The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/02/13 at 11:19 AM ET
By the time I wrapped up my overnight report and tried to settle down, Finnish Twitter users were serenading me to sleep with news from the first SM-Liiga's open practices, and if ever you needed a reminder that NHL'ers preparations for the 2013-2014 season are in fact underway, IIHF.com's Symon Szemberg finds himself in Gothenburg, Sweden, where a certain new Wing was working out at the Frolunda Indians' training facility...
And ESPN's Paul Grant wrapped up his "summer wonder" series this morning by questioning the potential impact of the NHL's unrestricted free agent signings, including the Wings' additions of Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss:
Daniel Alfredsson in Detroit: Does Alfredsson, 40, have enough in the tank to make a difference in the Motor City? He will get every opportunity to prove he was worth the gamble by the Red Wings and will do his darnedest to win a Stanley Cup before he hangs them up and prove the Senators were messing with him all those years.
Stephen Weiss in Detroit: People likened Weiss to Steve Yzerman when he broke into the league, so this is a full circle of sorts. Weiss, 30, should fit well into the Red Wings' way of thinking. GM Ken Holland doesn't spend that kind of money ($4.9 million cap hit, fourth on the team) very often, so you know he's scoped this out from all angles.
Technically speaking, Weiss is from Toronto, but spent the 1999-2000, 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 seasons with the OHL's Plymouth Whalers, so he became something of a Wings fan.
In the prospect department, part 1: This weekend, both the U.S., Swedish, Finnish and Canadian World Junior teams begin selection camps, with the Canadians spending Sunday and Monday in Quebec before joining the U.S., Swedes and Finns in Lake Placid, New York. Wings prospects Anthony Mantha and Jake Paterson ("one T") will be taking part in Canada's camp, and NHL.com's Adam Kimelman noted that Team Canada coach Brent Sutter picked exactly 1 player who was a) included in last year's camp and b) has a guaranteed spot on the selection camp roster when the team pares down its roster from 33 to 20-some Lake Placid tourney-participating players:
Sutter has one player from last year making the trip to Lake Placid: goaltender Jake Paterson, who was the third goalie on the team that finished fourth in Ufa, Russia; he never got into a game. Four other returnees will skate the first two days in Brossard: forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, and defensemen Griffin Reinhart and Morgan Rielly.
Paterson, a Detroit Red Wings draft pick, is one of three goalies who will travel to Lake Placid, along with Winnipeg Jets prospect Eric Comrie and Montreal Canadiens draft pick Zachary Fucale.
However, an invitation to the summer camp in no way means any of the three has locked down a trip to Sweden.
"You hope that two of those three guys will step up, but they've got to have real good first halves of the year," Sutter said of the upcoming season. "I don't want us to be selecting our goaltenders in August. What happens if they falter and don't play well in the first half of the year? … These three guys are now in the starting blocks, but they have to run the race until December. They can't fail to run that. That's my mindset in selecting goaltenders."
He then cited another example from his past: "The goalies that came to camp in August [prior to the 2005 and 2006 tournaments], none of them were on our team in December."
In the prospect department, part 2: it's been almost a month since I attended the Wings' summer development camp, and I still can't figure out whether Tyler Bertuzzi's herky-jerky, eyes-wide-open behavior and semi-mumbling interviews had more to do with being ten days removed from being drafted by his uncle's team, whether he was out of his element having his hands essentially cuffed after fighting Nick Jensen during what's not supposed to be a fisticuff-involving skill development camp, whether he was overwhelmed, or whether he prefaced practice by drinking three to ten espressos.
He certainly seems like a much more relaxed player on Twitter, but he was full of bluster and cliches when speaking to reporters, as noted by MLive's Brendan Savage:
"They thought they could get a steal on me," said Bertuzzi, a 6-foot, 178-pound left winger who described his attributes as "grittiness, work ethic and heart. I was pretty surprised when they called my name but I've worked pretty hard and I think I deserved it and I'm going to keep working hard to get here. I've got skill. I can carry the puck in. I can make plays. I think I can play overall."
