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Red Wings Sunday news: Wings sign Athanasiou; NHL removes CoPa grass; Wings-Isles stuff; Alums lose

Amongst the day-after-the-Red Wings-lost again news stories found by this still-sleepless blogger:

Via Paul, TVA Sports' Renaud Lavoie reports that Red Wings have inked their third prospect of the fall to an entry-level deal, following up the team's signings of 2013 draft picks Anthony Mantha and Zach Nastasiuk by signing 2012 4th rounder Andreas Athanasiou to a 3-year deal on either Saturday night or Sunday morning:

Athanasiou probably not-so-coincidentally registered 3 assists and was named the 1st star in his Barrie Colts' 8-2 win over the Niagara IceDogs on Saturday evening.

In news of a very different kind of investment made to secure the use of one sports team's facility at the "expense" of another: Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea reports that Comerica Park no longer has grass on its playing surface, and that's because the NHL's had the grass removed to accommodate the Winter Classic's Hockeytown Winter Festival:

At a cost of up to $1 million, the National Hockey League is paying Kitty Hawk, N.C.-based Rink Specialists Inc. to build a temporary ice rink on the baseball stadium's infield for the Hockeytown Winter Festival games at the end of December.

New Kentucky bluegrass will be installed early next year at Comerica in the first full-field sod replacement at the ballpark since 2007.

The Detroit Tigers haven't awarded the contract to a sod farm for the new grass, which is scheduled to be installed in March to give it a month to take root before the 2014 baseball season begins.


Construction of the temporary ice rink at Comerica Park will begin the day after Thanksgiving, and such a project costs between $800,000 and $1 million, said Benn Breton, president and co-owner of Rink Specialists.

The firm, in business since 2006, constructs 20 outdoor temporary rinks a year, including two for the NHL, he said. In 2013, it is doing three NHL rinks, in Detroit, at Boston's Fenway Park and at minor-league baseball's Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y., for the Buffalo Sabres.

Rink Specialists will install the custom temporary rink and provide all of the staff, operations and maintenance during the events, Breton said. Everything used for the rink is shipped from the company's Maine facility, he said.

"We build all this equipment or we have it built," Breton said.

Shea continues at significant length, offering four-sport context regarding the bidding processes, materials and costs involved in replacing the Pistons' court, the ice at Joe Louis Arena, Comerica Park's grass and the turf and/or grass at Ford Field, Michigan Stadium and Spartan Stadium.



In terms of Red Wings-Islanders tailings, via RedWingsFeed, MLive's Brendan Savage asked the Wings how they could possibly lose five straight OT or shootout games...

"There's an explanation for it," said forward Johan Franzen, who scored for the Red Wings. "We don't score enough in the shootout. If we score more, we'd win more. It's tough. It's tough on the guy shooting. We're depending on them. There's a big mark on their back.

"When it's going (bad) like that for a while, it's tough to get the confidence you need to beat the goalie. It's not easy to score on a breakaway like that. We just need to win one in regulation. We play good enough to do it. Keep doing what we're doing and get a win in regulation and we'll start to feel better about ourselves."

Franzen also suggested that the OT slump might be settling into the Red Wings' collective mindset and coach Mike Babcock didn't disagree.

"It's like anything in life; it's gets in your head a little bit," Babcock said. "To me, we got to be hard-headed. We got to be mentally tough and bring it to the table. The standings could be a lot different for us if we won all those games, especially in the shootout. It's just a skills competition at the end of a game."

Darren Helm, who had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings, isn't so sure he buys the mental theory.

"I hope that's not the case," Helm said. "We're playing well to get to that position. We haven't been good enough in OT. I think we've been pretty good in first, second and third period. We have to find ways to score in OT and shootouts, which is tough. You're not going to win if you can't do that. Glass half empty, glass half full. You gotta look at the positives. Take the positives. Everybody knows how it feels to lose. It's not a good feeling. We got to turn it around here. But those points could help us in the end."

And Savage duly noted that the "glass half full" aspect of the past two nights' worth of games involves the chemistry built between and scoring progress displayed by Franzen, Helm, Tomas Tatar, who currently serve as the Wings' second line:

The trio has combined for nine points – four goals and five assists – in the last two games. Both were shootout losses but that kind of production is what coach Mike Babcock has been searching for all season from a line that doesn't feature Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.

