The Malik Report
As the Chief already noted, our friends in Toronto are corroborating the massive Detroit press push suggesting that the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will hold a Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and if you don’t believe Pension Plan Puppets’ news, the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts (via RedWingsFeed) is also stating that the deal is done…
This slipped under the radar thanks to the sound and fury about the poll that said Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is overrated and the Mike Cammalleri trade, but it looks like the Leafs will play the Detroit Red Wings in next year’s NHL Winter Classic.
However, the game will not be held in Toronto but in Ann Arbor, Mich., where it is expected a world record for attendance at a hockey game will be set at Michigan Stadium. The stadium already holds the record, as 104,173 fans attended an outdoor game in 2010 between the University of Michigan and Michigan State. The plan is to configure the stadium capacity to 115,000 for the NHL’s outdoor game.
Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who is also chasing a Winter Classic for Toronto along with the NHL all-star game and the entry draft, said in an e-mail message the Leafs have not received any invitation to the Winter Classic – yet. But the word around the NHL is the league is committed to seeing the Leafs and Wings meet in next year’s outdoor game.
And ESPN’s Scott Burnside says that the NHL is giving the Red Wings’ owners an olive branch for not having the game at Comerica Park by holding a Great Lakes Invitational and possibly other events in Detroit
It’s just me and Mickey Redmond, it seems. I didn’t think that the Detroit Red Wings played particularly well in their 3-2 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes, though it’s hard to watch the entire shootout, or this goal in particular…
And feel the need to get particularly picky about a game in which the Wings shook off some heavy legs after a very shaky four-game road trip, found themselves firing shot after shot on a goalie and against a team that planned on denying Jimmy Howard his 100th win, Mike Babcock his 400th coaching win and the Red Wings two points amidst a January stretch in which the Wings are in the middle of playing 11 games in 19 nights, and need all the points they can get, no matter how sloppily they’re earned.
George’s note: We’re having a blog hiccup. It should be resolved shortly. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Updated with trade talk from Pierre LeBrun at 10:48 PM: The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-2 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes produced a lovely result in 100 wins for Jimmy Howard, 300 for coach Mike Babcock and a game that was, quite honestly, an incredibly spotty effort byt he Wings, who may have proven that you don’t need to go to the West Coast to play like your legs feel like lead and your brain just fuzzy enough to be sure that you can make the extra deke or pass back to a more open man instead of burying a puck and/or ensuring that you corral a rebound.
Don’t get me wrong, all the credit in the world can and should go to Coyotes goalie Mike Smith for a fantastic 40-save performance, but when the Red Wings are putting that much rubber on an opposing goalie, they’re not usually the ones rallying from two one-goal deficits, clutching their sticks too tightly on the power play (which still stinks), and, quite frankly, if the Wings had screened Smith more consistently or pounced on rebounds the way Ray Whitney, Radim Vrbata, Mikkel Boedeker and Shane Doan did on Jimmy Howard, this game would have taken 50 minutes to win, not 65-plus.
As an FYI: per the entire Red Wings media corps on Twitter and confirmed by the Red Wings-Coyotes roster sheet, Pavel Datsyuk has returned from his groin injury to play against the Phoenix Coyotes (7:30 PM EST, FSD/FS Arizona Plus/WXYT), but Mike Commodore (sore foot) and Todd Bertuzzi (???) are out.
Jan Mursak will start the game alongside Darren Helm and Drew Miller.
In light of the Yahoo Sports and Annarbor.com reports that the University of Michigan has been asked whether it could allow the NHL to borrow Michigan Stadium for a Metro Detroit-based Winter Classic, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan asked the Red Wings’ ownership to comment on the situation, and he received a predictable response:
Mike Ilitch owns the Red Wings and the Tigers, making Comerica Park seemingly a logical destination for the game. But Red Wings officials had no comment on the matter Thursday.
John Dellapina, NHL vice-president of communications, said the league doesn’t comment on Winter Classic sites until contracts are signed.
The league is expected to announce the site of the 2013 game before the Jan. 29 All-Star Game.
Wings senior vice-president Jimmy Devellano said in December that the Wings were on a “short list” of NHL cities being considered to host the game. He said then that possible venues had not been discussed with the NHL.
The Detroit Free Press’s Michael Rosenberg also offered a ramble regarding the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor being paired with a Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park given that the NHL has no desire to hold two events at Michigan Stadium…
Update: The Fan 590’s Greg Brady reports that the Red Wings want to host the event at Comerica Park because they’d receive both a cut of suite sales and want crowds to head to Cheli’s Chili and the Hockeytown Cafe instead of everywhere between Detroit and Ann Arbor to eat and drink. Brady says that the fact that the NCAA would demand a cut of the NHL’s pay-out to the Wings, and the fact that the NHL would have to receive a license to sell beer at the Big House, make things a little tricky.
