The Malik Report
ESPN’s Craig Custance breaks down ten potential Winter Classic destinations, and while the ESPN Insider blog is one of those things I can’t share in its entirety, here’s what he says about the #1 choice as of January 2nd, 2011:
The Detroit Red Wings have emerged as the lock to host the next Winter Classic but it’s certainly not from a lack of options. Every NHL team has expressed interest in either hosting or playing in the game and the interest extends beyond NHL cities.
“Every club has been in touch with the commish,” said NHL COO John Collins.“There have been a number of neutral sites, non-NHL markets who have proposed a vision for what they think the game could be. Right now our focus is on trying to maximize it for us, for our clubs.”
Updated 5x with Wings-Stars talk at 3:51 PM: The Detroit Red Wings have already taken to the ice at Joe Louis Arena for their first practice since Saturday’s very optional morning skate, and MLive’s Ansar Khan fired off a pair of Twitter updates which need not wait for a full-fledged off-day report to be shared:
[Tomas] Holmstrom and [Darren] Helm not skating today at Wings practice. Safe to assume they wont play Tues at Dallas
Practice lines for Wings: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 20-8-11, 14/41-48-63; 5-18, 55-23, 52-22, 4; 35, 29
We’ll find out whether #41 playing on the fourth line equals Chris Conner being ready to return or whether he’s simply starting to get his skating legs back.
Updated 2x at 4:10 PM: The NHL suspended St. Louis Blues defenseman Ian Cole for three games due to a hit to the head of Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, and the St. Louis Blues’ response, a statement from Blues GM Doug Armstrong to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford, sums up the ways in which teams tend to respond to suspensions for hits to the head umder Brendan Shanahan’s watch:
I don’t think it was a reckless play…I think it was a hockey play that was legal 12 months ago that’s not legal today,” he said. “I understand the sensitivity on hits to the head and we respect that, but I support Ian in the sense that it was a play that (Abdelkader) coming across the middle has to be aware, and unfortunately he wasn’t.
“We accept the decision because we understand the importance of player safety. I respect the league because I sit in on those meetings and we do say that we want to (eliminate these types of hits), so you have to live with the ramifications. But I don’t think it was an intentful play, or a wreckless play. I just think it was a hockey play that went awry. I understand the league’s position, but I also understand Ian’s position.”
Abdelkader dodged a bullet and was able to return to play on Saturday, scoring a goal in the Wings’ 3-0 victory, and offered a strikingly similar comment regarding the hit to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose (via RedWingsFeed):
The Detroit Red Wings received a welcome day off on Sunday, and aside from addressing Ian Cole’s three-game suspension for hitting Justin Abdelkader in the head, the Wings will hit the ice at noon hoping to move on from their win over the Blues on Saturday, preparing for a four-game road trip which starts in Dallas on Tuesday, includes a short trip home for staying at home’s sake and then loops through the center of hockey insanity (Toronto) and back through Chicago, all on the way to Long Island (???) and back.
So today, the Wings’ prospects playing at the World Junior Championships in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta take center stage, with Tomas Jurco and Marek Tvrdon’s Slovaks tangling with Teemu Pulkkinen’s Finns at 5 PM EST (on the NHL Network and TSN) and Petr Mrazek’s Czechs facing off against Russia at 9 PM EST (on both the NHL Network and TSN) to attempt to advance to play, well…I’ll let NHL.com’s Mike G. Morreale break things down:
Blues defenseman Ian Cole has been suspended for three games for delivering an illegal check to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader during NHL Game #563 in Detroit on Saturday, Dec. 31, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced Sunday.
The incident occurred at 9:11 of the first period. A minor penalty for illegal check to the head was assessed on the play. Cole will miss games: Jan. 3 vs. Phoenix, Jan. 5 vs. Edmonton and Jan.7 vs. Colorado. He will be eligible to return Jan. 10 at Montreal.
