The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/25/12 at 02:01 PM ET
Updated 3x with more from Stuart at 3:11 PM, and, via Twitter, the IIHF is reporting that Pavel Datsyuk will join Russia’s World Championship team: As Paul noted, Red Wings fans can at least take some small solace in knowing that the NBC Sports Network will air a good chunk of the World Championship‘s later-round games, allowing us to watch Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson (all playing for Sweden), Valtteri Filppula (Finland), Tomas Tatar (Slovakia), Jakub Kindl (Czech Republic), Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader (both for Team USA) and possibly Pavel Datsyuk (Russia) at least a few more times before September.
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff spoke to several of the Wings’ Worlds’ participants during Tuesday’s locker room clean-out, and the players are both excited and somewhat relieved about earning the chance to continue their hockey seasons:
“I’m looking forward to that, playing for my country,” [Jimmy] Howard said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do that, so I’m looking forward to going over to Finland and playing.”
The tournament will be held May 4-20 in Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden, and the latter site helped entice Franzen to participate. “It’s always fun,” Franzen said of the chance to play at home. “Lots of friends and family are going to able to see a game of mine. We had an early exit (from the playoffs) two years in a row, haven’t finished the season on a good note in a while. It feels like a good opportunity to do that, go over there, they have a good team.”
[Niklas] Kronwall, meanwhile, was non-committal about his potential to participate. “We’ll see,” Kronwall said. “It’ll probably be determined later this week. I have some personal stuff that needs to be taken care of, but we’ll play it by ear this week and we’ll see.”
The last time Abdelkader played for Team USA was at the world juniors when he was 19, also in Sweden. “Any time you can play for your country, represent your country it’s a big honour, and I’m excited about the opportunity,” Abdelkader said.
Datsyuk wants to be certain his surgically-repaired knee is sound before committing to playing for Russia. “I need a couple of days,” Datsyuk said.
Ericsson wasn’t ready for his season to be over, so he jumped at the chance to keep playing. “I wasn’t planning on being done for the season at this time of year, so it really kind of came natural to me and I didn’t really hesitate,” Ericsson said. “When I got clearance from Detroit, I didn’t have a question.”
He’s looking forward to the chance to face some of his Detroit teammates on the ice. “That’ll be fun,” Ericsson said. “I’m going to try to knock them down.”
Datsyuk is one of the 16 finalists in EA Sports’ vote to determine the cover athlete for NHL 13.
In the first round of voting, Datysuk beat out teammate Jimmy Howard. The second round of voting featured 32 players, with the top 16 vote-getters moving on.
Now, it’s a bracket-style event to see which player eventually will be announced as the winner June 20 at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
First up is a matchup with St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie. Oshie had 19 goals and 35 assists this season.
Voting on Datsyuk’s half of the bracket doesn’t open until May 3. Fans will then be able to vote an unlimited number of times through May 10.
Here are the other seven matchups:
• Claude Giroux vs. P.K. Subban
• Scott Hartnell vs. Tyler Seguin
• Evgeni Malkin vs. Steven Stamkos
• Anze Kopitar vs. David Perron
• Henrik Lundqvist vs. Erik Karlsson
• Pekka Rinne vs. Patrick Sharp
• Jordan Eberle vs. John Tavares
If Datsyuk advances, he’ll face the winner of Lundqvist-Karlsson.
• In the multimedia vein, 97.1 the Ticket posted a video interview with Wings play by play man Ken Kal, who discusses the Wings’ first-round ouster and likely off-season moves…
• Regarding said moves, the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman offered some, let’s say unique observations about the Wings among his “30 Thoughts”...
17. Detroit is interesting. Rivals think the Red Wings will be very proactive. You can’t mention them without hearing, “They’re going to be bidding for [Ryan] Suter and Parise.” Teams are uncertain about spending because of the looming CBA, but even if the cap drops to $55 million (for argument’s sake), they are in a decent spot. Their best prospects, aside from Brendan Smith and maybe Gustav Nyquist, are a couple years away.
18. I’m curious to see if Detroit makes Valtteri Filppula available. Before the Nashville series, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock had a heart-to-heart with him, saying he’d had a great year, but a strong post-season performance was needed. While linemate Henrik Zetterberg was very good, Filppula had just two assists in five games.
19. Ultimately, the No. 1 factor in Nicklas Lidstrom’s future is if he wants to put himself through everything it takes to get ready for the season. I mentioned on The Hotstove that he may leave if close friend Tomas Holmstrom retires—a theory that, apparently, was backed up by Chris Chelios on NHL Live.
20. I did ask a couple of opponents who see a lot of Detroit if Lidstrom made any concession to age this season. They saw one. At times, the gap between him and his forwards was wider than normal. He was protecting himself against the speed of opposing forwards. The funniest thing about these conversations, though, is that no one wants to say anything perceived as remotely negative about Lidstrom. He is so respected.
• ESPN’s Craig Custance devoted an ESPN Insider blog entry to the Wings’ offseason moves as well, and while I can’t quote much of it (and the three locker room clean-out day posts do a pretty darn good job of offering necessary context)...
