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The Malik Report

It’s time for the Red Wings to perform an audit of their fintess, nutirition and training programs

I've been a little busy with my own "Pacifica-body injury" (thank Gord I drive that car...It's saved my ass repeatedly) over the past couple of days, but I've been thinking about this for a long time, and between Darren Helm's inability to play in the Winter Classic due to a groin injury, Jonas Gustavsson's inability to play in the Winter Classic due to a groin injury and Danny DeKeyser's status as the latest groin-injured Wing...

Maybe the Wings need to do an audit of their fitness, nutritional and training programs, from the workouts the Wings engage in during "off-days," before and after during games, their warm-up and cool-down procedures, the supplements and nutrition intakes, the way the trainers treat them, you name it, everything.

Between the groins, the shoulders, the back injuries, players pulling themselves out of warm-ups, the fact that the injuries aren't confined to the team's high-mileage players, and especially given the fact that the Wings have played perhaps a handful of games with a fullly healthy lineup over the past three seasons, it's time to review and attempt to implement "best practices."

The Wings don't need to conduct a hostile IRS-style tax audit, however, and they don't need to "fire" anybody. 

When you suffer as many injuries as the Red Wings have sustained over the past couple of years, an organization has a responsibility to ensure that its employees are all availing themselves of the best possible means by which to ensure that everyone is performing to the maximums of their performance envelopes, and that the ship is running as efficiently as possible.

The Vancouver Canucks are a great example of how audits can work well: worried about players struggling due to a lack of sleep, so they consulted with sleep specialists and essentially had their players wear modified pedometer watches to clock their, "I'm going to bed now, I'm getting up now, and this is when I'm moving about" times, and their on-ice performance tangibly improved.

It wasn't a magic bullet, but the organization's willingness to exhaust every avenue by which to ensure that their players would perform to their utmost told the players, the coaches and the rest of the league that the corny, "Think outside the box" line is not always a cliche: sometimes a willingness to do things differently in fact encourages and empowers employees to do things better.

And that's the purpose an audit would serve: It wouldn't be about punishment: it would involve ensuring that the team explores every option to improve itself and the Red Wings fans who've paid so much money to watch "Wiffins" teams play over the past couple of years can tell you firsthand that the Wings need to find new ways to earn more bang for their and everyone else's buck.

The Wings spend an inordinate amount of time, energy and effort attempting to build a winning machine, and it's clearly time for that machine to get a tune-up and an oil change.

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SYF's avatar

Agree, George.  And it’s not an indictment, but a re-evaluation.

Posted by SYF from #GORDIEHOWEARENA on 01/03/14 at 03:45 PM ET

Mandingo's avatar

Does anybody have man-games lost stats for the NHL for the last few years or so?

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 01/03/14 at 03:55 PM ET

BenjaminKGT500's avatar

We’ve got a Pacifica too. Early 2004 model, over 200k on the odo. It has its faults (all of the faults of the early run of the model), but the thing is built like a tank…or a Panzer, since its a Merc designed chassis

Posted by BenjaminKGT500 on 01/03/14 at 03:55 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Mandingo, try this.  It is NOT TMR’s site on the side.  It’s someone else’s.

Posted by SYF from #GORDIEHOWEARENA on 01/03/14 at 04:03 PM ET


Pretty much every big gun on our team has been injured this year, yet Quincey and Cleary are A-OK. The hockey gods are definitely hawks fans.

Posted by ZandPasha11 on 01/03/14 at 04:03 PM ET

awould's avatar

A lot of pro athletes are starting to get into yoga and pilates - I’m far from an expert but what I’ve read is that it stretches the muscles and makes them less prone to pulls and tears.

Posted by awould on 01/03/14 at 04:04 PM ET


That post sounds like desperation.

