Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: on the Winter Classic, the youth movement and ‘the week ahead’

Such a strange set of contrasts this morning. The Red Wings' 1-0 loss to St. Louis places them in a particularly difficult position in terms of needing to win almost each and every one of their 9 remaining games to climb from their current 42 points to the 54-to-56-point range that just about everybody agrees is the magic number where teams won't require "help" from fellow competitors losing crucial games of their own...

But Sunday's incredibly disappointing game was preceded by an inordinate amount of hype regarding the official awarding of the 2014 Winter Classic to the host Red Wings and Maple Leafs.

The bottom lines are pretty simple here:

1. Replica "main event jerseys" are being sold for $225 and the alumni game jerseys are being sold for $175 at all the usual places (Hockeytown Authentics, the NHL's shop, if you want to get really professional customization, places like IceJerseys, Detroit Athletic, SportsHaven, Fanatic U, etc.);

2. And unless you register to become a partial or full season ticket-holder enough Wings and Leafs fans held onto the 80,000 tickets made available to the two teams (40,000 to Detroit, 40,000 to Toronto, and another 30,000 held by the NHL for sponsors, business partners, VIP's, etc) that the average fan will have to simply sign up for the Wings' newsletter and hope for the best--or, more likely, if you want to attend the main event as well as the back-to-back alumni games, you're going to have to pay through the nose for tickets on the secondary market.

The vast majority of Sunday's presser involved a merchandise unveiling, thanking sponsors and also confirming stuff we already knew. The Hockeytown Winter Festival will be held at Comerica Park, with open skates, high school, OHL, NCAA (including the GLI) and AHL games to be held prior to the doubleheader of alumni games on December 31st, and on January 1st, the scene shifts to Ann Arbor for the main event at Michigan Stadium.

The NHL also promised to air ONE HBO 24/7 special around Christmas, and it will air on Sportsnet in Canada.

Details regarding ticketing for the respective events? We don't have 'em yet. Sunday's event was all about providing as much of a lead-up and producing as much hype as possible...

And as far as this slightly cynical Wings fan is concerned (when it comes to this sort of thing), this mostly had to do with the fact that Reebok's the NHL's official merchandise provider, and as it's all but impossible to find a replica or professional jersey that's not made in China these days, this presser was about selling as many of those jerseys and associated merchandise as possible, as they cost something like $10 or $20 in materials and probably another $10 or $20 in labor to make and are sold for, well, $225 and $175 sans letters and numbers.

The main event ones look like this...

 

And the alumni jerseys look like this:

This is cute:

Oh look, they're on sale!

Here's the NHL's press release about the event:

2014 BRIDGESTONE NHL WINTER CLASSIC® SET FOR MICHIGAN STADIUM ON JAN. 1 AS THE DETROIT RED WINGS HOST THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

World Record Crowd for a Hockey Game Anticipated at The Big House®

More Than 250,000 Fans Expected to Visit Downtown Detroit and the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™, a Celebration of Hockey at Comerica Park Highlighted by Two Alumni Games

2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® Broadcast Live on NBC in U.S., CBC & RDS in Canada and on radio on SiriusXM


NEW YORK/DETROIT (April 7, 2013) – The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 1, when the Detroit Red Wings® will play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs® at Michigan Stadium on the University of Michigan campus, the National Hockey League announced today. It is anticipated that the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® could set a world record for attendance at a hockey game. Nicknamed The Big House®, Michigan Stadium is the largest of its kind in North America. The game will be broadcast live on NBC in the U.S. and on CBC and RDS in Canada. SiriusXM Radio will provide live radio coverage.  

"The history of the teams' cross-border rivalry, the nobility of The Big House and the growing tradition of the NHL Winter Classic will raise the anticipation for this event to new heights," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We are delighted to offer our fans a spectacle at which the energy will be unmatched and the demand for tickets will be unprecedented. For anyone involved in any way -- as a player, a coach, an official, a fan -- this NHL Winter Classic will be a truly memorable hockey moment."

In partnership with the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, downtown Detroit is expected to host more than 250,000 visitors at the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™, an outdoor celebration of hockey held at Comerica Park beginning in mid-December.

 "In addition to representing a dramatic new step in the evolution of the NHL Winter Classic, the Hockeytown Winter Festival reflects the love Mike and Marian Ilitch have for the City of Detroit and its hockey fans," Commissioner Bettman added. "The scheduled activities will bring tens of thousands of fans downtown to connect with the NHL Winter Classic excitement, to enjoy the Festival experience and to share their passion for the sport."

The centerpiece of the Festival will be an outdoor rink placed on the infield of the ballpark that will feature games between teams representing every level of hockey and opportunities for open skating for the public. The showcase events at the Festival promise to be the two games featuring notable alumni of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs – the 2014 Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs Alumni Showdown™ – on New Year’s Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 31. In total, the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™ is expected to feature youth games, high school hockey games, sled hockey games, AHL games, OHL games, the Great Lakes Invitational and more.

 The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® continues the tradition the NHL® has established of hosting a regular-season game outdoors at the onset of the new year to celebrate the origin and history of hockey. A world record crowd for an ice hockey game could attend the 2014 event, surpassing the 104,173 people attending the game between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University at Michigan Stadium in 2010.