But it's his abrasive attitude and willingness to mix things up that impressed the Red Wings. In two seasons of junior hockey with Guelph of the OHL, Bertuzzi had 19 goals, 20 assists and 185 penalty minutes in 104 games. He also fought 19 times including the playoffs. On the ice, he's fearless.
He suffered what was either a "neck injury" or a "concussion" somewhere along the way, too.
The Red Wings compare him to Chicago Blackhawks agitator Andrew Shaw and at the draft Bob McKenzie of TSN.ca said Bertuzzi makes Shaw "look like a Lady Byng winner" in reference to the award the NHL annual gives out for gentlemanly play.
"He brings that element, and we felt like we wanted to add a player like that into our mix of prospects," chief scout Jeff Finley told RedWingsCentral.com. "A lot of times what happens is you like those guys, but they go a lot earlier than you were planning to take them. We just thought, instead of taking a chance that he's not there in the third round, we had an extra pick in the second, and we didn't mind him there where we took him."
Bertuzzi was definitely "blacklisted" by his teammates after he fought Jensen, who may or may not end up missing part of the 2013-2014 season depending on whether his left shoulder heals thanks to the tugging-and-pulling-induced sprain, but Bertuzzi is a skilled player who's driven to improve, and if he can work on plain old growing from a very young 18-year-old "kid" to a man over the next couple of years, he won't have any trouble proving that he's got the skating ability and actually pretty dang good shooting and passing abilities to earn a pro contract based upon what he can do with his gloves on:
"Got a tough side of me but I also wanted to show my skill side," Bertuzzi said. "It's a big eye-opener, just how much work and dedication you have to put in to make it to the NHL. It's a lot of work. It's going to take a long time but it's worth it in the end."
At 18, Bertuzzi's future with the Red Wings is obviously several years ago. So he'll return to junior hockey for another couple of years before embarking on his pro career. What kind of expectations does he have?
"Just go back to Guelph, get better as a player; bigger, faster and stronger," he said. "Work on skills and come back to camp next year and hopefully impress them."
In the end, despite the fact that Bertuzzi made a boneheaded move in fighting Jensen, and despite his immaturity, the future does look bright for him, and he's not exactly a "bad egg." He's just a hothead, and that kind of tendency can be tamed to some extent.
And finally, I have no problem whatsoever re-plugging this note from the Canton Observer:
Customers attending Hockey Fest at Kroger’s Canton store on Saturday, Aug. 3, can meet hockey legend Ted Lindsay and other Detroit Red Wing alumni, and support autism research and local treatment programs.
Hockey Fest will feature the Hockey Hall of Fame Legends of Hockey exhibit as well as interactive games, including a mini hockey rink, foam puck shooting range and a fast shot radar cage.
Admission is free to Hockey Fest attendees and the event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Canton Kroger store parking lot. Ted Lindsay will be present between noon and 2 p.m. to meet fans and sign autographs. The Canton Kroger is located at 1905 Canton Center Road.
As part of the event, Kroger, The Ted Lindsay Foundation, Today’s 105.1 and WDIV/Local 4 ClickOnDetroit have gathered prizes that customers have a chance to win, including two pair of tickets for 2013-14 Detroit Red Wings regular season game tickets, restaurant gift cards, theater tickets and more.
Guests will have the opportunity to meet other former Detroit Red Wings players and can purchase a family meal deal, with all proceeds from food and raffle sales benefiting The Ted Lindsay Foundation.
“The Ted Lindsay Foundation has played a significant role in raising money to fund groundbreaking research in the quest to find a cure for autism,” said Jayne Homco, president of The Kroger Co. of Michigan. “We invite customers to join us for the fun and excitement of Hockey Fest while supporting the Foundation.”
Customers can help Kroger support the Ted Lindsay Foundation by making coin box donations as well as purchasing a $1 scan card located at Kroger registers now through August 31. All proceeds will benefit the Ted Lindsay Foundation.
“Autism has reached almost epidemic proportions in our country,” Lindsay said. “Because of the commitment of community partners like Kroger, we are able to reach large audiences to help spread awareness of autism and to fund research to discover more about its causes and treatment.”
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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.