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Justin Abdelkader’s a ‘Blue Bomber’ and Conklin speaks

Updated 9x at 7:32 PM with Pearce signing confirmation, more from Conklin and a video of Abdelkader flying with the Blue Angels: Oy. Deadspin finds it delightful not that Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader didn’t lose his lunch and in fact had a great time flying with the Blue Angels in an F/A-18 this morning—as he told the Free Press’s Helene St. James and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan—but instead because Abdelkader had this to say about flying over the Big House:

“We were joking around (when) we flew over Ann Arbor, went over the Big House, if we’d had a couple of bombs on it (the jet), maybe we would have dropped a couple on there.”

Lt. Tickle, an Alabama native, said: “One of the maneuvers that I can show him is a bombing hop. As we speak right now, we have men and women flying in Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever else. So I was able to show him kind of what we do. We just happened to be over Ann Arbor at the time and I know he’s a Michigan State guy, a big rivalry. So it worked out great we could pretend we were bombing Ann Arbor for him. Obviously I would never bomb Ann Arbor. I have nothing against Michigan.”

The Wings’ website posted a photo gallery of Abdelkader’s flight (video is probably in the works), and Abdelkader wasn’t too brave to tell Annarbor.com’s Kyle Meinke that even an NHL’er is no match for six or seven times the force of gravity…

Abdelkader said he “blacked out a few times” during the 30-minute jaunt across the Michigan sky and had to focus on his breathing to maintain cognizance.

He took off in Blue Angel No. 7 from Willow Run Airport at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Within 3 seconds, Lt. Dave Tickle, who was piloting the F/A-18 Hornet, had set a skyward course of nearly 90 degrees. In other words: Straight up.

“Definitely the takeoff,” Abdelkader said, when asked what was the most difficult part of a journey. “We took off, and just shot straight up right away, so you get introduced to the Gs.”

Tickle said he topped out at a g-force of about 7.4 — that is, the normal force of 215 pounds on Abdelkader’s 6-foot-1 frame was 1,591 pounds.

“Going through turns, a lot of times I didn’t even know what direction we were going because I was so focused on moving my legs and breathing at the right reps,” he said. “’Are we going left or right, or up or down?’ I just didn’t know.”

Abdelkader grew up in Muskegon, where he starred for Mona Shore High School. He has attended the Muskegon Air Show since he was 4, and took a few flying lessons when he was 13 or 14. He still would like to one day obtain his pilot’s license. Now a forward with the Red Wings, Abdelkader finally had a chance to fly with the Blue Angels.

“Growing up, and always being fascinated by pilots, and wanting to be a pilot one day, just to go up in a fighter jet — one of the premier fighter jets — is incredible,” Abdelkader said. I dreamed of this. Just like you dream of playing hockey in the NHL, you dream of going up in a fighter jet. When I was younger, to think I was going to have an opportunity to this, I never would have thought it were possible.”

I grew up seven miles due north of Metro Airport, right on its main takeoff path back in the 80’s and 90’s, so I think it’s just plain old awesome that a fellow ground-pounder enjoyed himself.

As for the bombing Ann Arbor thing? Man, are you kidding me? Even as a Michigan alum, I think that’s hilarious—and cool.

Sorry it’s a slow day, Deadspin…

Otherwise, Paul’s giving me the keys to KK for a few hours tonight, so I thought this was relatively appropriate to summarize the kind of quality content you’ll receive from 5-7 PM…

The Osgood’s Hall of Fame-worthiness debate continues today, with Wings play-by-play announcer Ken Kal telling WZAM AM that it’s no contest, as noted by MLive’s James Schmehl…

“Out of all the goaltenders that have played this game, only 10 in the history of the game have won 400-plus games – and Chris Osgood is one of those goaltenders,” Kal told WZAM-AM. “If you look at all of those goaltenders down the list, they all had great teams in front of them. I throw out that theory.”

Only four goalies have been elected the past 22 years, including Ed Belfour in the incoming class. In all, only 35 goalies have been inducted—the least represented position in the Hall of Fame. Osgood will been eligible for induction in three years and could share the ballot alongside former teammate Dominik Hasek, if the 46-year-old surefire Hall of Famer remains retired. Kal said both goalies are worthy of Hall of Fame credentials.

“The Red Wings don’t win that 2008 Stanley Cup if he doesn’t come in and relieve Dominik Hasek,” Kal said. “Even in 2009, (Osgood) was terrific and probably would have been the Conn Smythe Trophy winner if the Red Wings would have won Game 7 against Pittsburgh.”

Listen to the entire interview as Kal reflects on Osgood’s career and discusses the 38-year-old’s chances at being elected into the Hall of Fame.

