The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/22/14 at 06:58 AM ET
Updated with very good news from the AP's Larry Lage, posted at the end of this entry, at 7:25 AM: The Olympics are winding down ahead of today's Bronze medal tilt between the U.S. and Finland (10 AM EST, NBCSN/CBC) and tomorrow's Gold game between Sweden and Canada (7 AM EST, NBC/CBC), so reporters aren't Tweeting quite as much real-time news, but the following Tweets popped up between 5 and 7 AM, with the headliner not surprising anyone given Henrik Zetterberg's back surgery on Friday...
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland does not expect Henrik Zetterberg to play again during the regular season because of his back ailment.
Holland told The Associated Press on Saturday that Zetterberg could return to play if the team extends its postseason streak to 23 consecutive seasons.
(Say hello to, from left to right, Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Gustav Nyquist, Niklas Kronwall and Alex Steen)
This is actually from yesterday's post-Canada-U.S. presser, but Wings coach Mike Babcock tossed off a couple of amusing lines regarding having to battle Alfredsson, Ericsson, Nyquist, Kronwall and Jonas Gustavsson on Sunday:
Quoting the Canadian Press...
But if anyone on Canada’s roster knows the Swedes, it’s head coach Mike Babcock. The Detroit Red Wings coach will face three of his NHL regulars Sunday: forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Gustav Nyquist, and defenceman Niklas Kronwall.
“What I do know about the Swedes – well, I know lots of them, actually – they’re good players and they play with no ego,” Babcock said. “They’re going to be a hard test, we understand that.”
The coach said he is “a huge fan of Swedes” and Sweden is “a beautiful country,” but when the puck drops Sunday, those NHL allegiances will be cast aside. “We all know that I’d be cheering for them if they were playing against anybody but us,” he said.
And NHL.com's John Kreiser:
The Swedes haven't let anything deter them on the way to the gold-medal game. They've overcome injuries, including one to captain Henrik Zetterberg that left them a man short, and have found enough offense to go 5-0-0-0, including a 2-1 victory against Finland in their semifinal game Friday.
Sweden has flown under the radar for most of the tournament, but forward Daniel Alfredsson said that's not a bad thing.
"We've been told that we're kind of up there but not really with Canada, Russia and the U.S.," Alfredsson said. "We got into this tournament and we've played pretty good but not great, and everyone has looked for us to be better. We came through with a huge game [against Finland] when we needed to and that's a great feeling. We definitely deserved to win, and we're going to enjoy this for a few hours and then we have one big test left. We want to make sure we go home with the gold and make Sunday's game our best yet."
Just after the 13-minute mark of the first period, Kronwall bumped Selanne, who flopped to the ice in what replays clearly showed was a dive. Kronwall stood above Selanne, waited for him to stand and discussed the situation before finally skating to the penalty box.
Selanne had two shots and no points.
“We played a lot of shifts against each other,” Kronwall said. “We were trying to make it hard and eliminate space. If you give him space, he will do some damage.”
Selanne was playing in his sixth and final Olympics, and will appear in his last game for Finland on Saturday for the bronze medal against Team USA, which lost 1-0 to Canada on Friday.
“We’re very disappointed that we could not play our best game in the tournament,” he said. “I felt we were always a step behind. One goal was a mistake in coverage in our own end, and the other was on the power play. So obviously the margin was very small, and they found a way to win the game.”
Renney said the whole idea behind having NHL players participate is to “sell the game globally, and I think ... mission accomplished.” Those involved cherish the opportunity to represent their countries.
“With the best players and ultimately the best teams in the world playing, it just doesn’t get any better than this,” Renney said.
Some in the NHL wonder whether it’s worth shutting down the league for a couple of weeks, not to mention risking the chance that the best of the best might suffer injuries.
“If I’m an owner and a general manager in this league, I’m real skeptical whether or not our guys should participate in this, quite honestly,” Renney said. “If I’m a player, I want to go. Having been there, I can relate to that. That said, maybe the time has come for the Olympics to be an under-23 event.”
Renney cited Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence and the United States’ Ann Arbor-based National Team Development Program for helping to identify young players and allowing them to compete internationally at an early age.
The Red Wings will resume practicing today--probably after the bronze game--at the University of Ligett School in Grosse Pointe Woods today and tomorrow (per DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose), and they're going to call up some Grand Rapids Griffins players to fill out the roster.
Sipple reports that the Wings have had to improvise with Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson absent and Petr Mrazek busy in Grand Rapids:
With Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson at the Olympics, the Wings have gotten help in practice the past few days by goaltending coach Jim Bedard and others such as Marc Tremblay, 22, who played Junior C hockey in Canada and now works for a hockey equipment company in Kingsville, Ontario. “Getting a chance to see shots from these guys, it’s a lot faster hockey than I’m used to,” Tremblay said. “Great experience.”
The best news regarding Zetterberg's back surgery on Friday involved two details:
1. His surgeon, Dr. Frank Camissa Jr., is one of the best back surgeons in the U.S.;
2. And Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin reported that Dr. Camissa did not find any surprises when he operated on Zetterberg, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted:
Zetterberg underwent surgery Friday to remove part of a disc and could be out for as much as two months. A part of the disc had been rubbing against, and irritating, a nearby nerve.
"Everything went very well," Martin said of Zetterberg's procedure. "This was something that needed to be done for the short-term and long-term, and should benefit Henrik. It's going to relieve him of the symptoms that he had been experiencing. It was basically what they thought the problem was (all along)."
Zetterberg has been bothered by a herniated disc since December. He missed 11 games in December with pain in his back, but returned in time to play two games before the Jan. 1 Winter Classic.
They (the doctors) feel this procedure will help in alleviating any long-term issues," Martin said. "Everyone is real confident."
Again, Martin had this to say about the Wings' personnel plans heading toward the March 5th trade deadline--now that Zetterberg and his $6.08 million cap figure's going on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list--as MLive's Ansar Khan noted:
No decision has been made yet on how Zetterberg’s absence will affect roster moves. The Red Wings hope to have forwards Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) and Johan Franzen (concussion) back the first game after the Olympic break, Wednesday at Montreal, but they haven’t been cleared yet.
Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening will practice with the Red Wings Saturday and Sunday. Beyond that, it hasn’t been determined if they’ll remain with the Red Wings or be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“It’s contingent on the health of Weiss, Franzen and the coaches’ decision on the lineup,” Martin said. “We’ll make roster decisions on Monday or Tuesday.”
And finally, the Big Ten Network's Tab Bamford offers us a charitable hockey game reminder:
On Friday, Feb. 28, Michigan State hockey alumni will play a game at Munn Ice Arena against Detroit Red Wing Alumni. The game will feature former greats from both organizations, including current Spartans coach Tom Anastos, Brian Smolinski, Brad Fast, Kip Miller, Jimmy Carson and Joe Kocur. Fans will also be able to get memorabilia autographed by the players during the game.
“I am thrilled to organize this event that benefits three incredible charities. The Steadfast Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, and United Way 2-1-1 have been doing wonderful things in our community for years, and we look to keep that going,” said Kevin Miller, a former Red Wings and Michigan State player.
The game will raise money to benefit The Steadfast Foundation, 2-1-1 United, and The Wounded Warrior Project. Tickets are only $6 for adults and $3 for kids (under 10 are free)!
For more information about the game and purchasing tickets, visit: http://spartanwingsgame.com/
Update: Here's a bit more from Lage:
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