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The Malik Report

Red Wings evening ramble: on the Coke Zero Fan Zone, the Griffins, alums, Winter Classic and 24/7

This entry's going to be a little rambly, so I'm going to parse it out on a chronological basis.

If you're headed downtown tonight, tomorrow or on Tuesdya, the Red Wings want you to know that the Hockeytown Winter Festival's OHL games taking place presently, tomorrow's televised Griffins-Marlies game at 5 PM and Tuesday's Alumni Showdowns (they're scheduled to take place at 1 and 3:30 PM, but NBCSN has the 2nd game airing at 4) aren't the only hockey-related activities taking place at Comerica Park.

Outside the ballpark, the Coke Zero Fan Zone is free if you have a ticket to a game and $5 if you don't, and, as the Red Wings' official "Coke Zero Fan Guide" notes, there's a Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit that contains almost every NHL trophy--including the Stanley Cup on Monday and Tuesday--alums are signing autographs, and, as WXYZ notes, there's food, music, and much more "fun for all ages" all taking place in what is usually Comerica Park's parking lot:

WDIV also posted a video encouraging fans to head downtown to enjoy the festivities:

In the prospect department: Tomorrow morning, in Malmo, Sweden, Team Canada will battle the Slovaks (at 11 AM ET on TSN), but while Anthony Mantha will remain in the lineup, TSN, the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan, the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix's Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager all confirm that goaltender and Wings prospect Jake Paterson will give way to Montreal Canadiens prospect Zach Fucale in the nets.




Later on Monday, also in the prospect department, but very locally, the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies will tangle at Comerica Park (5 PM on FSD and Sportsnet), and the Griffins' players made sure to let everyone know that they're en route:

Tomorrow's AHL game will mark Luke Glendening's fourth outdoor affair, and, as the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner noted, Nathan Paetsch took part in the 2009 Winter Classic as a Buffalo Sabre--but he's "not alone" In having outdoor experience as Teemu Pulkkinen, Calle Jarnkrok and Adam Almquist have taken part in outdoor games as well:

“We had a backyard rink, sometimes we’d play on the ponds, and the (inside) rink was just as cold -- colder than it is outside here,” said the Grand Rapids Griffins veteran defenseman. “I’m used to the cold. It never bothered me at all.”

The Griffins face the Toronto Marlies at 5 p.m. Monday at Comerica Park as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival, and the forecast calls for a sunny and crisp day with a high temperature of 22 degrees.

“No matter what the conditions are, they’re the same for both teams,” Paetsch said. “You enjoy it for what it is and take it all in, but also realize it’s a game that you want to win.”

Paetsch has played outside before as a pro. He was with the Buffalo Sabres when they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in a shootout in the 2008 NHL Winter Classic, which was the first regular-season outdoor game in the United States.

Pulkkinen has the most experience of anyone not named Glendening:

• At Helsinki Olympic Stadium, as a member of Jokerit, against HFK (4-3 loss) and he scored two goals February 2011. Attendance: 36,664

• At Helsinki Olympic Stadium, as a member of Jokerit, against HIFK (3-2 loss in a shootout) in February 2012. Attendance: 34, 264

• At Helsinki Olympic Stadium, as a member of Finland, against Russia (2-0 loss) in a Euro Hockey Tour game, in February 2012. Attendance: 25,036

The Griffins just issued the following press release, too:


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Detroit Red Wings on Sunday assigned center Luke Glendening to the Grand Rapids Griffins and reassigned left wing Trevor Parkes from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye to their AHL affiliate.

Glendening, a 24-year-old native of East Grand Rapids, made his debut with the Wings on Oct. 12 versus Philadelphia, when he became the 133rd Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound forward has appeared in 16 games with the Wings, recording his first NHL point with an assist on Dec. 17 versus Anaheim, 14 shots on goal and four penalty minutes. Glendening has also skated in 17 games with the Griffins during his second professional season, producing 10 points (3-7—10) and 16 PIM.

Parkes, 22, leads the Walleye in scoring with 24 points (13-11—24) in 22 games this season. Since beginning his professional career in the 2011-12 season, Parkes has split shifts between the Walleye and the Griffins, tallying 58 regular season points (31-27—58) and five playoff points (3-2—5) with Toledo and 17 regular season points (5-12—17) with Grand Rapids. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound forward has skated in four games with the Griffins this season, posting two PIM.

The Griffins will battle the Toronto Marlies on Monday at 5 p.m. in the franchise’s first-ever outdoor game. The historic showdown will take place at Comerica Park in Detroit, Mich., as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival.



On Tuesday, the Winter Classic's Alumni Showdown will take place (1 PM and 3:30 or 4 on FSD and NBCSN, and the Wings have released some single tickets to the event:

The Tampa Bay Times' Tom Jones surprisingly got Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman to speak about his participation in the game...

