The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/14/13 at 11:35 PM ET
Updated 3x at 12:20 PM: The Alumni and Celebrity game the Red Wings' coaches, management and scouts took part in on Saturday night will most certainly not go down as the greatest hockey game ever played at Centre Ice Arena, but it sure was a hoot.
The "red" team defeated the "white" team 8-6 on the strength of a hat trick from Kris Draper and a pair of goals from Grand Rapids Griffins trainer Brad "Dogg" Thompson, and the game was played over the course of two 30-minute "halves," with only the last 5 minutes being stoppage time.
For those of us who follow the Wings closely, it may have been the only opportunity to ever see Ken Holland play goal, Mike Babcock and Keith McKittrick play as a blueline pair, watch Hakan Andersson slither a sneaky goal past the acrobatic, Bill Ranford-like Jeff Blashill, or find out that assistant GM Ryan Martin's one hell of a hockey player ,and a competitive dude, too.
It was an opportunity for Red Wings fans of all interest levels to see Ken Daniels, Mickey Redmond (sans helmet, wearing Keith Primeau-era Louisville TPS gloves) and Ken Kal skate among the Kris Draper (I shit you not, if the Red Wings were a cap-free, roster-limitation-free organization, at least given the way he skated against some very in-shape coaches, front office folks and "celebrities," the man would be pushing for a spot in the lineup; he is still fast, fast, fast and sneaky smart), Kirk Maltby, Chris Chelios (his knees are evidently not what they were south of 50), Chris Osgood (who was very good), Jiri Fischer (ditto), Mark Howe (even getting up into his 60's himself he was remarkably sublime) and the vast majority of the pro and amateur scouts, the Wings' coaches and trainers and one half of the Griffins' training staff.
The game was played at a lighthearted but meaningful pace, and there were some particularly hard hits--including one in which Chris Chelios would've knocked Ken Daniels' block off had he not been wearing a full cage--as well as some goofy celebrations (Chelios trying to do a handstand, Dogg being Dogg) and some sneaky moves (Dallas Drake stepping in behind Chelios's slap shot and stealing it out from under him).
Mostly, there were terrifyingly awesome and awful-at-the-same-time moments when Ken Holland fielded any sort of puck given that he was wearing a Chris Osgood catch glove circa 1997, an old Dominik Hasek blocker, an old Cooper helmet/cage combo so old that it made Osgood's helmet look brand new, and a pair of maybe 28-inch Jofa leg pads that were good for absolutely nothing.
For the equipment hounds, Osgood did play, wearing Petr Mrazek's old gear save his beloved helmet and catch glove; Jeff Blashill wore Joey MacDonald's old leg pads and some beat-up Mrazek gloves, and of course everybody but Jim Bedard (Eagle pads, Brian's glove, Warrior stick, Vaughn blocker) used Vaughn sticks--and the goalies had to "switch" every 10 minutes, so Holland wasn't trying to poke-check his way to Saginaw for the entire game.
The scariest guy on the ice was definitely this one...
And it would figure that Babcock's team tried to trap its damn way to a more lopsided win.
The most important parts from a person-at-the-rink's point of view were that fans had fun, and that the jerseys of each and every participant were auctioned off to raise funds for Centre Ice Arena (Paul Boyer designed them, and I'm not sure if they will be at Hockeytown Authentics any time soon), with the players literally giving the jerseys off their backs to the fans at the end of the game...
But it was not just entertaining from a game perspective. It was intriguing to watch Finnish scout Ari Vouri cherry-pick, to watch Hakan Andersson show some flash, to finally figure out who Vladimir Havluj was, and to see the smiles on everyone's faces and the hush that would fall over the crowd every time Redmond would get the puck, followed by a huuuuuuuge cheer.
I was far, far too removed from the "suite" at the southeastern edge of the rink to see who was sitting in there, but I can tell you that at least Tomas Jurco, Richard Nedomlel and Michal Plutnar showed up to watch the game, and while Sunday's Red vs. White Game starting at 11 AM means that the front office can't exactly tie one on like the boys were told to do back when training camp first moved to Traverse City in 1997 (these days, you lose your job if you don't take care of yourself), I can assure you that some "ginger ales" were shared.
The Wings had Dan Mannes covering the game, affixing a GoPro camera to Kris Draper's helmet and conducing some interviews, so more will be seen sooner than later...
The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau also posited a fantastic gallery of her own, and of the MSM'ers, the Detroit News's David Guralnick was at the rink at 8:30 AM and he stayed up till 10:58 to photograph and then post a superb 23-image alumni game gallery of his own--atop a 33-image gallery of the morning and early afternoon's events.
