The Malik Report
Updated at 12:21 PM with anti-Kronwall talk from Vancouver: The Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks won’t hit the ice for their morning skates ahead of tonight’s match-up (10 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet Pacific/WXYT) until 2 PM EST and 1 PM EST, respectively, but several stories popped up which are worth mentioning here and now:
• First, the CBC’s Gord Stellick has this to say about the treatment Pavel Datsyuk received from his fellow players during the All-Star festivities:
It was a great acknowledgment and a sign of respect for Zdeno Chara to forgo team captain alliances and bias for the first-overall pick and use it to select Pavel Datysuk. It showed to the world the seal of approval from his NHL peers how much Datsyuk is respected by his fellow NHL players. A great informal honour.
• After ESPN’s Scott Burnside and Craig Custance indirectly addressed tonight’s game, and TSN’s Dave Hodge stirred the trade deadline pot by noting that Ken Holland has a pretty good record in terms of adding reinforcements to his roster, MLive’s Ansar Khan discussed tonight’s game plan in terms of Canucks coach Alain Vigneault’s desire to witness his players crashing, erm, I mean “generating traffic” in front of Jimmy Howard while “matching” the Wings’ physical play all over the rest of the ice surface:
Updated 3x at 6:48 AM: When the NHL’s supposedly least-hated team, the Detroit Red Wings, face off against the Vancouver Canucks tonight (10 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet Pacific/WXYT), there’s obviously little doubt that the Canucks remember this hit from the teams’ last meeting, a 4-2 Canucks victory on December 19th…
And given that Ryan Kesler attempted to fight Niklas Kronwall take out Henrik Zetterberg’s knee after Kronwall leveled him, and Kevin Bieksa suggested that someone needs to jump Kronwall and “beat him up” to teach him a lesson in terms of standing up for himself after predatory hits, there is no doubt whatsoever that, despite the Canucks’ rather meager protestations to the contrary, Vancouver will take a page out of the St. Louis Blues’ book, and are all but assured to both find a way to target #55 and physically “punish” the Wings’ players in the same manner that the Blues attempted to do a week-and-a-half ago.
Update: The CP posted a video which accompanies the story: Red Wings legend Gordie Howe is in Vancouver to attend tonight’s Wings-Canucks game and then visit the WHL’s Vancouver Giants on Friday, so I wasn’t necessarily surprised when Sportsnet posted a photo gallery which accompanies their fantastic magazine article about how Mr. Hockey’s getting on just under three years after Mrs. Hockey passed away.
It should come as little surprise, however, that the Howe family has chosen to go into more detail about what they’re now admitting is a sad reality: both Marty and Murray Howe are now readily admitting to the Canadian Press’s Donna Spencer that, three years after their mother’s battle with an aggressive form of dementia called Pick’s Disease ended, their father’s now battling dementia as well:
“He’s a little bit worse than last year, but pretty close to about the same,” son Marty says. “He just loses a little bit more, grasping for words. The worst part of this disease is there’s nothing you can do about it.”
The Howe family hasn’t chased a diagnosis of exactly what kind of dementia Gordie has. They did that with Colleen, who died at 76 of Pick’s disease. Pick’s is a rare form of dementia marked by changes in mood, behaviour and personality, followed by memory loss similar to that experienced in Alzheimer’s. Gordie’s dementia is currently mild and it’s unclear how it will progress. One of his other sons Murray, a doctor who specializes in radiology, says his father’s symptoms don’t fit either Alzheimer’s or Pick’s.
“He has what we call mild cognitive impairment,” Murray says. “His brain power is not what it used to be. In terms of the prognosis and diagnosis, it’s still wide open. He doesn’t fall into what I would say is any particular category. He really doesn’t seem to fall into the Alzheimer’s dementia category because his disease is pretty stable.”
