On May 25, in an abrupt and surprising decision, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski called it a career, retiring after 11 seasons in the NHL.
The announcement came without warning as the jaws of the collective hockey world dropped in disbelief. Rafalski, 37, walked away from one year on his contract at $6 million. He was playing a solid 20 minutes per game on a good, competitive team and that play had not dropped off as he finished the year with 44 assists and a plus-11 rating.
The Red Wings, who planned for the defenseman to finish his contract, are now left with a gaping hole on their blue line and little time to fill it — a consequence of early retirement that most teams will never face.
However, if general manager Paul Holmgren and the Flyers aren’t paying attention and didn’t see Rafalski’s sudden retirement as a wake-up call to take a look at their own defensive situation, the same could happen to them with 36-year-old Kimmo Timonen.
Just like everyone else, NHL general managers are sick of the shootout.
According to reports from the general manager meetings held in Philadelphia on Wednesday, league GM’s are fed up with the number of games that end in the gimmick and have put on the table of discussion how to slow down the particular result.
“Not a pressing issue, but managers have been asked to come up with suggestions to curb them (shootouts),” TSN’s Darren Dreger reported via his twitter.
As the 2009-10 season progressed, it because more and more apparent that the Philadelphia Flyers needed more (cheap) skill in their top-6 forward ranks.
And that’s exactly what they received on Saturday, as Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren sent physical depth defenseman Ole-Kristien Tollefsen and a 2011 fifth round pick to Detroit for Finnish rookie forward Ville Leino.
“I think he has the ability to play up and down our lineup and play with our skilled players,” Holmgren told Kevin Kurz of Philadelphiaflyers.com. “We’re excited to have him.”
Faith by George Michael topped the Billboard top 100, Rain Man was about to take the American box office by storm and Flyers’ captain Mike Richards was three years old, the last time the Flyers won at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Nov. 15th, 1988.
“I was just a young player in the Flyers’ organization the last time the Flyers came in here and won,” said Flyers’ coach John Stevens. “It’s been 21 years, which is amazing. We don’t come here very often, but hopefully it gives us some motivation to get the job done.”