Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Oilers set-up and overnight report: talkin’ about the road (and bonus disco)

The Detroit Red Wings embark on a stretch of their schedule which the players, coaches and training staff likely circled on their calendars with symbols like multiple exclamation points (!!!), question marks (???) or plain old WTF—which stands for, “Why Three Flights?” of course—tonight in Alberta as the Wings face the plucky Oilers (9:30 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet West/WXYT) before flying to Vancouver on Tuesday for a mid-week meeting with the Canucks, and then the Wings head right back to Alberta for a Thursday tilt with the Flames before heading home, exhausted, for a three-day Christmas break.

Boasting a middling 7-8-and-0 road record, the Wings will toss off all the usual cliches about conserving their energy, trying to “focus on taking it one shift at a time” and insisting that they won’t take the re-tooling Flames, deep Canucks or tonight’s opponent, the young, fast and physical Oilers, as anything less than three opportunities to gain ground in a tightly-packed Western Conference while banishing a few lingering myths about the team’s age, supposed lack of toughness and goaltending (Ty Conklin’s bound to get a start here), but Wings fans will be breaking out the Visine and hoping that they’re humming, “Two out of three ain’t bad” instead of “The Road”  early on Friday morning.

After a scintillating start, the Oilers have sank back to earth of late: the one-time Western Conference leaders now boast a 13-15 and 2 record which yields a ten-point gap between the Oilers and Red Wings, and their 2-6-and-1 record of late includes a three-game losing streak. The Oilers gave the Sharks a run for their money in a 3-2 loss on Saturday,

The Oilers always play hard against the Wings, and they’re one of the few teams that might be able to out-skate the Wings, but the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson suggests that the struggling Oilers have drawn the worst opponent possible given their desire to right the team’s ship…

The Red Wings do not figure to be a good match for Tom Renney’s struggling team, and not just because of the alphabet. Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Co. beat the Oilers for fun at The Joe in Detroit, as one-time Edmonton head coach Ron Low used to say after a lopsided game. It was only 3-0 for Detroit on Remembrance Day, but Edmonton got schooled. The game was over a few notes after longtime anthem singer Karen Newman finished the Star-Spangled Banner. The Oilers never looked like they had a chance as Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard got one of his four shutouts this season.
“This is not a bantam-rep team coming in,” said Renney.

The Oilers were 8-2-2 in early November, but are 6-13-1 in their last 20 games. Suddenly, they’re 12th in the Western Conference and just outside of being a lottery team, again.

It doesn’t bode well with the Wings in town, at least on paper and especially on special teams. The Oilers, who have taken 137 penalties in 32 games - 10th-most in the league, are playing short-handed 12.7 minutes every game. Only six NHL teams are going to the penalty box with more frequency. Meanwhile, the Red Wings are on a terrific clip on their power play, going 18 for the last 60. That’s 30-per-cent efficiency.

“My theory is you shoot the puck, you get it back and it goes in,” said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock, whose club wasn’t following the game plan in the first 16 games, going 10 for 70 (14.8 per cent).

The Oilers are also fourth-worst in the league on draws while the Red Wings are fourth-best, so Detroit should have the puck considerably more. One thing in the Oilers favour: They’re considerably better at home (9-5-2) than on the road (5-10-1).

The Oilers have planned on starting Nikolai Khabibulin (who, as Matheson notes, has been great, boasting a 2.00 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage) for a while now, but Matheson believes that the Oilers will bench most of their knuckle-draggers…

The Oilers probably won’t dress Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk against the Red Wings. Lennart Petrell may be in for Hordichuk on Monday night

The Edmonton Sun’s Derek Van Diest also spoke about the Oilers’ personnel in his game preview, but he spoke about them while suggesting that, should the Oilers not start winning in a hurry, they’ll find themselves booking tee times in April. Here comes the gloom and doom:

The future is in the kids, but other than playing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on both power-play units, the Oilers coach can’t do much else. As much as he would like to, Renney can’t send Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle over the boards on every shift.

