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Dammit, Gary…

It’s just after 6 pm on Friday, October 12, 2012.

I should be at Joe Louis Arena. I should be down in my spot at the bottom of the stairs, pressed up against the glass waiting for the guys to come out for warm-ups so I can take pictures. And then I should be up in my seat somewhere up near the rafters waiting for the season-opening player introductions. (Which, in a perfect world, would be done by Budd Lynch. Rest in peace, sir.) And then I should be up on my feet cheering, and at the end of the game I should be happily singing “Don’t Stop Believin'” with all the other fans.

But none of this is happening today.

I’m at home in Toledo, typing from my desktop computer, the Joe is locked and dark, and at least half the team has scattered to play for European teams.

Curse you, Gary Bettman! *shakes fist at sky*

I know Bettman’s mostly the mouthpiece for the owners. But he does guide the policy of the Board of Governors, and this is the third lockout of his tenure. He’s awfully trigger-happy with the arena padlocks, let’s put it like that.

During the 2004-05 lockout, I was completely hockey-deprived. I didn’t realize then that I had non-NHL options. But now I know better.

I ordered a Grand Rapids Griffins TV package. Hooray!

So for this season (because with the rhetoric coming from the NHL and NHLPA, I really don’t think they’re going to salvage much of a season), this is going to be a Griffins blog.

I’ll admit that I may be getting in over my head with this. I know the Griffins pretty well from watching them last season, but the rest of the AHL teams? Barely at all. I can’t even name all the TEAMS yet without looking them up, let alone tell you about key players for each of the Griffins’ opponents.

It’s going to be a learning process.

But I will try to bring you quality Griffins blogging as best I can. I’ll try to include some coverage of the Toledo Walleye as well, but that may be a little harder. I live within 10 miles of their arena, but their games only air on our local public access sports channel, and they almost NEVER air live. But I’ll do what I can.

Meanwhile, the puck is about to drop on the 2012-13 AHL season in about half an hour. I’ve got my place on the sofa for tonight’s game, and I actually have tickets to go up to Grand Rapids to watch the Griffins play the Hamilton Bulldogs in person tomorrow night.

I’m not just going to try to make the best of the lockout, I’m going to try to have fun with it.


What am I going to do with this blog?

My attempt at being a hockey blogger has been kind of discouraging so far.

Game previews and in-game live blogging are all well and good, but since I can’t post from work, my previews usually didn’t get posted until just a little while before game time. By then all the news sites and the larger blogs have posted everything you could hope to know about a game before it starts. And the live blogs– the wireless connection on my netbook is kind of unreliable, to say the least. It makes it kind of hard to update the blog with a penalty or goal when I’m swearing incoherently in various languages (some of which may not even be real) as I try to coax the bloody thing to reconnect. Quite honestly, the attempt to do two pieces per game was wearing me out. That’s why I disappeared for awhile– it was plain old writing burnout.

So what can I do? I’m never going to be able to keep up with the legitimate news sites and the large blogs. It’s their actual paid job to bring you up to the minute Red Wings news, and I can’t really post from work on a reliable basis.

What I’m going to be trying, for now, is to just offer opinions and analysis. Trying to keep up with the big dogs is too much for me to handle just now. I’m backing off and regrouping, and I’ll be trying to write more frequent opinion pieces as we go into the playoffs.

It’s a crazy internet out there, but I’ll try to keep this corner of it nice and tidy.

What’s To Come This Week- Offline Time

I owe Jimmy Howard an apology.

I didn’t vote for him in WRIF’s Vote For Jimmy campaign to get him into the All-Star Game, thinking it would be better for him to have the weekend off. As it turned out, he absolutely wanted to be there and had a great time.

So, James Tiberius Howard III, I apologize! If I ever meet you I’ll apologize in person. (I also owe you an apology for thinking before the 09-10 season started that you didn’t have what it takes to be an NHL goalie. Shows what I know. On the bright side, I’ve never before been so very glad to have been so very wrong.)

