The Malik Report
from Adam Proteau of TorontoMapleLeafs.com,
As the Maple Leafs prepared to take on Detroit Friday night, Red Wings legends Scotty Bowman and Nicklas Lidstrom strolled through the lower sections at Air Canada Centre. Toronto head coach Mike Babcock will always have an association with the Wings, but he’s left those allegiances in the past and his current players are well aware where his allegiances lie now.
“It’s obviously special anytime you play your old team, whether that’s player or coach,” Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said after the pre-game skate. “But I know that Babs is about our team here. He’s focused on our team and our organization. I think he was pretty clear he’s moved forward from there. Obviously, that’s a big part of his career and his past, but he made that clear that he’s all in here and we’re working for him. And we definitely want to win every game. But playing Detroit, it’s a big game, big points for both teams, and we understand that.”
Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul echoed Phaneuf’s sentiments, noting that Babcock got his first game against the Wings out of the way Oct. 9 when Toronto fell 4-0 to Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. As far as Lupul is concerned, Friday’s tilt will be like any other.
“I think we’re just preparing the same way,” Lupul said. “He already had the one game in Detroit, they did a nice little tribute to him. And for us, it’s just another game, and we need the points.”
Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom received their Hockey Hall of Fame rings today:
Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with The Fan 590's Darren Millard, John Shannon and Rich Sutter this afternoon, discussing the Red Wings' start to the season, Dylan Larkin's impact and Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov's legacies:
Updated 7x at 2:06 PM: The morning skate ahead of tonight's game between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs (7 PM on FSD/TSN 4/TVA Sports/97.1 FM) revealed that James Reimer and Petr Mrazek will oppose each other in goal, that Mike Green won't play for the Wings (nor will Tomas Jurco, per MLive's Ansar Khan), and that Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov will be guests at the Hall of Fame Game this evening.
Mike Babcock also had some kind words to say about the Wings, as noted by the Free Press's Helene St. James:
"They do things well," Babcock said. "I am very impressed with (Dylan) Larkin. When I watch them, I see what I expect. I thought they got off to a real good start this year. They had a little bit of a hiccup and now they seem to be playing better again.
"I thought the Tampa-Detroit game was a good game to watch, it was high level by both teams, so it's fun to watch."
On the Wings' side of things, Ken Kal reports that Dylan Larkin remains something of a phenom...
Among the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's notes:
Blashill will not be sporting a mustache during Movember, which NHL players are taking part in to raise funds and awareness for men’s health. “No, not a chance,” he said. “I like to stay married. Mrs. Blashill wouldn’t be thrilled with that. I’m lucky I’ve hung onto her as it is so I’m not going to add a mustache to the mix.”
The Red Wings take on the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD/TSN 4/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), hoping to embark upon the team's first three-game winning streak of the season, while the Leafs hope to earn their second win over the course of 3 games.
The Maple Leafs took to the ice at the Air Canada Centre first, as noted by TSN's Jonas Siegel...
James Reimer starts tonight for the Leafs. Third straight start.
Jonathan Bernier not on the ice again this morning. Mike Babcock said yesterday that Bernier was expected to skate today.
TorontoMapleLeafs.com's Paul Hendrick...
Sportsnet posted a video profile of Sergei Fedorov and his lengthy career, and it' spretty damn spiffy:
As Paul noted, NHL.com's Dan Rosen collected a who's who's list worth of hockey luminaries praising Sergei Fedorov...
Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2015 inductee Nicklas Lidstrom (Red Wings defenseman, 1991-2012): "Being able to maneuver and stickhandle when he was going full speed is what really sticks out. He was such a dynamic player being able to do that. He could fly and stickhandle and he could shoot the puck too. He was hard to defend because he could beat you 1-on-1 or he could make a long, nice pass. He was a real dynamic player."
Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman (Red Wings captain, 1985-2006): "He's an incredible athlete. His skating ability, his puck handling, his shooting, strength and his power … he had everything. And he was a tremendous off the ice with fitness testing, playing tennis, playing golf. Just an incredible athlete."
And Rosen also tells the story of Fedorov's defection:
[Back] at the Shilo Inn, Lites sat and waited for Fedorov to return from Memorial Coliseum, where he played for the Soviets in an exhibition game in advance of the 1990 Goodwill Games. Polano, an interpreter, and a driver were in the waiting car. The Red Wings had a private jet ready to go.
Fedorov already met with the Red Wings contingent at the hotel prior to the game. He played that night only because he wanted to, which added to Lites' angst.
"The biggest fear was failure," Lites said.
But Fedorov's luggage was already in the car. Lites felt he was ready.
"He was the last guy off the bus, probably at 11 o'clock at night," Lites said. "They were going to a team meal, and you know Russian kids at that time were poor, so they're dressed poorly, for lack of a better term. Sergei was in a suit. I mean, he was ready to go."
The 6-5-and-1 Red Wings hope to earn their longest winning streak of the year when they battle the 2-8-and-2 Toronto Maple Leafs this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD/TSN 4/TVA Sports/97.1 FM) at the Air Canada Centre.
For the Red Wings, this game kicks off a slate of 3 games played over the course of 5 days and nights (the Wings host Dallas on Sunday and Washington on Tuesday), sandwiching Monday's Hockey Hall of Fame inductions of Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom.
For the Maple Leafs, Friday's game begins a back-to-back slate that wraps up when Toronto heads to Washington on Saturday.
For the Detroit, tonight's game represents the opportunity to win three straight games for the first time this season.
For Toronto, tonight's game affords the opportunity of rebounding from a 4-2 loss to Winnipeg on Wednesday while raining on Detroit's parade.
The Wings will attend Fedorov and Lidstrom's inductions on Monday, and as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan notes, Detroit and the Red Wings' hockey greats will be strongly represented in Toronto this weekend:
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned an article discussing Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom's imminent Hockey Hall of Fame inductions with Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman, Scotty Bowman and Brendan Shanahan. It's a helluva read:
Nicklas Lidstrom’s instinctual perception of hockey allowed him to play with such effortless simplicity, his greatness often was discounted. Eventually, Lidstrom’s performance was acknowledged as approaching perfection.
Sergei Fedorov played one of the most complete games of any forward in NHL history. He did it at such a high level for the Red Wings, he could bend the sport to his will.
The induction of Lidstrom and Fedorov in the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, with events beginning in Toronto on Friday, is spurring a walk down memory lane, including for Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan, two former teammates already enshrined, along with their great coach, Scotty Bowman.
“It’s a great reminder of all the success we had together, and all the fun we had playing together,” Lidstrom said from Sweden before he left for Ontario. “It makes it even more special when you’re going in with a former teammate that you played with for over 10 years. So, it will be very special.”
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.