I get it, I do.  It’s insane what’s happened to Detroit the past few years with injuries… and if it were one general sort of injury something like George suggests might make sense.  But it’s not.  It’s Datsyuk getting a concussion, Helm back, Z’s back, Ericsson’s shoulder, Franzen getting a concussion, Weiss with a groin, Howard a knee, Dekeyser a shoulder then a groin, Abdelkader with a concussion.  All at around the same time.

These aren’t ‘stretch more before the games and you don’t see them’ injuries.  They’re mostly stuff that happens in the flow of the game, it just so happens that it’s happening all over Detroit’s face right now.  If anything, the groin injuries are symptomatic of rushing back after an injury rather than a separate injury class on their own.

It’s just… fate.  Chance.  Luck.  There’s not a medical program or series of precautions a franchise could make to account for the diversity and ferocity of the boo boos hitting the Wings right now.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/03/14 at 04:37 PM ET

klank's avatar

great article, George.

Posted by klank from the finest hot tub in Marin on 01/03/14 at 04:40 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’m not trying to be desperate here. I know it’s dumb luck to some extent, but there is nothing “unhealthy” with reviewing what’s going on to see if anything can be done better. That’s really what I believe—taking a deep breath and reviewing practices and procedures can’t “hurt.”

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/03/14 at 04:41 PM ET


Agree 100% George.

Posted by ZandPasha11 on 01/03/14 at 05:30 PM ET


I have been thinking the same thing, George. The Griffins play lots of games with little rest and haven’t had those nagging injuries. There must be an explanation.

Posted by griffinsfan on 01/03/14 at 05:31 PM ET


I think a little blame needs to go to the Wings inability to play clean, fluid hockey as well for the last few seasons. Players get trapped in their zone and rammed into the boards more, players get stuck on the boards in the offensive zone instead of moving it to the net with authority…etc.

There could be a million things causing this.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 01/03/14 at 05:34 PM ET

SYF's avatar

I have been thinking the same thing, George. The Griffins play lots of games with little rest and haven’t had those nagging injuries. There must be an explanation.

Posted by griffinsfan on 01/03/14 at 04:31 PM ET

Agree.  I’ve been to ECHL Wranglers games for two nights in a row and then an afternoon game on Sunday.  That’s three consecutive days worth of games and I don’t see their injuries as extensive as what the Wings have been going through in the last several years.

Posted by SYF from #GORDIEHOWEARENA on 01/03/14 at 05:37 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Great post, George.  I totally agree.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 01/03/14 at 05:41 PM ET


You’re speaking my language, George. I am an auditor and consultant and this is exactly what the doctor ordered.

I’ve been screaming about this issue for a while and you have articulated it very well: it is time for an audit or to spend on a consultant or set of consultants. Something is wrong there. I thought maybe I was just ignorant of other teams’ similar issues and figured this history of injuries, while alarming to me, is a standard across the NHL. Apparently my instinct was correct.

The groin thing is particularly alarming to me. It seems like every year, there are significant numbers of groin injuries coming out of training camp. And then beyond that….

But look further at the apparent causation this year: Zetterberg comes back in late December from an injury for a few weeks - it is reported he has a sore groin (although didn’t miss time). Helm comes back from injury, plays one game, goes out with a bad groin. DeKeyser spends time out of the lineup with a shoulder injury - comes back, plays a couple games, and goes out with a groin injury. I bet some of the other groin issues this year and years past would be training camp and after injury. They have to look into this.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 01/03/14 at 05:57 PM ET


there is nothing “unhealthy” with reviewing what’s going on to see if anything can be done better.

No, it wouldn’t “hurt” to do something like this… assuming for the moment that the Red Wings medical staff aren’t a bunch of ossified morons who are still leeching the players or something… in much the same way that it wouldn’t “hurt” to buy a lotto ticket.  In much a similar way, it’s also something that generates false hope.

On the other hand, I have a hard time thinking that this is the best use of the organization’s time and resources.  If someone could come up with a way to prevent concussions, back problems, separated shoulders and broken ribs via preventative medicine, I think somebody would have done it.  There’s a lot of money in that sort of thing.  I know the Phoenix Suns have a fairly well-renowned training staff, but other than that I’ve never heard of too many exceptions.