Now that the All-Star break is over, the Red Wings are off for a Western Canada road trip. They’ll be facing the Calgary Flames Tuesday at 9:00, the Vancouver Canucks Thursday at 10:00, and the Edmonton Oilers Saturday at 10:00.

However, I won’t be online to cover any of these games. It’s vacation time! I tried to schedule my vacation to overlap with the All-Star break, partly so I wouldn’t miss any blogging, and partly because, really, how cool would it be to happen to see one of the non-All-Star guys wandering around Disney World or on the beach with his family? (Note: I would probably NOT disturb the guy on vacation, unless it was in line for a ride or something where it’s somewhat natural for people to strike up conversations with strangers.) But for some reason those wacky accountants I work for think I need to be there at the end of the month to do my month-end work.

So, anyway, you’re on your own for a week. Special Guest Blogger Fake Todd Bertuzzi is coming on vacation with me, so I can’t leave the blog in his hands while I’m gone. I’ll have my phone with me, so I can keep up with any possible trade news via Twitter, but posting a blog that way just doesn’t seem possible. I’ll be back with you in time for next Monday’s game against the Coyotes in Glendale. Be good while I’m gone!

No game posts today…

I won’t be covering the Red Wings vs. Blue Jackets game for you this evening (although I can report in advance that former Wing Brett Lebda will actually NOT be playing for the Jackets tonight). I’m going on a very important scouting mission– heading up to Grand Rapids to see my very first Griffins game. I’m hoping to do a little scouting of the Wings’ defensive prospects and see what sort of guys Niklas Kronwall will be whipping in to shape next season (if the unthinkable should happen and Nicklas Lidstrom actually retires). I’ll check in with my findings tomorrow!

Bobblehead Thursday = no game blog tomorrow

I won’t be able to write you a game preview or live blog tomorrow because I will actually be at the game! The usual suspects (MLive, Freep, Detroit News) will have you covered.

And I tell you what, I made sure to get tickets for this game the instant they went on sale. What’s so exciting about a January Thursday night game against the Phoenix Coyotes? It’s Bobblehead Thursday! I’m going to get a Danny Cleary bobblehead! Let me show you the collection the little bobbly Cleary will be joining:

Yeah, I’ve been collecting these guys for awhile.

Behold! Two kids and an old goat!


Or think of the highlight reels if we had a Triple Datsyuk Line…


Look! Goalies!

See how I have Manny separating CuJo and Dom? Just like the 2003-04 season!

Also note that Manny is autographed. I met the real Manny at Hockeyfest at the Joe in September 2011 and had him sign it. He looked highly amused to see his bobble-self. It was pretty awesome.

Also note the rare Ozzie bobble! I know several people who have bobbles of Ozzie as an Islander, myself included:

When I first started collecting the bobbleheads, in the 2001-02 season, Ozzie had just been picked up off waivers by the Islanders and a Red Wing Ozzie was nowhere to be found. So I took what I could get. By the time Ozzie rejoined the Wings, bobbleheads were no longer popular. I found this one at, of all places, Detroit Metro Airport. I was on my way to Florida in March of 2008 and stopped in to the Sports Illustrated store at DTW to kill some time before my flight. And wonder of wonders, there it sat! I didn’t dare wait until I came back– what if they sold out by then? What if the shop was closed by the time my flight landed?┬áSo I rearranged everything in my carryon bag and brought the little bobble Ozzie on vacation with me.

As you can see, the Cleary bobblehead will be coming to a home where bobbles are loved and appreciated!

What to expect this week

I’m not going to be able to blog much for you this week, unfortunately. This is the busiest week of the year for me at work. I’m expecting that I’ll be at work for 10 to 12 hours every day. Possibly even more.

Yeah, not so great.

So doing a pregame and a live blog for each game is right out of the question. I’ll check in as I can, but it’s most likely to be just a little bit of hit and miss analysis here and there. It’s going to be a nightmare of a week.