The Malik Report
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff spoke to one of the NHL’s most infamous and controversial figures about his days as a teammate of, well, one of the NHL’s most infamous and controversial figures when one Colin Campbell was a member of the Red Wings’ organization:
In Windsor Thursday as part of the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business Breakfast of Champions series, Campbell reminisced about his days as a Red Wings defenceman and later, as an assistant coach under Jacques Demers.
“A lot of people probably don’t remember this, but I was the first player the Ilitches signed after they took over ownership of the Red Wings,” Campbell said. “I’m sure it’s not something they brag about.”
Moving into the coaching ranks, Campbell, who made his home in south Windsor during his tenure with the Wings, recalled one of his more difficult assignments during that time frame. He served as de facto baby sitter for Windsor’s Bob Probert when Probert was the Red Wings’ enforcer and was also battling alcohol and drug addiction issues.
Updated 8x with Draper at 7:42 PM: Sometimes a video’s worth a blog entry in itself, and that’s certainly the case as the first bit of Red Wings news after Detroit’s 10-3 loss to St. Louis comes from the Wings’ website, which posted coach Mike Babcock’s Thursday presser. Babcock’s first solution to the Wings’ troubles, especially at home? WORK and competing much harder after a game in which Babcock readily admits that the coaches and players didn’t do their jobs:
Babcock says that Jimmy Howard is “ready to go,” but the Wings won’t determine Pavel Datsyuk’s status until Saturday’s morning skate; Mike Modano apparently had the day off and may or may not play this weekend; he’s rather obviously not happy with the Wings earning 4 of 10 points and going 1-2-and-2 on their 5-game home stand, and he does believe that the Wings need to rectify their home record; he expects the Wings to do the usual regarding non-structural elements in competing from the start to the end of the game, and he feels that, as a group, the Wings would feel better if all 20 players were competing harder, being better without the puck, being harder at the opposition net…He feels that the Wings can do all the structural things in the world right, stand in the right place all the time, etc., and that’s wonderful, but if you don’t compete and win battles, you’re not going to win.
The words Red Wings fans like myself might use to describe Detroit’s horrific 10-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday generally involve four-letter terms. The game was nothing less than horrific, and it comes with consequences—the loss may very well cost the Wings 2nd place in the Western Conference, and now the Wings find themselves in a bit of a race for the Central Division title going into Saturday’s game against Nashville.
The Wings went 1-2-and-2 (read 1-and-4) on a 5-game home stand, boast a sub-.500 record at home, they set all sorts of, “We’ve either never done that or haven’t been that bad at home since forever” statistical records, and they were just, to quote Judith Viorst, “Terrible, horrible, no good [and] very bad” against St. Louis, going a collective and earned -30 while offering the kind of home game that only the die-hards (or masochistic types—take your pick) watched all the way through. If there is any good news regarding Wednesday’s game, it comes in two fronts: first and foremost, it appears that no Wing suffered a serious injury to anything other than their pride, and, perhaps more importantly, it didn’t happen in April.
If you’re willing to step off the ledge and try to digest what both the Blues and Wings had to say about this trainwreck, hold your nose and come along with me for an unpleasant recap. If not, after the jump, just scroll down to the “Red Wings prospects in the playoffs” section. I can’t blame you for not wanting to engage in what is essentially the sporting version of an autopsy.
The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 10-3 decision to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night, seriously endangering their hopes of finishing 2nd in the Western Conference and at least letting the Nashville Predators off the mat in the Central Division race by playing perhaps the worst game they’ve issued in a season or three, leaving Joey MacDonald out to dry and doing the same to rookie Thomas McCollum.
In theory, I’m supposed to say something that is either inflammatory, like, “This proves that the Wings are too old/slow/vulnerable and will totally bomb in the first round!” or, “No no, really, they stank on ice, but this is a regrettable aberration, and while the Wings went an ugly 1-2-and-2 on their 5-game home stand and have been playing plain old incompetent hockey, never mind lackadaisically, of late,” and while I do lean toward the latter suggestion…
I am a Wings fan, too, and in lieu of swearing, I’ll offer you a list I wrote during the game…
The Hobey Baker Memorial Award’s finalists were named today, and a former Wings prospect camper made the cut, but now-Red Wings prospect Gustav Nyquist did not:
The Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation on Wednesday announced the three Hobey Hat Trick finalists for the 2011 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, honoring college hockey’s top player. Alphabetically, they are: Cam Atkinson, junior forward from Boston College; Matt Frattin, senior forward from the Univ. of North Dakota; and Andy Miele, senior forward from Miami Univ. of Ohio.
The three finalists were selected from the initial list of Top Ten candidates by the 23-member Selection Committee and an additional round of online fan balloting to determine this year’s Hobey Baker winner. Criteria for the award includes: strength of character on and off the ice, displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.
This year’s Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced Friday, April 8, 2011 from the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, MN during the NCAA Frozen Four. The 31st annual announcement will be aired live on ESPNU at 6:00 p.m., CT.
Continued with detailed profiles of the finalists.
I’d generally prefer to keep this story in the game-day update mega-post, but as it seems pertinent enough to merit its own entry, Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi did speak to the media this morning about his hit on Chicago Blackhawks forward Ryan Johnson, insisting that a hit which resulted in a 5-minute major and a game misconduct was not premeditated in any way, shape or form, as DetroitRedWings.com’s Jeff Sanford notes:
“I thought he was in a really bad spot so I tried to ease up and go with my side and tried to hit him more with my butt in the stomach than anything,” Bertuzzi said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “I know if I went straight on I could have hit him pretty hard. If it was a guy who hits all the time and knows how to hit properly, I could’ve hit him really hard. He had his head down coming around the net, coming around the corner trying to make a hockey play, which you have to respect. ... I could’ve hit him really hard so I tried to ease up. When I eased up, your body goes a little bit loose and I caught him with one of my armpits.”
