Hockey. Booo. Fedorov sucks. Go home to Siberia, you bum.
We don‘t really mean it, Sergei. The howling of boos from Detroit hockey fans that rained down on the former Red Wings superstar recently was an expression of disappointment, not hate. Many Detroit fans believe the loss of Fedorov to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks via free agency severely diminishes the Red Wings‘ chances for a Stanley Cup this season.
They are wrong. Actually, the loss of Fedorov turned Detroit into a better team in the long-run. A looming strike by NHL players and salary-cap limits on teams after this season, automatically made Fedorov‘s future in the Motor City a short one. Losing Fedorov and injuries sidelining key players such as McCarty, Hatcher, Whitney, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, and Hasek, have forced some of the youngsters to step up and realize their potential. In particular, Pavel Datsyuk and Manny Legace have been outstanding.
If you think the Red Wings are playing well right now, wait until they heal up. They should be ready for a major run in the Stanley Cup playoffs by spring. Despite the loss of Sergei Fedorov, the future in Hockey Town looks bright.
College Basketball. Look for the underrated Michigan team to win the Big Ten championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament. Underclassmen Horton, Harris, and Abrams are poised, talented, and play with passion. This is the first Wolverine team in 20 years I have enjoyed watching. The arrogance of the Fab Five in the 1980‘s made me gag and most of the U of M teams since then have been abysmally weak. Not this year - the Wolverines will be the surprise of the Big Ten Conference.
On the other hand, the Michigan State Spartans are the most overrated team in recent memory. High school All-Americans Paul Davis, Kelvin Torbert, and others with big expectations have not been able to make a big impact at the college level. Besides, what was coach Tom Izzo thinking when he recruited five highly regarded players who all play the same position (the two-guard slot)? Without a true point-guard and a dearth of tough inside players, MSU is a fairly talented group of guys with no chemistry. Ranked number three in the nation before the season began, the Spartans will be fortunate to win more than they lose.
The Pistons are a strange team, indeed. In an era of megalomaniac athletes, Detroit‘s players stay out of jail, don‘t yell at the coach, and play as though they like each other. General manager Joe Dumars has brilliantly molded his humble squad into his own image: a hustling, over-achieving blue collar group of guys who play the best team defense in the league.
The Detroit Pistons will not win a championship, though, until they add one more piece to the puzzle: Darko Milicic. The number two NBA draft choice and youngest player in the league, 7-foot tall Serb just turned 18 and is at least two years away from leaving the bench and becoming the Pistons‘ go-to guy in the clutch.
College Football. Michigan State football was a heartwarming story under first-year coach John L. Smith. No matter what the result of their bowl game over the holidays, the Spartans are back, baby. They are fun to watch with their spread offense and should attract big-time recruits in the skill positions.
It is a college season to remember for Wolverine sports. Whatever opponent U of M draws in the Rose Bowl can expect to be beaten soundly. Michigan has too much firepower on offense to be stopped. Lloyd Carr doesn‘t get enough credit for the team‘s success. Besides having a good record, he combines integrity and class more than any U of M coach since Fielding Yost.