The Malik Report
I am certainly growing ever-so-slightly weary of this topic, but I would be remiss if I left it along. Both TSN's Darren Dreger and Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman have suggested that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's contract negotiations are playing out in no small part under the auspices that the coach feels a responsibility to "raise the bar" for each and every NHL coach's salary...
But Friedman begins his "30 Thoughts" by stating that those in the know had never believed that a contract extension was "imminent"...
A few different sources expressed surprise before Babcock threw cold water on the story, saying, as far as they knew nothing had changed in the negotiations. Detroit’s still got a long-term deal on the table, worth upwards of $3M per year, which would make him the highest-paid coach in the sport. (Joel Quenneville and Claude Julien are among those who have contracts carrying them into that salary threshold, but not for every season in their deals.)
And he adds this to the mix:
You also wonder if the coverage of his future makes him think, “Do I need to put up with this on a daily basis?” He is better than anyone at keeping his focus on what really matters, plowing over distractions faster than a Toronto condominium developer over a park bench. But you can tell he can’t stand this.
Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave pondered whether "the Ken Holland rule" should be implemented at the NHL level to reduce the number of shootouts which take place, though Gave suggests that the Wings' 1-and-4 shootout record is of course completely coincidental:
According to the "Holland Rule," any game that extends into OT is played 4-on-4 for the first three minutes. At the first whistle thereafter, teams switch to 3-3 for the final four minutes -- or until a goal is scored. Then it goes to a shootout. The Wings first introduced the concept at their summer "prospects tournament" in Traverse City.
It's actually 4 on 4 for the first four minutes, and then 3 on 3 for three more minutes.
"It was fantastic," said Kris Draper, a special assistant to Holland, "the amount of ice that opens up for the greatest players this game has, giving high-end athletes a chance to do their thing. Especially with the longer changes (benches being farther from their offensive zones). Somebody gets a little tired, opens more ice and creates even more scoring chances."
The NHL says the shootout was created largely for fans, most of whom come to games wanting to see an outcome more satisfying than a tie. But if a trivial skills competition can create some excitement for fans, wait until they see 3-on-3 play, Draper said.
"In Traverse City, whichever rink you were at, Rink A or Rink B, when you heard there was an OT going on in the other one, everybody got up and moved over. It created a pretty good buzz. "
It's doing the same thing throughout the AHL and, more importantly, ending more games with teams playing against one another rather than top players trading penalty shots. Through nearly two months of the season, about four out of five overtime games were decided before going to the penalty shots, compared to just over a third the year before.
The AHL gives attending media a handout praising the effectiveness of the 4-minutes-of-4-on-4 + 3-of-3-on-3 set-up, too.
Gave continues, and I can certainly tell you that the prospect tournament sold me on the concept...
Featuring Mike Babcock, Xavier Ouellet, Luke Glendening, and Niklas Kronwall.
Watch below... and Ken Kal does a great job with these segments in my opinion.
added 3:43pm, Bill Roose of the Wings's site with his preview,
SHOOT IT, PAV: Pavel Datsyuk continues his torrid assault on NHL goaltenders this season. Through 18 games, the Red Wings’ top-line center leads the league with an astonishing 25.5 shooting percentage, potting 12 goals on 47 shots.
Since returning from a groin injury on Nov. 26, Datsyuk – who was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week on Monday – has scored seven goals on 22 shots, which is a lethal 31.8 percent.
It’s interesting to note, however, that Nashville’s Mike Ribeiro, who is currently second in the league at 25 percent (8-for-32), is the only player in the past 18 years to finish a single season with a shooting accuracy higher than 24 percent.
Then a center with the Dallas Stars, Ribeiro capped the 2007-08 campaign with a 25.2 shooting percentage.
Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika penned an article about the Red Wings' season thus far, duly noting the biggest reason why the WIngs struggled last year--injuries--before coming to these conclusions about this year's team:
The Wings wondered about their scoring entering the season. Well, they rank fourth in goals per game at 3.03. They’re also seventh in goals against at 2.34. They’re a solid possession team at even strength and have top-10 special teams units. Howard, healthy again himself, has rebounded in goal. He has a .918 save percentage.
Babcock deserves credit. He’s the best coach in the NHL, and he has the Wings organized. Another reason they have improved this season: they have been more aggressive pushing the puck up ice. That’s why there is so much consternation about his contract situation. But he has the horses – to survive when injuries are awful, to thrive when injuries are limited.
I noted the following earlier this morning...
And, per SlapShotgoal:
Well, good on the Windsor Star's Bob Duff for writing this:
I got it wrong. Not completely wrong, but wrong nonetheless.
Thursday, I wrote that the announcement of a new contract between coach Mike Babcock and the Detroit Red Wings was imminent. That, I have since learned, is not correct.
In our business, we hold players and coaches accountable for their mistakes. This was my mistake and I hold myself accountable.
