I've been a fan of Ruslan Salei through thick and thin -- mostly thin -- since he came to the Avalanche. He's Eastern European (and from one of the very underrepresented Eastern European countries, too), and he's generally portrayed as a genial, level-headed guy. So that makes today's decision to sign with the Red Wings a mystery. Think this over, Ruslan: you've lived in California, Florida, and Colorado. You've been in North America for 15 years or so. How do you think Detroit is going to look by comparison?
Last week, out of boredom, I was assembling some Avalanche trivia (you kill time at work your way, I'll kill it mine) and I actually put together a list of players who have been on both Detroit and Colorado. It isn't pretty.
Jim Cummins. Eight games, two points, 65 penalty minutes with the Wings; 55 games, three points, 147 penalty minutes with the Avalanche.
I debated whether to count Cummins -- he played for the Red Wings before the Avalanche became the Avalanche -- before coming to the conclusion that it was already pretty lame to be assembling this list, and if I got to the point where I was agonizing over who to include, I was entering dangerous territory. His career was nicely arranged for the purposes of this pointless exercise -- he entered the NHL with Detroit in 1991-92, exited it with the Avalanche in 2003-04.
Advantage: Detroit. Cummins did his thing wherever he went, but he averaged 8 PIM per game in Detroit, which was undoubtedly more exciting. His points per game stat was higher in Detroit, too; .25 in Detroit, .055 in Denver. The Red Wings obviously got him at his best.
Uwe Krupp. 30 games, six points, 14 penalty minutes with the Wings; 144 games, 55 points, 90 penalty minutes with the Avalanche.
I remember exactly where I was when I found out Krupp had signed with Detroit -- in Harry Caray's restaurant in Chicago, having a boozy afternoon with my cousin. The news came up on ESPN; I watched drunkenly for it to come around again, certain I'd seen it wrong. I was shattered. Krupp was never a favorite of mine, but he scored the Stanley Cup winner in '96, and no one had crossed the line between the two teams.
The Avalanche had the last laugh; Krupp's stat line up there was over four seasons. Suckers. He was last seen coming to Atlanta to revitalize the defense here; pretty sure he should be off the injured list sometime next spring.
Advantage: Colorado. Most important stat: one Stanley Cup-winning goal.
Anders Myrvold. Eight games, one point, two penalty minutes with the Wings; four games, one point, six penalty minutes with the Avalanche.
Not much to say about Myrvold; the reverse of Cummins, he came in with the Avalanche, went out with the Red Wings. In the meantime, according to Wikipedia, he picked up a cocaine habit in Detroit. That remains the best thing to happen to anyone in that city over the past 20 years.
Brad May. Who cares with Detroit, who cares with Colorado.
I'm still pretty disgusted that the Avalanche signed him. I was ecstatic when he went to Detroit, especially when he continued his rapid decline.
Advantage: wash. No one wins where Brad May is concerned.
Kyle Quincey. 13 games, one point, four penalty minutes with the Wings; 79 games, 29 points, 76 penalty minutes with the Avalanche.
There aren't a lot of things that make me laugh in my joyless life, but this is one of them. I can't remember why the Wings dropped Quincey (salary cap?), and I'm happy to have him with the Avalanche. Good solid defenseman, no complaints.
Advantage: Colorado by a whole lot.
Todd Gill. 104 games, 17 points, 79 penalty minutes with the Red Wings; 36 games, four points, 25 penalty minutes with the Avalanche.
I forgot him on the original draft of this list; he's one of those Rick Tabaracci-type players that I forget ever played in Colorado. I don't remember seeing him play with the Avalanche. Since I do remember seeing him get turned inside-out pretty regularly nearly a decade earlier, I imagine it was a grim spectacle.
Advantage: Detroit. Although you can argue that in terms of late-career Todd Gill, less is more.
So: Salei to the Wings. I can't imagine that this will turn out well for anyone involved. The Avalanche lose a Slav, the Red Wings are probably going to get something comparable to Krupp (low end) or Gill (high end), and a player I liked has to move to Detroit. Some days, no one wins.
* * *
#35 -- "Good Behavior" by Donald Westlake
#36 -- "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" by Douglas Adams
"Good Behavior" is another Dortmunder novel, and I'd say it's funnier than the last one; it matches up with what I remember, that there was a steady increase in greatness up until they peaked with "Don't Ask," then a slow decline.
"DGHDA" -- not sure, but this may be the first time I've read this since it came out. I remember being disappointed in junior high that Adams didn't do another "Hitchhiker's" novel, and then liked the second book more than this one. The latter part of that holds. This is funnier than I remember, but often kind of aimless and occasionally too cute. I should really read the "Hitchhiker's" books again sometime soon.