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Red Wings off-day news: on the Alumni Showdown training camp, Drake, Avery, Babcock and Kronwall

Updated 3x at 5:10 PM: Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings-related news stories:

To summarize earlier "stuff':

In "New News"...

It looks like Datsyuk joined Joey Kocur, Kris Draper and Chris Chelios, among others, as the Wings' Alums practiced in the first installment of the Draper-run alumni training camp leading up to the Winter Classic's Alumni Showdown games on December 31st:

Another alum taking part in the festivities, former Wing and Traverse City resident Dallas Drake, spoke with WDFN's Matt Sheppard about taking part in the event:

Also in the alumni department, the Hockey News's Adam Proteau told a hell of a story about a certain Sean Avery getting the "what for" from Brett Hull during the 2001-2002 season:

It was the 2001-02 season – Sean Avery’s rookie NHL campaign – and his Detroit Red Wings were taking on the defending-champion Colorado Avalanche. Avery’s reputation as a big-time trash-talker already was well established from his formative years in the Ontario League – and when Avs captain and Hockey Hall-of-Famer Joe Sakic lined up near the Wings bench before a faceoff, Avery stood up and yelled at Sakic to get his attention.

However, in the two or three seconds it took Sakic to turn his head toward Avery, Red Wings veteran and star winger Brett Hull stood up, reached around another Detroit player, grabbed Avery by the back of the jersey and unceremoniously yanked him back to the seated position before he could utter another word.

“You do not get to talk to Mr. Sakic,” Hull said.

And that was that.

“I was like, ‘Look, you have not earned the right or anything else to be able to talk to Joe Sakic in any manner,’ ” Hull said in a phone conversation late last week. “No matter what (Avery) was going to say, it was not going to be good.”

Even though Sakic was a key member of a team with which the Wings had developed a heated rivalry, Avery was not going to be allowed to drag things into the gutter. This was hockey policing itself without an enforcer.

“With the guys we had on our team – myself, Brendan (Shanahan) and Stevie (Yzerman) – guys played hard and played to win, but when we played Colorado and all the other great teams, we had a lot of respect for them,” Hull said. “They were champions and unbelievable players. And I just never believed in all that chirping anyway.”

 

 

 

In terms of the present-day Wings, looking back at last night's 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, the Score's Justin Bourne both posted the Alfredsson tribute video...

And had this to say about a particular Alfredsson comment:

It’s really a bizarre concept, the whole “getting cheered for playing hockey” thing. Obviously the sport is a huge part of a lot of people’s lives, but it’s still refreshing to hear when a player recognizes that “Holy hell, I’m not sure if I deserve all this love and adoration for shooting a hockey puck into a net.” Here’s another quote from Daniel Alfredsson yesterday:

Well, it’s hard to describe. How do you feel you deserve to be cheered on like that after all you do is play hockey? It’s kind of surreal at times to have that feeling, but it’s a mutual feeling. I feel I definitely respect this city, this team as well, and I thought once the puck dropped the crowd also did the right thing and cheered on their team.

Things went as good as they possibly could for Alfredsson (which makes being polite and humble easier), but still. Good to see that he’s not one of those players who believes he’s entitled to being bathed in affection for his hockey skill.

You may "read into" the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy's editorializing of last night's win as you wish to do...

Essential Water Cooler: Daniel Alfredsson put the dagger into the Ottawa Senators last night, scoring an empty-net goal to seal Detroit’s 4-2 victory over the Swedish legend’s old squad. Some Ottawa fans still feel like he put a dagger in the franchise’s heart when he left via free agency over the summer. But Alfie is clearly on a better team now and does have a better shot at that elusive Stanley Cup. Is it fair for the folks of Bytown to still harbor a grudge?

And ESPN posted a few stats related to last night's win:

Red Wings 4, Senators 2
* Daniel Alfredsson (DET): Goal, assist; first game as visitor in Ottawa (played first 17 seasons with Senators)
* Drew Miller (DET): two goals; entered game with two goals this season
* Red Wings: won four straight

In the "optional reading" department, you may read the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno's take on the Senators' "competitiveness," which includes an Alfredsson comment, on your own, and this photo from CBS Detroit speaks for itself:

 

 

 

In another day-after-the-game article, but in the Mike Babcock corner, MLive's Ansar Khan took note of Babcock and Niklas Kronwall's comments regarding the Red Wings' leadership group's performance during the Wings' incredibly difficult stretch during November's first three weeks...

