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NHL.com’s ‘Sunday Long Read’ tells the story of the Detroit Vipers

The Detroit Vipers presented a strange but pretty spiffy chapter in Metro Detroit hockey history, and one I remember quite well as a teenager growing up with NHL and IHL franchises in my figurative backyard right around the time that I could legally drive my beloved 1984 Mercury Grand Marquis around town.

At a time when the feud between Mike Ilitch and Bill Davidson was still quite strong--to the point that the Wayne Gretzky's 99 All-Stars Tour team that played at the Palace in 1995 did so without Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman or Paul Coffey--Davidson and the Palace tried to establish a team that would serve as an "alternative to the Red Wings" for suburban Wings fans who wanted to watch more affordable hockey.

These days, if not for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Metro Detroit could probably support both the Red Wings and their AHL affiliate, but in the mid-90's, "Hockeytown" was very much so both a work in progress and something of a marketing slogan, and as such, the Vipers had some...adventurous times as the Palace crowds waxed and waned.

Things started with a flourish as the IHL team brought in Petr Sykora and Miroslav Satan during the first lockout season, and they nearly filled the barn with no NHL to watch for the first half of the 94-95 season.

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Bruins set-up: Wings can relegate B’s to wild card race today

The Red Wings face a slightly more difficult task than they'd anticipated in keeping the Boston Bruins in their rearview mirror during today's matinee affair (12:30 PM EDT--Spring Forward, oh joy!--on NBC/Sportsnet 360/97.1 FM).

Boston rallied from a 2-1 deficit with all of 14.1 seconds left in regulation and beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in OT on Saturday, and as such, the Bruins now sit 9 points behind the Wings, and Boston can draw to within 7 points of the Wings if they win today.

Given the 32-22-and-11 Bruins' 3 wins over their past 4 games and 4 over their past 6, 30 Regulation-or-Overtime-Wins--and given that these are the Bruins we're talking about--a Bruins team that's 7 points behind the 36-16-and-11 Wings and their 33 ROW's = time to start worrying about the Wings suddenly finding themselves battling for a Wild Card spot (with the Washington Capitals, the 1st Wild Card team, owning one fewer point than Detroit's 83) should Detroit stumble today.

However, winning today would push the Bruins to 11 points and 4 ROW's behind a Wings team that will still have a game in hand after today's affair = probably the margin necessary to shut the Bruins out of the Atlantic playoff race.

That's a very long-winded way of saying that this is a 4-point game and then some, and for a Wings team that gave up 40 shots in in 2 straight games and then gave up 5 goals against the Flames on Friday,

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Prospect news: Griffins take OT win over Chicago; Nedomlel helps Walleye win; Clarkson stays alive

The Grand Rapids Griffins may have dropped their first game in ten on Friday night in Milwaukee, but the Griffins got back on the winning train in a hurry and stretched their unbeaten streak to 11 games, rallying from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Rockford IceHogs 3-2 in OT.

The Griffins' website posited a recap:

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Garrioch discusses more Phaneuf stuff

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch's column merits posting both in KK Hockey and here at the Malik Report for a simple reason: He's got more info regarding a Dion Phaneuf trade that wasn't consummated at the trade deadline but may yet occur later this year:

Don't dismiss the talk about Maple Leafs' captain Dion Phaneuf being dealt to the Wings, there were serious discussions between the two teams. Those talks were so deep that even Leafs' president Brendan Shanahan may have been involved with his former team at one point with GM Dave Nonis to see if the deal could come to fruition. There were plenty of names thrown into the mix by the Leafs -- including asks for the likes of defenceman Jakub Kindl and Detroit prospect Anthony Mantha. The Wings would have insisted Toronto take back centre Stephen Weiss as part of any deal if Detroit was going to take a massive contract like Phaneuf's off the books. With talks going nowhere, the belief is Wings' GM Ken Holland felt it would be better for both sides if they revisited this trade in the off-season and that's why he made the deal for New Jersey blueline Marek Zidlicky.

The teams will most certainly revisit said trade...

"What usually happens is these trades get too big to do at the deadline," said a league executive. "It's OK for the Leafs because they're going nowhere this year and trying to rebuild. The Wings have something pretty good going."

Has to be tough for Phaneuf to swallow because at some point in all this he would have had to approve a move to Detroit. The Ducks and Kings both had interest as well so let's see what happens in the off-season.

Garrioch continues with non-Wings talk...

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Mike Babcock Wants More Energy From His Team

from Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News,

With a concert at Joe Louis Arena Saturday, the Red Wings partially dressed in their room, went out to their cars, and drove to a rink at the University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods. Most wore hockey pants, socks and warm-ups.

Some carried their pads in the trunks of the cars.

At the rink, the skates went on and coach Mike Babcock drilled them.

"We're a team that needs to bounce back," Babcock said. "I felt our energy at practice was a little better than it has been in a bit.

"And we haven't had good energy this last little bit. So I'm hoping the energy's back."

After the exertions, for the players it was skates off, most of the pads, too, and then back in the cars. Many ran into a traffic jam on I-94, where a patching crew performed a different kind of repair.

Then it was undressing at The Joe, packing duffle bags for the trip to Boston and driving to the airport for the flight.

