The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/01/11 at 08:45 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Los Angeles Kings in a wild 7-4 outing on Monday night, but the Red Wings weren’t particularly happy with the result after the game, and there’s a good reason for that—the Wings gave up three third-period goals on 14 shots against Jimmy Howard, who wanted one or two of the goals back but deserved much more slack than his teammates. Why? Howard faced 14 shots in the first period, 39 overall, and if you count up the Kings’ total attempted shots, a remarkable 68 attempts either hit Howard, whizzed by him wide of the net, found their mark or hit his teammates’ shin pads.
While the Wings overcame a 1-0 deficit and roared out to a 7-1 lead before “going to sleep” in the third period, as Wings coach Mike Babcock put it, they faced a relentless Kings team whose hard-charging attack kept grinding down the Wings’ defenders and peppering Howard with pucks even when the Wings earned the right to make the game look silly.
Instead of giving Howard a well-earned rout over a team whose fit and finish were off enough to question whether they were distracted by the Dustin Penner trade, Babcock’s decision to bench Nicklas Lidstrom for the third period and lean heavily upon the team’s third and fourth lines threw the team out of whack and allowed them to indulge in the kind of complacency and King-like inattentiveness to defensive detail that’s bloated the team’s goals-against average and made winning games much harder than they should be for a team as talented as Detroit all year long, injuries included.
In other words, the Wings nearly let this one get away, and were a bit peeved at themselves after winning a game that places them only three points behind the West-leading Canucks, partially because the Wings might end up facing the Kings as a first-round opponent.
The Kings were upset about dropping this game because they’re ten points behind the Wings (74 to 84) and only two points out of missing the playoff cut altogether, and they told the Los Angeles Times’ Chris Foster that the Penner trade may or may not have distracted them from the task at hand:
“We’ve got to forget about this,” defenseman Jack Johnson said. “This was a disaster. You’re going to have one or two of these in an 82-game season.”
The Red Wings don’t have them very often, even while wading through injuries this season.
Pavel Datsyuk scored his seventh goal in 11 games since returning from the injured reserve. Danny Cleary scored his sixth in 14 games since coming back.
The Red Wings led, 7-1, before coasting to the finish.
“They came in and gave us a real lesson on what it takes to be ready,” Kings Coach Terry Murray said.
Murray continued his line of thinking in speaking to the LA Daily News’s J.P. Hoomstra while very specifically addressing possible deadline day distractions:
“That’s hard to answer,” the Kings’ coach said. “I don’t think anybody would own up to it, but it’s a very distracting day. - It’s very hard to have an NHL game on trade deadline day.”
The Kings made it look hard by taking a 1-0 lead 4:09 into the game, then allowing seven unanswered goals in front of an announced crowd of 18,118. Six players scored for the Red Wings, and six more collected assists, in a balanced rout that spared no one a share of responsibility for the embarrassing final score. Jonathan Quick bore the brunt of the burden on the stat sheet, allowing six goals on 24 shots. Murray said he contemplated sparing Quick the indignity of the final six goals early, after Detroit forward Drew Miller wristed a puck between the goalie’s legs from a terrible angle - almost behind the goal line - at 6:37 of the first period.
“I thought about it after the first goal,” he said. “I don’t like that first goal.”
The Wings’ second goal was more excusable, but no less ugly. Jiri Hudler flung a long wrist shot toward the net that Dan Cleary, skating down the slot, re-directed past an upright Quick with the blade of his stick. After Jarret Stoll was sent to the penalty box for high-sticking late in the first period, Detroit capitalized on a Nicklas Lidstrom goal at 18:48 to make it 3-1.
After that, the Wings were all but showing off. Pavel Datsyuk danced in and rattled off a wrist shot with 42 seconds left in the second period to make it 4-1. Darren Helm scored short-handed 2:01 into the third period to make it 5-1. Miller - a fourth-line winger - scored his second goal of the game by knocking the puck out of midair at 5:53. That was it for Quick, who in hindsight should have been pulled much earlier.
“They’re a good team, don’t get me wrong,” the goalie said. “We came out and scored the first goal and then I let up a bad goal, kind of took the momentum out of our end and put it in their end a bit. Next thing you know it’s 2-1. For me, I didn’t get better unfortunately. They ended up piling up a little bit there.”
Kings defenseman Andy Greene sounded downright angry about his team’s performance (and he is if you check out the YouTube video below) while speaking to ESPN Los Angeles’s Dan Arritt about the loss:
“They dominated every facet of that game,” Greene said. “That’s not the words. They embarrassed us. You can’t take anything positive away from this game.”