Spencer notes that an interview she conducted with Howe a year ago raised questions about his state of mind, and now the family’s willing to publicly admit that Mr. Hockey’s “not firing on all cylinders” because they’re affiliated with several Alzheimer’s and dementia-related charities…
I would prefer to not overload regular KK readers with, “All Red Wings, All the Time” coverage, but this particular article is a little too good to bury in the sea of Red Wings-Canucks practice day updates. The Vancouver Sun’s Iain MacIntyre believes that, and I quote, the Red Wings are, “The Dynasty That No One Hates,” and have “Earned the Love” of legions (cue cries of protest from Blackhawks, Blues, Predators, Sharks, Ducks, etc. fans, as well as those who are not appreciative of Tomas Holmstrom’s art of goaltender imitation). Thankfully, Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn’t believe MacIntyre for a second:
“Does it do me any good to have a theory after you just made that nice statement?” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday when asked about the double-standard and why no one hates the Wings. “Just write it like that. Perfect. I think we’re a good team and I like to think we play the game well. We’re a team that plays between the whistles and that’s just the way our personnel is built. We’d play different if our personnel was different. You coach what you have and play with what you’ve got.”
See, even the coach throws the general manager under the bus. Reprehensible.
“I played against Detroit more than I played for them, and the good way to put it is you have respect for them,” defenceman Mike Commodore said. “A lot of guys end up staying here for a long time. Other guys come in here and maybe their career is at a standstill or they’re on the backside of their career, and they’re able to come here and get rejuvenated. Players respect that, too. The way things are done in Detroit has garnered respect. It’s a pretty clean hockey team. We play hard, but nobody in here is running around getting in people’s ears. We play a clean, straightforward, puck-possession kind of hockey.”
The Score has posted two videos regarding the Red Wings goaltenders’ masks over the past three weeks, and as it turns out, Ty Conklin is as uninterested in what adorns his mask as Jimmy Howard is particular about the design work Ray Bishop does for him. Here’s the Score’s clip of Ty Conklin shrugging off wearing a “back-up” mask from his last stint in Detroit…
And here’s Jimmy Howard describing his mask in great detail:
The Red Wings’ website tosses us a knuckle-puck of the pleasant variety by re-publishing an article which Red Wings legend Ted Lindsay once penned (probably with a little assistance) from the May 1957 issue of “Blueline Magazine,” and Lindsay’s article is a fascinating read in retrospect:
Gordie Howe is the greatest player in hockey! Gordie, in fact, may be the greatest hockey player ever. For that statement I have to take the word of my boss, general manager Jack Adams of the Detroit Red Wings, who’s seen all the great ones come and go in his forty years in the game. Jack calls Gordie the greatest he’s ever seen and that’s good enough for me.
Best ever or not, I do know from personal observation that Gordie Howe is the best around right now, and has been, in fact, for the last ten years. I know. I’ve been his linemate all that time.
Before we go any further let me say here and now that I know there are going to be some fans and maybe even team officials, who won’t agree with me, in my choice of Gordie as number one on hockey’s hit parade. I realize that some are going to point out that, being a buddy of the player in question, I am naturally prejudiced.
Let (me) say this. If thinking that Gordie Howe can do more things well than any player on skates today, then I guess I’m prejudiced. If thinking this fellow can do more things with a puck other players only dream about, then I guess I’m guilty again. But these things I honestly believe.
Continued, and the article’s worth your time.
Updated 9x at 9:52 PM: The Red Wings flew to Vancouver after last night’s 3-1 win over the Flames, and today’s mid-day news topics included, the Wings are much less worried about trade talk or Henrik Zetterberg’s goal-scoring slump than they are in finally passing the acid test that is tangling with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
The Canucks defeated Chicago 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday, with Cory Schneider making 37 saves, so it should come as no surprise that the Vancouver Sun’s Jim Jamieson reports that a team that had its way with Detroit in their last meeting (2-0 loss to the Wings in will start the goalie who carried them during a 4-2 stomping upon the Wings on December 21st:
#Canucks coach Vigneault says Luongo gets the start in goal vs #RedWings tomorrow.
