The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/29/12 at 01:54 PM ET
Updated 3x with a Gustavsson translation at 3 PM: Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings news:
- The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness offered several contractual updates regarding Wings moves to come early this morning, but Pro Hockey Talk's Joe Yerdon noted that an iteration of Pleiness's article for his blog, Red Wings Front, is worth revisiting as it raises an eyebrow...
Last Friday, a source confirmed that Detroit had offered often-injured Carlo Colaiacovo a two-year deal worth $2.7 million a season.
Colaiacovo, who reportedly is looking for a three-year deal and was originally offered a one-year deal by the Wings, hasn’t played more than 67 games in any season.
“We’re not close to signing anybody,” said [Red Wings GM Ken] Holland, who didn’t know if they would be able to sign one or two defensemen before Sept. 15.
And Pleiness's numerical breakdown of the kind of salary Justin Abdelkader might command is worth repeating, too:
The Wings and restricted free agent Justin Abdelkader continue to talk on a new deal.
“I believe we’re close,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
The Wings would like to get Abdelkader, who didn’t file for salary arbitration, to sign a four-year deal at just under $2 million a season.
He earned $825,000 last season.
- You can read Pleiness's revised take on Damien Brunner landing in the U.S. (he's skating with Neil Sheehy's clients in Minny, oh, the Suter-related irony...) on your own, and the same can be said for MLive's Brendan Savage's take on fan reaction to a potentially lockout-shortened season as it could apply to helping the Wings ease themselves through a post-Lidstrom transition...
- In more immediate news, from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
(Those kinds of practices are open to the public, as in, "Get your ass to the Troy Sports Center and watch players, and given that they come and go through known locker room doors, snag an autograph while you're at it)
- In Swedish news of another kind, again, from Roose, and in the category of the first of three stories found via RedWingsFeed:
Meatballs, fish, IKEA, and a bevy of world-class hockey players are some of the Swedish imports Red Wings’ fans have become accustom to in Motown.
Soon, they’ll have a tasty Scandinavia pastry to add to their list of favorites.
Next Wednesday, Wings center Henrik Zetterberg will launch the Royal Swedish Snowballs, a traditional Swedish treat, in North America at an appearance at Just Baked in Royal Oak, Mich.
“It’s one of those things that we always had as a kid,” said Zetterberg, of the vanilla-filled delicacy covered in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut shavings. “If you ever wanted a pastry this was one of my favorites, and it’s been real popular in Sweden for many years.”
Royal Swedish Snowballs will be available at all 12 metro Detroit Just Baked locations. The desserts will be sold in 4-packs and 6-packs, and retail for $5.99 and $8.99, respectively.
It’s been a few years since Zetterberg and his business partner, Jan Jutbo, first contemplated the idea of bringing the snowball-shaped pastries to Michigan. The two partners worked a deal with Just Baked, a specialty cupcake shop and bakery, who will produce and sell the snowballs, which will also be available during Wings’ home games at Joe Louis Arena.
Snowballs were a special treat when he was a boy, Zetterberg said, and something that his mother often purchased for festive occasions and holidays.
“You really couldn’t make them at home, so you had to go and buy them,” said Zetterberg, in an exclusive interview with DetroitRedWings.com. “We didn’t have them all of the time, of course, but they were a popular item with a lot of kids. You see them in all of the grocery stores back in Sweden, so you really can’t miss them when you go home.”
At just 70-calories per serving, snowballs can be devoured without body-checking your diet into the end boards. Also, a portion of each sale will benefit the Zetterberg Foundation, which hosts patients from Detroit area children’s hospitals, and their families, at Red Wings’ home games.
“We’ve been talking about this for two or three years now and we were close last year to pulling it off,” said Zetterberg, of the snowballs. “But now we’re here and hopefully we can have a great start and a wonderful tie to the foundation.”
Zetterberg will welcome customers at Just Baked, 32828 Woodward Ave., in Royal Oak from 12-1 p.m. on Sept. 5. The first 50 customers, who purchase a 6-pack of snowballs will receive a Zetterberg autographed Royal Swedish Snowballs T-shirt. (Please note that Zetterberg will not autograph memorabilia at this event).