Babcock had a list of tasks of his own.

read on

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Chris Chelios remains a busy man

The Chicago Tribune's Michael Stainbrook penned an article about a Chicago "prep legend" from Mt. Carmel High School named Chris Chelios, and his profile of the Red Wings executive reminds us exactly why we shouldn't expect to see Chelios coaching a team on a full-time basis any time soon--he's too busy being Chris Chelios, though he certainly tries to give the Grand Rapids Griffins as much of a hand as he can:

Chelios hops over the boards at Van Andel Arena during a Griffins practice. He's slower on the ice, the result of 1,651 NHL games played over 26 seasons. Only four players have played in more. Only Gordie Howe played as many years.

"He's been there and done everything," Blashill, the Griffins coach, said. "He's reached the pinnacle as a Hall of Famer. When you've done that, you command an unreal amount of respect."

Chelios spends most Griffins games sitting in a suite and taking notes. He briefs the team during intermissions. But there's one player he won't include in any report. His son Jake is a Wolves defenseman. The Griffins and Wolves play in the same division and meet eight times per season.

Jake and his three siblings have Chicago ties. Their grandparents live in Westmont. Sisters Tara and Caley Chelios play lacrosse at Northwestern. Older brother Dean, Jake's former teammate at Michigan State, played in the ECHL for the Indy Fuel, a Hawks affiliate.

Chris travels from Detroit to Chicago frequently and catches as many Wolves games as he can. He went to watch Dean play in Indianapolis. He flew to California to see NU's lacrosse opener against USC.

"He's somebody who can't sit still," Jake said.

Stainbrook continues and discusses Chelios's plans to spend the summer in Malibu, and despite the fact that hockey does include summers off, Mike Babcock comes back to Detroit pretty dang regularly to plan for the next season, as does Chelios, so I can't imagine him giving up his coach-executive-restauranteur-businessman-dad-and-bon-vivant lifestyle any time soon.

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Post-practice articles: Pulkkinen recalled, Glendening promoted, Gustavsson starts vs. Bruins

Updated 3x at 3:45 PM: Mike Babcock isn't screwing around after the Wings experienced a setback against the Calgary Flames on Friday.

With a matinee against Boston in the offing tomorrow and a home tilt against Edmonton on Monday, as Paul noted, Babcock tweaked the second line to give Luke Glendening the opportunity to "grind" for Pavel Datsyuk, and after announcing that Jonas Gustavsson would start against Boston, the Wings recalled Teemu Pulkkinen from Grand Rapids, burning one of the Wings' four non-roster-emergency call-ups between the trade deadline and the end of the Griffins' playoff run.

The Boston Bruins are currently hosting the Philadelphia Flyers in a matinee affair, so the Wings conducted their practice an hour early and appear to have delayed their afternoon flight to Boston for a reason:

For what it's worth, Mickey Redmond happened to speak to Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Drew Lane and Marc Ferrell yesterday, and while the wings bombed last night's game, Mickey's observations remain pertinent:

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Wings recall Pulkkinen

From the Red Wings' PR department:

… Forward Scored Four Goals in Two Games Since Rejoining Griffins on March 3 …

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today recalled right wing Teemu Pulkkinen from the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

Pulkkinen, 23, was assigned to Grand Rapids on March 3 and picked up four goals over the team’s last two games, including a hat trick on March 4 versus Oklahoma City. He leads the AHL in both goals (34) and points (61), while sitting second with 10 power-play goals, third with 189 shots on goal and tying for second with six game-winning goals. The Vantaa, Finland, native has also skated in 12 games with the Red Wings, scoring two goals and firing 27 shots on goal. Pulkkinen has already topped his offensive totals from his AHL rookie season in 2013-14, when he landed on the AHL All-Rookie Team with 59 points (31-28-59) in 71 games. Prior to coming to North America, the former fourth-round pick (111th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft) registered 128 points (48-79-128) in 185 professional games with Jokerit of Finland’s SM-Liiga from 2009-13 and was honored as the league’s rookie of the year in 2010-11.

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The Monster Starts In Boston

Beat writers all report Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal against the Bruins tomorrow afternoon.

Post-practice updates will be added as needed.

added 1:26pm, via Ansar Khan tweets,

Babcock said Glendening will play with Datsyuk and Tatar. He wants someone to do some work for those guys.

Babcock said he hadn't decided who will come out of lineup to make room for  Pulkkinen.

Babcock said Zidlicky has a bit of a charley horse but should play tomorrow.

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Wings Skating Before Heading To Boston

via Gregg Krupa tweets,

DetroitRedWings on ice university Liggett Grosse Pointe. Helm skating early with goalies and Dekeyser.

No Zidlicky, here. But maybe related to moving, perhaps.

via Ansar Khan tweets,

Darren Helm taking a few laps on the ice by himself before practice. Might be first time he's skated since oblique injury one week ago.

Helm left the ice when practice started. Zidlicky only one not skating but he is expected to play tomorrow in Boston.

added 11:46am,


added 11:52am, via Khan,

Cleary rotating in

Glendening probaby holding Pulkkinen's spot.  Teemu not at practice.

added 12:03pm, via Khan,

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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.



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