“Just playing patient and suddenly we’re scoring,’’ Babcock said Sunday, following a 4-2 win over the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.

The Red Wings went winless in seven games overall (0-2-5) from Nov. 4-19 and went winless in eight consecutive home games (0-2-6) from Oct. 21 to Nov. 19. They’ve navigated that rough patch nicely, however. With 35 points, the Red Wings (14-7-7) are third in the Eastern Conference, just three points behind the leading Boston Bruins.

Babcock credited the leadership.

“You got to give (Henrik) Zetterberg and Datsyuk and (Niklas) Kronwall and the leadership group lots of credit,’’ Babcock said. “When things went bad for our team we stuck together and just kept going.’’

He noted his team has only three regulation losses in its past 17 games (8-3-6).

“It’s easy to let doubt creep in and it’s easy to lose focus and start blaming people,’’ Babcock said. “Our guys didn’t do that. They just kept working and I think we’re probably a better team for the adversity now.’’

Kronwall said staying positive during the winless stretch was a key.

“We’ve been doing a lot of good things as a whole but we just didn’t get the puck luck,’’ Kronwall said. “We’ve been trying to work hard and stick with it. When you do that long enough the bounces turn around. We’ve been doing a lot of good things in our own zone. That’s where it starts and that leads to good offense.’’

And ESPN's Pierre LeBrun spoke to Babcock about his "other job" in attempting to build Team Canada's roster ahead of coaching the team at the 2014 Olympics:

And just like that, we enter the final month of Olympic auditioning.

"All of sudden it's December, I thought of that today, I was texting with the coaches, a bunch of stuff today, we were going back and forth," Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock told ESPN.com Sunday before Detroit’s game against the Ottawa Senators. "It's getting closer, but I really like the fact they moved the date."

It's ironic, really, that while Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic pushed the IIHF last week to extend the Olympic roster announcement deadline, no country will likely benefit more than Canada, which has the deepest talent pool to choose from and the harder decisions that come with it.

So with the IIHF, NHL and NHLPA agreeing to push the date from Dec. 31 to Jan. 7, it gives Team Canada another week to evaluate some of the players battling for those final few spots Team USA is sticking with its Jan. 1 announcement at the conclusion of the Winter Classic.

"What it does is that it gives the players more time to decide who is on the team," Babcock said. "To me, that’s what it's all about. We just watch them, but they decide (with their play)."

LeBrun continues, but the rest is optional reading...

 

 

 

In the fantasy hockey department, NHL.com's Matt Sitkoff duly notes that poolies might want to snag a certain undefeated Red Wings back-up goaltender...

Jonas Gustavsson, Detroit Red Wings (owned in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- As our goalie expert wrote in detail about the rise of "The Monster", Gustavsson followed it up with another stellar performance Sunday against Ottawa and has a 7-0-1 record this season, stealing time from Jimmy Howard. The Red Wings have three games scheduled this week (PHI, @NJD, FLA) and with one back-to-back scheduled for Friday and Saturday expect the 6-3 goalie to get a shot at keeping his perfect record intact.

The Wings have back-to-backs Friday and Saturday and on the 14th and 15th against the Penguins and Lightning, so I'd suggest that you'll get at least 2 starts out of Gustavsson and probably a 3rd given that they'll be playing 11 games in 20 days.

As Yahoo Sports' Darryl Dobbs notes, Johan Franzen's got his mule ass in gear, too:

Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings – RW – 75% Owned: Franzen had posted just six points in his last 11 games going into last week, but he has now exploded for seven points in four contests. The beauty of Franzen’s rough-and-tumble game is that he can help you in other areas besides the score sheet. In addition to the points and 11 shots, he added five hits to go along four blocks. And if your playoff pool has a ‘Sweet Beard’ category, Franzen is worth hanging onto.

