Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Stars set-up and overnight report: Wings hope to right home-ice record vs. Nill’s Stars

The storylines for the next two games and couple of days have already been written ahead of tonight's tilt against the Dallas Stars (7:30 PM EST, FSD/FS Southwest/97.1 FM; tonight is Henrik Zetterberg bobblehead night). The four main storylines read as follows:

1. Tonight, the Red Wings battle Jim Nill's Dallas Stars, who are 7-6-and-2 and are wrapping up a 3-game road trip in which they've posted a pair of shootout wins over Ottawa on Sunday (a 4-3 shootout win) and Boston on Tuesday (a 3-2 shootout win over Tyler Seguin's former employer). Nill told the Free Press's Helene St. James and MLive's Ansar Khan that he still has strong ties to the Wings and Metro Detroit, so this game is one where managerial bragging rights are on the table.

2. On Saturday, the Red Wings will be welcoming Steve Yzerman's Tampa Bay Lightning to town for the first time as a division rival. The Bolts are 10-4-and-0 heading into a home game against Edmonton tonight, and Valtteri Filppula's 11 points (5 goals and 6 assists) obviously make things look like the Bolts "won" by signing him and the Wings "lost" by signing Stephen Weiss (2 goals, 1 assist, -3 in 15 games).

The Lightning will also be bringing a few of the more physical members of the Syracuse Crunch team that battled the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL's Calder Cup Final last June in Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, Mark Barbiero and the absolutely nastily physical Radko Gudas, so I'm expecting Saturday's affair to be a particularly nasty one.

3. The Red Wings are apparently not going to send Jordin Tootoo down to Grand Rapids unless they absolutely have to, despite having waived him on Wednesday.


A) First and foremost, Jonathan Ericsson's not eligible to come off the LTIR until the Wings' November 15th game against Washington, and while he practiced on Wednesday, he may or may not be ready to come back on the 15th. Brendan Smith is also on the short-term IR due to his partially separated shoulder, and may be out for another week or two, and even with Adam Almquist up, the Wings are 23-man-roster compliant.

When Ericsson and Smith come back, however, the Wings will have to move a body as they will have 24 men on the roster, and that's one more than the NHL allows.

B) Secondly, between waiving/demoting Cory Emmerton and the amount of LTIR cap space Capgeek estimates the Wings have craved out by placing $2.759 million of salary on the LTIR, the Wings are cap-compliant, and they do not need to demote anyone at present;

C) Third and most importantly, it is evident that Red Wings are going to continue to try to find a trade partner for Tootoo until they are forced to send him down. As he's been waived, the Wings have 10 games or 30 days (whichever comes first) of wiggle room with which to try to give Tootoo a "new team."

As the CBC's Elliotte Friedman told everyone, 20 of 30 teams are within $2 million of the salary cap's upper limit at present--with just about every one of the other 10 teams "capped out" in terms of their internal budgets--nd Tootoo is signed for 1-and-a-half more years at a cap hit of $1.9 million per season, so the Wings may or may not keep some of Tootoo's salary in trade to faciliate a move to a non-division rival.

You can see by the number of trades taking place over the course of the season thus far that there simply is no trade market right now, or at least not one that goes dollar-in-for-dollar-out, so it's not surprising that the Wings are going to take their time to avail themselves of all their options here.

There's a D) here, too, and it is inevitable: Gustav Nyquist cannot be recalled until the Red Wings move two bodies, not one. Nyquist's cap hit is $950,000--he's signed through 14-15, too--and once Nyquist plays in 2 more NHL games, his waiver-exempt status expires.

So the Wings have to clear 1 body to simply accommodate Ericsson and Smith's returns (and Gustavsson's for that matter), and they'd have to move one more to bring Nyquist up on a full-time basis.

At present, I don't know if Patrick Eaves ($1.2 million salary for the rest of this season) has played in enough games to attract attention, or whether the Wings have considered essentially paying up to 2/3rds of Mikael Samuelsson's $3 million salary to make him "go away"--his "no-trade clause" means that he can submit a list of 8-12 teams to which he will not be traded, but he can be moved, and he can be waived as a NTC is not a "No-Movement Clause"--and one of those pair would have to exit Detroit for the team to accommodate Nyquist.

Nyquist's currently leading the Grand Rapids Griffins in scoring with 7 goals, 8 assists and 15 points registered over the course of 11 games played, and he scored two goals in the Griffins' matinee win over Rockford on Wednesday. He told the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner that he's doing OK in GR:

"We'll just have to see what happens," Nyquist said of his future status. "All I can do is play as good as possible down here. I have a lot of fun with these guys, and we went through a lot last year."

The Wings and Nyquist are being patient regarding his situation, and that's good, because I know someone who's boycotting attending Wings games until he's recalled. He's going to be playing for the Wings, but he's in Tomas Tatar's situation right now--kind of stuck until the Wings sort their personnel issues out.

4. The Red Wings have sucked on ice at home. The Wings have played 7 of their 16 games at home, and they possess an ugly 3-3-and-1 record. The Wings are 9-5-and-2 overall, so the team has a 6-2-and-1 record away from the Joe.