Outside of Ryan Jones, the supporting cast isn’t chipping in. Ryan Smyth’s game seems to have abandoned him and not only is he not scoring, he’s losing more puck battles along the boards than he was at the start of the year. It’s tough to blame the veteran, who’s been through more battles than Genghis Khan, but it does appears time is catching up to Smyth as it eventually does to everybody. Time doesn’t discriminate and a 35-year-old player can only be invigorated by youthful surroundings for so long before eventually being left behind, keeled over trying to catch his breath. Smyth doesn’t have a goal in 10 games and has just three assists in that span.

Yet Smyth is not Renney’s biggest concern when it comes to dealing with veterans. He has a soon-to-be 39-year-old goaltender that needs to be managed so time won’t catch up to him as well. Nikolai Khabibulin has been outstanding for the Oilers this season, but Renney can’t risk playing the veteran every night for fear of burning him out. Yet, by not playing him every night, there may not be anything worth saving Khabibulin for towards the end of the season. It’s quite the conundrum for Renney, who would like to see his team play better in front of Devan Dubnyk allowing Khabibulin to take a few more nights off.

Then there’s the matter of Ales Hemsky, who seems to be playing in a fog, not certain what his role is with the Oilers anymore, wondering if he’ll be part of the club’s future. He’s the team’s most marketable commodity, but his trade value is dropping by the contest. Heading into Monday’s game, Hemsky has three goals and eight assists in 22 games. He’s ninth in team scoring and is no longer the player opposing coaches circle when preparing their game plans.

NHL.com’s Brian Hedger offers an angst-free game preview which allows us to take a look at the bigger picture:

Big Story: The Red Wings are coming into Edmonton with a lot of confidence after lighting up the L.A. Kings 8-2 at home on Saturday night and holding a seven-game winning streak against the Oilers – who dropped a 3-2 game against San Jose on Saturday after heading into the third period tied 2-2. Edmonton has gone winless in eight of its last 10 games, but is hoping it’s 9-5-2 home record comes into play when the Wings roll into town. It could merely because Detroit is still sub-par on the road with a 7-8-0 record in 15 games away from the Motor City.
Oilers [team scope]: After a nice start, Edmonton’s youth-filled roster has run into another tough stretch that’s sunk the Oilers into a tie for last place in the Northwest Division with the Colorado Avalanche and 12th in the Western Conference with 31 points – which has them six points out of the top eight at this point. They’re also coming back from a three-game road trip without a win and were outscored by a margin of 10-4 despite making the last game against the Sharks close. The Oilers held a 2-1 lead in that game in the second period, including Jordan Eberle’s 12th goal of the season, but they just couldn’t hold off San Jose – which got the game-winner from Patrick Marleau early in the third. Sharks coach Todd McLellan, however, was quite impressed by Edmonton’s top line of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle – which Oilers coach Tom Renney reunited during Saturday’s game to get a spark.
Who’s Hot: Niklas Kronwall has a goal and 5 assists in his past six games, while Todd Bertuzzi has a five-game point streak and has recorded an assist in four consecutive games for the Wings. [Taylor] Hall has been hot in the two games since he returned from a shoulder injury that nearly cost him three weeks. He scored a pair of goals in a loss to the Phoenix Coyotes last Thursday and then added an assist to garner third-star of the game honors against San Jose on Saturday night. Eberle has 5 goals and 5 assists in his last 10 games.

Injury Report: Forward Jan Mursak (fractured ankle) has returned to practices, but isn’t ready to play yet while forward Patrick Eaves (fractured jaw) and Chris Conner (fractured hand) are recovering. … Defenseman Cam Barker (ankle) is still out until likely February for the Oilers.

Stat Pack: During Detroit’s seven-game win streak against Edmonton, Filppula has 3 goals and 4 assists to lead the Wings. Datsyuk has also been red hot for the Wings, scoring eight goals and adding 15 assists in the past 15 games. The Oilers have the League’s top-ranked power play on home ice, where they’ve converted 17 of 69 chances (24.6 percent).

Two thoughts:

1. Teams on multiple-game losing streaks are particularly dangerous opponents;

2. The Wings’ penalty-kill is awful on the road. Rut roh, Raggy.

The Red Wings discussed their road trip (which will probably involve its share of optional skates and practices) after Saturday’s game, admitting that they’ve got some work to do given that they play nine of their next eleven games on the road—if you want to think of it simply, aside from their games against the Blues on December 27 and New Year’s Eve, the Wings don’t play at home until January 12th.

