Lidstrom. Datsyuk. Zetterberg. You know everything about them: position, number, approximate age, where they were born, etc. And you should, because they are phenomenal players in the NHL. And while I may be no expert (Andy Sutton joke goes here (ha, the joke is on him, I DO think I’m an expert!)), I do know it takes more than three players to win the Stanley Cup.
It’s time we honor a player on the Wings who does everything with little fanfare. He plays the game hard but clean. Very rarely does he put his teammates in a bad position. A phenomenal mostly stay-at-home defenseman who can shoot a puck through a wall and make Artem Anisimov see tweety birds and have a headache (this is called foreshadowing). Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you:
Stewie has been a rock ever since acquiring him at the Trade Deadline in 2008 (for a 2nd and 4th round draft pick). Sadly, casual Wings fans have probably never heard of him or know very little about him. Hardcore Wings fans know what value he brings to the team – physical play, solid on the penalty kill, offensive ability when needed, and knowing when to throw a perfectly clean body check to change the momentum and wake his team up. Let’s take a look at this hit from the game last night against St. Louis:
Completely changed the momentum of the game. Until that point, the Wings were playing sluggishly and didn’t seem to have “it” in a very important game. Then, that happened. Stewart, the Blues forward who previously was suspended for hitting Kronwall from behind, took exception to a totally clean hit. He decided to instigate against our Stewie, took a penalty, resulting in a Wings goal. Thank you to Brad Stuart and Chris Stewart for the Wings victory!
Kronwall gets most of the credit for his hits (to be fair, his are typically big open ice hits that may or may not result in the opposing team stepping on their own player), but Stewie is not exactly a slouch in the smashing department. Because we all like watching big, clean hits, and because YouTube exists, let us watch some amazing smashing:
First, we can see the exact moment where Sidney Crosby has his non-broken ribs turn into broken ribs:
Awesome. Totally clean, helped kill off a very crucial penalty, and make the Penguins whine about that instead of focusing on hockey. Love it.
Next up, we have Professor Stuart teaching Artem Anisimov a class in Keeping Your Head Up:
Ken and Mickey have the greatest commentary ever in that clip. I like how the Rangers try and go after him and Stewie is just like “Bi%#&h, please”. Fantastic.
Hey, remember that time Columbus made the playoffs? This hit is a microcosm for everything that has happened to them ever since:
YES. YES. ONE THOUSAND TIMES YES. I could (and probably have) watch that hit for hours on end, each time getting more and more excited to the point where it’s not even close to being healthy. And it’s probably going to happen again.
Lastly, take a look at what Stewie can do on both ends of the rink:
Oh, Kris Versteeg. He must really love being that close to the ice.
Sadly, Stewie is currently in the last year of his contract with the Wings. As discussed in this article on Mlive.com, Stewie is undecided about returning to the Wings. It’s obvious that Mike Babcock and Ken Holland want him to return. Unfortunately, he decided to go out and have a family, making my life as a hardcore Wings fan much more difficult. His wife, two sons, and step-daughter live in San Jose, so it makes sense that he wants to go home. But still, he’d also go from playing in a first class organization to playing for a team that I despise (I hate the Ducks and Sharks. If he signs with the Kings, I’d hate them for stealing Stewie.). I think he’d be willing to stay here for a slight raise. His cap hit, according to Capgeek.com, is currently $3.75M a year. I think if he gets between $4M and $4.25M a year for three or four years, it’d be a good fit for both sides. Now, can he just convince his wife to let him?
In the meantime, pay more attention to Stewie whenever you watch a Wings game on TV or are at the Joe. Let’s show him that the real hockey fans in Detroit know what value he provides the Wings and somehow, convince him to sign here for the next couple or twenty years. He’s given us hours of smashing hits to watch, let’s give him something in return.
Thoughts? Compliments? Hate me? Feel free to comment or yell at me on Twitter.