The Malik Report
Red Wings mid-day news: on Sheahan, Tatar, Russian pressure, McCarty’s tales and Sweden’s Z-less win
by George Malik on 02/14/14 at 12:19 PM ET
Updated 5x at 12:43 PM: The Red Wings were engaging in salary cap calculus when everyone was healthy early in the 2013-2014 season, and given that the Long-Term Injured Reserve exemption can only be used if players spend both 10 games and 24 days off the roster, I have no idea how the Wings can accommodate all three of Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan or Luke Glendening on the 23-man roster or under the cap ceiling.
I am hoping against hope that Henrik Zetterberg won't miss much time, that Pavel Datsyuk will emerge from the Olympics with some sort of functioning skating stride and that Johan Franzen will recover from his concussion after the break--and until we know otherwise, any guesses really are speculation at best--but it certainly appears that Stephen Weiss's return from abdominal surgery won't result in a triple-prospect-demotion.
The only way that that's "good" news involves the fact that the Wings have only 4 post-trade deadline call-ups unless they face a "roster emergency," and that rule remains in place until their AHL affiliate is no longer in playoff contention (which might take a while given that the Grand Rapids Griffins are the AHL's defending Calder Cup champs), even during the playoffs, when the 23-man roster and salary cap limitations disappear--because the Wings are a better team with a healthy Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Franzen than they are with Jurco, Sheahan and Glendening substituting for the trio--but the trio has most certainly assured that it will start next season in Detroit ahead of the Bertuzzis, Clearys, Eaveses and even perhaps the Anderssons on the Red Wings' roster (seriously, does Joakim Andersson know how much jeopardy he faces in terms of keeping his job?)...
So it's appropriate that Glendening reflected upon what's turned out to be a full-fledged rookie NHL campaign while speaking with Fox 17's Steve Amorose last night and it's appropriate that Riley Sheahan spoke with the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner about his probable status as a temporary Griffin:
“Obviously I’d like to be up there, and so I like to keep in the back of my mind that I can play there,” Sheahan said. “Now that I’m down, I just have to keep working hard and doing what I’ve been doing. If I don’t get called up right away after the Olympic break, I’ll just keep working.”
Some of it is out of his control. The injury statuses of Stephen Weiss (sport hernia) and Johan Franzen (concussion) will play a role in the decision, as will cap space and roster decisions. Weiss is conditioning with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, and is targeted to play in Grand Rapids for three games Feb. 21-23.
Sheahan, who earlier joined the Red Wings for stint in December, has played well the past 14 games in Detroit with four goals and seven assists in 18 games overall. He has played much of it on a line with Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar.
“I think that line played pretty well,” said Sheahan, who played with both in Grand Rapids. “I don’t want to say it’s easy to play (in the NHL), but when you’re playing with good players and have that familiarity with them, it makes it a lot easier.”
Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill liked what Sheahan was doing when recalled - he had 18 points (10-8-18) in 28 games - and he doesn’t expect that to change with his return, no matter the length.
“When Riley left, he was really, really emerging as a real good offensive player in the American Hockey League,” Blashill said. “I think that carried over in Detroit. So coming back, he’ll play in a top six role offensively, be on the power play, be on the penalty kill and be one of our go to guys.”
Wallner continues, and as he notes, Sheahan believes that sustained puck possession is aiding his cause (he's got one hell of a wrist shot, doesn't he?)...
Regarding one of his linemates, I thought it was interesting that the administrator of Tomas Tatar's Facebook page (he's a Facebook person) posted a link to an article on...Slovenskozije Hokejom, in which coach Slovak Olympic hockey coach Vladimir Vujtek had this to say about his offense during yesterday's 6-1 loss to the U.S.:
Who were you satisfied with during hte agme?
I was basically satisfied only with Tomas Tatar offensively.
Tomas Jurco was also very strong for the Slovaks as well, and he didn't look out of his element against a fairly stacked American team.
In the "prospect" department as opposed to "NHL-playing prospect" department, per DRW Prospects on Twitter, there's a video of Andreas Athanasiou's 5-goal performance for the Barrie Colts on Thursday evening, but it's not embeddable:
The video is here on the OHL's website, and it's over 2 minutes long...
