The Malik Report
Three-time U.S. Olympian and women’s hockey stalwart Angela Ruggiero could and did keep up with men in terms of her physicality, competitiveness and downright viciousness, and in competition with women, she evoked comparisons to Chris Chelios in terms of her ability to balance scoring ability with physical intimidation (even in a no-checking game). Today, USA Today’s Kevin Allen reports that the California-born, Harvard-educated and Michigan-raised Ruggiero has chosen to retire at 31 years of age:
“I think I’ve done as much as I can to prepare for this day,” Ruggiero told USA TODAY. “It’s going to be really hard, but I’m also really excited about what lies ahead.”
In 1998, Ruggiero was the youngest player on the U.S. team that won the first women’s Olympic hockey gold medal at the tournament in Nagano, Japan. Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, said Ruggiero was the female version of former international and NHL standout Slava Fetisov.
“She has not only been the best defenseman in the last 15 years, Angela Ruggiero has defined this era of women’s hockey,” Fasel said.
Updated 4x at 4:13 PM: Good news on the injury front after the Red Wings’ 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues: the Wings have officially cleared Jan Mursak to play and assigned him to Grand Rapids, result in a 2-week conditioning stint which should yield more speed and depth on the fourth line when Mursak and Chris Conner (broken hand) return from their respective injuries. Here’s the Griffins’ press release confirming Mursak’s assignment:
The Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday assigned right wing Jan Mursak to the Grand Rapids Griffins for conditioning.
Mursak has not played this season after breaking his ankle in a Sept. 25 preseason game versus the Chicago Blackhawks. The 23-year-old forward skated in 54 games with the Griffins last season, recording 35 points (13-22—35). He also appeared in 19 games for the Red Wings, notching his first NHL goal on Jan. 10 versus Colorado. The Maribor, Slovenia, native has registered 86 points (39-47—86) in 184 career games with the Griffins from 2008-11.
As MLive’s Ansar Khan notes, the Wings can recall Mursak early if necessary:
For the first 38 minutes of the Red Wings’ “statement-making” win over the St. Louis Blues, it looked like the Wings were playing from an all-too-familiar script. The Wings were pushed around by a bigger, stronger Blues team as they dug a 2-0 deficit for themselves for the third time over the past four games, and as the Wings seemed somewhat intimidated by the Blues’ physicality and determination, Jimmy Howard more or less kept the Wings in the game at times, quite literally standing on his head to make one save…
The Detroit Red Wings dug a 2-0 deficit for themselves for the 3rd time over the past 4 games, and after Stephane Auger yielded what had seemed to be yet another case of an unearned break by finding a way to not give a goaltender a quick whistle in a game where the Blues had hacked, whacked, hooked, held, cross-checked, grabbed and groped their way to a no less unearned and seemingly unassailable lead (in a game which they eventually won 3-2)...
Mickey Redmond tends to say that games with the kind of playoff flavor that the Wings have aren’t places for nervous people. As I am biochemically inclined to be nervous, I popped half an anti-anxiety medication and prepared for what the game appeared to be as they were out-shot, out-worked, out-hustled, out-checked and quite possibly out-talented over the first 33 minutes and 8 seconds thereof: yet another case of a Wings team that’s more talented than just about any other simply not working hard enough or playing efficiently enough to earn the kinds of breaks the Wings did against the Predators.
With the Red Wings-Blues game-day updates and news regarding Johnny Wilson’s passing (both updated around 6:30 PM) haven fallen off the main page, here’s a little ditty which surprised me: according to IIHF.com’s Szymon Szemberg, the World Junior Championship’s chairman, long-time hockey exec Al Coates, once laced up the skates for former Red Wings owner Bruce Norris’s first attempt to establish a European arm of the Red Wings’ franchise—so the Wings’ long association with Europe as a place where it invested in talent, as it turns out, kinda started backwards:
[F]rom the international perspective, it is his pioneer days with Detroit’s European farm club London Lions that are the most intriguing. You see, the 1973-74 edition of the classic British team (the original Lions existed 1924-33) was unique in the history of hockey. Can you name any other team that played 72 exhibition games during a “season” and then folded?
