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Quickie Red Wings morning report: On Hudler, Chelios, and Joey Kocur’s charity softball game

As I’m about to spend the day with a charming lady who’s both as confused as I am as to why a pair of night owls had to get up at 7 AM to end our vacation and is a little annoyed that her son is writing a blog entry as we finish packing up the Pacifica and prepare to head home, I’m going to keep this Red Wings “overnight report” very brief, and mostly in bullet-point form:

• If you missed it late last night, the Free Press’s Helene St. James offers the following take on Jiri Hudler’s future with the Red Wings after a very sub-par return to the NHL during the 2010-2011 season:

So what’s ahead for Hudler? Expect him to be kept on a short leash. He didn’t lack for opportunity last season; even when he wasn’t on one of the top two lines, he was a regular on the power play, over such options as Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi.

During the Phoenix series a team scout pointed out that Hudler is always a threat to score; unfortunately for the Wings, he rarely finished his chances.

The Wings retain some faith in Hudler because of his history of scoring at various levels, from world juniors to the NHL (he had 23 goals in ‘08-09).  He must show from the start of camp he’s going to be that player again, and earn a spot as a top-six forward. If not, given that he’s in the last year of his contract, the Wings will explore moving him while he has value.


Again, Hudler’s going to be a free agent after this upcoming season, and he’ll earn $3 million but have a cap hit of $2.78 million (whereas Valtteri Filppula’s $3 million cap hit belies 2 years and $7 million remaining on his contract), so if the Wings do choose to add a top-six forward at some point during this season, it’s likely that Hudler would be moved to accommodate said player;

• In the “local guy makes good, Chicago version” category, the Chicago Southtown Star’s Tim Cronin spoke to one of Chris Chelios’s high school teammates about Chelios’s naming as an inductee to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame:

Craig Ferguson knows why Chris Chelios, his old hockey teammate at Mount Carmel, succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams on the ice.

“More so than anyone else I know, he made his own way,” Ferguson said of Chelios, named Monday to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. “It wasn’t like today, when there are so many junior programs. Chris had to do it himself.”

A journey that began in Evergreen Park and included stops in San Diego, Moose Jaw, Madison and Sarajevo before he made the NHL will culminate in Chicago in October, when USA Hockey honors Chelios and this year’s other inductees: former Blackhawks defenseman Gary Suter, Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider and broadcaster Mike Emrick.

Oh, and Ferguson called it. Back in 1997, remembering when Chelios played goalie for the Saints as a kid, Ferguson said, “He’d play anywhere against anybody at any time of the day or night and at any position. I think that’s why he’ll be in the Hall of Fame. Obviously, there’s a wealth of talent, but I don’t think there’s anybody who loves playing hockey like Chris Chelios.”

“Halfway there,” Ferguson, now St. Rita’s director of admissions and hockey coach, said Tuesday. “He’s got to wait two years for the Hockey Hall of Fame. And I’m fairly certain that’s a certainty.”

The story’s quite good, so I’d suggest that you give it a gander…

• If you missed it a few days ago, Joey Kocur and the Red Wings’ Alumni Association will be taking to the field to play in a charity softball game against the police and fire departments of White Lake Township, Milford and Highland Township on Saturday in Highland, MI. You can purchase tickets to the game here (they’re cheap at $11.54, especially given the fact that the Wings’ alumni team is usually star-studded at this time of year), and the White Lake Patch’s Brook Meier explains the reason why the game’s taking place:

Former Detroit Red Wing Joe Kocur, along with other local celebrities and Red Wing alumni, is hosting the Third Annual Joe Kocur and Celebrity Friends Softball Tournament on Saturday at Duck Lake Pines in Highland. This year’s event is in honor of Kendal Lividini, a Hartland High School student who lost her battle with cancer earlier this year.

The event will feature Kocur and his friends playing against policemen and firefighters from Milford, White Lake and Highland. The gates open at 10:30 a.m.

Over the past three years, Kocur said, the event has raised tens of thousands of dollars for local charities. “We expect to exceed $50,000 this year,” he said.

“This is our third season hosting this event,” he said. “With all the help of the southeast Michigan businesses and exciting event entertainment, we anticipate doubling event attendance in 2011. Our goal on this day is to bring a big-time event to a small town that we are all very proud to call home.

Kocur said the idea for the event came three years ago when sitting in his backyard with local restaurateur and friend Chris Baker.

“We were sitting there trying to figure out ways we could give back to the community,” he said. “Using Chris’ connections in Milford, and mine with the Red Wings Alumni Association, we decided to do a softball event. Six weeks later we had the first tournament, and it took off from there.”