The Wings haven't won a home game since they defeated Columbus 2-1 on October 15th, and they've lost their past 3 home games (a shootout loss to San Jose, a loss to Ottawa and a loss to the Rangers) by a 10-3 margin.

Detroit hosts its next four games at home--they play the Stars this evening, Tampa Bay on Saturday the 9th, Winnipeg on Tuesday the 12th (FTR: I'm certain that the Wings will head to the Hockey Hall of Fame to attend Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios's inductions on Monday the 11th, and the ceremonies will air on the NHL Network and TSN) and Washington on Friday the 15th--and they play 7 of their next 8 and 8 of their next 10 at home, so the Wings need to get thing sorted out on home ice in a hurry.




Shifting our focus toward tonight's game, the Dallas News's Mike Heika (big note: these are subscriber-only articles frown) reported that the Stars took Wedneday very slowly in terms of preparation...

The Stars had a brief practice on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena, and both Jamie Benn and Kari Lehtonen worked out off the ice for maintenance reasons.

Lindy Ruff said the lines were used primarily for the logistics of practice, but here they are if you want to try to read anything into them:

Erik Cole-Tyler Seguin-Valeri Nichushkin

Ray Whitney-Cody Eakin-Alex Chiasson

Antoine Roussel-Vern Fiddler-Ryan Garbutt

Lane MacDermid-Shawn Horcoff-Rich Peverley

The D-pairs are always scrambled at practice as they rotate the seven evenly. Pretty much every D-man plays with every other D-man and many switch sides from right to left.

The guess is they will go with the same pairs they have been using on Thursday when they play Detroit.

Brenden Dillon-Stephane Robidas

Trevor Daley-Sergei Gonchar

Alex Goligoski-Jordie Benn

Lehtonen is expected to start in goal again.

And the Stars hoped to earn a regulation win to sweep their road trip:

“We’ve got that opportunity (to sweep), but we know this is a tough building to play in,” Ruff said after practice Wednesday. “We knew Boston was going to be a tough building, too. They gave us a push in the first 10 minutes, and our push back was even greater. It was good to see. You’re going to face that challenge in some buildings, and the home team is going to garner the edge, but you have to take it away from them.”

The Stars were very excited about giving Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley wins in their returns to Boston. They were acquired for Loui Eriksson this past summer, and the Boston media spent this past Summer and fall performing quite the character assassination on Seguin, so the fact that he scored the shootout-deciding goal--with Peverley scoring as well--was delightful for him and terrible for the Bruins fans who mocked him in his return to beantown, as noted by the AP...

"I have to say it's a special game," Seguin said. "I knew where this was on the calendar. I knew my first time in Boston."


Seguin scored on Dallas' second shot, tying the shootout 1-all after Patrice Bergeron scored on Boston's first attempt. Then Peverley put the puck through Tuukka Rask's pads on the Stars' fourth and final shot.


The Bruins lost those finals in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. Now they have lost four of five games after winning four in a row.


It was the second straight shootout win for the Stars. On Sunday, Jamie Benn scored the winner in a 4-3 victory over Ottawa.

Vernon Fiddler tied the game for Dallas on a penalty shot with 2:34 left in the third period after he was tripped from behind by Dennis Seidenberg. It erased a lead Boston took with 8:21 remaining when Milan Lucic tipped in Dougie Hamilton's shot from the blue line.

The other goals came in the first period with Benn scoring for Dallas at 3:38 and Torey Krug tying it at 4:16.

And DallasStars.com's Mark Stepneski:

Seguin scored in the second round of the shootout and Peverley’s goal in the fourth round won the game for the Stars, who improved to 4-1-2 over their last seven games and are now 7-6-2- on the season.

“I knew where this was on the calendar, my first time in Boston, obviously the win for me personally but for this team,” said Seguin, who along with Peverley, were playing against the Bruins for the first time since being traded to Dallas in July. “It was a great identity win for us. They were one of the best third period teams in the league, have been for a while. We found a way.”

The Stars weathered an early storm when the Bruins, aided by a couple of power plays, had a 15-1 advantage in shots. The Stars took it to the Bruins after that, outshooting them 35-21 the rest of the way. Still, the Stars found themselves down a goal late in the game, but got a penalty shot goal from Vernon Fiddler with 2:34 remaining to get the game to overtime.

“After the first ten minutes of the game we started to find our game a little bit,” said Fiddler. “We can’t sit back and watch. We have to be an on our toes kind of team. I think once we started doing that we played a lot better, got a lot more chances and we even defended more. We’ve got to build on the last two periods and go from there.”

“I thought the leadership of our team was fantastic after the first period,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I give it all to (Jamie) Benn and Fidds. What Fidds did in the first, and even the penalty killing with Horc (Shawn Horcoff) and all those guys. Those guys deserve a lot of credit. You can say all you want as a coach, but I think those were the guys out there that went and changed the game. Fidds made the biggest difference late with the penalty shot.”


Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 34 of 36 shots on the night, came up big with just over 11 minutes remaining in the third, stopping a close range bid by Brad Marchand.

Stepneski also penned a Wings-Stars preview, and this is just a small part of his preview:

About the Stars

The Stars (7-6-2) are coming off a 3-2 shootout win over Boston at TD Garden on Tuesday. Vernon Fiddler scored the game-tying goal on a penalty shot with 2:34 remaining and former Bruins Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley scored in the shootout in their first game against Boston since being traded to Dallas.

