The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/01/14 at 08:02 PM ET
I've been trying to keep the Wings posts down to a minimum after Friday's, "I'm back, elevendy twelve posts, whee!" adventure, especially given that the CBC's Satellite Hotstove fed into the rumorama ahead of the deadline, but...
You are aware of the dust-up between Johan Franzen and Chris Neil toward the end of Thursday's 6-1 Wings win over Ottawa, with Neil tearing off Franzen's helmet and attempting to instigate a fight with 6-and-a-half minutes left in the teams' final regular season meeting.
Well, Franzen suggested that Neil may have been flying in like Superman after the fact, and on Friday, Neil suggested that Franzen was "yellow" and that big, mean Franzen was in fact the instigator, with the "gutless" Franzen having lost significant respect across the league for spearing Neil and then refusing to fight.
Let's just say that Franzen gave as good as he got on Saturday, telling the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan that one does not drop one's purse and lipstick, as it were, to indulge an instigator...
"He thinks I'm not tough because I'm not fighting him?" asked Franzen. "What does he have, like 30 fights a year? And he's been doing it his whole career. I've never had a fight in my whole life. It's like me asking him to get hockey sense and good hands. It's kind of the same thing."
Thursday's game was only Franzen's second since returning from a concussion that forced him to miss 22 of 23 games since mid-December. Any sort of fight, especially one against an accomplished goon such as Neil, isn't a good way to stay healthy.
"For me, it's not a part of the game," Franzen said. "I'm not going to fight. It's easy as that. I've had enough concussions. I'm definitely not going to risk one doing something stupid as that.
"I've never been fighting, I didn't grow up fighting. I'm not going to start with him. Like I said, it (Franzen fighting Neil) is like me asking him to be a good hockey player."
Franzen, who's also coming back from a concussion and dealt with a subdural hematoma in 2008, told Kulfan that the referees' decision to allow Neil to go after Franzen's head was ill-advised:
"I've been getting head shots pretty much every year and I don't think (there's) ever been punishment for any of the hits I've been getting to the head," Franzen said. "This was the third one, really targeting the head. He just sucker-punched me. It's up to the league, Maybe (the league) should actually try to protect players. A player like that, when he just drops his gloves and punches me in the head, if he doesn't get anything for that, I don't know, seriously, what is going on?"
Franzen continued while speaking with the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
"I think he got a little upset,” said Franzen, who potted a hat trick in the game. “I don’t know (why), I have no clue. He usually shows up when the game’s over and tries to be the hero. Puts his cape on and goes and flies around out there. He doesn’t like to take heat from fans and coaches, I think. He usually steps up when the game is over and shows everyone that he really fights hard.”
Franzen has 11 goals in his past four games against the Senators, including a five-goal outburst back in 2011.
Though he admitted that the purse reference was amusing:
As for Neil’s reference to Franzen dropping his purse, “OK That’s tough. It’s funny. I definitely don’t care.”
As far as I'm concerned, Franzen made something of a bold statement in admitting that he has no reason to fight--period--given his injury history:
“I’ve never been fighting, didn’t grow up fighting,” Franzen continued. “For me it’s not a part of the game. I couldn’t care less … I’m not going to fight. It’s as easy as that. I’ve had enough concussions. I’m definitely not going to risk one doing something stupid like that.”
“I didn’t say that,” Franzen said when asked if he believed fighting should be taken out of the game. “I said I don’t fight. I never played that way. I don’t see the reason to start now.”
In this instance, the absolute worst thing Franzen or any of his teammates could've done was to accommodate Neil's wishes.
Somebody was "yellow" and
Otherwise, again, Pavel Datsyuk did not practice, and Kulfan reports that we won't see any Wings practicing on Sunday.
Wings coach Mike Babcock had this to say to Kulfan about the 4-day break between games--which precedes a slate of 5 games in 8 nights, a 2-day break and then a game played every other evening from March 14th to 31st:
"I don't know how good it is for the other guys (who remained in Detroit)," Babcock said. "But we got some work done and we had a good practice (Saturday)."
Kulfan reported that we may see Jakub Kindl back in the lineup as #4's recovering from a sprained MCL...
Jakub Kindl (sprained knee) is skating and could be ready to play. But with the Red Wings winning, and the defensive corps stabilized, Kindl has the same problem as Weiss -- finding a spot to play.
But Babcock had some surprising things to say regarding one Stephen Weiss, who has yet to return from what was supposed to be sports hernia surgery that ended up being "core muscle" surgery, suggesting that Weiss is essentially ona try-out:
“You start by flying in practice and get noticed in practice and the coach puts you in,” Babcock said. “He’s a veteran player who’s been a good scorer in the league. We could use guys who can score in the league, so we’d like to have him.”
Weiss, who had surgery on Dec. 23 for a sports hernia, said he’s not sure if he’ll be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins for a game of conditioning (Wednesday) or travel with the Red Wings for their game at New Jersey Tuesday.
