The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/22/11 at 04:10 PM ET
Updated with the Wings’ draft pick order: Of Red Wings-related note as we wait for the NHL Awards to get underway at 7 pm EDT (live on Versus, tape-delayed at 8 PM on the CBC, live-streamed on CBCSports.ca): Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner believes that, should one compare Nicklas Lidstrom’s status to that of Brian Rafalski, one may very well suggest that Lidstrom has entered “genetic freak” territory when it comes to staving off the aging process:
[Lidstrom] kept saying that it depended on whether he wanted to continue to train like a mad man during the offseason. OK, I added the mad man thing, but the point is that physically Nick is there. It just comes down to where hockey is in his life.
We may believe that all a professional athlete has to do is show up for a few hours, play their game and then go home. That is hardly the case. These athletes have to work their tails off year round or they will not be pro athletes for very long. In their 20s and early 30s—depending on their injury history—training is second nature. When you start to hit your late 30s, priorities shift—not to mention waistlines—and you start to ask yourself, “Do I really want to go through this rigmarole again?”
Money is great, don’t get me wrong, and it’s certainly an incentive. But if money is your sole motivation, you will not last very long. As a high profile player once told me, “You’ll make some money early on, but if that’s what you’re playing for, your career will be short because you have to love the game, not just the dollar bill.”
There’s little doubt that Rafalski and Lidstrom love their game. They love it enough to know when it’s the right time to call it a career.
Rafalski’s body made his decision. Lidstrom is one of the fortunate few because his mind still has control.
As any weekend warrior can attest too, Nick’s a rare exception indeed.
MLive’s Ansar Khan shifts gears by engaging in a little tire-pumping regarding Lidstrom’s status as a finalist for the Norris and Lady Byng Trophies, as well as Pavel Datsyuk’s status as a Selke Trophy finalist (if we are to believe Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski, the Lady Byng Trophy is cringe-worthy given that it is named after a woman and awarded to a player deemed gentlemanly):
“I never set out with the goal of being nominated or trying to win the Norris. I’ve always looked at it as being a bonus,” Lidstrom said. “I appreciate it even more as I get older, knowing how hard it is in the offseason.”
Lidstrom, 41, already is the oldest player to have won the Norris at age 38 in 2008. He twice has won it in three consecutive years (2000-01 to ‘02-03 and 2005-06 to ‘07-08). He also has been a finalist on four other occasions. Players are given replica trophies. Lidstrom has one in his home in Sweden and five others in the office of his metro-Detroit home.
Lidstrom, who signed a one-year, $6.2 million extension Monday, was second in scoring to Anaheim’s Lubomir Visnovsky among NHL defensemen with 62 points (16 goals, 46 assists). However, he posted a minus rating (minus-2) for the first time in his 19-year career. Rob Blake of Los Angeles was the last player to win the Norris with a minus rating (minus-3 in 1998).
“Obviously, he had a great year in a year that I didn’t think we were fantastic, and he managed to keep on ticking,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “He understands what being a good pro is and how leadership is important, and the key to leadership is not what you say it’s what you do.”
“How smart he is on the ice, how he uses his positioning, his stick to make plays that a lot of guys can’t make,” [Brad] Stuart said. “You rarely see him jumping up the ice, joining the rush. He knows how to slide in there and get the shot through every time. It’s usually in a spot where somebody can get a stick on it or a rebound. It sounds easy, but it’s not.”
Lidstrom can become the first defenseman to win the Lady Byng since Detroit’s Red Kelly in 1954. Kelly also won it as a center with Toronto in 1961). Lidstrom had only 20 penalty minutes in 82 games. Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay, last year’s winner, and Loui Eriksson of Dallas are the other finalists. Datsyuk won the award from 2005-06 to ‘08-09.
Fellow captains Chara and Shane Doan of Phoenix are the other finalists for the Messier Award. Messier will select the winner himself.