“It was a great identity win for us,” said Seguin. “They were one of the best third period teams in the league, have been for a while. We found a way.”

The Stars are 2-0-0 on their current road trip, which wraps up Thursday in Detroit. The Stars are 4-1-2 in their last seven games overall. Thursday’s game will be a homecoming for Stars GM Jim Nill, who spent 19 seasons in Red Wings’ management, including the last 15 as assistant GM, before being hired by the Stars in late April.

“It’s going to be odd, but it’s going to be nice to see a lot of people I haven’t seen,” Nill said. “When I left there it was kind of quick and kind of gone type of thing. They were getting ready for the playoffs, I got hired down here and I didn’t really get a chance to say goodbye to a lot of people. It’s going to be nice to go back there and see everybody in the arena, say hello to the players and get in there and do our job.”

The Stars practiced in Detroit Wednesday. Captain Jamie Benn and goaltender Kari Lehtonen were given maintenance days.


Series Notes

*This is the first of two meetings between the Stars and Red Wings this season .

*The Stars were 1-2-0 against Detroit last season.

*The Stars are 102-105-36 all-time against Detroit.

NHL.com's David Kalan provides a balanced preview...

Big story: The Red Wings return home from a four-game road trip to face the Stars, who are trying to building momentum after winning back-to-back games for just the second time this season.


Stars [team scope]: Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley arrived in Dallas in one of the biggest trades of this past offseason with Loui Eriksson heading in the opposite direction to the Boston Bruins. On Tuesday night Seguin and Peverley made a statement to their old team in their first trip back to Boston since the deal, as each scored in the shootout to help lift the Stars to a 3-2 win.


Perhaps more important than Seguin and Peverley's revenge was Dallas got its second win in a row. While the Stars are still in sixth place in the Central Division, each point is pivotal in what is shaping up to be a tight playoff race in the Western Conference. Despite the consecutive wins, however, the Stars still face an uphill climb. Both wins came in shootouts and Dallas has just two wins in regulation in its past 12 games.

Only one team in the Western Conference, the Edmonton Oilers, has fewer regulation/overtime wins on the season.

Red Wings [team scope]: Detroit came within one game of a perfect 4-0 road trip, but instead of getting an impressive sweep through western Canada, the Red Wings looked tired playing their third game in four nights and were doubled up, 4-2, by the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. The loss came despite a superb outing by goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 43 saves on 47 shots.


The Red Wings are still tied for first place in the Atlantic Division, a notable feat considering they have a negative overall goal differential this season. Now that Detroit's road trip is over the team will get to stay put for a while. The Wings play seven of their next eight games at Joe Louis Arena.

Who's hot: Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen stopped 67 of 72 shots over Dallas' past two games. Lehtonen has one regulation loss in his past five starts. … Pavel Datsyuk has a goal and three assists over his past three games for the Red Wings.

And Stats LLC's preview adds the kind of context you'd assume they'd focus upon--while focusing on the Wings:

Detroit will seek to avoid its first four-game losing streak at Joe Louis Arena in four seasons Thursday night against the Dallas Stars.


The Red Wings haven't done that [well at home] lately, totaling three goals in their last three home games and losing them all. Detroit, which hasn't had a four-game skid at Joe Louis since Nov. 18-27, 2009, has scored more than two goals only once in seven home games this season.


The Stars have lost six of seven to the Red Wings but did win 2-1 in Detroit on Jan. 22, though they dropped the final two final two matchups last season by a combined 7-1 margin.

Howard was in net for all three meetings and faced just 17 shots in a 3-0 win at Dallas on April 27 in the most recent one. Zetterberg had two goals and an assist in that victory and has 11 points in his last six games against the Stars.

While Seguin has registered 11 of his team-best 15 points on the road, Stars second-leading scorer Jamie Benn has posted nine of his 14 away from home but has no goals and four assists in seven trips to Joe Louis. Benn has been held without a point in his last three matchups with Detroit.

The Red Wings were hoping to get Johan Franzen back from an illness Thursday, but his status is unknown after he left practice Wednesday. Franzen missed three of the four games on the trip.

Based upon Wednesday's practice news, it sounds like Franzen will be out for the game, but Jonas Gustavsson's probably ready to back up Jimmy Howard this evening.

As such, Jared Coreau will be reassigned to the Toledo Walleye, but don't feel too badly for him; the Walleye are headed to Florida to play the Florida Everblades just south of Fort Myers FL on Saturday, and then they play a pair of games in Orlando. It's a tough life!

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke with the Wings about their home-ice struggles...

“We’re going to have to find a way to get on a roll here because we got to make this a tough place to play,” Howard said. “This is a great place to play, especially in front of our fans, how passionate they are. We just got to come out and be focused tomorrow night.”

So far this season, the Wings are 3-2-2 at Joe Louis Arena, and their 6-3-0 record on the road is the best among Eastern Conference teams. Typically, the Red Wings have struggled in their first home game following a long road trip. But after Monday’s 4-2 disappointment in Winnipeg – where the Wings were badly outshot by the Jets, 47-28 – Babcock expects a strong showing against the Stars.