In a season plagued with serious and high-profile head injuries, the line between a strong hockey play and an illegal cheap shot is thinner than ever in the NHL. Bertuzzi’s hit on Monday illustrates how difficult the balancing act can be.
“If you see a guy like that you got to finish your check,” Bertuzzi said. “That’s what we’re paid to do and told to do. But at the same time you don’t want to, I don’t want to put the guy through the boards. For what? But I got to finish my check on him and make sure that he knows I’m there and I got to try to get the puck. At the same time, I try to do the right thing, and it almost kind of got away a little bit. I’m glad he’s fine. You don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”
It was reported that following the hit on Johnson, Bertuzzi met with the Blackhawks’ center during the first intermission, and apologized.
“It was just something me and him discussed, and we’ll just leave it at that,” Bertuzzi said.
Wings coach Mike Babcock told Sanford that the reaction to the fact that Bertuzzi was not suspended has more to do with Bertuzzi’s reputation than the reality regarding a player who’s grown up on and off the ice during his second go-round in Detroit:
In his latest “Dreger Report,” TSN’s Darren Dreger reveals that the NHL does at least informally keep track of players who tend to bend the rules into a pretzel on a regular basis:
Todd Bertuzzi’s hit on Blackhawks centre Ryan Johnson earlier this week sparked reaction from those who believe - based on Bertuzzi’s history - he should have been held accountable as a repeat offender. Suspensions and fines remain on a players record for future consideration, but “repeat offender” status is applied for financial penalty for those who face supplemental discipline, or are fined by the NHL, more than once over the span of 18 calendar months. Bertuzzi has been incident free since taking out Steve Moore in 2004, and in this case, his hit on Johnson was not considered suspendable by the league.
However, there is an unofficial “repeat offender” category as well, which isn’t new, but, is used by Colin Campbell when identifying players who repeatedly creep to the line between what is and isn’t acceptable in today’s game.
In some cases, a questionable hit may not warrant a fine or suspension, but will prompt Campbell to call either the player, his GM, or both to explain the nasty trend the targeted player has established.
The hockey world is understandably sensitive right now to all head hits and bodychecks delivered with an added element of “meanness,” or sense of violence and the league says it’s commited to the job of protecting players, which means more suspensions and fines for those that cross the line. The problem is, as may have been illustrated this week by Bertuzzi’s hit on Johnson, in the eyes of the hockey consumer, has the line moved and if so, does the NHL need to do more than what is proposed for next season to adjust? For some, when it comes to addressing both definitions of what is a “repeat offender,” the answer is yes.
Continued with Crosby and Nabokov talk.
Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson told RedWingsCentral’s Matthew Wuest that the Wings plan on re-signing Dick Axelsson to retain his rights in case Axelsson gets his “stuff” together and chooses to come over to the NHL, but while the mercurial forward is playing a large role in Farjestads BK’s playoff push, he also remains incredibly inconsistent, sometimes ridiculously immature and generally a player whose tremendous potential is the only reason that his swings in play thanks to his swings in mood are worth putting up with.
As the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema suggests, the Wings recently signed a very different kind of prospect in former University of Maine Black Bears and second-time Hobey Baker Award nominee Gustav Nyquist, who’s already did his homework before making an educated decision to place his college education on hold to join the Grand Rapids Griffins. Nyquist already admits that he knows that he faces a long learning curve in terms of going from playing against 18-to-24-year-olds to playing against grizzled pro veterans, but he tells Zuidema that, after two dominant years at Maine, it was time for a player who’s temporarily wearing #6 (Nyquist wore #89 in college, but the Griffins prefer that their players stick to lower numbers) to take the next step in working very hard to attempt to achieve his dream of playing in the NHL:
Updated 10x at 7:04 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the St. Louis Blues tonight (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/FS Midwest/WXYT), Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika reports that Jimmy Howard isn’t quite ready to return from a shoulder injury...
Jimmy Howard said he will not dress for Red Wings tonight against the Blues but expects to play Saturday at NSH
But it sounds like when Howard returns, so will Datsyuk, per the Red Wings’ Twitter account:
Datsyuk: Still not sure about tonight. I still not skate like Helmer ... fast.
Reporter asked Datsyuk, if not tonight, will he be ready to play on Saturday? ‘If not tonight, practice tomorrow,’ Pav responded.
Babcock: I am assuming he’s (Datsyuk) is going to go on Saturday.
Cotsonika also offered a n interesting tidbit regarding Todd Bertuzzi’s hit on Ryan Johnson:
The Detroit Red Wings’ game against the St. Louis Blues tonight (7:30 PM, FSD/FS Midwest/WXYT) is exactly the kind of game that would normally cause worry and angst among Wings fans as it’s a classic late-season-letdown in the making—a “throwaway” game against a team that’s bound for the golf course in two weeks—save the fact that…
Well, the Wings boast a less-than-lovely 1-1-and-2 record on the 5-game home-stand which concludes tonight; they have, technically speaking, lost four of their past five games; and, very plainly speaking, the Wings need the points as they’re only one point ahead of the San Jose Sharks and 3 ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference standings. The Blues might be just the team the Wings need to shake themselves out of their doldrums, too. The 13th-place Blues will be playing the second game of a back-to-back slate that started with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild, snapping a two-game winning streak, and the Blues will be without a wing-killer in T.J. Oshie, who was benched by the team for skipping (missing?) practice on Monday.
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.