Before I enter the crux of this write up, take note that Berggren was named “rookie of the year” by the Detroit sports media. Why I feel this is one of those stories that is good for fans during this rebuild is that it shows the other side of the “winning formula”. We know teams need superstars up front, on the blue line, and there’s debate about “in net”. Specifically, I hear a lot of back and forth about whether or not Osgood will or should ever go in the hall of fame. It’s as taboo a subject as you can broach.
Berggren wasn’t supposed to play in the NHL this year. That was mentioned by broadcasters, staff, and even the player himself. Picked in 2018 after Veleno and Zadina, in 67 games Berggren has 3 fewer goals and 5 fewer assists (15 and 13 respectively) than Veleno has in 152 games (18g and 18a). I feel like JB is the kind of depth player that will continue down a path where he has to work harder to be a part of the team. He is open to learning and critique and I have a genuine admiration of players who accept and embrace a role that is important, but not always respected.
On the other side of the coin, there is a painful and glaring blank space on the ceiling of LCA. The number 91 is long overdue to hang next to the handful of retired jerseys. Sergei Fedorov was a game changer, as well a bit of a trail blazer in making people notice the sport who didn’t really follow hockey.
The embed shows the game and his 5 goals. You can find a good number of reels on the Russian Phenom online who scored 400 goals for Detroit in his time there. Yes, his departure soured people. Yes, there was a Karmanos situation that took the Red Wings affiliation out of a major-junior team. With Yzerman in office, I think the time is quickly coming for Fedorov to be celebrated.
As far as a cultural icon, he was doing Nike commercials, had some special white skates at one point, and even had an “action figure” that was in the older category (the 12” size of the old G.I. Joe and dare I say it, Barbie collection). People who didn’t know about hockey knew who Fedorov was. That was and is a big deal for a sport that today needs more than ever to find more cultural appeal. The movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” was also a boost to Detroit’s brand as the character Cameron wore a Gordie Howe jersey. Even Paul McCartney sported a Winged Wheel on his acoustic guitar that he apparently got from the Olympia stadium.
When I go back and watch what Fedorov brought to the game, he wasn’t coddled. Not at all. Players took shots at him, elbows to the face, slashes and all kinds of abuse that made his fluidity and ability even more impressive. I just absolutely love watching clips from his career. The 5 goal OT game vs Washington (where he would ironically spend a little time) is just one of those moments in time that highlights a gifted and relentless player.
Please chime in with your favorites. Relive those moments that put the Winged Wheel even deeper into your life. Good times are ahead, and we’ve already had some good moments with #19 at the mast.