The Malik Report
With the Red Wings-Blues game-day updates and news regarding Johnny Wilson’s passing (both updated around 6:30 PM) haven fallen off the main page, here’s a little ditty which surprised me: according to IIHF.com’s Szymon Szemberg, the World Junior Championship’s chairman, long-time hockey exec Al Coates, once laced up the skates for former Red Wings owner Bruce Norris’s first attempt to establish a European arm of the Red Wings’ franchise—so the Wings’ long association with Europe as a place where it invested in talent, as it turns out, kinda started backwards:
[F]rom the international perspective, it is his pioneer days with Detroit’s European farm club London Lions that are the most intriguing. You see, the 1973-74 edition of the classic British team (the original Lions existed 1924-33) was unique in the history of hockey. Can you name any other team that played 72 exhibition games during a “season” and then folded?
Background: Detroit owner Bruce Norris wanted to create a European pro hockey league in the early 1970s, and he had the London Lions tour the continent as promotion for those ambitions. For European NHL fans the London Lions were as close as you could get to watching a real NHL team on a regular basis. Apart from Swedes Ulf Sterner, Tord Lundström and goalie Leif “Honken” Holmqvist (all IIHF Hall of Famers), all players were North Americans, the jerseys almost a replica of the Red Wings’ and the logo a winged lion.
Updated 5x at 6:18 PM: Very sad news for the hockey world from Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson:
My uncle, Johnny Wilson, passed away this morning at 82 yrs.He was a warrior thru & thru, right to the end.Our family will miss him dearly.
Uncle John played for Wings, Hawks,Leafs& Rangers. 688 gms. 4 Stanley Cups. Coached 7 seasons, LA, Det, Colorado, Pitt. Ironman-560 gms.
Update: The Canadian Press is confirming, and while they’re not sure of the cause of death, I can tell you that it was very quietly stated that Wilson was very, very ill over the past year. He was in dire straits for a long time, and it wasn’t a question of “if” as much as “when” he’d succumb to his illnesses.
Update #2: From the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
Former #redwings, #leafs and #spitfires F johnny Wilson, uncle of #leafs coach Ron Wilson, died today at 82 from lung disease.
Update #3: Here’s the Red Wings’ official press release regarding Wilson’s passing:
Updated 9x at 6:31 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the St. Louis Blues tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Versus/TSN2/WXYT), there’s bad news regarding Tomas Holmstrom’s groin injury, per MLive’s Ansar Khan’s Twitter account:
Just heard the Wings will recall Joakim Andersson (6-2, 206) from Grand Rapids.NHL debut tonight. He has 17 points (8 G, 9 A) in 29 games.
Andersson to play on 4th line wing with [A]bdelkader, [E]mmerton
Holmstrom out week to 10 days with groin strain.
Babcock said reason they called up Andersson was because of his size (6-2, 206). Blues are big, physical team.
Andersson will wear No. 63. He’ll be the first player in Wings history to wear a uniform number in the 60s.
Update: Here’s Khan’s morning skate report:
The Detroit Red Wings flew back to Michigan around midnight with two very necessary points via what I thought was a relatively dominant 4-1 win over the Shea Weber-less Nashville Predators, allowing the Wings (minus Tomas Holmstrom, who suffered a groin injury) to face the St. Louis Blues tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Versus/TSN2) still trailing the Blues by a single point in the Western Conference standings.
The Wings were out-shot 32-22 thanks to a somewhat lackluster 3rd period in which the Wings gave up 15 shots, but the Wings also killed off 5 Predators power plays, received a 2-goal performance from Valtteri Filppula and did more than simply pounce on a Shea Weber-less Predators team, displaying improvement in leaps and bounds as compared to their shaky play last week and progressing toward the kind of hockey the Wings need to play to beat the Blues and Blackhawks and gain ground in the Central Division,
The Predators viewed the game a little bit differently. As far as they were concerned, they overcame a gargantuan absence in their lineup to at least play as well as the Wings, and were perhaps robbed by Jimmy Howard and jobbed a bit on the goal which broke the game open, as Ryan Suter suggested to the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper:
Update: FSD’s Trevor Thompson reports that Tomas Holmstrom suffered a groin injury and won’t play tomorrow: The Detroit Red Wings began play against the Nashville Predators with a little lead in their legs from their Christmas break and a little “stupid” lingering in their play from their ineffectual, inefficient and mistake-prone hockey against Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary last week, but the Wings slowly but surely gained their footing and ended up routing the Predators at home, defeating Nashville 4-1 at a Bridgestone Arena where the Wings rarely win.
