The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/14/11 at 08:17 AM ET
For those of you who’ve begun to find the nexus of a lack of substantive content and reaching the two-month mark of no hockey games being played and no Red Wings playing, either making you “something something,” I can completely understand the concept that summer’s become all but intolerable for you. For those of us who still spend our days and nights looking for whatever tidbits of Wings or NHL-related news are out there, however…
I’ve learned to not complain when reaching a dry spell, lest an incredibly long interview in Finnish or Slovak pop up, and in terms of giving into the tendency to simply grumble about content others are posting when one disagrees with the assumptions made therein (and there’s quite a lot of that kind of stuff out there these days), well…
It’s just not particularly smart to waste the energy one’s attempting to save up for the September-to-July grind for the sake of rhetorical dominance.
So with those caveats in tow, I’m going to present to you what Red Wings-related tidbits I could find this morning, as well as a slate of comments with which I’m going to try very hard to politely disagree with:
• First and foremost, if you missed it, RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau posted the Red Wings’ training camp roster on her Left Wing Lock blog, and it’s worth noting because a) the Wings aren’t entertaining any try-outs save their free agent prospects and b) the fact that training camp‘s been extended by two days (the Wings are playing seven exhibition games instead of nine this season) means that the team will allow its entire prospect tournament team to take part in the main camp.
I think this is particularly smart on the Wings’ part because it was very, very clearly evident last season that while the prospect tournament rolls along for five days, the main camp was incredibly rushed in terms of the coaching staff’s ability to determine whether their prospects could keep up, and, and perhaps moreover, Mike Babcock and the coaches had to work ridiculously fast in terms of attempting to address any tweaks to the team’s system with both new and returning players.
Especially given the team’s turnover both on and off the ice (see: Kris Draper, Chris Osgood, Brian Rafalski and assistant coaches Jeff Blashill and Bill Peters), two more “teaching days” and better prospect integration should yield a better on-ice product that is allowed to mature over almost a week instead of four brief days of camp before an epic nine-games-in-13-nights schedule. The Wings are sacrificing at least one three-quarters-full-rink’s worth of ticket sales in the process, but I believe the result will be well worth the investment.
The Detroit Free Press offers a sales pitch of sorts regarding the tournament and main camp this morning:
The Red Wings are bringing young talent from around the NHL to Traverse City next month.
The team is hosting the 2011 NHL Prospects Tournament at Centre Ice Arena on Sept. 10-14. The eight-team tournament includes players in the Detroit organizations as well as the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, Carolina Hurricanes, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and the New York Rangers. The Wings’ roster includes their 2007 first-round draft pick—defenseman Brendan Smith—and their first selections in 2010 and 2011—forwards Landon Ferraro and Tomas Jurco.
Teams will be divided into two divisions: the Howe Division (Detroit, Buffalo, Columbus and Minnesota) and the Gretzky Division (St. Louis, Dallas, Rangers, Carolina). The winner of each division plays in the championship game on Sept. 14.
The daily morning practice sessions are open to the public and free of charge. Then there are four games a day on Sept. 10-11 and Sept. 13-14. Admission for games is $10 per day.
For more information and tickets, go to www.centreice.org.
• In terms of the game in which Red Wings prospects took part on Saturday, Mattias Backman didn’t register a point in Sweden’s 6-4 win over Team USA at their combined World Junior Evaluation camp, wrapping up the festivities.
Backman registered one assist over the course of five games played, and Teemu Pulkkinen, whose Finnish team headed home after Friday’s 8-4 loss to Sweden, registered two goals and an assist over the course of four games played;
make that 1,400 attended Niklas Kronwall’s charity hockey game in which NHL’ers defeated his youth hockey team, Jarfalla Hockey, 5-1 on Friday. Photographer Jens Forsberg posted a massive gallery from the game, and Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson (wearing a 2008 Stanley Cup Finals jersey likely brought from his home in Norrkoping) and Gustav Nyquist, wearing #89 (his college number: he’ll wear #14 during the prospect tournament and main camp as the Grand Rapids Griffins don’t dig high numbers, but if he ever becomes an NHL regular, expect him to wear #89) represented the Wings during the game;
• In the disagreement department, part 1: Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien offers this take on the Wings’ “best bargain contracts” as part of a look around the NHL in terms of players who deliver the most bang for their teams’ salary-capped buck:
Detroit Red Wings – This team is like a steady stream of steals, right?
Johan Franzen ($3.95M) – Franzen is extremely injury-prone, but a terrifying offensive force when healthy.