I can tell you that Custance believes that even if Nicklas Lidstrom returns, we’ve probably seen the last of Brad Stuart, Tomas Holmstrom and Jiri Hudler as members of the Red Wings, and he notes that while the Wings will probably have the salary cap space needed to sign both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, should they reach the open market, the Wings may have to surrender some assets to acquire their rights at the Entry Draft or sometime before July 1st, though GM Ken Holland’s not a fan of such a course of action…
“I don’t think it matters if you like it or not,” Holland said when we chatted on Tuesday. “If there’s a player you’re interested in and you think he’s going to be traded prior to July 1—it is what it is. Whether you like it or don’t.”
]Wings coach Mike] Babcock gave the impression that major additions will come via free agency rather than any blockbuster trade, and the roster construction of the team suggests that’s the best way to go. Holland confirmed they will be aggressive in adding.
“If it makes sense,” he said.
And Custance offers the likely alternate UFA picks for the Wings, should one or both of Parise or Suter re-sign with their respective teams or land elsewhere:
Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals—Semin might be the kind of player who would drive Babcock crazy, but he also has the skill set Detroit could use. He leads the Capitals with three playoff goals in what’s been a tightly checked series against the Bruins. Pavel Datsyuk has joked in the past that he’d like another Russian to play with and he’d be nothing but a great influence on Semin. Players have a way of maturing when they find their way to Detroit, and the Red Wings would be counting on that happening with Semin.
Dennis Wideman, Capitals—He hasn’t been great during the playoffs and isn’t the most sound defenseman, but he provides the kind of offense from the back end that Holland likes from his blue line. He had 11 goals during the regular season and his 46 points would have led all Red Wings defensemen.
Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia Flyers—The Red Wings were in the mix for Jagr last season and he was fantastic for the Flyers this season, finding instant chemistry with Claude Giroux. He had 54 points in 73 games for Philadelphia playing about 16 minutes per game, and they’re the frontrunners to re-sign him. Holland has never shied away from older players and Jagr has expressed interest in playing beyond this season.
Jason Garrison, Florida Panthers—Garrison had a breakout 2011-12 season in Florida, scoring 16 goals for the Panthers, including nine on the power play with his big shot. The plus is that he’s still on the young side and in his prime, which would be attractive. But the negative is that there’s not a very large body of work. In a weak market, he’s going to demand a high pricetag and the buyer will be assuming the risk that he can build off this season’s performance, not peak with it.
Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes—Doan and the Coyotes would love to have him finish his career in Phoenix. The problem is, we don’t even know if the team will remain in Phoenix. About the only way Doan would leave the organization is if it moves somewhere Doan doesn’t want to play. If that’s the case, he’s the kind of physical presence the Red Wings could use up front.
You could also add Flyers defenseman Matt Carle to the mix as the Flyers had trouble attempting to re-sign the 38-point-producer, who earned $3.8 million on a deal with a cap hit of $3.45 million (per Capgeek.com) over the past season.
• In less pleasant news, as Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon notes, you may have missed MLive’s Brendan Savage’s article about Danny Cleary’s knee issues as the article didn’t hit till 7 AM, so here’s what Cleary, who suggested that it might have been wiser to have his knee operated on during the regular season, offered regarding his injury-plagued season and the condition of his left knee:
“Well, I had the broken ribs in training camp, so that didn’t help,” he said. “Then once they heal, I hurt my knee. It was an injury-filled season. The broken ribs was another (lousy) thing to have. For me, the way I have to play, it’s not the ideal thing to have.”
Cleary didn’t want to reveal exactly what is wrong with his knee. But he does have some torn cartilage and said the surgeon will know more about the extent of the damage once he opens the knee up. But he said the procedure will be nothing like an osteotomy, where the knee is basically realigned. Steve Yzerman underwent the procedure in 2002 and returned to play three seasons, something no other athlete is believed to have done at the time.
“Well I’d hate to sprout off, but I have some significant issues going on,” Cleary said. “They’ll know more when they get in there, you know? There are a lot of different things in there. There are some tears in there, loose cartilage, some bone on bone, a lot of fluid – the build-up of fluid was a major issue, so hoping that we can get it resolved. I going to get the surgery done and hopefully just rehab it. Just have to go in and have surgery on it then just get on a maintenance program and it will be fine.”
I hate to sound like a panic-monger, but just as the condition of Joey MacDonald’s back (he has a bulging disc which is responding to treatment) might determine whether the Wings look for an alternate back-up goaltender, if Cleary’s knee requires 3 or 4 months’ worth of rehabilitation, should his surgeons find out that it’s in worse shape than we already fear, the Wings could choose to be a little more proactive in the free agency department, though it’s much more likely that the Wings wold give Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar larger opportunities to make the team during training camp and the exhibition season.
• In the charitable news category, the South Bend (Indiana) Tribune reports that a dental office in Bridgman, MI will hold a bone marrow drive in conjunction with Wings alumnus Shawn Burr:
Bridgman Family Dental Care is partnering with Michigan Dental Association, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and former Detroit Red Wing Shawn Burr to create the state’s single-largest bone marrow drive and to raise funds to support blood cancer research during May.
