The Malik Report
Via RedWingsFeed, long-time Red Wings team physician John Finley has released a book chronicling his remarkable 46-year tenure with the Wings, called Hockeytown Doc, a Half-Century of Red Wings Stories, from Howe to Yzerman, and the Birmingham Eccentric's Jay M. Grossman sat down with Finley recently to ask about some of his many memorable moments stitching up the toughest athletes around:
On Gordie Howe: “I remember getting a call from Gordie's wife — he was at practice and came home early with severe back pain. They lived in Lathrup Village at the time and I told her to take him to the hospital. It turned out he was trying to pass a kidney stone, which was bad news because it was in early March and we were fighting the New York Rangers for a playoff spot and there was an afternoon game the next day.
“As it turned out, we hospitalized him and he passed the stone during the night. The next morning he felt fine, but we wanted him to stay in bed for the next 24 hours. But Gordie insisted on playing. He signed himself out, left the hospital, went directly to the arena and scored a goal.”
The last two days have been particularly gloomy from a Red Wings fan's perspective--or at least mine--so, facing a content-light morning, I'm going to try to look at the bright side of things. So excuse the gritted teeth and false smile from a very gloomy-feeling blogger...
Nobody else is using Joe Louis Arena, so the Red Wings are opening the ice to fans. There will be four 1-hour open skates, Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m.-noon, noon-1 p.m., 7-8 p.m. and 8-9.
It's all free, including parking, but you have to bring your skates and register at detroitredwings.com/openskate while space is available.
Some bargain-price food will be available at the Joe, or you can bring your own. No pucks or sticks allowed.
And while fans like you and me might have shook our heads when we learned about Wings VP Jimmy Devellano's $250,000 fine for calling players cattle grazing at the owners' ranch, more than a few people know who the Victoria Island News's Scott Harrigan is given the way his Q and A with Devellano spread like wildfire, and in a strange twist, the Island News's Christian J. Stewart engaged in a little chest-puffing-out regarding the little newspaper website that shocked the hockey world (yay?):
Updated with a perfect Jimmy Devellano post-script from Nicholas J. Cotsonika at 7:03 PM: On an evening when the most notable news regarding any Red Wings players involves Sovsport and Championat posting pictures of Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Bryzgalov taking in CSKA Moscow's 4-2 victory over Yugra while they wait to make their KHL debuts on Tuesday, and Jakub Kindl not playing in HC Pardubice's 2-1 loss over Plzen...
A week ago tonight, I suggested that the lockout is not like Pawn Stars, where the owners of the shop stating, "I take all the risk, I have the overhead to pay" wasn't applicable to negotiations between owners and the players who bring paying fans to "the ranch," if you will...But with a week's worth of no negotiating taking place, I'm ready to quote Rick Harrison again in suggesting that, "It's not that I don't trust you: I don't trust anybody."
In that vein, and especially given what has been an (in the absence of negotiations) all-out propaganda campaign by the NHL, deputy commissioner Bill Daly, and eventually Jimmy Devellano, mounted against a less intense propaganda campaign by the NHLPA, Donald Fehr and Mathieu Schneider, I've got to take what I'm about to post to task as more propaganda, albeit well-intentioned propaganda.
On "no training camp" morning, members of the Red Wings' coaching and player development departments did head to Traverse City to hold a youth hockey clinic at Centre Ice Arena, as chronicled by RedWingsTV, and at this point, being able to report some sort of positive news is a welcome relief and a source of hope:
The Wings' Twitter account illustrated very strong attendance at the camp (which is also a good thing)...
Updated 6x at 1:04 PM: Given the tone of Red Wings VP Jimmy Devellano's comments about players being little more than cattle grazing at the owners' ranches, this isn't surprising, per the CP's Chris Johnston:
I doubt that we'll find out how much the Wings were fined, but I'd guess that it was a four or five-digit number.
Aside from a brief mention, what should be today's main Red Wings-related topic got lost in Devellano's bluster, Winter Classic worries and at one bit of inspiring news about Jim Nill's motivation for running in the Chicago marathon:
Today, the Detroit Red Wings--as in Chris Chelios, Jim Bedard, Kris Draper, Keith McKittrick and Bill Peters--will be holding a youth clinic at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan. In a sane world (see: the Canadian Auto Workers and GM/Ford/Chrysler "working through" working out labor deals), the Red Wings would be starting their 2012-2013 season today at training camp, and the Wings' coaches and management would be making player personnel decisions instead of scouting while they wait for the Grand Rapids Griffins' training camp to begin on October 1st.