Participants this year include Red Wings Kocur, Dino Ciccarelli, Manny Legace, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, Kevin Miller, Eddie Mio, Pat Peake, Wayne Presley and Brian Smolinski with former Atlanta Brave Steve Avery, former Detroit Tiger Dave Rozema and actor Dave Coulier. Ted Lindsay will be there to sign autographs at 2 p.m.

• And I can only shake my head and tell you I wish I had more time to translate Sovetsky Sport’s Evgeni Korunsky’s interview with Pavel Datsyuk in which Datsyuk says he’s committed to playing in the 2014 Olympics, or do more than send you to the Promt translation (Promt is very faithful to the original Russian) of Sovetsky Sport’s splash page leading to the articles surrounding Datsyuk’s visit to Moscow to pick up the Russian player-voted-upon MVP award, the Kharlamov trophy.

Ditto for Sport Day by Day’s Dinara Kafiskina‘s interview with Datsyuk, which goes over most of yesterday’s points of emphasis.

That’s it for me for now. I’ve got a shower to take and a 400-mile trip to begin in short order, and I’ll try to check in when I get home.


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PDXWing's avatar

I posted this right before Draper officially retired, so it got buried in the news cycle.  Here are my thoughts on the lines. I agree that Bert is struggling to be a top six guy - and I think he will be bumped during the year. While I don’t mind Cleary as a top six guy in a pinch, he’s really best suited, in my opinion, for a 3rd line defensive role with the opportunity to punch in some goals.

Assuming that no further trades are made, what are the lines for the upcoming year?



I assume Hudler will be part of a trade for a top six guy, which will likely leave Bert in a weird position. The 3rd line, as I have it, is pretty versatile with offensive upside. The 2nd line needs to be more consistent this year, and I’m looking at Franzen and Fil to have big years. Franzen, because he will be fully healed and Fil because it’s a contract year.  I predict that White is going to be a favorite and have an awesome year and fit right in; I can easily see Babcock going back to the Kronwall-Stuart pairing and having White on the top pair with Lidstrom. The battle for the 6th defenseman should be intense with Commodore giving E and Kindl plenty of competition.  I don’t think Kindl’s development will be stunted by Commodore, but the Big Rig needs to play well to justify his raise (I like him, so I assume he’s going to have a great year, but, with his style, he will likely be the first pulled if he struggles).  Not sure about the 4th line and how that will shake out. I think Abdelkader is too good for that role, but he hasn’t forced Babcock to play him more up to this point. It remains to be seen if he has more offensive potential, but he is a solid young defensive player.


Posted by PDXWing on 08/03/11 at 11:07 AM ET

PDXWing's avatar

Darn. Meant to post that in the other Hudler piece.

Posted by PDXWing on 08/03/11 at 11:08 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

“Chelios also set the record for longest time between Stanley Cup wins, claiming hockey’s top prize in 1986 with the Canadiens and in 2002 with the Red Wings.”

It was an even longer period of time when he won in 2008.
Posted by J on 08/02/11 at 07:34 PM ET

I don’t know J, 2008 was only 6 years after 2002, which was 16 years since his 1986 Cup.

Posted by RWBill on 08/03/11 at 12:14 PM ET

Number9Loyalist's avatar


Wow!  When I clicked this link **Promt translation (Promt is very faithful to the original Russian)**, my Malwarebytes went nuts blocking one infectious assault after another as the translation was underway.  I finally closed the browser.  I need a digital shower!!

Posted by Number9Loyalist on 08/03/11 at 01:14 PM ET


My belief (hope) is that, as has happened often in many sports, the contract year push will be the xtra motivation for Hudler. Knowing that what he does THIS year will have an enormous impact on his long term future with either the Red wings or even the N.H.L. If history has shown anything, is that, maybe, we reap the benefit and get a 60+ point total from Happy Huds.

Posted by omni1da from TX on 08/03/11 at 01:51 PM ET


Filppula has 2 years left on his contract….this year and next! Hudler however is in the final year of his contract and he will do great this year! I wanna see fil and pav play together this year! Game 6 vs san jose is all you need to see why!

Posted by jeff from ada on 08/03/11 at 02:02 PM ET

EDJ's avatar


Oh my, Datsyuk said, “Yes, but I think [Lidstrom] and [Tomas Holmstrom] will both retire next year. Together.”

Datsyuk is very candid in Russian. He provided some rather sensible and realistic (maybe even pessimistic) opinions about the lockout and the coming bargaining agreement I would never expect him to say in Detroit.

Posted by EDJ on 08/03/11 at 02:13 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.


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