The Malik Report
Chris Chelios spent just over a third of his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, but Wings GM Ken Holland tells DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose that the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee’s contributions to the Wings during his decade-long tenure and two Stanley Cups with the organization exceeded their expectations for the man they acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in 1999 by several orders of magnitude:
“We knew we had him for that playoff run and three additional years,” Holland said. “Realistically, we thought that would be the time-frame for his career. I thought if we had him for four playoffs that would take him to 40-years of age, and that would be more than enough. But we never thought he would be here for 10 years.”
In all, Chelios played 27 NHL seasons, won the Norris Trophy three times and finished second twice, including 2002 when he lead the league with a plus-40 rating and was runner-up to Lidstrom.
“Cheli is a guy that when he’s on your team you and your fans love him, and when he’s on the other team you don’t like him,” Holland said. “And obviously once we got him on our team we loved him. He’s a warrior, he’s a competitor, he’s a team player, he’s a physical fitness nut and he’s a work horse, and he’s mentally strong, really strong. And when he got here, he was an old pro. He knew how to conserve energy. He was running around and didn’t try to go end-to-end. He conserved energy, and a real good player.”
It is widely assumed that the un-named second victim to which Graham James pled guilty to sexually assaulting was former Red Wings forward Sheldon Kennedy, and the Associated Press’s Kimberly Hefling (via the Detroit News) reports that Kennedy, who faced his own demons and substance abuse issues which derailed his NHL career, will testify before the U.S. legislature regarding the sexual abuse of children in sports programs. It’s an awful thing to report but there is one thing worse than talking about this horrific issue—not talking about it:
A former National Hockey League player who rocked the Canadian sports world with sexual abuse accusations against a former coach is the marque witness at a congressional hearing Tuesday examining such abuse in the wake of the Penn State scandal. The story of Sheldon Kennedy, whose NHL career began in 1989 with the Detroit Red Wings, was back in the news last week after his former coach in junior hockey pleaded guilty to sexual assaults involving two other former players, including NHL star Theoren Fleury. The coach, Graham James, already served more than three years in prison for abusing other players he coached, including Kennedy. James was quietly pardoned for his crimes in 2007, leading to public outcry.
The junior hockey system Kennedy played in is a prime steppingstone to the NHL. Many players between the ages 16 of 20 live far away from home with local host families, known as billets. Junior coaches hold strong sway over their lives and futures in the sport. Kennedy has said he didn’t tell his teammates about the abuse for fear they would conclude he was gay. He has said he was afraid to tell his mother about the abuse for fear she would pull him off his team.
Kennedy is expected to discuss the effects of abuse and what it’s like to be in an organization that didn’t do enough to protect teens. Kennedy, who later co-founded an advocacy group, has said previously that when there’s a crisis like the one at Penn State, it creates a platform for change, and he’s hopeful positive changes can be made as awareness is increased.
Continued, and kudos to Kennedy for continuing to relentlessly advocate for a very worthy cause.
The Red Wings received a welcome Sunday off after their 7-1 victory over Winnipeg on Saturday, and today, they’ll practice, fly to Pittsburgh and prepare for what might be the most brutal stretch of their schedule: the Wings will play six games over the course of ten pre-Christmas days, facing the Penguins in Pittsburgh (and no, neither the Penguins nor Wings know the status of #87 at present), the Predators in Nashville and then stopping at home to refuel Red Bird III, host the Los Angeles Kings next Saturday and almost immediately head to Western Canada to play a three-games-in-four-nights slate against the Oilers, Canucks and Flames.
Put unpleasantly bluntly, the Wings have to brace for some serious-ass wear and tear while hoping to both gain ground in the tightly-packed Western Conference and hopefully not get too banged-up along the way. They’ll have four more games (two on the road and two at home) to close out the last week of December, too, so in the larger scheme of things, we’re really talking about 10 games over the course of 19 nights (including a three-day break around Christmas), all starting on Tuesday.
Somewhat paradoxically, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan notes, the Wings can prepare for their nasty road grind knowing that they’ve made hay at home, reversing a tremendously shaky 2010-2011 record at Joe Louis Arena:
Red Wings player mentor (and the best-ever U.S. hockey player?) Chris Chelios visited his former employer, the Chicago Blackhawks, prior to his induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame tonight, and he received a feting that almost left him uncomfortable some twelve-and-a-half years after he agreed to be traded away from his hometown team. As Chelios told the Chicago Daily Herald’s Tim Sassone, the fact that he was cheered for the first time at the United Center made him feel a little conflicted given that the Hawks’ faithful booed him when, with his family in tow, the Hawks honored his career a season ago:
“Does it bother me? Absolutely, but I understand it,” Chelios said. “I swore I’d never play for (Detroit) and things changed overnight. They’re going to forgive me for that someday, they’ve got to. I played for the USA in other buildings during these World Cups and Canada Cups and Boston hated me, Philly, but when I’d go there with the USA jersey they all cheered for me, so they’ve got to forgive me here sooner or later.”
Chelios saw the direction the Hawks were heading in 1999, and what followed his departure was some of the worst years in franchise history. While some fans are quick to blame Chelios for contributing to that, they forget that late owner Bill Wirtz and former senior vice president and general manager Bob Pulford traded away Jeremy Roenick and Ed Belfour and allowed other top players such as Joe Murphy, Bernie Nicholls and Suter to leave.