We’re late enough in the season to describe the strange split between their 13-2-and-1 home record and the struggles evidenced by their 7-and-8 record away from the Joe as a “concern,” as suggested by the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:

“Every team in the league wants to establish that kind of presence at home,” Drew Miller said.

But away it’s been a bit of struggle. As the Wings traveled to Edmonton to begin a difficult three-games-in-four-nights trip through western Canada, the Wings are 7-8 on the road.

“We skate, and start on time, and play on our toes,” coach Mike Babcock said about the Wings’ play at Joe Louis Arena. “We have to play the same way on the road.”

The Wings are on the tail end of a streak in which they play 10 of 15 on the road. Games at division rivals Nashville and Chicago await next week (along with two home games against St. Louis), after a three-day holiday break.  Depth will be crucial. Big contributions from Drew Miller and Cory Emmerton (two goals each) in Saturday’s 8-2 rout of the Kings might bode well.

“It’s important in how they feel about themselves,” Babcock said. “It’s good for them.”

Said Miller: “It’s huge to get a contribution from everyone. There’s going to be nights when our big guys aren’t going to score all the time. You count on the third- and fourth-line guys to chip in.”

Babcock offered a rather characteristic suggestion as to the opportunity which presents itself to the Wings while speaking to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness...

“We’re looking forward to it, let’s get out there and get going,” said Babcock, whose team is 13-2-1 at home. “We’ve gotta be better on the road. We’re all coming home for Christmas, it’s a great time of year. The games are on the schedule. Looking forward to going, that’s it.”

The Wings play at Vancouver on Wednesday and then at Calgary on Thursday before coming home for the Christmas break.

“But we got to feel good about going out there, coming together as a team on the road,” Wings defenseman Brad Stuart said. “We haven’t had a lot of road trips that are longer than one or two games.”

The day after Christmas Detroit plays in Nashville.

“Its’ a good, positive win to take on the road trip,” Drew Miller said after the game. “We’ll build off this. Every team in this league wants to establish that presence at home,” Miller added. “Definitely the Red Wings have had that in the past here and it’s something you want to continue having. When teams come in here it’s a tough place to play, we got good fans and we play hard.”

Stuart agreed while speaking to Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji...

“It’s not just going to happen,” defenseman Brad Stuart said. “What’s happened in the past really doesn’t apply to us today. But we got to feel good about going out there, coming together as a team on the road. We haven’t had a lot of road trips that are longer than one or two games.”

The Wings will obviously talk a little more specifically about facing the high-flying Oilers today, but Miller also stared the obvious in the face by talking to the Detroit News’s Carlos Monarrez about the fact that these kinds of road trips won’t happen as regularly next season, all while making sure to mention that the Wings enjoy visiting Western Canada:

“The fun part is playing in Canada in front of those big crowds that really get into games,” forward Drew Miller said. “That’ll be something that I’ll miss playing the Canadian teams. But definitely not the travel, the time-zone changes.”

That will all change with next season’s realignment that will whittle the Wings’ four total trips to western Canada and the West Coast by half. The travel is so exhausting that when the realignment was announced early this month, Wings players joked about 41-year-old Nicklaus Lidstrom signing a new two-year deal. It’s understandable. A punishing game is made even more difficult with logistical problems for the Wings, who are the second-easternmost team in the Western Conference.

Sorry, gang, that last sentence is true—Columbus is about nine longitudinal minutes east of Detroit…

“It’s tough,” Miller said. “I don’t think a lot of people understand that when you fly back from somewhere like that, you get in at 5 or 6 in the morning. You might have a day off the next day but you’ve got to play the day after that. It’s tough on the body.”

And Miller wasn’t just talking about players. Ever checked the bags under your favorite Wings fan’s eyes the morning after an overtime thriller in Vancouver?

“The other thing that’s big for the business side of it is our fans stay up really late to watch those games,” Miller said. “I know my family all talk about that: ‘Oh, I watched the first period, period-and-a-half and we fell asleep.’ So (realignment is) good for our fans because they’ll see more games in our time zone. For us as players, it’s just a little less wear and tear on the body.”

