The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/08/13 at 01:59 AM ET
Normally I spend a pretty decent amount of time choosing the order of stories I place in my digest posts--in fact, I think that crafting some sort of narrative flow is essential to what I do--so I want to state for the record that this entry's going to be particularly "clunky" because I'm getting up at what the ass crack of dawn by my standards, and as such, I've got to a) rush this one and b) write this before all pertinent stories hit the wires.
Anyway, two of the Red Wings' prospects are already playing hockey games of consequence: Anthony Mantha and Jake Paterson are taking part in Team Canada's World Junior Selection camp, and for the first time, the Canadians headed to Lake Placid, NY to play in competitive games against the American, Swedish and Finnish WJC selection camp teams.
Mantha may or may not make the team up front, but Paterson's facing stiff odds as the Canadians tend to go with younger goaltenders, and 2013 draft picks Zachary Fucale (Montreal) and Eric Comrie (Winnipeg) are essentially battling for the starter's job, while Paterson's attempting to return as a back-up.
Paterson sat out Wednesday's game against Finland, but the Canadians did quite well---as did Mantha--as Hockey Canada's recap notes:
Brendan Gaunce (Markham, Ont./Belleville, OHL) scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period to help Canada’s National Junior Team to a 5-3 win over Finland on Wednesday afternoon.
The game was the first of three for Canada as part of its summer development camp. The Canadians will face Sweden on Thursday (4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT) and the host United States on Saturday (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT). The games are part of the Americans’ junior evaluation camp.
Gaunce, Hunter Shinkaruk (Calgary, Alta./Medicine Hat, WHL) and Félix Girard (Lévis, Que./Baie-Comeau, QMJHL) each had a goal and an assist for Canada, which scored three times in the third period to break open a 2-2 game.
Sam Reinhart (West Vancouver, B.C./Kootenay, WHL) and Frédérik Gauthier (Mascouche, Que./Rimouski, QMJHL) had the other Canadian goals, scoring 27 seconds apart midway through the first period to erase an early Finnish lead.
Anthony Mantha (Longueuil, Que./Val-d’Or, QMJHL) was the other Canadian skater to record multiple points, adding two assists.
Team USA's website posted a recap and a brief photo gallery, as well as an interactive box score (via DRW Prospects on Twitter); I found a picture of Mantha getting tripped; TSN posted a 1:12 highlight clip; and NHL.com's Adam Kimelman noted that Mantha's line's performance earned a rare compliment from coach Brent Sutter:
A newly constructed line of [Brendan] Gaunce between Anthony Mantha and Rychel resulted in Gaunce digging the puck out from under Saros and scoring as he was knocked down to make it 4-2.
"That's how they have to play," Sutter said of the trio. "That's the type of game they have to play. They have to be dependable players and they have to be heavy players. … To get to play on this team, they're not going to be top-six forwards, they have to play heavy, play the right way, and I thought in the third period that line played well for us."
In news of a different Canadian kind, I'm not thrilled to continually discuss this topic, but I hope you're starting to get used to its frequency by now: Ottawa Senators forward Jason Spezza spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon (via a phone call and a radio interview) and you will of course be stunned to find that the Senators' media corps asked him about Daniel Alfredsson's decision to leave Ottawa and join the Red Wings.
Spezza addressed the situation while speaking with the Ottawa Citizen's Wayne Scanlan...
How did you hear about captain Daniel Alfredsson’s departure to Detroit and what was your immediate reaction?
I spoke to Alfie the night before, he was good enough to call me. We discussed a few things, he kind of gave me his point of view, his side of the story. I was surprised, I will be honest. Not in a million years would I have thought that he wouldn’t have come back (to Ottawa), if he was going to play. After talking to him I could understand his rationale, and the decision he wanted to make. He knows what he has to do with his career. We support him and there will be no ill will against him from our part.
Do you have a theory on what prompted him to leave?
I think so, but Daniel can tell what he wants to talk about. As a player I understand his want to win a Stanley Cup. And he felt that moving elsewhere gave him an opportunity. I can’t say I completely agree, but I support him a hundred per cent, he’s just looking to do what’s best for him. He’s probably looking for a new chapter in his career.
How good can this team be in 2013-14? Alfredsson liked Detroit’s chances better.
