The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/02/12 at 06:09 PM ET
Upper Michigan weather—it’s about 65 degrees here and we’ve got a chilly wind blowing in off Lake Superior at a good 20 miles an hour—has me wearing jeans and a flannel shirt a couple hundred miles north of a Metro Detroit area pushing 100 degrees, so I thought I’d wander into internet range and deliver you this Tweet from RedWingsFeed and then toss off some charity hockey news:
Yeah, not so much. As Paul just posted, the Red Wings have managed to get every member of the Russian Five not named the still-playing Slava Kozlov, including the incredibly estranged Sergei Fedorov, to sign up to take part in the Winter Classic. NHL.com tossed off the press release again…
There’s little doubt Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman will take a trip down memory lane when he steps behind the bench for the 2013 Winter Classic alumni game on New Year’s Eve at Comerica Park in Detroit.
The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday announced the addition of nine players scheduled to participate in alumni game festivities on Dec. 31, one day before the current NHL teams meet at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor in the Bridgestone Winter Classic.
Bowman will coach the Red Wings alumni, while Pat Quinn directs the Maple Leafs.
Among the nine additional players participating in the contest, three are from Detroit’s famed ‘Russian Five’, including Vyacheslav Fetisov and Igor Larionov. Sergei Fedorov. Vladimir Konstantinov is also scheduled to be on hand. The five-man unit for the Wings was put together by Bowman over two decades ago.
The unit included defensemen Festisov and Kontantinov, and forwards Larionov, Fedorov and Vyacheslav Kozlov. The ‘Russian Five’ played an instrumental role during the Red Wings’ success in the late-1990s. Detroit won the Stanley Cup in 1997 and ‘98 and Fetisov (2001) and Larionov (2008) were ultimately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In addition to the ‘Russian Five’, the Maple Leafs have added Russ Courtnall, Bill Derlago, Bob McGill, all-stars Vincent Damphousse and Dave Ellett and 50-goal scorer Gary Leeman. The six Toronto players combined for 5,463 NHL games, 1,287 goals and 3,471 points.
Members of the Maple Leafs alumni scheduled to participate in the game now includes Leeman, Courtnall, Derlago, McGill, Damphousse and Ellett, along with Darryl Sittler, Rick Vaive, Darcy Tucker, Felix Potvin, Mike Palmateer, Dave Andreychuk, Doug Gilmour, Curtis Joseph, Johnny Bower, Wendel Clark, Jim McKenny, Kevin Maguire and Ron Ellis.
The three members of the ‘Russian Five’ are joined on the Red Wings roster by Mickey Redmond, John Ogrodnick, Luc Robitaille, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, Mark Howe, Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon, and all four members of Detroit’s infamous “Grind Line”—Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty and Joey Kocur. Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe are expected to make appearances, but not play.
Barry Smith will be Bowman’s assistant on the bench. The pair was together for Detroit’s championship runs in 1997, 1998 and 2002. Quinn, who last coached the Edmonton Oilers in 2009-10, will be joined behind the bench by Hall of Famer Red Kelly, who played for Toronto and Detroit during his 20-year career.
And DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose fired off a couple of Tweets as to how Red Wings GM Ken Holland managed to convince CSKA Moscow’s general manager (Fedorov), a very busy player agent (Larionov) and a member of Russian parliament (Fetisov) to show up:
Ken Holland said he spoke to Fedorov a few weeks ago in Detroit. However, Sergei needed clearance from CSKA Moscow bosses before committing.— The Wheel Deal (@Bill_Roose) August 2, 2012
Larionov spoke to Fetisov at Vladimir Krutov’s funeral in June about getting the “band back together”. Said Papa Bear was all in from start.— The Wheel Deal (@Bill_Roose) August 2, 2012
And Roose did address the fact that Fedorov left Detroit under, let’s say controversial and grudge-causing circumstances, if only in part:
— The Wheel Deal (@Bill_Roose) August 2, 2012
@mtgreenleaves No way! The man played 13 seasons here, won three Stanley Cups, two Selkes and a Hart.
The Wings’ website also posted a video to rekindle our memories (and, via RWF, a 28-image photo gallery)...