Here’s hoping that you don’t have to work on Wednesday or Thursday, though I can’t promise that I’ll be anything less than a bit loopy later this week as you get to go to sleep after games and I have to wait till the Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary papers post their day’s stories at 5 or 6 AM before I can complete my recaps.

As for the only specific talk about tonight’s opponent, the Free Press’s sports staff has good news:

The Red Wings are 5-0-3 in their last eight visits to Edmonton’s Rexall Place. Their last five games there:

Jan. 4, 2011: Todd Bertuzzi had two goals in the Wings’ 5-3 victory.

Nov. 5, 2010: Danny Cleary scored one goal and had two assists in the Wings’ 3-1 win.

March 19, 2010: The Wings rebounded from a 2-0 hole to tie the game at 2 on Brian Rafalski’s goal in third period only to lose in the shoot-out.

As I’m writing this, the NHL hasn’t posted its media notes for tonight’s game, so I can’t tell you which referees will pick on Homer…I mean work tonight’s game.


Part II: Red Wings notebooks: Rookie forward Cory Emmerton faded pretty severely—probably due partially to adjusting to the pace and intensity of NHL hockey and partially due to having to get his conditioning up to NHL speed (it’s all but impossible for rookies to truly grasp the level of fitness they have to reach and maintain to stick in the league until they’ve played for a season or two)—after a fine start to his Wings career, and he’d more or less lost his job to Chris Conner when a literal bad break allowed Emmerton to earn some regular playing time again. Emmerton made a very strong statement regarding keeping his job when the injured Conner (broken left hand) and Jan Mursak (broken ankle) return in two and three weeks, respectively, and Patrick Eaves’ regains his conditioning after his broken jaw heals somewhere down the line, via a 2-goal and 3-point performance against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

So Emmerton’s the natural focus of today’s Wings notebooks, especially given that the Wings spent Sunday afternoon enjoying a four-hour flight to Edmonton. As the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness notes, Wings coach Mike Babcock was particularly blunt when discussing the significance of Emmerton’s performance on Saturday:

“I think it’s real good for him, confidence-wise,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the game. “He’s got NHL skills, he’s got to decide he’s an NHL player. When you don’t play for a while and mentally you might start getting closer to the door,” Babcock added. “You don’t want to be closer to the door, you want to be in the middle of the room hanging on. So it’s a good sign for him tonight.”

“It’s definitely not easy,” Emmerton said about sitting out. “You learn on the fly. You’ve just got to work from the defensive zone up, especially as a young guy for the Detroit Red Wings. Slowly, you try and bring the other aspects of your game along.”

Emmerton also matched his season best of finishing a plus-2 in just over 11 minutes of ice time.

“It’s one of those things that you’re trying to do the little things right and then when you’re fortunate enough to get a bounce or two it gives you that much more confidence or momentum to carry you through,” Emmerton said. “As much as you hate to say it, the big thing about hockey is all about confidence and comfort level.”

Emmerton understands that his primary role remains a defensively inclined one…

“It’s a good feeling to contribute offensively, but our roles are to play well defensively and kind of grind on the other team’s defenses and wear them out so that our top two lines can generate more offense and have more room out there,” Emmerton said. “But whenever you can contribute offensively you know it’s going to help the team.”

Another part of Emmerton’s game he has struggled with is in the faceoff circle, winning less than 40-percent of the ones has taken all season. On Saturday, Emmerton won both faceoffs he took.

And he spoke to Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji about his inability to close the curly fries deal (possibly because his teammates sacrificed a few goals’ worth of scoring chances to try to set Emmerton up for a hat trick) as well as his closest competition after Saturday’s game:

“Obviously, it kind of crosses your mind, but the way things have kind of gone this year, I was just happy to have two, so I wasn’t really thinking too much about three,” Emmerton said.

No Wings rookie has recorded a hat trick since Johan Garpenlov, who had four goals against the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 23, 1990.

With Chris Conner out for a couple of weeks with a broken hand and Jan Mursak getting back in shape after breaking his ankle in September, Emmerton will get a chance to play more — for now.