It’s the Messier Award that makes me cringe. Mark Messier’s Award for Messier-like leadership, as awarded by Mark Messier, who is clearly the leader of leaders…No ego-stroking there…
After the NHL Awards wrap up tonight, the Wings’ front office will head to St. Paul, Minnesota for the NHL Entry Draft, which takes place on Friday (1st round) and Saturday (rounds 2 through 7, and the Wings have a total of 8 picks as the Flyers gave the Wings a 5th-rounder in the Ville Leino deal), and two more “mock drafts” rolled in, with USA Today/Red Line Report’s Kyle Woodlief and Sportsnet’s Patrick King continue the, “Nobody knows who the hell the Wings will draft” trend.
The Wings, as usual, will hope to draft one or two contributing NHL players with their eight picks, and as the Hockey News’s Michael Amato notes, the Wings have snagged more than a few “steals” at the draft, including two current Wings:
6. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit, Round 7, 210th overall - 1999
Zetterberg is widely regarded as one of the best two-way forwards in the game today. He was dominant in the 2008 playoffs leading the Wings to a Stanley Cup and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts.
5. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit, Round 6, 171st overall - 1998
Datsyuk has captured three straight Selke Trophies and won the Lady Byng Trophy four years in a row from 2006-2009.
If you’re looking for a little comic relief, IIHF.com’s Szymon Szemberg offers an international hockey fan’s guide to the draft, the usual amount of, “NHL draft= scourge upon international hockey” intonations and allusions included;
And as the Hockey News’s Lyle “Spector” Richardson notes, the Wings will probably address Brian Rafalski’s departure via free agency, but the Wings aren’t ruling out a draft-day trade:
The Detroit Red Wings received good news on Monday when team captain and Norris trophy-nominated defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom announced he’ll return for another season, but GM Ken Holland still needs to find a replacement for recently retired blueliner Brian Rafalski.
It’s believed Holland will turn his focus to the upcoming UFA market to address that need, where Joni Pitkanen, Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff, James Wisniewski, Ian White, Tomas Kaberle and Anton Babchuk could be available.
Holland, however, may also consider making a trade, perhaps during this weekend’s entry draft, to address that need.
The Detroit News recently reported forwards Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula are trade candidates.
Holland would prefer to move Hudler and retain Filppula, but the latter would have more trade value.
Biggy in-post update: Per Alanah, the Wings’ picks are as follows:
1st round: 24th overall
2nd round: 55th overall
3rd round: 85th overall
4th round: 115th overall
5th round: 145th overall
5th round: 146th overall, from the Flyers
6th round: 175th overall
7th round: 205th overall
Also of Red Wings-related note: Per the Sarnia Observer, former Wing and current Tampa Bay Lightning scout Pat Verbeek will be inducted inducted into the Sarnia-Lambton Sports Hall of Fame;
• And per HQ Grande Prairie, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke at a charitable dinner to raise funds for Grande Prairie, AB’s Edge Skills Academy on Tuesday:
Organizers of the 1st Annual Edge North Legacy Dinner are already looking forward to the 2nd annual event. NHL coach Mike Babcock drew a packed crowd at the TEC Centre last night in a dinner fundraiser for the EDGE School Skills Academy in Grande Prairie.
Babcock says his message wasn’t about hockey but, about using passion as a driver to success. He had a message for the students and for the parents.
“What I’m telling the kids is if you dream with your eyes open, you create a plan for yourself and you follow your passion anything can happen. As a parent though you have an obligation to create and environment that allows their confidence to grow so they can pursue success.”
Update: Of political note, from the Detroit News’s Paul Egan, whoever the Michigan Republicans were courting to challenge Democratic senator Debbie Stabenow have pulled out of the running:
Dennis Lennox, a former Cheboygan County drain commissioner who is now a senior consultant with media and publishing firm Sterling, Hoffman & Co. of Midland, said today two former Red Wings players, neither of whom he would name, were in the mix. He was in talks with one former player and other Michigan Republicans were talking to a second former player, he said.
But both decided not to run, Lennox said.
“One of the would-be candidates is moving from Michigan and the other did not want to subject his family to the personal attacks and politics of personal destruction that plague today’s political environment,” he said.
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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.