Bridgestone, the Official Tire of the NHL and the NHLPA, returns as title sponsor of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® for the fifth consecutive game.  For more information, visit http://www.bridgestonetire.com

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Two members of the NHL’s Original Six™, Detroit and Toronto are longtime rivals. The organizations first played each other on Jan. 4, 1927 when the Toronto St. Patricks defeated the Detroit Cougars 2-1 in a game near Detroit. Under the approved realignment for the 2013-14 NHL season, the Red Wings and Maple Leafs once again will compete in the same division.

Not only is the Detroit-Toronto hockey rivalry a storied one, it is a competitive one.  All-time during the regular season, Detroit (275-273-93-3) has captured 646 points against Toronto, holding an advantage by the slimmest of margins over Toronto’s 645 (276-275-93-0) against Detroit. Additionally, the 117 playoff games between the franchises is the second most in NHL® history (170, Boston vs. Montreal).

For the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will wear specially-designed uniforms inspired by the early years of each franchise.

The Red Wings will wear iconic red and antique white uniforms featuring a striping pattern and arch Detroit wordmark inspired by the late-1920s Detroit Cougars™. The front crest is an early iteration of the winged wheel from the late 1930s, featuring a novelty felt appliqué with a distinct chain stitch embroidery.

The Maple Leafs will wear a royal blue and white unique uniform design and distinct striping configuration inspired by the Leafs circa the 1930s, a time when the franchise won its first Stanley Cup®. The front crest is a felt appliqué with a very distinct wordmark from the inaugural Maple Leafs logo, revealed in 1927.

The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® jerseys, along with other event merchandise, will arrive in stores as early as today. Alumni players in the two games at Comerica Park also will sport special uniforms.

Further details on the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, including ticketing information for each team, will be released shortly.  Fans interested in purchasing tickets for any of the events associated with the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® and SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™ should register to receive more information at either http://www.detroitredwings.com/2014nhlwinterclassic or http://www.mapleleafs.com/nhlwinterclassic.

Official fan packages for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® are now available from Global Event Forum, the Official NHL Events Fan Package Partner. For more information please visit nhl.com/fanpackages.

NHL.com will provide extensive digital video coverage and NHL Social will have exclusive coverage on all social platforms, including the use of the hashtag #WinterClassic. NHL Network™ once again will provide hours of coverage live from Hockeytown in the days leading up to and after the game.

Five of the six most watched regular-season NHL games in the U.S. in the past 37 years have been played outdoors.  The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® in Pittsburgh on NBC aired in primetime and was the most-watched NHL regular season game in the U.S. with an average of 4.5 million viewers.  The event also drew the largest audience on CBC for any of the U.S.-based outdoor NHL games.

For the most recent iteration in Philadelphia, both the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® between the Philadelphia Flyers® and New York Rangers® and the alumni game two days prior attracted sellout crowds.  More than 75,000 fans visited Spectator Plaza, the official outdoor hockey festival adjacent to the ballpark.

The first-ever NHL regular-season game contested outdoors was played in 2003 when the Edmonton Oilers® hosted the Montreal Canadiens® at Commonwealth Stadium.  The first New Year’s Day outdoor game in the U.S. featured the Buffalo Sabres® hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins® at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008.  In 2009, the Chicago Blackhawks® hosted the Red Wings at Wrigley Field.  In 2010, the Boston Bruins® hosted the Flyers at Fenway Park.  In 2011, the Penguins hosted the Washington Capitals® at Heinz Field.  In 2012, the Flyers hosted the Rangers at Citizens Bank Park.  In February 2011, the Calgary Flames® hosted the Canadiens in the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage ™ at McMahon Stadium.

If you want to watch the presser, the Wings' website provides it...


The Wings produced a snazzy little trailer, and, of course, they posted a photo gallery of the jerseys, too, with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard showing off their new threads...

Otherwise, the Associated Press, Canadian Press, ESPN's Craig Custance, the Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby, Toronto Star's Mark Zwolinski (the Leafs are excited, imagine that!), Michigan Hockey, the CBC, TSN (via video, oh boy, the Leafs are excited!) and everybody else confirmed it, with the NHL talking about the jersey designs (I'm going to ignore Will Arnett's snark to NHL.com given that his favorite Wings-Leafs memory is my worst hockey memory, the Leafs' 1993 game 7 of the 1st round win over Detroit, at the Joe)...

The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, but parts of their uniforms will suggest they went back in time some 80 or so years. Both the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will be wearing uniforms representing their storied pasts when they meet at Michigan Stadium on New Year's Day (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

"Each year, our NHL Winter Classic uniform designs set out to honor and pay respect to the rich history of the game and the teams taking part in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," said Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing. "Each NHL Winter Classic uniform is an embodiment of that team's core brand values and represents memorable milestones in that team's history. To our fans, the NHL Winter Classic jersey is the ultimate keepsake from this extraordinary event, and with two Original Six franchises participating this year, we have created something quite special."

Detroit will be wearing iconic red and antique white uniforms featuring a striping pattern and arch Detroit wordmark inspired by the late-1920s Detroit Cougars. The front crest on the jersey will feature an early iteration of the winged wheel from the late 1930s Red Wings.

There's even a touch of the early 1980s Red Wings with the custom Detroit wordmark and the number system. Both are exclusive to the typeface worn by the Red Wings from 30 years ago.

The captain's patch that will presumably be worn by Henrik Zetterberg will also pay homage to the team's heritage and former captains.

Toronto's uniforms will be royal blue and white and feature the distinct striping configuration inspired by the 1930s Maple Leafs. The front crest of the jersey will feature a distinct wordmark from the inaugural Maple Leafs' logo, revealed in 1927. The neckline design is taken from the sweaters worn by the Leafs throughout the 1960s and the running stitch detail on the numbers is a tribute to the Leafs' sweater from the mid-1950s.

