The Malik Report
Updated at 7:21 PM: USA Today’s Kevin Allen reports that Jimmy Howard and Justin Abdelkader will join Team USA: Just after DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose penned the article which this blog entry focuses upon, the Wings’ list of World Championship participants increased: in addition to Tomas Tatar (Slovakia), Valtteri Filppula (Finland), Jonathan Ericsson (Sweden) and the subject of Roose’s article, one Jakub Kindl (Czech Republic), Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom reports that Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen will join Ericsson on the host Swedes’ roster.
Zetterberg told Expressen’s Mattias Ek that he’s both very excited about the tournament which he’s leaving for on Tuesday, and that—and this is interesting—he believes he can play for at least nine more years in the NHL, while Franzen told Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman that he hopes to salvage what was a somewhat challenging year by contributing to Sweden’s cause.
Update: Link fixed, sorry! Building upon last night and this morning’s slate of Red Wings discussion, today, 9.71 the Ticket’s Dennis Fithian and Scott Anderson weigh in, the classic Monday morning gut-punch “quarterback” in Ryan Lambert has offered his take on the old Wings’ old problems because they’re so old, I’m not even going to comment on this, and then…
MLive’s Ansar Khan offers ten takes on where the Wings go from here, and he leads off with a bombshell—a bombshell repeated by Larry Murphy and hinted at by Ken Daniels:
1. Will Nicklas Lidstrom return? My hunch is he will retire. It is the first time I have had that feeling, after expecting him to return for the past several seasons. He has played 20 seasons, a milestone that was important to him. He turns 42 on Saturday and has accomplished everything from a team (four Stanley Cups) and an individual standpoint (seven Norris Trophies). Is he motivated to train long and hard over the summer for another season?
Continue reading if you want to get Khan’s takes on Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, Jakub Kindl, Brad Stuart and the team’s free agency plans.
Despite almost every pundit’s insistence that Nicklas Lidstrom makes their Lady Byng Trophy (most gentlemanly player) ballot as one of the finalists, the Red Wings’ captain was not named> one of the three possible winners of the award, so it appears that Pavel Datsyuk, who won’t win the Sekle Trophy due to the time he missed recovering from knee surgery, will be the only NHL Awards finalist from Detroit. Via NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman:
The truly elite players are the ones who can play—and excel—in any situation. The ones who are used not only when their team needs a goal, but also when it needs to prevent a goal. The St. Louis Blues’ David Backes, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings are just those kind of players, and for that reason they have been named as finalists for this year’s Frank J. Selke Trophy, an annual award given “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”
Datsyuk is a perennial contender for the Selke, and with good reason. Besides scoring at leat 65 points for the seventh time in the last eight seasons, he was 10th in the League in faceoffs, winning 56.2 percent, while taking 32.0 percent of all Red Wings faceoffs. He was third among all League forwards with 97 takeaways. Datsyuk was second among the team’s forwards in average ice time per game at 19:34, but had a plus-21 rating and just 14 penalty minutes, the fewest of his career. He also played 1:13 per game shorthanded.
And according to Behind the Net’s QoC, Datsyuk faced the second-hardest competition among Red Wings players, behind only defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
Update: As the Free Press’s Helene St. James suggests...
Personally, if any defenseman deserved to be a finalist for the Lady Byng, I don’t know how it wasn’t Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom - and it’s a shame that his career likely will end without his ever having been recognized with it. He plays a ton of minutes, always against opposing superstars and almost never takes a penalty.
We’re not used to this kind of wait for the closure that the Red Wings’ players give the media and their fans by offering a week’s worth of quips and quotes during their locker room clean-out. The Wings at least “made a series” of their defeats against the Sharks, so the team essentially headed home and packed up their gear the next day.
This year, the Wings have chosen to delay their locker room clean-out until Tuesday, and at this point, the only definitive player news we’ve got in terms of who’s hurt, who’s not, who wants to improve and who’s still plain old pissed off comes in the form of, “Which players might not be there to speak to the press,” or who might at least be in a hurry to pack up and catch trans-Atlantic flights to join their respective countries’ World Championship teams:
Updated 4x with tons of free agency talk at 11:13 PM, enough that this is now an “evening report”: As news is rolling in via Twitter that Jiri Hudler and Jakub Kindl (per Matt Saler) will play at the World Championship for the Czech Republic, and that Jonathan Ericsson will join Henrik Zetterberg in playing for Sweden (per Matias Strozyk), Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to the Associated Press’s Larry Lage about his hopes for the Wings in terms of off-season moves, and they’re simple (link from RedWingsFeed, which confirmed that Tomas Tatar’s headed to the Worlds to play for Slovakia):
“We have tons of money and if we can use our cap space to get high-end free agents, we have a shot to get right back on top,” Babcock said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, two days after Nashville eliminated Detroit. “If we’re fortunate in free agency, we won’t have to look at going in another direction.“The standard here has always been to chase the Stanley Cup, so as a coach, I’m hoping the free-agent market helps us continue to have those goals.”
