The Malik Report
As Paul noted, ahead of tomorrow's Gold medal game between Sweden and Canada (7 AM EST, NBC/CBC), the Swedish newspapers chose to stir up a little controversy.
Aftonbladet's Mats Wennerholm finding that former NHL'er and Modo Ornskoldsvik assistant GM Peter Forsberg was more than willing to facetiously describe the referees' assignments for tomorrow's game a "*#$%@& joke."
Sweden's other sports tabloid, Expressen, responded with Carl Juborg asking Don Cherry whether having a Canadian referee would hurt Sweden, and Juborg received a predictable reponse--Cherry stated that he'd bet money on a Canadian referee calling Team Canada (who Cherry believes will prevail, of course) for the game's first penalty to prove their "impartiality."
As noted in the overnight report, the Associated Press's Larry Lage Tweeted that he'd spoken to Red Wings GM Ken Holland, and Holland had stated that 1. Zetterberg won't return from Friday's surgery until/unless the Wings begin playing playoff hockey in mid-April, and 2. In terms of Zetterberg's long-term health, his herniated disc won't yield a "premature" end to #40's hockey-playing days.
Lage penned an article chronicling his conversation with Holland, confirming and fleshing out the details of their discussion:
"I don't anticipate he'll be ready to play in any games of the regular season," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I'm hopeful that we can play our way into the playoffs and that he'll be back, but that's down the road."
The Red Wings and Swedish Olympic hockey team captain played once at the Sochi Games before pulling out because of the injury. Holland is hopeful Zetterberg's back injury does not prematurely end his career.
Between not being at 100% yet personally and the fact that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's commentary as Team Canada's coach is stuff that you and I have heard before, I've consciously chosen to keep the Everything Babcock Says Is Super Important To The Canadian Media Watch coverage to a bare minimum.
Updated with very good news from the AP's Larry Lage, posted at the end of this entry, at 7:25 AM: The Olympics are winding down ahead of today's Bronze medal tilt between the U.S. and Finland (10 AM EST, NBCSN/CBC) and tomorrow's Gold game between Sweden and Canada (7 AM EST, NBC/CBC), so reporters aren't Tweeting quite as much real-time news, but the following Tweets popped up between 5 and 7 AM, with the headliner not surprising anyone given Henrik Zetterberg's back surgery on Friday...
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland does not expect Henrik Zetterberg to play again during the regular season because of his back ailment.
Holland told The Associated Press on Saturday that Zetterberg could return to play if the team extends its postseason streak to 23 consecutive seasons.
Amongst this morning's Red Wings-related prospect news...
The Grand Rapids Griffins have begun to regularly achieve something no one would've believed they could do earlier this season: they're losing games. The Griffins owned a 22-8-1-and-2 record heading into the 2014, but since their New Year's Eve shootout loss to Toronto, the team's won 8 of their past 21 games, and after Friday night's 4-2 loss to Oklahoma City, the Griffins now possess a 30-17-2-3 (i.e. 30-and-22) record.
The Griffins' website recounts the game's events...
Henrik Zetterberg's status as having to bow out of the Olympics due to a herniated disc has yielded two and exactly two positive storylines:
1. The Wings and Zetterberg finally chose to have one of the nation's best back surgeons operate on Zetterberg's back today to prevent further damage and hopefully ensure that he's playing for the Wings for a long time to come;
2. And Niklas Kronwall's taken to Team Sweden's captaincy like a fish to water. Today he pestered the hell out of Teemu Selanne and played a team-leading 22:06 in ice time over the course of Sweden's 2-1 win over Finland, and now the Swedes are on a collision course with Mike Babcock and Team Canada in Sunday's Gold Medal game (7 AM EST, NBCSN/CBC).
Both Kronwall's teammates and the rest of the Swedes have gushed about Kronwall's leadership in speaking with the Swedish press, and today, the Free Press's Helene St. James found that Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Ericsson and Gabriel Landeskog were more than happy to sing Kronwall's praises in English:
Updated 12x at 2:37 PM, and the resume of Zetterberg's operating physician, Dr. Frank Cammisa, Jr., is impressive: Big news and kind-of-sort-of-good news from MLive's Ansar Khan:
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness confirms:
Update: Niklas Kronwall spoke with Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman about Zetterberg (whose $6.08 million cap hit will obviously go on the LTIR, freeing up some space for the Wings to make a move if necessary, even with Stephen Weiss and Johan Franzen healthy):
Red Wings’ Ericsson assists on gamer, Kronwall strong as Sweden beats Finland, advances to Gold game
Updated 3x at 1:23 PM: The Swedes played against Finland at something of a slow-boil clip--each and every period took a while to warm up--but there was in fact some scintillating hockey played in front of an absolutely dead crowd at Bolshoy.
Between Niklas Kronwall's battles with Teemu Selanne and the Swedes' ability to rally from a 1-0 deficit and oodles of penalty-killing (some due to real calls and some baffling Tim Peel Specials), the Swedes quietly, efficiently sometimes grittily punched their ticket to the Sunday's Gold Medal game by out-working and out-hustling the gritty, trap-happy Finns, emerging with a 2-1 victory (and an "EriCsson to EriKsson" game-winning goal).
Red Wings overnight report: practice personnel shuffles to continue; Sweden-Finland discussion, etc.
Thursday was a very busy day in terms of Red Wings news. We received some new information about Henrik Zetterberg's injury; after practice, we found out that there's another injured Wing (Jakub Kindl), that Stephen Weiss will head down to Grand Rapids for a one "conditioning stint" game, that Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco will practice with the Wings on Saturday and Sunday *the team has the day off today), but might not remain with the team when the Wings' post-Olympic break schedule begins; we found out that Pavel Datsyuk's going to spend a few more days in Russia; and the Wings' non-Olympians talked trash and made their picks for today's Olympic quarterfinals.
Today's Olympic schedule looks like this...
Updated 3x at 6:25 PM: Minus oodles of foreign-language translation, let's just say that the Finns and Swedes have something of a contentious history, and as such, tomorrow morning's semifinal between the "Teemu Forever" crew and the Red Wings' Swedes (7 AM EST on NBCSN and TSN; the U.S.-Canada game will air at 12 PM on NBCSN and the CBC) might be nearly as scrappy as today and tomorrow's border battles between the Americans and Canadians.
Team Sweden captain Niklas Kronwall told ESPN's Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun that the countries have a very passionate rivalry...
The two nations have a long history with each other. As Swedish defenseman Niklas Kronwall put it: "It goes way back, obviously. The two countries have always competed in everything; in sports in particular. I think it's hard for people outside to really understand what the rivalry is all about." And while the Swedes boast greater talent with stars Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Lundqvist, Erik Karlsson and Daniel Sedin, the Finns are not to be trifled with. Just ask Russia.
And for the present moment, both Daniel Alfredsson and Kronwall (joined in the fight by Jonathan Ericsson, Gustav Nyquist and goalie-caddy Jonas Gustavsson) told Burnside that the Tre Kronor's ("Three Crowns") status(es) as both an under-the-radar and slowly-improving team will hopefully continue on their present trajectories:
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.