The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/01/13 at 11:35 AM ET
I shook off my "sleeper" antidepressant to watch Manchester United tangle with Liverpool this morning (think the Wings, circa 2003, versus Boston, circa 2010),so I figured that I may as well put some work in, and here are the results thereof.
Howard told St. James that he plans on doing his best to prove that he's a U.S. Olympic-caliber netminder over the course of the first three months of the 2013-2014 season, and Howard also told Savage that he's well aware of the fact that this early-starting and particularly long NHL season will provide non-Olympic challenges as well:
"We've got a lot going on, don't we?" the Red Wings veteran goaltender said. "Winter Classic. A lot of guys here are trying for Olympic spots. 'HBO 24-7.' It's going to be pretty hectic around here."
As St. James and Savage cover similar territory, I'll let you read Howard's Olympic-related comments to Savage on your own as I'd prefer to focus on Howard's take on the Wings moving to the Eastern Conference...
"It's a little bit of a transition," Howard admitted. "You know who the stars are. New conference, there's going to definitely be a transition of learning everyone's tendency, especially the role guys. Learning teams, how they play. Having (Daniel Alfredsson) around and some of the other guys who have played in the East is really good."
And his take on the Winter Classic, too:
Then there's the Winter Classic Jan. 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, where a world record crowd of 115,000 is expected to be on hand. The Red Wings will also be the subject of HBO's popular "24/7" program leading up to the game. Add it all up and Howard is expecting perhaps the most exciting season of his career.
"I think it will be," he said. "It's one of those things where you'll be able to look back and it will be pretty neat."
Savage notes that we're not too-far-removed from the start of the regular season, and that the Wings will play in their first preseason games in a little over two weeks:
The Red Wings begin training camp Sept. 12 in Traverse City, their first preseason game is Sept. 16 at Pittsburgh and they open the regular season Oct. 2 against the Buffalo Sabres at Joe Louis Arena.
Savage also posted a video interview with Howard:
For what it's worth, Yahoo Sports' slate of fantasy hockey previews (Puck Daddy's bloggers have already posited a top-100 players list and takes on the best forwards and defensemen available to poolies) concludes with Dobber Hockey's Michael Amato suggesting that Jimmy Howard's near the top of the "second tier" of NHL goalies...
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Detroit goalies have a reputation for being overrated and just being along for the ride while collecting wins, but Howard seems to be doing a good job of dispelling that theory. In three of the last four campaigns he has posted a SV% of at least .920 and he made the sixth most saves among starters in 2013.
And the story's accompanied with a lovely "glamor picture" of Howard taken at the U.S. Olympic orientation camp (showing some ink?). Getty Images actually has a treasure trove's worth of awkward posed and profile pictures available if you're interested in looking at train-wrecks, like Danny DeKeyser, soul eater.
In international news, Mattias Janmark-Nylen didn't play and Sweden was shut out 5-0 by Finland in the Czech Games today. Finland won the tournament;
And R-Sport reports that one of Sweden's players, Staffan (brother of Niklas) Kronwall, signed a 2-year contract extension with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl today.
Several Wings fans have asked me why Staffan hasn't attempted to make a second stab at earning NHL employment, and the answer's relatively simple: he's 30 years old and he's making more money as a top-pair KHL defenseman than he would as a player who'd have to take a 2-way deal and ride buses in the AHL to earn another opportunity to play in the best league in the world.
At this point in his career, he's earning an excellent living and he's finding stability in Yaroslavl, so there's no reason for him to give up the gains he's made monetarily or in terms of his role on his pro team.
In the prospect department, preseason games are underway in the Canadian Hockey League (the OHL, QMJHL and WHL), and I greeted this Tweet from DRW Prospects on Twitter with a raised eyebrow:
The Red Wings wanted Marek Tvrdon to turn pro with the Grand Rapids Griffins this season, and perhaps he will indeed do so after the prospect tournament, but the Vancouver Giants were lobbying very aggresively to keep Tvrdon in the WHL as an "over-ager" (a 20-year-old forward), and it's entirely possible that they convinced the Wings to leave Tvrdon with Vancouver given that the Griffins' roster's overflowing with prospects both up front and on defense.
In prospect news of a different kind, from Twitter...
Paul already mentioned this, but I...I kind of have to address it. The Boston Globe's Kevin Dupont made a bizarre comment about Daniel Alfredsson's decision to sign with the Red Wings over the Bruins, and it reminds me of the Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan's lambasting of "Detoilet":
The Red Wings on Friday tweeted the first pictures of newcomer Daniel Alfredsson on the ice, wearing his bright red Winged Wheel sweater. Painful for most onlookers from Ottawa, and a few here in the Hub of Hockey. The Bruins made an aggressive attempt to land Alfie as an unrestricted free agent, but he opted for the Wings, just a matter of days before Motown went into bankruptcy.
That's Dupont's last hockey-related comment in what he says is his last Sunday notebook, and it's an ignorant one.
I'm just baffled as to so many hockey writers' beliefs that Detroit hovers on an island separated from its suburbs and at least 3.5-4.5 million other people who live in the wide and vastly spread-out six thousand square miles of suburban sprawl, as well as their intimations that the Wings must surely somehow force their players to huddle in a razor-wire-rimmed compound reminiscent of downtown Baghdad with their families when not dashing through dangerous Detroit to skate at the Joe.
Hell, you'd think that some of the dingbats who've suggested that the Red Wings are owned by the city (they are not) or that the team will have to move because Joe Louis Arena is owned by the city (It is, but why the hell would the City stop operating a facility that brings in millions of dollars in revenue, even if it is an aged facility? And who the *#$%@& would buy it if the City was in fact in Chapter 11 ["everything must go!"] instead of Chapter 9 ["We'll pay our creditors what we can, but dude, we're not exactly selling the Spirit of Detroit for scrap copper here"] bankruptcy?).
I try to avoid bagging on journalists these days, but for *#$%@&'s sake, if that's the last thing you want to resonate with your readers after what you claim to be 25 years' worth of Sunday notebooks...
Detroit is a troubled city. Detroit is, in many places, a blighted and dangerous city. But as someone who is the son of a probation officer who worked in Detroit during the 70's, 80's and early 90's, and as someone who was born in Detroit 35-and-a-half years ago, and has spent his entire life in Southeastern Michigan, Downtown Detroit is at its safest and most vibrantly-populated with suburbanites and city natives alike, well, perhaps ever since the 60's, and even though the police and fire departments are unbelievably overworked and underfunded, the crime rates, high as they may be, are lower than they've ever been during my lifetime.
For that matter, the "wastelands" of suburban Detroit are anything but a poor imitation of the "Hub of Hockey." Minnesota may make its claim to be the "State of Hockey," and New York and Massachusetts are hockey powerhouses, but kids come from all over the world to play for AAA teams like Little Caesars, Compuware, Detroit Honeybaked, high school programs like Cranbrook-Kingswood and Catholic Central, the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, the OHL and NCAA teams, and when they grow up, AHL and IHL teams, as well as the NHL team that is anything but struggling financially.
Mean-spirited is as mean-spirited does.
Update: Well, this is a much better note to end upon:
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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.