The Malik Report
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:
In the charitable news department:
The Grand Rapids Griffins are holding a charitable meet-and-greet with Jordin Tootoo on Saturday and will be raising funds for Duchene Muscular Dystrophy research on Friday, but if you don't find yourself in Western Michigan this weekend, the Livingston Daily Press & Argus's Brian Beaupied notes that the Red Wings' Alumni Association will be taking part in its most...unique...game of the season on Saturday night in Brighton, MI:
Via RedWingsFeed, today's been a busy day in terms of Red Wings practice news and updates regarding Jakub Kindl (had a sprained MCL), Stephen Weiss (going to Grand Rapids for one game) and both Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco (appear on track to start the post-Olympic-break schedule with the Wings), but Red Wings associate coach Tom Renney's comments to CBS Detroit's Ashley Dunkak merit mentioning because Renney believes that the spate of Olympic-related injuries might require a response that would alter the shape of professional hockey players' participation:
Maybe the time has come with through the progression of, in Canada the Program of Excellence, and [in] the United States the National Development Program, where that now becomes an under-23 event,” Renney said, “and you re-engage the World Cup and have that on the quadrennial, let the young great players in our game, if that’s where they are, play at the under-23 level, if you will, and it still becomes an exciting and outstanding event.
“But maybe as the players get on, it doesn’t put them in such a precarious position in terms of injuries and fatigue and those types of things to come back to their club team and do what is expected of them as most likely leaders and all that kind of stuff on their teams,” Renney continued.
Renney is not fan of the concept of moving Olympic hockey to summer, however:
Updated 3x at 4:34 PM: I'd usually stick this in today's practice post, but this is significant news in itself:
Here's Pleiness's article about Weiss--who will be accompanied to Grand Rapids by Teemu Pulkkinen, Riley Sheahan, Adam Almquist and Cory Emmerton, who the Red Wings' beat writers reported were simply brought up for practice purposes (the Wings take tomorrow off and Bill Roose reports they'll skate at the University of Ligett School in Grosse Pointe Woods on Saturday and Sunday):
Weiss is still recovering from sport hernia surgery on Dec. 23. He expects to be cleared prior to Wednesday’s game in Montreal.
“I don’t know about specific games, I just know that we were shooting for after the break to be ready to be available to play,” Weiss said. “So that’s obviously going to be up to the coaches whether or not they put me in the lineup but that’s still the plan: to be ready and available for those first couple of games back.”
Weiss will play Sunday in Grand Rapids when the Griffins host the Milwaukee Admirals.
The Grand Rapids Griffins host the Oklahoma City Barons on Friday and Saturday and will host Milwaukee on Sunday, so the warm body will be appreciated.
Update: THIS IS GOOD NEWS:
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