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The Malik Report

Red Wings overage: on Nastasiuk, Alfredsson and ‘Samme’

I literally ran out of bandwidth in the overnight report, and I've had an adventurous night (in the bad sense of the term), so here's some "Red Wings overage."

The Owen Sound Sun Times' Bill Walker reports that Red Wings prospect Zach Nastasiuk received marching orders of a sort when he departed training camp:

"They want me to be more explosive in my first three strides," the Owen Sound power forward said prior to scoring in the Attack's 4-2 loss to London on Wednesday in Ontario Hockey League play.  "It's not going to happen overnight. It's a process and I'm committed to it. I just have to keep doing what I'm doing and keep getting better each night."

The Attack are also committed to seeing Nastasiuk improve his skating.

"Having been in the minor leagues (as a coach) for so many years, it's what we were telling a lot of prospects," Attack coach Greg Ireland said. "We don't want to wait until he (Nastasiuk) is 22 or 23 (years old) in the American Hockey League. If we can aid that process now it will put him ahead of the curve."

Nastasiuk and his Attack teammates have been getting extra help from local power-skating instructor Denise Reid. Ireland noted Nastasiuk is also working on agility and quickness in skills sessions with assistant Daniel Tkaczuk.

"It's skating, it's quickness, it's agility," said Ireland. "He's got to get to be a little quicker, a little faster and a little stronger on his feet."

Nastasiuk had a break-out season last year, scoring 20 goals and adding 20 assists in 62 games. He capped it off with 11 points in 12 playoff games. That was enough for Detroit, which chose Nastasiuk in the second round, 48th overall, in June's National Hockey League entry draft.

"Getting drafted is one thing but going (to Detroit's camp) and seeing (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg and how they go about things on and off the ice really shows you what it takes to be a professional," said Nastasiuk. "I was a little bit star struck when main camp started but I just tried to focus on my game and make a good first impression."

I didn't know that Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman was in attendance for Daniel Alfredsson's debut, but he was indeed in attendance at the Joe. His blog entries for the game are an adventure to read in translated Swedish, but I hope I can make some sense of his interview with Daniel Alfredsson (though what follows is roughly translated):

"I think it looked a little weird out there..."

Ottawa icon Alfredsson on life in a new jersey: "Nice to be anonymous."

Detroit: Daniel Alfredsson thinks like everyone else does. It's strange to see him in another jersey other than the one he wore over 17 glorious seasons in Ottawa.

"During the games in the preseason, I haven't thought much about it, because you're involved in what you're doing, but when I saw pictures on TV afterwards, I think it looked a little weird, ha ha," says the 40-year-old legend to Sportbladet on the night before his much-discussed debut with the Detroit Red Wings.

Yes, tonight's extraordinary and remarkable. After 17 seasons and 1,178 games(!) as the central figure on the Ottawa Senators, Daniel Alfredsson's skating out onto the ice at Joe Louis Arena as a player for the Detroit Red Wings.

It's sure to be a strange sight. Difficult to get used to--even for Daniel himself. He's said that while scratching at his ruddy--and newly-grown--beard when he saw tv images after preseason games.

"It's similar wherever you are"

When changing your environment after almost two decades, the transition must be huge.

"Yes and no, I would say. For me, it's not much of a difference in terms of the part about getting to the rink and working out and being with the guys. It's pretty easy to get into a locker room in the hockey world, it's the same wherever you are," says "Alfie" when we meet him in the new locker room.

He continues: "However, there's been a lot elsewhere, moving the whole family, and finding a house, and finding schools and sports teams for the kids, getting a new license and fixing the things that are different in the U.S. as compared to Canada. It's become much more than I had imagined, and it's been educational, but also a bit tough, actually. On the other hand I knew that it was part of the challenge, and I really haven't regretted my decision. It's really fun to try something new."

Another major difference is that the 40-year-old Gothenburg native, who, on Saturday, moved into a house in the small suburb of Birmingham, where many of the Swedish-born Red Wings live, he can go out and shop in his hometown without getting caught up in a group of excited fans.

He was all but a defacto god in Ottawa, and he caused a stir wherever he appeared. In the metropolitan area around Detroit, only the occasional hockey geeks recognize him.