 

 

 

In "Tangentially-related Red Wings news," USA Today's Kevin Allen is a Michigander through and through. These days he lives in Ann Arbor, he's the president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and he's more or less considered the dean of American hockey writers.

He's being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame tonight in Detroit, as the winner of the Lester Patrick Award, and here's what he has to say about the honor...

I was in New York when I was told about winning the Lester Patrick, and I didn't tell my wife over the phone. I waited until I saw her the next day and then it took me two tries to get the words out.

Since this award has been announced, I have been asked several times to list my career highlights and I have been more inclined to detail my favorite journalism experiences than provide a list of my scoops and best stories.

For example, in the 1980s, Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne was miffed and disappointed about something I wrote and he called my home to complain. The problem was my then 4-year-old daughter Erin answered the phone. I heard her gabbing for several minutes, and when I who she was talking to she said "Mr. Dionne" as if he she had known him for several years.When I grabbed the phone, Dionne said he had been mad about the story, but he couldn't be mad anymore after talking to my daughter.

It's funny what you remember, like the time then-Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers, angry at something that had been written in Montreal, decreed that USA TODAY was the only newspaper that was allowed in the Montreal dressing room. All others were banned. Montreal media called me for comment. What do I say to that?Years later, Demers was introducing me to one of his friends, and he told the man that we had known each other since "1932 or 1933" and then roared with laughter.

The NHL is a sport for men with hard edges, but it has its soft side. When my daughter, Kelsey, was seriously ill and had to be air-lifted from Ecuador to Miami, my cell phone blew up with calls from players, general managers and NHL executives. Commissioner Gary Bettman was the first person to call.

I also recall standing outside a locker room in Davos, Switzerland, interviewing Rick Nash during the first lockout and laughing aloud as Nash did what was essentially a 45-second comedy routine about players of the game in Davos receiving a new pillow and that he was envious that Joe Thornton had won two pillows and he only had one. "Hey," he said. "They are nice pillows."

You had to be there. And I have been everywhere, man. Covering hockey has taken me to Japan, Norway, France, Switzerland, Austria and the Arctic Circle, among other places.

There's no doubt that my all-time favorite assignment was my trip to the Canadian province of Nunavut, up on the Hudson Bay, to write about Jordin Tootoo, the first Inuit to play in the NHL.

And I strongly suggest that you continue reading his story...

 

 

 

We'll wrap things up with some multimedia: Via RedWingsFeed, the Grand Rapids Griffins posted their "Fall 2013 Player Introduction Video"...

And here's Niklas Kronwall's interview with The Fan 590 from earlier today:

I can only call Nick Kypreos's immediately-after-Kronwall-hung-up comment that Kronwall is not a #1 defenseman a "dick move."

Update: The "Not a #1 defenseman" was profiled by DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:

Kronwall is off to the finest start of his 10-season career, leading the Red Wings’ defense with three goals and 21 points, which ties him for fourth with Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien among all league blue-liners.

For the second consecutive week, Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin was the league's top star, leading all skaters with nine points in four games.

Last week, Kronwall posted a trio of multi-point games with a goal and five assists in leading the Red Wings to three wins. He scored his third goal of the season – all of his goals have come on the power play – and added an assist in a 6-1 victory over Boston Bruins last Wednesday. Kronwall then posted a pair of two-assist games: in a 5-0 win over the New York Islanders last Friday and in a 4-2 victory at Ottawa on Sunday.

The 32-year-old has two goals and nine points during a six-game point streak dating to Nov. 21, including assists in five consecutive games. He missed two games in October with a concussion after a hard hit by Colorado’s Cody McLeod knock him out of the game in Denver on Oct. 18.

Since the Red Wings’ old guard of solid defensemen has departed, players like Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson have gained greater responsibility and leadership roles on the ice and in the team’s locker room. And it certainly hasn’t been easy this year amidst a slew of injuries along the blue line. Only Jakub Kindl and Kyle Quincey have appeared in all 28 games for the Red Wings, making it necessary for youngsters like Xavier Ouellet and Adam Almquist to make their NHL debuts.

