The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/23/12 at 08:36 AM ET
The NHL news cycle is like Chuck Norris at this time of year: it doesn’t sleep, it waits. Over the past few days, we’ve learned about a potential deal with an architectural firm that may or may not design Joe Louis Arena’s follow-on facility, the fact that the Wings’ brass will weigh the futures of Tomas Holmstrom, Brad Stuart, Jiri Hudler and probably start to press for Nicklas Lidstrom to come up with a play-or-not-play answer while formulating its free agency plans at its organizational meetings next week, all over the past two days.
While the ripples from the Worlds have wound down, and the Wings’ usual European newspaper suspects remain in Detroit or are wrapping up their preparations to head to their off-season homes, if you happen to have the NHL Network in the U.S. or TSN in Canada, you can watch Tomas Jurco and the Saint John Sea Dogs take on the Shawinigan Cataractes at the Memorial Cup, with the Sea Dogs’ chances of defending their Memorial Cup title.
Yahoo Sports’ Neate Sager reports that the Sea Dogs are, let’s say a little annoyed with the fact that they’re playing the damn tournament in Shawinigan instead of back home in New Brunswick…
The matchup will be 423 days in the making. That’s the exact number of days that will have elapsed from the time the Shawinigan Cataractes were named host of this MasterCard Memorial Cup to Wednesday’s puckdrop against the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Whether they like it, the enmity from that year-ago decision is going to be projected on to the players Wednesday when yes, the Cats and Dogs, will settle the round-robin. It won’t influence the outcome but there’s no way the coaches and players can be numb to it. For anyone who has forgotten, the Saint John organization also bid for the tournament. The QMJHL’s selection committee in its infinite wisdom awarded the event to Shawinigan, even though the city had a smaller arena and a paucity of hotel rooms. That history won’t score a goal or make a save, but it’s spiced up the most anticipated all-QMJHL matchup in the tournament since 2006 when Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts and Ted Nolan’s Moncton Wildcats were at each other’s throats. A tourney-high crowd of nearly 5,000 is expected at Centre Bionest.
“Some stuff happened between us during the year,” says Sea Dogs centre Stephan MacAulay, the checking-line centre. “There’s a lot of bad blood. That’s no secret. We respect their team a lot. They lost in the second round but Chicoutimi is a very good team.”
And the Sea Dogs haven’t done too well against Shawinigan of late:
Shawinigan took 5-of-8 possible points from Saint John during the season. So that adds to the motivation for the Sea Dogs, whose incentive to win faded in and out at times way back in the season’s first half.
“It’s not as tough now,” Gallant says about the motivation question. “They know they’re finishing their junior careers and they want to finish in the right way. You shouldn’t have to motivate players at this time of year.”
All four participating teams (Saint John, Shawinigan, London and Edmonton) were 1-and-1 going into last night’s game between London and Edmonton, but London’s 4-1 victory on Tuesday makes it imperative that the Sea Dogs win tonight, as Yahoo Sports’ Cam Charron notes:
The loser of Wednesday’s all QMJHL matchup will meet Edmonton in the tie-breaker on Thursday. Whether it’s Saint John or Shawinigan, it’s set in stone for the Oil Kings: they will need to defeat all three teams in the tournament in consecutive games to win junior hockey’s ultimate prize.
Why blather on about a team that you probably haven’t watched play hockey?
Well, this week also represents an important one for Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen and Calle Jarnkrok—who Marie Hallman reports made Swedish journalists’ cuts as an “All-Star”—as well as a host of other NHL prospects: all 30 NHL teams have to sign their 2010 draft picks by June 1st, or they lose the players’ rights, with the unsigned players either heading back into the draft or becoming free agents, depending on their age.
The Wings will announce the signings of Pulkkinen and Jarnkrok, who will remain in Europe (with Jokerit Helsinki and Brynas IF, respectively) by June 1st, and while Jurco’s a 2011 draft pick, he’s going to be signed because the he’s going to “turn pro” with the Grand Rapids Griffins next season. The Wings will not sign Calgary Hitmen forward Brooks Macek, and, generally speaking, teams at least strongly consider snagging three or four of the unsigned 2010 picks via the draft or free agency because some very talented players don’t agree to financial terms with their rights-holders.
There’s another deadline of sorts in mid-June as teams have until June 15th to sign prospects or free agents who played in Europe during the 2011-2012 season without incurring what I recall is something like a $100,000 fee that has to be paid to the IIHF (because, very seriously, European teams start their training camps in mid-July, and kick off a month’s worth of exhibition games and pre-season tournaments in early August, so they need to have their rosters in place by mid-June at the latest…and no, I don’t know if Dick Axelsson will end up returning to Farjestads BK, but that’s what Varmland’s Folkblad’s Johan Erikson suggests)...
So whether we’re talking about the run on European champions (as Aftonbladet’s Johnathan Ekeliw suggests, there’s been something of a run on Jarnkrok’s Brynas IF teammates), players who displayed promise at the World Championships or various free agents—again, I can’t confirm the whole Damien Brunner scuttlebutt as it applies to Detroit, but the Wings and Stars are supposedly interested in the 26-year-old EV Zug sniper, and Tampa Bay Lighting GM Steve Yzerman has confirmed that his team is interested in said forward—so if Ken Holland and Mike Babcock were intrigued by, and let’s speculate for a moment, a goalie to shore up the team’s dearth of near-NHL-ready goaltenders behind presumptive back-up Joey MacDonald, they’d have to act pretty quickly after those organizational meetings to sign someone.
In terms of actual hockey being played at the NHL level, I don’t know what you think about this line, but I’d like to hear your opinions, because SI’s Allan Muir was not the only person to suggest that Dustin Brown’s controversial hit on Michal Rozsival resulted in the following handshake scenario:
The Coyotes were miserable at the end of this one, and understandably so. There may have been more tension in the postgame handshake line than any since the one following the 1996 series between Detroit and Colorado after Claude Lemieux crushed the face of Kris Draper.