Daniel Cleary ($2.8M) – Is Cleary the most underrated forward in Detroit?
Tomas Holmstrom ($1.88M) – If the league kept better track of how many goals are scored because of his obstructive butt, his impact would receive its proper due. I was surprised that some other team didn’t at least try to drive up his price during his last free agent window.
Darren Helm ($912K) – He has some flaws, but his speed and versatility are an asset at this bargain basement price.
Niklas Kronwall ($3M) – Injuries have been a worry here and there, but his scary hits and strong offense make him a steal at this price.
Jimmy Howard ($2.25M) – Another enviable steal by the Red Wings; his stats might be hit-or-miss sometimes, but he’s proven himself to be at least the team’s short-term future in net.
Honorable mentions:Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom – Again, I’m just trying to keep things reasonable by excluding guys above $6 million. Every team in the NHL would trip over their own feet to pay any one of these three their current salaries, so they absolutely deserve to be mentioned.
I’m going to recuse myself from saying a thing about Holmstrom’s rear end or the concept that anyone would dare sign a player so despised by everybody but the Wings…
• In the disagreement department, part 2: Of the usual Sunday blatherers, the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons and New York Post’s Larry Brooks offer at least decent reads (Brooks in talks about what transpired during Shea Weber’s arbitration hearing), but the Boston Globe’s Kevin Dupont offers some serious food for thought in discussing one of the rule tweaks that will be tested at the NHL’s Research, Development and Orientation camp on Thursday and Friday in Toronto—the concept that teams which ice the puck during penalty-kills should be called for the infraction, if not penalized if they continue to ice the puck.
I think that Dupont’s suggestion that teams simply wouldn’t take as many penalties if they knew a penalty-kill could become a 5-on-3 for icing the puck is…misinformed…given the arbitrary nature by which the NHL’s officials enforce some rules some of the time and some rules at others, depending on what the league tells them to focus on during a specific period of time.
The latter suggestion makes me cringe, and while I’m all for trying just about anything during a R&D camp, the rule tweaks that intrigue me (via a survey of NHL.com’s Dan Rosen‘s list of testable tweaks) involve clarifying whether a puck’s crossed the goal line, extending overtime and/or expanding the shootout to five shooters and especially allowing goalies to roam outside the “trapezoid” behind the net.
I like the post-obstruction rules by and large and don’t believe that Brian Burke’s “bear hug” is necessary to reduce injuries from “incidental contact”—I’d argue that it’s more important that players aren’t urged to “finish their checks” and/or hit players simply to hit them (as opposed to separating a player from the puck, which is the whole purpose of checking)—but the evolution of forechecking into a predatory process by which defensemen who chase dump-ins are very legally smacked into next week behind their nets due to the trapezoid leads me to believe that the “valley of death” would at least become more survivable if goalies were allowed to roam to snag dump-ins and sometimes screw up and give them right back to the opposition.
• Shifting focus back to the Wings for a second, Lidovky.cz’s Vojtech Gibis spoke to Jiri Fischer in the Czech Republic a few days ago, but his interview is all but a carbon copy of the iDnes.cz interview I translated on Saturday;
• Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch made an intriguing comment to the Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter about his charitable endeavors, which include his charity golf classic which takes place at the Oakland Hills Country Club on Monday:
in Detroit, where high unemployment and a fractured infrastructure have ravaged a once-proud city, the Tigers and their management, headed by pizza baron Michael Ilitch, work with more than 3,000 charitable organizations in two states and one Canadian province, refurbishing playgrounds, funding scholarships and helping to feed the homeless.
“A professional sports team is a kind of public trust,” says Ilitch, who also owns hockey’s Detroit Red Wings. “I take great pride in the fact that I made a commitment to and an investment in this community. I have a passion for the people here. They have grit and they work hard.”
• If you missed it, the Free Press’s Tom Withers confirms that the University of Michigan and Ohio State University will face off at Progressive Field in Cleveland on January 15, 2012;
• And I hate to do it again, but I’ve got to pull out the Paypal button as I simply can’t afford to spend two weeks in a hotel in Traverse City on my own.
Again, you’ll have to use my email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate…please and thank you and this makes me feel really uncomfortable, still.
Update: According to the Free Press’s B.J. Hammerstein, Kris Draper and Dave Coulier were guests at Kid Rock’s concert in Detroit on Saturday;
• And this video isn’t working as of the time I’m posting it (7:24 AM), but the University of North Dakota’s website interviewed Mike Commodore recently:
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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.