On the Wings’ side of things, MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that Mike Babcock did indeed hold Jimmy Howard and Pavel Datsyuk out of practice to give his All-Stars a rest,and the Free Press’s Helene St. James offers quips from both teams via Twitter...
Red Wings mid-day mish-mash: questions, trade climatology, co-MVP’s, Happy Hudler and more McCrimmon
The Canucks are practicing right now in Vancouver, and the Red Wings won’t even hit the ice until 3 or 3:30 PM EST, so we’re looking at some very late-afternoon off-day updates, but that’s no excuse for sitting on Wings news till this evening for the sake of comprehensiveness’s sake.
Given the Wings’ gritty 3-1 win over the Flames, Calgary’s moving tribute to Brad McCrimmon and Art Regner’s insistence that the Wings must target one of Tuomo Ruutu or Ales Hemsky to succeed come playoff time, we’ve got more than enough to tide us over till we learn how goalie coach Jim Bedard fared in practice during Jimmy Howard’s Day Off, and we’ll start this afternoon’s discussion with a slate of question regarding the Wings from Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski:
Given the talk surrounding the Edmonton Oilers’ and Carolina Hurricanes’ asking prices for Ales Hemsky and Tuomo Ruutu, respectively, I get more than a little jittery when the pair are linked to a Red Wings team that Ken Holland readily admitted is exploring its options in terms of bolstering its lineup via a smart trade or two (and Holland told the Globe and mail’s Alan Maki that he’s actually looking for a defenseman), but Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner’s got stars in his eyes while suggesting that one more top-six forward would allow the Wings to withstand an injury or two up front (see: Johan Franzen, 2010, Johan Franzen, 2011):
Ruutu turns 29 in February, and at 6 feet, 205 pounds, is an abrasive forward who is versatile and enjoys mixing it up. He’s a good skater and can play all three forward positions. Consistency and injuries have always been issues for him, but Ruutu could provide the Wings with a solid player who can score, set up his teammates and bring a bit of an attitude. In 511 career games with the Blackhawks and Hurricanes, Ruutu has 126 goals and 165 assists.
Hemsky, who turns 29 in August, is 6 feet, 185 pounds and a bit of an enigma. Blessed with a skill level off the charts, he’s never had that breakthrough season that would propel him into the league’s elite level. Injuries have always hampered him. Since February 2011, Hemsky has missed 35 games with various ailments. But he’s shown enough in 526 career games with the struggling Oilers—118 goals, 296 assists—to peak the Wings’ interest. Hemsky has 247 career penalty minutes to 498 for Ruutu.
Before Nicklas Lidstrom learned how to jump into the rush from Paul Coffey and how to impeccably position himself between the puck and the goal from Larry Murphy, he broke into the league 21 years ago playing alongside Brad McCrimmon, and on a night when the Calgary Flames did a fantastic job of honoring the one-time Wings player and coach’s memory, the Wings defeated the Flames 3-1 by playing a game whose substance resembled McCrimmon’s supremely gritty, sometimes downright nasty and perhaps less than aesthetically-inclined style.
The Wings didn’t receive much time to dwell upon their win; they boarded Red Bird II for an hour-long flight to Vancouver, where the Western Conference leaders (the Wings are all of three points ahead of the Predators and four ahead of the Blues and Blackhawks in the Central Division standings, and are 3 points ahead of the Canucks), where they’ll practice sans Jimmy Howard and Pavel Datsyuk on Wednesday—Wings coach Mike Babcock told Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating that he’d have goalie coach Jim Bedard substitute for one of the two All-Stars who face a mandatory day off—before tangling with the Canucks, who defeated Chicago 3-2 in overtime, in a clash of titans on Thursday. This win involved finally hitting the .500 mark on the road while keeping pace with the Wings’ high-performing rivals, and little more.
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.