"Outstanding," was Babcock's assessment of his second line after Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. "They've given us an opportunity. They've scored goals for us when we've needed them. They've given us a chance. That's what you want. That's what you need."

And to think two of the three are still working their way back into top form. Helm is still trying to get back to full strength after battling a variety of injuries for parts of three seasons and playing only one game last season. And Franzen missed five of six games with an upper-body injury before returning for the last three.

"I thought Helm and Mule have really taken a step for us," Babcock said. "When guys have been out for a while, conditioning kills you. There's no question. Helm went head-to-head with (Islanders captain John) Tavares most of the night and I thought he was outstanding. The Mule was strong for us."

Franzen scored twice and drew an assist in Friday's 4-3 shootout loss to Washington before picking up a goal in the setback against the Islanders. That gave him five goals and five assists in 16 games.

Four of those points have come in the last two games playing alongside Helm and Tatar.

"We're starting to get some chemistry," Franzen said. "We get great speed from both Helmer and Tats and Tats isn't afraid to hold on to the puck either."

Savage continues at some length, and the balance of his article's worth your time...




And I'll continue this entry with a highly improbable storyline: According to the Jackson Citizen-Patriot's Justin Hicks reports that the Red Wings' Alumni Association battled the Jackson Optimist All Stars, who hoped to raise funds to help bolster participation in hockey in Jackson-as well as to aid struggling families find a way to celebrate Christmas--and the Wings Alums'...Lost:

The Detroit Red Wings alumni team fought back from a 4-1 halftime deficit, but an odd-man rush gave the Jackson Optimist All Stars one last opportunity in the closing seconds, and they took advantage of it.

Jim Hanchett skated into the zone, puck on his stick, and sent a shot sailing past goaltender Ed Mio to earn the home team a 6-5 victory.

All 11 combined goals earned equal applause as fans split their love of the Red Wings and loyalty to Jackson.

One Red Wings fan, 43-year-old Jackson resident Thomas Carpenter, said he grew up watching Detroit play and felt young watching guys like Petr Klima, John Ogrondnick, Brent Fedyk and Mio play again.

“I love it,” Carpenter said. “It’s helping the Optimist Club and youth hockey programs; it’s just great. I was raised on the Red Wing and Petr was a grinder – he was always in the mix.”


Funds raised Saturday will help the Optimist Club of Jackson take about 35 children shopping for its annual Children’s Christmas Shopping Spree on December 14. The children purchase gifts for their families at Target and take them back to the arena to wrap them while enjoying a meal.

“This is for a good cause and that’s why we do it,” Klima said. “Sometimes, there’s not much support; you know, the kids don’t remember us, but their parents might. Everybody is struggling right now, so it can be hard to raise money, but this has been great. It’s really nice.”

Hicks continues, and there's a 15-image photo gallery embedded in his story.


Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink



Didnt mind the Helm line but it seems we cant have all lines rolling and playing well defensively in the same game. When everyones healthy it be cool to see these lines:

Posted by Anderj8 on 11/17/13 at 02:25 PM ET

tekjansen's avatar

By my count from Capgeek, the Wings with Double-A will have 54 players signed. What am I missing that gets them over the 50-player limit?

Posted by tekjansen on 11/17/13 at 03:02 PM ET


Posted by tekjansen on 11/17/13 at 02:02 PM ET

Players who are still eligible to have their ELCs “slide” do not count against the total. The Red Wings already had 4 such players signed, and I think Athanasiou would also qualify.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 11/17/13 at 03:17 PM ET



Posted by Anderj8 on 11/17/13

Think you might be getting close.

Posted by maltby18 on 11/17/13 at 04:46 PM ET


How about “Nyquist - Andersson - Jurco for a 4th line.  To make this happen, scratch Cleary, waive Samuelsson (for the roster spot not so much for the 100k for cap relief), trade Quincey (for the cap relief) and finally promote Ouellet or Sproul or Almquist.

Posted by RWlifer on 11/17/13 at 05:26 PM ET

BrendonTO's avatar

How about “Nyquist - Andersson - Jurco for a 4th line.  To make this happen, scratch Cleary, waive Samuelsson (for the roster spot not so much for the 100k for cap relief), trade Quincey (for the cap relief) and finally promote Ouellet or Sproul or Almquist.

Posted by RWlifer on 11/17/13 at 04:26 PM ET

On pretty much any other team this is exactly what would be happening, but Kenny has to have them overripe (winning the AHL championship doesn’t count) and Babs like Glendening and Cleary, not goal scorers.