“This video is going to be a good learning tool for a lot of guys on this team to realize what it takes to be a good team,” Greene said. “What the difference is between an elite team and good team in this league is.”
Greene cited a lack of preparation heading into the game, and not being able to bounce back when things went wrong. After taking a 1-0 lead just over four minutes into the game, the Kings allowed seven unanswered goals.
“The game got out of hand,” [Kings captain Dustin] Brown said.
Murray agreed while speaking to LosAngelesKings.com’s Rich Hammond:
This one got ugly late, as Detroit led 4-1 after two periods then scored a shorthanded goal early in the third period and eventually took a 7-1 lead. Afterward, team captain Dustin Brown and assistant captains Matt Greene and Anze Kopitar participated a fairly lengthy meeting in the coaches’ room and didn’t emerge in high spirits.
``The second period, I thought, we kind of sat back, and you can’t sit back against a team like that,’’ Brown said. ``The third period is a whole other story. We didn’t even compete for a lot of the period. We didn’t have guys competing, which is unacceptable regardless of the score. We’ve got to play the game the right way. If anything, we’ve just got to forget this game. We’re definitely pissed off about this game. We’ve got to learn from this. Their first two goals are as a result of our turnovers. So you live and learn, and at this time of year, we’ve got to find a way to get back. Our next game, we’ve got to have a strong game.’‘
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who had been 9-1-1 in his previous 11 starts, was pulled in the third period after he allowed six goals on 23 shots. Coach Terry Murray, clearly agitated after the game, said he considered pulling Quick after Detroit’s first goal, a soft, short-side goal that came only 6:37 into the first period.
``We came out and scored the first goal and then I let up a bad goal,’’ Quick said, ``kind of took the momentum out of our end and put it in their end a bit. Next thing you know it’s 2-1. For me, I didn’t get better unfortunately. They ended up piling up a little bit there.’‘
``That’s a veteran team that knows how to do things right at a critical time in the year,’’ Murray said of Detroit, ``in a big push to get their `A’ game on track for the playoffs. They score goals at the right time and gave us a real lesson here, I think, today in how to come and be ready just to play hard, to play smart, to play intelligently in a road game.’‘
Hammond posted a slate of quotes from the game’s media-participating Kings principals on LAKingsInsider.com, including a bit more from Murray...
(on how the game got away from the Kings…)
MURRAY: “Good start. We score, they score, and the momentum seemed to change late in the first period, to me. That’s a good hockey club. They are on a tough trip right now. They’ve got like four games in six days here. They’re going to be very busy and they’re coming to play, and that’s a veteran team that knows how to do things right at a critical time in the year, in a big push to get their `A’ game on track for the playoffs. They score goals at the right time and gave us a real lesson here, I think, today in how to come and be ready just to play hard, to play smart, to play intelligently in a road game.’
(on Detroit capitalizing on turnovers…)
MURRAY: “If you’re going to over-handle the puck, if you’re going to get cute with it, you’re going to get casual with it, this is the team that will expose you and capitalize on it.”
(on Detroit’s skill level…)
QUICK: “They’re not the only team that can do that but they are a very skilled, very talented team. When we make mistakes, they capitalize.”
And while Kings captain Dustin Brown wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance at all...
(on the game…)
BROWN: “The second period, I thought, we kind of sat back, and you can’t sit back against a team like that. The third period is a whole other story. We didn’t even compete for a lot of the period. We didn’t have guys competing, which is unacceptable regardless of the score. We’ve got to play the game the right way.”
(on the third period…)
BROWN: “If anything, we’ve just got to forget this game. We’re definitely pissed off about this game. We’ve got to learn from this. Their first two goals are as a result of our turnovers. So you live and learn, and at this time of year, we’ve got to find a way to get back. Our next game, we’ve got to have a strong game.”
Defenseman Jack Johnson attempted to accentuate the positive:
(on the game…)
JOHNSON: “It’s easier to just say, `OK, forget it, let’s move on and reset.’ We have a big division game on Thursday, so you just move on. We still did some good things out there against a great hockey team. They’re a great team, the puck was going in a lot for them tonight.”
(on not giving up in the third period…)
JOHNSON: “No, there’s no reason to. First of all, you don’t want to get embarrassed. That’s the biggest thing. They put seven goals up on us. We made it a little bit more respectable at the end, but you don’t want to get embarrassed. They’re not going to stop playing so we can’t either. There comes a point when you want to say, `OK, let’s get out of here,’ but you definitely don’t want to get embarrassed.”
The Wings were happy with the fact that they staked out a 7-1 lead before faltering at the end, as Nicklas Lidstrom told the Associated Press...
