The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/05/11 at 04:19 AM ET
Sometimes teams do just enough to help their cause that they end up winning games they might otherwise lose, and sometimes they do the opposite, committing the precie amount of errors and inattentiveness to detail necessary to shoot themselves in both feet. On Sunday, the Detroit Red Wings played a plain old sloppy game, especially after losing Valtteri Filppula’s services in the middle of the first period, and between giving up 19 second period shots, a shorthanded goal and playing jumbled, clunkily-executed hockey, the Wings coughed up a 1-0 lead and a salvaged 2-2 tie in dropping a 4-2 decision to the Avalanche, ending a seven-game winning streak and remaning two points behind the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks—and five points out of eleventh place—in the jam-packed Western Conference standings.
The Avalanche made sure to mention that they were quite happy to pounce upon the Wings’ mistakes, as they told both ColoradoAvalanche.com’s Ron Knabenbauer…
T.J. Galiardi might have scored the game winner, but it would not have been possible without a great feed from Gabriel Landeskog. Galiardi poked the puck away to Landeskog at center ice – creating a 2-on-1 break – and Landeskog soon found his teammate in the slot.
“He was yelling for it and I saw that he was loaded and ready,” Landeskog said. “I just teed it up for him.”
The goal – scored shorthanded with Detroit having two seconds remaining on a power play – returned the lead back to Colorado’s side after the Red Wings tied the game 4:14 earlier. The Avs added one more and picked up the 4-2 victory on Sunday, their third in a row at home.
Landeskog had an assist earlier in the game on another big goal – one that tied the contest 1-1. The Swede didn’t have too much difficulty on deciding what to do on Colorado’s first goal. He was behind the Red Wings net and saw Ryan O’Reilly open in the slot.
“We were going on a forecheck and I think [Detroit’s Ian] White lost the puck behind the net,” Landeskog said. “Momentum carried me around the net and I found Ryan [O’Reilly] at the backdoor. He was so open and was yelling for it, so it was kind of easy to make that one.
And the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers...
The Avs, who previously lost twice to Detroit by a combined score of 8-2, improved to 13-13-1 and finished 5-3 on their longest homestand in club history. Colorado has won three in a row for the first time since Oct. 17.
“I thought our players really showed a lot of character and resiliency to win the last three at home against some pretty good opponents,” said Avs coach Joe Sacco, whose team also beat the New Jersey Devils and the St. Louis Blues. “Certainly I would call that a successful homestand, going 5-3, and it’s a nice way to cap it off tonight.”
Landeskog’s two assists were special. His turnover-causing forecheck and behind-the-net pass led to O’Reilly’s goal, an open-net wrist shot. And Landeskog put the puck right where Galiardi wanted it with two seconds remaining on teammate Ryan Wilson’s cross- checking penalty. Skating parallel to Landeskog entering the Detroit zone, Galiardi’s one- time blast from atop the left circle zipped inside the far post behind goalie Ty Conklin.
“He put it right in my wheelhouse,” Galiardi, who began the attack with a neutral-zone poke-check that created a turnover, said of the pass. “This is huge for us. They’re such a good team over there. We talked about it before the game. You have to respect them, but not too much. I think we took it to them for the most part.”
It was an entertaining affair. Johan Franzen’s power-play goal — his fifth tally of the season against the Avalanche — gave Detroit a deserving 1-0 lead after the first period. But the Avs ruled the second frame, outshooting Detroit 19-4 and putting two pucks behind Conklin.
Finally, great win for the Avs, who finished 5-3 in this record-long, eight-game homestand. Colorado snaps Detroit’s seven-game winning streak and the Avs have won three in a row for the first time since Oct. 17. The Wings are a great team. They were awesome in the first period. In the second? Colorado outshot them 19-4. It was an impressive period.
So, as the Associated Press’s recap points out, the Avalanche leave Denver on a streak of their own while quashing the Wings’ streak…
The Avalanche lost two of the first three games on the homestand before rebounding to win four of the last five. After routing New Jersey, they beat resurgent St. Louis on Friday before facing Detroit.
“Hopefully, we’re turning the tide a bit here and it’s nice to get some wins at home,” Galiardi said. “We talked about it before the New Jersey game we needed somewhere to start, something to build off of and since then we’ve been playing some pretty good hockey.”
