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The Malik Report

Saskatoon’s Gordie Howe statue has a well-weathered history

From the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix's Kevin Mitchell:

Temporary pilgrims arrived last week with flowers, cards and curious fingers.

They’re still trickling in, touching Gordie Howe’s upraised elbow and feeling the imagined heft of his bronze, unmoving stick.

It’s nice, this attention. Beautiful, even, because so much of Bronze Gordie’s life has been a lonely sort of thing.

He was birthed at studios in Eston and near Saskatoon, then abandoned by the group that first commissioned him, because they ran out of funds. The sculptor loved him, though, and because of that love, he finished the job using his own money — laboriously casting straight-bladed stick, old-fashioned gloves, sharp elbow.

Bronze Gordie stood on a prairie field for a while, lonely in limbo.

The real Gordie Howe visited the statue, out on that field, and told sculptor Michael Martin that while great, its “head is too fat” — it looked more like his brother, Vic.

So off came Bronze Gordie’s head, and on came a closer likeness, and he stood on that field a while longer while the City of Saskatoon rejected his very presence — “no artistic value,” said the city’s visual arts placement jury; “no enduring quality.”


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Datsyuk contract beach blanket bingo

This is slightly strange given today's comments by Ken Holland. This comes from the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch:

The decision by Pavel Datsyuk to play next season in Russia is no surprise but the Detroit Red Wings are going to have to clear off his $7.5-million cap hit if they want to take a serious run at Tampa Bay Lightning UFA winger Steven Stamkos. While the belief is Stamkos wants to stay with the Bolts, the talking period for UFAs will begin soon and he’ll get plenty of interest. Detroit is among those expected to talk.

“The Wings are really going to have to sweeten the pot to move that cap space,” a league executive said Saturday. “Cap space is a valuable asset.”

There has been talk about Detroit moving prospects, but they may have to also unload a roster player.

Does anybody want a slightly used Johathan Ericsson? I think the Free Press's Helene St. James had it right:

While low-budget teams such as Arizona and Carolina are possibilities, options expand if the Wings agree to take a smaller contract in return, such as somewhere in the $2 million range.

If the asking price is young Anthony Mantha, Holland said the answer would be a hard no. "If it's going to be one of our top young players or a top draft pick, I don't know that it make sense. We are going to give Anthony Mantha every opportunity to make our team out of camp."

I can't see the Wings trading away a top prospect to move Datsyuk's deal, but I can see the Jurco-or-Pulkkinen situation happening...and St. James' theory that the Wings may have to eat a marginally bad contract to move most of Datsyuk's $7.5 million cap hit seems more realistic.

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Toledo Blade’s Monroe: Derek Lalonde leaves Walleye to coach Iowa Wild

Sad news for Toledo Walleye fans from the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe:

Update: Here's Monroe in text form:

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Krupa, Cotsonika on Datsyuk’s long, slow goodbye

We'll wrap up the TMR coverage of Pavel Datsyuk's long and somewhat awkward goodbye--for now--with this from the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa

Unlike Sergei Fedorov, Datsyuk gave the Wings years of notice and never walked away to play for an opponent. And his career numbers prove something beyond any reasonable doubt, despite the persistence of some prejudice against skilled Europeans in the NHL: Pavel Datsyuk is one of a half-dozen or so of the greatest Red Wings.

He won two Stanley Cups. He is sixth in Wings’ history in points (918), eighth in games played (953), seventh in goals (314), fifth in assists (604), he won three Selke trophies as top defensive forward in the league and four Lady Byngs for combining sportsmanship with performance.

(He also fought Corey Perry early in the next season, after the fourth!)

Datsyuk could change a game with his offense, and his defense ranked with a few of the elite defensive forwards in the game. He brought us out of our seats with his deft deception carrying the puck and had us shouting when we craftily took it from opponents.

He will almost certainly enter the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, 2019.

And there is one thing he did lousy: Time his goodbye.

Krupa continues at considerable length, and he makes a wise point: In retrospect, it doesn't feel like Pavel's heart has been here for a while now. He's done his best to give his all, but that playful Pavel never really came home from Russia after the 2013 lockout.

Update: NHL.com's Nicholas J. Cotsonika captured the scene equally well:

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Duff: For the Red Wings, it’s a tale of two divergent paths

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff considers two possibilities regarding the Red Wings and Pavel Datsyuk's contract:

Let’s for a minute say Holland does find a way to get the deal done. Sure it sounds harsh, but a soon-to-be 38-year Datsyuk whose body is steadily breaking down isn’t the guy who once was in the Hart Trophy conversation. At this stage going forward, the freed-up cap space to pursue unrestricted free agents might serve the Wings better than the 49-point producing Datsyuk.

If $7.5 million in cap space suddenly opened up, opportunity would be knocking for Detroit. They could do the obvious, shoot for the fences and go after Tampa Bay centre Steven Stamkos. Or the Wings could seek to alter the make-up of their roster, and add grit and size.Remember, this is a squad that admitted at season’s end that they have too many of the same types of players on the roster.

Would a David Backes, Milan Lucic or Kyle Okposo, or to a lesser extent, Windsor’s Matt Martin, change the complexion of the Wings, make them grittier and harder to play against?