I got to the rink at 8:45 and didn't leave until my anxiety disorder'd been jacked up to infinity thanks to EVERY person who won a jersey bid coming down for autographs, and being stuck in a teeny hallway with tons and tons of people for 30 minutes....And I left around 9:45.
As this is an early overnight report--I've been running on five hours of sleep a night and running all day for three days, and have done so for eight of the past ten days, so I'm a little tired--Grand Traverse Insider photographer Jim Schoensee has been posting oodles of Red Wings training camp pictures, and it'd be unfair to both him and you not share this sequence of Jake Paterson and Henrik Zetterberg doing what they do best--or attempting to do so, anyway...
All images courtesy of Jim Schoensee
Otherwise...The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan penned a notebook entry about Jonas Gustavsson and Cory Emmerton...
“I feel like I’ve been doing everything I can in the offseason to give myself the chance to be healthy,” said Gustavsson, whose early groin injury seemed to derail the remainder of his season. “I was healthy when I came into camp last season, too, so you never know what will happen. I’ll take it for what it is and I feel 100 percent and I have all summer. There’s no problems. I’m good to go, 100 percent.”
Gustavsson appeared in seven games, with a 2-2-1 record, 2.92 goals-against average and .879 save percentage. In a shortened season every game became that much more important, especially with the Wings fighting for a playoff spot. Because of that, coach Mike Babcock leaned heavily on Jimmy Howard.
“Nothing ever went good for him (Gustavsson),” Babcock said. “Playing wise, he was probably 50-50 but we couldn’t afford 50-50, we needed to be sure, so we went with Howie.”
Said Gustavsson: “It was a different season. We were in a tough battle for a playoff spot and Jimmy was playing unreal all season long. But you can’t be too down when you’re not playing.”
Emmerton played all 48 games last season with five goals and three assists. He averaged 10:48 of ice time, saw time on the penalty kill, and improved on face-offs as the season progressed.
“I have an opportunity to show that I’ve grown some more from last season to now,” Emmerton said. “It’s going to come down to how I play. There are a lot of forwards, and they’re going to take the best forwards. When you come down to it, you have to play well, especially in the preseason. That’ll be important.
“I did everything I could this summer to get myself ready. I’m not putting any pressure on myself. That’s when it becomes more difficut to play. The thing for me is I know how our team plays and how we play our systems. I just get to go out and play.”
NHL.com's Corey Masisak decided to remind us that Daniel Alfredsson moving to Detroit is a very big deal...
Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings: The forward might have made the most surprising move of the summer. The longest-tenured captain in the NHL was expected to sign a new contract with the Ottawa Senators, but by the first day of free agency he had not. Reports surfaced he was looking elsewhere, and Alfredsson decided to join the Red Wings on a one-year, incentive-laden contract that can pay him $6 million.
The 40-year-old will join the large collection of Swedes in Detroit, and he's likely to join another member of this list (Stephen Weiss) on the team's second line. Alfredsson's statement about joining the Red Wings because he feels it gives him a better chance to win the Stanley Cup will certainly add some spice when his new club plays his old one, and as they potentially battle for positioning in the new Atlantic Division.
If you missed it, Jason Spezza was named captain in Alfredsson's stead in Ottawa...
In the prospect department, via DRW Prospects on Twitter...
That's David Pope scoring a goal in the West Kelowna Warriors' 3-2 win over Merritt...
So Mattias Janmark registered a hat trick and an assist in AIK Stockholm's 5-4 OT win over HV71 Jonkoping, and AIK's website posted a Swedish-language interview with Janmark, Marie Hallman posited a recap and an interview with Janmark that I'll send you to the Google translation of, and she may have been the only person to do so as both Aftonbladet and Expressen focused on HV71's loss as opposed to Janmark's performance.
And that translates into Hampus Melen having an assist in Tingsryds AIF's junior-20 team's 2-1 win over the Malmo Redhawks' J-20 team.
If you missed it, last word version, per the Free Press's Helene St. James:
After three days of a hard workload, the Red Wings have a relatively soft day Sunday, limited to the annual Red and White game that sort of caps training camp.
The top two lines will face off against one another, with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader headlining the Red team against Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss and Johan Franzen on the White team. The Red squad also gets Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Tomas Tatar up front, while the White features Daniel Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi, Drew Miller, Cory Emmerton and Patrick Eaves.
The White team gets the top defense pairing of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, but the Red team has more NHL-caliber depth, with Danny DeKeyser, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincey.
Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek are in net for the Red team, and Jonas Gustavsson and Jared Coreau are on the White team. Both rosters are fleshed out with numerous minor leaguers.
Not a whole lot should be read into intrasquad competition, but the Wings do have a handful of forwards who have to be curious where they’ll fit in given there’s 17 on board and only room for 14.
Darren Helm remains bothered by a sore groin — he still hasn’t gone on the ice — but even subtracting him, that leaves two players out and and two who will be reserves.
That picture will become clearer starting Monday, when the Wings begin their eight-game exhibition schedule with a game in Pittsburgh. Split squads will practice through Tuesday in Traverse City, before relocating to Joe Louis Arena.
Again, those pairs of teams will have either a morning skate from 10-11 AM on Monday and 10:30-11:15 AM on Tuesday--for the game-day folks--or 11:30-12:45 PM practices at Centre Ice Arena.
Update: Lest I forget:
Update #2: Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples gave some "chirps" to his brother after being inducted into Michigan State University Athletics' Hall of Fame:
Miller, who was allowed to sneak out of Buffalo’s training camp to attend his induction ceremony into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame, said he’s excited to have an excuse to come home more often, thanks to the NHL realignment. The Sabres are now in the same division as his hometown Red Wings, which also means more games against his younger brother, Detroit forward Drew Miller.
“Yeah, that’s going to be a lot of fun, we open against them on Oct. 2,” Miller said. “I think it’s just good for him, he actually gets to have some rest every once in a while. Their schedule, playing in the Western Conference, was a little bit ridiculous, but it’s nice to see they’re paying attention to those kinds of things now, and they’re trying to make things make a little more sense. I think it’s going to be fun for me to be home a little bit more. It was fun to come home at any time and play a game, but to have two to three opportunities a year, it’s going to be great.”
Miller pointed out that the last time he played against Drew, little brother got the last laugh, as the Wings chased the Sabres’ goaltender in a 5-0 rout.
“Oh yeah, he runs his mouth,” Miller said about Drew. “He’s got a couple points last time we played him, I got yanked out of that game, that wasn’t a good one. Not yet, I’ve gotta keep watching him though, he’s turning into a heck of a player, and he’s got the ability to score, so I’m not going to take him lightly, that’s for sure. But it’s the same for him, runs his mouth the whole time, comes in and tries to knock me around a little bit. It’s a unique experience, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Miller said he doesn’t bother to chirp back, either.
“I’m the older brother, I’m always quiet. The older brother doesn’t chirp, you just sit there and roll your eyes.”
Update #3: The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau wrapped up her prospect tournament and main camp coverage with a monster notebook, discussing Trevor Parkes' status, Mitchell Callahan's evolution, all that's fit to print, and a hilarious interview--in the "you had to be there" sense--with Andrej Nestrasil:
The big forward is ready to put last seasons disappointments behind and focus on the new year. Nestrasil is also switching center from wing entering this season.
“I talked about it with Blash and Babs and they want me to play center this year,” he said. “I am not worried about the offensive part because I know I have enough skills to contribute offensively. I really have to pay attention to what is going on in the defensive zone and watch the other center men so I can learn the position, but I am excited about it.”
Nestrasil worked hard in the off season to get ready, only take a week off. The 75th overall pick in the 2009 draft switched coaches over the summer and focused on getting quicker.
“I skated three times a week all summer,” he said. “I feel like I finally got faster this summer. During these scrimmages i feel great and I feel like I can keep up. I am more comfortable coming here now then when I first played here five years ago.”
Though he won’t play in tomorrow’s Red and White game, Nestrasil is hoping to see some exhibition games. He is expecting competition to be fierce to get an opportunity to play especially given Detroit’s current roster crunch at forward.
“This is Detroit so there is always competition,” he said. “There are so many guys on the Red Wings and there are so many guys in Grand Rapids and it is like that every year. I am trying not to think about it and I am trying to come here every day and do my best on the ice and be positive.”
My interview with Nestrasil was interrupted multiple times by the likes of Tomas Jurco, Marek Tvrdon, Richard Nestrasil and Petr Mrazek as they were coming off the ice. Jurco stopped and added his opinion on Nestrasil’s skills and “great hair” among other things.
“I am telling you if I weren’t here these guys would kill each other,” he said referring to the Czech and Slovak players in Detroit’s system. “I am like their father especially last year with the season being so long, I had to keep my eye on them. Seriously It is great that there are so many of us because it is almost like being back home.”
And if she printed what she couldn't, holy crap.
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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.