And Roose posted a feature story which explains that Konstantinov will act as an ambassador, and involved a long conversation with Larionov about taking part in the game:
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s exciting,” Larionov said. “I saw Slava in Moscow for the funeral for Vladi Krutov and he wants to play. I told Kenny (Holland) that he wants to play and it he has room for him, so Slava will be flying in for the game too.”
Fetisov, who is widely considered to be one of the finest defensemen that the game has ever seen, resigned his post as CSKA Moscow president and chairman of the Kontinental Hockey League in January. He retired from the NHL after helping the Wings to the ’98 Stanley Cup, producing 36 goals and 192 assists in nine seasons with the New Jersey Devils and Wings. The two Russians are the latest alumni players to commit to the Alumni Showdown against former Maple Leafs players, which will be played the day before the NHL is expected to set a new attendance record for an outdoor hockey game when the Wings and Leafs face-off in the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
“This will be the first time Winter Classic for me,” Larionov said. “And I’ve never been to a game at Michigan Stadium, but of course, I’ve seen the games on TV and I’m looking forward to watching that game and lacing them up to play in front of 40,000 (fans) at Comerica Park. That will be nice.”
The Wings already have commitments from 15 players, including forwards Kris Draper, Mickey Redmond, Luc Robitaille, Dino Ciccarelli, John Ogrodnick, Joe Kocur, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty; defensemen Chris Chelios, Mark Howe and Larry Murphy; and goalies Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood.
Draper has vowed to hold a training camp prior to the alumni game.
“That will be nice because Drapes just finished playing hockey a year ago and he’s still in good shape,” Larionov said. “You need some of the young guys who can skate. I’ll be 52 in December, Drapes is what, 40? So he’s still young.”
Here’s hoping that Fedorov has an “Eric Lindros” moment and mends fences with the team…and that Vladdie gets out on the ice, if only for a moment. The Russian Five did the kinds of things on ice that Pavel Datsyuk does now as a five-man unit, and I did what I do when Datsyuk dangles and dekes and makes a goal or assist come out of nothing when their magic inevitably resulted in a jaw-dropping play: I laugh, because there’s nothing else to do when athletes bring you joy like that. There is nothing to do but be grateful for the opportunity to witness what you’re witnessing, and to soak up every moment of it.
This news hit around midnight Moscow time, so I’ll check what the Russian papers have to say in the overnight report.
In other Red Wings news, perhaps somewhat ironically, Joey Kocur, whose charitable foundation is holding a Red Wings Alumni-sstudded charity baseball game in Highland Township, MI this Saturday, and, well, I’ll let 97.1 the Ticket’s Jamie Samuelssen take it away:
Joe Kocur says no. He things the Wings are still a formidable team in the NHL.
I talked to the former Red Wing on Thursday in advance of the 4th Annual Joe Kocur Charity Softball Series on Saturday at Duck Lake Pines Park in Highland. It’s an all-day event that benefits five different charities in the area. There are events for kids. There are four different softball games. For more information click here – http://www.joekocur.com/charity_softball/default.html
For some reason, Kocur thought it would be a good idea to have Wojo and me out to announce the celebrity game. So we’ll be out there as well to call the action as Darren McCarty, Mickey Redmond, Dino Ciccarelli and others take their cuts. I’m sure we’ll really class the event up…only exactly the opposite.
Here’s a chat with Kocur about the game, the state of the Red Wings, Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement and the reason that all the former Red Wing players still stick around metro Detroit.
• If you are a betting person (I am not), Paul covered Bovada’s early Stanley Cup odds, and the Free Press’s Helene St. James got down to the Red Wings-related tacks:
Per Bovada: Latest odds to win 2013 Stanley Cup have Pens favored at 8/1.— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) August 2, 2012
#RedWings at 15/1. Minnesota 18/1 despite adding Suter & Parise.
Per Bovada,— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) August 2, 2012
#RedWings at 6/1 to win Western Conference next season, behind Kings (9/2), Canucks & Blackhawks (5/1).