At the other end of the spectrum, former Red Wing Igor Larionov has been very forthcoming about the pressure Russia faces to win an Olympic medal, and he spoke with both SI's Michael Farber and the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek regarding his takes on the Russian team and its chances of winning gold at the "perfect Olympics"...
Duhatschek: Last time around, Canada had an inordinate amount of pressure to win on home ice in Vancouver and did it. Is it the same in Russia?
Larionov: “Yes. Since the last Olympics in Vancouver, all they’ve been talking about is the rematch. Nobody exists in world hockey or Olympics, but Russia and Canada, which is a big mistake, to think like that. There are more than two teams going for gold. Everybody is talking about that one terrible loss – 7-3 – and what a disgrace and a disaster for Russian hockey it was. The pressure was created four years ago and now it’s time to show what they can do. Obviously, it’s going to be a tough task, because the Russian team is a mix of KHL and NHL guys again. Canada has a strong team, as does the U.S., Sweden, Finland, the Czechs, and even Switzerland. It’s been talked in the press, by the fans and all the people in the nation. It’s going to be just like it was in Canada. Only one medal matters, the hockey gold medal.”
Duhatschek: Who do you see as the difference makers on the Russian team? For many, Alex Ovechkin is the face of Russian hockey in the same way Sidney Crosby is the face of Canadian hockey.
Larionov: “I’m not looking for (Evgeni) Malkin, Ovechkin, (Pavel) Datsyuk to carry the whole team, in the same way I don’t think (Jonathan) Toews or (Patrick) Kane or Crosby has to carry their teams either. This is a different scale of tournament. It takes 20 guys to win. There are 12 days of competition from the first game to the last game, so you have to forget about your ego and you have to play for the team. Last time, Crosby scored the Golden Goal but Canada had 20 guys who could be a hero every night. That’s what Russia’s gotta to do – the same thing – to be able to compete against those top teams.”
Duhatschek: Do you make predictions?
Larionov: “I don’t. I remember one year at world championships in Quebec, Rick Nash threw the puck over the boards and it was a game delay penalty and five-against-three in overtime and Russia won the gold medal when (Ilya) Kovalchuk scored. So things like that, you can’t predict or anticipate. One bad goal, one bad bounce and all of a sudden, it’s over. Or if (goalies such as) Hiller gets hot for Switzerland or Bobrovsky or Varlamov, what can you do? It’s hard to say who’s going to end on top. People are choosing Russia, Canada, the U.S., Sweden or the Czechs as favorites, but you never know. That’s what the Olympics are all about. Somebody has to be in top form mentally, physically and respond in the moment.”
One of Larionov's teammates is still on a book tour, and the Livonia Observer's David Veselenak reports that Darren McCarty spoke with the Livonia Chamber of Commerce as part of his promotion of My Last Fight: the True Story of a Hockey Rock Star, and he pulled no personally-directed punches:
Former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty told a crowded Laurel Manor his battle with substance abuse stemmed from the pressures and unpredictability he saw while playing in the National Hockey League.
“It’s tough when you go to bed thinking, ‘Who am I going to fight tomorrow?’ Sometimes, you can’t sleep,” he said. “It’s a way to shut things off. It’s a coping mechanism.”
McCarty spoke to more than 180 people Friday at an event put on by the Livonia Chamber of Commerce to promote his recent book, My Last Fight. The book details his life during his time in the NHL on and off the ice, which was mostly spent in Detroit and includes stories from his battles with alcohol and substance abuse.
Audience members also came from chambers in Westland and Novi, in addition to Livonia.
McCarty, speaking to Steve Courtney of WJR-AM (950), said he never drank any alcohol from the Stanley Cup, hockey’s top prize and one the Red Wings won in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008 while McCarty was on the team.
He had done some stints in rehab before, but had been clean for many years until he signed with the Calgary Flames after the NHL lockout canceled the 2004-05 season. He said he was feeling down and found some alcohol, the first drink he had had in nearly 10 years, he said.
“I remember I had a Bud Light and a little bottle of Patron tequila,” he said. “That led me back to rehab.”
"It is clear that he was not feeling one hundred percent. But he does not complain much and he doesn't whine, he has a pretty high pain threshold," said Nyquist.
"It has been getting worse and worse. I of course know not what is wrong one hundred percent but it's been more and more pain and he was feeling, like I said, not one hundred percent, and it's not good to see."
As soon Zetterberg injured back can handle a long flight across the Atlantic, he will go home to Detroit.
