The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/17/13 at 01:07 PM ET
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:
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.
"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.
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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.