- Also in fan participation news, don't forget that the Pure Michigan commercial shot at the Joe last week will make its web debut on September 6th, and as the Wings' Twitter account notes, there's one way you can interact with Amway that isn't unpleasant:
- In a somewhat gloomy category, again, via RedWingsFeed, Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski posted a moving video Reddit Hockey users found which commemoriates Ruslan Salei's career, from the Ruslan Salei Memorial Hockey Tournament held in Minsk, Belarus:
- At the other end of the spectrum, and also in the "revise and edit" category, as mentioned this morning, the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran and Liam Casey asked questions to each and every one of the 29 prospects taking part in the NHLPA's Rookie Showcase photo shoot for Upper Deck and Panini, and they've revised the article to include the names of players responding to their questions:
Question 2: What is the hardest part of junior/college hockey?
“For Europeans, the hardest part is to leave home. Travel half of the Earth, don’t see anyone for a whole year. That’s hard. You can get used to it. That’s the hockey life.”
—Tomas Jurco (Red Wings)
Question 3: How do you think your life will change after you make the NHL?
“I will be happy. It’s something you dream about all your life.”
—Tomas Jurco (Wings)
- And third of three RWF-derived stories involves some very frank comments new Red Wings goalie Jonas "The Monster" Gustavssson made to Expressen's Mattias Ek, as translated by super-fan Matias Strozyk:
Unless you play like Ty Conklin, nobody's going to bash you, Jonas. You're gonna like it here in Detroit. I'll translate the rest of the article now, but I wanted to get the highlights out first.
DETROIT (AP) — A fire has been extinguished at a popular Detroit sports bar.
No injuries were reported following Tuesday night’s fire at Hockeytown Cafe. The fire department says it may have been caused by grease in a kitchen ventilation system.
Some water damage may have occurred. Hockeytown Cafe is located near Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers.
WDIV has provided an update as well...
Hockeytown Cafe will remain closed Wednesday after a fire broke out in a kitchen.
No one was hurt Tuesday night when a small blaze started on the second level of the downtown restaurant.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
Statement from Olympia Entertainment
"The restaurant was closed for business and nobody was in the building when the fire started. The Detroit Fire Department contained the fire resulting in relatively minor damage sustained to the restaurant. Hockeytown Café will be closed for the next 1-3 days as we conduct a full assessment of the damage and complete the necessary water and smoke clean up.”
In Detroit, Gustavsson will be way more insulated compared to Toronto. In Detroit, he’ll be allowed to play a more natural reflex-based style, and his skating will improve. In Detroit, he will have the support of two goalie coaches (Jim Bedard is already set to spend four days in Sweden working with him later in July), one of which has recent NHL experience in Chris Osgood.
In fact, there’s a great dynamic between Osgood and Bedard. Osgood brings a more intimate understanding of what it takes to be mentally tough in Detroit, while Bedard should really clean up some of the messy elements of Gustavsson’s techniques, and sharpen his entire game.
In Detroit, he also now has numerous Swedish friends, which should really help him feel at home. In Detroit, the spotlight isn’t cast on him, and him alone, every single night, either.
In Detroit, he knows he can finally relax and just go back to playing his game. One bad goal will not destroy his team’s chances, nor will it destroy his reputation. There is no reason to have a fragile mindset on the ice or in the locker room, and he is receiving all of the positive energy that comes with being a Red Wing.
The optics of his situation have changed in just about every way, shape and form possible, and they are almost all positive in form.
But as soon as Lidstrom retired, I was very adamant when I said the Red Wings needed to upgrade their goaltending. Losing Lidstrom meant there was a massive adjustment on the horizon; he was such a calming influence back there, and was the face of the franchise once Steve Yzerman retired.
With the defense becoming an instant question mark, I was then concerned with Jimmy Howard and his upcoming season. A guy known for not having all the skill in the world, how would he handle playing without his best defenseman? How would he handle the increase in scoring chances, the reduction in overall defensive coverage, and the comfort level that comes with having Lidstrom on the ice?
Those questions won’t be answered until October, but I could say with a high level of assurance that he won’t be as successful as he was this past season. But for Gustavsson, even without Lidstrom around, Detroit’s system is a massive upgrade over Toronto.