The Wings went 7-1 on the road and 2-4 at home in February. If they could just figure out a way to stay out of Joe Louis Arena, the Wings seem capable of winning a banner to hang in it.
“I don’t know how it’s working out this way, but we’re playing really well on the road,” Lidstrom said. “We’re getting some bodies back, guys that have been out with injuries for over a month. ... We knew where they are in the standings, and they’re a desperate team. I thought we played a lot better in our own zone tonight.”
Detroit began its final lengthy road trip of the season in Buffalo on Saturday, and will visit all three California teams before wrapping up in Phoenix. With their usual cheering sections behind them at every stop, the Wings haven’t lost on the road since Feb. 5.
“We keep it really simple (on the road),” said Howard, who signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract earlier in the day. “We don’t try and overdo it, or get too fancy. We just play a simple game, and it pays off.”
And the Wings were happy with their tenacity in responding to an early 1-0 deficit, as Brad Stuart told the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
“Even though we gave up the first goal, I think we responded well,” Brad Stuart said. “It was our focus to get off to a good start. We definitely didn’t finish the way we wanted to, but we had enough of a cushion that we didn’t have to worry about it.”
After falling behind early, the Wings went on to score seven goals for the fourth time this season. They had their biggest margin of victory of the season going until Dustin Brown used a screen to score midway through the third period. Wayne Simmonds and Brad Richardson went on to beat Jimmy Howard 44 seconds apart with about a minute to go in the game.
“Ahh, whatever,” Howard said of the last flurry. “First and foremost, we got two points, and that’s all that matters. I felt really good out there.”
But coach Mike Babcock made sure to not spare criticism from his post-game remarks:
“We gave up a power play goal on the very first one, missed a lane, but other than that, I thought our specialty teams were good,” Mike Babcock. “They were better than us right off the hop and we scored some timely goals and got going, and then with eight minutes left we stopped playing, which is an unfortunate thing. But, good two points for us, and we can move on in the trip.”
Babcock and Darren Helm were pleased to see Drew Miller, who sat out Saturday’s game against Buffalo (and his brother, score two goals:
“Not only was it good for him, good for us,” Babcock said of Miller’s goals, “but the guys are real happy for Millsie, too. Anytime you sit out, you want to respond. It was one of those situations, he obviously wanted to play against his brother, and we had a tough decision there. I always like to see players respond, and I thought Millsie did a great job.”
“He should have had three there, if he wouldn’t just have fanned on the shot,” Helm said, smiling. “I mean, pass it to me or shoot the puck. But I mean, he’s been working hard, he’s a good player, he comes to the rink every night and does what he has to do and for him to get those two the way he did, the way he plays every night, it’s great for him.”
Lidstrom also noted to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that the Wings’ offensive outbursts of late are directly resulted to his and Babcock’s maxim that shooting the puck and playing aggressively yield goals…
“We’re taking more shots and creating more chances,” Lidstrom said. “We got a couple of lucky breaks on some of the goals but we’re being rewarded by going hard to the net.”
And, in light of the fact that the Wings only re-signed the much-maligned league leader in wins on Monday, Babcock talked about the Wings’ wins of late from the perspective of a team that chose to do nothing but allow its injured players to return to the lineup and in-season form:
“We think we’ve made trades lately for Stewie (Brad Stuart), and (Mike) Modano and Fil (Valtteri Filppula, all injured players returning), getting our guys back,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We like our team. We think we’ll be a good team. We just got to keep playing at the highest possible level we can and that’ll be our focus over the last 20 games.”
On the day he signed a two-year contract extension, Jimmy Howard earned his league-leading 31st victory, stopping 35 shots.
“I felt real good out there, minus the one I lost in the ceiling,” Howard said. “I want to just continue to go out there and play.”
The Wings have also now won six consecutive road games.
“We keep it simple and we don’t try to overdo it or get too fancy,” said Howard of the recent road dominance. “We just play a north-south game and get pucks on net.”
LINEUP CHANGES: Defenseman Brian Rafalski missed a second straight game because of back spasms. Johan Franzen missed the game to be at home with his wife, who just gave birth to a baby boy. Franzen is expected back in the lineup Wednesday.
LIDSTROM TAKES SIXTH: Lidstrom’s 128th career power play goal moved him into sole possession of sixth overall by NHL defensemen, ahead of Denis Potvin and one behind Phil Housley.
Wings GM Ken Holland essentially reiterated the points covered in my Monday posts about his trade deadline philosophy while speaking to Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy during the second period, but he did reveal that “Baby Mule” does not have a name as of yet…
And the reason I’m not wrapping the recap up by pointing out a few of Ansar Khan’s comments form his quote-less recap on MLive…
Howard, who lost his previous two starts, made 34 saves against a Los Angeles club that was 11-1-3 in its past 15 games and had won four in a row at home.