"Reebok’s NHL Winter Classic jersey is one of the key elements to help make the NHL Winter Classic so unique, bringing back tradition and calling out memorable moments of the past for both teams," said Keith Leach, NHL Go To Market Director for Reebok. "We are very proud to once again be a part of this historic occasion in sports. The 2014 matchup will be especially exciting taking place at Michigan Stadium as the Detroit Red Wings take on their Canadian rival the Toronto Maple Leafs. In addition to the uniforms, we will continue to bring fans additional apparel offerings, including the highly sought after Reebok NHL Winter Classic knit hats and other unique merchandise styles which capture the teams' identities."

NHL.com's Dan Rosen took note of the do-over...

"In terms of the ancillary events, I think we have the ability to do more and do some better planning," Commissioner Bettman said. "We want to make sure that this event is as strong and as solid and as big as it can be. Everything we're doing is in pursuit of that."

The marquee event before the actual Winter Classic game will be the 2014 Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs Alumni Showdown on New Year's Eve. Nearly 100 alumni from both teams have asked to participate, requiring the NHL, the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs to plan for two alumni games at Comerica Park on New Year's Eve.

...

"People like to have a reason to come together and celebrate," Leafs alumni Darryl Sittler told NHL.com. "The game is an event, but there is so many other things surrounding it. You talk about the alumni and I really look forward to getting back on the ice with Lanny [MacDonald] and Tiger [Williams]. In Detroit, they've had huge success over the last number of years and they're going to have a little bit younger of an alumni team than us. But the fact that they're having two games and every player who is an alumni of these two teams gets a chance to be a part of it, that tells you a lot about it."

The Winter Festival will also feature games of all levels of hockey (American Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, NCAA, high school and youth) being played on the temporary rink built atop the infield at Comerica Park from mid-December into the new year.

"Usually you just think of the Winter Classic as a game and an unreal game, but what Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch have done downtown is they have turned this into an event," Red Wings alum Kris Draper said. "It's going to be special. It's going to be a great time around the city of Detroit."

Commissioner Bettman also announced that HBO will be back with another 24/7 series featuring the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. The series will air on Sportsnet in Canada.

"This was the concept from last year and we said the next Winter Classic would be between these two teams in The Big House and that's exactly what is happening," Commissioner Bettman said. "This is a huge event, and no matter when it would be played and under whatever circumstances we had nothing but great anticipation for it. The combination of the Winter Festival and the game itself at The Big House is just going to be phenomenal."

One addition to the 2014 Winter Classic is the fact it will be a divisional game played between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. Detroit is moving into the Eastern Conference and the same division as Toronto starting next season.

"The fact that now we're in the same conference and division, it's going to be even more special," Sittler said.

As did USA Today's Kevin Allen...

"Everything had been locked down and loaded, and the big issue was whether it could be put back together," said NHL chief financial officer John Collins.

The Michigan Stadium has a listed capacity of 109,901 for football, and it's expected the game will set an outdoor attendance record.

"I've said for years if you could ever get a hockey game at the Big House it would be magical," University of Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson said. "And we had that experience playing Michigan State in 2010 and it was a truly magical."

This Winter Classic is scheduled to have two alumni games at a second rink at Comerica Park in Detroit, and American Hockey League game between the Toronto Marlies and Grand Rapids (Mich.) Griffins, plus the Great Lakes Invitational college tournament, and Ontario Hockey League, high school and youth games.

"Once a Leaf, always a Leaf. Once a Wing, always a Wing," said former Detroit player Joe Kocur. "You could probably do three or four (alumni) games and not have a problem filling the lineups."

The hope is that 110,000 people would come to the sixth Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, and another 250,000 would attend the other events scheduled to be played in Detroit. The Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch insisted that downtown Detroit be included in the planning.

"It may be cold outside, but it is going to be a hot time in Hockeytown for two weeks," said Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment.

And I will at least admit that this photo makes me laugh:

"Hey there, Red Wings jersey mannequin, you look sharp!"

"Hey there, no, you look sharp, my blue and white friend!"

Thankfully, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples and Alyssa Girardi (they posted a slick photo gallery, too) caught the quips from the men in charge...

Red Wings GM Ken Holland had this to say during the press conference:

This is a very exciting day for our franchise and our organization to be able to host the Winter Classic and have over 100,000 people at The Big House in Michigan and over the prior two weeks to have, we hope, over 250,000 people in Detroit watching college games, minor games, junior games, high school hockey games. It’s going to be an exciting two weeks leading up to the alumni game and the Winter Classic. Tom had said that through the years, Toronto’s won 276 games and we’ve won 275, but I wanna tell Tom we have 646 points, Toronto’s got 645 points, so it’s been an incredible history and tradition throughout the National Hockey League. Toronto’s won obviously 14 Stanley Cups, we’ve won 11 Stanley Cups so it’s two proud historical franchises that are going to face off in the Winter Classic. I know Tom Wilson’s going to be up here in a minute. Tom’s got tremendous plans for a couple of weeks of an incredible celebration of hockey leading up to the games. We’re excited about the jerseys. We worked hard with everybody involved, our ownership and our organization to develop a jersey that we think respects the history and the tradition of the Detroit Red Wings and I’m sure when people see it they’re going to fall in love with the jersey. The league and everybody did an incredible job in developing the jerseys. The alumni game, we’re excited for the alumni game. … Most of the Russian Five were committed for 2013, we hope to have them back. We’re going to go to work to get Stevie Yzerman in a jersey, put some pressure on Nick Lidstrom to get Nick Lidstrom back for one more time. Hopefully the alumni game is going to be an incredible day leading up to the Winter Classic. And thank you to Michigan for hosting this game, it’s going to be an incredible two weeks finished off by a game at The Big House.