“He’s playing so well, so it’s tough to see a guy like that go down,” Emmerton said of Conner. “He’s been working hard. I just try and stay ready, stay positive and wait for the chance. (I’m playing with) two pretty good players right now, so you just try and take advantage of that.”

Emmerton is playing wing along with Tomas Holmstrom on Justin Abdelkader’s line.

“The first couple of games that I played the wing, it was kind of an adjustment of getting used to it,” Emmerton said. “I used to play it in junior, actually. I enjoy playing it, and (Saturday) was a nice relief. But sometimes you just get fortunate to have the opportunities and chances.”

This might sound weird, but I think playing alongside Holmstrom might be more beneficial for Emmerton than playing alongside the fitness freak that is Justin Abdelkader given that Emmerton simply doesn’t have the kind of physical panache—perhaps he hasn’t impressed in no small part because he’s a player who uses his positioning and slick stickhandling to get the job done—Holmstrom worked his way up to the kind of scoring role Emmerton hopes to earn by grinding it out, and Holmstrom’s quite honestly been the Wings’ steadiest “bottom six” forward…

But Emmerton’s already a very mature player between the ears, which bodes well for his future, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted:

“You have to stay ready,” Emmerton said. “Conner came in, and he’s such a good little player, you can’t be mad at him. He’s doing his job. Unfortunately he got hurt, but any chance you get, you have to get a hold of it and run with it.”

• Kulfan also took note of the Wings’ offensive prowess from the blueline…

The Wings’ defensemen have scored 24 goals, most in the league. Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall scored in Saturday’s victory. Stuart said the Wings blue liners don’t concentrate on offense. But it’s not surprising the goals continue to happen.

“You look at some of the guys we have back there, there’s pretty good offensive skills,” Stuart said. “So to have that as another dimension to this team is important. …When we contribute offensively, that’s a bonus.”

• And we’ll head back to Wakiji for a bit about the fact that Kronwall hasn’t had much luck in the plus-minus department:

Before Saturday night, the Wings had just two minus players, Holmstrom at minus-2 and Niklas Kronwall at minus-3. Holmstrom, who had two assists Saturday, finished plus-2, making him even for the season. Unfortunately for Kronwall, despite the eight goals, he finished minus-1, making him minus-4 for the season.

Defenseman Ian White, on the other hand, was plus-3 Saturday, making him plus-21 for the season, second in the league behind Boston’s Tyler Seguin, the former Plymouth Whaler, who is plus-22.

“Great for him,” Babcock said. “Sometimes it doesn’t tell the whole story but over a period of time it sure does and there’s a reason he’s plus. He’s making good plays; he’s good defensively; he gets the puck going.”


Part III: In the ECHL: The Toledo Walleye defeated the Trenton Titans 5-1 on Sunday, with Nick Oslund registering two goals, Andrej Nestrasil registering 2 assists and Thomas McCollum stopping 32 shots.

As the Trentonian’s Mike Ashmore notes, McCollum found a measure of redemption in the win:

Thomas McCollum, who was between the pipes for all five Trenton goals last night, allowed just a late shorthanded goal to Eric Baier and made 33 saves in the win, earning third star honors in the process.

“I thought I played pretty well yesterday, but those guys just made a couple really nice plays and we had a few breakdowns that led to goals,” said McCollum, who played in the NHL last season with the Detroit Red Wings. “But it’s always nice to rebound in a big way like that and get two points.”
“I didn’t really think (Trenton) came out all that different, I just think we stepped up our tempo and played our game at a higher level,” McCollum said. “We put a little more pressure on them, and it gave them a bit of a tougher time. This was a huge win for us.”


Part IV: Also of Red Wings-related note: In Russia, Dick Axelsson (given the unflattering double-chinned picture which is dogging him online, I guess we could call him, “Double-chinned Dick,” but that’s a wee bit vulgar) registered his fifth and sixth points in his third game for Sweden (2 goals and 4 assists) at the Channel One Cup via a 2-assist performance in Sweden’s 4-3 loss to Finland at the Channel One Cup.