Drew Miller recorded his first career two-goal game. Darren Helm scored a shorthanded goal and added an assist. Jiri Hudler had a goal and an assist. Henrik Zetterberg had a pair of assists.
Danny Cleary, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk also scored for the Red Wings. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who stopped 51 shots in a 5-0 win at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 13 in the last meeting between these teams, allowed six goals on 24 shots and was pulled in favor of Jonathan Bernier at 5:53 of the third period.
Instead, I’ll let Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom, via a rough translation, take us out. Nordstrom’s based in Los Angeles, so he spoke to the Wings’ Swedes after the game. After painting a relatively rosy picture regarding several aspects of the game…
“It’s not often that you score seven goals away from home. I can’t remember when we did it last,” said Tomas Holmstrom in the locker room afterward.
The Red Wings came to the faceoff with a Swedish defensive pairing for the second game in a row—Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall
“We played together for the last game in Buffalo on Saturday, and I think it went really well. It’s fun to play with Kronner,” said Jonte.
Lidstrom told the truth regarding the game’s final minutes:
“We got careless during the final minutes and allowed them to score some goals. Our goalie wasn’t happy after the game,” said Nicklas Lidstrom to HockeyExpressen.se.
Lidstrom spoke to Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman as well, saying that he was happy that Ken Holland chose not to shake the roster up…
“Yes, it’s nice that our management has confidence in our team, and tonight we showed that we can play really well, too,” said Nicklas Lidstrom to Sportbladet.
“We played pretty well in the first period, though we gave up the first goal, we just kept going and had a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes,” said Nicklas Lidstrom when we spoke to him after the final whistle.
“It was something we talked about, that we were starting too slowly at the beginning of games. It’s good that we corrected it.”
Perhaps the effort could be seen as an expression of gratitude to team management, which allowed the team to remain intact for Monday’s game after the trade deadline passed.
“Ken Holland is probably pretty happy with the team, and it feels good for us to know that he has confidence in the team,” said Lidas. “Our concern’s about our injured players coming back. They’ve begun to do so and we showed in this game that we can play really well when everybody’s in the lineup. It’s good for our confidence.”
He scored one of the Wings’ seven goals, and Henrik Zetterberg had two assists, and Niklas Kronwall had one.
“The best thing tonight is that it wasn’t just Zata’s or Datsyuk’s line that scored. All four lines contributed, and we’ll need that in the future,” said the team captain.
As well as “Baby Mule”:
The only person missing was Johan Franzen, who recently became a father for the first time.
“Yes, they had a son on Sunday morning, so he’s home and is a proud first-time father right now. I’ll see if I can give him some advice in the future,” said the father of four, chuckling.”
That’s not a neat or tidy ending to this little narrative, but neither was the Wings’ effort. They out-classed the Kings for the vast majority of the game, and deserve full marks for the win, but as it’s March, I’m at least glad to report that Howard had quite the scowl on his face when he spoke to Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson, and as Ken Daniels suggested, the Wings can’t afford to play this messily against the uber-scrappy Ducks (whose lineup now includes pain-in-the-Wings’-side Brad Winchester, Jarkko Ruutu and the usual compliment of guys who like to try to rough the Wings up), and going forward, this kind of effort simply can’t be acceptable as the Wings slowly but surely begin their dress rehearsals for what happens a month and a half from now.
Highlights: Fox Sports West posted a 51-second highlight clip;
NHL.com’s highlight clip is narrated by Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy:
Post-game: Fox Sports West posted Jim Fox and Patrick O’Neal’s take on the game, as well as Michal Handzus’s take on the game, as well as a spiffy set of “X-Mo” slow motion breakdowns of the goals scored;
ESPN Los Angeles’s Dan Arritt posted a 2:28 clip of Andy Greene, Dustin Brown and Kings coach Terry Murray’s post-game comments:
The Kings’ website posted a 11:24 clip of Jonathan Quick, Jack Johnson and coach Terry Murray speaking to the media…
As well as a 7-minute clip of Nicklas Lidstrom, Darren Helm and Wings coach Mike Babcock’s post-game comments:
Fox Sports Detroit posted a rather frank and honest assessment of the game from Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy, as well as 3:05 clip of Trevor Thompson’s interviews with Mike Babcock, Jimmy Howard and Nicklas Lidstrom.