The Wings, on the other hand, weren’t particularly pleased with their effort, execution, or atte…well, you’ll get it:
Detroit was down 2-1 after two and came out strong in the third looking for the equalizer. Zetterberg got it 5:07 into the period when he squeezed a backhander between the post and Varlamov while the goalie was screened by Dan Cleary. It was Zetterberg’s sixth goal of the season.
“We seemed to get things going in the third,” Cleary said. “We got the big goal to get back into it and then we give up the short-handed goal.”
The Avalanche trailed 1-0 after one but quickly took the lead in the second. O’Reilly tied it 26 seconds into the period when Landeskog stole the puck from behind the net and fed his linemate for a one-timer.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” O’Reilly said. “Landeskog made an amazing play, I just wanted to get it off quick and beat the goalie.”
Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson went off for cross-checking 17 seconds later and the Avalanche took advantage. Matt Duchene floated a pass to the front of the net and Stastny knocked it at 2:11. It was his eighth goal of the season. The Avalanche outshot Detroit 19-4 in the second.
The third period was decent, but Wings coach Mike Babcock put things bluntly while speaking to NHL.com’s Rick Sadowski:
“I thought we started good,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought they played harder, played better. They had more people going than we did in the second period. We started to make a couple mistakes; turnovers led to goals.”
Said Babock: “I thought we had a good push in the third, but unfortunately we turned the puck over right at the end of the power play at the middle of the ice.”
“I don’t think we played very well,” Cleary said. “We didn’t seem to have our legs. We certainly didn’t play how we have been playing the last seven games.”
The Wings did have their moments of brilliance, but they were few and far between—and mostly confined to the first 20 minutes of play—as DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose suggests:
The first-period play that Pavel Datsyuk made Sunday in helping the Red Wings take an early lead was pure wizardry, or as Fox Sports Detroit broadcaster Ken Daniels would say, “Datsyukian”. With former Wings defenseman [Kyle Quincey] serving a cross-checking penalty, the Wings went on the offensive and Datsyuk went to his old bag of tricks.
The Wings’ center moved in from the right circle and sent a wrist shot that was blocked by Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson. Fortunately, Datsyuk regained control of his own blocked shot to the right of the crease, and managed – albeit off-balance – to throw a no-look, cross-ice pass to Johan Franzen, who was stationed in the middle of the left faceoff circle and left with an empty net to one-time across the goal line. The goal at 15:08 gave the Wings a 1-0 lead at Pepsi Center.
“We kept it in for over a minute and a half,” said Wings center Henrik Zetterberg, “and when you do that PK guys get tired and we finally took advantage of it and scored a goal.”
For Franzen that was his 21st goal in 27 career games – regular-season and playoffs – against Colorado. Datsyuk has been heating up after a slow start where he tallied two goals and nine assists in the first 17 games of the season. Since then he’s gotten six goals and seven assists in eight games.
“Pav and Mule were doing a real good job for us,” forward Danny Cleary said. “That was a nice pass by Pav and then they kind of took it to us and got one to tie it and then got the second one, then we were on our heels for the whole second.”
To some extent, the Wings admitted that they were out-Winged by the predatory Avalanche, as Babcock told MLive’s Ansar Khan...
“They won more battles, they outworked us, they ground us down low,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We do the same to teams lots of nights. I thought they caught us from behind and worked harder than we did in the second period.”
The Avalanche dominated the second period, outshooting Detroit 19-4 and scoring twice to take a 2-1 lead. But the Red Wings tied it on Danny Cleary’s goal at 5:08 of the third and had a chance to win. But Colorado capitalized on another turnover when Darren Helm and Drew Miller couldn’t control the puck at center ice. Galiardi scored at 9:22, blasting a one-timer past Ty Conklin after taking a pass from Gabriel Landeskog during a two-on-one.
“We didn’t play very well,” Cleary said. “Conks played well. He had no chance on that third one. We didn’t seem to have our legs.”
It was the fourth shorthanded goal Detroit has allowed this season. Ryan O’Reilly’s second goal of the game, into an empty net, sealed it with 34 seconds remaining.
“Just hit a couple of skates and went the other way,” Helm said. “Every time we coughed it up they put it in the back of our net. That was the difference.”