In my opinion, that’s debatable, but I do have Dino Ciccarelli’s, “I can’t believe I shook his friggin’ hand” ringing in my ears. Something tells me that the media rather liberally chose to change another word to the more family-friendly, “Friggin’” given Ciccarelli’s rather blunt nature.
Speaking of alumni, and Dino specifically: I believe that DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose said that Shawn Burr will have his bone marrow transplant on Friday or Saturday, so we need to send good thoughts his way…
And Burr and fellow Sarnia, Ontario native Ciccarelli more or less considered playing for the Red Wings playing for their “hometown” team (we tend to forget that in addition to Michigander and fans in Northwest Ohio, a good 50-60% of fans between Windsor/Sarnia and London prefer to follow the Wings instead of those cursed Maple Leafs), and both Burr and Ciccarelli chose to settle in Metro Detroit.
Ciccarelli spoke to DetroitRedWings.com’s Roose about his short tenure with the Wings, and Ciccarelli may have only played for Detroit from 1992 to 1996, but the eventual Hall-of-Famer was a bit of a folk hero as an undersized but scrappy goal-scorer who truly preceded Holmstrom as the Wings’ first net-front pest (and unlike Holmstrom, Dino would give hacks and whacks as good as he got ‘em). Roose says that Ciccarelli’s a lock to play with the Wings’ alums in the Winter Classic alumni game, which is pretty damn cool.
Question: Which of the current Red Wings is your favorite? And why?
CICCARELLI: “If I had to pick a guy I’d probably say Homer (Tomas Holmstrom) because we both had the same kind of job and he’s doing a heck of a job with how he handles himself. To score goals in this league you have to go in front of the net and you have to create a play, so I can’t help but respect a guy like Homer.”
Question: What was your favorite memory as a Red Wing?
CICCARELLI: “Unfortunately I wasn’t part of any one of the Stanley Cups but I think we (1995-96) still have the record for most wins in the regular-season (62). That was quite a group we had. We went out every night and we knew we were going to win the game and that was something special.”
Question: Which of the guys you played with was the toughest?
CICCARELLI: Everybody has a little bit different role and there’s a lot of mental toughness that goes along with each position, whether it’s the goaltending or the physical toughness of a guy like (Bob) Probert or (Joe) Kocur. Or a guy like Stevie (Yzerman) or Nick (Lidstrom) leading by example. A guy like Paul Coffey, too, one of the best defensemen to ever play the game, his toughness was to keep himself in the best kind of shape. I think toughness is measured in so many different ways at this level.”
Question: Who did you sit next to in the dressing room?
CICCARELLI: “I sat beside Dallas Drake one year; I sat beside Steve Chiasson, Greg Johnson, Ray Sheppard, Paul Coffey. We changed it around every once in a while. You just really get to know everybody pretty good and create some good family atmosphere.”
And on this “slow” morning, I have three more items of Red Wings-related note:
• While the Slovaks were partying hard in Bratislava to celebrate their Silver medal, the Russian team’s Gold medal celebrations were, as you might assume, much more political in nature: Sport-Express reports that Russian Federation president Vladislav Tretiak visited the state Duma with the World Championship trophy (Sports Day by Day posted pictures of his visit), coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov met with Vladimir Putin (I found a picture of coach Bill meeting with president/dictator Botox himself), and while I can’t find the damn link, KHL president Alexander Medvedev has suggested that the Russian national team should receive some sort of award (cough money cough) for winning the Worlds.
But IIHF.com’s Martin Merk reports that the Russians will receive one particular award that won’t consist of an envelope stuffed with petro-dollars:
Sports Minister Vitali Mutko announced that the 17 players who became world champion for the first time will receive the “Merited Master of Sport” rank.
Don’t worry, there was at least one drunken mishap: Sovetsky Sport’s “R. Abushkin” reports that Alexander Semin slept through a rally in his hometown of Krasnoyarsk, which will be rescheduled.
Yes, I’m still reading the international papers to check for Wings stories, and am doing so pretty regularly.
• Let’s just say that Dobber Hockey’s Ryan Goddard is not a big Landon Ferraro fan, suggesting that the 21-year-old Wings prospect will probably be a bust, at least from a fantasy hockey perspective…
Observations: May, 2011 – Landon Ferraro, son of Ray Ferraro, saw his value and production drop after being drafted in 2009. Ferraro is a great leader and hard-working forward, but has limited offensive upside. Ferraro joined the Grand Rapid Griffin full-time in 2011-12 and posted 20 points in 55 games.
Fantasy Outlook: D
Ferraro is a shoot-first player with leadership qualities. Ferraro isn’t expected to be much of a producer at the NHL level, but does possess the ability to score at least a few goals. He is a long-shot prospect.
Quickie update: This just plain old fun, from Awood40 on YouTube:
Actual update: This plain old makes me angry. MLive’s Brendan Savage reveals that many Wings fans think that they’re “spoiled,” and I despise that term. It implies that it’s somehow unfair or perhaps “cheating” for fans to actually expect their team to succeed at the level that the Wings generally do, and I don’t buy the concept that it’s somehow against the natural order that I get to enjoy the Wings play so very well.
I try to savor every second of being a Wings fan because I know that what they’ve accomplished over the last 20 years is so very atypical and unusual. I stick with my team when they get blown out and when they lose in the playoffs. I still believe in them and I hope for and expect the best. I’m not spoiled—I’m happy about and grateful for my luck in terms of spending so much of my time watching the Wings play exciting, entertaining and winning hockey.
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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.