"Good to remain anonymous"

"It's pretty nice. Yes sometimes even very good, especially when I'm out with the family. I had nothing against the way it was in Ottawa, either, the people were always very nice but sometimes it feels good to be anonymous and here I'm just one of the crowd," explains Daniel.

Similarly, the adored captain from the Canadian capital is one of the crowd, at least in terms of being a player with a less prominent role on his new team.

"On the whole, there's less coverage here, I think. If this was Canada, a few days before the start of the season, it would have been completely full here [in the locker room]. It feels a little more relaxed," he says, sweeping his arm over the rather unassuming press group in the locker room hallway.

"It's great to not have to carry the main responsibility and to not have to think about everything all the time. Obviously, I will try to help and contribute, but they have three very established and experienced guys who lead this team (Zetterberg, Kronwall and Datsyuk--author's note), and it's good for me to just be part of the team."

Similarly, the adored team captain from Canadian capital if not one of the crowd , at least one player with a less prominent role in his new team .

Similar training

Hockey-wise, the old points king will start on the second line with Florida acquisition Stephen Weiss and countryman Johan Franzen, but he doesn't feel that the change is overly dramatic.

"No, I recognize many drills from Ottawa. Paul MacLean, the Senators' coach, was here for many years with Mike Babcock, and I believe that he took part of the same book that they use to train with here," he notes.

"There are some small details that are different, but it's not a huge adjustment. There shouldn't be any problems when the season starts, I won't have ot think, 'Oh hell, I need to be there now, or there.' I'll have it in me, it'll be there already so I can just play."

The atmosphere, too.

"Oh, Alfie," says coach Babcock, for example, "He's beyond smart. He understands our system of play without having to worry at all."

"Feels strange"

Henrik Zetterberg agrees.

"'Affe' has melted in perfectly here. He's a great guy and will greatly benefit us, especially on the power play," says "Zata."

The question is just what will happen if he benefits the team on December 1st. When Alfredsson returns to Ottawa with the Detroit Red Wings, strong reactions are to be expected.

"It will probably feel really weird and will certainly be very emotional. I haven't really been able to think about it yet. But I think it will be awesome no matter what happens. People will have their opinions no matter what I do, and so it is, and when I eventually look back on everything, it will probably be one of the nights I remember," says the Swedish star.

But there are two months between now and then. First and foremost, the evening's premiere in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena.

"It will be incredibly exciting," he says.

Finally, Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom spoke with Mikael Samuelsson about the Wings' home opener:

"It's nice to get off zero early, now I've scored as many as I did all of last season, haha," says Samme.

His goal came on the tip of a shot by Cory Emmerton.

"I steered it high into the net like tennis. I had some luck there."

Pavel Datsyuk increased the lead to 2-0 only 36 seconds later. But Detroit took many penalties and Buffalo got themselves into the game.

"Yes, we let them back into the game, but give them some credit, too. They battled well."

For Detroit, it was an important two points for the team's first game in the Eastern Conference.

"We have a good team and we had a good game, but maybe we played with a little too much self-confidence sometimes," says Samme.

Niklas Kronwall shared his opinion.

"We should have been able to close out the game earlier, but the important thing is that we won the opener."

It wasn't a result of the Wings' dreaded power play five-some.

"No, but I thought we had pretty good movement and created some chances," said Kronwall.

Daniel Alfredsson scored no points in his debut in Detroit, but he could enjoy the victory.

"Alfie had a good debut. He plays maturely and he has an important role on our power play," says Samuelsson.

And back on this side of the pond, in the promotional department, per the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner:

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association will hold a free public skate at Van Andel Arena on Saturday.

The WCHA Final Five will be played at the arena for the first time on March 21-22, and organizers have joined with the Grand Rapids Griffins to promote the event.

Representatives will be at the arena from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. with discount ticket packages available along with merchandise and giveaways.

...

Teams in the NCAA Division I conference are Alabama Huntsville, Alaska Anchorage, Alaska, Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and Northern Michigan.

Multiple internet kaputskis, personal and friend-related drama and about seven hours' worth of work. I'm spent. I hope to see you later today, but it's been a helluva Wednesthursday and about 16 hours of work over the past 24 (albeit with three of those hours involving work away from my laptop).

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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.