I think we have a good shot, I think we have a lot to build off, but you never know what you’re going to get heading into a season. We’ve set the table to make the next step as a group – the window to win in this league isn’t that big and we’re in a good position right now with our youth, and cap situation. But we have to get better, we can’t just be satisfied with last season and losing in the second round.
While speaking with the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch...
"I spoke to him the night before free agency, and we had a really good conversation, but I was shocked to hear it at that point," Spezza told the Sun Wednesday from Toronto. "We had talked about two weeks before he left and I had a good feeling he was going to come back and play. He still wasn't even 100% committed. Once he said he was going to play, I just assumed it was going to be for us."
Spezza said "Yes" he did try to convince Alfredsson to change his mind but didn't want to get into the full details of the conversation they had on his reasons for leaving.
"At that point his mind was already made up," said Spezza. "We talked about a few things. I don't feel 100% comfortable talking about what we talked about. I have too much respect for Alf and the process I know was hard for him. But all I can say is I would have liked to have seen him back with our club. I still feel like we have a very good team. You don't have to agree with somebody to understand why they're doing something. I understand his perspective, as a player, and what he's thinking. You can see it from both sides but I still think we have a really good hockey club. By no means are they (Detroit) that much better than we are."
The challenge for the Senators is to fill the void left by Alfredsson's departure.
"Alfie is an icon in the city. That won't be replaced," said Spezza. "On the ice, we've all led together. We've all done things together. I don't think it will change the makeup of that. It will still be a group mentality. One of the strong things about our team has always been there's no individual who is greater than the group. We'll continue to have that attitude. Alfie was always the focal point of the organization. He was always the first guy out to speak to the media, he scored some big goals. He's not going to be replaced but I think we can make up for his loss as a team."
Who insists that this interview's a "one-on-one"...
GARRIOCH: Did Alfredsson’s decision catch you off guard?
SPEZZA: “I spoke to him the night before free agency, and we had a really good conversation, but I was shocked to heae it at that point. We had talked about two weeks before he left after the season and I had a good feeling he was going to come back and play. He still wasn’t even 100% committed on that. Once he said he was going to play, I just assumed it was going to be for us.”
GARRIOCH: Did you try to talk him out of it?
SPEZZA: “Yes, at that point his mind was already made up. We talked about a few things. I don’t feel 100% comfortable talking about what we talked about. I have too much respect for Alf and the process I know was hard for him. But all I can say is I would have liked to have seen him back with our club. I still feel like we have a very good team. You don’t have to agree with somebody to understand why they’re doing something. I understand his perspective, as a player, and what he’s thinking. You can see it from both sides but I still think we have a really good hockey club. By no means are they (Detroit) that much better than we are.”
And OttawaSenators.com's Chris Lund penned a transcription of an interview Spezza gave to The Team 1200 (and yes, I know that by now, we're dealing with some serious-ass repetition):
On the departure of Daniel Alfredsson:
Alfie called me the day before free agency and we talked, we had a good talk. I was really surprised — I think as anybody was — to hear that he was going to move on. I respect his decision as a player and I think he wants to have a chance to win and he wanted to go somewhere else and kind of see what was out there. I really respected him calling me and explaining his reasoning and I wish him nothing but the best. There will be no ill will held towards Alfie. He's taught me a lot and he's done great things for our team and the community but we'll move on and I think we have a real good club too.
On if he saw the move coming:
No, to me it was completely out of the blue. You'd have to talk to him at a later date probably to see if there was a thought throughout the last year but to me it was completely out of the blue. I knew he was going to come back and play because he had felt pretty good all year but to me it was just more of a decision where if he was going to come back and play and if he did it was inevitable that it was going to be with us, but that's sport and that's hockey and we respect his decision.
On if the change in free agency rules affected the process:
I have too much respect for Alfie to get into our conversation and his reasons why. He'll kind of map out why he made his decision over the course of time but I think maybe having the chance to talk to teams (played a role) but only Alfie knows why his decisions were made and I wouldn't really feel comfortable talking about what we talked about. I think the free agency period is good for guys, it's good for teams to be able to talk to guys and it gives guys a few more days to think about things instead of making rash decisions but, as for Alfie making his decision, he's the only one that should speak upon it.
