The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/03/13 at 02:13 AM ET
We went a whole day without name-calling, but that may change this morning. The Free Press's Helene St. James continues her series of surveys of Red Wings players with a take on Jonathan Ericsson's relative value to the team...
And as far as I'm concerned, Ericsson, who's entering the last year of a 3-year contract that pays him $3.25 million this upcoming season, has indeed (perhaps after too long an incubation period) established himself as at least a top-three defenseman. I'm not sure if St. James agrees with that, but I certainly agree with her suggestion that Ericsson is nothing less than a "cornerstone" going forward:
Looking back: Ericsson’s season began ignominiously when, during a practice in Columbus, he stepped on a loose puck, crashed into the boards, dinging his ribs and his ego. Three games later he was back, forming a solid shut-down unit opposite defensive partner Niklas Kronwall. Ericsson’s solid play in his end eased Kronwall’s transition in his first year without Brad Stuart, who had been Kronwall’s stalwart partner for most of the previous four years. Ericsson performed well especially in the playoffs, when game after game he was matched against the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
Looking ahead: At 6-feet-4, 220 pounds, Ericsson is the biggest defenseman on the team. Now 29, he has grown into his size and position, emerging as a solid stay-at-home guy and a good match for Kronwall, who likes to take risks with the puck.
Ericsson can handle tough assignments and is a big part of the penalty kill, where he topped all teammates in overall ice time and a per-game average above 3 minutes. Ericsson also led the team’s defensemen with 40 hits.
The Wings will work on getting Ericsson re-signed before next summer. He has steadily improved since first joining the team full-time in 2008-09, and is entering what’s considered prime age for an NHL defenseman. Ericsson adjusted well as he was cast into a bigger role last season because of the departures of big-minute men Stuart and Nicklas Lidstrom, and figures to be one of the defense’s cornerstones for the coming years.
Do the Wings still really and honestly need to try to gra a top-pair defenseman at or around the trade deadline? In my opinion, yes.
But Kronwall and Ericsson, as error-prone as they were at times, still played sometimes 25-27 minutes a night while providing a good 75% of the offense and half of the penalty-killing that the Wings required of their defensive corps, and if the Wings aren't able to land a top-pair defenseman, well, it's up to Danny DeKeyser, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and yes, Kyle Quincey to raise their games to Kronwall and Ericsson's levels.
Ericsson's pinches still scare the shit out of me, and yes, he can pull the Brad Stuart-like, "Hey, we desperately need to clear the puck to relieve pressure, so try to shovel the puck along the boards with only the top hand on my stick, because that will obviously not run into any opposing players" clearing attempts, but he's finally settled down and found himself.
He's never going to be the Nicklas Lidstrom-succeeding 50-point-producing defenseman he was billed as in the process of becoming back in 2007, but as he is, Ericsson is still an absolutely essential part of the big red machine. The fact that--again, as scary as it might be--he's the only defenseman who'll drop the gloves helps, too.
While we're courting controversy, I'd hoped that Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea would be able to explain the financial nuts and bolts surrounding the Wings' rink project while speaking with WGN AM 720's David Kaplan, but I saw this Tweet and braced for the inevitable:
Shea spent the next seven minutes listening to Kaplan whine about how the Chicago Cubs can't get a cent of public funding to upgrade Wrigley Field, and insistence by Kaplan that the cities' financial structures are somehow both completely different and exactly the same...And after not really grasping the fundamental differences or the foundations of the funding, whether it be "good, bad or indifferent," he asks Shea what there is to do in Detroit in the summer and then rebuffs suggestions that the cespool of slime and utter filth that is clearly the City of Detroit as a place to visit and/or live without possession of a rocket launcher may in fact be visitable without a military escort.
This interview just pissed me off, and if there is any "self-fulfilling prophecy" to be told, it is that in radio, as in print and on TV/the web, those who want to talk about this story want to talk about themselves and their points of view, and no amount of, "This is how things break down, here's the historical and sociopolitical background underpinning the situation, and this is why it's unique" explanation will sway their points of view.
That, and Chicagoans can be huge dicks when talking about Detroit, perhaps by nature.
Shifting gears in a big way, in the charitable news department, if you didn't already know that Ted Lindsay's Hockeyfest will be taking place today at the Kroger on Ford and Canton Center roads Canton, MI, here's the Wings' press release:
Customers attending Hockey Fest at Kroger’s Canton store on Saturday, August 3 can meet hockey legend Ted Lindsay and other Detroit Red Wing alumni, and support autism research and local treatment programs. Hockey Fest will feature the Hockey Hall of Fame Legends of Hockey exhibit as well as interactive games, including a mini hockey rink, foam puck shooting range and a fast shot radar cage.
Admission is free to Hockey Fest attendees and the event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Canton Kroger store parking lot. Ted Lindsay will be present between noon and 2 p.m. to meet fans and sign autographs. The Canton Kroger is located at 1905 Canton Center Road.
As part of the event, Kroger, The Ted Lindsay Foundation, Today’s 105.1 and WDIV/Local 4 ClickOnDetroit have gathered prizes that customers have a chance to win, including two pair of tickets for 2013-14 Detroit Red Wings regular season game tickets, restaurant gift cards, theatre tickets and more. Guests will have the opportunity to meet other former Detroit Red Wings players and can purchase a family meal deal, with all proceeds from food and raffle sales benefiting The Ted Lindsay Foundation.
