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Detroit Red Wings

How To Help Hudler Hold His Head High

Detroit Red WingsWhen Jiri Hudler returned to Detroit in the closed season, he was welcomed back as a strong Powerplay kind of guy, and a knack for scoring opportune goals. With a modest cap hit and a proven track record, there were very few Red Wings pessimists regarding this deal. Hudler had been away from Detroit for just under a year, after being with the organisation for 8, being drafted in 2002. If he looked closely at his stall in the locker room, I bet his ass-print would still be there from before he left.

The subsequent deal to bring in Mike Modano was a pretty exciting prospect for Wings fans, but the story didn’t work out that way.

Hudler’s form was terrible. He seemed to still have the pace, and the skills to compete, but he was always a step behind the move. His confidence dropped noticeably, and Hudler found himself a healthy scratch, being displaced by the “firing on all pistons” players like Helm, Miller and Eaves.

After 6 points in 30 games, Hudler was beginning to look like trade fodder, and many Red Wings fans and blogs began to call for his value to be traded before the deadline at the end of February.

However, Hudler managed to grab hold of his lacklustre performances, and turn them into something of worth. In a turnaround likely to force many fantasy players to tear their hair out, Hudler came back after Christmas with a stonking 26 points in 31 games, including a 6-game point streak and the shootout winning effort in the Buffalo game.

So what happened at Christmas? What caused the turnaround?

There are constant comparisons between the KHL, where Hudler played last season, and the NHL, but one of the biggest changes is often overlooked. The KHL play on Olympic-sized rinks, whilst the NHL do not. Also the NHL game tends to be a little more frantic.

Therefore it looks like the difference was that it simply took Jiri 30 games to settle back into the fold. I imagine it’s much easier to slow your game down a step than to speed it up a notch. And to all those who had Hudler in their fantasy teams and dropped him due to poor form, then all I have to say is that patience is a virtue…

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