While we're treading upon somewhat tiresome topics, TSN is going ga-ga over the 25th anniversary of the Wayne Gretzky trade, and they did post an honestly fascinating video about Jimmy Carson's status as the "centerpiece" of the package of players and bucks going the other way (the Southfield native is now a financial planner in Metro Detroit, as is Kevin Miller!), and Carson has a wonderful perspective on his status in hockey history;
And to commemorate the trade, LA Kings Insider's Jon Rosen's chatting with players involved in the trade, including another former Wing in Mike Krushelnyski, who was part of the team's 1997 Cup win and embarked upon a successful coaching career that is currently on hiatus.
Krushelnyski headed to LA along with Gretzky, though he tells Rosen that he wasn't as shocked by the trade as the rest of the hockey world was:
LA KINGS INSIDER: Some rumors began to leak in the week before August 9, 1988. Did you ever hear your name being mentioned, or did the trade come to you as a big shock?
MIKE KRUSHELNYSKI: Not at all. I think I was with a reporter a couple days earlier, and they were mentioning, ‘Well, what do you think of the trade?,’ and I’m like, ‘What are you, nuts? You can’t trade Wayne Gretzky.’ And lo and behold, two days later, my agent calls me, and it looks like we’re off to L.A.
LAKI: What was your immediate reaction? And after the immediate reaction subsided, over those next couple of hours, what were your responses?
MK: Well, it was funny because we were already planning on trying to move, so I told my agent – I said, ‘Look, anywhere but L.A,’ only because of the travel. And he knew Vancouver was out of the picture because we were discussing travel. So I made it a point that I didn’t want to be on a plane all the time. We were actually in Montreal. My son was just born. Andrew was just born, and we were having a Christening for him and got a phone call from my agent…in Montreal. He was like, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Well, I’m just sitting here.’ He goes, ‘You’re sitting? Good. Well, listen. You’ve been traded.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, right.’ ‘You’ve been traded to the L.A. Kings.’ I’m like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ So the first thing, I think we hung up the phone and I think we got an immediate call from I can’t remember who, somebody from L.A. stating that the trade hadn’t gone through. ‘Unfortunately, we’ve got to delay it for an hour because we can’t find the third party,’ which was Marty. I think he was running a hockey school somewhere. But later on they finally announced it, and the first thing I remember I did was I checked the lineup. I’m like, ‘Oh, Ron Duguay, Barry Beck, Timmy Watters.’ I went through the lineup, and I’m like, ‘Hey, we’re only like a player or two away.’ All of a sudden we were excited, and I’m like, ‘Hey, we’ve still got a chance to win the Cup.’ So I was off to L.A. to try to win a Cup.
And Rosen's conversation continues at length...
And tying the Alfredsson and Carson stories together to some extent, Grantland's Sean McIndoe penned an article about NHL greats who finished their careers with disappointing performances on teams they didn't spend the vast majority of their careers playing for, and he really, really, really focuses on the Wings' dalliances with Mike Modano, Borje Salming, Darryl Sittler and Bernie Federko...
You remember him as: Easily the greatest player in Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise history.
But he finished with: The Detroit Red Wings
How it happened: In what’s probably the closest parallel to the Alfredsson situation, Modano spent his entire career with one franchise before spending one final season in Detroit. But unlike Alfredsson, he didn’t blindside his old team — it was the Stars who made the decision to part ways, informing Modano they wouldn’t be re-signing him heading into the 2010 free-agency period.
Unwilling to retire, Modano signed with his hometown Red Wings instead. He played just 40 games, recording four goals and 15 points and producing lots of shots like this that still look Photoshopped, before retiring after the season.
(Yes, he technically signed a one-day contract with Dallas so he could say he officially retired as a Star. No, the rest of us don’t have to pretend those deals count.)
As I've previously stated, I really got the feeling that Modano was playing out the string after realizing that he was no longer a name brand player but instead a member of the supporting cast, and I hope that Alfredsson has an easier time adjusting to not being "the guy" in Detroit.
