The Malik Report
In the words of my father, I feel like an "old fart" for saying this, but a month short of my 35th birthday, I'll let those of you who are too young to remember the 1994-95 season know the best and worst parts of a truncated 48-game schedule:
The best part is that it is a seemingly endless 3-month run of games, games, more games, injuries galore thanks to the condensed schedule and a rush of personnel moves between the ratification of the CBA and the trade deadline, all with a heavy dose of a full playoff run from May to the end of June heaped on top.
The worst part is that there's no recovery time from the ups, downs, injuries, personnel moves or anything else, so neither player nor fan can keep up with all that's going on, nor can they really emotionally digest it. It's great short attention span theatre, but it's also surprisingly emotionally draining, because it's like three months spent in the hockey fan mosh pit.
On Friday (and before we begin, don't forget about the Grand Rapids Griffins' "Great Skate" event tonight!) we learned that:
This isn't usually TMR stuff, but I'm gonna be blunt here: while I am very, very happy that there is going to be some sort of 2012-2013 NHL season, and I'm grateful for the fact that I'm going to be able to see my Red Wings play in January instead of waiting until September...
I'm still pissed off about the just-ended lockout. Really, really pissed off. I'm starting to replace my, "Hopeful but not optimistic" line about the CBA with, "It will take time to heal" when my friends and family members ask me what I think about the lockout ending (or, far too annoyingly often, being asked about the fact that the "strike is over"). I'm not among the number of NHL fans that jumped up and down and cheered because--as Michael Caples, put it, NHL hockey is finally joining the 2012-2013 season party.
Around 5:30 AM EDT last Sunday, I didn't check Twitter on my phone, hop out of bed and cheer. Instead, I railed against the utter, complete ridiculousness and needlessness of the proceedings, the ego wars, the Kabuki theatre, and as you might expect, my belief that the owners and Chairman have some 'splaining to do in the form of ensuring that we have witnessed our last "work stoppage" (at least of Bettman's reign, if not in terms of "last in league history").
So I'm all with Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller here, as quoted by the Associated Press:
The condensed 2013 schedule for the Detroit Red Wings will see them play on consecutive days twelve times, with those 24 games counting for fully half of their 48-game slate.
Of the twelve times, four sets are in the same city. The Red Wings host the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings on February 9 and 10, the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks on February 23 and 24, the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche on March 31 and April 1, and the Kings and Predators on April 24 and 25.
They also play four times with less than 24 hours between games.
You can view the full schedule here.
Red Wings fans have known, one way or another, how they and their team would tearfully bid farewell to a certain Swedish net-crashing forward and move on without him for some time now, but while we're over half a year removed from Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement press conference, Wings fans and their team still don't seem to know how the team will perform without #5 on the ice.
To some extent, Lidstrom's absence may be cushioned as thickly as Tomas Holmstrom's soon-to-be-retired hockey pants by the utter insanity of a 48-game season mashed into three short months.
We certainly know that the Wings' organizational decision involved swinging and missing on Ryan Suter, and then simply waiting for CBA negotiations and the perhaps inevitable lockout to play out, only adding Carlo Colaiacovo as a low-risk, last-minute addition, and the Wings are indeed in very good position in terms of cap room to spend and depth forwards to spare, but given Ken Holland's tendencies, I think that it's equally likely that the performances of the current members of the Red Wings' blueline will determine how Holland, Jim Nill and the team's braintrust choose to bolster their reserves much closer to April 3rd than January 19th.
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff has witnessed what's transpired when certain teams whose systems of play were built upon foundations of defenseman-led puck possession including once-in-a-generation players, and he isn't overly thrilled with the prospects of a team whose top defensive pair consists of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson...
From an NHL team's fan's standpoint, yes, as many mixed feelings as I still have about the lockout and how its sequences of events progressed, I feel incredibly grateful about the fact that the Red Wings are getting "back to work" in terms of skating in front of paying fans at Joe Louis Arena shortly...
