The Malik Report
Red Wings mid-day mish-mash: questions, trade climatology, co-MVP’s, Happy Hudler and more McCrimmon
by George Malik on 02/01/12 at 05:38 PM ET
The Canucks are practicing right now in Vancouver, and the Red Wings won’t even hit the ice until 3 or 3:30 PM EST, so we’re looking at some very late-afternoon off-day updates, but that’s no excuse for sitting on Wings news till this evening for the sake of comprehensiveness’s sake.
Given the Wings’ gritty 3-1 win over the Flames, Calgary’s moving tribute to Brad McCrimmon and Art Regner’s insistence that the Wings must target one of Tuomo Ruutu or Ales Hemsky to succeed come playoff time, we’ve got more than enough to tide us over till we learn how goalie coach Jim Bedard fared in practice during Jimmy Howard’s Day Off, and we’ll start this afternoon’s discussion with a slate of question regarding the Wings from Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski:
Detroit Red Wings:
The Big Question: Can they win on the road? The Wings are a stellar 20-2-1 at home, accounting for 41 of their 69 points. On the road they’re 14-14-0 and bit more human. Last night’s win in Calgary was a good start.
The Most Intriguing Player Near the Deadline: No one, really. Unless the Red Wings get oddly aggressive with Brad Stuart before free agency, this roster shouldn’t see much movement out the door. Movement in the door, with $25 million in cap space, is another matter …
Read and hear about lots of teams with lots of cap room looking to add. That means high prices. They better hope more teams fall out soon.
As I said regarding Regner’s column, the fact that the standings are so tightly packed in the West and that few teams have truly dropped out of the race in the East should yield far fewer early February trades, and as the “sellers” finally choose to maximize returns for their assets, Cotsonika hits the nail on the head—from what we’ve all heard via Paul and TSN and anybody who’s keeping track of trade rumors from substantiated media sources, everybody and their brother wants a top-six forward and Tuomo Ruutu might be the most-coveted under-performing forward since Bobby Ryan two months ago, which tends to yield a buying climate that people like Ken Holland are loath to enter.
Shifting gears, let’s just say that I’m not surprised at this bit of news from the Flint Journal’s Brendan Savage:
The people have spoken and the Detroit Red Wings’ mid-season Most Valuable Player is …Goaltender Jimmy Howard.
In the closest voting in history — this is the first time we’ve done this here at Mlive.com — Howard nipped teammate Pavel Datsyuk in a campaign between the Red Wings’ All-Star Game representatives. Of the 402 votes cast, Howard received 198 to Datsyuk’s 193. (That’s 49 percent to 48 percent; it can’t get much closer than that.) The third choice on the ballot — “other’’ — was selected by 11 readers.
We received votes from 20 countries. In addition to the U.S. and Canada, voters weighed in from places like Thailand, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Italy, Ireland and Sweden.
Sounds about right. Co-MVP’s, most definitely,
As Rant Sports’ Daniel Gutsky notes, the identity of the Wings’ Januuary MVP might surprise you:
Jiri Hudler’s season, at least in terms of goal scoring, got off to an incredibly slow start. The Red Wings center scored just two goals in October and November, the lowest of his career.
The calendar turned to December, and something changed. Hudler recorded 14 goals in December and January, capped off with his go-ahead (and eventual game winner) goal against the Flames Tuesday night in Calgary. The last two months has put Hudler into 5th on the Wings in total points, and is second in goals behind only Johan Franzen. The 28-year-old Czech is on pace for a 27-goal season, which would be a career high.
In news related to “Hockey Ink,” In the Game signed Gordie Howe to an autograph-signing contract, and today, Panini America also announced that they’ve brought Mr. Hockey into the signing fold. I don’t know if Howe’s agreement with Upper Deck (which is the NHL’s main trading cards rights-holder, with something like a dozen brands rolling off the printing presses all year long) lapsed or whether Marty and Gordie’s grandson Travis are simply marketing their dad’s services more aggressively, but a better chance of pulling a Gordie Howe autograph out of a pack of cards (oh, new hockey card smell! My *one* big superstition involves buying a pack or two cards after the Wings lose in an attempt to change their luck) is never a bad thing;
And if you missed it, the Calgary Herald’s Ted Rhodes posted some poignant pictures from the Flames’ ceremony honoring Brad McCrimmon, as well as a few pictures from last night’s game. Here was the in-arena version of the video tribute…
As well as some “sights and sounds” from the warm-ups, where the Flames wore McCrimmon’s #4 on their backs, the ceremony and the game:
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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.