The Swedes won the tournament thanks to a 2-and-1 record, but their loss yielded one of the best, “Most Unenthusiastic Yay” pictures of all time as Niklas Persson accepted the championship trophy:

Photo via Getty Images’ Alexander Nemenov

• Paul posted this on Sunday, but I believe it warrants a mention here: the Los Angeles Kings were still pretty ticked off about dropping an 8-2 decision to the Wings on Saturday as they headed off to Toronto for the last game of their road trip and John Stevens’ tenure as their interim coach, with Stevens suggesting the following to the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott:

“Even though they’re a talented team they don’t step on the ice and just try to out-skill you. They’re pretty determined to outwork you and I think that’s something we have to learn from,” Stevens said Sunday

• Speaking of the Wings’ style of play, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan engaged in a two-part Q and A with the IIHF’s website, and the first part of his conversation with Lukas Aykroyd involved his present position, but he reminisced a bit about his time with the Wings in part 2:

Question: Brendan, before moving into the NHL front office, you also had a major impact on the game as a player. You won all three of your Stanley Cups with Detroit. When you look back at those days – with players like Steve Yzerman, Igor Larionov, and Dominik Hasek – is it fair to say Detroit had not only some of the most talented international teams ever but also some of the smartest?

Brendan Shanahan: Well, that’s what Brett Hull used to say: “We’re not young, but we’re smart!” When I look back on my career, I played in some great places, but obviously, Detroit’s where I was the most. I feel like a former Wing. I just was lucky to have played at the height of my career with the best organization in the league and with the best players in the league. Players of the calibre of Yzerman, Larionov, Sergei Fyodorov, and Nicklas Lidström.

• Crain’s Detroit Business’s Bill Shea suggests that Wings GM Ken Holland is the ninth-most influential person on the Detroit sports scene over the course of 2011 (I do not know why the guy who makes it creepy to thank a certain entity by doing so in the same way that athletes who thank their wife, trainer, agent, etc. all the damn time start sounding creepy and insincere is so popular, but I guess controversy sells—and if I were to, say, start mentioning the number of shopping days until my next birthday [there are 47] in August, and say, “Survival of the fittest, woo!” every time I talked to you, I would think that you were within your rights as a human being to tell me to give it a rest):

9. Ken Holland, general manager of the Detroit Red Wings: The man knows hockey and how to keep Detroit the National Hockey League’s most dominant team. Twenty straight years of playoffs—what more needs to be said? He finds talent, young and old. Will he become more powerful when the team has a new downtown arena, with new revenue streams and attractiveness to free agents?

I would suggest that, given the way the Wings treat their players, given that the Wings win so regularly and given that there’s a salary cap, Detroit will not become more attractive when they have a new rink, nor will Holland spend anything other than smartly…

• And while we’re on a business “track,” Crain’s Detroit Business’s Daniel Duggan and Nancy Kaffer report that the M1 Rail line backers, including Wings owner Mike Ilitch, still want to build a short version thereof from downtown to the New Center Area despite the fact that Detroit mayor Dave Bing and transportation secretary Ray LaHood have suggested that the line should not exist when they wish to invest funds in a “high-speed bus line” instead;

• If it makes you feel any better, and it at least makes me feel better, several of the QMI News Agency’s hockey writers were asked to make awards picks, and, um, two of seven suggested that Jimmy Howard should win the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender;

• Via Pro Hockey talk’s Jason Brough, the Toronto Star’s Chris Zelkovich found out, once and for all, that players are wearing numbers on the fronts/tops of their helmets so that TV camera operators can more easily identify them;

• Regarding the realignment issue which bleary-eyed Wings fans and a certain bleary-eyed blogger will be hoping comes to pass when we talk on Friday morning (my Wings-Flames wrap-up might read as, “Wings something something Flames I’m so tired!), Sportsnet’s John Shannon has good news, more or less, regarding the NHLPA’s desire to be consulted on and then approve the new arrangement:

The deadline the NHL has given the Players Association concerning feedback on realignment shouldn’t be viewed as early indication of hostilities between the two sides for the coming CBA negotiations. While the league has said they want a decision from the union by early January, representations from both sides do agree that this is just the process based on the current agreement.

According to a league source, approval is not needed from the PA but , “CBA requires that we discuss with the PA and that they not act unreasonably. We assume they won’t.”

