The Malik Report
At the beginning of this month, I was asked to try out a sample of Buttendz, a rubberized grip for the top hand/butt-end portion of one's hockey stick.
When I spoke with the product's designer, Rob LaLonde, I found out that the product was designed for top-hand-dominant players, and that made me all the more interested in trying it out. I am something of an oddity in the hockey world as someone who uses his dominant left hand to push a left-shooting hockey stick, and I've always had a love-hate relationship with the butt end of my stick as my grip strength and hand/arm strength aren't nearly as strong in my right hand.
I do just about everything with my left hand, and so I can have a real hard time getting the proper grip on my hockey stick. I've tried at least ten different tape jobs to get things feeling right, and I use a lot of tape to tape up the butt end of my stick, so finding a lighter alternative to half a roll's worth of tape intrigued me.
As you know by now, I take hockey equipment very seriously, so:
Per preseason protocol, even after the team's cuts/demotions on Thursday, Red Wings still technically have two "teams," and given Babcock's comments about the jobs available on defense, the Red Wings' sought-after coach and his charges will practice in two groups in Detroit today, and then fly to Toronto ahead of tonight's game against the Maple Leafs (7:30 PM EDT on FSD, Sportsnet and 97.1 FM, Jonas Gustavsson starts) and tomorrow's exhibition finale against Boston (5:30 PM EDT on the NHL Network, Petr Mrazek starts).
The Wings hope to rebound (to some extent) from a flat effort vs. Pittsburgh on Wednesday, they'd obviously love to get Darren Helm (groin), Jonathan Ericsson (hip flexor) and Tomas Tatar (per concussion protocol, not available tonight) into the lineup, and the team's assessment as to whether Mitch Callahan, Landon Ferraro, Nick Jensen, Alexey Marchenko or Xavier Ouellet are ready for NHL duty will continue.
The Wings may or may not make more cuts after each game given that the Grand Rapids Griffins play a pair of exhibition games against the Lake Erie Monsters (tonight in Windsor, ON and tomorrow in Fort Wayne, IN), but I'm guessing that they'll hedge toward Tuesday's 23-man-roster-and-cap-compliant deadline instead.
Toronto's in a very different situation:
Red Wings GM Ken Holland discusses Babcock’s status & more on The Fan 590; Krupa believes Babs stays
Red Wings GM Ken Holland appeared on Sportsnet's Prime Time Sports show on Thursday evening, speaking with Bob McCown and John Shannon. Holland's appearance was perhaps all but mandatory given that the Wings wrap up their exhibition season in Toronto on Friday night (7:30 PM on FSD, Sportsnet and 97.1 FM) and Boston on Saturday (5:30 PM on the NHL Network U.S.):
Holland discusses the preseason for a short while--pointing out that most of the "jobs" to be won by Wings players were won by Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist over the course of the previous year, and saying that the Wings "might have a job or two open" (cough on defense cough)--before addressing Mike Babcock's contract situation, saying simply that he won't talk about it.
Updated 2x at 5:12 PM: Throughout last night's quick take, overnight report, today's practice post and even the "cuts post"--and long before that, frankly--the hottest preseason topic regarding the Red Wings' roster has involved the team's defense.
Today, the team sent Ryan Sproul and Mattias Backman down, reminding us that Sproul is still both a year removed from the OHL and a bit of an adventure in his own zone, and reflecting the fact that, despite his immaculate positioning (a fine foil to Sproul's bombastic rushes and one-man-showmaking), Backman can be pushed around and needs to both get stronger and get more accustomed to North American-sized rinks...
But Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko and the surprising (to those of you who haven't attended the past six summer development camps) Nick Jensen remain on the Wings' 39-man roster, and the vast majority of what TMR readers, Wings fans on Twitter/Facebook and just about everywhere else have been discussing involve how the team might extricate itself from the unpleasant situation that is Jakub Kindl (and the 3 years remaining on his contract, with a $2.4 million cap hit for every season) and/or Brian Lashoff (two years remaining at a Capgeek-estimated $725,000) starting the year as the team's third pairing on defense.
The Free Press's Helene St. James addresses this issue head-on this afternoon, noting that today's post-practice media availability yielded blunt praise for Ouellet, Marchenko and Jensen from one Mike Babcock...
Updated with a take from GR at 4:38 PM: I placed the Red Wings' cuts "inline" with afternoon news--and it should be noted that the waiving of Louis-Marc Aubry and Tom McCollum don't fare into the equation (and Kevin Porter [groin], Andy Miele [sports hernia] and Anthony Mantha [broken leg] remain with the team due to injuries which prohibit them from being sent down)--but here's the Wings' official release regarding said cuts:
DETROIT TRIMS ROSTER TO 39
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today assigned forwards Andreas Athanasiou, Colin Campbell and Martin Frk and defensemen Mattias Backman, Richard Nedomlel and Ryan Sproul to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. Additionally, the Red Wings assigned defenseman Joe Hicketts to the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Royals and released forwards Shane Berschbach, Alden Hirschfeld and Mark Zengerle from their tryouts.
