The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/31/13 at 08:57 PM ET
The Detroit Red Wings alumni's kids are skating at the rink at Comerica Park as attendants roll up the fake snow, with the Red Wings' alums having defeated the Maple Leafs' Alums 6-5 in a shootout.
After the game I went into the locker room and I did my best to do what I try to do. I stopped at the first stall as a gigantic surge of press headed into the Tigers' clubhouse, and who happened to be there? The overtime hero, Tomas Holmstrom. We spoke for about four minutes regarding his overtime heroics--and Mickey Redmond's advice--his status as sadly heading back home to Sweden(!) once he's built a house there, playing in the Alumni Showdown, getting in shape and whether he was in Scotty Bowman's Dog Yard:
I had to keep my composure as best as possible while speaking with the person who got me into hockey in one Sergei Fedorov. Sergei was dealing with an absolute morass of press and he was in total CSKA Moscow GM mode regarding whether he feels badly about having left Detroit all those years ago, but he was ready to admit that he felt apprehensive about going out in front of the fans that had once booed him, he weighed in on the game, playing with the Russian 5 again, he had to deal with a ton of Olympic questions and I did at least get to ask him whether the Spengler Cup was his professional farewell--to which he stated, "We'll see"--but he did talk about his new day job, the pressure he faces and the fact that he does in fact spend at least a month of the summer back here in Metro Detroit as his parents live here, and as such, he said that he knows fans support him:
New Year's is the biggest holiday in Russia so he's getting to spend it with his mom and dad, which I know is special for him.
I then spoke to the man who started as an honorary member of the Russian 5 in one Doug Brownov, I mean Dougie Brown, about that honor, about getting in shape, playing in the alumni game and what he does these days. I didn't know that Dougie still lives around here but it was reallly neat to find out--and to shake a hand wearing a Stanley Cup ring.
Ken Holland spoke to myself, Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji and Art Regner about his "upper-body injury," his take on Fedorov's return, the alumni games, and I at least tried to ask him about the whole, "The Griffins, alums and Wings" = future, past and now present on outdoor ice aspect of the Hockeytown Winter Festival and Winter Classic. He duly noted that the Wings have what may be a once-in-ten-years opportunity to host the event and he also pointed out that yes, two points are on the line.
97.1 the Ticket's Jeff Riger and I waited for a while as Holland, Dave Coulier, Dino Ciccarelli, Larry Murphy and Brendan Shanahan took some photos together--and it really was remarkable to see how everyone got along as if they were family at a reunion, a real wonderful reflection of the whole concept as the Wings "family" being a "family" that eventually wins together...
And Riger taped a segment for tomorrow's Winter Classic on 97.1, and I kind of listened in. Ken is always gracious with his time, and yes, he believes that Jimmy Howard will respond after a crappy outing in Nashville. I also liked his quip that it seems like HBO's been around for 2 months, not 1. There is a pause in the interview when Jeff and I chose to not "photobomb" the Wings:
Nicklas Lidstrom was being asked to sign autographs and was kind of Red Wings property--which means that the ever-industrious Bill Roose will be our go-to guy for Nick talk--and Yzerman faced a barrage of media, but by the time I wanted to talk to Senator Fetisov, who happens to be the representative from Vladivostok and the reason that the Vladivostok Admiral are the KHL's newest team...But he was speaking with a Russian reporter, so that was that.
I did have a long talk with Darren McCarty about his book, taking part in the alumni game and his daily battles to stay healthy despite his addictions. He was thoughtul and forthright, and I must admit that I stopped the interview about 9 minutes in and spoke with Darren for another 10 about my similar issues as we are people who both battle chronic illnesses that can yield self-destructive results in their own ways.
He was glib, funny, honest, and mostly, he's healthy and happy, and that's what matters:
I wish I could have gotten more, but by the time I was understandably shooed out of the locker room because people were taking photos and the hangers-on who managed to get into the room to get autographs had gotten in--it's inevitable and it's unfortunate, but somebody always shoves a their kid in a player's face to get a signature, even during an interview--I'd gotten about 42 minutes' worth of audio.
Again, the first alumni game did not have an open locker room afterwards--we got a presser in which Red Berenson, Dallas Drake and Jiri Fischer spoke with the media instead:
(I had a great conversation going with Fischer when I found out that I wasn't supposed to be in the locker room and I'm bummed that I didn't get to ask him why he took his old Easton Synergy out of the closet instead of using Jakub Kindl's Bauer)
As the ice surface is finally closed and the fake snow continues to be shoveled into piles of what look like cotton balls, I'm going to head home, get the mom and aunt a pizza, and celebrate the New Year by working on catching up on the practices and alumni recaps. I'm not going to get everything, but I'll do my best to get what I think is pertinent.
In the end, I was able to watch the Red Wings' alums skate with my own eyes and that was a...I cried when Vladdie "started" and I had a smile on my face all game long, even when those Damn Leafs tied it up and Twitter informed me that Chris Osgood and Mickey Redmond should star in their own uncensored series.
Tomorrow is going to be very different. There will be press conferences instead of open locker rooms, and I guess what I'll try to do is report on the game from an in-person perspective while trying to get some decent questions in at the end. Mostly, I'm going to do my best to represent those of you who aren't in attendance and will treat it like what it is--a two-point game that is anything but normal, but still *#$%@& matters in the standings as much as it does in terms of bragging rights, if not more. I will try to not cheer in the press box but I cannot guarantee that I may or may not issue some fist-pumps.
I've got to get on the Lodge and dodge cop cars while doing 20 over. Seeya in a bit.
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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.