The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/04/13 at 09:19 PM ET
I'd planned to keep things a little more businesslike than the Triple Deke at Winging it Motown (who ends up being downright eloquent) when it comes to welcoming the man who most certainly marched to the beat of his own jazz ensemble, one Jiri Hudler, back to Detroit...But even someone who's purposefully not plugged into the streams of player-related gossip and innuendo like myself can tell you that less than family-friendly rumors about Hudler's off-ice activities followed him around like nobody's business.
That being said, I don't believe that the Red Wings cut ties with Hudler over "hookers and candy," as the Twitter meme goes--a combination of estranged relations from his decision to bolt for Dynamo Moscow in 2009-2010 and the plain old fact that he was asking for the kind of money the team would ideally like to pay Valtteri Filppula ($4 million a season for 4 years) in a cap-is-going-down NHL world, so the Wings let Hudler chase his payday, and he took advantage of it.
Hudler's Calgary Flames come to town tomorrow with a 1-3-and-2 record and a chip-and-a-half on their shoulders after dropping a 3-2 shootout decision to a Chicago Blackhawks team they severely out-shot and out-played but surrendered a game-tying goal to with just over 2 seconds left in the third period, and while the team practiced in Calgary before flying to Detroit on Monday afternoon, Hudler told the Calgary Sun's Randy Sportak that he does indeed plan on illustrating the error of his previous employer's ways to the Wings and their fans while getting the Flames back on track:
“I want to win so bad,” Hudler said after Monday’s practice at the Corral before the team departed. “We need the points and it’s my first time going back. I’ve got a lot of good friends there and it’s going to be a lot of fun. At the same time, we need the two points.”
Hudler, who the Flames signed via free agency to a four-year, US$16-million contract, has played well enough to help their cause in the last three outings, netting two goals and three assists in that span after missing the first three games due to the death of his father. The Flames could use everybody playing better, but wouldn’t mind if Hudler took his game to yet another level. In fact, they almost expect it.
“There’s always added oomph,” forward Michael Cammalleri said of the emotions of facing a former team. “Always added attention to detail. He’ll play great.”
“I don’t get over-excited, right, because it’s going to get you off your game,” Hudler said. “At the same time, I know that building, played there seven seasons, so it’s going to be something special the first shift. Then, I think it’s going to be a normal game.”
It may be normal, but something will surely be lacking. For the first time in a generation, Nicklas Lidstrom won’t be patrolling the blueline for the Wings, having retired after an incredible career.
“He played hard, he had skills like nobody and so smart,” Hudler said of his former teammate. “It’s really tough to describe. He was one of the best ever to play the game. It’s going to be different, but they’ve got a lot of talent, a lot of young guys. Obviously, there’s no second Nick Lidstrom there, so it’s going to be weird not seeing him.”
Hudler says that the Flames can turn their ship around in a hurry if they just relax and play well, which is something Hudler definitely did during his tenure as a Wing, regardless of whether you loved his "impish" nature or his inconsistency drove you nuts:
“If you’re going to be biting your nails, it’s not going to help,” he said. “We have a lot of games coming up, so just look forward, not look back. If we play like we did against Chicago, we should be fine.”
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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.