“The Ted Lindsay Foundation has played a significant role in raising money to fund groundbreaking research in the quest to find a cure for autism,” said Jayne Homco, president of The Kroger Co. of Michigan. “We invite customers to join us for the fun and excitement of Hockey Fest while supporting the Foundation.”
Customers can help Kroger support the Ted Lindsay Foundation by making coin box donations as well as purchasing a $1 scan card located at Kroger registers now through August 31. All proceeds will benefit the Ted Lindsay Foundation.
“Autism has reached almost epidemic proportions in our country,” Lindsay said. “Because of the commitment of community partners like Kroger, we are able to reach large audiences to help spread awareness of autism and to fund research to discover more about its causes and treatment.”
The Springfield Falcons, AHL affiliate of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, announced Friday that Manny Legace will serve as a goalie consultant throughout the 2013-14 season. Legace, who appeared in 115 games over five different seasons with the Falcons, holds the franchise record for career wins (64) and for goals against average in a single season (2.27 in 1995-96).
As a member of the Falcons during the 1995-96 season, Legace won the Baz Bastien Trophy, which recognizes the best goaltender in the American Hockey League. The same year, he was also named an AHL All-Star.
Legace played 18 seasons at the professional level, including 365 games in the National Hockey League. The Toronto, Ontario native won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Detroit Red Wings in 2001-02 and was named an NHL All-Star during the 2007-08 season with the St. Louis Blues.
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with East Kentwood, MI native Mike Knuble, who tried out with the Wings this past season, about his future, and while Knuble enjoyed his time with the Philadelphia Flyers, his family obligations kind of have him boxed in at 41 years of age...
“I never want to move away to the east coast,” he said. “I don’t mind some travel, some commute. But realistically, the options are Detroit and Chicago. And from everything I’ve read, they can barely fit in the guys they have … it’s not like they’re hurting for players.”
A year ago, the lockout kept him close to Grand Rapids, where he worked out with the Griffins, and was signed to an AHL tryout contract in order to stay fresh and give NHL teams a chance to see him. He played one game for the Griffins, registering an assist. Two days later he signed with Philadelphia.
Last year, he said, “I got a taste of what life would be like without hockey – coaching my kids and being around and being at home and I really enjoyed that,” he said. “So, to me, whether you play or not, things can change on a dime. Would I still like to play? Sure, but it has to be the right thing for me and my family.”
Knuble said he has spoken informally with Griffins coach Jeff Blashill about a possible role with the team, either as a player of assistant of some sort.
“For me I just want to get through the summer and let everything get going and then see where we’re at, see where they’re at with [their] roster and see if it is even an option,” he said. “I’d love to help out, but we’ll see. I have 17 years of pro knowledge in my head, and I’d love to pass it on to guys trying to find their way. So, you never know.”
In Audubon, Pennsylvania, Gordie and Mark Howe happened to appear at an event to help raise funds for the TeamChildren charity on Wednesday, and the Phoenixville News's Justin Finneran happened to speak with Mark about his relationship with the charity's founder (who donates refurbished computers to low-income families and schools)...
After Mark hurt his back playing hockey for the Philadelphia Flyers in 1990, an injury which required surgery, his recovery was impeded by severe muscle stiffness. With the traditional means of tackling the problem not working, Mark was introduced to TeamChildren founder and certified Rolfing practitioner Robert Toporek by Flyer’s trainer Pat Croce, who suggested that Howe give Rolfing a try.
“Other treatments were not helping,” he said. “When I went in to see Robert for the first time I was bent over about 20 degrees at the waist and couldn’t stand straight. When I left I was stooping maybe 5 degrees and within two days, after (the treatment) took full effect, I was (walking upright) again.”
Mark has been visiting Toporek once or twice a year to be ‘Rolfed’ since they first met in 1990, and introduced his father to the treatment last year.
“It really helps him with things like getting in and out of cars and getting his shoes on,” said Mark. “It makes things a lot simpler for him.”
According to Toporek, Rolfing balances the disparity between muscles “flexors and extenders” to correct posture.
“Emotional and physical things cause our bodies to contract over time,” he said as he manipulated Gordie’s back and shoulders. “Rolfing was developed by Ida Rolf, a biochemist who also studied yoga and the ‘mind-body’ relationship. Rolfing is the beginning of a new medicine for humanity.”
Toporek studied Rolfing under Ida Rolf in the ‘70s, and has performed the treatment on hundreds of patients. Years ago he decided to do something radical with his knowledge and skills, and began Rolfing babies in Philadelphia who were born addicted to crack-cocaine. While providing his service to those low-income families in the city, he became aware of another issue facing the families that inspired him to begin offering low-cost computers to people.
“I went to 9th and Indiana (in Philadelphia) and began Rolfing kids and I noticed that in the houses there were no books,” Toporek said. “I thought ‘no one is reading to these kids’ so I came up with the idea to get kids Rolfing sessions and computers.”
And I'll leave this unwieldy entry with the following from Aftonbladet's Daniel Hultqvist: the road leading to Kinnarps Arena in Jonkoping, Sweden, has been renamed "Stefan Livs gata" (Stefan Liv's Street) in memory of HV71 goalie Stefan Liv, who passed away two years ago in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash.
I believe that Yaroslavl and the government of Russia are going to unveil a permanent memorial to the crash's victims, who included Liv, Ruslan Salei and Brad McCrimmon, whose family now serves as a "billet" for players on the Plymouth Whalers.
Uppdate: As an FYI, from RedWingsFeed:
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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.