Said Babcock: “We had a good push at the start of the third, it was unfortunate we turned the puck over right at the end on the power play in the middle of the ice. In the end, that was the game for us.”
That being said, the Wings had to admit to the Free Press’s Helene St. James that they were outworked, plain and simple…
“I thought they played harder, they played better, they had more people going than we did,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We weren’t as good as I thought we could have been, and yet give them credit, they played hard, they got in people’s way, they made it hard for you all night long, and we didn’t have as much zip through our lineup.”
And while Ty Conklin did look a little rusty in starting for the first time since late October, tossing out some particularly soft rebounds that landed at his feet, the Wings felt that he deserved no blame for the loss:
It was hardly the outing Ty Conklin wanted in what was just his fourth start of the season and first since Oct. 25. He got shelled much of the night—especially in the second period—and got little help from teammates, who gave up 35 shots.
“We didn’t play very well,” Cleary said. “Conks played well in net for us, he had no chance on that third one. We didn’t seem to have our legs, so to speak. We got it to two, and then we had a bit of a lapse on a change and it was a tough one to give up. Even though we didn’t skate that well and they seemed to outchance us and outshoot us, we were still in the game, which was good. But we certainly didn’t play the way we’d been playing the last seven games, that’s for sure.”
And Babcock agreed while speaking to St. James:
Ty Conklin allowed three goals on 34 shots, dropping his numbers to 1-3 with a 3.27 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. He didn’t get much help from teammates, but Babcock said, “I guess the way I look at it every night, your goalie is there to help you as well. You’re all in it together. Some nights you give your goalie more help than you do on other nights.”
Semyon Varlamov did make a spectacular save on a shorthanded breakaway by Chris Conner, but the Wings felt a little shortchanged by…Perhaps a better scoring chance than otherwise indicated late in the game, as they told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
The Wings felt they had scored a tying goal late in the third period, but a quick whistle stopped the action around Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov. The puck appeared to have moved past Varlamov briefly on video, but despite a timeout right after the stoppage in play there was no action from officials to check replay.
“I thought we did (score),” Babcock said. “That’s what I was told in here (locker room) by the video guy. But I guess we didn’t.”
Said Henrik Zetterberg: “I saw the puck was under the goalie. It was quick whistle.You see that (play) many times and forwards can come in whack the puck but it was a quick whistle. There was a timeout after, so I’m pretty sure Toronto (NHL review officials) would have reviewed it and they would have let us know.”
The Wings made no excuses for the bottom line, however, as St. James noted when speaking to Brad Stuart:
Brad Stuart, on how the Wings played: “Their winning goal, we should have done better with the puck there, but we didn’t. They took advantage of some opportunities, and that’s why they beat us.” ... Stuart, on the second period: “I thought they were skating well right from the start, and it took us awhile to get going. They just did a good job of putting pressure on us, and we were just a little bit step-slow making decisions.”
Highlights: The Red Wings’ website posted a 5-minute highlight clip narrated by substitute play-by-play announcer Dave Strader and FSD’s Larry Murphy:
And Fox Sports Detroit posted both Dave Strader and Larry Murphy’s takes on the game…
As well as post-game comments from Wings coach Mike Babcock and forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Danny Cleary:
Photos: The Denver Post, well, posted a 23-image gallery;
The Detroit Free Press posted an 8-image gallery;
Fox Sports Detroit posted a 10-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 10-image gallery;
Shots 35-29 Colorado; the Wings out-shot the Avs 11-7 in the 1st, were out-shot 19-4 in the 2nd and out-shot the Avs 14-9 in the 3rd period.
The Wings went 1-for-5 in 9:39 of PP time and gave up a shorthanded goal; the Avs went 1-for-3 in 5:28 of PP time.
Conklin stopped 31 of 34 and the Avs scored into an empty net; Varlamov stopped 27 of 29.
The 3 stars were picked by the AP’s Mike Kelly, and they were Gabriel Landeskog, T.J. Galiardi and Ryan O’Reilly.
The Wings’ goals: Franzen (12) from Datsyuk (16) and Lidstrom (13);
Cleary (5) from Zetterberg (10) and Bertuzzi (6).
