The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/01/14 at 10:43 AM ET
I had a feeling that Norrkopings Tidingar's posting of a 17-minute video interview with Jonathan Ericsson (in Swedish; NT has also posted a "highlight clip") would yield a text article, and this morning, NT's Robin Svensson penned a lengthy article highlighting Ericsson's comments. What follows is roughly translated as Norrkoping Swedish is...unique...And let's just say that this interview isn't hard-hitting:
"Jonte" has grown up thanks to fatherhood
An eventful year has shaped an NHL defenseman's new values. Jontahn Ericsson's time outside the hockey rink's been significant. "I have completely different priorities," he says.
A lot can happen in a year. There's always time, after all, even with quite a lot [going on]. Putting together the packed schedule of an NHL pro is a puzzle. A hard one.
Jonathan Ericsson's now put most of the pieces in the right place. In October, his daughter Liv was born, a few months after the 30-year-old signed a six-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings, and last weekend he said his life's most important "yes."
"We got married in
our briefsa village. I guess I've never really had the dream of a perfect wedding, maybe, but it was so that we went through and planned it, and it was really good for us, anyway."
123 guests saw "Jonte" and his wife Evelina take the next step in their lives.
"Now you could say that I'm completely an adult," says the star defenseman with a smile.
"No, but I have completely different priorities, especially now that Liv's arrived. Regarding hockey, if I had a bad game I'd think about it into the next night. I'd get pissed off. But as soon as I get home and see her lying asleep, I switch everything off. Hockey's not that important then."
There's talk in the sports world of thoroughbred professionals, from the top of their head to the tips of their fingers. They come in every sport, from many places all over the world. In Sweden, Norrkoping and Arkosund, there's one. "Jonte" has been on Swedish soil since the end of May. He'll pick a few cushions and make the patio ready for landing in the archipelago. It's been after mid-day for quite a while, and it's sunny and warm. After Detroit was eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, he was able to witness the other side of the ice, and it wasn't as he intended, during games. When Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel's shot hit his hand between the nights of March 19th and 20th, Swedish time, and it was bad.
Very bad, and an already injury-plagued season was over. And the process of healing his left middle finger drags on.
"It could've been better, it could've. Things haven't gone as I hoped during the summer. The hope is that it will heal with time, but it hasn't gone as fast as I thought it would, anyway."
Are you in pain?
"Yes, a little bit, but the worst part is that I don't have the same mobility as before.
There's been some difficulty in grasping his stick, something he hasn't done since Detroit's season ended.
"My hand specialist that I have over there, I've kept in touch with him and he says that there's nothing to be worried about. But it will take a long time. I might not get back the same movement, but he believes that it will be good enough that it won't bother me," says "Jonte."
Injuries are never fun. Not for Ericsson. Amidst the gloomy feeling of sitting on the other side of hte ice and not being able to help the team, he could see light.
He was busy taking in his daughter Liv's first nine months.
"I've been lucky to be home a lot with her, unlike my teammates. We play games all the time and are traveling a lot, but because I was so hurt last season, I spent a lot of time at home, I couldn't do much on trips, anyway. That way I was able to witness her entire childhood until now, that's something I think is very positive. Now nobody wants to be injured, obviously, but I saw a positive in it," says "Jonte."
What's the trickiest part of fatherhood?
"I don't really know. I think it's a lot of fun, and that it gets better and better. You get more personal contact and understand how she ticks. That you can make her feel good and smile, and hear her say 'dad'..."
So she's said it?
"She's done it. She said both 'mom' and 'dad' the day I came home from my bachelor party.
Is it more difficult being a father than facing Sidney Crosby one on one?
He smiles and nods slightly.
"No, but hockey's something I've been doing for 25 years. This business of being a father has only been going on for nine months. There are times that you don't understand everything, on the nights she's upset, whether it's dreams or if she's in pain."
Can you see some hockey talent?
"No, she's more suited for basketball or handball. She has a ball that's twice as big as her hand, but she picks it up. It's like she has sticky fingers."
The defensive specialist also admits that his time at home with Liv and Evelina won't be the same this coming winter. On October 10th at 1:30 AM Swedish time, the puck will be dropped at Joe Louis Arena and the 2014-2015 season will start.
But there's a completely different level of security for "Jonte" than there was last year.
"Absolutely, that's it. We felt, both Evelina and I, that we thrive well in Detroit, I'm on the team and she's outside. Looking at many players who are moving around, and might want to try something else, and one of them gets traded between different teams. You never get to a really solid place that I think's important, especially if you have children. It was important for us, anyway," says "Jonte."
Does it feel like you're going to be in Detroit for your entire contract?
"For the first three years, maybe four, I can't be traded if I don't want to be. That was something we wanted to get as part of my contract."
