The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/25/14 at 03:17 AM ET
Updated 2x at 6:16 AM: Well this is going to be an adventure of an entry...
First and foremost, while the "incriminating evidence" is rolling in quite slowly, the Free Press's George Sipple reports that the Joe Kocur Foundation's annual set of charity softball games achieved its main goals--it provided significant bang for fans' bucks while raising tens of thousands of dollars for local charities:
“Definitely the most people, the best weather,” Kocur said of Saturday’s event. “Celebrities were amazing. “Playing the games is always fun. The Ice Bucket Challenge was a new and exciting thing that we did and everyone was exciting and fun for us.”
A line of participants dumped buckets over their heads as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Kocur, at the end of the line, got some help as five buckets of ice and water were poured on him before he challenged the Ted Lindsay Foundation.
Kocur said a date for next year’s softball classic has already been determined: Aug. 22, 2015.
He wasn’t sure Sunday morning how much Saturday’s event had raised.
“We have a hope, suspicion that we’re going to break the $100,000 threshold,” Kocur said. “We’ll know by the end of the week. These charities work all year with us to help us plan the event and execute the event and, even today, we’re out here cleaning up the event. So, to get $100,000, I don’t think that’s something we ever thought we can do. If we get $100,000 this year, we’re going to go for more next year. Every year you want to do more.”
As for "a good time was had by all" evidence, per the Joe Kocur Foundation's Twitter feed:
Kocur, more than a few Wings alums and the current Wings who've returned from their offseason locales will be taking part in the Ilitch Charities For Children's Celebrity Golf Classic at the Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, MI today.
In foreign-language news...Hoo boy. Expressen's Henrik Sjoberg penned an article discussing the NHL'ers who work with Swedish fitness trainer Andreas Ohgren, and Niklas Kronwall, Jonas Gustavsson and former Wing Mikael Samuelsson count themselves among Ohgren's clients.
The article's accompanied by a photo gallery of Kronwall and other players engaging in rigorous on-ice training, as well as a 6-and-a-half minute video in which Kronwall makes more than a few appearances (as do Carl Hagelin and Gabriel Landeskog), and in Sjoberg's article, Kronwall gives Ohgren high praise (what follows is, as usual, roughly translated):
Detroit's big star Niklas Kronwall began working with the team [of players] last summer.
"I strongly believe in his philosophies as Andreas has a lot of field-specific training. Everything we do has a purpose and that's why I started training with him," said Kronwall.
Sport-Expressen was in place when Ohgren works his pupils in a 50-minute session on the ice.
"It's very different. Over there [in the U.S.] there's more classic strength training, even if it's moving more to a new direction. Everything [here] is about being on one leg all the time, and you train in the movements you need to be strong on the ice," said Kronwall.
According to Ohgren, the Wings have considered partnering with him:
There are ongoing discussions about collaborating with various NHL teams, including the Detroit Red Wings.
(I had to go with the literal translation here, using a dictionary)
"The Red Wings want to compound around these pieces, and that's important when you've spent x amount of billions [of Kronor] on players. It will be fun to work with them more closely as well. I just want to give the guys the best [training], and it's important that teams don't see me as a competitor, and now I'm beginning to grow my little garden."
Ohgren had to retire at 39 due to back issues, but he tells Sjoberg that in a way, he's living his NHL dream:
Andreas Ohgren never became an NHL pro, but he describes things pretty well himself.
"I had to stop when I knew better, and that's why I'm doing this, and want to be as good as possible for the guys. Now I'm in the NHL, but not on the ice. That's as close to it as I'll get, and as close as I can get to the dream."
Amongst Ohgren's Instagram photos:
Kronwall's the king of humility. He carried the most today when we were going out, he gives everything he has, and he supports the youngsters. Watch and learn, you stars of the future!
In Slovak, Tomas Tatar's website has posted a second excerpt from a very long interview which they promise to post in English, but for now, I can only give you some incredibly roughly-translated quips from Valerian Lukacko's interview with Tatar:
Best fans, and the most beautiful women
Tatar: "Slovakia has the most beautiful women and best fans"
This is the second excerpt from a large, comprehensive interview we're preparing for TomasTatarOficial.com. Prior to the publication thereof, several smaller parts will be published in our website before the big interview in full.
In which country are the best hockey fans ,and where again are the most beautiful women? Tomas Tatar received many questions, including the following. His responses were aligned perfectly, well at least with the readers from his native country. "In America, I'm missing a little bit of Slovak encouragement," said the Dubinca native to TomasTatarOfficial.com.
Despite your young age, you've traveled to many countries. Where do you think there are the most beautiful girls?