Heading toward the other end of the professional athlete's career spectrum, the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau noted that, of the THIRTEEN teams that have taken part in the annual prospect tournament in Traverse City since 1998, the Red Wings do not lead the number of NHL players produced (the Blues lead with 56 to Detroit's 53), but the Wings lead in terms of the number of NHL games played by their prospects:
The NHL prospect tournament has produced 400 NHL alumni from the 13 teams that have participated since its inception in 1998. The St. Louis Blues have produced the most NHL players using the tournament to develop a total of 56 skaters. As hosts, the Red Wings are the only team that has played in every tournament and they have also produced the second most NHL players. Detroit prospect tournament alumni have played in the most NHL games leading the 12 other teams by more than 3,000 games.
How many games? You'll have to read the rest of her article for the answer, but it's a FRICKIN HUGE number.
And in the super super developmental vein, the Grand Rapids Griffins posted a clip of "highlights," if you will, from the Griffins' youth hockey camp:
In the charitable news department, part 1: The Earl Cook Memorial Fund is holding a charity gala in Winnipeg, Manitoba on September 5th, and it will include TSN's Darren Dreger and Wings coach Mike Babcock.
Earl battled several forms of cancer, including sarcoma, he had fetal alcohol syndrome, he battled a slate of other ailments (he had to have a leg amputated due to cancer, too) and he passed away at 23 years of age, but he was a huge Red Wings fan and the team embraced him, and Earl's biggest fan, his mom, Debbie, has worked very hard to ensure that Earl won't be forgotten.
I met him, of all places, coming out of a restroom at Joe Louis Arena in 2009, but I shook his hand and told him that he was one of my idols because he so bravely battled his illnesses. I still feel honored to have met him.
In the charitable news department, part 2: The Ted Lindsay Foundation posted a photo gallery from this past week's Hockeyfest on their Facebook page;
In the charitable news department, part 3: Don't forget that the Joe Kocur Foundation will be holding a charity softball game in Highland, MI on August 24th, and oodles of Wings alums will be taking part in the game and signing autographs.
In the charitable news department, part 4: Peter Forsberg's IceBreakers will be playing in a charity hockey game today in Visby, Sweden, kicking off a 3-game slate of charity games (tomorrow they play in Hoting, and Saturday, they play in Vilhelmina), and Calle Jarnkrok will be taking part in the games;
And in the charitable news department, part 5: On Friday, Niklas Kronwall, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Jonathan Ericsson, Jonas Gustavsson and a slate of NHL'ers will be playing in a charity game to raise funds for Kronwall's first hockey team, Jarfalla HC.
I'm going to have to "owe you two" as Kronwall conducted a 2-part interview with Swedish hockey blogger Marie Hallman, and as I'm gonna get less than 5 hours of sleep and drive a hundred miles this morning, here are the highlights of his interviews:
- Hallman reminded Kronwall that he signed his first pro contract with the Wings ten years ago, but Kronwall says that he knew that his contract didn't guarantee him a spot with the Wings, and that he'd have to work his way up by playing in the AHL. He enjoyed his tenure with the Griffins;
- Kronwall made his debut during the 2003-2004 season (and he played for the Griffins during the second owners' lockout), and he says he remembers that the Wings defeated Buffalo 7-2;
- At this point in his career, however, he wants nothing more than to experience the indescribable joy that is winning another Stanley Cup again;
- He says that he knows the Wings haven't met expectations in any season since 2008 as the team wants to win the Cup every year, but he believes that the team's ownership is still committed to do so and that the team had a superb edge to it when they made the playoffs (perhaps as underdogs), and that if they can be more consistent and the pieces fall into place, the team can finally succeed...