“I don’t think a lot of people around the league, in Canada or the United States, give Chris credit where it’s deserved,” Kal said. “If you look at his numbers, he certainly is (a first-ballot Hall of Famer), but I think it is split out there.”

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Independent journalist Greg Eno loves the fact that Osgood’s Hall of Fame candidacy will be so hotly debated over the next, oh, half decade or so, despite his 3 Stanley Cups, 2 Cups as a starter, 401 regular season wins, etc. etc.:

Osgood will be one of the most interesting players in recent years to discuss, post-retirement. His worthiness of HOF status can be expertly argued, both ways. Depending on the talking points of the plaintiff, you can walk away certain that he is or isn’t a Hall of Fame goalie.

Maybe Chris Osgood is the Jim Thome of hockey. Thome, the left-handed hitting slugger, is closing in on 600 home runs. In past years, such a milestone would earn the achiever a punched ticket into Cooperstown, no questions asked. No more.

There are those—and I’m one of them—who aren’t convinced that Thome is a Hall of Famer, despite the 600 dingers. Again, Thome supporters could wonder why there’s even a question.

The Osgood topic is made even more volatile because Osgood himself has gone on record expressing his intense desire to be in the Hall of Fame. This isn’t some guy who is taking a “que sera, sera” attitude about his worthiness. Osgood wants to be in the Hall—badly.

There’s a three-year waiting period after retirement before a player is eligible for election into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Osgood is on the clock. That’s great news for the beer and bar industries.

While we’re talking about plucky goalies, in the “further reading” category, the Flint Journal’s Adam Biggers reveals that Tim Thomas’s favorite hockey player growing up wasn’t an NHL’er…

And for the moment, I’ll conclude with a little more about Ty Conklin’s signing with the Wings as the team’s last move of the summer until Kris Draper’s status is determined (otherwise, it’s sit back, kick your heels up and enjoy the $6 million in cap space that the team has to remedy any roster concerns going forward as the team’s basically spent to the 2010-2011 salary cap, and suddenly has some “bonus” money):

The Free Press’s Helene St. James both confirms that Conlin has signed a one-year, $750,000 contract to back up Jimmy Howard, and she spoke to GM Ken Holland about the team’s decision to attempt to replace Chris Osgood via committee…

“We had him two years ago, he won 25 games for us, we know him as a person,” general manager Ken Holland said. “We like him. He’s a good fit.”

Conklin, 35, was brought in to back up starter Jimmy Howard after other plans fell apart. When free agency began July 1, the Red Wings went after Tomas Vokoun. They offered similar money to the $1.5 million he got from the Washington Capitals, but the Capitals offered Vokoun a chance to be the starter, while Detroit’s opening was for a backup. When Chris Osgood opted to retire Tuesday, Holland had Conklin lined up as an alternative. Conklin played for the Wings in 2008-09, going 25-11-2 with a .909 save percentage and 2.51 goals-against average.

“I know he’s excited to come back to Detroit,” Holland said. “He’s very comfortable being the backup. He’ll have a real good relationship with Jimmy Howard. Between Jimmy and Ty and re-signing Joey MacDonald, we feel real good about our depth in goal.”

Conklin spent the past two seasons with the St. Louis Blues. In 200 NHL games spent also with the Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins, Conklin has won 91 games and accumulated a .908 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average.

MacDonald was re-signed earlier this month to a two-way deal as he’s slated to start the season in Grand Rapids, Mich. He was signed more as an insurance policy. While MacDonald acquitted himself well last season, he has been a career minor leaguer and never has appeared in an NHL playoff game.

“He understands that his role this year is to be the third goalie in the situation,” Holland said. “Basically, it’s the same role that he had a year ago.”

And Conklin, who will re-join his sixth NHL team while making his seventh stop and sixth move since 2006, told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that familiarity is a bonus that goes both ways:

“Just finding the rink, you worry about that coming to a new city,” said Conklin, who agreed to a one-year contract worth $750,000 Wednesday to back up Jimmy Howard. “I won’t have that problem here. A lot of familiar faces, great team, it’s exciting to be back.”

Conklin, 35, enjoyed his best pro season when he backed up Chris Osgood during the 2008-09 season. Conklin won a career-best 25 games with a 2.51 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. But with Jimmy Howard ready for the NHL, the Wings didn’t aggressively look to re-sign Conklin, then an unrestricted free agent.

Conklin signed with St. Louis, where he had a good first season but struggled last season (8-8-4, 3.22 GAA, .881 save).

“It wasn’t my best year,” Conklin said. “I didn’t play a ton, but in all honesty, when you’re out there, you’re still playing hockey.”

Conklin is confident he’ll rebound with the Wings.

“Being comfortable in the surroundings, so many familiar faces on the team, just being part of this team, I’m excited,” Conklin said.

