The NHL Draft has come and gone, and for us Red Wing fans, it was a chance to learn the names of the guys who may or may not be exciting prospects in about 3 years. In other words, no one really cared because Martin Frk and Jake Paterson aren't going to be relevant for a long time.
We shift our attention to free agency, or as we call it around here, Time for Ken Holland to Prove Himself. The Wings enter an off-season with a significant number of holes in the lineup, and for the first time in a very long time, have to look outside the organization to make improvements to the roster. Unlike 2008 when the Wings snagged Marian Hossa to bolster an already potent lineup, the failure to add some key free agents could make the 2012-13 season a long one in Detroit.
For reasons that will become clear after the jump, I've found that preparing to welcome free agents to the Red Wings is a lot like getting ready to bring a new baby home. Confused? Follow the jump.
In case anyone was unaware of what was going on around here, Mrs Amerinadian is going to be bringing baby Amerinadian #3 into the world on Friday. What that means is that my weekend is going to be very, very interesting. Going through this for the 3rd time means that I have some experience in what is going to happen, and I'm more prepared than ever to have another small little person screaming and crying and pooping all over my house.
As Wing fans, we've been very anxious for July 1st. The stakes appear to be much higher than in previous years, mainly because Nicklas Lidstrom finally decided that being better than 80% of the NHL wasn't good enough for him anymore and Brad Stuart desired to be closer to his family. Combine that with the fact the Wings have realized that neither Todd Bertuzzi nor Dan Cleary are actual top-6 forwards (something we could have told them a long time ago), and suddenly the need to bring in legitimate NHL stars is greater than it has been in some time.
If you're like me, you're approaching July 1st with a mixture of nervous anticipation and anxious bowel movements. Luckily for you, I've spent the last month preparing for a baby, and I think some of the things I've done correlate well to our situation as Wing fans. Follow these steps and you'll be ready to go on the first day of July.
Get the nursery ready - Now, I don't expect you to have an actual nursery to watch all the action on Sunday (and if you do, then good luck with your paraphilic infantilism), but I'm sure you're going to have a den or family room that you will hunker down in all day Sunday, ignoring your family and friends while you pore over Twitter, WIIM and any other site while you wait to see who the Wings have landed. Much like an actual nursery, you're going to have to stock up before ever setting foot in there for real. In fact, some of the items are the same: baby wipes, because it could be a long day and getting up to, you know, shower is a pain; a comfortable rocking chair for nervous pacing while providing quality lumbar support; and diapers, for peeing yourself after you see what the Wings paid Ryan Suter. On top of that, you're going to want to have some snacks, beverages, and this year, antacids. I'd also recommend not having anything that might cause damage should the player you cover sign with a rival, since there's likely to be some projectiles hurtling through the air.
Make a budget - Babies, like prized free agent defensemen, are ridiculously expensive. You can't just get one and think that you're going to be set financially. You have to sit down, try and estimate costs, and determine whether it's feasible that you can afford one. Before you start throwing around statements like "of course the Wings can get Zach Parise and Alex Semin for $13M a year while paying Ryan Suter $7.5M all while icing a stud lineup around them", you might want to head to Capgeek and make sure that you don't sound like an idiot, or worse, a Blues fan. Do your homework and make sure that you're prepared to handle the burden that is signing the top free agent on the market.
Prepare the siblings - This involves a little more nuance and tact. Unlike with a baby, who is going to be born at some point once you realize you're pregnant (sometimes sooner rather than later), free agents aren't "destined" to be a member of any particular team, no matter what you hear from other fans and internet pundits. However, when enough people believe that Player X is headed to Team Y, I tend to rely on the adage that "where there's smoke there's fire". Therefore, it's important to let everyone know now what your opinions are on the acquisition of a player. Are you for it? Against it? Better to make your feelings known now so that if the signing turns out the way you thought you did, then you can remind everyone that you were right and brilliant and awesome, which is what the internet is all about.
Go shopping - Similar to the first point about stocking the nursery, shopping is a big part of welcoming a new addition to the home. The important thing to remember here is that spending $232 on a video baby monitor that has night vision, displays the ambient room temperature and plays music may seem like a good idea, it may not be what you actually need. Consider what you are actually looking for and then focus on items from that product line. For example, the Wings need a top defenseman more than anything, so if you see someone talking about how the Wings should find a starting goalie to replace Jimmy Howard, you know they are a very stupid person. Once you've figured out what it is you need, then you can start to price things out and determine which is the most economical based on what your budget is (and we've come full circle). A note: just because a player gets paid a lot of money, it doesn't mean it's a smart signing. The key is to find value for a price. The Wings may have to pay top dollar to attract certain players, but throwing money at people is a dumb business plan.
Follow these simple steps and I can guarantee that you will be ready for July 1st. This week is going to involve a lot of tears, upset tummies, sleeplessness, and overall general irritability at the slightest provocation. Welcome to being parents.