Per Bovada, Columbus least favored to win 2013 Stanley Cup at 100/1 and also least favored to win 2013 Western Conference at 50/1.— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) August 2, 2012
• If we’re talking “odds,” Comcast Sportsnet Washington’s Chuck Gormley believes that Jimmy Howard’s got an uphill climb if he’s hoping to join Team USA in the 2014 Olympics…
Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings): Only three goalies have won more games the past two years than the 28-year-old, Syracuse, NY native. It should also be noted though, that only three teams have scored more goals than Detroit has over those same two years.
Unlike [Kings goalie Jonathan] Quick who had to be exceptional just to get the 29th ranked offense into the playoffs last season, Howard just had to be good enough with the high-scoring Red Wings. In a short tournament where so much of a team’s success can lie with a hot goalie (see Hasek, 1998, Czech Republic or Miller, 2010, USA), Howard may not be that dominant goalie who can steal games.
Howard was the Americans’ No.1 goalie at the 2012 World Hockey Championships.
• And Sportsline’s Adam Gretz and Brian Stubits offer a split decision as to whether one should pick Joe Thornton or Pavel Datsyuk if you could only have one player on your team. I think that’s like asking whether you’d like a drive around the Upper Peninsula—all year round—with either an original Hummer or a Range Rover as your everyday vehicle, but Gretz likes “big strong and young” over older but more refined…
Adam Gretz’s pick: Joe Thornton: There was a time, just a few years ago, that I thought Datsyuk was in the discussion for being the best player in hockey (like in the top two or three) as he combined a brilliant offensive game and shutdown defensive ability. He still provides all of that that, and he’s still one of the best players in hockey. But so is Thornton.
I think my biggest reason for taking him at this point (because their production on a per-game and per-minute basis is so close) is that age and injuries seemed to have hurt Datsyuk just a little bit more in recent years, and Thornton seems like a better bet to give me 82 games in 2012.
But I’m on the side of old age and treachery anyway as Pavel’s only five months younger than I am, so I’m siding with Stubits:
Brian Stubits’ pick: Pavel Datsyuk: If I have the choice to take Pavel Datsyuk, I’m taking him almost every time—against anybody. The man is an absolute wizard and is without a doubt one of the absolute best in the game.
Everybody knows what Datsyuk can do with the puck on his stick. In that regard there really is nobody better in hockey. He slices, dices and simply dazzles defensemen. If you want actual point production instead of just show, well it’s there too. Datsyuk is only 14 points shy of being a point-per-game player in his career that is now 732 games.
But compared to Thornton, well, honestly the offensive numbers aren’t in Datsyuk’s favor. They are very similar but you can’t say that Datsyuk’s are better. It’s almost the same story when you look at the contract situation, each is signed for another two years; Datsyuk at $300,000 less per season than Thornton. That’s a fair tradeoff for being one year older to cancel each other out.
Where Datsyuk really gets my vote is his all-around game. For a while it looked like they were going to have to rename the Selke Award after Datsyuk as he took it three years in a row. You know the guy is good when he has been in consideration for the award the last two seasons despite missing a combined 38 games. I know it’s splitting hairs, but Datsyuk is the better player in the faceoff circle, too with a 54 percent win percentage compared to Thornton’s 53 percent.
All of this neglects to mention some of the bonuses at play, too. In Datsyuk I’m getting one of the best shootout guys in the league vs. Thronton, who rarely ever takes part in the skills contest. Hey, while this is part of the game it’s a serious consideration to take into account. Lastly, Datsyuk has a move named after him and his last name was turned into an adjective. If that isn’t reason enough to pick him, I don’t know what is.
Range Rover, and this is the son of a Chrysler family and a Ford family talking here. You don’t need to have a three-ton vehicle to pull a tow truck out of a snowbank, or get out of two feet of sand on your own.
• I am not, however, commenting on NHL.com’s Pete Jensen’s “best ever” 16-man fantasy hockey team, which placed Steve Yzerman’s ass on the bench.
Shifting gears to cover some charitable news, if you find yourself in Southeastern Michigan with no plans for Saturday, the Plymouth Whalers are holding an alumni game starting with an autograph session at 2 PM and then a game to follow to benefit Gleaners Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.