My only fear is that Conklin hasn’t learned that leaning off the left goalpost with his left leg vertical and his catch glove wrapped around the left goalpost is a weakness that needs to be remedied. Otherwise, I think he’s a great fit.

Update: I posted this in the mid-day report, but yes, I might have some opinions regarding Hockey’s Future’s Brad Gardner’s review of the Wings’ 2011 draft picks as I’ve seen seven of the nine in person. Ask away.

Update #2: Whoa, cool! per Perani’s Hockey’s Facebook page:

Henrik Zetterberg will deliver a autographed stick to your team practice this coming Fall. The day and time to be arranged with winner and Warrior Hockey

Warrior will provide pizza and pop after your team practice and your team will have a chance to get autographs and take pictures with Henrik.

Stop in at the Perani Farmington Sale between July 21st and July 31st and sign up to win… Drawing will take place Aug 1st.

Update #3: Here’s more from Conklin via MLive’s Ansar Khan:

Conklin spent the past two seasons with the St. Louis Blues. He went 10-10-2, with a 2.48 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 2009-10. Last year, he went 8-8-4 with a 3.22 GAA and .881 save percentage.

“I had a much better season my first year (in St. Louis) than last year,’’ Conklin said on Wednesday. “At the end of the day you’re remembered how you played. It was an up and down season. A couple of games affected my numbers at the end of the day. Physically, I feel really good.’‘

And, via DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:

It’s not a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

But it was just as meaningful for the five iconic Detroit personalities that preserved their hand prints in cement for the Detroit Historical Society’s Past>Forward campaign and Detroit’s Legends Plaza.

Red Wings legends Gordie Howe did not attend Wednesday morning’s event on Woodward Avenue, as he’s spending the summer with his son, Mark, in the Jersey Shore. However, Mr. Hockey did make his prints last month for the museum, which was founded in 1921.

The five Detroiters that did get dirty their hands dirty Wednesday were Detroit Tigers’ great Al Kaline, basketball hall of famer Dave Bing, novelist Elmore Leonard, former radio broadcaster Dick Purtan, and Carmen Harlan, who is perhaps Detroit’s most-recognizable TV anchor.

Moving forward, the Historical Society hopes to gain enough hand-prints of famous Detroiters to eventually construct a walk of fame, which will lead to the museum’s main doors on Woodward. Kid Rock and Aretha Franklin are two other Detroiters who have committed to the project. Howe’s absence was certainly missed Wednesday by the inductees, most of whom have known the Wings’ all-time scoring leader for a very long time.

“When I first got here, those were the two people that I met, Gordie and Al,” said Bing, who has been Detroit’s mayor since 2009. “They were already icons when I got here and we’ve developed and maintained a friendship over all of these years. So having the opportunity to go in with them is a great, great honor.

Update #4: Abdelkader also spoke to Fox Sports Detroit’s Dave Dye about his “bombing run.”

Update #5: The Free Press also posted a 5-image photo gallery from Abdelkader’s flight.

Update #6: According to RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau, MSG Network will air some Rangers games from the Traverse City prospect tournament, and she offers this take on Chris Osgood’s retirement on her Left Wing Lock blog:

Despite announcing his retirement, Chris Osgood will still be expected to provide at least one more big save for the Red Wings. This time, however, that save won’t be on the ice but rather helping to rebuild the confidence of goalie Thomas McCollum.

Much is expected from the 21 year-old McCollum as he enters his third season as a professional. Unfortunately his lack of development last season left the Red Wings with few options other than to re-sign Joey MacDonald earlier this month. While the move adds depth to the organization, it also signals that McCollum will face fierce competition for AHL starts next season from MacDonald and Jordan Pearce. McCollum has all the technical skill and attributes to develop into a top notch goalie, but he is lacking mental focus and confidence. The former 30th overall selection in the 2008 NHL draft hasn’t been able to show he can handle high pressure situations and is still looking to cement a starting AHL role next season let alone showing he still has NHL potential

As Detroit’s newest goaltending coach, Osgood, could provide enough mentoring and advice to help McCollum move forward. The 38 year-old former goalie has some impressive credentials he brings to his new role including 401 NHL wins and three Stanley Cup Rings. Unfortunately Osgood’s career will always be dogged by those who remember him for those occasional goals allowed from center ice. Even with all the chatter around Osgood throughout his career, his mental toughness was never questioned. He won the hearts of Detroit fans with his ability to bounce back after bad goals or performances and always seemed to rise to the occasion even under a heavy amount of media scrutiny.