Followed by Olympia Entertainment president and CEO Tom Wilson:

Very seldom do we take the time to look back at how blessed we’ve been as a community in terms of major sporting events. If you look back over the last decade, we’ve been fortunate enough to host a Super Bowl, to host a Major League baseball All-Star Game, a Final Four, a Frozen Four, a Ryder Cup, three trips to the Stanley Cup finals, two trips to the NBA Finals, two trips to the World Series and counting. We have been truly blessed and we just hope this is the icing — no pun intended — on the cake. When people ask me, “Where are you in terms of economic impact?” all of these events make a serious impact, a positive impact on our community, both in the image and of course our quality of life, the sheer amount of spending that goes on to impact our entire area … In Pittsburgh a couple of years ago, they hosted the Winter Classic and an alumni game, maybe 80,000 people and you heard the numbers today. In Pittsburgh they felt it was $36 million of impact to that city. That’s an amazing figure. If you can image 80,000 people doing that and we have 100,000 people coming to Ann Arbor and a quarter of a million people coming to downtown Detroit and all of our friends coming over from Canada to stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores, this is going to be a tremendously impactful positive experience for all of us. We’re honored to be a part of this. As Kenny said, this is going to be a celebration of hockey to host this festival downtown. Every level of hockey will be played from high school to sled hockey to junior hockey, and the alumni game  Kenny talked about is actually going to be the alumni games. Ninety players called to be a part of the 20-person roster, so we tried to figure out how do we make this work from his standpoint, from our standpoint … so it’s going to be a double-header of alumni players that will be taking part in that game. If you’re a hockey fan of any age, it’s going to be an incredibly memorable experience. When you couple that with the Great Lakes Invitational that plays over two days and the double-header of OHL games, the Marlies and the Griffins playing each other in an AHL game and all the other possibilities, public skates so everybody can take part of this, it’s truly going to be an amazing couple of weeks. And we’ll have entertainment events down here, concerts, family events at the Joe and the Fox so everybody, if you’re a hockey fan you’re going to love it, if you just want to be part of history it’s going to be an amazing experience. It may be cold outside but it’s gonna be a hot time in Hockeytown.

MLive's Brendan Savage (he posted a photo gallery, too) took note of the good alumni game news...

Although no Red Wings have formally committed, Holland said the club is hoping their alumni team will include the Russia Five – Sergei Fedorov, Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Slava Kozlov and Vladimir Konstantinov – as well as Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom.

And he focused on present-and-past-player reaction to what Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment present Tom Anselmi suggested would be the first game of the 2013-2014 season between soon-to-be divisional rivals:

"It going to be different because (this year's postponed Winter Classic) was probably the only time we would have faced each other," said Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. "Moving to the East next year, we're going to see them a lot. I'm sure there's going to be a lot more meaning to that game."

It might even be like the old days, when animosity would build up as the teams would often play each other in a home-and-home series on back-to-back nights in Detroit and Toronto.

"It was always heated," said former Red Wings tough guy Joe Kocur, who attended the announcement and will play in the Alumni Showdown scheduled for New Year's Eve at Comerica Park. "It seems like we always played Friday-Saturday nights and Saturday night was in Toronto.There was a lot of hate built up on Friday heading into Toronto on Saturday."

Kocur took part in the announcement by wearing one of the Red Wings' alumni jerseys while former Toronto captain Darryl Sittler – who played one season in Detroit at the end of his career – modeled a Maple Leafs alumni jersey. Sittler agreed that having the teams in the same division will make the Winter Classic even bigger.

"For sure," he said. "I mean, you know what Detroit is like for their hockey fans. They've had great success over a number of years, but right across the border there's a lot of Leafs' fans and a lot of Red Wings' fans that are going to be here to support it and there's going to be a lot from Toronto will come down to support. The fact that they're in the same division, I mean, it made sense that they should have been way back – for whatever reasons they weren't – but now they are and I think it's even better."

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke to Sittler about his short tenure with the Wings...

“It was tough, and we were a struggled team,” said Sittler, of his season in Detroit. “But, hey, I was fortunate to play here with guys like Danny Gare and Steve Yzerman was just a young guy coming into the league and doing well, and Johnny Ogrodnick. But the Red Wings made a decision that they needed to grow with youth, and through some great drafting by Jimmy Devellano they won some Cups after that.”

In hindsight, Sittler believes the 2014 version of the Winter Classic will draw much more excitement than the canceled 2013 game would have, because the Wings and Leafs will be in the same division beginning next season.

“Right across the border there’s a lot of Leafs’ fans and a lot of Red Wings’ fans that are going to be here to support it and there’s going to be a lot coming down from Toronto,” Sittler said. “The fact that they’re in the same division, I mean, it made sense that they should have been way back – for whatever reasons they weren’t – but now they are and I think it’s even better.”

Sittler is also looking forward to the game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, where he used to watch his son, Ryan, play for the Wolverines in the early 90s.

“I’m looking forward to this,” he said. “My son Ryan played there two years under Red Berenson. I went to all of the games there; I loved it. I know the history and tradition. … I played with the Red Wings, played with the Leafs, so it’ll be a fun time over the holidays.”