(Smiles) "I think that Slovaks are the most beautiful. In America, I'm not sure girls are 'as lovely' respectively, in other words, I don't think they're as beautiful as our girls. There's something to be said about Russians, but overall, Slovakia wins.
Around you many female fans are in a total spin. Do you have any funny stories in this regard?
"Not really. I see it more like, it's because of hockey, and I take it as part of the job. I'm glad that I have so many fans and am grateful to them. So it's part of the job..."
Have you spent some time on your Facebook fan site, where we add new things? It looks like you enjoy it?
"Yes, I've become very attached to it. Whenever I'm doing something interesting, or I go somewhere new, I'm happy to share with the fans. I see that they like it when I share things, so I enjoy it."
And where are, in your opinion, the best hockey fans?
"I think in Slovakia. In America, I lak a little of that Slovak encouragement."
Slovak fans were able to showcase themselves at the end of June, when the TSN poll showed your best goal of the season, when the entire nation mobilized and voted for you.
"Yes, I felt a lot of support, not just in the competition. I believe they were the main factor that decided it, and I finally managed to win."
Back to English...In what we'll call "varied" news, DetroitRedWings.com's BIll Roose looks back at Darren Helm's 2013-2014 season "By the Numbers" (Helm registered 12 goals, 8 assists and finished at +2 in 42 regular season games; he had 1 assist and finished at -3 in 5 playoff games played):
12: Tied his personal high for goals scored in a regular season that was established in 2010-11 when he appeared in all 82 games. Finished seventh on the team in goals and tied for third with Tomas Tatar and Justin Abdelkader with three GWG each.
73: Finished eighth on the team in total hits, the fewest he’s had since he had 37 hits in 16 games in 2008-09. He had a season-high five hits in Detroit’s 6-5 overtime loss at Washington on Feb. 2.
17: Number of consecutive faceoff wins spanning three games from April 5-9. He was perfect in the circle going 6-for-6 against Montreal (Tomas Plekanec, David DeSharnais, Lars Eller), and 10-for-10 against Buffalo (Cody Hodgson, Johan Larsson, Matt D’Agostini, Zemgus Girgensons, Tyler Ennis). Helm won his first draw against Pittsburgh’s Jussi Jokinen before finishing the game at 6-for-9.
In "News From Other Blogs," Winging It in Motown's JJ from Kansas examines Jimmy Howard's 13-14 season through the statistical perspective of Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract, and he comes to the following conclusion...
This is kind of where it gets funny, because if you look at cap hits, Jimmy Howard currently sports the 14th-highest cap hit in the league for goaltenders. That's not to say that fans should simply expect to have the NHL's 14th-best goalie and be satisfied because that's what the money should say, just that the hope for Jimmy Howard to be top-five also comes with the potential for a great deal of thankfulness that he's not making $6.3M or more against the cap like the top-five paid goaltenders all do. As a fan of the Red Wings, I hope it comes out that every single one of their players ends up miserably underpaid every single year for the type of performance they put up because the more guys you have like that, the more chance you have of lifting the Cup at season's end.
Right now, the Wings are getting value for their starting goaltender. Even if he's less consistent than we'd like to see, he generally puts up the very good at a high enough rate to overcome a slight increase over normal of the very bad performances he'll drop into a steaming pile from here to there. I'm going to look into consistency a little more later, but for now, we have a bit better starting point from which to judge exactly what a mediocre season for a guy with high expectations can do.
AWood40 on YouTube posted a 17-minute clip of highlights from Game 2 of the Wings' 2002 second-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues:
In charitable news, the Red Wings are holding their annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night on October 23rd, when the Wings host the Pittsburgh Penguins, and their Facebook page posited the following note:
The Detroit Red Wings are partnering with Van Andel Institute – Purple Community to host our annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night this October.
Exclusive ticket packages are available for any and all supporters and we'll donate proceeds from each ticket sold to VAI where researchers are changing the course of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Get yours today at www.detroitredwings.com/hockeyfightscancer and use the promo code PURPLE
In the prospect department, via DRW Prospects on Twitter:
Julius Vahatalo didn't register a point while playing on the 4th line in TPS Turku's 2-1 win over HC Pardubice in Champions' League play;
In news, notes and Twitter stuff:
1. I missed this one, but RedWingsFeed noted a last-second CBS Detroit posting about Paul Coffey signing autographs at the Motor City Sports Gallery, and between you and me, the fact that Coffey attended the Wings' Alumni Showdown represented the thawing of the second-nastiest player-team feud not involving Sergei Fedorov.