While Osgood has always mentored young goalies in the organization during training camp, his new position will give him direct access to them throughout the year. His advice and knowledge could have a huge impact throughout the organization and it might just put McCollum’s development back on track in what appears to be a make it or break it season.

update #7: The Free Press posted a video of Abdelkader’s flight…

And here’s a bit more about Ty Conklin from the Windsor Star’s Jim Parker:

“It’ll be nice to have a lot of familiar faces,” the six-foot, 184-pound Conklin said. “It won’t feel so foreign. It’ll be exciting. My whole family is looking forward to it.”

Conklin was signed as Osgood’s backup in 2008-09 and wound up playing 40 games that season. He had a 25-11-2 record as the club reached the Stanley Cup final. With Howard out of minor league options, the Red Wings opted to keep Osgood as their backup the following season and Conklin signed with the St. Louis Blues.

“I had conversations with Ken (Holland, the Red Wings general manager) about it,” Conklin said. “I told him I wanted to stay, but understood the situation. Jimmy was ready to play. He proved that and Ozzie was still there. I understood where they were with goalies. I wasn’t surprised (but) I would have jumped at the opportunity to come back.”
“I knew I wasn’t going to be back in St. Louis,” Conklin said. “The way it worked out was perfect. There’s a lot of guys that were there before. The core of the team is the same.”
“Whatever they tell me I’m playing, I’ll play,” he said. “I know what role I’m expected to fill. Whether it’s one game or 10 games or 20 games, it’s not something I have to be told.”

His second stop in Detroit will mark the sixth time he’s changed NHL teams. His career began in Edmonton in 2001-02 and he’s also had stops in Columbus, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Detroit, St. Louis and now back to Detroit.

“We’re on the run all the time,” said Conklin, a native of Anchorage, Alaska. “It certainly would be nice to be somewhere five, six or seven years. In the same breath, it’s nice to see different organizations. I’ve playing in a lot of different organizations and made a lot of good friends.

Update #8: As Anthony from the Crash the Net blog notes, Capgeek’s made it official: the Wings have indeed signed Jordan Pearce to a 2-year contract extension at $525,000 in salary at the NHL level and $85,000 and then $95,000 at the AHL level for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons, respectively.

Update #9: Here’s WXYZ’s Abdelkader video:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


bezukov's avatar

Lt. Tickle, an Alabama native…

With last name like Tickle, you better have bad arse job.

Otherwise, Paul’s giving me the keys to KK for a few hours tonight, so I thought this was relatively appropriate to summarize the kind of quality content you’ll receive from 5-7 PM…

That killed me George.  Kudos.

Glad to see Conklin back!

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/20/11 at 05:22 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I never knew whether it was a joke or not, but I once saw a Canadian pilot at Willow Run, I think it was in 93 or 94, who was wearing a name badge that said—and I kid you not—“BEN DOVER.”

And yes, I promise I will do my best to be green. wink

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/20/11 at 05:28 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Super green.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 07/20/11 at 06:08 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

And yes, I promise I will do my best to be green.

Super green, George… super green.

Posted by RedMenace from Fuck Cancer on 07/20/11 at 06:11 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I never knew whether it was a joke or not, but I once saw a Canadian pilot at Willow Run, I think it was in 93 or 94, who was wearing a name badge that said—and I kid you not—“BEN DOVER.”

That reminds me of the time I met a National Guardsman named Sgt. McWeeny.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/20/11 at 07:03 PM ET

thethirdcoast's avatar

I had a Physics professor at Michigan with the family name Tickle. Hilarious guy.

It would be fantastic for the area if the MSG rumors about Traverse City prove true.

Posted by thethirdcoast from Rochester, NY on 07/20/11 at 07:56 PM ET


I’m down at the Navy air base in Pensacola, Florida, where the Blue Angels are from. It’s pretty sweet watching them practice overhead every day - I would kill for a chance to ride in one.

Posted by Ari_Twice from Norfolk, Virginia on 07/20/11 at 10:35 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Abby could have bombed the Big House, but it was already bombed.  After all, the 2010 Michigan football team played there.

Thank you, I’l be here all week.  Try the veal…

Posted by Primis on 07/20/11 at 11:51 PM ET


hey, i got cited!

this is very exciting for me! thanks!

Posted by Anthony on 07/21/11 at 12:27 AM ET

red_wings_49's avatar

Abby could have bombed the Big House, but it was already bombed.  After all, the 2010 Michigan football team played there.

Thank you, I’l be here all week.  Try the veal…

Wahhh wahhhh.  smile  All the uppity U of M fans can’t even have some fun with it.  Its just a joke.  People over in the Ann Arbor press are livid about such a statement.  Damn tree hugging hippies. 


Posted by red_wings_49 from Mad Heights, MI on 07/21/11 at 09:49 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Yeah, bomb Ann Arbor…then it’ll look like East Lansing.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 07/22/11 at 05:24 AM 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.


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