Faceoffs 29-23 Detroit (56% won by Detroit);
Blocked shots 17-8 Colorado;
Missed shots 14-14 (total shot attempts 60-57 Detroit, and the Wings fired 29 on Varlamov and sent another 31 wide or into Avs players);
Hits listed pretty subjectively as 31-9;
Giveaways 5-4 Detroit;
Takeaways 16-3 Colorado (let’s just say that while the Wings were turnover happy, the Avs’ stat crew is a little bit liberal here).
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 10-and-7 (59%); Zetterberg went 7-and-12 (37%); Helm went 10-and-4 (71%); Abdelkader won 2 faceoffs.
Shots: Zetterberg and Franzen co-led the team with 4 shots apiece; Datsyuk and White had 3; Miller, Stuart, Conner and Kronwall had 2; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Cleary, Helm, Bertuzzi, Ericsson and Holmstrom had 1.
Blocked attempts: White had 3 shot attempts blocked by Avs players; Zetterberg had 3 attempts blocked; Lidstrom and Kronwall had 2 attempts blocked; Kindl, Datsyuk, Stuart, Conner, Ericsson and Holmstrom had single attempts blocked by Avs players.
Missed shots: Lidstrom missed the net 3 times; Zetterberg, Bertuzzi and Franzen missed the net twice; Cleary, Datsyuk, Helm, Filppula and Kronwall missed the net once. So that’s a total of six shot attempts for Lidstrom, seven for White and nine for Zetterberg.
Hits: Ericsson had 3 hits; Lidstrom, Miller, Stuart, Zetterberg, Kronwall and Holmstrom had 1.
Giveaways: Zetterberg had 2 giveaways; Abdelkader, Datsyuk and Franzen had 1.
Takeaways: Datsyuk, Conner and Franzen were credited with takeaways.
Blocked shots: Lidstrom blocked 3 shots; Abdelkader, Stuart, Conner, Ericsson and Kronwall blocked single shots.
Penalties taken: Filppula, Ericsson and Kronwall were tagged with minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at a collective -11: Datsyuk, Kronwall and Franzen finished at -2; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Miller, Stuart, Helm and Holmstrom finished at -1; Cleary was the Wings’ only plus player at +1.
Points: Cleary and Franzen scored goals; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi had assists.
Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 24:36 played; White played 22:56; Kronwall played 22:38;
Zetterberg played 21:37; Datsyuk played 20:55; Stuart played 20:10;
Franzen also played 20:10; Ericsson played 17:42; Hudler played 16:42;
Bertuzzi played 16:41; Cleary played 16:29; Helm played 14:35;
Holmstrom played 13:42; Conner played 10:51; Kindl played 10:44;
Abdelkader played 10:35; Miller played 9:40; Filppula played 4:51.
Red Wings notebooks: I hate irony, and DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose posted a column which seems particularly ironic given the Wings’ performance from minutes 21 to 60 of Sunday night’s game, discussing the Wings’ strong starts—and listing stats which remain completely accurate:
Detroit has outscored its last seven opponents 10-1 in the first period. The Wings have allowed a league-low 12 first-period goals this season.
“Even though we haven’t played our best level yet, we’ve still been able to come up with wins,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Same thing against Buffalo the other night when the first 20 (minutes) were really good then we let up a little bit.”
The last time the Wings allowed a first-period goal came in Los Angeles when Mike Richards scored shorthanded at 6:37 on Nov. 19. The Wings have trailed only twice for a total of six minutes, 7 seconds during this streak. The other time was when they were down 1-0 vs. Calgary. It’s interesting to note that a month ago some in the media were ready to kick dirt on the Wings’ grave after a 0-5-1 stretch while being out-scored 22-6.
“The biggest pressure that anyone puts on this team comes from right here in this locker room,” Kronwall said. “We feel that we have something good going here. Obviously going without winning in six games in a row, it’s tough when you’re not used to it. But at the same time I feel that we did a pretty good job of sticking with the game plan, and we stuck together. There was no pointing fingers, whatsoever. We just knew that everyone in here had to be a little bit better. We had made some mistakes that cost us, big time. We knew that eventually, if we kept creating chances, the puck was going to go in, and it was nice to get that Los Angeles game to get us back to winning again.”
