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Archive for August, 2010

The Detroit Pistons made some noise around the league Tuesday, signing former superstar Tracy McGrady to a one year deal worth $1.35 million. McGrady has only played in 68 games the last two seasons due to problems with his left knee and back. He had surgery on the knee during the 2008-09 season, and feels like he can contribute to the Pistons right away.

As Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reported to ESPN, Arnie Kander and Tracy McGrady will probably begin a relationship that will carry into the regular season. Kander is Detroit’s strength and conditioning coach and the Pistons believe that he may be the key to a successful and productive season from the 7-time All-Star and 2-time scoring champ. Kander has been a part of the Pistons organization since 1992 and has implemented workouts and programs that have kept the team very healthy over those years.

The Pistons are hoping that he can push McGrady in the right direction. I think that they want to see if he has anything left in the tank, and wanted another scoring threat. This move was smart because it was relatively cheap, and the risk/reward is huge. McGrady is less than 2 seasons removed from averaging 21 points and still has a stroke from the outside. If he can get his body into game-shape, he will be a crucial part to the Pistons this season. If he does become a crucial part to the Pistons, why not put him on the trading block? He could catch the eye of Boston, Los Angeles, or Denver and could become a cheap addition to a team in the playoff hunt. If the Pistons can get prospects or picks in return, this deal will definitely be worth it.

Even though he might not be as explosive as he once was, and may not be able to play 40 minutes a game anymore, fans will come to see him play. He is a big name player and the last time he spent quality time in Detroit (2003 first round), he manhandled the Pistons. That is the memory that Piston fans have of Tracy McGrady. He punished the Pistons for the first 6 games of the series and took control of each of those games. I can’t remember anyone who dominated that Pistons team the way he did in those first few games of the 2003 playoffs.

Obviously, those days are long gone. McGrady has lost a step (or two) and most of the league gave up on him. I think it is safe to say that there are mixed reactions for the fans in Detroit. Some like the move, others are annoyed, still others are puzzled. I say, why not? We didn’t have to trade anyone for him, and its not like we were going anywhere as a team. The Pistons are rebuilding and probably will not be back among the elite until they draft some quality players or trade for/sign new ones.

Even though the Pistons are looking at a 25-35 win season, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to do better. Signing McGrady was an effort to show that they still want to win, even if he doesn’t pan out as an important piece to the puzzle. Patience is a virtue. People in Detroit have been spoiled over the past decade (save the Lions) with Stanley Cups, an NBA title, and an American League Pennant. Sometimes, you just have to be patient with your team. The Pistons are trying to turn things around and slowly, but surely, they will. For now though, why not take a chance on McGrady? Maybe it will work out, and maybe it won’t. I think he has something to prove though, and could surprise a lot of people in Detroit. I know I’ll be cheering for him.

Matthew Benedetto © 2010

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Coming Home

The Detroit Red Wings signed veteran forward Mike Modano on Tuesday, adding another experienced player nearing the end of their career. Modano was born in Livonia, Michigan, so it is a homecoming of sorts for him. He said his parents were excited to see him play more often. He had spent his entire career in the Minnesota/Dallas Stars organization, and is currently the all-time leader in goals and points scored amongst American-born players.

After realizing that he wouldn’t be in Dallas, Modano searched for a team and decided it was between Minnesota, San Jose, and Detroit. He said he finally found an answer when golfing in Scotland with former teammate Marty Turco. Turco had gone through the same experience recently, signing with the Chicago Blackhawks after an extended stint with the Stars.

Modano said that he also had discussions with Brett Hull and other former and current Red Wings, giving him a better idea of the type of situation he could be in if he came to Detroit. “They all told me what a great organization and city it is to play in,” he said. “And mix in the incredible talent they have playing there and it kind of made my decision for me.”

Modano has won the Stanley Cup, but wants to make one last run at it. When asked where he would fit in on the team, Modano replied the way you would expect a Red Wing to reply. “Just in casual conversation so far, maybe third line and some power play. They have so many talented players and I’m willing to play wherever they need me to.” I’m sure it isn’t easy for a former NHL superstar to say that, but Modano realizes that he is on his last legs.

The uniform will not be the only change he will have next year. Mr. Hockey sported #9 and his number is retired in Detroit, so Modano will have to find a new one for the first time in his career. He stated that he had a few ideas of what he would change to, but hadn’t decided anything yet.

Hopefully Modano can provide even more veteran leadership to the Red Wings, giving them a better chance to make a deep playoff run. He gets to start contributing to that cause against his former team in the first game of the season.

Matthew Benedetto © 2010

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