But as a hockey fan, and as someone who was ill for the past three months, I feel like someone who's "back" over halfway into a larger professional, minor pro and developmental hockey season that's almost two thirds over, taking place both all around the world and right here in Michigan, and I feel downright rotten about having missed so very, very much. In that sense, I agree with Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples, who's a little bit irked at the fact that so many people are suggesting that a game that never left is "back" simply becaues the NHL and NHLPA came to a collective bargaining agreement a little under a week ago:
[As Sunday] went on, and I followed the news and the tweets and the Facebook posts, I grew a little frustrated with the words I was reading. The frustration continues to grow each day.
Hockey is not back, everyone. Hockey never left.
As we have voiced all along, hockey never stops. The NHL closing its doors on us once again did not mean that your nearest rink closed its doors, as well. I was still at a rink almost every day, despite that rink not being Joe Louis Arena (with the obvious exceptions of the high school games and the Great Lakes Invitational). College and junior hockey was, and still is, alive and well. And nothing can compare to the enthusiasm displayed on the ice by young hockey players.
Updated 7x with another Ken Holland interview at 6:05 PM: So I've been gone for a while, but I'm back. One does not take a three-month hiatus from covering a sport they love for an extended period of time without extenuating circumstances occurring, and all I can offer you is the plain old truth: a nasty virus abated in October, but was followed by a severe, severe (I would add about twenty more "severes" if it wasn't redundant) depressive episode, one that I'm still recovering from thanks to tons of support from family members, friends and mental health professionals...But it was and is an incredibly difficult period of time.
I'm not necessarily back to abnormal at present, nor am I really fully ready to return, but as the Red Wings are about to begin their 2013 campaign, I have a responsibility to the Kukla's Korner and TMR communities to fulfill in terms of providing Wings-related information, and I'm going to do my best to meet said responsibility.
Anyway, I'm starting off slow and starting off slowly but surely rebuilding my background information, and as today's news stories are something of a mish-mash with physicals set to take place tomorrow and camp to begin Sunday, let's get some basics down before embarking upon today's roundup of stories and sound:
From MLive's Ansar Khan:
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose confirms that the Compuware portion of camp will be open to the public:
Updated with a letter issued to Red Wings fans in general at 2:51 PM: Via RedWingsFeed, WDFN's Doug Todd received a copy of the letter Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch sent to their season-ticket holders. Here's the text thereof:
In our now 30 years of owning the Red Wings franchise, we have experienced many ups and downs. No situation is more frustrating, though, than working through the process of establishing a new collective bargaining agreement. On behalf of the entire Detroit Red Wings organization, we would like to thank you for your continued loyalty throughout the recent NHL work stoppage. We are grateful for your commitment as a Season Ticket Holder. Every member of our team - both on and off the ice - is eager to deliver another memorable season of Red Wings hockey.
NHL.com's Dan Rosen offers a Red Wings preview in video form:
I don't know whether this will be open to the public, but MLive's Ansar Khan reports that the Red Wings found a more comfortable rink than the cramped and confined quarters of City Sports Arena, which is all but mashed into
Mount Olivet Mount Elliot cemetary in Detroit, to hold training camp in a more comfortable facility--and the Wings received assistance from a surprising benefactor in the Carolina Hurricanes' organization, as they will be holding most of their abbreviated 2013 season training camp at Compuware Arena in Plymouth starting on Sunday:
The Detroit Red Wings will be holding most of their training camp at Compuware Sports Arena in Plymouth, home of the OHL's Whalers.
Camp will start Sunday with two sessions. They'll be at Compuware through Wednesday before moving back to Joe Louis Arena for the final two days, Thursday and Friday. Joe Louis Arena is not available through Wednesday due to a press event for the North American International Auto Show.
The Red Wings will open the season with games in St. Louis on Jan. 19 and Columbus on Jan. 21. Their home opener will be Tuesday, Jan. 22 vs. Dallas.
The Red Wings wrapped up their informal skates Friday at the Troy Sports Center. They will have their pre-camp physicals on Saturday but will not skate.
Update: Also, from the Free Press's Helene St. James:
And, from the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
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.