Mostly, this stuff just reads like you’re trying to find some way to talk about something else besides the actual stuff that’s happening and that matters.  Which I totally understand, of course, it’s probably pretty depressing to have to breathe the Wings 24/7 right now.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/03/14 at 05:57 PM ET


To add to HockeyinHD’s comment - I agree a lot of injuries (concussions, broken bones, even the shoulder injuries) are bad luck. But the groin problems are another issue altogether. This team flat out has too many groin injuries and it isn’t just this year but over time.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 01/03/14 at 05:59 PM ET

Jaromir Blogger's avatar

Over the past few years, my dad (who has been a doctor for over 30 years) has been observing the Wings indirectly through me (he’s not a fan), and has been saying adamantly for some time that the odds that this is all just bad luck are next to nill. The rash of groin injuries alone over the past few seasons has been beyond alarming, and almost certainly points to poor training and conditioning. Frankly, this audit needed to happen about a year ago, but better late than never. Nice piece, George, although I would be extremely harsh and thorough in the investigation - what’s going on with this team over multiple seasons now is unacceptable, and things need to change. I hate to say it, but I would be shocked if someone weren’t deserving of a pink slip.

Posted by Jaromir Blogger on 01/03/14 at 06:16 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/03/14 at 03:37 PM ET

You’ve never had a back injury have you?

You have any idea how much easier it is on your back if you’re constantly exercising those muscles?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 01/03/14 at 06:47 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

I also Totally agree!! Good Work George!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 01/03/14 at 07:10 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

There could be a million things causing this.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 01/03/14 at 04:34 PM ET

or ... not

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 01/03/14 at 07:14 PM ET

gowings's avatar

Great post! I also agree 100%. I don’t know about the players, but I would start asking questions! If not, they can do like Stamkos…..get a “personal” trainer. Not saying it should be Roberts, but I lost faith with the medical/training staff….

Posted by gowings from MTL on 01/03/14 at 07:20 PM ET


Agree with the sentiment and frustration, but if they haven’t charted every injury for every player over the past decade and examined individuals’ diet, sleep patterns and training regimen to look for patterns, they should all be fired. it is common sense not a panacea.

Posted by jkm2011 on 01/03/14 at 07:43 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

An “audit” makes perfect sense. But to order one, management would have to have a different attitude than the one I see coming from Babcock.

How many times has a reporter asked him about a player’s injury and gotten a response like, “I didn’t know he was injured. We’ll just have to wait till game time to see what happens.”

Maybe he’s lying, but that’s not what it seems like. It really seems like he’s just not that involved/interested/concerned with the health of his players.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 01/03/14 at 08:37 PM ET

bigdee89's avatar

Which I totally understand, of course, it’s probably pretty depressing to have to breathe the Wings 24/7 right now.

- HockeyinHD

Curious - who do you cheer for?

Posted by bigdee89 from The Great White North Eh? on 01/04/14 at 12:35 AM ET

Slumpy's avatar

To much tofu in their diets or other lady food perhaps, lol.

Eat more foods that sticks to ribs and stay off the golf courses during the season wearing pink shirts.

After watching 24/7 hbo thingy I concluded a lot of these boys look like they are living like office workers that work in cubes not rugged professional athletes but hey are paid like corporate CEO’s these days.


Posted by Slumpy from Detroit on 01/04/14 at 11:28 AM ET


Curious - who do you cheer for?

Posted by bigdee89 on 01/03/14 at 11:35 PM ET

Sammy. Of course. hihd has a rise tonight.

this stuff just reads like you’re trying to find some way to talk about something else besides the actual stuff that’s happening and that matters.

You do this……a lot. The only difference is that you sound like you are sitting in High Garden.

Arrrr. I feel a fetal positioning comment coming on. Oh, no, I have to poop.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 01/04/14 at 09:53 PM ET

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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.