"There's going to be a lot of former Red Wings players, guys that I've played with and played for me," Yzerman said. "I look at it as a celebration of the history of the organization. I'm looking forward to that with the players and the fans."

Yzerman hasn't played much at all since retiring in 2006, with the Hall of Famer saying the last time he skated was for a "few minutes" during the summer. He said he's bought skates but hasn't had time to put them on, hoping to get on the ice Monday.

Yzerman reiterated he didn't feel any pressure to play in the game, but it was the right thing to do.

"I just felt like it was appropriate to be there," Yzerman said. "Obviously not skating at all, you're a little apprehensive. But I wanted to be there for the event and around, so it seemed to make sense. I'd rather be there in uniform I guess than street clothes."

More so than playing, Yzerman relishes the rare chance to catch up with many former teammates, including the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Fedorov.

"A lot of the guys, I haven't seen them since I retired or going back to our 97-98 teams," Yzerman said. "So there will be a lot of guys that I haven't seen in a while, so I look forward to that."

As for how much Yzerman plays, that remains to be seen.

"We'll see how the game goes," he said, smiling.

You would expect NHL.com to rehash the Kris Draper to Detroit for a Buck story, and NHL.com's Jon Lane did just that:

Once traded to Red Wings, the "One Dollar Man" was born. That's certainly not on par with "The Six Million Dollar Man" or even "The Million Dollar Man," but little did the Red Wings know that over time they would receive some serious bang and boom for that buck.

A fixture with Darren McCarty and either Kirk Maltby or Joe Kocur on Detroit's "Grind Line" that did the dirty work for Red Wings teams that won three Stanley Cups in six seasons, Draper became one of only five players to skate in more than 1,000 games wearing a Detroit uniform. In addition to winning four Cups, Draper's resume boasts a Frank J. Selke Trophy and 1,137 games as a Wing, fifth on the franchise's career list, behind Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio and Nicklas Lidstrom.

Months after winning his first Stanley Cup in 1997, Draper approached Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and his wife on Fan Appreciation Night with a personal token of his own appreciation.

"I was able to give Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch the dollar back, so I'd like to think that we're even," Draper said. "Who would have thought that No. 1 a player was going to be traded for a dollar, and then certainly I'm real proud of everything that went on and all the proud moments I had within the organization."

Payback was bliss for Draper back then and will be equally rewarding Tuesday when he participates in the 2013 Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park. Including Draper, the Red Wings' roster will feature 30 players who won a Stanley Cup during their stay in Detroit, the most recent addition being Yzerman, the former captain and current Tampa Bay Lightning general manager.

"I think Detroit is taking it to a whole new level with the way they're doing it," Draper said. "I know everybody is really excited about the opportunities here and I know I can't wait to get back to the ice, skate outdoors, skate at Comerica and put the Red Wings jersey on again and play with some of my great friends and teammates. Just to do it one more time is going to be awesome."


Draper's name remains entrenched in Detroit sports annals and the Red Wings' executive offices. Immediately following his retirement he took a position as a special assistant to general manager Ken Holland, whom he helps with amateur and professional player evaluations and shares insight into potential draft picks. For Draper, a Toronto native, all it took was that $1 investment for his career to turn into something wholly satisfying and worth its weight in gold.

"Sometimes I think the city of Detroit gets a bad rap, but you look at the players that have stayed here and made their home here," Draper said. "It's a great city. There's a lot of great things that happen here. There's a lot of loyalty and for us it's something as past players you appreciate."

(They've made their home in the suburbs, but we Metro Detroiters have a tendency to call a geographic area larger than Rhode Island, containing over 4.5 million people "Detroit," even though Detroit itself and its 700-or-so-thousand people represent only a small part of a much larger area)

The Detroit News's Terry Foster spoke to the one man who's higher than Draper in the Wings' managerial pecking order about his participation in the Alumni Showdown, too:

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland is exchanging his usual spot in the press box and shirt and ties for dingy white goalie pads that he last used 29 years ago. Those are the pads he will wear in a Winter Classic alumni game Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Comerica Park. Holland, 58, last wore them during his final season with the Adirondack Red Wings in 1985, when he retired from hockey. They were mostly out of sight and out of mind until the Holland family cleaned out the garage a few years ago.

There they were. Red Wings equipment managers fixed the straps and buckles to make them game-ready.

“I just said if I ever need them I will use them,” Holland said.

Holland will share goalie duties with former Adirondack teammate Eddie Mio. Holland only played in three games with the Detroit Red Wings during his career. But he looked pretty good during some of the scrimmages with the alumni.