“We struggled the last game of the trip to make sure that wasn’t going to happen (Thursday),” Babcock said. “We know we’ve got eight of the next 10 at home. We all know how important playing at home is and we know when we turn the puck over we’re no good.”

As well as their penalty-killing...

The Red Wings have killed off a season-long 18 straight penalties and now rank No. 9 in the league, having killed 52-of-61 chances. The last power-play goal that Detroit allowed was Benoit Pouliot’s second-period tally in the New York Rangers’ 3-2 overtime win on Oct. 26.


Though Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg all own struggling power plays, which are in the bottom third of the league, shutting them down was still a huge thing for the Wings, defenseman Kyle Quincey said

“If we win the specialty teams battle nine times out of 10 we’re going to win the game, so we’ve put a huge emphasis on the penalty kill,” Quincey said. “You see in practice we worked on that for a good 10-15 minutes. On this team it seems like we have our power-play guys and our PK guys, and the penalty kill for us, really, is our power play. So we take a lot of pride in it.”

And MLive's Ansar Khan dished out a scary set of statistics regarding the Wings' issues with turnovers:

Neutral-zone turnovers led to three goals for Winnipeg in the Jets’ 4-2 win over Detroit on Monday. Puck management has been an issue for the Red Wings, who ranked sixth in the league in giveaways (143) before Wednesday’s games.

“I think there is no issues sorting out when you don’t turn the puck over,’’ Babcock said. “When you turn the puck over and it’s a festival and no one knows who’s got who, that’s a sort-out problem. But one thing will prevent them both, so let’s not turn the puck over.’’

He huddled with the defense at the end of practice Wednesday to talk turnovers.

“If you’re tired of dashes (minuses) by your name in the second period when you’re near the red line, instead of passing it rink-wide to someone that doesn’t want it why not just put it back in deep and let us forecheck?’’ Babcock said. “We talked quite a bit about that and sorting it out. But ideally there are less sort-outs because there are less turnovers.’’

Including overtimes and shootouts, the Red Wings have lost more games at JLA than they’ve won (21-14-8) since their NHL-record 23-game home winning streak from Nov. 5, 2011 to Feb. 19, 2012.

“I don’t think anyone in this locker room’s worried about how we’re playing at home, all I know is that we have correct it,’’ forward Drew Miller said.

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa also took note of the Wings' defensive issues, noting that the Red Wings spent a significant chunk of Wednesday's practice focusing on moving the puck up ice without opening that Turnover Bakery between the bluelines:

One of the longer drills emphasized exiting the defensive zone and progressing through the neutral zone. Near the end of practice, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock huddled with the defensive corps for a significant period.

“We know when we turn the puck over, we’re no good,” he said afterward.

Asked if structural and identifying aspects of the defensemen’s play — maintaining proper position and recognizing what is coming at them — is the problem, Babcock cited turnovers instead.

“I think there’s no edge to sorting things out when you don’t turn the puck over and it’s easy,” he said. “I think when you turn the puck over and it’s a festival, and no one knows who’s got who, that’s a ‘sort-out’ problem. But the one thing would prevent them both. So let’s not turn it over.”

Niklas Kronwall, the dean of the defensive corps and a leader, said the work is important even though the defense played better on the road than at home two weeks ago.

“It’s a pretty simple game when you do things the right way,” Kronwall said.

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness took care of the injuries and boogers department, noting that Franzen left practice early, and is all but certain to be "out" for tonight's game...

“I don’t know what the schedule is on Mule, I just know he’s not feeling good,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after practice Wednesday.

But Jonathan Ericsson believes that he'll be back on November 15th, which is good to hear:

Ericsson practiced for the first time with teammates after suffering an injury on Oct. 19.

“It feels good right now, I can do pretty much anything on the ice,” Ericsson said. “It’s just a matter of seeing how much I can take, all the hits and bumping. That’s the only question mark.”

One good thing of his being sidelined was the amount of time he’s got to spend with his newborn daughter, Liv.

“Evelina (his fiancée) has been grateful for me to be able to stay home and kind of help out as best as I can,” Ericsson said. “It’s been good for me to spend extra time with the little one. It’s been good for me, too.”

Khan had the Wings skating with the following lines and Jonas Gustavsson in his own net on Wednesday:

Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (stiff neck) said he's ready to come off short-term injured reserve and back-up Jimmy Howard on Thursday. The Red Wings will reassign goalie Jared Coreau, who joined them for practice Wednesday.

Defenseman Brendan Smith (shoulder, short-term IR) did not skate.

It appears Mikael Samuelsson will return to the lineup Thursday, replacing Jordin Tootoo, who was placed on waivers. Here are the lines they skated with Wednesday:

Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi

Daniel Cleary-Stephen Weiss-Daniel Alfredsson (Patrick Eaves working in)

Justin Abdelkader-Joakim Andersson-Tomas Tatar (Johan Franzen working in)

Drew Miller-Darren Helm-Mikael Samuelsson (Jordin Tootoo working in)


Niklas Kronwall-Danny DeKeyser

Kyle Quincey-Jakub KIndl

Brian Lashoff-Adam Almquist

Jonathan Ericsson


Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Jared Coreau

As for Jim Nill's return to the Joe, I chose to save this "for last" because he's not playing. The Free Press's Helene St. James posted a video of Nill discussing his Detroit recollections...