The Red Wings’ website also posted a clip of Jimmy Howard’s appearance at the “Degree for Men Top Protection Shootout” at Clark Park last week:
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 5-image gallery;
Yahoo Sports posted a 25-image gallery;
NHL.com posted a 48-image gallery;
Statistics: Shots 39-27 LA overall, breaking down as 14-10 LA in the 1st period, 12-11 Detroit in the 2nd period and 14-5 LA in the 3rd period.
The Wings went 2-for-4 in 5:49 of PP time; the Wings went 1-for-4 in 6:52 of PP time.
Howard stopped 35 of 39 shots, which is pretty damn good; Quick stopped 18 of 24; Bernier stopped 2 of 3.
Our goals: Miller (5), unassisted;
Cleary (22) from Hudler (24);
Lidstrom (13) from Modano (7) and Zetterberg (50), PP;
Datsyuk (19) from Zetterberg (51) and Kronwall (20), PP;
Helm (8), shorthanded, unassisted;
Miller (6) from Draper (3) and Helm (18);
Hudler (8) from Kindl (2) and Bertuzzi (23).
The 3 stars, per “media,” were Zetterberg, Helm and Datsyuk
Faceoffs 32-26 Detroit;
Blocked shots 11-7 Detroit;
Missed shots 18-11 LA—total shot attempts 68 to 46 LA;
Hits 21-17 Detroit;
Giveaways 19-12 LA;
Takeaways 5-3 LA.
Individual stats breakdown:
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 11-and-9 (55%); Zetterberg went 6-and-6 (50%); Helm went 5-and-5 (50%); Modano went 6-and-2 (75%); Draper went 3-and-2 (60%); Abdelkader went 1-and-0; Cleary and Filppual lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: Miller, Zetterberg and Holmstrom had 3 shots; Lidstrom, Abdelkader, Cleary, Datsyuk and Kronwall had 2; Stuart, Salei, Hudler, Helm, Bertuzzi, Filppula, Ericsson and Modano had 1.
Blocked attempts: Helm had 2 shot attempts blocked; Kindl, Abdelkader, Hudler, Zetterberg and Kronwall had single shot attempts blocked.
Missed shots: Abdelkader missed the net 2 times; Kindl, Datsyuk, Miller, Hudler, Zetterberg, Helm, Bertuzzi, Modano and Holmstrom missed the net once.
Hits: Abdelkader had 4 hits; Kronwall had 3; Kindl, Stuart, Hudler, Zetterberg and Ericsson had 2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Salei and Helm had 1.
Giveaways: Howard had 5 giveaways; Stuart had 3 giveaways; Ericsson had 2; Kindl and Kronwall had 1.
Takeaways: Kindl, Draper and Helm had single takeaways.
Blocked shots: Lidstrom, Stuart, Salei and Kronwall blocked 2 shots; Datsyuk, Ericsson and Holmstrom blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Hudler took 2 minor penalties; Salei and Helm took 1 minor penalty.
Plus-minus: Kronwall finished at +3; Draper and Helm were +2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Hudler, Bertuzzi and Holmstrom finished at +1; Abdelkader, Zetterberg and Filppula finished at -1.
Points: Miller had 2 goals; Zetterberg had 2 assists; both Hudler and Helm had a goal and an assist; Lidstrom, Cleary and Datsyuk had goals; Kindl, Draper, Bertuzzi, Kronwall and Modano had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 22:27 played; Ericsson played 21:06; Stuart played 20:41;
Lidstrom played 18:57; Datsyuk played 18:28; Salei played 18:20;
Kindl played 17:25; Zetterberg played 16:16; Filppula played 15:44;
Helm played 15:28; Draper played 14:53; Miller played 14:28;
Abdelkader played 14:25; Hudler played 14:17; Holmstrom played 13:36;
Cleary played 13:10; Bertuzzi played 12:47; Modano played 10:40.
Other stories about the Red Wings’ inactivity at the trade deadline and re-signing of Jimmy Howard: You can find the majority of the stories regarding the Wings’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline and Jimmy Howard’s extension in yesterday’s posts, but a few stories of note popped up overnight.
We’ll start with the “bottom line,” per MLive’s Ansar Khan:
With a relatively healthy and deep roster, and good position in the standings, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland felt no urgency to make a move.
“That was the plan in the summer, try to spend as much cap space and hopefully our team played at a high level and we’d reassess at the deadline,’’ Holland said. “We’re first or second in win percentage on the road, third overall in points. We lost a lot of people (to injuries), we’re getting some back.’‘
The only way the Red Wings could have added a player was to shed a salary, which they were not inclined to do.
