Since Datsyuk's injury, one player in particular has consistently stepped up-a player that has needed to more than just about anyone else in the league- Mr. Jiri Hudler.
Returning from a life of hookers and candy in Europe (you just know he loves candy), it's taken Hudler a while to get back into the swing of things. The first few months of the season, he was more likely to find himself in the press-box than celebrating a goal. In fact, in the first 30 games he only had six points and only one freaking goal. Considering his last year in the NHL he scored 57 points, people were pissed. Some were reasonable about it, wanting to give him time to really get it going. Others not so much; some called for his almost permanent benching:
Since it is unlikely the Red Wings can trade him maybe the best thing for him right now is benching him for a few weeks maybe time away will allow him to rediscover himself.Others were more reactionary, like the two idiots over at the Bleacher Report who stupidly wanted Kenny to waive the little Czech.
(Idiot One) If you're still with me, and are wondering just how stupid I am for suggesting such a thing as [waiving Hudler], then you might have some idea of the level of incredulity I'm beginning to have regarding the decision to continue playing Hudler, hoping he'll contribute, while sitting Miller and Eaves knowing that they will.
(Idiot Two) I think it's time to take the chance and waive him, hope he clears and develop him into the "Happy" Hudler we grew to love two years ago. Time, and roster space, is wasting.
I didn't agree and called them idiots. I never think you should give up on talent until you've given every last chance for that talent to succeed. Hudler has the talent and to give up on him after just three months of struggles would be a bigger overreaction than the geniuses that claimed piggy flu was going to be the end of the world.
The last few games, Hudler's been proving me (and other supporters) right. He's finally got his confidence back (most of it at least, I still want more shoot) and has been dominating on a line lately with the 'Tuzz and Filppula. He has five points in his last five games and is all over the ice like a mouse in a maze (worst. analogy. ever.). Here's NOHS reader redpanda:
The first twenty games or so, Hudler looked pathetic in any kind of board battle. Now he's finding a way to protect and advance the puck even under pressure in the dirty areas. He doesn't even look like the same player.
I've always been a Happy fan and I'm "happier" then ever he's back.