The Red Wings led the NHL in points a couple months ago, but injuries to several players led to them slipping enough to be the fifth-seeded team in the Western Conference playoffs with a tough matchup against the fourth-seeded Predators.
Updated 2x at 11:41 AM: Joe Louis Arena’s ice surface wasn’t available on Saturday afternoon, and with “WWE Smackdown” coming to town on Monday (Shea Weber hasn’t asked for tickets yet), it’s incredibly likely that the Red Wings, who flew home after their playoff ouster on Friday night, will assemble today to take their team picture on the ice, and then speak to the media while cleaning out their lockers.
From there, the Wings’ players will spend the next week or two coming to and from the Joe to have end-of-the-season physicals (Henrik Zetterberg’s the first Wing to have all but committed to heading over to Helsinki/Stockholm to play in the World Championships, telling Expressen’s Mattias Eriksson that he can leave town after his physical on Tuesday, as long as the Wings are OK with him playing at the Worlds) and exit interviews with the coaches and management.
Red Wings fans, here’s a “pro tip”: familiarize yourself with Capgeek.com’s Red Wings salary cap chart. Under both the economic constraints of this CBA and the one which will hopefully be negotiated without any sort of lockout on the owners’ parts, the Wings will remain tied to the some of the decisions their management team has made going forward, and between the fact that the Wings will not tear themselves down to rebuild (would you pay to watch the Detroit Red Wings tank it for a year or three for the promise of something better half a decade from now? Me, neither) and the fact that the Wings believe in their prospects’ potential, it’s hard to believe that Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Mike Babcock, the team’s pro scouts and player mentors will sit down over the course of the next month and agree that the team needs to pawn off half a dozen players, tell Nick Lidstrom to retire (the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman told the Satellite Hotstove panel, at the 8:09 mark, that he believes Lidstrom may retire due to familial reasons as Holmstrom will retire and Lidstrom’s 2nd-oldest will go to Sweden to play hockey) and go wild in terms of making tons of trades and free agent signings.
The Red Wings’ GM seems to suggest that a combination of cautious decision-making, prospect promotions and perhaps a significant tweak or two might be all that’s in the offing for the Wings this summer in his first comments of the off-season, made to MLive’s Ansar Khan, but he is lock-step in his agreement with coach Babcock regarding his team’s relative depth:
Guest commentary: a journalism professor grades the 2011-2012 Wings’ players, coaches and management
Every once in a while, it’s good to change things up, and when readers ask me if they can weigh in with commentary of their own, I’m more than willing to oblige them. I know professor Steve Klein well, and his credentials speak for himself—as do his outspoken opinions—and here’s his take on the Wings’ disappointing 2011-2012 regular season and playoff run, including player grades (I’ll weigh in with my own in a day or two: I need to calm down, grieve a bit and pen something a little less emotionally charged than what you’re about to read) and recommendations in terms of necessary changes. His column comes with the usual blogger’s disclaimer: these opinions are his, not mine, and they stand on their own merit:
Steve Klein was sports editor of the Lansing State Journal from 1985-95 and is a life-long Detroit Red Wings fan. He coordinates the Journalism program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
Here’s the thing I like most about Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. He’s brutally honest.
Like my old Michigan State friend, Ron Mason, the all-time winningest college hockey coach, Babcock is a zero-sum guy. It’s not, “What did you do last shift for me?” Its, “What did you do at the end of the last shift for me?” And the answer better not be that you were dragging your ass to the bench because you were on the ice too long.
If this morning’s Red Wings-Predators wrap-up, posts about Mike Babcock’s take on his team’s off-season to-do list and takes on the “rebuild/reload” equation from TSN’s Bob McKenzie and the National Post’s Michael Traikos haven’t sated your desire for some closure and/or space to vent, a few more stories and videos have popped up this afternoon.
The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness leads us off by offering player and coach’s takes as to why the Wings, who Pleiness duly notes never spent that $5 million or so in cap space they possessed to add free agents and/or make trades which may have included roster players at the trade deadline, fell short against the Predators:
Regardless of whether you agree with Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s assessment that scoring and depth up front doomed the Wings—and as Shark Circle points out, Babcock had hoped that the Wings would land a top-six forward as well as a top-flight defenseman to replace Brian Rafalski when he retired last spring—or whether you believe that the Wings might be better served to not spend their summer out-spending their rivals because of CBA uncertainty, or perhaps because you believe that sacrificing some of the Wings’ roster players and/or top prospects might serve the Wings’ needs better than dipping into the free agent pool…
It’s hard to suggest that the Wings need anything less than some significant personnel changes after last night’s loss to Nashville marked the third time in three years that the Wings have failed to meet their playoff expectations in at least making the Western Conference Final.
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.