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On the long and winding road/The Red Line

May 13, 2011
By Brandon Veale - DMG Sports Editor ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

When I left Houghton last Thursday night to spend a few days helping at a Christian retreat, Michigan Tech had no head hockey coach, the price of gas appeared to be going down and everyone had power.

After a weekend in the woods, about 18 hours back in town to do laundry, run errands and put out Monday's paper, it was back on the road for the Michigan AP Sports Editors' Conference.

By the time I parked for good Wednesday, all of the above had changed, at least for a while.

It's enough to make me fear setting foot outside of our four-county area, much less taking a vacation this summer.

Michigan Tech has a head hockey coach, and the early reaction is mostly positive. Several of the writers I chatted with at the conference who have worked with Mel Pearson and the Michigan hockey program had positive things to say and U of M athletic director Dave Brandon, who spoke to the group, agreed that he would be missed in Ann Arbor.

It is a long road back from Midland to Houghton, and likewise, it's a long road from where the Tech hockey program is to where its leaders and the community want it to be. The first official game of the season is Oct. 7 against American International, and the new-look Huskies will provide several chances for a sneak preview. Their 2011-12 schedule is out and includes an exhibition and four home series before the beginning of firearm deer season.

Speaking of long roads, the Red Wings' one-goal loss in Game 7 after fighting from 3-0 down feels something like driving from Midland to Houghton and breaking down in Chassell.

And really, Game 7 was one of the least frustrating ones in the series, since the Sharks didn't have an absurd preponderance of lucky breaks. Thanks to Brad Stuart (Game 1) and Henrik Zetterberg (Game 3), Detroit was the first NHL team to have five game-winning goals in a series and fail to advance.

When it counted Thursday, the Wings sprung too many leaks. Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary ending up in the 'quiet room' might have been the difference between going to Vancouver Saturday and going to Oakland Hills.

When everything was on the line, San Jose's Ryane Clowe could play, and 'The Mule,' Johan Franzen couldn't. Considering his role in some of Detroit's most successful playoff runs, one can't help but think that not having a full-strength Franzen was a factor.

As was repeatedly referred to during Game 7, San Jose finished one point ahead in the conference standings and got to host the decisive game. Given how loud HP Pavilion is on a consistent basis, not to mention another trip to the West Coast, perhaps that was the bridge too far. Remember that the next time someone tells you the NHL regular season doesn't mean anything.

Now, I'll try and get enthused about a possible Vancouver-Tampa Bay series in the Stanley Cup Finals. Still beats the NBA, I suppose.

It seems a long time in coming, but the hockey offseason is here. Just like my trusty Oldsmobile, you can't be on the road forever.

Brandon Veale can be reached at



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