Coffey's always resented the Wings for trading him away in 1996, so the fact that he's on speaking terms with the team and its fans is pretty stunning;
2. Because I'm sure you wanted to know, the Oakland Press's Gatitnti Tinsley reports that Jimmy Howard attended both nights of the joint Eminem-Rihanna concerts in Detroit this past weekend;
3. On Twitter, Major Junior Hockey teams' training camps begin this week (the Whalers' exhibition game against Windsor on August 30th more or less kicks off training camp), so:
We should start seeing reports of the Wings' players taking part in "informal" skates at the Troy Sports Center shortly, and I believe their every-other-day practices at the Joe will either start this weekend or on the Tuesday after Labor Day, so while we're still six weeks away from the NHL season, "hockey season" is right around the corner.
Next-to-finally, I'm still battling this dumb-ass sinus infection, so I'll be in and out--the same is true for doctors' appointments for myself on Tuesday (shopping, too?) and the aunt on Wednesday--but I'm trying to put in as much work as I'm able. These things are usually 7-to-10 day affairs and my physician would tell me that there isn't much I can do but wait it out (after 7-10 days, yay antibiotics, but not before then). I'm doing my best to grind it out and rest when able. Better now than in October.
Finally...I've got about two weeks to go until the prospect tournament starts (a week from yesterday), and I've raised...$700...Out of a necessary $2,000+ to stay in Traverse City for two weeks and eat like a college student and cover the prospect tournament and main camp. I don't know how I'm gonna do it without your help.
I've attended two of the past three Traverse City-based training camps/prospect tournaments and the past three summer development camps at your leisure. If you're willing to lend a hand, I would greatly, greatly appreciate it.
Any and every donation helps pay the way up there (I break even) and I'm strongly considering printing some t-shirts and/or ensuring that every entry has a "sponsored by/brought to you by" note (and as always, the coverage is based upon your suggestions and questions, so it's an interactive experience).
My "merchant ID" is my non-work email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, and I'm incredibly grateful for your readership and support. Thank you.
Update: FYI/FTR: KK blogger Samantha Meese's "Above the Glass" blog happens to cover the WHL's Portland Winterhawks, and she spoke with Wings prospect Dominic Turgeon during the Winterhawks' preseason intrasquad tournament, the "Neely Cup" in the Oregonian:
Beach day: I talked to Dominic on Friday about what he did on his post-draft summer vacation. He combined the best of both worlds at the annual prospects tournament in Traverse City, Michigan. Games were played early and in the afternoon, he went to the local beach with his fellow prospects. On the summer overall, he told me what I expected; that it was too short, but exciting.
Update #2: Oh boy, it's time for another "Ask Ansar" mailbag with MLive's Ansar Khan:
Q. There's almost always a player or two ready for a breakout season. Who's your pick(s) for the Red Wings this season? My guess is (Brendan) Smith plays well above expectations, especially in regards to offensive production. I also think (Joakim) Andersson (who'll be super motivated to keep his job) will bounce back and have a far better year than expected. -- Akscott
A. Those are two possibilities. I also think Jurco could be that breakout player, if he doesn't spend a large chunk of the season in Grand Rapids due to the Red Wings' glut of forwards.
Smith made strides last season. He had a rough start but settled down the second half. It helped being paired with Niklas Kronwall, during Jonathan Ericsson's absence. Smith has offensive upside; he skates real well and likes to rush the puck. But the Red Wings will be happy if he just continues to improve defensively.
Andersson produced more last season, but his defensive game – the only reason he is in the league – regressed, causing him to fall behind Luke Glendening in the pecking order. Andersson might be hard-pressed to win back his regular spot in the lineup.
Q. What is the Red Wings' plan with all these young and promising defense prospects they have in the minors (Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Mattias Backman, Alexey Marchenko)? It seems that none of them will start the season in Detroit and the season after that that is hard to see two or three of them given a real chance to be regulars at the same time. Will they cash in on some of them or put (Brian) Lashoff on waivers and give the best of them an opportunity? Also what are the odds of Callahan earning a spot? -- Luka
A. The Red Wings will start the season with the same seven defensemen they used for most of 2013-14. I thought they'd be better off promoting one of those young defensemen (Ouellet, being further along defensively, would have been that guy), so he gains experience and you don't have too many of them coming up at the same time in the next couple of years.
Ouellet, Marchenko and Sproul will certainly play some games with the Red Wings during the course of the season as replacements for injured players, maybe Backman, too. Who gets called up first depends on how they're faring in Grand Rapids and what kind of player the Red Wings need at the time.
I expect Callahan to be waived after the preseason. I think he'll clear waivers, since teams usually are set with their rosters at the start of the season. If so, he'll return to Grand Rapids and the Red Wings can call him up during the season if needed.
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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.