More than 1 million Americans are living with a form of leukemia or lymphoma, with more than 5,100 patients in Michigan currently seeking a lifesaving bone marrow donor.
A simple mouth swab can help match cancer patients with potential bone marrow donors.
Information: 269-465-5151 to find a participating dentist.
Burr spoke to WJR’s Frank Beckman about his attempts to encourage bone marrow donors to sign up for the bank via dental visits on Tuesday:
• If you missed it, very sadly, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan reported this morning that Mrs. Nill is battling her second bout of cancer as well (she previously survived breast cancer), and that’s the reason why Jim Nill chose to remain the Wings’ assistant GM;
• I’m just hazarding a guess here, but 97.1 FM reports that Chris Ilitch was scheduled to speak at a luncheon hosted by the Detroit Economic Club alongside several of the Detroit Tigers’ executives, and I’m sure he’ll answer some Wings-related questions;
• And my search engine monkeys found 11 pictures from the Red Wings Alumni association’s game against the Well Church in Brighton last weekend. Mickey Redmond features prominently in the Flickr photo gallery, and he’s wearing an old pair of Keith Primeau’s Louisville TPS gloves instead of his CCM’s.
Update #2: How rude! Nashville Predators radio braodcaster Tom Callahan spoke to Marquette radio station ESPN 960 AM, and MLive’s Phillip Zaroo reports that Callahan poo-poohed the lack of a Weber suspension and kinda rubbed things in in terms of the goaltending battle between Jimmy Howard and Pekka Rinne:
“If Detroit hadn’t have won Game 2, I might say yes, it’s a different series [with a Weber suspension],” Predators announcer Tom Callahan told Casey Ford of ESPN 960 Marquette. “But because Detroit won Game 2, I don’t think it had much effect on it. ... Who knows how, maybe, the dynamic would have differed having him out one game, and if it would have been too much of a (bulge) for him returning for Game 3, or whatever the case might have been. If it would have become a distraction, we’ll never know. But I don’t think it would have changed the outcome of the series, at the end of the day.”
As anyone who saw Nashville knock Detroit out of the playoffs in five games could see, Callahan thinks Pekka Rinne had much more to do with the Red Wings’ demise. The 6-foot-5, 209-pound goaltender allowed just nine of 160 shots to slip by him.
“Coming into it, I thought Pekka Rinne was head and shoulders above Jimmy Howard,” Callahan said. Not to disparage Howard at all because I thought he played well. But Pekka was that much better, that much sharper in the series, and I think that more than anything was the difference.”
Here’s the interview:
Update #3: Here’s more about Brad Stuart from the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:
“It’s going to be agonizing, playing with [Niklas Kronwall] has been awesome,” Stuart said. “We seem to have a good understanding of each other’s games since almost the first day I got here. It’s tough to find that with a lot of players. That’s closer to the middle of the factors in my decision than the top.”
Stuart has spent a majority of his 12-year career on the West Coast. He was drafted by San Jose in 1998 with the third overall pick and spent five and a half seasons with the Sharks before being traded to Boston. After a season and a half with the Bruins he was traded to Calgary before spending part of a season with the Kings.
“My family situation can’t change next year so the only way for that to work is for me to have to suck it up for another year,” Stuart said. “It’s been a few long years of doing it so I guess if as a family we decided we could do it for another year, I guess that would be the way. It’s been a draining couple of years for me, having to do that. So that’ll be a decision I guess we’ll have to make as a family. Obviously when I was traded here I didn’t really know anything about the Red Wings other than they were a good team, have always been a good team since I’ve been in the league,” Stuart added. “When I got here, I figured out why that is. It’s a great organization from the top to the bottom and everybody enjoys playing here and they’ve got a great core of players and some of the best players I’ve ever played with. It’s pretty easy to figure out why it’s such a good team.”
Stuart, 31, also has two young sons, four and five years old.
“My boys are getting older now, so it’s getting harder to be away from them,” Stuart said. “I don’t enjoy being away from my kids or her as much as I have in the last few years. The team was great,” Stuart continued. “There were times if we had a Sunday off and didn’t play again until Wednesday, they’d let me take Sunday and Monday off so I’d go home Sunday, come back Monday night, miss a practice. The team was great about that. I couldn’t tell you how many times I did it, but a few probably, maybe once a month, depending on the schedule. But again it’s hard, flying in for a day is sometimes worse than not coming at all because they get all emotional. I made it through the last few years. It’ll be a decision we have to make whether we can do it again.”
If Stuart leaves and Nicklas Lidstrom decides to retire, it’ll leave a huge hole along with blue line.
“There’s a chance,” Stuart said. “I’m not going to tell you what percentage that chance is but I’m not going to rule anything out because that would not be smart on my part. I’ve already said if it was a strictly hockey decision I wouldn’t probably be talking about this. So there’s a chance, but I don’t know what that is.”
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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.