"It's a tough decision to make, and I know he wants nothing more than to be here now and help the team, but it is what it is, and at the same time we need him in Detroiwhen the Olympics are over, so it's clear that it's all about getting health as soon as possible," said Nyquist.
Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski offers this from Henrik Lundqvist, whose shutout allowed Daniel Alfredsson's goal to stand as the difference-maker in Sweden's 1-0 win over Switzerland...
“When we got the news about Zetterberg yesterday, it was a tough break. To replace him is going to be almost impossible,” said Lundqvist. “I could just feel my energy went down when I heard the news, but at the same time, you have to regroup.”
And here are a few more quotes from the AP:
The Swedes were medal favorites a month ago, but since then the 2006 Olympic champions have lost three of their best forwards due to injuries: Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen. Lundqvist, their three-time Olympian goaltender, still gives them a chance to win any game.
"We all know if we're going anywhere, we need our goalie to be the best goalie in the tournament," Kronwall said.
And having five-time Olympian Alfredsson on the ice helps Sweden as well. The 41-year-old forward skated hard down the ice on the game-winning goal to put himself in the right position to score easily off a rebound created by Erik Karlsson's shot.
"I just tried to bust my own rear end as much as I could to get to the neutral zone and I think I was able to lose my guy and get open," Alfredsson said. "It's a fortunate bounce, but I'm happy the goalie didn't see it before me and swipe it out, and I was able to tap it in."
[Swedish coach Par] Marts said Alfredsson's game-winning goal showed why he's on the roster even though he's one of the oldest athletes in Sochi.
"He's one of the most-skilled players I've ever seen," Marts said. "He's so smart and his hands are still really good."
It appears that Jimmy Howard will remain in a suit instead of hockey equipment when the U.S. starts Jonathan Quick against Pavel Datsyuk and Russia tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM, and if you're a fan of self-immolation, the most neutral of Canadian hockey observers are about to get partisan as all hell get out on Twitter when Mike Babcock's Canadians battle Austria today at 12.
Join the Street Team at Meijer on Friday, February 21 for to meet Detroit Red Wings Defenseman Danny DeKeyser. Stop by from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. as Danny DeKeyser will be meeting fans and signing autographs. Plus there will be hockey experience games in the store and recipe demonstrations of Meijer Angus Beef's Chili! Stop by for all the hockey fun from Meijer, the Detroit Red Wings and your station for sports … 97.1 The Ticket!
800 Brown Rd
Auburn Hills, MI
Let's just conveniently ignore the whole, "Aside from game nights, the Ken Kal/Pat Caputo Wings show and Jeff Riger's Wings advocacy, 97.1 isn't really enamored with the Wings" spiel and go, "Yay, free autographs!"
Update #4: Expressen's Mattias Ek and Henrik Sjoberg note that Daniel Alfredsson now has 31 goals and 69 assists in international play (or 100 points).
Update #5: The Free Press's Helene St. James has added some Zetterberg in Swedish to her article about the captain's back:
"I just feel my energy went down when I heard the news," Swedish and Wings teammate Daniel Alfredsson said. "He's our leader, our captain and one of our best players. To replace him is going to be impossible."
Zetterberg could not be reached for comment, but he told Sweden's Aftonbladet that "it's the same problems as before, with my back. Only 20 times worse. I just can't play anymore here; it's impossible.
"I can hardly move, the pain is incredible. It's really sickening. I've been looking forward to this tournament for years and to have to leave it, I'm so frustrated."
Holland, who is in Sochi as part of Hockey Canada, had been in constant communication with Zetterberg since Thursday.
"He is in a great deal of discomfort, so in fairness to Sweden, the Detroit Red Wings organization and himself, he is pulling out of the Olympics. He has to see a doctor, but he will not be ready by the time we come out of the Olympic break. Beyond that, I have no real time frame."
Zetterberg, 33, missed 11 games for the Wings in December, after his back flared up.
"I don't know if he will need surgery," Holland said. "He needs to see a doctor. He is going to wait until he feels better, then fly home early next week. It is, obviously, a huge disappointment for him."
Gustav Nyquist, Zetterberg's roommate at the Olympics, said Zetterberg "didn't get out much Thursday; he was in the room a lot. The most important thing is for him to get better as soon as possible. We need him in Detroit, too."
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