings indeed lost 7-1, and for the first time in a long time the team must be happy that Detroit is focusing on other things than them.
The details of the game are really not important for this blog, other than the Capitals’ goalie. His name is Tomas Vokoun and he was sensational. He stopped 32 of 33 shots and the only goal that went in was courtesy of Nick Kronwall, who beat Vokoun on a 5 on 3 power play. With the win, Vokoun is now 6-0 on the season with an impressive 1.80 goals against average and the kicker in this whole thing is, he could have been in Detroit.
In the offseason, Vokoun had a couple of options, they were the Wings and the Capitals, and he actually was considering going to Detroit. However, the Wings made it clear to the longtime Predator and Panther that he would back up Jimmy Howard in Hockeytown, so Vokoun took just $1.5 million to sign with the Capitals. And early on it seemed like the 35-year-old made the right decision. After Vokoun chose our nation’s capital, the Wings brought back Ty Conklin to back up Howard; he allowed all seven goals on Saturday night on just 25 shots.
Now I’m not writing this piece to exclaim to all that Detroit made the wrong decision and should have done everything in their power to bring Vokoun here. I’m not even saying that the Wings will ever even regret not having having him. I think Conklin is serviceable and I believe Howard is going to be a very good netminder so I probably would have done the same thing too, if I was in Ken Holland’s shoes. But, if the Caps go deep in the postseason and the Wings don’t I do believe that people will talk about how Vokoun was the difference and how he could have been wearing a “winged wheel.” You see, Vokoun potentially could turn into the “one that got away” and if he does, I wonder where he will rank in regards to other athletes that our local teams had a shot at, but just could not get them to dawn Detroit colors?
So below I decided to list the top three athletes that Detroit teams almost had!
The following are in no particular ranking.
I know all of Detroit loves to blame Marion Hossa for not winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 against the Penguins. You remember, Detroit went up 2 games to none on Pittsburgh then ending up losing in 7 games at the Joe on a Friday night. Sidney Crosby decided to not shake Nick Lidstrom’s hand….yeah you remember, unless you have totally blocked it out of your memory. (Which I wouldn’t blame you if you did Anyway, Hossa after the season had the chance to remain a Wing but decided to sign with rival Chicago for 62.8 million dollars over the course of 12 seasons. At the time, Detroit decided to hang on to Johan Franzen and could not afford to bring Hossa back, even though they would have loved to.
Since the move, Hossa has gone on to win a cup with the Blackhawks and register 49 goals and 108 points over two seasons in just 122 games. Franzen scored a combined 38 goals and 76 points in 103 games. Both players suffered lengthy injuries where they missed considerable time.
Now Hossa’s stats are not that much better than Franzen’s but you do wonder if the Wings brought back Hossa and said goodbye to “Mule” (Franzen’s nickname) instead, would things be different.
Remember when Tejada was a baseball stud? I do, and I also remember when the Detroit Tigers were chasing him hard in the winter before the 2004 season. Tejada was a free agent and had just hit 143 homers and 549 RBI over the course of the previous 5 seasons with the A’s. The Tigers, Mariners and Orioles were willing to give the eventual 6 time All Star and MVP of the 2002 season anything he wanted. Well, Tejeada decided to sign with Baltimore for 72 million dollars over the course of 6 seasons. In 2004, Tejada’s first year with the Birds, he hit 150 RBI with a .311 average and 34 home runs. Meanwhile the Tigers lost 90 games that season and did not have a single player with at least 100 RBI.
How would the Tigers have faired if they had Tejada?
After the 1997 season the Lions had the 20th pick of the ’98 NFL Draft. With the pick Detroit took Cornerback Terry Fair from Tennessee who lasted just 4 seasons with the team. In that span, Fair secured 1 sack and 7 interceptions in Detroit and ended up moving on to the Carolina Panthers in the 2002 season. With the 21st pick of that same draft, the Vikings decided to take a flyer on Moss, the receiver from Marshall. Of course I don’t think I need to tell anyone how successful that pick turned out to be. Moss was a 7 time pro bowler, the 1998 rookie of the year, he had 153 TD receptions and 954 total catches over the span of 13 seasons.
Moss played in 12 postseason games, including 1 Super Bowl where as the Lions as a whole have played in one playoff game since passing on Moss. You think Randy would have made a difference?
The above, to me are the all time Detroit “Almost Had Em’s” Who did I miss? Let me know. Also, do you think Tomas Vokoun will wind up on that list?