Posted by BrendonTO on 11/17/13 at 06:30 PM ET


Well, we can consider this:  Given the recent veteran additions to the GRGs, we can swap head coaches with the Griffins.  To sweeten the deal we can send Cleary down to make it worthwhile for Babcock.smile)

Posted by RWlifer on 11/17/13 at 06:51 PM ET

joedaiceman's avatar

Disappointed - yes. Discouraged - no. The team has been playing undeniably well but just has not finished. They’ll fix it. To much talent on the ice and the front office. This is the Red Wings dammit, not some second rate organization.

Posted by joedaiceman on 11/17/13 at 08:54 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

Babs like Glendening

That’s potentially true but not the reason he gets called up when they need someone.  Glendening gets the nod because he can be sent back down, where Nyquist couldn’t be, and he is so cheap with a cap hit south of 600k.  It has little to do with Babcock’s preferences.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 11/17/13 at 11:47 PM ET


trade Quincey (for the cap relief)

Thank you for the laugh. I’m sure teams are lining up for that. Maybe we can get stamkos for sammy and tootoo as well.

Posted by brians neck on 11/18/13 at 01:11 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Optimists Ice Arena in Jackson is very important.  Growing up, it was maybe 40 min. away from me and STILL easily the closest rink.  We’re talking “no other indoor sheets, period”.  I know since then Adrian College built their new arena and it’s probably 1/2 hr away instead.  Last I knew though, I still knew of a couple of guys who made that drive to Jackson to play rec hockey there once or twice a week.  MI is blessed with many, many rinks but depending on where you’re located there really aren’t any close by in some areas.  That was me, I played my hockey outdoors on frozen lakes growing up.  Didn’t really have another choice.

As for the youth program, guys come out of it and on to other things.  MSU has a goalie who went to Addison HS I think and played in Jackson.  I know part of the problem is that it became more attractive for kids to go to Ann Arbor instead (especially if you want to get noticed by the USNTDP) but…

Lumen Christi has loads of $$$.  They should be putting some of that into helping, honestly.  They’re basically a collegiate sports program masquerading as a high school.

I’ll stop rambling now.  Just trying to talk about anything other than the Wings being bad and why.

Posted by Primis on 11/18/13 at 01:34 AM ET


If we “can” trade Quincey it frees up his $3.7+ million salary less what we have already paid him to date.  With that savings you can bring up Jurco and Nyguist.

Posted by RWlifer on 11/18/13 at 07:17 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Please see Paul’s reference to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo’s article about cap space:

Thanks to last year’s lockout and how every team had to get compliant with the cap decreasing by nearly $6 million, it is scary how little salary-cap space teams have right now.

The Wild has the 19th-most cap space in the NHL — at $1.8 million. That is not a lot of cap space, especially when you have to leave room for injuries.

Yet, there are 18 teams worse off than the Wild!

Thirteen teams, including the Blackhawks, have dipped into their long-term injury relief, according to capgeek.com. That means you can surpass the salary cap ceiling by an injured player’s cap hit. The tricky thing is once that player is healthy, a team must get cap compliant again.

So there is gridlock out there, making it incredibly difficult to make a trade unless you find a partner that is able to eat part of the salary and cap hit.

This is why the Los Angeles Kings might have to pray Ben Scrivens can hold the fort while Jonathan Quick recovers from a serious groin injury.

Every team that has cap space is “capped out” in terms of its budget, and 20 of the league’s 30 teams are within $2 million of the cap.

There’s no room at the inn, folks. The Wings have what they’re going to have.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/18/13 at 07:34 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Also: regarding the contract limit: Wings prospects who do not play for the organization and are on their entry-level deals “slide” to the next year, so the Wings are utilizing a quirk in the CBA to not *technically* exceed 50 players signed because the “slides”—as far as I understand it—don’t count against their roster.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 11/18/13 at 07:35 AM ET


Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 11/17/13 at 10:47 PM ET

All true, but -this weekend’s emergency recall aside- there are other players with actual offensive upside other than Nyquist who could have been called up instead of Glendening.

Yes, Babcock does love Glendening, but more than that he loves bottom six forwards.  I have no doubt that, if he could somehow be successful doing it, he would have one line of Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Franzen who would each score 30+ goals and three lines of Clearys, Millers and Abdelkaders to grind.

Posted by Garth on 11/18/13 at 10:25 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.