Update #2: According to NHL.com's Pete Jensen, Johan Franzen is the 14th-best right winger in terms of fulfilling your fantasy hockey needs;
- And the Hockey News's Adam Proteau suggests that the state of the Wings' blueline may or may not be one of the ten most pressing off-season roster issues facing NHL teams:
4. The Red Wings blueline: Like the Flyers, the Wings have an enormous hole in their defense corps after the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and the departure of Brad Stuart to San Jose. They’ve still got more than $13 million in cap space and could be another team bidding on Bouwmeester, but if that doesn’t happen, a top-four of Niklas Kronwall, Kyle Quincey, Jonathan Ericsson and Ian White won’t be frightening too many opponents.
Update #3: Okey dokey, here's a quick and dirty translation of Gustavsson's interview with Mattias Ek:
"Monster" gives the boot [says good riddance] to hockey fans in Toronto
Huddinge: Jonas Gustavsson will replace hockey hysteria in Toronto withthe Detroit Red Wings, who will try to learn to win without Nicklas Lidstrom's secure defense.
With "The Monster's" name on a new goalie helmet, Gustavssno is ready for the next challenge.
"In Toronto they want to either celebrate you or bash you. The large group of fans follow the media even if they don't know what's going on," he says.
After a breakthrough season with Farjestads BK in 2009, Jonas Gustavsson was the most coveted goaltender by NHL teams of the rising stars in Europe.
His nickname, "Monster," worked perfectly, even with the North American media. And he finally decided on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Now, three years later, he describes his time there as learning and developing.
"When I cam over, I wasn't quite in the shade, but I came over without all the focus on me and [it happened] all at once. There were lots of articles. It was a good thing to learn to deal with, when you have such pressure on yourself even though you're brand new and are trying to adapt," says Gustavsson to HockeyExpressen.se before leaving for Detroit.
A month-long honeymoon
"It's important to maintain an even mental keel. I learned a lot in Toronto. Otherwise, after one month that I was there and started games, and then I didn't play anymore."
In Toronto, he had the hadest start possible when he suffered heart problems and had to undergo several minor [ablation] procedures. And right from the first second he was with the Maple Leafs, he was like any other, scrutinized and harshly assessed.
The pulse of the media in Toronto is extremely high for NHL hockey.
"I don't regret that I signed there, though maybe it was disappointing that we weren't close to making the playoffs. It was very education and lots of fun," he says.
Food for thought
The expectations for Jonas Gustavsson as a rookie were also spectacularly high.
"During those three years I played in over 100 NHL games. I mean, some people think that you should be a starting goaltender from the start, but there are many great goalies. When I came across it I knew. In Toronto's organization there were five or six good goalies, and four that I hadn't heard of. There are really talented goaltenders, and you realize how tough the competition is."
Jonas Gustavsson also talked about the press covering the Maple Leafs.
"The perception of goaltenders fluctuates more because there's so much focus [on hockey] in the city. If James Reimer had played in a less hockey-crazy town, he probably would have been praised for both of his seasons in the NHL. Maybe he wouldn't have been raised to the skies during his first season, and maybe he would have received a little more praise during his second year. He's a very solid goalie who's on the way up. But in Toronto you're either top shelf or you're at the bottom. The fans might believe the media even if they don't know what's going on.
Other things in life
Jonas Gustavsson continues: "It's tougher than what you think about yourself sometimes. Even if you think that you've got control ovr the situation and try to block things out, it's obvious that it may affect you. It's something you learn over the years, to put things in perspective. Sure, hockey is a big part of life, and it's almost more important than anything, but there are other things in life that are just as important, if not more important."
Detroit's always good
Jonas Gustavsson didn't continue playing for Toronto, and he soon agreed with Detroit on a two-ywar contract.
"Detroit is the team I wanted to play for the most, especially when it became clear that I wasn't going to stay in Toronto. Then I was thinking about Detroit."
"Just its tradition. They've always had a good team. No matter what decade you're taking about. Theyv'e always had a good team and hopefully that'll continue to be the case for a long time to come. There have been many Swedes there through the years, and are there now, too. Especially successful Swedes. It's a real hockey town. For me, it feels like it might be the right way to take the next step in my development."
Ready if there's a lockout
Jonas Gustavsson follows all the developments in the negotiations between the NHL and the players' union, and the looming lockout.
"There are reasons that the season may not get started on time, and you have to take them as they come. You just have to prepare in the best way, and be ready when it comes. It could be just at the start, or well into the season."
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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.