The Malik Report
I absolutely adore hockey equipment, the technology that goes into making it and the delicate business that is getting NHL’ers to endorse a particular brand of equipment, and especially in light of the fact that a certain Red Wings defenseman wearing #55 used sticks that he was never completely comfortable with for three years before switching to a different brand this year thanks to a Kronwall-brother deal with Bauer, Yahoo Sports’ Justin Bourne offers nothing less than equipment candy in talking about NHL’ers stick deals:
[T]hey start with a blank slate — they can use, try, or mess with whatever stick in the world they want. If they’re second or third liners in a good market — and the “good market” part is key here — then they can probably finagle some cash or product out of a company for using their twigs. In great markets like Toronto, rest assured every player on that team is cashing a cheque from the company clearly displayed on their stick. (Yes, that includes players who don’t even need sticks for anything but slashing). In Atlanta or Phoenix? It’s unlikely you’re seeing a whole lot of kickback.
I’ve been told by a few equipment types that there are “A,” “B” and “C” markets, and Detroit is an “A” market, so it’s probable that every Red Wing gets some sort of compensation for the sticks, skates, gloves, helmet and even hockey pants that they wear.
While the Red Wings’ return to full strength via the likely returns of Chris Osgood, Brian Rafalski and Patrick Eaves to the lineup on Wednesday or Thursday dominated Monday’s practice reports, the Wings also discussed an obvious undercurrent not related to hits to the head—to some extent, Brian Rafalski’s return will (hopefully) jump-start the Wings’ transition game, as coach Mike Babcock told the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
“It just helps all over,” coach Mike Babcock said Monday. “He’s a real good player. I think he’s one of the best defensemen in the league, and if he can be healthy, we’re a way better hockey club. We play faster. I think we’ve been faster anyway, but we play way faster when Rafi is in because the puck gets going so much, so we’d love to have him.”
Toward the end of this afternoon’s crop of Monday practice updates, I noticed that the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell posted a video in which he spoke to Nicklas Lidstrom about the head shot debate, with Lidstrom suggesting that the NHL should not install a blanket ban on all hits to the head.
Waddell’s video was a heads-up, no pun intended, for an article offering varied opinions from Henrik Zetterberg, Mike Babcock, Lidstrom and Kris Draper, who present anything but a unified front. Zetterberg wants to see supplemental discipline penalize players much more severely for blows to the head which result in injuries…
“I think and hope they will (come up with something), that the punishment will be a little harder,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “If you do it more than once, it should be even tougher punishment. Basically, we only affect 10 or 11 guys. It’s the same guys that do it all the time. It’s up to the league to make the suspensions higher. Now, they get suspended four or five games, it doesn’t matter. If you suspend them 15 games, it’ll hurt them a little more.”
But Lidstrom, Zetterberg and Johan Franzen don’t necessarily want to install a blanket ban…
One more update at 6:59 PM via Kulfan, and thanks to Paul for posting the video of Nicklas Lidstrom addressing head shots from the Windsor Star: Following up today’s earlier Wings posts, MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms that the Red Wings have not only activated Chris Osgood off the IR and sent Joey MacDonald to Grand Rapids, but also expect to get defenseman Brian Rafalski and/or forward Patrick Eaves back into the lineup for Wendesday’s game against Washington:
Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said forward Patrick Eaves (groin) has been cleared to play, but he hasn’t set his lineup yet for Wednesday’s game against the Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m., FSD). Eaves has missed the past eight games.
“Once we know who’s available we’ll decide on the roster after that,’’ Babcock said.
Defenseman Brian Rafalski (back spasms), as expected, will return to action in that game, after missing seven games. Chris Osgood will dress as Jimmy Howard’s backup. Osgood won’t necessarily start Thursday’s game in Columbus. Babcock said he hadn’t decided when Osgood would play.
“Whoever gives us the best chance of winning, that’s what we’re going to do,’’ Babcock said.
Khan also confirms that the Wings will likely be without Ruslan Salei for the better part of the week as his wife’s very overdue to deliver the couple’s third child in Manhattan Beach, CA, and Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson believes that Osgood will start on Thursday. More to come as the Wings’ beat writers file their Monday practice updates.
Updated 2x at 2:05 PM: The Red Wings are seriously interested in signing University of Maine forward Gustav Nyquist and having him “turn pro” with the Grand Rapids Griffins this month, presumably with the intent of eventually calling him up as a “Black Ace,” but Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill told the Portland Press-Herald’s Rachel Lenzi that the Wings do not want to pressure Nyquist into forfeiting his college eligibility for the sake of bringing him into the fold:
Jim Nill, the assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, said this morning during a phone interview that while he and the Red Wings would like for Nyquist to turn pro, it’s up to Nyquist to make that decision. Nill said he had not spoken with Nyquist’s family advisor, nor had he spoken with Maine Coach Tim Whitehead regarding the junior right wing.