• If Filppula misses any length of time due to the cut on his left leg (and explain to me why the NHL hasn’t improved the abrasion resistance of the socks and jerseys its players wear again?), Cory Emmerton will draw back into the lineup, and he spoke to the Free Press’s Helene St. James about his status:
Center Cory Emmerton was a healthy scratch for a fourth straight game. “I just have to continue to work hard and wait for my next chance,” he said. “Obviously as soon as you get in, you’ve got to kind of make a statement that you should be in the lineup. I’m just trying to stay prepared, stay mentally strong, physically strong. It’s something I don’t really want to get used to. The next chance I get, I plan on taking it up another level, almost force them to try to keep me in the lineup. It’s good to have a challenge.”
Oh boy, realignment!: On Sunday, I tried to make the best case I could for we Wings fans to go into the NHL’s Board of Governors meetings, which take place today and tomorrow in the hockey hotbed of Pebble Beach, California, with low expectations as to the Wings’ chances of finding themselves in the Eastern Conference, or any sort of arrangement in which the Wings would play the vast majority of their games in the Eastern Time Zone, because I’m just not buying the concept that 20 of 30 self-interested owners have any desire to establish a consensus regarding shuffling the deck when the Phoenix Coyotes’ ownership situation is unsettled.
I don’t see Eastern Conference owners or West Coast teams’ owners agreeing to increase their travel, nor do I believe that the Northeast Division’s owners want to ruin their cozy little division, never mind the Red Wings’ rivals acquiescing to losing the draw that is Detroit coming to town, and on top of it all, there are other competing agendas in the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars’ desire to move to the Central Division, where exactly one fits Winnipeg into the equation, the simple fact that Gary Bettman himself said that the BoG could wait until the All-Star Break to give the Coyotes’ sale more time to happen (as 29 other teams and Glendale, Arizona are responsible for the Coyotes’ losses), and I sure as hell don’t believe that the NHL’s owners have any desire to prop up the Columbus Blue Jackets in a similar manner if their finances don’t improve.
As I said yesterday, I think that all this stuff ends up “dicking around” with fans’ emotions, and Red Wings fans specifically, and as a tinfoil hat-wearing member of the club, the endless blather of columnists speaking to hear themselves talk drives me more nuts than I already am.
Moreover, I get the feeling that this whole, “Let’s totally realign the NHL into four ‘conferences!’” concept is going to gain as much traction as grease on ice—as in none—despite the fact that the media’s as enamored with the “thought balloon” concept of a “more balanced schedule” which would stack Western teams in eight-team divisions, Eastern teams in seven-team divisions and possibly result in what we would consider same-conference Stanley Cup Finals. Remember how far the whole “staged fights are the bane of the league’s existence!” thing went when the Board was finally consulted? Or even the concept that the league was supposed to take a hard look at fighting and painkillers tomorrow?
Yeah, not so much.
So if you want to read what the Penguins, the Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe, the Dallas News’s Mike Heika, the Philadelphia Enquirer’s Sam Carchidi or the Ottawa Sun’s Chris Stevenson have to say about what will happen at the BoG meetings, go ahead.
Here’s what Gary Bettman had to say on the NHL Hour on Thursday, as noted by NHL.com’s Dan Rosen:
“If we don’t get it done now, we’re going to be in really tough shape if we don’t get it done by the All-Star Game,” Bettman said during the early portion of the NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman. “I don’t even think we can wait that long. But I haven’t figured out what we’ll do if it doesn’t happen (in Pebble Beach).”
Realignment is a necessity because off the off-season move of the Atlanta franchise to Winnipeg after the Thrashers were sold and relocated from Georgia to Manitoba. The geographic disparity between those two locations precludes the Jets from playing another season, after this one, in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. So, it is a given that the Jets will be moved to the Western Conference. As a result, several other teams—motivated by their own geographic concerns—have made proposals to take the place of Winnipeg in the Eastern Conference. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings have been among the most vocal clubs in lobbying for a move to the Eastern Conference, believing that such a move will alleviate the hardship of being an Eastern-based team playing in the Western Conference. Time-zone concerns are at the forefront of the argument by each team.