“We got 14 NHL forwards. We like our defense,’’ Holland said. “What price do you pay if it’s only a slight upgrade? I’m hoping we can find our best game down the stretch.’‘
Holland believed that as the team has about $560,000-570,000 of cap space (depending on who’s doing the calculating) to get the team between now and the playoffs, he’d have to upgrade significantly to, as he told Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Larry Murphy, make a “dollar in for dollar out” trade, and with the asking prices as high as they were for contending teams, he didn’t believe that there was anything out there that he and the people in the Wings’ “war room” in LA—according to Holland, he, Jim Nill, Chris Chelios, Mark Howe, Kirk Maltby and the team’s pro scouts huddled together and kicked tires—would be worthwhile.
Holland reiterated his points to the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
“I like our team,” general manager Ken Holland said. “I think that, unfortunately, everybody is trying to win. It’s hard to upgrade. I think we’ve shown in the first three-quarters of the season that we can win on the road, we can win tight games. I’m not sure why we haven’t been as good at home lately, but I don’t think it’s personnel. We’ve had some injuries to significant players. ... It’s a tight, tight league. I think we’ve got as good a chance as anybody.”
As St. James notes, the Wings’ last hockey deal worked out pretty darn well in the form of Brad Stuart…
The Wings made two relatively small moves in the 24 hours leading up to 2007’s trade deadline, acquiring Todd Bertuzzi, injured at the time, and Kyle Calder. The last splash came three years ago when they acquired defenseman Brad Stuart from the Kings.
“That was my home run,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We talked a lot about when we acquired Bert, and he helped us advance that year. Stuie’s been a Red Wing and a real good one. But Stuie was a hockey trade. It wasn’t just a fill-in. It was a trade.”
And Stuart—rather surprisingly, given how private a person he appears to be—revealed the reason why he’s a commuter dad:
“The deadline was at noon, and at about 11:58, the assistant GM came down and gave me a wave,” Stuart said. “At the time I had mixed emotions about it, because my wife was pregnant and I really didn’t want to go away from that. But it worked out.”
The Wings kept Stuart with a four-year deal worth $15 million. That he signed to stick around speaks to how at home Stuart felt in a Wings uniform, because he has had to juggle playing in Detroit with having his family remain in his wife’s native San Jose, Calif. Stuart’s stepdaughter is a sophomore in high school, and Stuart said they decided it’s better for her to stay in the school she knew than relocate. Stuart and his wife also have two sons, both under 4.
• Regarding Howard, he eventually opened up about the rationale behind signing a 2-year, $4.5 million extension with the Wings in speaking to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan...
“It’s still pretty surreal,” Howard said after Monday’s morning skate at Staples Center (vs. Kings). “It really hasn’t sunk in yet. Maybe when I get back to Detroit or can find some time here, it’ll sink in a little bit. But first and foremost, it’s nice to get everything done and real happy with the opportunity to stay in this organization.”
The deal is even more important in terms of focus. Getting it done before the playoffs begin allows Howard, 26, to clear his mind for a run at the Stanley Cup.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it,” Howard said. “It’s your livelihood. Not knowing what is going on in your future, it can be bothersome. But I just tried to go out there and take care of business.”
Howard said he had several conversations with veteran backup Chris Osgood, looking for advice.
“I just said if he’s going to do it (sign the contract), do it, or just forget about it,” Osgood said. “(But) it would be in his best interest to do it prior to the playoffs. Now this is out of the way and he can have a clear mind. There’s enough pressure down the stretch, for that (a new contract) to be an issue.”
As well as the Free Press’s St. James:
“I’m really happy with the decision and happy I get to stay in this organization,” Howard said. “You do think about it—it’s your livelihood, and not knowing what’s going on in your future, it can be bothersome. I never really wanted to leave here.”
In making his decision, Howard spoke to close friend and mentor Chris Osgood, who, like Howard, was drafted by the Wings and who experienced playing elsewhere. Howard also sought the advice of Todd Bertuzzi, who came to Detroit, left, and then happily returned, and Danny Cleary, who hasn’t wanted to leave since finding a home in Detroit.
“They all said, ‘This is the place to be,’ ” Howard said. “Every single year we get a chance to win, and that’s all I’m really worried about.”
As St. James notes, Osgood’s future is less certain, but he believes that he’ll return next Wednesday when the Wings host the Kings at the Joe, and he was very, very happy for his protege:
“He deserves it,” Osgood said. “He’s earned it. Now he can just go out and play. There’s enough pressure coming down the stretch, and for that to be an issue would make it even more. To say it’s not would be lying, because it’s something that’s obviously in the back of your head a lot. I told him it’d be in his best interest to do it prior to the playoffs.”
