I apologize for the lateness of this expose, but it took some time to piece together this article from my source. And by “source,” I mean my imagination.
The scapegoat featured in this post might seem a bit odd since he is a player who didn’t actually play a single game for or against the Detroit Red Wings. It isn’t any of the officials or coaches either.
No, the blame for the team’s elimination falls squarely on the shoulders of a Red Wings alumnus who proved to be a distraction for starting goaltender Jimmy Howard all season long. Below, I’ve posted a series of text messages (sent between Dominik Hasek and Jimmy Howard over a period of many months) that reveal how future Hall-of-Famer (if he ever stays retired) Hasek is to blame for Detroit’s woes.
The Hasek-Howard Texts
Prior to the 2012 offseason, Dominik Hasek surprised the hockey world by making it known that he wanted to return to the NHL.
Shortly after this story broke, Hasek began what would become an uninvited and unwelcome on-and-off dialogue with Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard via text message.
Here’s the first message.
Prior to the beginning of the 2012-2013 shortened NHL season, Hasek contacted Howard once more to ask for some “advice.”
Apparently Hasek is a bit touchy when it comes to negative criticism of the docudrama based on his life. From this point on, Hasek’s texts to Howard became downright hostile. For instance, Hasek took Detroit’s loss in their season opener against the St. Louis Blues–a game in which Jaroslav Halak backstopped the hometeam Blues to a 6-0 rout of the Red Wings)–as an opportunity to mock Howard slyly.
When the scheduled date of the 2013 NHL All-Star game passed, Hasek seized upon the opportunity to pretend as though he didn’t know that the league’s annual celebration of its best players had been cancelled.
The following month, Hasek bombarded Howard with more insults following the game on March 31st in which the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Red Wings 6-1. Howard was pulled partway through the game, but the loss wasn’t entirely his fault: at one point, the discombobulated Detroit team scored on its own net. Nevertheless, Hasek pinned the blame entirely on Howard.
Hasek’s belittling of Howard continued into the playoffs. In the third period of Game 2 in the series against the Anaheim Ducks, the Red Wings blew a 4-1 lead (the worst kind of 3rd period lead in hockey according to the Toronto Maple Leafs). Even though the Red Wings managed to win the game in overtime, Hasek apparently couldn’t pass up this opportunity to harass Howard.
Hasek was apparently silenced for weeks after Detroit’s surprise victory over Anaheim in the first round, and the Red Wings’ ability to seize a 3-1 series lead over the Blackhawks in the second round. However, when Chicago managed to force a Game 7, Hasek quickly dispatched a mocking message.
Once the Red Wings had been eliminated by the Blackhawks, Hasek pretended to feel remorse for his actions and dangled the olive branch in front of Howard; but, as you’d expect by now, he quickly removed the peace offering from Howard’s grasp and face-pied the Red Wings goalie with a cream pie hidden in his other hand.
So, as you can see, not only was it a great accomplishment for the Red Wings to make the playoffs in the first year of the post Nicklas Lidstrom era, but it was especially significant that Jimmy Howard managed to perform well while under constant sardonic scrutiny from a legendary athlete, one who not only played his same position but once led the Red Wings to two Stanley Cup championships (2002, 2008). Hopefully Hasek lays off next season so we can see what Howard can accomplish when not distracted!