“He is all about the first save,” said former defenseman Larry Murphy. “After that there is nothing. He was battling in there tough and made some key saves. He is like everybody else. His range is not what it used to be. He is not going post to post like he used to but neither are we. We are all in the same boat.”

Former center Dino Ciccarelli joked about Holland sprawling to make a save.

“He said, ‘I didn’t sprawl -- I fell,’” joked Ciccarelli.

The 1 p.m. game will be followed by the marquee alumni game that will feature Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom and Chris Osgood. Faceoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.




The main event will take place in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, and the Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with several Wings about their anticipation for the game...

In the "goalie gear" department, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff worried whether Petr Mrazek will be wearing his snowman pads in Ann Arbor or Detroit...

Detroit’s current No. 2 goalie will have to stay with the team for Monday’s game in case one of the other two netminders can’t go, meaning he’ll miss Monday’s AHL game at Comerica Park between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies. But if Howard and Gustavsson both get clean bills of health for the Winter Classic, Mrazek will again be the odd man out, meaning he’ll miss both his chances to participate in outdoor games.

That could also leave Mrazek’s snowman goalie pads on the shelf.

proxy Winter Classic goalie gear in limbo

“Our trainer from Grand Rapids, Brad Thompson, gave me that idea,” Mrazek said of having the snowman pads made. “It’s kind of a cool idea, lots of people like it, some people don’t.

“My teammates, I think they like it. They’re like ‘It’s cool. No one has that idea before.’

“I know a couple people didn’t like it, they think it’s ugly or they think it’s like a kid, but no one has it before, so I think it’s a good idea.

“I love it. It’s just for fun.”

And the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno spoke with both the Wings and Leafs' goalies about their Winter Classic-themed equipment (and a non-embeddable video accompanies the story)

Reimer, Bernier and Detroit Red Wings goaltenders Jimmy Howard, Jonas Gustavsson and Petr Mrazek were all like kids at Christmas in recent weeks showing off their special Winter Classic gear. But this game presents its own unique dilemma as each goalie had a mask and pads made up for a game that he may or may not play in.

"You've got to keep the hope that you're still going to play in it and just go about your business as usual," said Howard, who has been nursing a knee injury of late.

Reimer and Bernier are used to uncertainty after almost half a season of splitting time in the Leafs' net. Going into Sunday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Bernier had started 22 times and Reimer 18.

The Winter Classic is technically just one game out of 82 in the season, but it means a little more because it'll be played in front of 100,000-plus fans at Michigan Stadium.

"It'd be too bad if you didn't play," said Reimer, who had blue and white pads with the Leafs' vintage logo and a matching mask made up for the New Year's Day game. "Obviously you want to play and you want to go out there with your new gear and have some fun with it. But that's not the reason that I'd be bummed that I didn't get to show off my new gear."


If Howard is back for the game against the Predators, Mrazek could get sent back to the Griffins just in time for their outdoor game at Comerica Park in Detroit against the Toronto Marlies.

"I will try to wear them wherever I go," he said. "If I could wear (new gear) every game, I would."

In the wider scope and/or scheme of things, NHL.com's Dan Rosen spoke with the University of Michigan's Associate Athletic Director about holding a gigantic event at Michigan Stadium--an event that will eclipse the "Big Chill at the Big House" in terms of attendance and spectacle...

"The difference with this game is the NHL has come in and they're taking it to a whole other level," said Rob Rademacher, Michigan's associate athletic director of facilities and operations. "They've described it as their Super Bowl. We took some entertainment for the Big Chill, fireworks and other things, to another level that we hadn't done before here at Michigan; but from everything I've seen that we're going to do on Wednesday with the NHL, it's going the next step."

Rademacher is talking about musical acts on the field, such as the Zac Brown Band singing the United States national anthem, Mayer Hawthorne performing during the pregame festivities and again during the first intermission, and The Tenors performing the Canadian national anthem. He's talking about the CF-18 fighter jets flying over The Big House after the Zac Brown Band finishes performing the Star-Spangled Banner.

He's also talking about the Winter Classic decor going up both inside the bowl and on the exterior facades of the stadium. Michigan Stadium is typically devoid of signage.

"I think it looks great," Rademacher said. "I think the NHL has done an unbelievable job of fitting into Michigan Stadium's décor and making it look like it's their venue."

The venue extends outside Michigan Stadium to Spectator Plaza, which will be open to fans from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday. It extends to the numerous trailers that have been brought in to serve as makeshift offices for the army of vendors and service personnel necessary to produce the game.

"We were joking around and I was like, 'Same size, right?'" NHL Executive Vice President of Events Don Renzulli said. "You see Spectator Plaza going up and all the trailers we have, I don't think they had all of that. They had their refrigeration truck, went out and built the rink on the field and they played the game. I don't even know if they did any décor inside. The field was all exposed. There is a lot more that we do."