Here’s the suspension video…
Of Red Wings-related note on a blustery Sunday afternoon:
• As Paul already noted, Blues defenseman Ian Cole has been summoned to the principal’s office for a hearing with Mr. Shanahan after checking Justin Abdelkader shoulder-first in Saturday’s 3-0 Wings win. I’m guessing that Cole’s going to be fined but not suspended given his status as a first-time offender and given that Abdelkader returned to play;
The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues wasn’t exactly perfect given that the Wings relied very heavily on Jimmy Howard’s 31-save performance, but just as Justin Abdelkader shook off a shoulder to the chin and returned to score the Wings’ second goal, his teammates shook off a slightly shaky first period and rebounded nicely from Friday night’s loss to Chicago by managing their levels of mental and physical energy like the seasoned pros they are, withstanding the Blues’ physical push before pouncing on a more mentally and physically tired team that was playing the same second half of back-to-back games, delivering the denizens of the so-called Hockeytown a fine New Year’s Eve present.
Massive run-on sentence being said, the Wings really did play smarter and more efficient hockey than their opponent while at least displaying an understanding that the Blues were going to try to knock Detroit onto its heels and indecisive play in the same way that the Blackhawks did on Friday, and this time around, the Wings wouldn’t be “had.” As a bonus, Johan Franzen finally emerged from his mid-December slumber, so something to be said about appreciating learning on the fly and heading into an incredibly busy January schedule accentuating positives.
The Detroit Red Wings copyrighted “Hockeytown, USA” as a marketing slogan prior to the 1995-96 season, and over the past 17 years, the sustained development of and growth in Metro Detroit and Michigan’s youth hockey programs, scholastic and national team programs, major junior hockey leagues, etc. back up the title as a statewide moniker for a state which always identifies itself by association with the city that holds its heart; Minnesota is no doubt the, “State of Hockey,” and New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and more than a few other states both in the Midwest, Northeast and even the Sunbelt could and maybe should market themselves via similar slogans.
As we all know, however, the “Hockeytown” nickname has spawned its share of detractors, and in a very strange twist, the Detroit News’s Eric Lacy reports that another NHL owner says that Mike Ilitch ought to hand over the term to its…well, rightful owner. Here’s what Flyers owner Ed Snider had to say about the term to the New York Times’ Jeff Z. Klein:
“I’m very proud of the Flyers and what we’ve accomplished,” Snider said. “They call Detroit Hockeytown U.S.A., and I don’t want to take anything away from it, but I think Philadelphia is Hockeytown U.S.A.”
Cue Wings public address announcer Buldd Lynch, via Lacy:
A little under 24 hours after dropping a distressing 3-2 decision to Chicago, the Detroit Red Wings displayed something which the St. Louis Blues seemed to have exhausted their reserves of on Saturday night: restraint.
As a result, the Red Wings rode a sterling shutout performance from Jimmy Howard and the proper exertion of pressure upon one’s opponent at the proper time—in the form of three second-period goals when the Blues started to tire thanks to 85-plus minutes of hard-charging, balls-to-the-wall physical hockey—and the Wings simply, elegantly and efficiently continued to steamroll the Blues, defeating their Central Division opponents by a 3-0 tally.
Somehow, Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader managed to pass his baseline tests in the “quiet room” and return, and scored a goal no less, after taking a shoulder directly to the head from St. Louis Blues defenseman Ian Cole. Cole received 2 minutes for an illegal check to the head. [edit: at 11:14 PM: Here’s a better video]:
Here’s hoping that Fox Sports Detroit posts Mickey Redmond’s discussion of player safety as it applies to shoulder and elbow pads, too, as he did a better job of explaining what’s what in terms of protection being used as a weapon than Don Cherry’s done over the past ten years (aside from hitting Ron MacLean in the head, which never hurts).
And yes, Wings coach Mike Babcock suggested that the hit was doubtlessly suspension-worthy.
Update: This isn’t great, either, but here’s the hit in slow motion. Slow motion can be a dangerous thing as it allows us to assume that the hitter meant even more sinister intent than he already planned in the half second before the hit:
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.