“It started with Jeremy [Roenick] and Eddie [Belfour] leaving,” Chelios said. “I fell into that situation where the Hawks decided to bring (Doug) Gilmour and (Paul) Coffey in and it didn’t work. They were going to go with the young guys and it was just time for me to move on. Everybody was leaving and it was a transition stage.”
Chelios continued while speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns...
The Detroit Red Wings played nearly letter-perfect hockey in their 7-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets…Save the whole getting scored on on the first shift thing. For a team that was supposed to be exhausted after a late flight into Detroit, it took the Jets all of 35 seconds to score against Pavel Datsyuk’s line and the Lidstrom-White pairing, with a little help from a Bryan Little whiffleball that squeaked through Jimmy Howard’s legs, and the game was on.
Or so the Jets thought, as Kyle Wellwood told the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
“Obviously we wanted to have a great start, and we ended up getting the first goal, so we were pretty excited about ourselves,” Wellwood said. “They really turned up their game, and we weren’t able to play at their level.”
After that, as WinnipegJets.com’s Eric Postma notes, the Wings’ ruffled feathers (trust me, by next year at this time, we’ll all have run out of Wings-Jets flight and dogfight metaphors, so indulge me for a moment) shook the frost off and thrust a goal-scoring explosion down upon the Jets:
Updated with 2 stories in which Chelios actually speaks at 7:52 AM, Sunday morning: On Monday in Chicago, Red Wings player mentor and former Wings, Blackhawks, Canadiens and Thrashers defenseman Chris Chelios will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Rosenbloom suggests that the US HHOF is welcoming its ultimate inductee:
I don’t know what USA Hockey plans to say about Chris Chelios on Monday night. I’m not sure how the nation’s governing ice hockey body will describe Chelios when it inducts him into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in his hometown of Chicago. But it doesn’t get any simpler.
Greatest American hockey player ever. There have been better U.S.-born skaters, and the truth is, Chelios struck me as one of the clunkiest skaters among great players I’ve ever seen. There have been better U.S.-born passers and stick-handlers among defensemen, and there have been U.S.-born players with harder shots and more goals and more points.
But there never has been a better U.S.-born player than Chelios because there never has been another American who combined skill, smarts, leadership, toughness and longevity the way Chelios did.
Continued, and thanks to Paul for the link…
Update: Chelios discussed his induction with the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema when he visited the Griffins’ youngsters...
The Winnipeg Jets got off to a fantastic start against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, scoring a goal on the game’s first shift, but the game’s final 59:25 didn’t go exactly as Winnipeg had planned. Detroit out-worked, out-hustled, out-ground and plain old schooled (slightly sloppy 3rd period included) the Jets, defeating them 7-1.
The Wings definitely seemed shaken when the Jets pounced upon them, but the team simply chose to settle down, regain puck possession and give the Jets, who displayed a lightning-fast transition game and an excellent ability to cycle the puck down low and fire pucks into the slot for prime scoring chances, a little bit of their own medicine. The Wings slowly but surely took the puck back, cranked the pace of the game back down and then turned it up to a level that Winnipeg simply couldn’t handle, setting up in the Jets’ end and firing pucks out to open players in the slot in Todd Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg in the 1st period, a lurking Jiri Hudler in the 2nd, and, after Chris Conner scored his first goal as a Wing off two Jets players’ shin pads, the Wings kept going to the slot and continued to reap the rewards, with Filppula, Hudler and Miller scoring before the Jets finally chose to relieve Ondrej Pavelec of his duties early in the 3rd.
As mentioned this morning, the Red Wings raised a staggering $17,150 for the Salvation Army during their kettle bell-ringing competition on Friday, and perhaps it should come as no surprise that the most competitive member of the organization won the group-versus-group competition to raise the most money in his kettle, as reported by Wings community relations manager Christy Hammond:
Detroit Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock along with Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland reclaimed the team’s annual bell ringing title on Friday evening from forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, as the four duos of Red Wings personnel brought in a grand total of $17,150.10 for The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.
During a two-hour span of bell ringing at Hiller’s Market in downtown Northville, the players’ bosses raised $7,261 for the non-profit in addition to a $2,500 personal check from Holland. Last year marked the first time in five years of friendly competition that a player duo has brought in more money than Babcock and Holland.
Updated 6x at 6:18 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/WXYT/CBC), there’s good news for the miked-up Tomas Holmstrom and the Wings: Pavel Datsyuk did indeed take part in the Wings’ morning skate, and MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that he’s going to play:
No lineup changes for Wings tonight: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 11-43-41, 20-8-96; 5-18, 55-52, 4-23, 35.
Update the first: Here’s Khan’s game-day post:
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Winnipeg Jets tonight (7 PM EST, FSD with a miked-up Tomas Holmstrom/WXYT/CBC*) harboring no illusions as to the fact that tonight’s opponent may bear a team name that gives people like me and Darren Helm some warm fuzzies, but in terms of substance, this bears no resemblance to the last Jets team that visited Joe Louis Arena way back in 1996.
The Jets 2.0 have won four straight games, including a 4-2 Friday night win over the Hurricanes which marked the returns of Nikolai Antropov and Randy Jones to their lineup, and the Jets’ 7-2-and-1 record over the last ten games certainly gave Wings coach Mike Babcock pause while recounting Detroit’s last meeting with the real-life Jets—via a 5-2 loss to the then-Thrashers—to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
“They beat us like a rented mule,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “(We) should be careful. There are a lot of Jets players who’ve done very well and have played very hard.”
About The Malik Report
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