And the Wings' website posted clips of Chairman Mao...

Mickey Redmond...

And Kris Draper...

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke to Kocur and Wendel Clark about the event and alumni game...

“That just goes to show you how great both organizations are,” said former Wing Joe Kocur, currently president of the Red Wings Alumni. “Once a Leaf, always a Leaf. Once a Wing, always a Wing.You could probably do three or four games and not have a problem filling the lineups.”

Wendel Clark played for both teams, but the longtime Toronto captain will naturally suit up for the Leafs in one of the alumni games.

“It’s great to see the old Norris Division kind of getting back together with the Leafs and the Red Wings back in the same division,” Clark said. “The rivalry was always great – Friday in Detroit, Saturday in Toronto.

“It was always an exciting time and it’s great to be part of that again.”

And he posted video clips of said interviews...

 

Currich5 on YouTube also posted clips of Draper's interview, a pair of interviews with Darryl Sittler, and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness spoke to the Wings about the do-over...

“We expected to play it this year, but we didn’t,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “I think when we come back after the summer there will probably be a lot of hype about it again.

“I just remember how I felt when they announced it,” Zetterberg continued. “When I went to the Big House (last year) and went on the field for the press conference there. It was real exciting. It will be a great game and it will be a division game now as well. So it’s a big game with a lot of people and it will be a lot of fun.”

The Wings and Leafs will indeed be division rivals next year when the game is played after Detroit moves to the Eastern Conference once this season ends.

“It’s going to be different because last time was probably the only time we would have faced each other,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “Moving to the East next year, we’re going to see them a lot, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more meaning to that game.”

And the jerseys that they'll wear:

"They’re pretty cool and I’m looking forward to getting a chance to wear them,” Howard said. “They’re different. It’s red, but instead of the white, it’s an off-white color numbers and lettering. It has that older style look to it.”

“I like it,” Zetterberg said. “Of course it’s different than what we usually wear, but I saw (Pavel) Dastyuk wearing it and he looked really good. It’s pretty cool.

“I’ll say they look old school,” Zetterberg added. “They’re an older kind of jersey. It’s still the winged wheel, but it looks different. Same red, but I only saw it once a couple of days ago.”

Ditto for the Free Press's Helene St. James:

“Anytime they do something like this, the jerseys are going to be awesome,” Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “There’s so much history and culture, especially between these two teams.”

The Wings will wear red and antique white uniforms featuring a striping pattern and arch Detroit word mark inspired by the 1920s Detroit Cougars. Toronto players will be in royal blue and white uniforms, also with striping, inspired by the 1930s Leafs.

Winter Classic sweaters were modeled during the anthem by 4-year-old Landen Maltby (who wore the Wings’ version from their 2009 Winter Classic in Chicago) and 11-year-old Kienan Draper (who wore the 2014 Detroit version). Their respective fathers, Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper, will be back on the ice for the alumni games.

Draper hopes they’ll be linemates just like old times. He couldn’t help but have a little fun at his old Grind Line winger after seeing their sons skate.

“Did you notice how Landen was 5 feet behind Kienan,” Draper said, laughing. “Just like me with Malts always trailing far behind me.”

And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan was the only reporter to post a probable schedule of events--though he based it off of last year's schedule:

Draper played in the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field between the Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks and called it one of his career highlights.

"We had so much fun, it was amazing to play at Wrigley Field," Draper said. "It was special."

Draper hopes to get Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom to participate in the alumni game.

"We'll do a full-court press on them," Draper said.

HOCKEYTOWN WINTER FESTIVAL

EVENTS AT COMERICA PARK

(Times to be announced)

Dec. 27: GLI Game 1, Michigan State vs. Western Michigan

Dec. 27: GLI Game 2, Michigan vs. Michigan Tech

Dec. 28: GLI consolation game

Dec. 28: GLI championship game

Dec. 29: OHL doubleheader, Windsor Spitfires vs. Saginaw Spirit and Plymouth Whalers vs. London Knights

Dec. 30: AHL game, Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Toronto Marlies

Dec. 31: Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs Alumni Showdown (Game 1)

Dec. 31: Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs Alumni Showdown (Game 2)

 

In terms of news about present events...

Do you really want to read the Windsor Star's Bob Duff's interview with Dan O'Halloran given his work in his 1,000th game? I'm skipping it, as am I skipping Terry Foster's "Trade Datsyuk right f***ing now!" rant on Fox 2's Sportsworks. We've talked about that issue before and right now it ain't no thing with the whole worrying about the Wings making the playoffs issue going on.

Speaking of said playoff run, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned a "spirit of the thing" column in which he makes something of a promise while talking about the Wings' reluctant embracing of their youth movement, especially given that Riley Sheahan did not impress on Sunday afternoon:

The Red Wings lost, 1-0, Sunday to the Blues, the team that started the day a point behind them and ended it one point ahead, as the Wings slipped to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

So, do the Wings make the playoffs? Chances are slimmer than they were Sunday morning, certainly. Some anxious denizens of Hockeytown are likely to lean further toward desperation, with nine games left. So, why was Mike Babcock enthusiastic, telling a group of youth soccer players, parents and coaches at a community event afterward, "I'm proud of my team."

"We lost, 1-0," Babcock said. "Why am I proud of them? Because they battled for every inch of ice."