It also shows how much the team believes in him, as he's the first defenseman used in short-handed situations.
"Yes, they trust me there and it's something I enjoy doing. The fact that they wanted to sign me for so long is a sign that they believe in me and it meant a lot about how the next year would look like."
The remaining summer time will involve a lot of preparation. He keeps himself in good shape during the summer, though through the years he's trained fewer hours, for family reasons.
"It's usually me who gets up in the morning and feeds Liv and so on, then I usually work out. There's been a lot of planning to do different things so I try to get in the rhythm that I want," says "Jonte," who also plays a lot of tennis.
"I only did it once. I haven't had the time. There was one weekend we had guests visiting who like to fish."
We pack up and head back toward the mainland. After handshakes and farewells the NHL star and newlywed goes back to the peace of his country home. In just over two months, Jonathan Ericsson will begin his new hockey season with Detroit. Then, with a healthy finger and a new contract, he'll carry a big part of the classic team's future on his shoulders.
There's also a sidebar story as well:
Five Quick Questions:
Vita Hasten [Ericsson's former team] in the headlines: "It's so damn cool that they went up [to the Allsvenskan] and were able to keep some players who were on the team. I follow the team through the winter, maybe not every day in November but I know that they're doing well, and when it's the playoffs, I watch their games on TV. I watched the game when they earned promotion, I was happier than when we win."
Big brother Jimmie's adventures in Russia [with SKA St. Petersburg]: "He's been there for a couple of weeks now. He did get time off for the wedding. They train quite a lot and Jimmie's not the one who likes to work out outside of on-ice training. But he's done well, despite the wear and tear. I believe there's four workouts a day, plus an on-ice practice."
Detroit as a sports city: "I've seen some basketball games, but it's mostly to see Jonas (Jerebko) play. We've gotten to know each other a bit, socialized a little. I follow the other teams (baseball and football) but I can see them on TV."
His Bachelor Party: "My friends came and kidnapped me one morning with no warning. They'd planned it just like 'The Saint,' in every detail. They were successful, they did a fantastic job and I'm grateful for everything they did and prepared for me. I was able to, for example, learn how to fly-board."
Olympic silver in Sochi: "It was really cool. My first Olympics, and you hear from others who've been that it was the absolute bst. I got to play with my brother (Jimmie). I may remember that most of all. It's something to take with you, to tell about. It was really special."
Otherwise...More August 1st-style news:
This is actually somewhat timely: Many Wings fans and Metro Detroiters have wondered aloud why the Ilitches didn't use the revenues from the MotorCity Casino to fund the Wings' follow-on rink instead of drawing public funds.
Crain's Detroit Business posted a Bloomberg News report stating that the casino's owner, Marian Ilitch, and the casino company, CCM Merger Inc., negotiated a new agreement to pay back $490 million in loans by 2021, with the company repaying the rest of the $503 million in total debt in cash. When Ilitch took control of the casino in 2005, it cost $525 million to become the majority stakeholder, and it's had over $300 million in renovations and expansion construction since that time.
It reportedly took in $400 million in yearly revenues in 2005, but that number's declined, and with the debt owed, I've read that it makes a modest profit, but not nearly enough to fund 44% of a $650 million development.
“We were on a Wings tour quite a while ago and when we played Detroit somebody gave me a Red Wings sticker, which I liked the look of, so I stuck it on my guitar and I have kept it there ever since. It does make it a little awkward when I go to places like Pittsburgh and the Mayor of the town offers me a Penguin sticker to put alongside!”
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that the Grand Rapids Griffins' former game-day operations manager has earned an NHL promotion...
Rich Meyers, who created an award-winning atmosphere for Grand Rapids Griffins games, has a bigger palette to work with this upcoming hockey season.
Meyers, a 32-year-old Grand Valley State graduate who served parts of nine seasons with the Griffins, has been named director of game presentation for the Edmonton Oilers. What does that entail?
“It’s wide open,” said Meyers, who began the position July 24. “There are so many aspects of it, that we still have to determine how it will all work. But with a broad stroke, you’re in charge of the show.”
There is a difference between the pregame and between-period entertainment that takes place in the NHL opposed to the AHL.
“With the Griffins, you can do pretty much whatever you want within reason,” Meyers said. “In 18-minute intermissions, we would have contestants off at 12-minute mark, but I’d still have people and mascots firing off T-shirts and hot dogs up to the six-minute mark. In the NHL, you have to get them off at the 14-minute mark and it’s more about the hockey, the NHL. In the AHL, with the Griffins we were selling more the experience.”
Quick update: I know that it's probably "too slow" for you, but today is packing-and-errands day ahead of my first vacation in two years, so I hope you'll forgive me for being "in and out" while hoping that it remains quiet.
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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.