The Malik Report
This morning, Sportsnet's Brett Popplewell has penned an article discussing the disconnect between the city of Detroit's financial straits and its fans' passion for the city's sports team (again, it should not be ignored that appxorimately one in every six Southeastern Michiganders acutally lives within the City's limits), the Denver Post's Adrian Dater has suggested that it's in fact the Mile High City that will serve as the "ultimate" location for outdoor hockey, Leafs alums Todd Warriner and Brad May have given interviews about playing for the Leafs' Alums during the Alumni Showdown...
And as the four teams taking part in the Great Lakes Invitational prepare to kick off the Hockeytown Winter Festival tomorrow with a pair of GLI games at Comerica Park tomorrow (Fox Sports Detroit will air all GLI games, the Griffins-Marlies game on the 30th and the Alumni Showdowns: tomorrow's games pit Michigan Tech vs. Michigan State at 3:30 and Western Michigan vs. Michigan at 7)
Time Magazine's Tim Newcomb spoke with NHL VP of events Don Renzulli about the Winter Classic's attempts to generate wider enthusiasm about and support for the game among both dedicated hockey fans and "newbies" who are attending the events for experience's sake:
Updated 10x at 4:21 PM: Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha had a helluva game at the World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden today, scoring a hat trick in Canada's 7-2 win over Germany. Jake Paterson also stopped 22 of 24 shots for Canada, and the Canadian Press reports that the game was a bit of a rout (the IIHF's website posted a recap, too):
Anthony Mantha scored three goals, all set up by linemate Jonathan Drouin, as Canada got the world junior championship started with a one-sided 7-2 victory over Germany on Thursday.
Josh Anderson, Bo Horvat, Sam Reinhart and Nic Petan also scored for Canada, which is 12-0 all-time against Germany at the IIHF under-20 event.
Dorian Saeftel and Janik Moser had first-period goals for the Germans.
The announced crowd of 1,831 was mostly fans dressed in Hockey Canada jerseys at the 5,800-seat Isstadion, the smaller of the two tournament venues, but they made plenty of noise.
If you have TSN in Canada, you can watch the entire game online, and the NHL Network's covering most games in the U.S., but as I have neither network, I can only link you to TSN's clips of Mantha scoring the 2-1 goal, the game-winning 3-2 goal and the 6-2 goal.
Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager states the obvious about all the suggestions that Mantha is a "bubble boy" whose competition level isn't up to snuff...
The Red Wings won't "take things outside" until New Year's Eve day, when they'll practice at Michigan Stadium (rather inconveniently, they're scheduled to practice at the same time that the Wings' pair of Alumni Showdown games with Toronto will take place in Detroit), but the Hockeytown Winter Festival unofficially kicks off tomorrow, when the four teams taking part in the Great Lakes Invitational (Michigan, Michigan State, Western Michigan and Michigan Tech) will practice at Comerica Park, and the GLI itself will take place on Friday and Saturday, with the "Coke Zero Fan Zone" outside of Comerica Park opening on Friday as well.
On Sunday, a pair of OHL games will take place (the Windsor Spitfires and Saginaw Spirit will tangle at 1 PM, and the London Knights and Plymouth Whalers will battle at 5), and on Monday, when the Red Wings are in Nashville, their AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, will battle the Toronto Marlies (the Wings game starts at 8 and the Griffins game starts at 5).
By the time Tuesday's Alumni Showdown games (scheduled to take plac at 1 and 3:30 PM) take place, the Red Wings wil have played two post-Christmas games, and Comerica will have hosted over a week's worth of hockey games, but the Detroit News's Melody Baetens suggests that you might want to take in the "Fan Zone" even if you're not attending any of the events happening inside the ballpark:
During my time spent at hockey rinks, I've learned that the best facilities managers--i.e. the men in charge of making ice--are equal parts artists, alchemists, perfectionists, most definitely workaholics, and especially curmudgeons. Al Sobotka, the man in charge of Joe Louis Arena's ice surface, most certainly fits that bill, and tonight, Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika reveals that the man in charge of the ice surface at Michigan Stadium's a man after Sobotka's heart:
Millions will watch on television across the United States and Canada. More than 100,000 will come to Michigan Stadium, almost certainly setting a world record for hockey attendance. CF-18 fighter jets will fly overhead. The Zac Brown Band, Mayer Hawthorne and The Tenors will perform. The Toronto Maple Leafs will face the Detroit Red Wings in the 2014 Winter Classic.
At the center of the spectacle will be this: an inch and a half of ice, atop less than a quarter of an inch of aluminum flooring, atop a chemical solution pumped from a refrigeration trailer, where the temperature can be tuned to within half a degree.
“Everything revolves around that,” said Dan Craig, standing in a fourth-floor club area of the Big House, looking down through a window, literally overseeing the construction of the rink below. “If that doesn’t happen, everything else goes out of orbit.”