Why were he and general manager Ken Holland also satisfied enough with a team struggling to make the playoffs they did not augment the roster at the trade deadline five days ago? So satisfied, in fact, Babcock said he expected no moves all along? Because they are rebuilding. Rebuilding on-the-run, mind you. Rebuilding with the intent of keeping and nurturing prospects and getting larger players at most positions. Rebuilding even at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990. Rebuilding without mentioning the word until right after the trade deadline, when Holland finally said it before perhaps engaging in a bit of immediate self-editing and describing it as "retooling."

No one ever announced the Red Wings' intentions this season. But their purpose has been patently evident. Having lost important players over several seasons, it was time to foster youth, kick a lot of tires and to make plans — not for the playoffs, necessarily, but for 2014, 2015 and beyond. As that reality continues to sink in, Wings fans are confronted by an elderly bogeyman not seen in these parts for decades, the ghost of Mays and Junes without NHL playoffs in Detroit. But they are taking good looks at "the kids," regardless.

After talking about Sheahan and the high probability that Danny DeKeyser's only 180 pounds at present, not the 6'3," 210-to-220-pound defender we were promised (oh, the rage!), he offers the following:

The playoffs, this year? They might well make it. I will stick to my prediction they finish sixth and win in the first round.

But, what is more certain is that they are far more prepared for the roster moves they will make this summer and the next one, aimed at revitalizing the franchise and completing what amounts to a two-year rebuild, than they were in January after the lockout.

It is April. There is a lot going on with the Wings — some of it despite their playoff chances.

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan offered two notes in his recap...

Home debut:It's been a whirlwind week for defenseman Danny DeKeyser. The Warren DeLaSalle grad made his NHL debut Friday in Denver, and played his first game at Joe Louis Arena Sunday in the 1-0 loss to St. Louis.

DeKeyser, an undrafted college free agent from Western Michigan, played 15 minutes, 32 seconds and had two shots on net, was minus-1, and blocked one shot.

"It was definitely fun," said DeKeyser of playing at Joe Louis Arena. "I wish we could have gotten a win here, but that's how it goes sometimes."

Cup of coffee: Forward Riley Sheahan made his season debut after being recalled from Grand Rapids. Sheahan played 6 minutes, 47 seconds while centering the fourth line of Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton. Babcock said after the game Sheahan will be sent back to Grand Rapids Monday.

"He's going to be a good player for us but he has to be quicker," Babcock said.

Jordin Tootoo was a healthy scratch with Sheahan in the lineup.

I wish I could give you some snippets of MLive's Brendan Savage's article about Riley Sheahan, because Sheahan was telling Savage that he's working hard in Grand Rapids, that that his DUI was a real "wake-up call" that has him reevaluating his priorites and getting his head on straight, but the article was up for about 10 minutes before its timestamp was pushed forward to 7 AM this morning.

St. James took note of Sheahan's story:

The Red Wings see Riley Sheahan as a future building block, not so much a present one.They used Sunday's game at Joe Louis Arena against the Blues, which ended with a 1-0 loss, as a chance to get a look at Sheahan, their first-round pick from three years ago. Coach Mike Babcock judged Sheahan overmatched, and general manager Ken Holland said Sheahan would be going back to Grand Rapids.

"He's going to be a player for us, but he's got to get quicker and play with more pace," Babcock said. "When you're ready, you come here and you show you're ready. And when you're not quite, you come here and you're cautious."

The Wings called up Sheahan, the 21st overall pick from 2010, on Saturday because a couple of banged-up forwards were questionable for the Blues game. Jordin Tootoo ended up sitting out, and Sheahan took over Cory Emmerton's spot on the fourth line.Sheahan, 21, made his first appearance for the Red Wings exactly one year earlier, against Chicago. Sunday's game was another lesson.

"I just focused on using my body and being a physical presence out there," Sheahan said after playing 6 minutes and change. "I think the biggest thing is just to not think too much. You just have to be so much more sound with the puck. So just battling every time you have the puck, every point of possession, is important. It was awesome to play."

Regarding DeKeyser, however, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples duly noted that DeKeyser may have stolen somebody else's job, especially after playing so sharply (goal against while he was battling Kevin Porter included) during his home-ice debut:

"It was definitely fun,” the Clay Township native said, “I wish we could have gotten a win here tonight, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

DeKeyser skated for 15:32 in his home debut, recording two shots on goal and a -1 rating. He was on the ice for the lone goal of the contest, when Chris Porter managed to get his stick on a loose puck during a scramble in front of the Red Wings’ goal.Yet despite the one goal against, DeKeyser has impressed his first two outings with the Red Wings.

“Oh I like him,” coach Mike Babcock said. “To me when you can skate like that, he made a few errant passes but I think they’re more out of nerves than anything else. He can spin it and go to the back end and pass it up the middle. I know where good players like ‘De’ who can go get the puck and get it going versus play de zone coverage so I like watching him.”

DeKeyser said that he has certainly noticed the increase in skill level from the college game to the pros.

“It’s a little bit different, so I’m just trying to do the best I can to adjust to the pro level here,” the former Western Michigan Bronco said. “You know, it’s harder, that’s for sure, and that’s just something I’ll have to get used to.”

The Michigan native skated for 16:36 in his NHL debut Friday night, recording three takeaways in the Red Wings’ 3-2 overtime victory.

“It’s a quicker game so it’s important to move your feet out there and get some speed going,” DeKeyser said. “You can’t get caught flat-footed. If you’re flat-footed, you’re beat. I just try to keep moving, have tight gaps in the neutral zone, and get back to pucks as best I can. That’s my game, that’s what I try to do.”