Embarking on a slate of four straight games versus Central Division opponents and their first of two back-to-back slates this week, the Wings plain old played smart hockey against a Predators team missing Shea Weber, exploiting the Predators’ absence of depth with some depth scoring of their own…as well as some pretty damn spectacular play by their stars.
The Detroit Red Wings broke open their game against Nashville via a wraparound goal from Pavel Datsyuk which referee Chris Rooney did not rule as having snuck under Pekka Rinne’s right pad…But the linesmen overruled the Rooney, and while the “situation room” replays were inconclusive, let’s just say that Pavel Datsyuk’s emphasis on insisting that the goal was good helped:
Updated 6x at 7:52 AM: Darren Helm took a puck in the mouth in warm-ups and he may or may not play for Detroit; Shea Weber is out for Nashville: As the Red Wings prepare to face off against the Nashville Predators tonight (8 PM EST, FSD/FS Tennessee/WXYT), I’m going to jump the gun somewhat on the “game-day updates” because there’s just no point in sitting on the Wings-related articles which have popped up this morning for the sake of waiting for the Wings’ morning skate to conclude.
Here’s what the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper gleaned from the Predators’ morning skate, via Twitter:
Shea Weber exits morning skate early. That doesn’t happen often, if ever.
[Predators coach Barry] Trotz said Klein is out today. Klein says he’s day to day #flu #preds
No update on Weber yet #preds #nhl
The Detroit Red Wings will board Red Bird III and fly to Nashville this morning to prepare for tonight’s game against Nashville (8 PM EST, FSD/FS Tennessee/WXYT) hoping to accomplish more than simply earning a measure of revenge for their dreadful collapse in a 4-3 loss in Nashville eleven days ago:
The Wings begin a pair of back-to-back games this week, all against Central Division foes—in Nashville tonight; in St. Louis on Tuesday and at home against the Blues on Saturday, and in Chicago on Friday—and thanks to the Wings’ losses in Vancouver and Calgary last week, the Wings rather desperately need to gain ground in the Western Conference and Central Division standings.
Red Wings Christmas morning report: A wonderful fundraiser and hoping for a Lidstrom year to grow on
Updated 2x with ugly road records and Zetterberg creativity at 4:03 PM: On Christmas morning, or what is more like when kids tend to wake mom and dad up and ask, “Can we open our presents yet?” and mom and dad say, “It’s 5 AM!” one might become a little philosophical, and the stories I’m about to present you could have been tossed off with a particularly moralistic bent, especially as a certain former teammate of this morning’s protagonist continues to spout off to the media ahead of what is essentially “Foppa: 24/7”—and the IIHF just cleared the 2006 Swedish Olympic team from any potential game-throwing wrongdoing as a Christmas present.
As I’m imagining that you might have to spend the day with relatives who want to tell you other things than how the masons and “grays” are ruling the world (my slightly schizophrenic uncle brightened up many a Christmas party), however, let’s just go with, “Sometimes this holiday is about how well you take care of others, and sometimes it’s how well you take care of others by just being the best person you can be, especially when you don’t have to.”
Updated 3x with another Wings Christmas story and details of an event at the Hockey Hall of Fame at 4:56 PM: Despite suggestions to the contrary, the Detroit Red Wings’ organization and players are pretty flexible in terms of accommodating requests from the NHL to engage in the kinds of promotional activities which involve playing on holidays or sloughing through particularly nasty travel schedules to give the league a TV ratings boost, but the Wings have consistently stated that there is one date that they never want to circle on their calendars for anything other than rest and relaxation—Christmas. Kris Draper and Chris Osgood used to speak out particularly bluntly about the fact that they’d fight at the collective bargaining table to ensure that the NHL does not ask its players to indulge in a ratings bonanza on the 24th or 25th, and the Red Wings’ current players hold similar sentiments, as they told MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“It’s fun to watch sporting events on Christmas Day, but I’m glad it’s not us (playing),” forward Cory Emmerton said.
While the collective bargaining agreement prohibits games or practices on Dec. 24-25, it was traditional for the NHL to play on Christmas from the 1920s to 1971. The Red Wings played many games on Christmas, the last in 1971 (5-3 loss to Toronto). But it’s been 40 years since the league played on Christmas, according to NHL.com. And several Red Wings said they hope it stays that way.
“It’s great because it’s one day out of the year that we deserve to spend time with our families,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We’re constantly on the road going back and forth all over the country, and to get these three days off (including Friday) is going to be great for us.”
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.