“If you start being negative and you start feeling sorry for yourself, you're not really gaining anything,” Kronwall said last week. “All you're doing it digging the hole even deeper for yourself. In here, it's about trying to stay positive and think about the good things that we've been doing and really work on that and learn from the mistakes that we have been doing. Just stay positive and keep believing in the process."

 

 

Update #2: FYI:

And Griffinshockey.com's Alan Cross penned a story about the complicated situation that is a Grand Rapids Griffins team loaded with "veterans" when the AHL's "veteran rule" only allows 5 of their 7 vets to play on any given night:

Being stocked with accomplished veteran players comes with both its benefits and drawbacks for the Griffins. Per the AHL’s definition, seven players on the team qualify as “veterans”: Patrick Eaves, [Cory] Emmerton, Brennan Evans, Triston Grant, Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Jordin Tootoo. Eaves and Tootoo were sent to the Griffins from the Wings on consecutive days in mid-November, also as a result of Detroit’s cap-relief efforts.

While experience is never a bad thing, each team in the AHL is essentially restricted to dressing only five veteran players each game in order to maintain its purpose as a developmental league.

The AHL’s development rule states:

“Of the 18 skaters (not counting two goaltenders) that teams may dress for a game, at least 13 must be qualified as "development players". Of those 13, 12 must have played in 260 or fewer professional games (including AHL, NHL and European elite leagues), and one must have played in 320 or fewer professional games. All calculations for development status are based on regular-season totals as of the start of the season.”

The arrivals of Eaves and Tootoo tipped the scales in terms of the older/younger player balance on the team. Grand Rapids’ veteran players continue to sit out on a rotating basis, but, based on early-season success, it hasn’t noticeably affected team chemistry. And it definitely has not affected Emmerton, who has sat out only once, on Nov. 22 vs. Iowa.

The Griffins’ success so far has been a joint effort, a perfect storm of talent and leadership between the players and coaches. Emmerton finds that the coaching styles between Mike Babcock in Detroit and Jeff Blashill in Grand Rapids are consistent, yielding results on both ends of the spectrum. It has helped him to easily transition into his expanded role.

“I think the biggest thing is that they’re very similar in the way that they teach the systems they want to run and what they expect from everyone,” said Emmerton.

Cross focuses on Emmerton, who's doing OK and is at least being paid his NHL salary.

 

 

Update #3: The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness confirms Datsyuk's status...

Wings general manager Ken Holland said, via text message, that Datsyuk, who’s suffering from concussion-like symptoms, will need a good week of practice before being cleared to play. Holland didn’t know if Datsyuk would be able to practice with the team Tuesday.

He last skated last Wednesday before leaving the ice after roughly 10 minutes.

“(I’m not where) I am supposed to be,” Datsyuk said last week. “I’m starting slowly, going with the program.”

Datsyuk, who won’t play Friday or Sunday, skated roughly 15 minutes Wednesday before many of his teammates got on the ice.

Datsyuk did not make the Wings’ recent two-game road trip and will miss his fifth straight game when Detroit hosts Philadelphia Wednesday.

Datsyuk suffered his injury on Nov. 23 after taking an elbow to the jaw late in third period by Ottawa defenseman Jared Cowan.

Holland also said that Todd Bertuzzi could probably return to play this week. Bertuzzi has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury.

And the Grand Rapids Griffins made a player swap, recalling Nick Jensen from the ECHL's Toledo Walleye on Saturday and, per the Griffins' PR department, sending Richard Nedomlel to Toledo:

The Detroit Red Wings on Monday reassigned defenseman Richard Nedomlel from the Grand Rapids Griffins to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

Nedomlel, 20, has appeared in three contests with the Griffins, registering two penalty minutes and one shot on goal. The 6-foot-5, 231-pound defenseman has skated in four games with the Walleye this season, producing two points (1-1—2), two shots on goal and 18 penalty minutes. Nedomlel recorded his first professional point on Oct. 30 with a goal in Toledo’s 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones.

The Griffins (15-4-1-1) will battle the Rochester Americans in back-to-back tilts this weekend at Van Andel Arena, first at 7 p.m. on Friday and second at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

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That Sean Avery story made my day. lol.

Posted by lancer on 12/02/13 at 03:53 PM ET

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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.