The Malik Report
Audio from the Wings-Penguins pre-game skate: Howard, Babcock, Franzen, Bertuzzi, Helm, Ferraro etc.
by George Malik on 09/16/13 at 01:58 PM ET
I'm sorry for the delay with these, but boy, today was intriguing as can be. For me, attending Red Wings practices is like going to a third or fourth-semester college class on hockey, and watching the drills--even if I don't understand them--is exciting as all hell get out.
I will admit that Mike Babcock slashed me on the ass and told me I'd freeze it off because I wasn't wearing a jacket, but I happen to be fine wearing short-sleeve shirts at the irnk.
Ahead of tonight's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 PM, WPCW), the game day players practiced first, some prospects and the vast majority of the Griffins' AHL'ers practiced simultaneously at "David's Rink," and after a short break, tomorrow's roster--Alfredsson, Weiss, Franzen, Sheahan, Nyquist, Bertuzzi, Jurco, Athanasiou, Callahan, Emmerton, Miler, Eaves, Paetsch, Lashoff, Kronwall, Ericsson, Ouellet, Sproul, Nicastro, Nedomlel, Coreau and Gustavsson (Babcock says goalies will play 2 periods apiece, so I'm guessing that "Gus" will get the start, and 2 of the 8 defensemen will just be used in the game-day skate) practiced second.
The beat writers duly noted that the Wings will dress Anthony Mantha in their first exhibition game, and I'll get to their posts in a minute, but this bleary-eyed, ass-dragging blogger did his best to snag some interviews as well, though I hate to admit that I tended to stay with the pack.
The Free Press's Helene St. James took the lead and then some regarding speaking with Jimmy Howard about the adjustments in terms of net dimensions, but he begged off, saying he didn't know a thing--and he stated that he doubted that any changes will make a difference given that teams defend--and I did at least get to ask him about his pads (no changes) and getting into game action, which he also discussed when Ansar Khan, Ted Kulfan and Chuck Pleiness came along:
I still hope to get to Pavel Datsyuk, but he's out of the room so fast that I had to go to the guy who sits next to him. That's good, because I wanted to speak with Landon Ferraro, and we talked about his day with the Calder Cup, re-setting after a short summer and his attempts to re-shape himself as more of a two-way, third-line player as opposed to simply a sniper (though he believes the goals will come):
The mustacheioed Adam Almquist's English wasn't great, but I asked him about his visible increase in size, his Calder Cup experiences and what he's trying to achieve this season...
I also got Calle Jarnkrok to admit that he's having a significant amount of difficulty dealing with the pace, spacing and positioning of the North American-sized, 85-foot-wide rink coming from 100-foot-wide European ones. He seems to be really focusing on getting his defense taken care of first, and that's good to hear. We also talked about equipment, of course...
Then I interviewed one of the most colorful characters around, Brad "Dogg" Thompson, the Griffins' chief equipment manager, and he was very forthcoming about enjoying his job, getting by on tea and very little sleep, dealing with game-day adventures in long long days and longer nights, how training camp was run out of the back of a semi trailer, and how he deals with players using Reebok gear only in the AHL. Dogg is a hell of a nice guy and a cool dude...
Babcock's media availability was brief, and I was going to ask him about Ferraro, but the repeated, "I dunno, I'm just gonna watch" backed me off. I'll try to do a better job tomorrow...
You would not think it to be so, but for an intimidating and ornery guy, Todd Bertuzzi was as approachable and accommodating as could be. We spoke about shifting to the Eastern Conference (with St. James), his goal of shooting the puck more and trying to focus on re-establishing himself offensively (I got that discussion going), the stupid uniform rules as they apply to Bertuzzi rolling up his sleeves to his elbows, rest and recovery and his status as a nuclear deterrent. Great guy, honestly, very forthright, very pleasant:
I got in late on Johan Franzen's chit chat, but Franzen talked about finally playing in real games, adjusting to his linemates, the fact that he tries to not read the press or answer his phone, and his Easton stick...And I hit "stop," so I recorded a second clip when Ansar Khan asked him some good questions...
Darren Helm played coy with the press, but we got him to admit that his groin is better, that he is ALMOST starting to weight train at 100%, and that he's been spending his free time catching up on movies. The poor guy seems really bummed with his status, and is visibly uncomfortable with the media, but he was polite:
At the other end of the spectrum, I asked Trevor Parkes about getting his bell rung, his presence as a "Black Ace" during the Griffins' Calder Cup run, his desire to establish himself as a grinding forward at the AHL level despite being a goal-scorer when he's in the ECHL, the very, very long road to the NHL, his day with the Calder Cup and his beloved Bills winning on Sunday:
Parkes and Aubry practiced with the Griffins at David's Rink, and were just getting their post-workout lunch in, but they both stopped what they were doing and let me talk to one before the other, which was SUPER nice of them. I spoke with Aubry about his status as a 3rd liner who is trying to channel some Joakim Andersson, and who had to sit out the Calder Cup Final when Andersson was sent back to Grand Rapids, his day with the Calder Cup, the 24/7/365 job he has as a professional athlete, his hopes for the upcoming year and trying to put winning a championship behind him. He's eloquent and studious as usual...
1. I saw Ken Holland, Jiri Fischer and Ryan Martin have a chat with Barclay Goodrow. I do not know if it was a good chat or a bad one;
2. And Henrik Zetterberg walked by me and said, "Oh by the way, I didn't recognize you yesterday, I know who you are," and when I talked to him as he was getting massaged--the guys get worked on pretty heavily to keep themselves limber and not suffer any pulls--Zetterberg said he'd seen what I wrote a couple of times and that it was good. I promised to try to write well more than a "couple of times," and he laughed.
Which was really, really cool.
Also, serious question: My Windows 8 computer isn't recognizing my Samsung Galaxy SIII phone as a USB device. I've tried to reinstall the drivers and download Kies, but I'm still having trouble. Does anybody know how to do some advanced troubleshooting? Because I'm not a great photographer, but I've taken hundreds of photos with my cell phone camera, and I can't transfer them to my computer at present.
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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.