The Malik Report
I'm posting this in my blog as opposed to KK Hockey because it may or may not be a touchy subject, and as it may or may not be hockey-related. Russia's strict anti-homosexuality laws will make the 2014 Olympics in Sochi both an inherently political place and very possibly a place where those who speak out against or publicly protest those laws (especially in a provocative manner) could be detained and/or expelled from the country, if not tried and jailed.
Updated 2x at 6:58 AM: For better or worse, Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall entered last season as the de-facto #1 defenseman, and while playing 24-27 minutes a night (or more) yielded both a minus-5 plus-minus rating and a tempering of his physical play to simply hold up under a tremendous workload...He proved that he could at least fill part of Nicklas Lidstrom's long shadow.
This morning, the Free Press's Helene St. James' player profiles continue with an assessment of Kronwall's literal and figurative value (in this day and age, a $4.75 million cap hit for a defenseman earning $6 million in real-world dollars for the next three seasons seems almost ridiculously cheap by "open market" standards), and at present, there's no doubt that Kronwall is absolutely integral to the team's success as its "MVP on D":
The Detroit Free Press has posited a pair of "emptying the notebook"-style articles regarding Red Wings GM Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock's appearances on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM this past Tuesday. On Friday, Brian Manzullo noted that Holland is unconcerned about the Wings' relative lack of size as they move East, and today, Manzullo notes that Babcock was plain old floored by Daniel Alfredsson's desire to come to Detroit--mostly because Babcock got involved in the "wining and dining" process after Alfredsson had already made up his mind:
“He was telling us he was coming,” Babcock told ‘Ryan and Rico’ on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM last week. “It was unbelievable how it worked out. Great for us.”
Babcock unloaded plenty of praise on Alfredsson, who joined the Wings along with center Stephen Weiss earlier this off-season. Alfredsson, from Sweden along with Zetterberg, played his previous 17 NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators and, as captain, led them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007.
NHL.com's "30 in 30" slate of team previews shifts its focus to the Red Wings today, offering a quintet of articles discussing the Red Wings' present status as moving to the Eastern Conference, its roster changes, questions that the team faces, the team's "X-Factor" and possible future contributors.
EJ Hradek's video discussion of the state-of-the-Wings going into the 2013-2014 season serves as something of an introduction to the proceedings (and yes, this was posted a few days ago):
Senators fans: I'm sorry my favorite team signed your captain, and I'm sorry that you've had to deal with the roller-coaster of Fedorov-divorce-style break-up comments this week. It's been painful to watch, hear and read from over 500 miles away.
But at this point, you'll have to excuse me for saying that: A) we promise to take good care of Alfredsson, and B) we're starting to believe that both your owner and general managers are drama queens who are kind of assholes. I'm starting to wonder whether certain members of your press corps are cut from the same cloth.
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan duly noted that Jimmy Howard will probably have a little extra motivation to perform well for the Red Wings over the first third of the season--Howard's NHL performance will likely determine whether he heads to Sochi with the U.S. Olympic team--and the Bangor Daily News's Larry Mahoney spoke with Howard about his Olympic hopes on Friday evening.
Howard's got a stiff task ahead of him in attempting to un-seat Ryan Miller and Jonathan Quick while also competing against Corey Schneider and Craig Anderson, but Howard believes that he can accomplish the task:
“It’s a great honor to be on the radar,” said the 29-year-old Howard, who has a home in Dedham on Green Lake but has spent most of his summer working out in Detroit. “There’s a lot of great goalies on the list. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Howard is coming off a season in which he went 21-13-7 with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. He was 7-7 with a 2.44 GAA and a .924 save percentage in the Stanley Cup playoffs as the Red Wings were ousted in seven games by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference semifinals. The 2012 NHL All-Star has represented his country three times previously: the Under-18 World Championships, the World Junior Championships and the World Championships.
I know it got garbled in code (not quite sure why), but I noted this two days ago, so I at least get to smirk and say, "Well, of course he did." The Free Press's Brian Manzullo duly notes that Henrik Zetterberg led the charge when Aftonbladet's Linus Norberg asked members of the Swedish Olympic orientation camp to weigh in on Russia's anti-homosexuality law. Zetterberg, Patric Hornqvist, Erik Karlsson, Henrik Lundqvist, Gabriel Landeskog and ten other Swedes weighed in, too, and they echoed Zetterberg's comments:
Zetterberg, the Detroit Red Wings captain who will likely represent Sweden in the Olympics, reportedly told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that the law is “awful, just awful.”
"I think that everyone should be able to be themselves,” Zetterberg said. “It's unbelievable that it can be this way in this time, especially in a big country like Russia.”
Yesterday afternoon, Bryan Murray tried to get his "last word" in on the Daniel Alfredsson situation, blaming Alfredsson's agent, J.P. Barry, for helping scuttle the ship, and now Senators owner Eguene Melnyk's tossing in his Toonie's worth to TSN:
"For anyone to even suggest the remote possibility that Bryan Murray is not fully honest in his clear recollection of events should be ashamed of themselves," Melnyk told TSN on Friday. "I point the finger squarely on JP Barry, the man who blessed us with the (Dany) Heatley mess."
Updated 2x at 1:23 PM: Today's survey of Red Wings-related news begins with slightly disturbing news from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. According to Iltahleti and Jokerit Helsinki's website, Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves' brother Ben, who's 31 years old, is retiring due to post-concussion syndrome. Perhaps it really does run in families, as the Moore family's issues with concussions certainly suggests.
In the summer of 2003, online translators were still new, sometimes, you still had to wait until newspapers were delivered to read the latest Wings news, and sports talk radio ruled the airwaves.
Ten years ago, in Metro Detroit, I was a college student reading Viktor Fedorov spouting off about his son's "misunderstood" and "disrespected" status while being given a platform to perpetuate the, "Poor, misunderstood enigmatic Russian superstar" mythology that has become the "Legend of the Russian Problem" to one Igor Larin.
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.