The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/29/13 at 09:39 AM ET
Updated 5x at 12:06 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will have their hands full when they battle the New York Islanders this afternoon (4 PM EST, FSD/MSG Plus/97.1 FM; don't expect a "morning skate" for either team), but today's game definitely feels like something of an appetizer for Saturday's media maelstrom in Ottawa and Sunday's Alfredsson Returns to Ottawa affair (5 PM EST, FSD/TSN, and there's some sort of Alfredsson video tribute in the works, too).
The fact that the Senators dropped a 5-2 decision to Vancouver on Thursday night--and the fact that the goalie controversy-inducing loss is the Senators' last game until Sunday's tilt--should yield a wee bit of worry for the Wings given that Ottawa's 6-1 and 4-2 wins over the Wings at the Joe yield a combined 10-3 margin of defeat.
The Wings won't have Pavel Datsyuk or Todd Bertuzzi's services this weekend, either, and Datsyuk's statement that he just doesn't quite feel right yet, almost a week after Jared Cowen elbowed Datsyuk in the jaw, is plain old scary.
The Senators' coach sounded like his former mentor while describing his team's 5-2 loss to Vancouver to the Canadian Press...
Clarke MacArthur and Mika Zibanejad scored for the Senators (10-12-4). Craig Anderson allowed four goals on 15 shots before being replaced by Robin Lehner, who allowed one goal on 13 shots.
With the loss the Senators, who beat the Washington Capitals 6-4 on Wednesday, are now 0-4-1 when playing back-to-back nights.
Senators coach Paul MacLean said his team deserved the loss.
"We got what we earned," said MacLean. "(Wednesday) night we got what we earned and 26 times a year so far we've gotten what we've earned whether that was wins or losses. Every night we've earned it and (Thursday) we earned it again."
MacLean added the Sens continue to make too many mistakes.
"We don't play hard enough on the forecheck. We don't play hard enough coming back. We don't play hard enough defensively. Our goaltenders aren't playing hard enough. We're just not playing hard enough for long enough to have an opportunity to win."
And NHL.com's Sean Farrell..
There are 18 other guys that are out there playing," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "They're giving up lots of things too. By the time it gets to him, there's a lot of things going on, so it's way too easy just to stand there and say that it's the goalie's fault, because it's not. It's everybody's fault. Everybody is to blame and we have to find a way together to fix it."
It was the first of two meetings between the two Canadian teams this year. The Canucks will host Ottawa on March 2 at BC Place in the Tim Hortons 2014 Heritage Classic.
The Senators overcame a two-goal deficit for a 6-4 win against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday to return from a 2-1-0 road trip. They welcome the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday in former captain Daniel Alfredsson's first game back in Ottawa.
On Sunday at about 5:30 p.m. ET, Alfredsson will step on an ice surface he owned for many seasons, in front of a fan base that thought he could do no wrong for so long. Hockey life in Ottawa has changed and even the arena’s name is different.
How fans will react, nobody quite knows, but it would be worth the fans' time to spend more effort cheering than booing. That should also include a lengthy standing ovation.
The Senators' decision on a tribute is also an interesting move. They have not revealed much besides the fact it will take place before puck drop. Reports say Alfredsson, who spent 17 seasons with the Sens, will also bring his family back to their long-time home. It would be nice to see them on the ice, too.
There are few players who stick with a franchise for so long, especially without winning a Stanley Cup. Ray Bourque is the best example and he didn't win a cup until he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. Boston Bruins fans adore Bourque just as much as Bobby Orr and Cam Neely.
Fans here love Alfie still, which is clear in listening to the general consensus in previous news stories. There are also too many unknowns in this divorce for Sens fans to come down on a man who was previously put on a pedestal.
I think he also offers an accurate assessment of how Alfredsson's tenure with Detroit is viewed from Ottawa--a little...Inaccurately:
On the surface, Alfredsson has not been a game-changer this year. He has battled back and groin injuries — a familiar sight for Sens fans — but he still has 16 points in 21 games
Many Red Wings fans would argue that the Wings play a much more decisive game with Alfredsson on the ice, and I'd suggest that the resurgence of the ings' power play could be equally credited to Tom Renney and the players working hard to resuscitate it and Alfredsson joining the fray.
I've done my best to respect the fact that Senators fans are dealing with a Sergei Fedorov-style messy divorce from a franchise icon cranked up to Steve Yzerman-like levels, and I understand that this weekend represents closure for both the Senators, their players, their fans, their ownership, their fans and especially Alfredsson...