“Dallas, who’s in the Pacific, plays a lot of its road games very late at night—and so younger people in particular have a tough time staying up to watch the games on a regular basis. So that’s an issue,” Bettman said. “Minnesota is in a place where they’re playing a lot of their games in the Northwest. And then you say, well, OK, if we put Winnipeg in the Northwest and we move Minnesota to the Central, isn’t that great, and then Colorado says, wait a minute, then I’m the only U.S. club (in a division) with four Canadian ones. Crossing the border these days is rather time-consuming, and that puts us at a disadvantage. And you have the old arguments about the teams like Detroit and Columbus that are in the Eastern time zone, and they’re saying, we’re playing all of our teams or too many of our games west, from a TV standpoint.”
With so many competing agendas, realignment has proven to be among the most contentious issues the Board has faced recently, says Bettman, who remains unsure what will happen during the next two days.
“From the Board perspective of making whatever decision they want to make, people are all over the place,” Bettman said. “If you ask each of the 30 clubs what their preference is, my guess is you’d get 30 different preferences. And as a result, what we really have to do is find the biggest layer of common ground. You’re not going to get everybody’s first choice. But, as we go through this process, and there are many steps of the realignment process that have to be done, in and outside the boardroom, the fact of the matter is the starting point is to figure out what the will of the board is.”
Here’s what the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis had to say on Saturday’s Satellite Hotstove, as repeated by Francis himself:
Twenty of the 30 votes are needed to pass either proposal, and the belief is that Bettman rarely puts anything to a vote in which he hasn’t already secured the outcome of.
“I’ve never seen the league work harder — they are hounding owners on this,” one league executive said of the politicking preceding these meetings.
Teams in the west generally like the four-division idea as they feel it will level the playing field travel-wise with all the eastern teams required to visit each western outpost.
The opposing executive points out it will simply make the west teams’ travel schedule even more hectic, which could end up causing wear and tear on players and “bunching” in the schedule he feels will hurt the product.
The league is telling teams each club will have to endure roughly 5,000 more miles of travel annually to ensure every club plays in each city. However, the dissenting exec said that number will be more likely three or four times that amount.
He says it will cost each team an additional $500,000 to $1-million in travel costs, and he hates the fact some of the good divisional rivalries the league has built up over time will be lost.
If you want to read nothing less than elegant columns by two people who will be camped out at whatever luxury resort the BoG are staying at—and from what’s being reported, general managers and senior hockey operations staff are joining the governors (if Mike Ilitch isn’t going to be there, Jimmy Devellano will represent him, and I’m assuming that Ken Holland, Jim Nill and probably a former player or two who can deliver an impassioned statement as to how crappy the Wings’ players feel they have it, like Chris Chelios, Jiri Fischer or Kris Draper, are all going to be there)—in ESPN’s Scott Burnside and Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika, go ahead.
Here’s what Henrik Zetterberg had to say to Cotsonika…
“I think that’s one of the toughest things we have to deal with, especially in the playoffs,” Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “If we go all the way [to the Stanley Cup final], most of the time we have to go to the West Coast at least two – sometimes three – times. That is tough on the body.”
And let’s just toss off what the Wings want to happen, again and for the record, via the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...
The Wings consistently have expressed their desire to move to the Eastern Conference.
“That would be our preference,” Wings senior vice president Jimmy Devellano said.
The Wings say too many of their fans can’t watch games that start at 10 or 10:30 p.m. — typical for their western trips. The Wings also would travel fewer miles in the playoffs if they were in the Eastern Conference.
“That’s when you feel it the most — in the playoffs,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “If we cut some of the travel, that would be good.”
Devellano said the Wings would like to reduce the number of regular-season trips they make to western Canada and the West Coast from four to two. There are several realignment scenarios that will be considered. The easiest might be for the Wings and Winnipeg to simply switch conferences. But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would prefer a four-division setup (Pacific, Midwest, South, East) instead of the current six.
And the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
At meetings today and Tuesday in Pebble Beach, Calif., the NHL’s Board of Governors, including Wings general manager Ken Holland, will sort out how to realign the NHL following the Atlanta franchise moving to Winnipeg. Multiple scenarios have been proposed, including simply putting the Jets in the West and either Detroit, Columbus or Nashville in the East, to divide up the 30 teams into four divisions (two with seven, two with eight). The Wings for years have wanted a scenario that involved less travel, as they currently go to Western Canada and California twice each season.
