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Red Wings as Olympians

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Can you match the player to his new sport?

Athletics - Olympics: Day 12 Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

With all the excitement the Olympics have brought, I thought it would be fun to take a look at how some of the Red Wings would fare as Summer Olympians. The emphasis here is on “fun” as these are not meant to be realistic transitions as I think that is unfair considering the amount of skill and time spent perfecting those skills that Olympians take.

Hurdles

The hurdles require an athlete to combine outstanding speed while jumping 42 inch hurdles without slowing down. Olympic athletes have the ability to make those jumps seem effortless but I assure you as someone who is 5’8”, a 42 inch jump is no easy feat. I checked, that is well above waist height for someone of my stature. Moving on, I think Darren Helm would make a good hurdler. Helm’s outstanding speed, as demonstrated often in games, would allow him to keep up with the field and make a strong push. He’s demonstrated the athleticism necessary to clear those hurdles. On the down side, a race always comes down to one’s ability to finish. And this is where Helm could get into trouble, we’ve seen his ability to finish on many a breakaway. My fear is watching Helm blow away the field only to trip on the last hurdle as he nears the finish.

100m Sprint

What an exhilarating event this was, with the inhuman Usain Bolt completing the threepeat in dominant fashion. There was added excitement for me, as a Canadian, with Andre De Grasse bursting onto the sprint scene this year, and showing well with a bronze.

So, which Red Wing could we expect to contend with the fastest men on the planet. There are only two names that come to mind, Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou. I had to list both because I can’t decide which is quicker. Larkin set a new record in the fastest skater at the all-star game, but I think Athanasiou could actually be faster. Now could they keep up with the legendary Bolt, likely not, the man is lightning on the track. But what if we slant the conditions in their favor, maybe we drop the temperature to Michigan winter conditions, get some snow going, allow for some bumping going down the track. Well that could certainly make it interesting, but after watching Bolt, that’d still be a pretty tough feat.

Gymnastics

I’ve always had a respect for what these athletes are able to do. The sense of balance, strength, flexibility, and athleticism they have to have to do what they do in the gym is pretty incredible. The tiny Simone Biles dominated the field in the female division and was pretty entertaining to watch.

The most obvious candidate here is none other than Petr Mrazek. By goalie standards, he is considered a little on the smaller side these days, much like a gymnast. The way he moves around that net at times can remind you of a gymnast. His ability to make that spectacular save is like a gymnast nailing that double-triple-twisting-flipping-twirling-bending trick, sorry haven’t quite the terminology there yet.

Beach Volleyball

This is always a fun event to watch, one of those sports where the athletes seem to be having a genuine good time. This doesn’t mean they don’t work hard to perfect their craft, training long hours with their partner. It’s mentioned a lot that teammates in this sport have to be in sync with each other, knowing how each will move before it happens.

With that being said, one duo comes to mind for this. Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson. Hey, if both Babcock and Blashill are going to insist on having this pair together as often as they have been you have to think they’ve developed a pretty cognizant understanding of each other’s play. Also, when trying to find positives in Ericsson’s game, one stat that will often come up, regardless of how much this actually means, is blocked shots. He might as well put that to use in a sport where blocking shots is arguably half the game. Also, the body types of these two seem to match up with what you usually see in beach volleyball with a big shot blocker and a small yet powerful back court player. The other perk is we could bring new meaning to Kronwalling when Niklas goes up for a big spike.

Diving

Putting aside the spectacle of the green pool, divers are pretty spectacular at what they do. I hate heights so no chance you’re going to see me jumping off those platforms, spinning sixteen times hoping it doesn’t end up in the world’s most painful belly flop. Divers have to demonstrate outstanding body control and.... wait a minute, we already have diving in hockey. I mean, yes, it’s almost entirely different, but it’s got the same name, so surely the skill set carries over, right?

As much as it pains me to say it, one Red Wing showed more of an affinity for diving than others, Gustav Nyquist. Gus made the list of published offenders by the NHL, and even picked up a fine in January 2015. I don’t think Nyquist is the league’s worst offender but he is the worst offender on the Wings, according to the NHL. So I suppose he might as well give it a shot in the pool.

Rowing

This is one of the first events I think of when I think of the Summer Olympics. It’s probably because of the unison teammates have to be in the entire race, and the power it takes to move a boat that quickly. But the thing I’ve always loved about rowing is every race you can tell by the look on the athletes’ faces they pour everything the have into those races, pushing their bodies to the absolute endurance limits. That takes a lot of heart, you could probably say it’s captain material. So if you haven’t guessed, Henrik Zetterberg is my choice for this event. His ability to lead the team would carry over to an ability to lead the boat keeping everyone on the same stroke count. More importantly, as he gets into the twilight of his career, how many times have we seen Z put this team on his back in the big moments and will them to new heights. His heart and soul is built for a sport like rowing. Also it probably doesn’t hurt to have the lower body strength he’s shown when fighting off checkers to hold onto the puck down low until a teammate gets open.

Weightlifting

These athletes can definitely throw that weight around. I’ll be honest, it’s not not an event I spent much time watching. But I can still respect the amount of training and tole it takes on their bodies, all in the pursuit of a medal.

Hockey’s demands are a little different, with more of an emphasis on efficient power, getting powerful strides going to create as much speed as possible. That being said, there are still times in games that call for some good ol’ grinding and putting in work in the corners. I don’t even have to nominate someone for this sport myself. Pavel Datsyuk (miss you already) has already indicated who would be the Red Wing in this category. He referred to him often as the “piano-puller” of the line, Justin Abdelkader. Who am I to argue with Pavel, if he says the man can pull pianos around out there, why can’t he lift some big weight too. Also, Abdelkader is one of our larger players up front and seems like he is probably one of the bigger lifters in the weight room during training.

Handball

Handball is not a sport I have had much opportunity to watch, but from what I can gather it requires an athlete to have outstanding agility, quick reflexes, and creative playmaking. Several Red Wings fit that bill and after a lot of consideration.......

Come on, we all knew who it was going to be as soon as we saw the sport. Who else, Brendan Smith. Before anyone jumps on me for this, I am very much in the party that we can leave this mistake in the past for Brendan in regards to his contributions to the Red Wings, but I had to bring it up here.

Closing Ceremonies

At the end of the day, I think we all realize our boys in red probably made the right choice pursuing their talents in hockey, rather than some of these other sports. But after watching hours of Olympic coverage, you can’t help but wonder.

Anyway, hope you had a laugh reading this, and I assure you I will coming back with topics a little more serious and perhaps relevant to the on-ice team as we approach training camp, is it September yet?