Howard said the news thrilled his wife, “who enjoys it in Detroit. It just worked out in all situations for us. I’m just really happy I get a chance to stay around here for a couple more years. It’s unbelievable—it spread like wildfire. I woke up this morning to just an abundance of text messages and the phone ringing off the hook. It’s a good feeling.”
Also of Red Wings-related note: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan filed a Wings/NHL notebook which covers several topics, including the fact that Nicklas Lidstrom could become the oldest player to win any trophy at 40+ years of age for an entire season, a comparison of the Wings’ monthly win-loss records and notes about both Mike Modano, who stated that he was nearly traded to the Boston Bruins and/or Washington Capitals at the trade deadline last season but chose to stick it out with Dallas, as well as a bit about Jiri Hudler’s renaissance of late:
“It’s nice to see the puck go in the net, nice to get some breaks,” said Hudler, in his first season back with the Red Wings after a year in Russia’s Kontinental League.
It’s also nice to be playing on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary.
“When you can play with guys who can create space like they do, it makes it a lot easier,” Hudler said.
Said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock: “Hudler has a mind that can think like Datsyuk and make plays. They’re a good line for us right now.”
Hudler has gone to great lengths to show the season in Russia didn’t have any negative effect on him. His season started slowly, which in his opinion was just a cold streak gone extra bad. But Hudler appears to be skating better, his intensity is greater, and the smile he seemed to have plastered on his face regularly before heading to Russia is back. But …“I feel like I can still play better,” Hudler said.
• Here are two decent quips from the Wings’ locker room via Reuters:
Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard celebrated a two-year contract extension by earning his league-leading 31st win of the season as the Red Wings beat the Los Angeles Kings 7-4 on Monday. Detroit gave Howard a two-year extension worth $4.5 million earlier in the day and the 26-year-old responded by making 35 saves against the Kings.
Howard was set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason but the Red Wings made sure they held on to him.
“It’s good. It’s where I want to be,” Howard told reporters. “It’s a great organization and I’ve got a lot of great friends in the room. It’s a great situation.
The visitors blitzed Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick who was pulled after allowing six goals. Miller sparked Detroit’s scoring in the first where Danny Cleary and Nicklas Lidstrom also converted shots. Pavel Datsyuk scored in the second and Darren Helm, Jiri Hudler and Miller struck in the third.
“Tonight, I think we just played a solid road game,” Helm said. “I wish we could do the same at home, but right now we’re happy to be on the road. That’s where we’re having a lot of success.”
• Yahoo Sports’ Sean Leahy posted a photo of the Kings-Wings ceremonial faceoff, which included Willie O’Ree and…Master P?
• If you’re interested, you can read some Kris Letang-vs-Nicklas Lidstrom discussion from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic;
• In the developmental hockey department, the Toledo Walleye are selling playoff tickets this Saturday;
• I can’t disagree with this comment regarding Red Wings prospect Landon Ferraro’s up-and-down season with the Everett Silvertips after being traded from the Red Deer Rebels, as noted by Kelowna Rockets commentator Reagan Bartel:
The Everett Silvertips can spin it, but the Red Deer Rebels clearly won the trade that saw Byron Froese move to Red Deer for forward Landon Ferraro. Even if Ferraro would have remained healthy, Froese had a better season. Over 30 goals for Froese is no surprise. He scores goals and has always been a point producer. Will he be a better pro that Ferraro? Maybe not, but from a Rebels perspective, who cares? Froese’s greatest accomplishment may have been his ability to take a back-seat role to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The 17 year-old receives all the media attention - and rightfully so - but Froese is a good teammate by just going on the ice and producing.
• And, via Rink Rat on LetsgoKings.com, “Mayor’s Manor” spoke to superstar player agent Pat “Bagdhad” Brisson (you may remember him not only as Sidney Crosby’s agent, but also as the gent who helped engineer Sergei Fedorov’s departure from Detroit) about NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr’s meetings with player agents in Los Angeles recently…
Mayor’s Manor: At a high level, what did you think of the meeting and what did you learn?
Pat Brisson: It was good. Overall, we were getting to know Don (Fehr), his message and what he does. Of course, we know what he does - but, a small group session was a good idea. We got to express ourselves a little bit more and it’s much easier to deliver a message that way. Overall, it was enjoyable.
Mayor’s Manor: Donald Fehr been a rather public figure for the last 30+ years on the baseball side of things. Have you learned anything new about him yet or has he been as-advertised?
Brisson: Not really. Being a public figure we knew a lot about what he’s accomplished in the other sport. So, nothing new - just the fact that we were a smaller group was very helpful.