The Dallas News's Mike Heika noted that Nill and Stars president Jim Lites, who was the man helping the Red Wings' Soviet defectors join the team in the early 90's (he helped Sergei Fedorov skidaddle from a Seattle hotel during the Goodwill Games in 1990, he and Jimmy Devellano engineered the cancer diagnosis and Chevrolet Caprice-sized bribe that brought Vladimir Konstantinov to Detroit, and Lites helped convince the Russians that Slava Kozlov was only coming to Detroit to have facial injuries suffered in a severe car accident addressed), have been reunited in Dallas, and Heika framed Nill's arrival in Detroit as a GM as someone returning to the Hockeytown he helped build hoping to achieve similar results in Dallas...

“It’s the next step,” he said. “It’s part of life that you have to grow and change and try new things. It’s important.”

Nill will be able to look forward and look back Thursday, as the Stars take on his old team for the first time. Nill has seen his coach, Lindy Ruff, return to Buffalo and his superstar Tyler Seguin return to Boston, and he expects he will feel many of the emotions they felt. But he also knows it’s an important step as the Stars move forward.

“There’s so many great memories here, and they will never change,” Nill said. “But now, it’s time to create the same kind of memories in Dallas.”

Not unlike the decrepit Fox Theatre, the Red Wings were sort of a mess back in the 1980s. Nill was a Red Wings player back then, and he remembers crowds under 5,000 and plenty of apathy as the team struggled to even make the playoffs.

“We weren’t ‘Hockeytown’ back then,” he said with a smile.

But the construction began on a strong foundation, and the team took off on a playoff run that now numbers 22 consecutive years — longest active streak among the four major sports. Nill looks back on that and sees the Stars.

“I’ve seen it build, and I know it can be done,” he said. “But it’s about people. Do things right, treat people right, and you can build it right.”

Dallas Stars radio host Josh Bogorad serves as an "independent contributor" to the Stars' website (gee, ya think it'd be neat if the Wings allowed "independent contributors" to work for 'em?), and he frames Nill's reunion with the Wings as follows...

The latest stop down memory lane comes as General Manager, Jim Nill, returns to Detroit on Thursday. Nill won’t skate a shift or take a shot in Thursday’s game at the Joe, but rest assured that this return has a place alongside any of the aforementioned. Prior to being named the 11th GM in Stars history, Nill spent almost two decades calling “Hockeytown” his home. With 19 years as a member of Red Wings management – and the last 15 as Assistant GM, Nill was a part of four Stanley Cup winning teams, six President Trophies, and 12 Division titles. He is credited for being one of the key men behind the scenes of Detroit’s dynasty. His returning at the helm of a different organization will be just as surreal to him as it was for Ruff to walk into the visitor’s room at First Niagara. And just as the players knew how special a night that game in Buffalo would be for their coach, Ruff and Co. understand what kind of night this will be for Nill.

There is no denying that Nill’s fingerprints are all over the Stars roster this season, and the new GM has already endeared himself to his players and staff. With Detroit’s summer shift to the Eastern Conference, Dallas gets only one visit this season.

Getting a single game in one of the NHL’s most iconic  venues will certainly be motivation enough for the Stars. But while it might not generate Ruff and Seguin-like headlines, rest assured everyone in Victory Green knows what this means to their off-ice leader, and they want to do everything possible to be able to hand him a game-winning puck before the trip home.

And MLive's Ansar Khan engaged in a lengthy Q and A with Nill. Here are some of the highlights of a very long and involved article:

Was it emotional coming back to Joe Louis Arena?

“Yeah, it was. When I got hired back in May we had to keep everything very quiet. Things happened very quickly and I was over in Sochi, Russia, actually, at the Under-18 World Championships when a lot of this took place. And then because of the situation and the season were still going on and the playoffs where going to start up it had to happen fast and we had to stay quiet. So I never had an opportunity to come back here just to see the staff, the players. I saw a lot of the guys at the draft, but I never saw the players and just the staff around Joe Louis. … It was a big part of our life for 18 years. It was a great run here, so it was good.”

Why did you decide this was the right opportunity, after turning down previous offers (including one from Montreal)?

“It was just the situation and the timing. You think you’re ready for things, but it was the right time because I knew I was ready. With all of the years here I had been through all of the situations. (Stars owner) Tom Gaglardi and his family, I met with them, I liked what their vision was, which was important. I liked where their team was at and it was just a gut feeling. My wife (Bekki) and I sat down. She was the one that said we’ve got to go. She was ready for it. She had some type of calling and said, ‘This is it. Let’s go.” I said, ‘Are you sure?’ and she said, ‘Yup.’ And away we went.”

Mrs. Nill has been engaged in a long and repeated battle with breast cancer, so her health and the Nill family's ability to find the right medical care in Dallas played a big role in their decision-making process.

How often do you keep in touch with Ken Holland?

“We talk all the time. You’re always talking to other GMs, but Ken and I have a special relationship. I was actually at his son’s (Brad) wedding up in Toronto during the summer, so we keep in touch all of the time. We go back to the junior days, been together a long time.’’