If Mike "Doc" Emrick was to be believed, Danny DEL Keyser played pretty well during the game. When the Del Keyser goes on sale at Taco Bell, I'm not sure.

Just as an FYI, at the other end of the development spectrum, Andreas Lilja has finally decided to head back to Sweden. According to Expressen's Pontus Weinemo, Lilja's going to scoot from the Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate and will sign with his hometown team, Rogle BK;

And next-to-finally, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose looks ahead to Thursday's game against the Sharks, Friday's game in Chicago and Sunday's game in Nashville in his "Week Ahead in Hockeytown":

Nine games. That’s it. Nine games remain between now and the end of the regular-season for the Red Wings. Nine games to get into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Nine games to extend their league record to 22 straight postseason appearances.

For the next three weeks, every game – as they all have been for several weeks now – will be crucially important to the Wings’ survival in the Western Conference standings.

But this week will be a tricky one for the Wings, who have three straight days off for just the second time this season. While the Wings take a break, other Western teams, particularly Phoenix and Edmonton, enter this week with a game in hand and have the chance to gain ground on Detroit.

“We knew it was going to be like this,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, of the current playoff race. “It’s going to be tight all the way in. It makes the games so much more fun to play and I’m looking forward to the next one.”

The “next one” isn’t until Thursday when the Wing host the San Jose Sharks, who are 7-0-1 in the last eight games. Detroit is 1-3-1 in its last five games, including a 1-0 loss to St. Louis on Sunday.

“We all know what's at stake here and we have to do a better job,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “The power play has to be better and be a factor each night and (Sunday) it wasn't. … Anytime you're at home you want to try to take advantage of them. … Very disappointing.”

Besides the Sharks, the Red Wings will close the week with road games in Chicago on Friday and in Nashville on Sunday. Against this week’s opponents, the Red Wings have posted a 2-2-3 record.

And, as Kronwall told the Free Press's Helene St. James, there's something to be said for not shooting from the damn perimeter all the time...

"I think we can do a better job of getting more pucks in there," Kronwall said. "But I didn't think there were a lot of clear chances either way. It felt like both teams were doing a pretty good job in our own zones, boxing out. It was tight out there."

Because...

"I thought both goaltenders were good," coach Mike Babcock said. "But I didn't think either had to be great."

"They played really tight, five-on-five and on the PK," Henrik Zetterberg said. "They were really tight in front of their goalie."

In the prospect department, in the OHL, Alan Quine didn't register a point, but his Belleville Bulls defeated the Sudbury Wolves 4-1, taking a 2-0 lead in their second-round series;

Andreas Athanasiou scored his team's 4th goal in the Barrie Colts' 4-0 win over the Oshawa Generals, and Barrie now leads their series 3-0;

In my backyard, the Plymouth Whalers dropped a 3-1 decision to the Owen Sound Attack, and that series is tied 1-1...

 

And as the last ten or so days have been exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally for me, from DeKeyser watch to getting a bad cold I'm still nursing during the Wings' last 3-games-in-4-nights stretch, dealing with the trade deadline and now the past 3 games, I'm wonked, and will try to keep a low profile as the boogers slowly fade and I try not to think about all the yelling and screaming and anxious moments and the twitchiness that a blogger develops while constantly on watch for gigantic explosive news to break when gigantic and explosive news rarely breaks with this team, so often disappointing everyone...

I'll say that I found a wallpaper-sized picture of Valtteri Filppula scoring against Phoenix on Thursday, from CBS Detroit, and it's cool. Also, the Queens of the Stone Age performed at Lollapalooza Brasil and Lollapalooza Chile, and it doesn't get more approrpiate than this given the last week's atmosphere in here:

Good night and good morning.

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Comments

gt500x's avatar

Let’s hope Holland can resist the urge to sign more aging plugs this summer.

Posted by gt500x on 04/08/13 at 07:38 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Del Keyser goes on sale at Taco Bell, I’m not sure.

Del Taco might have something to say about that

Posted by Hootinani on 04/08/13 at 08:24 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Let’s hope Holland can resist the urge to sign more aging plugs this summer.
Posted by gt500x on 04/08/13 at 07:38 AM ET

http://www.capgeek.com/free-agents

look through that shit storm and tell me who’s worth signing.  Its full of aging vets, injury prones, and just plain bad players.

Holland is betting a little too hard on buyouts he thinks are coming this summer, me thinks.

Posted by Hootinani on 04/08/13 at 08:35 AM ET

gt500x's avatar

Holland is betting a little too hard on buyouts he thinks are coming this summer, me thinks.

Posted by Hootinani on 04/08/13 at 08:35 AM ET

I think these injuries to Bert and Sammy were a blessing (don’t bother telling me what you think of me for saying it—I don’t care).  We were able to give Nyquist some ice time.  Unfortunately Tatar may not get the time he’s due for till next season—that should be Sheahan and Ferraro’s season.  Holland has resisted the youth movement for as long as he can but injuries and time are forcing the old dog to learn a trick that everyone else already knows.

Posted by gt500x on 04/08/13 at 08:52 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

The WC jerseys are nice, but I ain’t buying!  Still not giving any more money to the NHL. 

And right now, honestly, I don’t give a fuch.  All I can see in front of me is the Wings in 8th place and the need for them to pretty much win every remaining game.  And I’m fighting the pessimistic feeling that there’s no way that’s going to happen.

