Monday, September 5, 2011
Or "Whipping Boy", whichever you prefer. He struggled last season, a season in which he came back from, to put it nicely, fucking over the Wings by going to Russia. (Yes, I could be much harsher on that subject) He left a sour taste in Wings fans mouths by leaving for the money, which if I was in the same situation, I would do the same. But nonetheless it was still a tough pill to swallow as we were going into a season where we had already slashed away some depth with the losses of Samuelsson and Hossa.
He came back to the wings for the 2010-11 season and was a great dissapointment. There were nights when he was just fighting for a spot on the ice and would find himself eating over-priced Little Ceasers in the Press Box. Thankfully his 5 million dollar salary in Russia should help soften the damage a meal at the Joe costs. He did manage to go on a nice streak late in the season but I'm hesitant to say that was because of his skills coming through as much as it was having Pavel Datsyuk on his line.
Here are his stats from past seasons(Minus that Russian stint):
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM
2007-08 Detroit Red Wings NHL 81-13-29-42-11
2008-09 Detroit Red Wings NHL 82-23-34-57-7
2010-11 Detroit Red Wings NHL 73-10-27-37- -7
Hudler broke onto the big clubs roster in 2006-07 and was putting up consistently better stats each season. His trip to Russia either stunted his development or showed us he isn't as good a player without the depth the Wings once had before the cap started to hit us. I'm a firm believer in that he has the talent to be a 70 point player (I may end up eating my words on that statement) but I'm not sure if he will ever reach that potential. Last year he lacked confidence, consistently passing while in prime shooting lanes, and holding onto the puck way too long. It might be more of an adjustment to the smaller ice surface than anything else though...
He won't be a great 2-way forward like your Zetterbergs and Datsyuks, or even Flips. What he can potentially bring is another high scoring winger, something the Red Wings could really use right now. This upcoming season, if he doesn't get traded before the October 7th home opener, will really be a make or break one for "The Hudler Formerly Known as Happy". He has reasons to worry not only from the "Trade Bait" label floating over his head, but from a couple of youngsters trying to prove themselves in Mursak and Emmerton.
The Pressure is on for Hudler.
A step in the right direction. He gets opportunities to prove himself this year and does so. Jiri Hudler doesn't exactly flourish but he does improve on his totals from the 2010-11 season. It's also a contract year for him, if he wants to land a job with the Wings, or anyone, he needs to prove himself. Most teams will be afraid to take him with his KHL label floating over. This could be a huge year and has the possibility of being his last in the NHL if he doesn't get his game together.
Prediction 2(Because he earned it):
Hudler gets traded in a package deal around the deadline for a forward like Hemsky, Boyes, or if I'm feeling really lucky, Semin.
Keep your head up Happy...