Do you still follow the Red Wings?

“I watch them all of the time. Like I said, it was a big part of my life and most of these players, part of the drafting and the developing process, they’re almost like family, the Henrik Zetterbergs and (Pavel) Datsyuks. I was just talking to Pavel, I remember picking him up at the airport when he was 19, the first time he came over here to development camp. I picked him up with my two kids and we were just talking about that. It goes back a long ways. Great connections here, great people and the City of Detroit’s great and it’s been a great part of our life.”

“When I went to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch when I knew that I was leaving, we talked. We had some good laughs and some cries, but we said the good thing is if we meet it’s going to be in the (Stanley Cup) finals. That would be a nice way to do it.”




Regarding Mr. Tootoo, the Macomb Daily's Pleiness posted a video of Babcock discussing Jordin Tootoo's status...

As did the Free Press's Helene St. James:

The story goes like this, per Pleiness...

“This is the situation here, we have too many right wingers,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re not giving him a fair opportunity. He’s done nothing wrong. He’s played hard. He’s been a good teammate. He’s done all those things right. We’ll see what happens.”

Tootoo practiced with the team, but was unavailable for comment after. If Tootoo, 30, isn’t claimed by noon Thursday, Wings general manager Ken Holland said he won’t be assigned to Grand Rapids like most players are after clearing waivers. The move won’t be necessary until defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder) comes off long-term injured reserve on Nov. 15.

If Tootoo goes unclaimed it’ll free up $925,000 from the salary cap.

“If Toot’s can get himself a place to play, where he gets to play every night that’s fantastic, good for him,” Babcock said. “If not, we’ll talk to him tomorrow and we’ll figure out what we’re doing here tomorrow.”

Tootoo, who has played in eight games this season and has yet to record a point, has one more year left on a three-year deal that paid him $1.9 million a season.

“It’s just a numbers game,” Babcock said. “That’s reality. I think Toot’s is a good man, good teammate and a good player.”

And Khan:

Ken Holland said there is "no chance'' that skilled young forward Gustav Nyquist will be recalled from Grand Rapids for Thursday's game against the Dallas Stars at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).

The Red Wings would need to move somebody else off the roster to make room for Nyquist once defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder) comes off long-term injured reserve on Nov. 15. And once Nyquist plays two more NHL games, he loses his waiver-exempt status.

Nyquist leads the Griffins with 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) heading into today’s game against Rockford. He was tied for third in scoring in the AHL.

The Red Wings signed Tootoo to a three-year, $5.7 million contract on July 1, 2012, the first day of free agency. The scrappy forward had spent his first eight NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators.

The Red Wings were looking to add some toughness and a physical presence. Tootoo immediately provided that abrasive element. He appeared in 42 games last season but played in only one postseason game, as Babcock opted to go with players who provided other elements (scoring, penalty killing).

Tootoo has no points, a minus-4 rating and five penalty minutes (from his first and only fight of the season Monday in Winnipeg against Chris Thorburn) in eight games. He missed much of the preseason and the first few regular season games with a bruised shoulder.



In the prospect department, in the QMJHL, it was another ho-hum night for Anthony Mantha. He registered 2 assists in the Val-d'Or Foreurs' 5-2 win over Phillipe Hudon and the Victoriaville Tigres (Hudon didn't register a point and finished at -1 in his return from a 4-game suspension).

Mantha now has 20 goals, 25 assists and 45 points registered over the course of 18 games played, and Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager reports that trade rumors persist regarding the Foreurs getting maximum value for Mantha given that they're not exactly stacked.

Kyle Greene from HockeyRumorsandTrades penned a superb translation of Mantha's interview with Le Soleil's Kathleen Lavoie. Many thanks for the translation!

Mantha Quotes:

- On clearing up his name: “When I was part of the Red Wings camp, they asked me to be consistent. If your intense every day, no one can really critique you. It’s something that attached to my name and I’m trying to sweep it away this year. I think that it has started to pay off. At the same time, it’s certain that the world will not stop thinking this overnight. But I think that if they come to see me play this year, they will see a difference.”

- From the Foreurs' Coach: “His talent as a marker, its offensive instinct, is undeniable. This is a player who can take defenders on the back foot with his acceleration. He has a shot that’s not common, a shot of player of the national league. This year, he has also improved a lot of points that he was criticized about, such as his physical involvement along the boards. He proved he was intelligent enough and open-minded to take it into account in his summer preparation.”

- On the World Juniors: “It is sure that I am excited about this idea. The only thing is that my place is not assured. Yes, I earned an invitation, but the leadership of Canada’s junior team will really choose the guy they need in Sweden. So I will continue to work hard here to make their decision easier. That said, there are so many good players in Canada ..”

- On a possible QMJHL trade: “At this time, I try not to think too much about the possibility of an exchange. I am in Val d'Or for at least two more months. No matter what happens this Christmas season, I will be satisfied. Me, I have a goal this year, it’s to make it as far as possible in the playoffs. And if we end up going to the Memorial Cup, I will be even more pleased. This is the dream of every junior player.”

