Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings evening news: players as fans, the coach on coaching, HomerKader and one-team greats

The Red Wings are indeed watching the Detroit Tigers' playoff run with great interest, and it's definitely intriguing to hear professional athletes speak as "fans" instead of "players." Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner took note of Jimmy Howard and Mike Babcock's takes on the Tigers' run...

“It was a blast," said Howard, who was at Comerica Park on Tuesday. "Let me tell you, in those situations, it’s fun being a fan. Just sitting there cheering and not the one being in that situation, it was just fun cheering them on. That game was awesome to be a part of last night. It was amazing to watch (Max) Scherzer pitch out of that jam.

“For me, being in Game 7s and in overtimes, I just don’t get nervous. It’s a lot tougher to watch. Just being in the stands and sitting in the stands, I think it’s more nerve-wracking watching than it is playing."

Wings coach Mike Babcock has also been glued to the Tigers-A’s series when time permits. He believes that what he and Tigers manager Jim Leyland go through are extremely similar, despite their sports being so different.

“(Anibal) Sanchez started the night before and then I had to laugh when they asked Leyland (about sticking with Sanchez for so long) and it’s, ‘Well, he’s my guy,’" Babcock said. "When Howie’s getting bombed 6-1 in the playoffs, what do you do? He’s our guy.

“The other thing, attitude is contagious, work ethic is contagious, hitting’s contagious, scoring is contagious. And once they got a couple of hits, the guys got confidence. It’s exactly the same thing in our game. The same thing."

I'll let you read Regner's conversation with Henrik Zetterberg on your own, and the same goes for MLive's Ansar Khan's conversation with Zetterberg, because I'm more intrigued by Babcock's coments to Khan about being "a fan"...

“It’s way more nerve-wracking to watch them play than to coach us, I can tell you that,’’ coach Mike Babcock said.

As well as his take on Jim Leyland's coaching style, especially given how similar the two can be:

“I was asking him about walking out (to the mound) and saying (to the pitcher), “You’re done,’ and he said, ‘I’ve pulled better pitchers than that,’ ’’ Babcock said. “The reality of what he’s telling you is it’s not about the guy, he’s making decisions for the team.

“What I like is he does what’s right. He doesn’t let the fans coach the team, he doesn’t let the media coach the team, he does what he’s supposed to do. To me, that’s what it’s all about, you make these decisions based on experience and you go with your gut and your gut is based on a track record of being steady on the rudder and winning. You don’t become a serial winner like he is by accident, so you do the right things and good things happen.’’

Shifting gears, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose also spoke with the Wings about the Tigers, and also spoke with Jimmy Howard about his pink mask, pink trapper and pink blocker, with Howard planning on wearing all three during Saturday's "Pink the Rink" game to raise funds for breast cancer research...

As in the past, Red Wings’ players will show their support of the initiative by wrapping their sticks with pink hockey tape for use during pregame warm-ups. The sticks will then be signed by the players as they exit the ice and auctioned off on the concourse during the game. Besides the special pink pregame tape, Jimmy Howard plans to take it one step further. The Red Wings’ goalie will wear a special pink mask, as well as a new pink and white catching glove and blocker.

“My way of trying to help out,” Howard said. “I’m supposed to have the pads, supposed to have pink everything, but the pads haven’t arrived yet so we’ll see when they get here.”

If the leg pads arrive too late for him to break in, Howard might wear them for another home game, perhaps when the Wings hosts the NHL’s initiative ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’, which is Oct. 26.

“We’ll see how they feel Friday in practice and Saturday morning in pregame skate but there might not be enough time to break them in. I’m hoping I’ll be able to wear them.”

And Roose asked Zetterberg to weigh in on Justin Abdelkader's Tomas Holmstrom-like qualities:

“He’s like Homer, he doesn’t get enough credit,” Zetterberg said. “He’s doing a lot of hard work for us and he makes it a lot easier for us, too, going to get the puck for us, going in front of the net, doing the tough, hard jobs for us. I also think this year he looks faster than he was last year and more comfortable in that role.”

Abdelkader’s physical style also has him tied for fourth in the league with 15 hits, despite playing a modest 13:41 per game, which is about a minute less than last year.

“It’s good for Pav and I to have him play like that for us,” Zetterberg said. “It can really jump start us too.”



Otherwise...As Paul noted, Grantland's Sean McIndoe picked ten players who he deemed to be the best "one-team" players, and two Wings made his cut:

4. Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings (1983-2006): Yzerman was the fourth overall pick in the 1983 draft and had an immediate impact as an 18-year-old (he finished second in Calder voting to Tom Barrasso). By 21 he had been named captain, a position he’d hold for an NHL-record 20 years. Over those years, he evolved from a one-dimensional player into a Selke-winning defensive forward.

Despite never winning a Hart Trophy, thanks to being stuck in an era with Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, he did win three Stanley Cups, was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and was unanimously named captain of the all-time Gary Bettman Awkwardness All-Stars. So yeah, it was a pretty good career.

All of which makes it easy to forget that the Red Wings actually came very close to trading Yzerman in the mid-'90s. He had turned 30, and despite a string of regular-season success had failed to lead Detroit to a Stanley Cup, leading some to conclude that he wasn’t a winner and the Red Wings would have to move on if they ever wanted to earn a championship. Several rumors had him linked to Ottawa (his hometown), and in some versions of the story a trade involving Alexei Yashin was actually agreed to before Red Wings GM Jimmy Devellano backed out.

It was supposed to be Alexei Yashin and the 1st round pick that turned out to be Chris Phillips, but my understanding is that Bowman chose to back off when rebuffed by Ilitch--and when Yzerman embraced playing a more defensive style during the 95-96 season.

3. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings (1991-2012): Lidstrom was always good (he was named to the all-rookie team in 1992), but it wasn’t until his late 20s that he really established himself as one of the league’s best defensemen. In 1998 he was named to the All-Star first team, a spot he’d hold for 10 of the next 11 years. He won the Norris seven times, one short of Bobby Orr’s record. In fact, by the time Lidstrom finally retired, he’d nudged aside Doug Harvey and Ray Bourque as the consensus pick for “all-time greatest NHL defenseman who wasn’t Bobby Orr."

Many fans think he could still play at a high level now, an opinion we’ll hear even more often after he scores 45 goals on Felix Potvin during this year’s Winter Classic alumni game despite Darcy Tucker spending every shift trying desperately to take his knees out.

You could make a solid case for Lidstrom in the no. 1 spot — he played more games than anyone else on the list — but after some back-and-forth, that honor came down to two names.

Numbers 2 and 1? Maurice "The Rocket" Richard and Mario Lemieux.



And finally, you may take SI's Allan Muir's take on the Wings' start via his power rankings on as you will:

9 Detroit Red Wings Last Week: NA They have two wins in their first three games, but haven't looked particularly good in the process. They've scored just six goals, the power play is 0-for-8, and they're getting nothing from their third line. Yeah, that 4-1 thumping they absorbed in Boston was their third game in four nights, but how tired can you be in the first week of October?

I'd go with they were trapped to death by an unfamiliar team, but that's just me. And you can be a little tired after 8 exhibition games, surprisngly enough.



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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.