Instead, the front office, coaches and players are locked out, and Centre Ice's volunteers remain on watch as the Wings never officially canceled camp, but instead, simply chose to allow the league's cancelation of September pre-season games to serve as its "CBA delay." As such, MLive's Ansar Khan spoke to Centre Ice Arena director Terry Marchand about the literal and figurative impacts losing both the 8-team prospect tournament and training camp have yielded for both Centre Ice and Traverse City as a whole:
I need to preface this report with a suggestion: at this point in the lockout, there is little being stated to the media, dropped as a hot tip or plain old blatently blathered that is not propaganda.
As far as I'm concerned, until the NHL and NHLPA work the, "Lockout is illegal" cases through the various provincial courts, we're likely to see more games canceled* and another week or three without negotiations thanks to the simple fact that lawyers are lawyers, and in the interim, fans like you and me can expect our emotions to be jerked around like a puck on a Datsyukian steal and double deke.
That being said, there's no doubt that the chain of events regarding the Red Wings and the supposed cancelation of various Winter Classic-related activities, starting with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's report that the Hockeytown Winter Festival might be in jeopardy, and continuing with the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran's suggestion that the Winter Classic itself might be scrapped for the simple sake of eliminating a CBA negotiating leverage point are both worrisome. The Sporting News's Jesse Spector offered a nuanced, "Why go nuclear?" and Kulfan himself is questioning the report this morning...
But given that we're currently in the middle of a particularly violent spin cycle, it should come as little surprise that the Ottawa Sun's well-connected Bruce Garrioch suggests that the Winter Classic's fate is indeed in question:
The Island News's Scott Harrigan's interview with Red Wings VP Jimmy Devellano's been tossed around like a hot potato, with each and every person who's re-listed it treating Devellano's inflammatory comments regarding players as "cattle" who are generously allowed to graze at the owners' "ranches," his allusions to collusion on NHL owners' parts regarding offer sheets and his, "There there, little fan, it's all too complicated for you to understand, but we'll 'get it fixed,' and then you can bring your money back to us" attitude, so I suppose it should come as little surprise that player agent Allan Walsh--who may be Devellano's polar rhetorical opposite--offered a post-script from Devellano via Harrigan:
Given that both sides are accusing the other of never really negotiating off their first proposals, and that contempt for the other side's position is boiling over, why do I get the feeling that the potential cancelations of the Hockeytown Winter Festival (per the Detroit News's Ted Klufan) and/or the Winter Classic itself (per the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran) are the least of our concerns?
This is particularly interesting given a certain Red Wings exec's compound comments regarding players, fans, and then the potentially imminent cancelation of the Winter Classic's precursor events, a.k.a. the Hockeytown Winter Festival: while Jimmy Devellano suggests otherwise, the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran quotes a "league source" as stating that the whole shebang will be canceled shortly in an attempt to gain lockout-negotiating leverage:
The NHL’s New Year’s Day Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings is on the chopping block, a potential early victim of the lockout.
A league source told the Star that, barring a settlement, commissioner Gary Bettman plans to cancel it in November — to take away any advantage the players may have at the bargaining table because of the game’s popularity.
“Gary told (the board of governors) he was going to cancel the Winter Classic in November because he didn’t want the players to use the game as leverage,” the source said.
The first thing you notice about the Red Wings' management--when you're around them for, say, a prospect camp's worth of time, anyway--is that they're in some seriously good shape under those baggy track jackets, and while Wings assistant GM Jim Nill isn't the kind to engage in the same kinds of punishing workouts that Mike Babcock and Ryan Martin enjoy, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reports that Wings assistant Nill will be taking part in quite the athletic endeavor, and he's doing so for a touching reason:
For someone who enjoyed a decade-long pro playing career, it seems odd that Jim Nill wasn’t much of a fan of running when it came to cardiovascular fitness. He still isn’t.
However, Nill’s antipathy for pounding the pavement won’t stop him from following through on a promise he made four months ago, one that he plans on seeing through – straight to the finish line.
The Red Wings’ assistant general manager will make his long-distance racing debut when he tackles the Chicago Marathon next month as a tribute to his wife, Bekki, who is battling cancer.
“She’s the one that got me into it and got some of her friends into it,” Nill said. “She was doing the training but with her feet and the chemo, she just can’t. … It’s too much, so I’m running for her.”
Contnued, and it's worth your time.
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.