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The Malik Report

Red Wings morning news: on the mysterious Datsyuk and Babcockian pressure

Amongst this morning's relatively brief slate of Red Wings-related stories:

Ahead of today's Slovakia-Russia game (7:30 AM EST, USA Network; the Americans are battling Slovenia on NBCSN), I've been searching for the best way to explain the reasons that we have yet to witness the veil lifted from Pavel Datsyuk's status as an incredibly private person, even after HBO's 24/7 cameras followed the team for a full month.

Here's my explanation:

"When people get upset about things like Pavel Datsyuk not clarifying the extent of his injuries or, say, those pesky political beliefs, I don't know if they understand that no amount of questioning is going to get Datsyuk to 'crack' on an issue he doesn't want to address. That's not the fault of a 'lazy' reporter asking the 'wrong questions' or the fault of a language barrier; absent some sort of legally-or-contractually-required level of disclosure, the man has proven to have Tomas Holmstrom's touch in terms of deflecting questions that he doesn't want to answer, in both English and Russian, so there is simply a great deal that we will never know about Pavel Datsyuk, because that's exactly how Pavel Datsyuk wants it to be."

I at least received some reinforcement regarding my perspective via this article from "Russia Beyond the Headlines'" Leo Zaytsev, praising Datsyuk as the, "Intellectual might of the Red Machine":

Ahead of the Sochi Olympics, the Russian forward has attracted the attention not just of the sporting world, but also of various corporations that are also preparing for the games. Datsyuk has become the face of Visa, and also appears in ads for the Russian telecom company Megaphone. In an ad that is being widely aired on Russian TV, the Red Machine defeats the Canadians and Americans. A line of t-shirts with the caption “Moves like Datsyuk” was launched last autumn, and they are now available from numerous online stores.

Given Datsyuk’s status as a universal favorite, he has managed to keep his private life out of the spotlight. Not much is known about Datsyuk's background beyond this: When he was 15, his mother Galina died of cancer. His father Valery was a mechanic; he died of a heart attack in 2005. Datsyuk has an 11-year-old daughter, Yelizaveta, who lives in Yekaterinburg with his ex-wife Svetlana.

Despite his life story, Datsyuk has the reputation of a person with an open soul and strong character who is a real patriot of his club and his homeland. If the Russian team does pull out a gold medal in the Olympics, it will be thanks to the leadership of Pavel Datsyuk.

Datsyuk will happily tell Sovetsky Sport, Sport-Express or other publications which books (plural) he's reading during a given week, he'll share his taste for documentary films and reading the words of motivational speakers, he'll tease us with his dry sense of humor, and he can't exactly hide the Russian Orthodox icons in his locker, but we still don't really know the entirety of his personality, and that has nothing to do with his status as a late-second-language-learner.

As such, I kind of have to shake my head at this wisely-aimed jab by the Free Press's Steve Schrader, because it's funny, but it's not necessarily accurate:

The "Lost in Translation" award

To Pavel Datsyuk, who scored both of Russia’s goals in a 3-2 loss to the U.S. So he’s even better when he understands what the coach is saying.

Every indication suggests that Datsyuk understands English far, far better than he speaks it. He's just a very private person.

Datsyuk's Swedish teammates taking part in the Olympic games are taking a day off as their preliminary round games are over...

And the Free Press's Helene St. James, who reported that Henrik Zetterberg should fly home on Tuesday if the herniated disc in his back continues to settle down, is busy as well...

So my only Swedish-language story of note today involves Daniel Alfredsson talking with Expressen's Oscar Brostrom, Axel Ohlsson and Carl Juborg (via RedWingsFeed) about the Swedish women's ski relay...

"We saw a replay of the final sprint. There were goose bumps. Really cool when you get so far behind and just before the final stretch pull over. It was powerful," said Daniel Alfredsson.

"We met Charlotte Kalla during lunch and congratulated her. She seemed very humble and praised her teammates. This suggests greatness."

The ladies relay'sroad to the gold medal has inspired Tre Kronor.

"It is a real kick for the entire Swedish squad. It gives you the feeling that it's never over. Although it looks tough, you have to give it your iron-clad best. Then you know that no matter what happens, you've left everything on the field, says Alfredsson," and he continues: "We will take it with us."

And while Red Wings coach and Team Canada bench boss Mike Babcock is taking a ton of flak for starting Carey Price and sitting P.K. Subban and Martin St. Louis for today's game against Finland (12 PM EST, USA Network, CBC), the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa notes that Babcock is operating under the same principles that he does in Detroit.

He's enjoying the pressure and scrutiny he faces as a high-profile team's coach, but at the same time, neither he nor Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman are preaching anything less than patience or a team and country that analyze every shift as if the future of the country depends on it:

The closest thing to an issue to which Yzerman was asked to respond was about players risking injury. But they already knew he is a big advocate of allowing players to play in the Olympics, and that he played with pain for seasons at a time, and devastating pain to win his last of three Stanley Cups in 2002.

“The guys want to be here, playing in the Olympics,” he said. “It is the opportunity of a lifetime. Injuries happen. A guy can get hurt just walking across the street.”

About the closest thing to criticism, or a question with a little edge to it, came when Babcock was asked if he gave the guys a day off because he and his group of coaches were so overly prepared the boys who skate could not much take it anymore. Was it information overload?

Amid the exhausting NHL schedule, he said, “You fly over here, you jam them full of information, and then you practice them too hard. We practiced 56 minutes the day before our first game. That would never happen in the NHL, at least not if I was running the team,” he said. “Everybody needs to breathe.”

We've heard that before, but fans never listen...

And Babcock's comments during today's media availability were similarly predictable, as the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno noted:

Members of Team Canada watched the thriller between the United States and Russia as fans of hockey, while still realizing the tough task ahead on the road to an Olympic gold medal.

“Tournament on,” coach Mike Babcock said. “They don’t give out these medals. You’ve got to earn it, and it’s at a high, high level.”


The entire game was a preview of what’s to come for Canada as this becomes a one-game elimination tournament.

“I loved it,” Babcock said. “I thought it was gratifying. When you see other teams being good, you’re excited because you came here to compete. We’re going to have compete.”

Patrick Marleau knows from watching U.S.-Russia in person for two periods and then on television the rest of the way that “the intensity’s just going to keep ramping up.” After facing Finland Sunday to wrap up preliminary round, Canada will either get a bye into the quarter-finals or have to play against an overmatched opponent in a qualification game.

After that, it gets serious.

“Just get your own team prepared and try to maximize each and every day,” Babcock said. “That’s what I do.”

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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.