Working around the Red Wings organization for 25 years, I don’t believe that they tell me everything they know, but I do know this – there is no one within the organization who would deliberately mislead a reporter.
When Babcock says a deal is not imminent, I take his word for it.
I will stand behind the rest of the column, though. I firmly believe Babcock will be the coach of this team next year and for many years to come. It will happen because he wants it to happen and the Wings want it to happen. They will find common ground.
Update: And TSN's Darren Dreger goes with the, "Babcock can help coaches by cashing in" route:
Updated 8x at 3:30 PM: The Tweetapalooza has ended, and ahead of tonight's game against the Florida Panthers (7:30 PM EST on FSD/FS Florida/97.1 FM) and tomorrow's game against Toronto (7 PM on HNIC/FSD/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM), the "morning skate news" from the Wings, Panthers and Leafs (Friedman and Dreger talking about Babcock's contract not included) = Ouellet in for DeKeyser for Detroit (Abdelkader practiced, DeKeyser did not, both are battling shoulder, I mean upper-body injuries), Ekblad probably in for Panthers, Reimer likely to start for Toronto on Saturday.
In text and video form (with a couple of Tweets thrown in): The Miami Herald's George Richards confirmed that Windsorite Aaron Ekblad will play tonight...
"Now that it's over"....The Plymouth Whalers have always delivered a helluva product, and the Red Wings holding their 2012-13 season training camp at Compuware Arena certainly illustrated a thawing of relations between Mike Ilitch's team and Peter Karmanos' team, but the oppositional relationship between the teams remained in the public eye--despite the best efforts of the Whalers, Wings and the Whalers' superb PR and marketing folks, with people remembering the Detroit Junior Red Wings getting kicked out of the Joe instead of the Whalers' 25-year playoff streak.
As such, ESPN's Craig Custance confirms sad news in an Insider-only entry:
The one team [Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter] Karmanos did say he’s moving is his OHL team in Plymouth. With the sale of Compuware Arena in Plymouth to USA Hockey, the Whalers are looking for a new home. “We’re going to move the team probably to a small Canadian city,” Karmanos said. When asked for a short list of cities, he said there are a couple options but that he was hopeful it would be Chatham, Ontario. So, why didn’t junior hockey work in Plymouth?
“It’s not that it didn’t work. It was continually a battle to break even there, no matter how good we did as a team, which proves a few other things,” Karmanos said. “Major junior hockey can’t make it in Toronto. It’s very tough in a metropolitan area like Detroit. People go to see Wings games – they don’t go to any others.”
They go to University of Michigan games, they go to Toledo Walleye games, they're going to go to U.S. National Team Development Program games when the NTDP takes over Compuware Arena, but Compuware was always 3/4ths full for Whalers games, and I never understood why.
Updated 4x at 11:52 AM: New format. Within-Morning-Skate Tweets + stories of morning note in Game-Day post #1, post-morning skate text in Game-Day post #2.
The Detroit Red Wings hope to best the Nashville Predators East, I mean their Kryptonite Team, the Florida Panthers, as the Wings kick off a set of back-to-back games by hosting Florida this evening (7:30 PM EST on FSD/FS Florida/97.1 FM). The Maple Leafs will be waiting in Toronto for a Hockey Night in Canada game tomorrow, and they won't have played since Wednesday's shootout win.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reports that the Wings "took an optional" to save energy...
Appears to be an optional morning stake for the #RedWings at JLA. Only four D-men, 10 forwards and two goalies on the ice.
And the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa invoked a linguistic quirk:
#RedWings on ice, morning skate.
@FlaPanthers with whom the wings have had some recent difficulty, 7:30 p.m., joe louis arena. turrana, sat.
For your enjoyment, the Red Wings' Game Day Blog is up and running...
The Tampa Bay Lightning's 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes pushed the Bolts over the Wings for 1st in the Eastern Conference, 1st in the Northeast Division and 1st in the NHL ahead of tonight's game against the Florida Panthers (7:30 PM EST on FSD/FS Florida/97.1 FM) and tomorrow's game against Toronto, in Toronto (7 PM on FSD/CBC/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM).
As I'm writing this, I'm reviewing the Red Wings' 2-1 shootout loss against Toronto (tomorrow night's game = last of the season series; Detroit's 2-and-1; Toronto's 1-1-and-1 in the series, but has won 7 of their past 9 games) on Wednesday because the whole house got a stomach bug and some flu-like virus at the same time, knocking all of us on our feet, and as I recall the Wings' 4-3 loss to Florida on December 2nd...
I'm worried (no, really, more than usual). No Justin Abdelkader, no Danny DeKeyser for the next two games (Abdelkader has a shoulder injury, and DeKeyser probably has a shoulder injury; around this time of year, we're reminded that the NHL going away from the football-style shoulder pads = many more shoulder injuries these days), and the Red Wings were far too soft at both nets.
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.