- On going to the draft with his grandfather André Pronovost (1962-65 Red Wings player): “For him, it was his first draft, because in his time, there was none. And he lived it as if it was his. In addition, I was drafted by an organization for which he has played, so he was in heaven! And I don’t think it was just him. My family and friends were also very happy. It was really an amazing day.”

- On Red Wings training camp: “I was going there to learn. We all know the approach of Detroit. They take their time with their prospects. Even so, I went there with the mentality to make the team, because I needed a positive thinking. When I was cut off, I understood that they wanted their players present at each day, each workout, each game. It is with this idea in mind that I came back to Val-d'Or and that is what I am trying to apply.”

- On his 3 year entry-level contract: “It was very pleasant news. My agent was surprised that they called to negotiate because it is not in their habits. When he told me this, I was already happy.”

- On having his first NHL game: “I’m hoping as soon as possible, but I will have to work hard,  for perhaps even the next two or three years, even before you have a first game. You never know ...”

In the WHL, Mitchell Wheaton didn't register a point in the Kelowna Rockets' 6-2 win over Red Deer;

In Sweden, Mattias Janmark and Team Sweden will begin the Karjala Cup, the second leg of the Euro Hockey Tour, when they play the Czech Republic at Lakerol Arena in Gavle, Sweden today;

And back up at the NHL level, we tend to forget that Danny DeKeyser is in fact a Calder Trophy-eligible rookie, and he scored his first NHL goal on Monday night. DeKeyser spoke with DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson about the feat--and his development thus far:

“It was pretty special for me,” said Danny DeKeyser. “It’s always good to get the first goal and get it out of the way. It feels like there’s a little bit of a weight on your shoulders trying to get the first one so it felt good, it felt like a relief.”

DeKeyser scored his first professional goal in a 4-2 loss Monday at Winnipeg. The rookie defenseman was the lucky recipient of a shorthanded faceoff, as Stephen Weiss swiftly won the draw and passed the puck back to Niklas Kronwall. Kronner quickly found DeKeyser for the slapshot at 10:05 of the second period, a memory the 23-year-old won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

“It was right in the middle of the game, but a few guys on the bench said congrats on the first goal,” DeKeyser said. “It was good to get it, get it out of the way and keep playing.”

Niklas Kronwall got downright gushy about his defensive partner's status as an incredibly fast learner, too:

“Coming in the way he did last year, it really is impressive,” Kronwall said. “I don’t think people realize what he did. To come in straight from college and basically come in and play top-four minutes, it’s very unusual. But he comes from a good background, he’s a really good guy, a really good young player, who wants to learn, asking questions and just wants to improve and get better all the time.”

There’s no doubt that DeKeyser has continued to improve in his 27 games with the Red Wings. The 23-year-old was promoted to the top defensive pairing with Kronwall during a recent game in Vancouver, matching up across from the canucks’ top forward line of Ryan Kesler and Henrik and Daniel Sedin, one of the NHL’s most powerful lines. But as defensemen know all too well, it’s not necessarily about the plays you make, but the mistakes you avoid. DeKeyser is following that principle like a professional far beyond his 23 years.

“He’s doing so many other good things for us out there,” said Kronwall. “He’s helping our team in so many ways that scoring maybe hasn’t been that big a part of it so to speak. But now he’s stepped up, he’s got a good shot and we’d like for him to use it as often as possible.”

Nelson continues, her article is worth your time and then some, and here's DeKeyser's goal:




In the promotional department...

WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids is holding a contest for a pair of tickets to the Wings' game against Nashville on November 19th, but you have to pick up the tickets from WOOD TV8's offices in Grand Rapids, so this one's a Western Michigander-oriented contest;

And the Red Wings posted a list of their at-the-rink promotions taking place this month:

The Red Wings may have played their last four games on the road, but nine of their next 13 will be back in Detroit. And Hockeytown fans will have plenty to look forward to during the homestand.

In celebration of the home-favored November schedule, the Red Wings will host giveaways at each of their next nine games in Detroit, highlighted by three bobblehead nights.

The fan-favorite bobblehead nights will kick off this Thursday, Nov. 7 as the Red Wings host the Dallas Stars. The first 7,500 fans at Joe Louis Arena will receive a Henrik Zetterberg bobblehead courtesy of AT&T. Detroit will host two more bobblehead nights on Saturday, November 23 and Wednesday, Dec. 4, giving away Daniel Alfredsson and Pavel Datsyuk bobbleheads at each game, respectively, to the first 7,500 fans in attendance. The Red Wings will host two additional bobblehead nights, scheduled for later dates in the season.

But the fun doesn’t end there. On Saturday, Nov. 9, the first 9,000 fans at the Joe Louis Arena will receive a fleece scarf in honor of the DTE Energy Warmth with Wings Night. The annual Military Appreciation Night will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 12 when the Red Wings host the Winnipeg Jets. To support Detroit’s salute to the military, the first 7,500 fans at the game will receive a military style hat.

The Red Wings also welcome back Fathead Fridays this month, as the first 10,000 fans at the Nov. 15 matchup between Detroit and Washington will receive a Fathead, courtesy of Quicken Loans and Fathead.

