The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/14/11 at 06:56 PM ET
Via a Twitter message from TMR reader Fredrik Hilding, SVT conducted an interview with Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom today (they haven’t posted it to their hockey page yet, so I missed it on their main sports page) which includes a nearly four-minute long video interview with Lidstrom (including quite a bit of Lidstrom seemingly strutting around Vasteras and speaking Swedish with a Midwestern accent) and a print version thereof that’s much more optimistic in tone than the heartbreaker two weeks ago, when Lidstrom stated that he’s all but certain to return to Sweden when his career’s over.
Here’s a rough translation of the print portion of Johan Wahlin and Viktor Petrovski’s interview with Lidstrom:
Lidstrom: The love/desire to play hockey is driving me
Nicklas Lidstrom’s only missed about 20 games during his NHL career, and prepares at his best for a 20th season in Detroit. What gives him the energy to do so, now that he’s 41 years old?
“I think it’s still so much fun to play hockey. I look forward to going to games and getting the adrenaline rush of playing in front of 20,000 fans and playing the game. That’s what still drives me—a love of hockey,” said the Red Wings captain to SVT Sport.
“Lidas” believes that his good fortune in avoiding injuries has allowed him to continue playing, and former teammate Chris Chelios has been a role model for him.
“He found it hard to quit when he was 48. I won’t play for that long, but I understand how he felt. I don’t want to stop when I [still] have this driving force, I think I’d regret it for the rest of my life.”
New trophy is his dream
Lidstrom the Avesta native is filling himself with energy while at home in Vasteras, where his family spends its summers. When he comes back here after the next season, he hopes to do so as a Stanley Cup winner.
“The goal next season is to win the Stanley Cup again. You set some milestones for yourself during the season: getting to the playoffs is one, that we’re high up in the rankings in terms of our power play and penalty-killing. But the ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup again, and that’s the goal you’ve set up during training camp.”
In his old age, he enjoys hockey more than ever, says Lidstrom, who belongs to the exclusive club that’s won a World Championship, Olympics and Stanley Cup.
“When you’re younger, you’re curious and you just keep going. When you’re older, and have more experience, you know what to expect at the end of the journey. I think that’s the difference between younger and slightly older players.”
At this stage of his career, there is absolutely nothing more encouraging than hearing that Lidstrom’s still driven to play and feels that if he didn’t do so, he’d regret it forever. That bodes well for both this upcoming season and however many “beyonds” Lidstrom has in his tank.
For the record, it took until today for the Wings to confirm the details RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau has revealed about training camp and the prospect tournament on her Left Wing Lock blog, and the Wings haven’t released their training camp roster or prospect tournament roster To the public yet.
I can tell you this on an in-person basis as well as anything else…When August comes around and throughout training camp, it’s Lindenau’s world, and we’re all just privileged because she’s willing to share the information her contacts reveal to her with the rest of us.
And the first Red Wings season preview that rolled in came from NHL.com, so it’s a little…unusual….that NESN’s Douglas Flynn provides the second preview of the summer, offering a Bostonian take on the Wings’ supposedly limited time remaining as a Cup contender while suggesting that it’s not how the Wings fill the voids left by Brian Rafalski, Kris Draper or Chris Osgood’s departures that will determine whether the Wings succeed this season…
Burning question: Can Jimmy Howard take Detroit to another Cup?
There aren’t many question marks in Detroit, but one area of concern is in net. Howard has piled up plenty of wins in the regular season (37-17-5 last year), but his other numbers are far from elite. His 2.79 GAA last year ranked him just 36th among qualified leaders, while his .908 save percentage was 33rd. His playoff track record is also unspectacular at 12-11 with a 2.63 GAA and a .919 save percentage over the past two seasons. The Red Wings had their attempt to bring in another veteran blocked last year when the Islanders claimed Evgeni Nabokov on waivers, but they opted not to pursue Tomas Vokoun or any of the other more experienced netminders on the free-agent market this summer. They’ll ride with Howard again this year, and he’ll be without a Cup-winning backup now that Chris Osgood has retired. Osgood himself was never among the NHL’s elite statistically, but did win when it mattered most in the postseason. The Red Wings are banking on Howard being able to do the same.
2011-12 outlook: The Red Wings still boast plenty of talent up front with Henrik Zetterberg (24-56-80 last year), Pavel Datsyuk (23-36-59 in 53 games) and Johan Franzen (28-27-55), while Nicklas Lidstrom (16-46-62) remains among the best blueliners in the league. Detroit will have to replace the retired Brian Rafalski on defense, and made an attempt to do that by signing free agent Ian White. The Red Wings’ biggest weakness remains their lack of grit and toughness, though they did add a bit of bulk to the back end by signing Mike Commodore.
Did you know? How old are the Gray Wings? Of Detroit’s top 10 scorers last year, nine were 30 or older. Overall, 16 players 30 or older played for the Wings last season, including three players 40 or older. There will be a little room for some more youth this season, as Kris Draper, 40, Osgood, 38, and Rafalski, 37, have announced their retirements this summer. Mike Modano, 40, hasn’t officially hung up his skates, but he won’t be back in Detroit and has yet to sign elsewhere. The Red Wings did retain their most important elder statesman though, with Lidstrom, 41, re-upping for another season after winning his seventh Norris Trophy last year.
Old, soft and possessing questionable goaltending…Have we heard this before?
If you can’t say anything nice at this time of year, like I suggested this morning, sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all, so I’m going to simply state that I might disagree with several of Flynn’s assessments, thank him for offering a season preview to discuss in the middle of August and turn the discussion over to you…
And speaking of Howard, he’s now a pitchman for the “Flex Toe”:
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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.