The Malik Report
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun's Team Canada off-day notebook has a pair of Red Wings-related items of note, including this from Red Wings coach Mike Babcock regarding Henrik Zetterberg...
"I spoke or texted with Z yesterday," said Babcock. "You know obviously he's disappointed. I mean what an opportunity to be captain at the Olympic Games and represent your country. As good a player as he is, he's a better man and a better leader. So they're going to miss him.
"In saying that, Z has had back troubles over a number of years, and he manages it very, very well. At this point, it became where he couldn't manage it. He's intelligent about that, he's got a long career in front of him. So he'll get back [to Detroit], get looked after and get back to playing hockey -- what he loves to do as fast as he can."
And this from Team Canada GM and former Wing Steve Yzerman regarding the fact that he played on a severely-damaged knee at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, prior to the Wings' Cup run and an osteotomy that may have given him another two or three years but also robbed him of the ability to run (seriously):
Updated 6x at 3:11 PM: You may not have liked the result of today's USA-Russia game--3-2 to the Americans via an insane shootout decision--but if you're a Red Wings fan, you had to be enthused by the remarkable play of Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk.
Pavel looks ot have regained
100% the majority of his mobility, his balance, strength and poise, and in perhaps the highest-stakes preliminary round game of recent Olympic memory, he dazzled en route to 2 goals and an absolutely dominant performance against the Americans. Datsyuk keyed the power play, was strong on the penalty-kill, won one-on-one battles for the puck, was incredibly strong on his stick, made fantastic plays and scored two huge goals--though the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa reports that he wasn't thrilled with 'em:
Updated 2x at 11:04 AM: As I posted on KK's main site, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco may have been the only Slovak players to show up in Slovenia's huge 3-1 upset of the Slovaks this morning. Jurco scored the shutout-spoiling goal and led Slovakia with 5 shots in 14:04 played; Tatar played on the power play and penalty-kill, and while he took an ill-advised penalty, he also had 3 shots and finished at -1 in 14:43 of ice time.
The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with the pair after the shocking loss, and they were understandably upset after dropping the game:
"I'm really disappointed," Tatar said. "We are going to get way harder enemy after preliminary round."
The Slovaks will finish among the bottom eight of the 12 teams at the Olympics, and will have to play for the chance to advance into the quarterfinals. Slovakia wasn't expected to grab one of the four byes into the quarterfinals, but to end up as one of the lowest seeds after not even being able to beat Slovenia was upsetting. Team captain Zdeno Chara didn't want to speak long to reporters, merely describing the game as "disappointing."
I'm writing this as the Slovaks and Slovenians tangle on NBCSN in the 3 AM EST-"Matinee Game" (Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar should do quite well; Jimmy Howard's Americans and Pavel Datsyuk's Russians battle at 7:30 EST on the CBC and NBCSN; Sergei Fedorov had an intriguing take on the toughness of Russian hockey fans in an interview with the New York Times; and Niklas Kronwall's Swedes will battle Latvia at 12 PM on USA Network)--and add a, "Hmm" here...
While I am enjoying the non-Red Wings-injury-related part of the Olympics, I can sure as hell tell you that this entry's going to be a little scatterbrained given that I'm a night owl who's spent the last three days flipping my sleep schedule upside down, and man, I don't know how you uber-morning people do this.
This is a "Something old, something new, something borrowed, etc. etc." entry. We've talked quite a bit about Henrik Zetterberg's status and Niklas Kronwall's new-found status as Sweden's captain, Kronwall's comment to IIHF.com's Andy Potts regarding Zetterberg's day-to-day status in Detroit...Is still scary:
Amongst this morning's Red Wings-related prospect news:
The Grand Rapids Griffins have been engaged in a little character-building of late, which is the charitable way of stating that the team's had its ups and downs since the new year.
The return of Riley Sheahan was supposed to bolster the roster a bit, but on Friday, Grand Rapids dropped its first post-AHL-All-Star-Break game, dropping a frustrating 2-1 shootout decision to the San Antonio Rampage. The Griffins' website recounts the game's details...