But I'm also a Wings blogger and a Wings fan who's watched the Senators defeat "my team" twice and one of their players get away with concussing my team's most important player, so I must admit that I don't plan on keeping my elbow tucked in
as we all read about and watch what's surely going to be a bizarre weekend in Canada's capital.
But those of us who are familiar with dysfunctional government as opposed to dysfunctional team ownership can't help but find it...Fitting...That the Toronto Sun and Toronto Star report that the famous mayor Rob Ford wants to attend the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, MI, but his admission of having imbibed a controlled substance that happens to be illegal in the U.S. could have Mr. Ford turned away from the border at the Ambassador Bridge or Detroit-Windsor Tunnel if the customs agent he happens to speak with feels that Ford's statements serve as legal grounds to prevent him from entering the United States.
I'm not going to comment on the "substance" of said articles because the sensationalism and utter stupidity surrounding them are at Kwame Kilpatrick-like levels, and as a Detroit-born Southeastern Michigander who's all too familiar with Detroit and Wayne County's dysfunctional and sometimes inherently corrupt political systems and "public servants," I have had more than my lethal lifetime dose of this bullshit.
None of the Ford stuff holds any interest to me. I grew up having a father who worked for Wayne County and in the City of Detroit as a probation officer when mayor Coleman Young was selling off snowplows for personal gain and county executive Ed McNamara was stuffing so much county money into his and his friends' pockets that a certain Bernard Kilpatrick was among an inner circle of incredibly upwardly-mobile right-hand men (and Detroit's current mayor happened to serve as a deputy County Executive under Mr. McNamara), and I heard all of the salacious stories about what was "really going on" at the city and county levels for as long as I can remember m father speaking with me, so it's all fluffernutter as far as I'm concerned.
In news regarding a person who's dealing with substance abuse issues and other problems related to psychological and physiological issues, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa reported that Darren McCarty's soon-to-be-published memoir is brutally honest in terms of its discussion of McCarty's readily-admitted status as a person who battles addictions and addictive behaviors.
I happen to admire his honesty, and I also really admire the fact that McCarty and Mrs. McCarty #3 smartly chose to make an investment in their physical, mental, emotional and social health in moving away from a Metro Detroit Area in which so many Wings fans want to buy Hockeytown's most famous folk hero a beer, but McCarty's coming back to town for a book tour.
DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson spoke with McCarty regarding his book...
“The point in my life that I’m at, I wanted to sit down and tell my story,” explained McCarty. “I’ve gone through so much, people have an idea, people think they know, but they hear so much, I just wanted to get the truth out there and that’s what this book is, pretty much my truth.”
“My Last Fight” will bring both laughter and tears to readers, and although some stories were more difficult than others for McCarty to share, he didn’t shy away from anything.
“If you’re going to bare your soul about your drug use, your alcohol use, your bankruptcy, marriages, infidelity, all that – it’s going to be tough,” McCarty said. “But then there’s some great hockey stories, different ones with a lot of my teammates, some road-trip stories, some junior stories, other stories that are funny that I think people will get a kick out of.”
Good, bad, and everything in between, McCarty can’t help but feel surreal about putting 15 years of emotional memories and experiences down on paper for the entire world to see.
“Yeah, a lot of it does, especially rehashing it all and realizing how time goes by so quick,” McCarty said. “Things get out of control and then you think back about what you’d do differently. You reflect back on it. I think that’s the biggest thing I realized while doing it, how quickly time flies.”
DARREN McCARTY'S MICHIGAN BOOK-SIGNINGS
DATE TIME LOCATION ADDRESS
Dec. 3 7-9 p.m. Barnes & Noble 3120 Fairlane Drive, Allen Park
Dec. 4 7-9 p.m. Barnes & Noble 3235 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor
Dec. 7 11 a.m.-1 p.m. COSTCO 27118 Gratiot Ave., Roseville
Dec. 8 1-3 p.m. BARNES & NOBLE 14165 Hall Road, Shelby Twp.
Dec. 14 1-3 p.m. Barnes & Noble 396 John R., Troy
In the subjective summations department, MLive's Brendan Savage notes that those who posit lists of power rankings are believers in delayed recognition of team efforts, as illustrated in Savage's summation of this week's lists of power rankings (and I'll leave reading the rest of Savage's article up to you)...