To honor two former Red Wings that are being inducted into the 2013 Hockey Hall of Fame, Detroit will host separate Hall of Fame Nights for the inductees in November. Three-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Chelios will be recognized on Tuesday, Nov. 19, while former teammate Brendan Shanahan will be honored two nights later when the Red Wings host the Hurricanes. Fans in attendance at the Hall of Fame Night games will receive commemorative posters courtesy of DMC. In addition, the Hockey Hall of Fame will have special Chelios and Shanahan displays on the JLA concourse.

The month of giveaways winds down with the Red Wings Orange Hat Night. The first 5,000 fans at the arena to watch the Red Wings take on the Bruins Nov. 27 will receive orange hats courtesy of Carhartt.

For a full list of promotions and giveaways during the 2013-14 season, please visit http://www.redwings.nhl.com/promotionsandgiveaways




Also of Red Wings-related note: For what it's worth, CBS Sports' Brian Stubits reports that the Bovada.lv estimates the Wings' Cup odds to be 14-1, seventh-best in the NHL;

SI's Allan Muir's penned another slate of Team USA "Goalie Power Rankings," and while Jimmy Howard's record is unimpressive at 5-5-and-2,  Muir believes that Howard's the second-best option for Team USA right now:

2. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Howard plays such an unsexy game that it’s hard to get excited about his candidacy, but his ability to play at such a consistently high level has to be reassuring to the American brass. He was brilliant in a loss to the Jets on Monday. (Last week: 2)

USA Today's Kevin Allen sounded a similiar note on Tuesday:

3. Howard, consistency is his strong suit.

If you were wondering about Team Sweden, coach Par Marts told Expressen's Mattias Ek that he plans on taking 23 NHL'ers and only 2 SHL or KHL'ers to Sochi, and that he's enjoying watching Daniel Alfredsson play. More NHL'ers = more likely that Jonathan Ericsson and Johan Franzen will join Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg on Team Sweden;




I can only call Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika's story about Brendan Shanahan, which Paul already posted, must-read...

“I don’t think people realize the void I felt when I couldn’t play hockey anymore, because it wasn’t just being a pro, it was something I’d been doing since I was 4 and 5,” Shanahan said. “The weather gets like this, you start to twitch.”

It was autumn outside as he spoke, and you could feel the coming winter’s chill in the air.

“I don’t know if I’d call it a dream or a nightmare, but I probably had dreams for at least two years after retiring about playing,” Shanahan said. “I’d wake up and almost say to myself, to my brain, ‘Would you get on board with this? It’s over.’ ”

Shanahan, 44, has filled the void with work – maybe too well. He is the NHL’s disciplinarian, carrying his BlackBerry and iPad 24/7, reviewing incidents, handing out suspensions, getting second-guessed. It is an important, thankless job.

But he is entering the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in his hometown of Toronto, and this is a time to look at Shanahan, not just the Shanabans. This is a time to remember his roots, appreciate the player he became and maybe understand a bit better why he took on this task. This is a time for him to finally find closure, too.

The man was an elite power forward who scored, fought and won. He racked up 656 goals, 1,354 points and 2,489 penalty minutes in 1,524 regular-season games. He won three Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal. He said he hasn’t written his speech yet – too busy – but at a time when he cannot have an allegiance to any team, all he wants is to have one of his peers say: “I wanted him on my team. I wanted that guy as a teammate.”

“I see this,” Shanahan said, “as a chance to say goodbye to something I loved.”




And I can only promise you my best effort today. The wear and tear of the Western Canadian road trip and that sinus bug I've been battling for a while are catching up to me, and even after a "half day" off, I'm hangin' on. I'll participate as the boogers and chills allow today.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


Laran's avatar

his “no-trade clause” means that he can submit a list of 8-12 teams to which he will not be traded, but he can be moved

Really? I haven’t seen this info anywhere.  I was under the impression it was a full no trade clause.

Posted by Laran on 11/07/13 at 06:55 AM ET


The Wings do not have the cap space, despite your proclaiming they do.

Read the cap geek bubble of projected LTIR:

Projected long-term injured reserve credits that will be accrued at season’s end if the current roster does not change.

That means the roster can’t changed to have that cap space, which means it assumes Ericsson stays on LTIR for the rest of the season.

When E comes off on 11/15, not only will Tootoo be in GR, they will have to waive Eaves as well.  Then a third body will have to be gone to even consider bringing up Nyquist.

Helm’s 14 games, Eaves’ 12 games and E’s 12 games on LTIR do not come close to clearing the preseason cap overage, particularly when you add in all the GR callups: Glendening, the two defensemen, the goalie, Emmerton.  There’s no way in double hockey sticks they’ve cleared more than $2.5 million.

Posted by jkm2011 on 11/07/13 at 09:38 AM ET


Sammy not having a full no trade clause is the best news I have heard in long time.

Posted by lancer on 11/07/13 at 10:53 AM ET


In the clip posted above Babs says Tootoo is in the last year of his deal… even he thinks Kenny couldn’t possibly have signed 22 to a 3 year deal!

Posted by Uncle Rico on 11/07/13 at 11:57 AM ET

Laran's avatar

Can you confirm the NTC info George? Is this info available anywhere online?  Capgeek states full no-trade clause. (doesn’t always have all the details)

Posted by Laran on 11/07/13 at 04:24 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.