Tomorrow morning (at 7:30 AM On the CBC and NBCSN), Team USA and the Russians are facing off in perhaps the most anticipated game of men's Olympic hockey's preliminary round play.
After insisting to R-Sport that he feels "all right," NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports that Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk engaged in the slightest bit of blustery talk ahead of tomorrow's possibly-Putin-attended grudge match:
"If we play our hockey, it'll be easy for us," Datsyuk said after practice Friday. "If we start to play not our hockey, not good for us."
The U.S. isn't planning to make it easy for Russia in the second game of Group A preliminary-round play for each team (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).
Fox Sports Detroit's Dave Hogg penned an absolutely fantastic article about the little developmental hockey program whose graduates include a member of the Red Wings, several of the NHL's brightest stars and a cavalcade of collegians, tucked away under the media's radar at the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If you haven't heard of the United States' National Team Development Program, you might want to learn about it now...
Far from the bright lights of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, where the Red Wings hunt for their first Stanley Cup title since 2008, a group of high-school students in Ann Arbor are picking up world championships on a regular basis.
They are the 44 members of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, based at the Ice Cube on the outskirts of town, and they've just returned from a successful trip to Sweden. Split into the U.S. national U-17 and U-18 teams, they won both Five Nations age-group championships, each posting 4-0 records against fields made up of national teams from Finland, Sweden, Russia and the Czech Republic.
My friend Courntey calls him "Captain Kronnnnn-Walllll," and if there is any bright spot coming out of the Red Wings' Olympic-related injury mess, it does involve Team Sweden leaning very heavily upon both Daniel Alfredsson (who inherited an "A") and newly-minted team captain Niklas Kronwall in Henrik Zetterberg's scary-back-injury-induced absence.
The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that the ever-intense Kronwall received a little friendly jabbing from former teammate Damien Brunner before Kronwall's Swedes defeated Brunner's Swiss 1-0 on an Alfredsson goal, and St. James spoke with Kronwall's teammates and current coach about the defenseman's not-necessarily-new role...
Coach Par Marts had the 'C' transferred to the sweater of Kronwall, a move that looked natural to Alfredsson.
"It's a great fit," Alfredsson said. "We all know how close he and Henrik are. They think the game the same way. Losing Hank is hard, but Kronwall knows the ins and outs as well as Hank does and has experience. He's a very respected guy, so he will be a great captain."
Generally I wouldn't make this an entry in itself, but the inordinate amount of Red Wings injury doom of late seems to require a moment of levity, provided by the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa and one Red Wings executive, player mentor, Fox Sports One employee and warm-weather-enjoying Malibu summer resident:
chris chelios #Sochi2014 attended USA practice today. "we didn't know what to expect coming over as far as the accomodations and... 1/3
"everything. it's been great. the facility here, this whole (Olympic) park is amazing. the weather's been california weather, which... 2/3
"was probably not happy for the skiers and stuff. but it's better than i ever thought it would be." many agree, DESPITE SHOWER CURTAINS!
In post-Soviet Russia, shower takes you?
Red Wings mid-day news: on Sheahan, Tatar, Russian pressure, McCarty’s tales and Sweden’s Z-less win
Updated 5x at 12:43 PM: The Red Wings were engaging in salary cap calculus when everyone was healthy early in the 2013-2014 season, and given that the Long-Term Injured Reserve exemption can only be used if players spend both 10 games and 24 days off the roster, I have no idea how the Wings can accommodate all three of Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan or Luke Glendening on the 23-man roster or under the cap ceiling.
I am hoping against hope that Henrik Zetterberg won't miss much time, that Pavel Datsyuk will emerge from the Olympics with some sort of functioning skating stride and that Johan Franzen will recover from his concussion after the break--and until we know otherwise, any guesses really are speculation at best--but it certainly appears that Stephen Weiss's return from abdominal surgery won't result in a triple-prospect-demotion.
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.