The other major difference Rademacher noted is the people expected to walk through the turnstiles Wednesday. He believes many of the 104,173 that attended "The Big Chill" were familiar with the stadium, how to get there and where to park. That won't be the case for the Winter Classic.

"You're dealing with a different fan base," Rademacher said. "What we're bringing in on Wednesday, I'm anticipating 80 percent of the people have never been to Michigan Stadium."

For the record, even a publication from the United Arab Emerates weighed in on the Winter Classic and the impeding/inevitable "Stadium Series"...

It matters not that the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs are muddling through slightly disappointing seasons; the duo are clinging to the final play-off spots in the Eastern Conference.

The attraction when they face off on Wednesday will be the venue. The football stadium at the University of Michigan – known as the Big House – is expected to fill with more than 107,000 fans, the largest crowd to witness an ice hockey game.

It also will be the first of an explosion of outdoor games – six in all – that were scheduled this season after last year’s lockout, ostensibly as a “thank you” to fans who returned in force.

It does not hurt that past games have generated an estimated US$10 million (Dh36.7m) each in revenue, and that the participants welcome them as well.

“Anytime you get to play outdoors, it brings back a lot of memories,” the Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary told the Detroit News in a nostalgic nod to the ponds and outdoor rinks where most kids learn to play.

“Everyone who watched these games wants to be in one,” said the coach Bruce Boudreau, whose Anaheim Ducks will play the Los Angeles Kings in a January 25 game at baseball’s Dodger Stadium. “The players will be so amped up.”



And in what I can only describe as a broadcast sense of time that will live ever-forward--and beware of the cursing--if you missed my take on the 3rd episode of HBO's 24/7 series, I can't tell whether the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger thought that water-bottle-gate was funny, or if he really thinks that it's fascinating...

Once the puck dropped on Dec. 21 between the Leafs and Wings, however, Clarkson was front and centre after Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi fired a puck at Jonathan Bernier’s water bottle, which was lying on the ice. Bertuzzi nailed the sucker, sending Bernier scurrying after it.

“Don’t (bleeping) hit his bottle!” Clarkson yelled.

“His water bottle is on the (bleeping) ground,” Bertuzzi replied.

On and on the obscenities went. Until Bertuzzi had enough.

“I’ll buy you a new one,” he said sarcastically.

“OK, perfect,” Clarkson said.

Bet you can’t wait to see how Bottlegate is resolved between these two in front of 107,000 fans at Michigan Stadium on New Year’s Day.

All thanks to HBO.

But Clarkson had to speak about it prior to Sunday's Hurricanes-Leafs game, as noted by the National Post's Sean Fitz-Gerald...

“I didn’t like it, and I addressed it,” Clarkson said with a smile Sunday morning. “At the end of the night, it was kind of funny. It felt like a bunch of little kids arguing over the bottle.”

Some of what Bertuzzi said made him laugh, but only after the game: “He kept saying to me, ‘I’m 38 years old, if I want to shoot a puck at a bottle, I’m going to shoot it.’ ”

The HBO cameras have been granted access rarely afforded by professional teams. Some of the most memorable scenes have been those unfolding beyond the public eye, whether it be coach Randy Carlyle struggling with a temperamental toaster or — as shown in the latest episode — assistant general manager Claude Loiselle explaining on a phone call just how close the Leafs are to signing captain Dion Phaneuf to a new contract.

Placing microphones on players has also afforded a deeper understanding of how events unfold on the ice, and how grudges form. In an earlier episode, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby was overheard complaining about Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, saying he thought Kadri was an “[expletive] dummy” and an “[expletive] joke.”


“Afterward, people were like, ‘It seemed like five-year-old kids arguing over a bottle,’” Clarkson said. “It was funny. We both just play hard. I got a lot of respect for the way he plays, but I just think, at the end of the day, it’s one of those things where you have to want it more than the other guy.”

Clarkson was a featured player in the episode. An HBO camera followed him as he rode in a crowded TTC subway car on his way to a game. Those scenes were quiet, unlike the battle for the bottle, where the growing exasperation in Bertuzzi’s voice became evident as he was repeatedly asked to defend himself against his act of bottle violence.

“Whether it’s trying to change momentum or just doing something you believe in, I think that all goes into playing,” Clarkson said. “It’s great for people to see because it’s something that goes on, on a daily basis — little things like that, that would make you laugh.”

And while Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski's review of the episode is so jaded that it's scary, I have to admit that this exchange between Matt Martin and Drew Miller made me laugh like nobody's business:

Still no word about the wherabouts of Daniel Cleary's tooth.

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About The Malik Report

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.