(Technically speaking, Hicketts' reassignment and the releases of Berschbach, Hirschfeld and Zengerle happened last weekend, but they were made official today)
Detroit’s roster currently stands at 39 players. The Red Wings will wrap-up their preseason slate with back-to-back road games against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday at 7:30 p.m. (FOX Sports Detroit) and against the Boston Bruins on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (NHL Network).
Updated 2x with prospect news at 4:59 PM: Today's Red Wings practice brought good news about both Tomas Tatar and Darren Helm, as well as a Pavel Datsyuk sighting, prior to tomorrow and Saturday's exhibition finales against Toronto and Boston, respectively (Wings @ Toronto on Friday = 7:30 PM EDT on FSD/Sportsnet/97.1 FM, with Jonas Gustavsson starting; Wings @ Boston on Saturday = 5:30 PM EDT on the NHL Network U.S., with Petr Mrazek starting).
The Wings may or may not use an "A Team" and "B Team" lineup (with "A" and "B" meaning just the letters, not A is better and B is worse) against Toronto and Boston, skipping the "NHL Dress Rehsarsal Lineup" policy given coach Babcock's statements regarding needing to "figure out" his defense...
But the Wings need to waive a solid chunk of players for the sake of waiving them, and the Wings need to bolster the Grand Rapids Griffins' roster ahead of AHL exhibition games against Lake Erie (on Friday in Windsor, ON and Saturday in
Indianapolis Fort Wayne, IN)
As such, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa reports that cuts are coming:
He also offers a Tatar update:
Updated 2x with some minor waiver news at 1:19 PM: There's encouraging news from today's Red Wings practice, per MLive's Ansar Khan:
Pavel Datsyuk joins team for practice, wearing gray non-contact jersey.
Datysuk, who suffered separated right shoulder 10 days ago, seems to be passing and shooting well. Estimated to be out another 2-3 weeks.
Otherwise, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa reports that the Wings are still skating in two groups:
Forbes Michael Onazian engaged in an intriguing conversation with Chris Ilitch, who discussed a certain hockey team's follow-on rink:
For our current Forbes SportsMoney television show I chatted with Chris Ilitch, President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings (please see video below). Ilitch Holdings owns the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and MLB’s Detroit Tigers and the hockey team is set to open a new arena during the summer of 2017, replacing Joe Louis Arena–the oldest arena in the league.
The new arena will be part of a new mixed-use development project in downtown Detroit, headed by the Illitch family, that plans to take underutilized blocks in the city and establish five distinct neighborhoods in downtown Detroit that offer residential housing, green space, entertainment, dining and of course, venues for Detroit’s sports teams. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, a native of Detroit, has also been investing in the city’s redevelopment.
The 11:14 video isn't embeddable, but it's worth your time.
The Chief called 2009 "The Summer of Ken," and going into Friday's game against a Toronto Maple Leafs team that hasn't played since Monday's 3-0 Wings win (7:30 PM EDT on FSD, Sportsnet and 97.1 FM; fear not, the Leafs "went to cottage country"), as well as Saturday's exhibition finale against Boston (5:30 PM EDT on the NHL Network U.S.), I think we might want to call the season we're all about to begin as "The Winter of Babs (and the Cone of Silence)." It sounds better than, "The Season of Mike Babcock" at least.
But I'm not the Chief (much to some of your disdain and much to my, well, comfort). I'm the awkward, anxious but sincere guy who won't shut up. Seems to work for me, and I hope for you.
Please take note that the beat writers report that Tomas Tatar's OK:
The Red Wings lost a very "up and down" game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night, dropping a 2-0 decision, but ahead of Friday and Saturday's back-to-back exhibition finales (in Toronto on Friday, at 7:30 PM EDT on FSD, and in Boston on Saturday, at 5:30 PM, on the NHL Network), there were some positives in the game:
- Jimmy Howard held the Wings in the game at times, and despite a wonky rebound on the 2-0 goal, he was otherwise immaculate, looking sharper and smarter in the crease (and stopping 15 of 16 second-period shots and 31 of 33 overall);
- The Wings' penalty-kill remains perfect on the preseason, going 25-for-25;
- Nick Jensen most certainly aided his cause via a 4-shot, 2-hit, 20:24-played perfromance, leading a Wings defensive corps that wasn't hurting for talent with Danny DeKeyser and Niklas Kronwall in the lineup;
- While they can't seem to finish, the Nyquist-Zetterberg-Franzen line was nothing less than dynamic. Nyquist led the Wings with 5 shots (and 4 more attempts), Franzen had 4 (with 4 more attempts), Zetterberg went 10-and-7 on faceoffs and had 3 shot attempts and 2 takeaways;
About The Malik Report
The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.