- But losing to Chicago still stings like nobody's business;
- In terms of his summer, he enjoyed being the Grand Marshal at the Michigan International Speedway's Quicken Loans 400, and he was fascinated by both the speed of the vehicles and the amount of support it takes to keep them running in the pits and otherwise;
- In terms of what he's learned over the course of his career, he says that he's learned to not get as high after wins or low after losses, and that Henrik Zetterberg preaches even-keeled play in the locker room. When the team wins, they try to repeat what they did well, and when the Wings lose, they try to figure out what they need to do better;
- Yes, he's 32, and he knows that he's something of a team leader, but he doesn't feel "old" yet. If there is a "team dad," he believes that it's Zetterberg;
- He reveals that Gustav Nyquist lived at his house until the end of this past season, when "Gurra" found an apartment;
- He has no problem with allowing younger players and Swedes specifically (given the cultural and linguistic commonalities) to "crash" at his house when necessary, because it's not necessarily enjoyable for everyone to live in a hotel;
- He spent the lockout in Detroit because he took part in the decision-making process as he and his girlfriend had a house built, but he does think that he'll return home to Sweden when his career is over;
- At the same time, he ground it out at the Troy Sports Center with other Red Wings teammates and Metro Detroit-based NHL'ers, and the lockout was very difficult to endure for the players as well as the fans;
- He knows that the Wings' 2013 season got off to a crappy start with the 6-0 loss to St. Louis, but he enjoyed watching the youngsters take prominent roles while staying humble, so it was a fun season;
- He's not surprised at all by Detroit's municipal bankruptcy given that its debt has been accumulating for over 30 years, but he hopes that it will be a new start for the city, and while he admits that it's a little gritty in Detroit, he feels that the city's reputation is undeserved to some extent, especially downtown, and he duly notes that many people who move to Metro Detroit are very happy in the suburbs;
- While he didn't take part in the World Championships, he and "Gurra" did watch Kronwall's brother Staffan captain the Swedes to the World Championship title in Stockholm, and he felt very proud of his brother and very proud about being a Swede;
- In terms of improving upon last season, he feels that the team needs to be more consistent and that it needs to rely on more than Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to provide offense;
- At the same time, he admits that it was a big adjustment to play 24-26 minutes a night instead of 22, and that he and Jonathan Ericsson took on a significant "load" in trying to shut down the opposition's top players as well;
- And he somewhat jokingly promises that he won't make life so hard on Jonathan Ericsson by jumping up into play as often.
Hell, never mind, that's the gist of both interviews. So there you go. No further translation necessary.
- The Red Wings are on Reddit now...
- For what it's worth, 97.1 the Ticket's Jamie Samuelssen believes that Ken Holland is the second-best general manager in Detroit sports, behind Dave Dombrowski:
2) Ken Holland – Red Wings: The man has three Cups as the Wings GM and successfully retooled the roster after the season-long lockout in 2004-2005. He remains as good as any executive in any sport. But it wasn’t until this spring in the playoffs that we started to see some of his recent draft picks start to pay off. Guys like Gustav Nyquist, Jakub Kindl and Justin Abdelkader weren’t just spare parts. They were key playoff performers. He smartly inked Jimmy Howard to a long-term contract for very reasonable money prior to the postseason. And Howard justified the deal by being the Wings best player in their near upset of the eventual Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. This summer, Holland scooped up Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss on the first day of free agency. And some are already calling the Wings the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Not a bad rebuilding job.
- I'm a little confused as to what 97.1 the Ticket's "Break the Ice" contest is about, but it involves listening to the Stoney and Bill show between today and the 16th, being prompted to call the station, heading to the Hockeytown Cafe to "play" in the contest, and possibly winning a 10-game partial season-ticket package. RedWingsFeed found the post;
- The Cambridge (Ontario) Times penned a very, very brief story about Kris Draper and Cambridge native Kirk Maltby appearing at an autograph session last week...
Retired Detroit Red Wing Kris Draper dropped in to the Cambridge Sports Park last week to sign autographs and talk to young hockey players at a hockey camp run by Shawn and Kirk Maltby. Draper and Kirk Maltby were two-thirds of the Red Wings famous Grind Line with Darren McCarty, which helped the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups in the span of six years.
- And finally, Architect News's Alexander Walter posited a brief post about the Red Wings' follow-on rink, and he offers a link to an interesting NPR interview with MLive's David Muller and a critic of the proposal in Dave Zirin, but I CANNOT vouch for the accuracy of the "New Olympia Stadium's" would-be schematics and computer-generated images of an Olympia follow-on given that a) the author appears to be someone who enjoys doodling potential stadium schematics on Google Draw and superimposing them onto Google Maps. The fact that the would-be rink's in the wrong place--behind the Fox Theatre instead of near the Masonic Temple--and the December, 2012 dates suggest that it's just someone offering their take on what the follow-on rink could look like. I don't believe that it represents any sort of official proposal.
Sigh. Four hours of sleep and a hundred-mile round trip this morning. That's gonna be fun...See you in a couple of hours.
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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.