“I guess we’ll figure out that in the next couple of days,” Weiss said. “I feel pretty much ready to go. It’ll just be a matter of talking to the coaches and Kenny (general manager Holland) and seeing what the plan is.”
Weiss reports no setbacks...
“Had some good practices the last week or so with the guys and even got bumped around a little bit and feel better every day,” Weiss said. “So it’s all positive.”
The same is true for Kindl, and I could've sworn that the 23-man roster limit exists until the playoffs under this new CBA, but Khan says that the Wings won't have to send anyone to Grand Rapids after the trade deadline:
But the 23-man roster limit is lifted on Wednesday, the day of the trade deadline. So if they waited until then to activate them, no moves would be needed.
As for Datsyuk?
“I’m going to meet with him (Saturday),” Babcock said. “I’ll know more on Monday.”
This is not encouraging, but perhaps predictable:
Daniel Cleary did not practice Saturday due to an unspecified illness. He was limping and needed a cart to get from the dressing room to the parking lot.
I'm going to say this as politely as possible:
It took Babcock and Ken Holland all damn season long to figure out that Daniel Cleary's long history of debilitating and degenerative knee and groin injuries have reduced his effectiveness from slim to nil on a nightly basis.
The only person who doesn't understand this is Daniel Cleary, and I hope he understands that there is no shame in retiring at 35.
And finally, in the, "Rhetoric and/or Spirit of the Thing" department, Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner posits the following after examining possible Wings trade deadline additions:
[N]o potential acquisition will help secure a playoff spot for the Wings more than one of their current stars. Their playoff streak of 22 consecutive seasons is in danger unless Pavel Datsyuk steps up and imposes his will on the NHL.
This isn't a knock on [Pavel] Datsyuk. He's been a tremendous talent for the Red Wings, but he's always had a buffer during his career here -- the luxury of not being the team's front man.
In the beginning, it was Igor Larionov. He was Datsyuk's mentor, and Datsyuk was Larionov's shadow. Their relationship has been beneficial to the Wings in so many ways. Afer Larionov retired, a myriad of players, led by Nick Lidstrom, had Datsyuk's back. And since Lidstrom's retirement, current captain and fellow Euro Twin Henrik Zetterberg has filled the role.
That said, even with a distinct language barrier, Datsyuk's always been able to get his point across. His play speaks volumes. But with Zetterberg out at least through the end of the regular season after back surgery, Datsyuk needs to bring move. And this isn't about talking to the media; it's about leading on and off the ice.
Without Zetterberg, Datsyuk needs to become the Wings' focal point. He has to put everything aside and dominate the Wings' remaining 22 games.
There are very few players who have the skill to control a hockey game from beginning to end. Datsyuk is one of them. Lately, though, he's been a bit of an enigma. Usually, an upbeat guy with a sharp wit that matches his highlight-reel play, he's been sullen and edgy.
I'm not implying that Datsyuk is loafing. Far from it. But he seems preoccupied, and that's not good for anybody. The Wings need their best player to regain his zest for the game. Perhaps his health and the burden of being captain of Team Russia have had a negative effect upon on him. I don't really know, but I do know that Datsyuk hasn't been Datsyuk.
I think he's just hurt as he battles through what is clearly some sort of knee injury and that he's still getting over a gigantic disappointment in terms of not being able to deliver for Russia during the "perfect Olympics." And I fully believe that Datsyuk will give his all and then some to ensure that the Wings make the playoffs...
But that's just my gut talking. Pavel can occasionally get particularly grumpy with the press if he feels that he's been the center of attention--something he really dislikes, at least off the ice--and he's been the center of attention in what played out as a vicious passion play of a "blame game" in the Russian press.
Here's hoping he takes that chip on his shoulder and uses it to aid the Wings' cause.
Update: The Windsor Star's Bob Duff also took note of the Franzen-Neil spat:
“Someone told me,” Franzen said. “Someone said it was something weird. No one could really understand what it was.”
Told it was that he should drop his purse, Franzen laughed.
“OK,” Franzen said. “That’s tough. What he says, I definitely don’t care.”
Franzen felt it would be ridiculous for him to fight since he’s just returned following the third concussion of his career and isn’t a fighter.
“He thinks I’m not tough because I’m not fighting him?” Franzen asked. “What does he have, like 30 fights a year? And he’s been doing that his whole career. I’ve never had a fight in my whole life. It’s like me asking him to get hockey sense and good hands or something. It’s kind of the same thing. I’ve never been fighting, didn’t grow up fighting. For me it’s not a part of the game.
“I couldn’t care less. I’m not going to fight. It’s as easy as that. I’ve had enough concussions. I’m definitely not going to risk one doing something stupid like that.”
With his concussion history, Franzen indicated he wouldn’t get into a fight with another player even if he felt it was warranted.
“No,” Franzen said. “And I definitely wouldn’t start with him. Like I said, it’s like me asking him to be a good hockey player.”
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