Updated at 5:33 PM: As Paul noted, the Red Wings' present and underachieving roster received a downright remarkable show of support from GM Ken Holland via the CBC's Elliotte Friedman this morning, and given that the Wings have lost six of their past eight games, including last night's ugly 3-0 home "fiaskot" (as they say in Swedish) to the Islanders.
Things have obviously gotten worse now that Jonathan Ericsson will miss 3-5 weeks after suffering broken ribs last night against the Islanders, but I firmly believe that this team will "stay the course," though I hope that Ericsson's injury spurns the Wings to more aggressively pursue the top-three defenseman the team needs even more now that Niklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser are numbers one and two.
The blog entry must go on, however, and I also thought that this quip from Friedman was worth mentioning:
Via RedWingsFeed, the Red Wings did a great job of promoting the looming Hockeytown Winter Festival and especially the pair of Alumni Showdown games--by asking Kris Draper, Dino Ciccarelli, Joey Kocur, Chris Osgood and Mickey Redmond about their levels of excitement leading up to January 31st, and then offering behind-the-scenes footage from the Wings' outdoor practice at Comerica Park this past Wednesday (and no, Tomas Tatar, you should not wear your cold-weather compression shirt to the club, you do not "look jacked"):
I hate to say it, but given the proliference of "vintage cream"-colored gear, the best part of the video might have been seeing that Pavel Datsyuk was breaking in a pair of red pads with a special Winter Classic logo on them.
Update: It would figure that the Wings' wonderful Digital Media Producer, Dan Mannes, was behind the production:
Updated 7x at 5:24 PM: Awful news regarding Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson from the Free Press's George Sipple:
You don't screw around with broken ribs.
Update: Sipple had an article ready to go, and his article offers quotes from Wings GM Ken Holland:
Yahoo Sports' Dmitry Chesnokov posted an eye-opening tidbit regarding a former Red Wing this morning (via RedWingsFeed):
This rumor initially came from Hockeyfans.ch's Martin Merk (who also writes for IIHF.com), and most Russian sports websites confirmed the report (and the Spengler Cup takes place in Davos, Switzerland from December 26-31), but CSKA Moscow's press officer did confirm to Sports.ru that Fedorov's on the team's active roster...
And a little later in the day, Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov stated that CSKA informed him that Fedorov may or may not play for the Moscow team when they battle Vityaz Podolsk in a KHL regular season game tomorrow, "American Christmas" day (Christmas falls on January 7th for the Eastern Orthodox church this year).
I guess we'll have to wait and see whether Fedorov's going to engage in some warm-up games before the Wings' Alumni Showdown on the 31st. Mickey Redmond had stated that Fedorov and Slava Fetisov weren't flying to Detroit until the night of December 30th, anyway...
via Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts at CBC,
- Last year, Red Wings GM Ken Holland refused to give up on his group, despite injuries and inefficiency. He repeatedly said he wouldn't make a judgment until he saw them healthy. When I spoke to him after they made the playoffs, he delivered a passionate dissertation about how he never thought of breaking up the group because he believed in their pride to keep the consecutive playoff streak alive. Does he still feel that way right now? "Yes," he said last week (NB: Any quoted person is not the source of any anonymous comments).
- "We got healthy for the last 10-12 games [last season]," Holland added. "We played our way into the playoffs, winning our last four, including the final one on the road. We beat Anaheim and led Chicago 3-1, two teams with lots of guys in their 20s." Detroit has basically been without two top lines and almost everybody, except Stephen Weiss (sports hernia), is coming back over the next week.
- It's well known that Holland hates the shootout. But he also doesn't consider the overtime format an effective measuring tool because it's irrelevant to how post-season games are played. His yardstick? "How did we do in the first 60 minutes?" The Red Wings were 14-8 before losing their last five.
- The other thing about Detroit is the organization now has a larger prospect base. Some, like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, are pretty much there, while others are a little farther away (Anthony Mantha, Ryan Sproul). Are they to be future Red Wings or pieces of bigger transactions?
Red Wings-Islanders wrap-up and overnight report: Wings must strive toward a higher standard of play
I had to take some time away from the computer after watching the Red Wings lose Jonathan Ericsson to some kind of hospitalization-worthy "upper-body" injury and after watching the Red Wings lose an awfully ugly 3-0 decision to the New York Islanders.
I was just too angry and too frustrated to write anything coherent. This game had "bad" telegraphed all over it like Kyle Quincey taking eight seconds to wind up for an inevitably-blocked shot on the power play.
To some extent, you could "feel" this one coming. The Wings were coming off a 3-2 OT win over Calgary and very specifically a thrilling 5-4 shootout win over the Maple Leafs in front of both HBO and Hockey Night in Canada's cameras, the team remains without Zetterberg, Abdelkader, Franzen, Helm, Howard (Weiss, obviously, given that he apparently had significant surgery to repair a "core muscle tear"), and Jonas Gustavsson's groin apparently flared up badly enough that Petr Mrazek had to start against an Islanders team that's about as intimidating as week-old Christmas ham.
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.