The Detroit Red Wings are really good at hockey to the point where things have gotten out of hand. Every year is the year we expect them to finally have their age catch up with them and it never ends up happening. Rather, they just dominate and win and wow you with their general excellence. Is this leading to complacency in the dressing room? Probably not, but they didn’t feel the urge to practice ahead of their game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Rather, the Red Wings decided to have an in-house Broomball tournament as a team bonding exercise in Edmonton. This led to many player personnel revelations. As it turns out, Brad Stuart might actually be a pretty good goaltender and with Jimmy Howard out for an extended period of time and a Ty Conklin/Joey MacDonald tandem being relied upon to keep their season afloat, that may be good information to have.
On the game, Stuart had the following thoughts:
“I was just diving around, flopping around,” said Stuart, who played broomball once in gym class when he was 12 or 13. “The ball hit me a few times. My defense was great. I had assistant coach Bill Peters in front of me, clearing the ball away.
“When you get the chance to do something that normally you probably wouldn’t do on your own, and you have everybody involved, it’s fun.”
Pavel Datsyuk was equally impressed with the game in question:
Datsyuk said he never heard of the game before, but he used adjectives like “awesome” and “unbelievable” to describe it.
“I played lots outside with no skates, with hockey stick and tennis ball, but broomball is kind of different, it’s fun,” Datsyuk said.
As far as people who let the Wings down today:
“I was a little disappointed in Hank (Zetterberg), his effort level wasn’t so high,” Stuart said.
It’s cool to see teams do stuff like this, if for no other reason, to make themselves look a little less robotic. A team like Detroit with a ton of big name players (Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom, etc.) doesn’t really have any notable personalities associated with them. That’s not to say they’re boring or anything, just that they’re behind a curtain to an extent.
Hockey fans who follow the top media outlets covering the game noticed that Datsyuk was opened up a bit by The Hockey News (mentor cap tip) earlier this summer by way of a fantastic series put together by Rory Boylen who had the opportunity to follow Datsyuk around at his hockey camps in Ekaterinburg, Russia in July. Highly recommend that you give it a read and get to know the man behind some of the world’s greatest dangles.
In my humble opinion, the more we hear about hockey players actually, you know, living the way human beings do, the better the game will do. That’s part of the allure of a series like 24/7 which is obviously a huge hit with hockey and non-hockey fans alike – I find a high proportion of hockey fan girlfriends enjoy 24/7, for example.
Part of the reason the NFL is such a force in sports is because of their ability to trump up drama and storylines that appeal to a bigger fanbase. You may not care about team X or Y but when you tie it to a regional rivalry or family duel, it becomes interesting for more people. The NHL could take a lesson from their football cousins and do a lot for their brand by making sure that something as simple as a team’s Broomball tournament hits media outlets.