“With respect to the program, I want to hear what they’ve heard regarding Gustav,” Nill said. “They deserve the right know what’s going on.”
Joey MacDonald finally is heading back to the Grand Rapids Griffins. The parent club Detroit Red Wings assigned the veteran goaltender after they activated Chris Osgood on Monday morning.
Osgood, 38, has missed the past 27 games since undergoing sports hernia surgery in mid-January.
In 10 games as Jimmy Howard’s backup in Detroit, MacDonald, 30, is 3-4-1 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.
MLive’s Ansar Khan believes that Osgood will back up Jimmy Howard for Wednesday’s game against Washington and start in Thursday’s back-to-back tilt against Columbus, and the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes that the Wings will probably give Osgood a decent number of starts down the stretch (and the Detroit News also confirms):
The Wings have just 13 games left, and only two sets of back-to-backs. Given the importance of getting Osgood up to speed and giving Jimmy Howard some rest before the playoffs, Osgood is certain to start a handful of games.
On a, “My sinus infection just said Congress Tart” and you can only spew so much BS before feeling dippy morning: Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is essentially emulating Scotty Bowman as the regular season winds down, splitting up the Wings’ lines into “home” and “road” units (with the latter including Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on separate lines) to make sure that his players are comfortable playing alongside as many teammates as possible.
As the Free Press’s Helene St. James suggests, Babcock’s line machinations are good in theory in terms of playoff match-ups, but they aren’t necessarily popular with his charges:
As mentioned this morning, Red Wings prospect, former Hobey Baker Award finalist and University of Maine Black Bears forward (and junior-year collegian) Gustav Nyquist has a big decision to make. The Wings are interested in signing Nyquist prior to his senior year because the team tends to believe that NCAA-playing prospects who are dominant players by the time that they’re sophomores or juniors are best served by jumping a step on the pro hockey ladder, spending an extra year or two adjusting to the duration, intensity, competition and conditioning levels required to play in the AHL instead of developmentally standing still in college.
Nyquist told the Portland Press-Herald’s Rachel Lenzi that he wasn’t sure whether he’d return to Maine for his senior season, and the Free Press’s George Sipple confirms that the Red Wings do want Nyquist to consider turning pro and signing a contract with the Wings this year, perhaps even joining the Grand Rapids Griffins for a few late-regular season or playoff games, presumably before bringing him up to the big club as a “Black Ace,” to give him a head-head start in terms of his pro hockey development:
“He’ll decide over the next week whether he’ll turn pro or not,” said Nill, who said he saw Nyquist play three times in person this season. “He might have exams. He has to talk with his parents and decide. If he’s willing to come out, we’d like to get him signed to turn him pro.”
In case you don’t already know it by now, I’m a big supporter of the NHLPA. I’m well aware of the fact that the union is both constituted largely by millionaires, but I don’t resent professional athletes simply because they earn disproportionate wages compared to the rest of the world as they’re entertainers.
I’m also well aware of the fact that the NHLPA’s status as a dysfunctional entity for the vast majority of its existence could have constituted the script for perhaps the first and maybe the best “reality TV” series of all time, from Alan Eagleson’s collusion with the owners to Bob Goodenow’s bullying reign, Ted Saskin’s league sycophancy and even the ouster of Paul Kelly, but the players stood up during the lockout and told fans the truth—that the NHL was simply lying to its fans by suggesting that it was burning down its village in order to save fans from an “inflationary spiral” in ticket prices supposedly directly linked to player salaries, and I think that it’s downright sad that the PA doesn’t get credit for its December 9th, 2004 CBA proposal, which included the 24% rollback and became the backbone for the vast majority of the CBA, as well as their February 14th, 2005 proposal to agree to and install a $52 million salary cap which would not have been linked to league-wide revenues.
The Detroit Red Wings either experienced a little hiccup in the third period of their 5-3 victory or St. Louis, or, depending on your particular Wings fan’s disposition, they exhibited a characteristic inability to focus over 60 minutes which is particularly worrisome given the playoffs’ proximity.
I’m going to go with the former for the present moment as Wings coach Mike Babcock took a timeout after the Blues rallied from a 3-1 deficit, responding with two goals over the course of 1 minute and 20 seconds, and because, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford notes, the Wings managed to kill off four Blues power plays—including three consecutive PK’s in the second period (in no small part due to sterling goaltending from Jimmy Howard, who stopped 27 shots in another superb effort). Kevin Shattenkirk told Rutherford that the Wings’ rally offered a learning experience of the painful variety:
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.