“We’d like to reduce the wear-and-tear,” Holland said. “We’d like to travel less in the playoffs.”
Detroit defenseman Ian White, who played in Toronto before stints with Calgary and San Jose, said, “It was a real eye-opener when I got to Calgary just how much harder it was with all the travel. So playing in the East, for us, it would be a big benefit, would be better for your body.”
And let’s reiterate what the Wings’ players told MLive’s Ansar Khan for good measure:
“It’s not so much being on the road more (in the West), it’s the game after you get back from trips. You get back here 5 or 6 in the morning,” goalie Ty Conklin said. “When I played in Pittsburgh, if we got (home) past 1:30 a.m., that was real late. You play in Washington or Boston, it’s an hour or hour-and-a-half flight. You’re in your bed earlier a lot more often.
“Where it gets you is in the playoffs. Detroit playing Anaheim is going to have a lot more grueling playoff schedule than Pittsburgh playing Washington or Buffalo playing Montreal. That adds up.”
Even though the Red Wings have won four Stanley Cups since 1997 while playing in the West, less miles traveled in the playoffs translates into a fresher team.
“In the East, you’re (almost) always in one time zone. In Detroit, you’re changing three zones a lot,” Mike Commodore said. “It’s not easy. The jets are nice, the flights are great, but when you play three or four out West and come back here you get in at six in the morning. You’re lucky to get to sleep. That day is basically wasted I just go straight to bed and try to sleep, but if you have kids and actual responsibilities the next day, it’s tough. You’re dragging all day and the next day and trying to get ready for a game.”
Said Danny Cleary: “If we end up in the East, I think there will be a lot of people very happy.”
We already know that, but I think Sportsnet’s Mark Spector has the right idea, right at the very end of his column about the Board of Governors’ meetings while painting them as what they are—self-interested billionaire businessmen, the owners of big boys’ toys which are almost as large and powerful as their egos, and, quite frankly, men who are generally in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, and could and should be considered something of a “good old boys’ club” full of old-school hockey dinosaurs:
It’s a big bite for this group to swallow. Considering how slowly they tend to move, we’ll be surprised if they finalize anything in two short days in Monterey.
I doubt it, too. I’ll be happy to eat crow if something substantive actually happens by Tuesday evening, but I’ll also be ready to share some of my antidepressants with you if what I think will happen will really happen…
And if I’m gonna be completely honest as usual, it’s this part of the equation, as noted by the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts—who offers a fantastic list of the BoG’s agenda—that really scares me:
The governors will get a report from deputy commissioner Bill Daly on where things stand with the NHL Players’ Association in the final season on the collective agreement. The deal expires in September, 2012.
At this point, the owners seem to have a leg up since the NBA players were the most recent group to agree to a big cut in their share of the league’s revenue. The NBA lockout ended when the players agreed to take 50 per cent of overall revenue, while the NFL Players Association settled for 48 per cent last summer.
No one thinks the NHLPA will maintain the current 57-43-per-cent split in favour of the players. A 50-50 split is the betting favourite but don’t be surprised if the owners try hard for more.
As Sports Illustrated’s Stu Hackel duly noted and outlined, the owners will probably do something other than dismiss Forbes’ annual report attempting to discern NHL teams’ values because it suggested that more teams are losing money than not, even though the New York Post’s Larry Brooks has suggested that many teams have been hiding at least a few million dollars here and there from the NHLPA.
As noted on Sunday, Donald Fehr has no intention of doing anything other than holding completely transparent negotiations with Gary Bettman after the All-Star Break, with the goal of hammering out a CBA before the current one expires next September, and avoiding a third owners’ lockout over the course of seventeen years and sixteen seasons is just as important as finding out where the Wings will play next season.
Finally, and of Swedish note: According to The Pipeline Show’s Guy Flaming, Wings prospect Mattias Backman will play for Sweden at the World Junior Championships (and goaltender Petr Mrazek will play for the Czech Republic), and while I’m not going to translate it for you, Gabriel Landeskog was practically giddy about beating the Wings—and speaking to Henrik Zetterberg before the game—in a conversation with Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman.
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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.