At the other end of the spectrum, if the Wings can’t move Datsyuk’s contract by July 1, maybe it’s time to go young, suffer some growing pains to begin the climb back to the top, even if it means sacrificing their precious 25-year playoff streak.

“It’s a really difficult situation,” Holland said of Datsyuk’s cap hit. “I’ll try to manage it the very best I can, that we can.”

You can look upon this as a sad day in Red Wings history. Or you can view it for what it is, a chance to reshape the future of a franchise that’s been treading water for the past six years.

Duff continues, and on a day like this, "I'll see it before I can believe the youth movement is here..." but there is a part of me that would desperately, desperately love to finally see the Red Wings give "the kids" every opportunity to succeed instead of limited minutes and cup-of-coffee call-ups. If the Red Wings don't manage to trade Datsyuk's contract, I really do hope that the team decides to give its "kids" the chance to sink or swim, for all the good (and possible bad) that such a possibility entails.

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Sharp: Can’t blame the Dad in Datsyuk

The Free Press's Drew Sharp weighed in on Pavel Datsyuk's decision to head back to Russia:

Datsyuk formally announced his retirement from the NHL on Saturday. He’ll play in the KHL – the Russian elite league – next season. During his press conference, he thanked the Ilitch family, the Wings, his teammates and the passionate Detroit hockey fans for “a great experience.”

But, in the end, Datsyuk wasn’t a hockey player. He was a dad.

It’s fitting this announcement came on the eve of Father’s Day. Datsyuk has a teenaged daughter, Elizabeth, who was born in Detroit but now lives in Russia with her mother. He wants to be with her more while he can. How many fathers out there say to themselves: “Where did the time go?” Their kids were newborns and then with a snap of a finger they’re older and transitioning into the next chapter of their emotional development.

“When I come back from the (2012 owners’ lockout),” Datsyuk said, “my mind is thinking that I want to go home. But I also want to keep playing here. I go with my mind and go with another three years. But it got harder and harder.”

The trail of bread crumbs was there back in February, according to Datsyuk’s agent Dan Millstein, that Datsyuk was strongly leaning toward leaving the Wings. He refused the $2 million signing bonus that was contingent upon him playing the final year of the three-year contract he signed in 2014.

“Everyone knew that this was a possibility,” Millstein said today. “It was a difficult decision for Pavel because there’s no doubt how much he loved being a Detroit Red Wing. But he thought he had a stronger commitment to his family.”

Continued, and as we found out from Ken Holland, Datsyuk wanted to leave last season, but he was convinced to play for one more season with the Wings last year at this time...

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A survey of the Pavel Datsyuk retirement/going-home articles

Updated 6x at 7:39 PM: Here's a summary of the Datsyuk articles thus far:

1. The Associated Press offers the following...

Pavel Datsyuk said  on Saturday that he will indeed play in the KHL next season.

The move doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as rumours of his intentions to play in Russia and be closer to his family surfaced at the beginning of April.

“It was not an easy decision but it’s time for us to return home,” said Datsyuk.

The soon-to-be 38-year-old has played his entire NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, who will now look to move the final year of his contract, which carries a $7.5-million cap hit.

2. The Free Press's Helene St. James weighed in...

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Goalies Rejoice, Datsyuk Is Gone

from Kevin Woodley at NHL.com,

If there is one group in the NHL that won't be sad to see Pavel Datsyuk leaving, it's the goaltenders he tortured and toyed with during his 14 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.

"Especially that he's in our division," Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo said with a laugh....

"I recall one week where they did the top-10 goals in the NHL and I was in two or three of them and Datsyuk scored all of them … in the same week," said Dan Ellis, who saw a lot of Datsyuk during his three seasons with the Nashville Predators from 2007-10, when both teams were in the Central Division. "Going up against him in a shootout you knew you were about to be embarrassed."

"When he is coming down you are almost nervous because you have seen him destroy guys," said Alex Auld, who stopped Datsyuk the only time he faced him in a shootout during his 10-season NHL career. "I was almost disappointed he didn't pull one of his 'A' moves on me."

Marty Turco wasn't as fortunate.

Turco was the first victim of a Datsyuk breakaway move now copied all over the world. Datsyuk was sent in alone late in the third period against the Dallas Stars on Nov. 12, 2003, and got Turco to bite on a fake to his forehand before toe-dragging the puck back behind him while cutting right with only his left skate on the ice, and lifting the puck into the open net.

"I like my ability to read guys, but he did that and I couldn't wait to jump in the corner like a fool," Turco said. "He was just so silky and so deft in his movements. You couldn't get a read on him. He was all-world. But at least I was the first one. I told the other guys, I don't know how they fell for it afterwards."

read on

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Ken Holland states he’s ‘not overly optimistic’ that he can move Datsyuk’s contract

Updated 11x at 5:05 PM:



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Raw audio: Datsyuk and Dan Milstein discuss Datsyuk’s decision

This is just raw audio, but it's what I've got, from the Datsyuk presser/Q and A (the "good stuff" starts at the 2-minute mark) and Datsyuk's agent's post-presser media scrum:

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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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