Mayor’s Manor: There were a lot of challenges in the PA over the last few years. Was any of that discussed or is it water under the bridge at this point?
Brisson: Some of the information we discussed is confidential. But, let’s put it this way, I’m very encouraged by the present leadership group in the PA.
Mayor’s Manor: With several other sports about to begin new labor discussions, have you seen anything yet - say, in the NBA or NFL - that you may like to see incorporated into hockey?
Brisson: I guess we’ll see how it goes because their negotiations haven’t really started yet for the most part. They’re getting into the meat of it right about now or right around the corner. For the others, it’s going to start in about 6-8 months. So, I’m sure we’re going to observe closely and see how they’re going to do. But, we have the luxury of being able to see those three sports (including baseball) go through it before ours.
And player agent Scott Norton talked about the agents’ meetings as well:
Mayor’s Manor: How will the new NHLPA be different than what it has been over recently?
Scott Norton: I think it’s going to be more solidified. I think Donald’s going to be a great leader. I think people know from what we’ve gone through the past few years - hopefully some of the people aren’t going to have their own agendas, that they’ve had in the past. I think the players are solidified and it’s nice they get to take it backseat and watch the NFL and NBA go through what they’re going to be going through.
Mayor’s Manor: Knowing that you were going to be attending the meetings, did any of your players have specific questions they asked you to raise?
Norton: Not really. Most of them are still pretty busy with their seasons. That’s really the only thing they’re focused on. The great thing about hockey players is that their number one, two and three concerns - are on the ice. I think in the past that’s been taken as weakness by the owners. But, I think moving forward that’s going to be taken as a strength and they’re going to look at their team as 720 players that are all together.
Mayor’s Manor: What about you, what was your biggest question heading into the meetings?
Norton: I just sort of want to see where Donald’s picture of where we’re going to be in a couple of years is and sort of compare that to some of the other leagues, especially baseball that he’s worked with. I think I’ve gotten somewhat of an idea now. I think it’s a different take this year because we have split up into smaller groups. There’s a lot more give and take with the agents than usually when they just have everybody sitting in a classroom in Toronto. It’s much more personal and you’re really getting to know the people a lot better.
Mayor’s Manor: What do you think will be some of the key points when the PA eventually gets to the negotiating table with the NHL?
Scott Norton: It always comes down to money. Whatever way you want to phrase it - cap, no cap, guaranteed contracts, non-guaranteed contracts, length, ratio - it all comes down to money. The owners are going to want to make sure they have a big enough share of the pot and the players and agents want to make sure they have a big enough (piece). So, that’s the bulk of it. No matter what sport or how we paint it, it comes down to money.
Mayor’s Manor: The second half of the meeting was largely spent on head shot and concussions. What were some of the key points and/or questions?
Scott Norton: Basically, and I think Donald did this at the other meetings too, I think he wanted to get a sense from the agents of their feelings on the phenomenon of concussions and injuries, how to solve it, if there is a way to solve it, etc. We had Darcy Tucker and Mathieu Schneider both in the room, which I think helped out. It was great to get the perspective of two players, especially one who played on the edge like Darcy did. So, it certainly was a spirited conversation. I think different agents certainly had different view points. I think Donald, he’s a very smart guy and he’d be the first one to tell you that hockey is not his forte. So, in areas like that, he wants to hear from so-called hockey people. There was a lot of going back and forth regarding rules that can be put it, the equipment, what we have to deal with in terms of age, meaning where players are bigger, faster, stronger, that type of thing. There really wasn’t a unanimous ‘this is what we want to do going forward.’ It’s in the discussion phase. And obviously, a large part of this also going forward is the league’s side of things.
Mayor’s Manor: Given that Fehr isn’t a hockey guy, what type of questions were being asked?
Scott Norton: Where do the injuries come from, what do you think can solve it. There was some discussion on the touch icing. There was discussion of the advent of clutch and grab coming out of the lockout and how that’s actually picked up the pace, which has made the impacts a lot better. Those types of things. Most of us (agents) have played at some level, whether it was college or junior or pick-up. So, I think he was trying to see where we, as well as our clients feel on these issues.
Mayor’s Manor: What were the next steps on head shots?
Scott Norton: Information gathering. Opinion gathering. The whole tone of the whole meeting was this was the first time we got to meet Donald in an official setting. So, it was more about discussions and open conversations. It was probably more productive than anything we’ve done in the past under any other regime. I think some of that was the smaller, quaint ability to discuss (things), as opposed to how they usually used to do it - where you being all 200 agents into Toronto and you sit there and listen to the PA talk to you. Donald really wanted open conversation from each and every one.
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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.