Well, Hudler has gone on a long journey with the Wings. He did great in GR, worked his way up to the Wings, scored some big goals in the '08 playoffs, had his breakout season in '09, got a big arbitration reward that summer, left after making the Wings wait--and thus exhausting most of the free agent pool--did very well in Russia, and then this year made a triumphant return to the team, and promptly put in what was probably the worst performance of any forward on the team and was certainly the worst performance of any forward on the team as far as salary-per-performance goes. Then, finally, he was generally worthless in the playoffs.
Mike Modano? Hello? Modano made nearly $2m and outside of a stretch of seven or 8 games this season played at an AHL level. Modano was the worst forward to play for the Wings this season, including call-ups, and the worst by salary.
As for the playoffs, Hudler had an excellent first-round. In the second round, he wasn't as good but Filppula was no better through the first few games. And Hudler played very well in the last couple of games. It was brought up that he was a minus in games six and seven. In game six, it's because he was tying up the guy going to the net and then diving into the net to try and stop the puck that Howard couldn't hold on to. In game seven, he was on the ice for Couture's goal, which Howard should have been set and ready to react to but wasn't, and Zetterberg handed an open Couture the puck on a clearing attempt. Clearly that's all Hudler's fault. Just more examples of how plus-minus is not actually representative of the player's performance.
Jiri Hudler never came back from Russia. You said it well, he worked up from GR, played well despite his size and then the summer of 2009. Waited it out, handcuffing the Wings in free agency, left, and came back supposed to be a difference maker and failed miserably. Last night was possibly his worst game yet even when you don't mention the clumsy blind-siding of an actually effective player in Dan Cleary. He was called upon to take on big minutes, especially with the extra man and between him and Rafalski, managed to render all Red Wings powerplays worthless.
I agree with the firing squad comment. Either way, give me Miller, Eaves, or Draper any day, and I have no idea why we couldn't have played Modano. Still baffles me, but that's Babcock's issue. Trade or waive Hudler, at least with Filppula's contract we get solid defensive skill, more hustle, and equal/greater offensive capability.
Hudler was skating in a straight line; Cleary skated into him when trying to cut back towards the center of the ice.
As for Filppula having greater offensive capability... just no. Flip is better defensively and a better skater, he might be a better player...but he is not better offensively. Not even close. It's like Ron Francis and Adam Oates.
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not only because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.