On the other side, a PA source told me, “John, Just an FYI that we have indeed had lengthy discussions with the league on realignment and they are committed to providing us with the data and information that helped them decide on their proposal (which indeed requires PA sign-off). It just cannot be unreasonably held.”

Disagreement or semantics? You decide.

I think they’ll sign off on it, and that to some extent, the fact that the PA got its dander up is a sign of a healthy relationship with the NHL as opposed to that of a doormat. A pulse does not indicate, given the magnitude of the national news overnight, let’s say a North Korean stance toward change. And while I don’t usually add political stuff that doesn’t involve the Red Wings’ new rink to a blog entry, I think that there’s nothing wrong with posting one of my favorite YouTube videos ever as a proper ending to this blog entry:

I do believe that more disco music would yield a more peaceful planet, but I was born in 1978 (47 more shopping days, woo!). I hope this video did not offend anybody as it was meant because, well, I found an excuse to post a disco funky jam. It was not intended to incite any sort of controversy—maybe some shaking of your booty in your office chair, but not your ire.

Update: Grumble. Here’s Ansar Khan’s column on the Wings’ road struggles and their belief that they’re simply not going to sweep Western Canada for the second time in a row:

Stuart, the native of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, halfway between Calgary and Edmonton, said, “It’s not just going to happen. What’s happened in the past really doesn’t apply to us today,” Stuart said after Saturday’s 8-2 rout of the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena. “But we got to feel good about going out there, coming together as a team on the road.”
“We’re going to try to play with a little more tempo and a little more speed, kind of like we do at home,” center Henrik Zetterberg said. “So we’ve got a chance (today) to do that and we’ve got to make the best of it.”

Said Stuart: “We’ve been coming out (at home), starting real well, doing a lot of good things, putting the puck in the net. Now, we got to go on the road and try to do the same thing.”

And fa la la:

The Red Wings will have a three-day Christmas break after this trip (no games, no practices, no flights). Babcock nixed the notion that players will be distracted on the road with the holiday approaching.

“I’m a big believer in you do what you do, and you live in the moment,” Babcock said. “When you’re here, you’re doing that full-out. And when you’re celebrating Christmas with your family, do that full-out. I don’t think you can grind hockey 24/7, seven days a week. I think that just wears you out, wears your team out. Veterans go home and enjoy their families, then come back the next day re-energized and ready to go. I think the guys that are struggling are the guys that are struggling away from the rink. They come back worn out. To me, Christmas is the greatest time of year, a thing that should energize us.”

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MsRedWinger's avatar

Good morning, George!  Hey, why not take a nap this afternoon?  Might help.

And disco - what a nightmare time.  I was playing in a band then and the monotonous tempo of those songs was like torture.  The only good thing about it was watching people on the dance floor trying to do “Saturday Night Fever” moves.  Hilarious.


Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 12/19/11 at 11:05 AM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

Good morning , George . As far as a new rink, I would assume any talk is on hold until after next years election. If there is will be no economy in four or five years, no one wants to be locked in to a twenty year 500 million dollar building.

Posted by Rdwings28 on 12/19/11 at 11:55 AM ET

42jeff's avatar

Holy crap…I can’t believe I’ve watched that video three times already this morning.

Still loving it.

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 12/19/11 at 01:01 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Heh.  I was looking for Tychowski’s murderously idiotic pre-game report.  I’m never gonna forgive that jackass.

Dick Axelsson (given the unflattering double-chinned picture which is dogging him online, I guess we could call him, “Double-chinned Dick,” but that’s a wee bit vulgar)...

Jeebus, Tricky Dicky has just rivaled $0.20 for the most obvious holier-than-thou smug in hockey.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 12/19/11 at 04:50 PM ET


The Wings’ penalty-kill is awful on the road.

True, but still 5% better than at home. Fortunately, their power play is about the same.

Posted by bleep bloop on 12/19/11 at 06:38 PM ET


You do realize, George, that I won’t be able to sleep tonight after watching THAT. Sigh. Oh well, I can stay up for the WIngs after all.

In all seriousness, even knowing how oppressed those people are, it’s hard not to smile at that.

Posted by Bugsy on 12/20/11 at 12:59 AM ET

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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.