Background: Detroit owner Bruce Norris wanted to create a European pro hockey league in the early 1970s, and he had the London Lions tour the continent as promotion for those ambitions. For European NHL fans the London Lions were as close as you could get to watching a real NHL team on a regular basis. Apart from Swedes Ulf Sterner, Tord Lundström and goalie Leif “Honken” Holmqvist (all IIHF Hall of Famers), all players were North Americans, the jerseys almost a replica of the Red Wings’ and the logo a winged lion.
Updated 5x at 6:18 PM: Very sad news for the hockey world from Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson:
My uncle, Johnny Wilson, passed away this morning at 82 yrs.He was a warrior thru & thru, right to the end.Our family will miss him dearly.
Uncle John played for Wings, Hawks,Leafs& Rangers. 688 gms. 4 Stanley Cups. Coached 7 seasons, LA, Det, Colorado, Pitt. Ironman-560 gms.
Update: The Canadian Press is confirming, and while they’re not sure of the cause of death, I can tell you that it was very quietly stated that Wilson was very, very ill over the past year. He was in dire straits for a long time, and it wasn’t a question of “if” as much as “when” he’d succumb to his illnesses.
Update #2: From the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
Former #redwings, #leafs and #spitfires F johnny Wilson, uncle of #leafs coach Ron Wilson, died today at 82 from lung disease.
Update #3: Here’s the Red Wings’ official press release regarding Wilson’s passing:
Updated 9x at 6:31 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the St. Louis Blues tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Versus/TSN2/WXYT), there’s bad news regarding Tomas Holmstrom’s groin injury, per MLive’s Ansar Khan’s Twitter account:
Just heard the Wings will recall Joakim Andersson (6-2, 206) from Grand Rapids.NHL debut tonight. He has 17 points (8 G, 9 A) in 29 games.
Andersson to play on 4th line wing with [A]bdelkader, [E]mmerton
Holmstrom out week to 10 days with groin strain.
Babcock said reason they called up Andersson was because of his size (6-2, 206). Blues are big, physical team.
Andersson will wear No. 63. He’ll be the first player in Wings history to wear a uniform number in the 60s.
Update: Here’s Khan’s morning skate report:
The Detroit Red Wings flew back to Michigan around midnight with two very necessary points via what I thought was a relatively dominant 4-1 win over the Shea Weber-less Nashville Predators, allowing the Wings (minus Tomas Holmstrom, who suffered a groin injury) to face the St. Louis Blues tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Versus/TSN2) still trailing the Blues by a single point in the Western Conference standings.
The Wings were out-shot 32-22 thanks to a somewhat lackluster 3rd period in which the Wings gave up 15 shots, but the Wings also killed off 5 Predators power plays, received a 2-goal performance from Valtteri Filppula and did more than simply pounce on a Shea Weber-less Predators team, displaying improvement in leaps and bounds as compared to their shaky play last week and progressing toward the kind of hockey the Wings need to play to beat the Blues and Blackhawks and gain ground in the Central Division,
The Predators viewed the game a little bit differently. As far as they were concerned, they overcame a gargantuan absence in their lineup to at least play as well as the Wings, and were perhaps robbed by Jimmy Howard and jobbed a bit on the goal which broke the game open, as Ryan Suter suggested to the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper:
Update: FSD’s Trevor Thompson reports that Tomas Holmstrom suffered a groin injury and won’t play tomorrow: The Detroit Red Wings began play against the Nashville Predators with a little lead in their legs from their Christmas break and a little “stupid” lingering in their play from their ineffectual, inefficient and mistake-prone hockey against Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary last week, but the Wings slowly but surely gained their footing and ended up routing the Predators at home, defeating Nashville 4-1 at a Bridgestone Arena where the Wings rarely win.
Embarking on a slate of four straight games versus Central Division opponents and their first of two back-to-back slates this week, the Wings plain old played smart hockey against a Predators team missing Shea Weber, exploiting the Predators’ absence of depth with some depth scoring of their own…as well as some pretty damn spectacular play by their stars.
The Detroit Red Wings broke open their game against Nashville via a wraparound goal from Pavel Datsyuk which referee Chris Rooney did not rule as having snuck under Pekka Rinne’s right pad…But the linesmen overruled the Rooney, and while the “situation room” replays were inconclusive, let’s just say that Pavel Datsyuk’s emphasis on insisting that the goal was good helped:
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.