The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/22/13 at 02:58 PM ET
Amongst this afternoon's crop of Red Wings-related news:
In the non-incredibly controversial vein, Pavel Datsyuk did pick up the Kharlamov Trophy from Sovetsky Sport's Moscow offices--after about an hour's worth of questions from fans and another hour's worth of media interviews--and R-Sport offered a solid translation of Datsyuk's quip about not expecting to wear the captain's "K" on his jersey at the Olympics:
For Pavel Datsyuk, the question of who will lead the host nation onto the ice as captain of Russia's hockey team at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games is secondary. The fact that he's there to help is all that counts.
The two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings is part of the core of NHL players including Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin expected to deliver gold on home ice next February.
That pressure leaves little space for such trifling matters as who on his jersey, the 35-year-old insists.
"Do I dream of the role of captain? My dream is to help the team," Datsyuk said at an Olympic team huddle in Moscow during the NHL offseason. "Whether I will be captain or not has no meaning," added Datsyuk, the alternate captain for the Red Wings.
"I'm ready for the pressure that will be exerted upon us. The closer we get to the Olympics, the greater it's going to get ... but we saw how the Canadians coped with the pressure in Vancouver," he said of the 2010 Olympic champion, also the host nation. "We need to learn how to do this."
Datsyuk survives from the 2002 bronze medal winning Russian team at the Salt Lake City Olympics, the closest he has come to the top prize and one step on the podium lower than the silver medal Russia won four years earlier in Nagano. He also helped Russia to the 2012 world championship title.
AK Bars Kazan defenseman Ilya Nikulin is Russia's most recent captain, taking the lead role at the 2013 world championships that saw his country finish sixth, while Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers was the captain in Vancouver, where Canada beat Russia 7-3 in the quarterfinals.
Kovalchuk will be the captain this time around, and I do NOT expect Datsyuk to as much as wear a letter because the Russian Hockey Federation's likely to do what it usually does--reward KHLer's with letters on their chests.
In Olympic news of a different kind, the Canadian Olympic orientation camp's taking place between Sunday the 25th and Wednesday the 28th in Calgary, and the CBC's Doug Harrison penned an article about the "respect" that Mike Babcock commands from his fellow coaches, and this is just a snippet of a much longer article:
“Mike demands that the egos and ideas you have get shelved at the door,” [Ken Hitchcock] said. “It’s for the greater good of the team and the country. He expects the same from the players.”
If you talk to the people who work closest to Babcock, the conversation quickly turns to his love and passion for the game, the Saskatoon native’s unmatched work ethic and trust in his assistant coaches.
Hitchcock, 61, said of all the coaches he’s worked with over the past 30 years, the 50-year-old Babcock is the closest to thinking the game the same way.
“We coach each other,” said Hitchcock, who will be seeking his fifth gold medal and sixth medal overall in international competition with Canada. “He keeps the brakes on me and I keep the brakes on him. Our strength is we read off each other.
“When the [Olympic] competition starts, we both speak in very pointed terms and very brief sentences and we have a good relationship because of that.”
Former NHL head coach Tom Renney also has a coaching style similar to Babcock's, but said the latter places a higher premium on certain parts of the game. Renney also was impressed with Babcock from a technical perspective while working under him for the first time in Detroit last season. Looking for work last summer, Renney chose Detroit over offers from other NHL teams because working with Babcock would allow him to “grow, stretch, expand and reach” to become a better coach.
“We all like to think we’re the hardest-working guy in hockey,” said Renney, who has had NHL head-coaching stints in Vancouver, Edmonton and with the New York Rangers. “Mike could look in the mirror every day and say that to himself and be pretty damn accurate. You want to follow someone that leads by doing. It’s not just lip service. He’s all-in every day.”
Closer to home, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff posited a late-to-the-party article about the Red Wings' re-signing of Gustav Nyquist:
“I’m real excited to know that I’ll be a part of the organization for two more years,” Nyquist said. “I’ve learned so much from all the guys there over the last couple of years, so it’s a great feeling for sure.”
After a stellar playoff skating on Detroit’s third line alongside Joakim Andersson and the now-departed Damien Brunner, Nyquist is hoping to step up into an even more prominent role with the team this season.
“We had a lot of young guys last year that developed throughout the year and it was a real good learning experience for us all,” said Nyquist, who also helped the Grand Rapids Griffins win the AHL Calder Cup. “For us to be around the guys – especially in the playoffs – they all know what it takes to win. You really learn a lot. It’s a great experience for us young guys to be able to learn through the experience of playing in it. A lot of these guys have been through it all and won the Stanley Cup.”
Nyquist is equally excited by Detroit’s move to the Eastern Conference, as well as the off-season acquisition of veteran forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss.
“We’re all excited to be moving to the East,” Nyquist said. “It’s going to be fun to play some new teams, start some new rivalries, and I think we have some great new additions to our team.”
3 . Detroit Red Wings: Imagine the reaction if someone came up with the Red Wings' design today: "No, sorry, it's too plain -- can you add some black accents? And the logo has too much subtle detail. And where's the alternate uniform?" Fortunately, nobody was worried about any of those things back in 1932, when the Wings came out with their basic look. Eight decades later, it still works. Bonus points for the vertically arched lettering on the player names.
In the Twitter department...
And this is unique: the Toledo Walleye are selling the seats between their benches on a game-by-game basis as part of a luxury experience that includes a limo ride and Walleye jerseys.
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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.