So to paraphrase Scarlett O’Hara:  I’m not going to think about [the WC] today.  I’ll think about that… [sometime].

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 04/08/13 at 09:49 AM ET

RW19's avatar

What a depressing turn of events the last three games have been. Lost to Phoenix that had an AHL call up in nets. Desperation mode against cellar dwellar Colorado and the prehistoric Giguere in nets and then shut out by Brian Elliott and his .866 save percentage.

Regardless of what anyone says, they need help right now in order to squeek into the playoffs. Some of the other teams have to start slumping because at best the Wings look like a 5-5 team going down the stretch.

Mind you, even getting in won’t give them much. They aren’t as good as they were last year when they got mauled in 5 games and they still have no answer for the trap or whatever its called today when a team plays a 1-4 system against them.

And for those eternally bringing up the Kings, just remember the Kimgs ended the season on some ridiculous 10-2-2 tear or something. They were hot going in. The Wings are more like luke warm. There is still time of course, but I just don’t see it.

Posted by RW19 on 04/08/13 at 10:07 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

And right now, honestly, I don’t give a fuch.  All I can see in front of me is the Wings in 8th place and the need for them to pretty much win every remaining game.  And I’m fighting the pessimistic feeling that there’s no way that’s going to happen.

But therein is the bonus opportunity to get summarily booted out of the WC by the Hawks. Either that, or pull one last miracle out of their ass to spoil Chicagos coronation.

Posted by MoreShoot on 04/08/13 at 10:07 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

And for those eternally bringing up the Kings, just remember the Kimgs ended the season on some ridiculous 10-2-2 tear or something. They were hot going in. The Wings are more like luke warm. There is still time of course, but I just don’t see it.
Posted by RW19 from Ottawa, Canada on 04/08/13 at 10:07 AM ET

And the Kings were a talented underachieving team most of the season. When they finally got their poop in a group they took off. The Wings lack talent, heart and grit. If, and it’s a big if, they make the playoffs they will get rolled. It’s just a damn depressing season and I’m just hoping they look a lot different next year. Not holding my breath though.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 04/08/13 at 10:12 AM ET

gt500x's avatar

It’s not depressing if you look at this season for what it became when Holland had the bright idea to let Semin slip away from him.  The signings of Sammy and Cola were meant to plug holes where Smith and Nyquist/Tatar should be.  Holland’s lack of significant moves failed to prolong the inevitable and have brought the rebuild upon the team suddenly.

He goofed big time by not unloading depth at trade deadline—by his own admission the playoffs are only a possibility for this team on the bubble.  In deep drafts and in rebuilds, you want as many 1rst - 4th round picks as you can get, and 5th - 7th rounders are better than no return at all (that’s just more room for Hakan to operate after all).

Posted by gt500x on 04/08/13 at 10:30 AM ET

Avatar

Posted by gt500x on 04/08/13 at 08:52 AM ET

There’s a problem with that scenario though.  If Bert and Sammy were healthy and the Wings missed the playoffs or were booted in the first round with their aging veterans then I could see a certain someone finally admitting to himself that they need to embrace their youth.  But with Bert and Sammy injured all season (and so many other players missing time at some point or another in the season) if the Wings missed the playoffs or were booted in the first round again, that same certain someone could say “Well, if our vets were healthy we’d be a real contender” and use that as an excuse to go out and sign more aging players instead of promoting from within.

Posted by Garth on 04/08/13 at 10:42 AM ET

Avatar

And the Kings made trades to improve their team offensively, were big and strong and defensively sound to begin with, and had a terrific goalie having a career year.  KH (GM and other cheerleaders) constantly bringing up the Kings last year makes me ill.  This Wings team is nothing like that Kings team. 

This slide (Colorado game included) shows how far away the Wings really are.  Sell, sell, sell.  ... Oops, too late.  KH can’t bring himself to trade Fil, Cleary or White, how the double hockey sticks is he going to sell Pav, Terry?  Only in our dreams, I guess.

Posted by jkm2011 on 04/08/13 at 10:43 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Ooofff…. now where’s that flask

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 04/08/13 at 10:44 AM ET

gt500x's avatar

Posted by Garth

That’s why I think we will learn what Holland is really about this summer.  This is his last chance to follow through with something.  He sounds like he’s only trying to buy himself more time right now.  I’m not confident that he’s the guy the Wings need in the salary cap era.

Posted by gt500x on 04/08/13 at 11:18 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Well, if our vets were healthy we’d be a real contender” and use that as an excuse to go out and sign more aging players instead of promoting from within.

Posted by Garth on 04/08/13 at 10:42 AM ET

Of course he will, he already used it as an excuse to not make any moves at the deadline.

Posted by Hootinani on 04/08/13 at 12:00 PM ET

perfection's avatar

while Dekeyser definitely doesn’t look out of his league out there, I sure don’t think he’s looked all that sharp. he’s made some great plays and some awful plays about equally. He definitely seems like he belongs in the league and will get stronger as he goes on, but at this point in the season, is he REALLY an upgrade over Lash? And he’s DEFINITELY not an upgrade over Smith. I know Brendan Smith had a couple of rough games, but I think it’s a mistake to sit him for too long. He’s one of our best puck movers from the back. After being shutout, I think Smith has to come back in, whether Dekeyser sits or not.

Obviously Babs likes him so far and I’m sure playing time was part of the discussion to bring him here in the first place, but I think he needs to earn a playoff roster spot. So far, I would probably play Lash over him if the playoffs started today.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/08/13 at 12:19 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.