The Detroit Red Wings are holding their own in the NHL standings despite a recent slide that has seen them post a 3-3-5 record in their last 11 games.
But the same can't be said for the NHL Power Rankings.
The Red Wings are down virtually across the board and check in at No. 16 this week in MLive's NHL Power Rankings.
And NHL.com's Corey Masisak just happened to post a Thanksgiving-themed set of power rankings this morning:
14. Detroit Red Wings (12-7-7) LW: 14
THANKFUL FOR: Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have been great, and the Red Wings have finally found room for Gustav Nyquist, who has added a jolt to the forward corps and the offense in general.
WISH LIST: Detroit needs some decent luck with injuries on defense. Jimmy Howard can be better as well, but injuries have wreaked havoc on the back end and the team's cap situation isn't likely to allow GM Ken Holland to look for outside solutions.
Not until at or near the trade deadline, anyway, and that's the case for the vast majority of the Wings' opponents, too.
MUST READ: Mike Babcock still believes in Howard, Brian Hedger writes.
Some of the Wings' fans might not believe in Howard these days, but Howard's teammates and coach do, and again, Howard's gone to extreme measures by goalie standards ahead of today's start (Babcock told the Wings' press corps that Jonas Gustavsson will start against Ottawa, which makes sense given that Howard was in the net for both of the Wings' losses to the Sens) on Long Island, via MLive's Ansar Khan and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
I believe that's what Ray Bishop will call a "rush job."
If you wish to read NHL.com's Vassili Ossipov's assessment of what the most "political" hockey team in recent memory in Russia's 2014 Olympic Team will look like (see: Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak is the GM because Igor Larionov turned the job down, mostly because the FHR refused to grant Larionov guarantees that his player personnel decisions and even his and/or the coach's decisions as to which players would play would be free of political interference. The Sochi Games are Vladimir Putin's baby, taking place in the location of his "summer residency," and it is entirely possible, if not probable, that players who are in the KHL or Putin's good graces will earn letters on their jerseys and more ice time), you may most certainly do so on your own...
And this very strange entry might as well be wrapped up with some Winter Classic hype, via RedWingsFeed:
NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan appeared on NHL Live Wednesday to explain the league’s decision not to suspend Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen for his elbow to the chin that injured Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk last Saturday. Shanahan called it a tough decision, one that he and his department needed to make quickly because the Senators were playing at 5 p.m. the next day.
“We really thought he was trying to get a piece of Datsyuk to hold him up to not let him go by and inadvertently got him with the elbow,’’ Shanahan told NHL Live. “We go on the information we had at the time. We had to make a quick decision. Datsyuk played the remainder of that game.
“But we can’t always look into a crystal ball, and here we are a few days later and there’s a serious injury and no one feels worse, other than maybe Pavel and the Red Wings, than the department of player safety.’’
“I called (Red Wings general manager) Ken Holland and spoke to him and said we didn’t think there was the type of intention,’’ Shanahan said. “He’s upset his player is out … but we didn’t think there was enough recklessness or intent.
“It was a combination of Datsyuk stopping and lowering his head and this wasn’t simply a predator-like elbow. It was a player hitting an elbow as (the opponent) is stretching his arm out to try and stop Datsyuk from beating him, which is natural reflex for a defenseman.’’
I would argue that a recklessly-placed elbow, even if not intentional, should be treated the same way as the NHL treats recklessly-placed knees that happen to collide with other players' knees--as dangerous, penalizable and suspendible offenses, because it certainly seems like players are almost inevitably injured when their opponents try to "catch a guy" with a body part (skate, knee, thigh, hip, butt, lower back, elbow, glove, stick held by glove or shoulder) "thrown" at players who are "beating" the offender.
This isn't the game that McCarty played, and as far as I'm concerned, if we're going to place responsibility upon players who are recklessly checking opponents in the head from the "blind side," behind and face to face, inadvertent but still intentional contact has to be cracked down upon, too.
I know that the NHL had less than 24 hours with which to render a decision regarding a player whose health was in question and against an elbow that was the result of a reflexive action, but that reflex needs to be gotten out of the game, and I still believe that Shanahan and whoever else makes up the department of player safety--people like Rob Blake, Kris King, Mike Murphy, etc.--goofed here, and goofed in a big way.
Update #2: Free advertising:
Update #4: FYI:
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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.