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Winging it in the Mailroom: Cap Space, Karma, and Commentators

Ty Conklin updates the mailroom's spam filter for us during the Christmas rush. (pic courtesy Josh Howard)
Ty Conklin updates the mailroom's spam filter for us during the Christmas rush. (pic courtesy Josh Howard)

Hey folks. Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the mailbag. We've got a handful of great questions for you. Remember, to have your own question featured, send it in to Let's get this ball rolling.

Question #1

What's the karmic load of touching/not touching the Campbell Bowl or Prince of Wales Award -- or any other award?


J.J. I'll admit that I am a regularstitious person. I believe thing that are caused are caused by the things which caused them. I definitely don't believe that there's some cosmic force which decides accepting a "lesser" trophy than the Stanley Cup means that the team has settled for the lesser prize and therefore doesn't deserve to win the Stanley Cup. ProHockeyTalk did an article about it before last year's cup finals which had the record for trophy-touchers (which sounds awesomely dirty) at 4-5 since 2001. Ultimately, I won't say that the mental effect on players who believe in superstitions isn't real, but I don't really think the hockey gods hate players who accept trophies.

Graham: Personally, I couldn't give a shit if anyone touches the damn thing or not. I get the whole "that's not the one we want to win" thing, but I don't see anything wrong with celebrating the achievement of winning your conference, even if it's just to pick it up and take it to the dressing room to use as an iPod speaker. However, I'm also (unlike JJ) a very superstitious person, so I understand why a player may feel like he "jinxes" the team if he touches it. Ultimately, I think it's about the mindset of the players and whether they believe in that stuff.

Jeff: We've seen teams touch it and win the Cup and we've seen teams avoid it like the plague and win the Cup. One way or another I don't think it really makes a difference. I wouldn't touch it though. That's just me. I do, however, think it was weird when the Bruins entire team all skated and posed with the Wales Trophy last season. I thought that was a bit much and a little "hey we're just happy to me" moment. But they won the Cup, so who knows. As long as the Wings' win the Cup, I could care less what Nicklas Lidstrom does with the Campbell Bowl.

Question #2 (from twitter user @emilyyyclaire)

who is worse: Pierre McGuire or Brian Engblom?

Jeff: This is like being asked, "What's worse: being mauled by a Lion or falling off a skyscraper and plummeting to your death." There really isn't a great option. If I had to choose, it would be Pierre McGuire and being mauled by a Lion. The Lions would gauge your eyes out with it's claws and bite you and rip your flesh. It would be a long, slow, painful process. Much like listening to anything the douche canoe says. It's a long, slow, stand way-to-close-to-you process. Engblom is like falling of a skyscraper. Yeah the fall sucks and you know what's going to happen next, but you'll hit the ground you'll die instantly and it's over with quick. Engblom talks and it's over with. He generally doesn't drag on with stupidity like McGuire. Plus, Engblom isn't as bad at the rink as he was in the studio. He tried to be way over the top in studio. He's more normal -- if that's possible -- at the rink.

Graham: Gotta agree with Pierre, although us bald guys should stick together. For me, it's not just about what he does that's worse than Engblom; it's that I hope that Chris Hansen emerges from the dressing room every time that McGuire talks about one of the kids in the World Junior Championships. That, and Engblom never puts on that ridiculous accent whenever he pronounces a French name. It's like Pierre was angling for the Canadiens job or something.

J.J. It's Pierre McGuire and it's not even close for me. Brian Engblom is kind of a boob on the sideline, but it's more of a guy who occasionally trips over his tongue or sees a play wrong at full-speed. McGuire elocutes a lot better than Engblom, but he also overpronounces so many names (VallllllTTTERRRY FEEL-POOOL-AHAHAH *thunderclap*). He also has a habit of deciding how a game is going based on the first five minutes of a period and then hammering that opinion home for the other 15 minutes by hammering ill-fitting examples into it and then asking coaches horribly leading questions on the benches. Really, the only good things about McGuire calling a Wings game is that you can tell Doc Emrick loves to give him shit and you can see the wheels spinning in Mike Babcock's head fighting the urge to call the guy stupid on national TV while he's trying to coach a game.

Question #3

Hey, I was wondering what the cap space is for this year and for next year, I'm kinda thinking a head here about who is going to get resigned and the usual off season stuff... Ha what's your reaction for a a Wings fan from being from Pitt lol.

J.J. Right now (per Capgeek, which is an awesome source for this kind of stuff), the Wings are sitting on about $5.6M under the cap. It'll bounce around a bit as players come and go from IR, but just consider it $5.5M when you're doing your crazy GM calculations for who is affordable in trade scenarios. We have to cop out for next year though. The Wings have just under $40M dedicated to 14 players (9F, 4D, 1G). BUT, the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires before next season starts and it's really just too hard to guess what the cap is going to do for official space. Just trust that the Wings will have space to fill their roster with a top-pairing defenseman and a top-six forward if they can find the right guys at the right prices. As far as being a Wings fan in Pitt... There are a growing number of you. Take heart in knowing that there are a lot of Pittsburgh fans who are just as annoyed by all the half-fan yinzers who hang around the Penguins only when it's convenient for them as well.

Graham: Well, JJ broke down the numbers, but I think the Red Wing team we see next year is going to be very different from the one we're currently watching. There's a strong possibility that 3 of the team's 7 defenseman and 3 forwards could all be gone. As JJ said, the uncertainty of the new CBA will make things very interesting in that no one will know whether the cap is going up or down, or what the numbers ultimately will be, but there's a lot of money there to do something and keep this team contending for the foreseeable future.

As for being a Wings fan from Pitt, know that I was born and raised in Toronto and became a Wing fan at the tender age of 8. So I know exactly how you feel, except I was surrounded by loyal fans.

Jeff: Since JJ and Graham did a nice job with the whole cap space questions, no use in repeating what they said again. I'll just jump to the second half of the question.

I don't care where you're from, if you're a Wings fan, than you're a-okay in my book. Plus, I have to imagine that being a Detroit fan in Pittsburgh just ignores the piss out of Pens fans. So the more we can annoy Pens fans the better. Keep up the good work.

Question #4

Just wondering if you guys think that Holland will actually make any moves at the trade deadline? There's plenty of talk about Semin, Parise, etc. but I see the same thing happening as last year - no changes.


Graham: I think that, barring a long-term injury, Holland will look to tinker with the team, but I don't see him making a major move that may upset the chemistry in the room that seems to be pretty good. Having said that, I'm not convinced this team has all the pieces in place to win a Cup, but I'm not sure that the teams that are going to have the kind of players the Wings need (like a Parise or Semin) are going to be in a position to deal them for prospects and picks, which is what the Wings would likely be looking to move. However, I'm sure that $5M in cap space is just burning a hole in Holland's pocket, and it's nice to know he has the flexibility to make a move should one be required or deemed necessary by management.

Jeff: There will be a move of some sorts. This team has won a Cup since 2008 and hasn't made it past the second round in the last two years. That's unacceptable around these parts and in the Red Wings organization. They have high standards. In the past, we've never really had the cap space, this year is very different. Kenny has something up his sleeve. Just wait. I don't have any inside information by any means, but my guy tells me there will be a move of significance. It might now be a Semin or Parise type trade, but something that makes you say "wow, this team is much better today than it was yesterday."

J.J. What they said.

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Another edition of the mail bag is in the books. Thanks to those who sent in questions. Remember, if you've got something to ask, please send it to us at

[once again, big thanks to Photochop Guru Josh Howard for the mail room picture]

Let's Go Red Wings.