Updated 7x at 2:49 PM w/ a Howard video, and Nicklas Lidstrom’s confirmed to have asked for the weekend off: Instead of posting a massive press release, the NHL chose to announce its All-Star reserves via Twitter updates from its 30 teams’ beat writers and official team Twitter accounts, but they did post a press release which lists all 30 team’s All-Stars, and the Red Wings will be sending, per NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman, two players—Jimmy Howard and Pavel Datsyuk.
I guess that, as Mike Babcock suggested during the Wings’ morning skate, that Nicklas Lidstrom got the weekend off, but I’m not thrilled with the concept of Lidstrom not being in Ottawa.
Update: Here’s the actual list. No Lidstrom.
Howard and Datsyuk are wings all-stars as Lidstrom not picked. given weekend off
That’s got to be it—Lidstrom must have asked for a weekend to spend with his family…And because I’m a nervous Nellie, here’s hoping he said, “No, I’ll do it next year.”
Update #2: Per Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating...
Updated 8x at 6:58 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/FS Arizona/WXYT), MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the scheduling grind has caught up to the team’s players in the injury department:
Datsyuk skating at wings practice.
Datsyuk looks tentative. not working in line combinations.
Zetterberg centering line with Franzen and Bertuzzi. Filppula centering Hudler and Cleary
Babcock said Datsyuk game-time decision. couple of others also game-time decision.
Commodore said he’s not sure if he’s in tonight. Took a shot off right foot in Chicago game and is sore.
The Wings’ website’s Twitter account confirms that Datsyuk’s “iffy”:
As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/FS Arizona/WXYT), if you are facing a cheese-based emergency or find your supervisor looking over your shoulder at work, I can summarize the challenges facing the Wings in a few sentences: the Coyotes always play the Red Wings hard, especially given that they’ve been bounced out of the playoffs in two successive seasons by Detroit, and the Wings hope to find that Pavel Datsyuk (groin) can play tonight as they attempt to keep their lengthy home-ice winning streak going while steadying their slightly listing ship after struggling to keep pucks out of their own net during a difficult four-game road trip and an ugly 5-1 loss to the Islanders.
It is also highly likely that Jimmy Howard, Nicklas Lidstrom and/or Pavel Datsyuk may spend their morning skate media availabilities speaking about heading to Ottawa for the All-Star Game (which would mean no break for three players whose team will be playing 8 times over the next 14 days).
Oh, and if you’re going to the game, be careful out there on the roads, because it’s going to rain today and then turn to snow this evening, to the tune of somewhere between 2-to-5 inches, depending on your location.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Arnold, despite the Red Wings’ management’s desire to host a Winter Classic at Comerica Park, if the NHL is to indeed award the event to the Detroit Red Wings, it plans on setting an attendance record at the 110,000+ capacity Michigan Stadium instead, and as such, the league’s working very hard to secure the use of the “Big House” next December and January:
Michigan Stadium is known for being the biggest college football venue in the land, playing to crowds of more than 110,000 every fall. But the 84-year-old stadium, affectionately referred to as The Big House, is also no stranger to outdoor hockey. And that’s got the NHL’s ears perked up. Multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports this week that the NHL is in advanced discussions with the University of Michigan about holding the 2013 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.
One source, who spoke on a condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the matter, said Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon wasn’t initially sold on the idea of the NHL hosting an outdoor game at Michigan Stadium. But over a matter of a couple of weeks, the source said “something happened to make it go from looking like it could happen to [a point where] it probably will.”
Updated 4x at 6;34 PM: The Detroit Red Wings may not have earned their day off after dropping a 5-1 decision to the New York Islanders, but the Wings’ physical and mental fatigue was incredibly apparent in their plain old doofy play as they wrapped up a slate of 14 of 19 games on the road, three games in four nights and continued to play a slate of 11 January games over 19 pre-All-Star break nights.
Updated 5x at 7:13 PM: While the Wings were in New York, the Sporting News’s Jesse Spector both spoke to Jimmy Howard about his evolution into an elite netminder and pondered the team’s status as an effective team despite playing the antithesis of Big Bad Bruins hockey:
In 42 games, the Red Wings have been assessed 42 minor penalties and six majors—all for fighting, the lowest total of scraps in the league. Detroit has not had a single misconduct penalty, as opposed to the NHL-high 10 each called against the two teams that are trying to make back-to-back Finals appearances.
“I wish we were the biggest, toughest, ugliest team in organized hockey. That’s not how we’re built, so you coach what you got. How’s that? No pride in that!” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said on Tuesday, drawing a laugh. “No, I take pride in the fact that we’re real disciplined. … We’re just built a different way, and you’ve got to win in your own way. Team toughness for us, toughness is how hard we are on the puck, and how we pursue it, how we keep coming. It’s got nothing to do with fighting and stoppages.”
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.