Amongst the alums attending, per the Whalers’ website:
Plymouth alumni scheduled to skate in the game include NHL players Tyler Seguin (Boston), James Neal (Pittsburgh), Jared Boll (Columbus), and Matt Hackett (Minnesota) as well as retired Washington Capitals’ forward Pat Peake – the only Whaler to have his jersey retired by the franchise.
Other Plymouth alumni tentatively scheduled to play in the game include former captains Chris Terry (2005-09), John Vigilante (2002-06), AJ Jenks (2006-10) and Mike Morrone (1994-97); Tyler G. Brown (2007-11), Ryan Hayes (2007-10), Robbie Czarnik (2009-11), Jamie Devane (2008-12), Damian Surma (1998-02), Mark Cadotte (1995-97), Shaun Fisher (1997-00), Scott Fletcher (2008-09), Jason Lawmaster (1996-98), J.D. Eaton (1990-93), Jeff Gardiner (1990-92), Duane Harmer (1993-95), James Sheehan (1990-92), Peter Neal (2008-11), and Larry Sterling (2000-01).
Joe McCann (2005-08), and Mike Yovanic (2007-09) will attend the game, but will not play.
• As noted last night, new Red Wing Jordin Tootoo’s spending this summer sdoing a boatload of charity work when he’s not at his summer home in British Columbia, and, via RedWingsFeed, the CBC North reports that he’s representing an initiative that’s incredibly important to many people with mental illnesses, including myself, given the stigmas surrounding speaking about issues that…Sometimes are really life and death:
NHL player Jordin Tootoo is putting his support behind the Aboriginal Youth Council’s work to develop a strategy for youth suicide prevention.
Tootoo, who recently signed with the Detroit Red Wings, is in Whitehorse [NWT] for a youth hockey camp. He joined members of the council on Wednesday for the announcement. They were in Whitehorse for the annual general meeting of the National Association of Friendship Centres.
“One of the key issues in regard to urban aboriginal suicide in our communities is it’s such a taboo subject,” said Andrea Landry, a member of the council. “You have so many youth that are so afraid to speak about it and so ashamed to speak up about what’s going on in their communities.”
Tootoo, who grew up in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, lost his brother to suicide in 2002.
“I could really relate to a lot of these issues that need to be put out there,” he said. “I think the biggest issue is being able to talk about it and reaching out to somebody and not being afraid to speak out, because there are people out there that care for you and support you. We all have issues. We all face issues every day, and to know that there’s someone out there to give you a helping hand… It’s out there, you know. Reach out. Don’t be afraid.”
He said hockey and the support of teammates have been a source of strength throughout his career. Tootoo said he’ll continue to use his position as a professional hockey player to promote suicide prevention.
*#$%@&’ A. There’s a video embedded in the story, and as I tend to say about mental illnesses and anyone who’s dealing with depression or feeling suicidal—there is nothing “wrong” with you, and you are not alone at all. Your family, your friends and even people like me are here and we care about you, and if you can’t chat to them, to a doctor, to a hotline, the email inbox is always open at georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com or on Twitter.
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• Sticking with a serious tone though we’re changing subjects, MLive’s Brendan Savage did a fantastic job of summing up the state of CBA negotiations, and while some of what Stu Hackel discussed is plain old grim, his entry on Sports Illustrated’s Red Light blog is nothing less than elegant;
• In much, much cheerier news, from the Red Wings…
And Fox Sports Detroit:
• According to NHL.com, Mike Modano will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of fame on September 15th—in Dallas, Texas;
• I should note that the Grand Rapids Griffins sent me a link to their season ticket application page promising that Winter Classic tickets are “available now” for Griffins season-ticket holders;
• I can only tip my hat to Graham Hathaway and Winging it in Motown for landing a regular spot as guest columnists for the Free Press, and Graham takes a look at Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincey’s likely roles for the upcoming season today;
• And as for myself, tomorrow’s my last full day of this trip, but between a long time at the campfire on the beach tonight and having to both try to cram in one more “beach day” and pack up the Pacifica, I won’t be around much. Saturday’s driving 400 miles (with a drive through Curtis to buy hockey cards at the Trading Post and a stop at Clyde’s in St. Iginace squeezed in), and I’m guessing that I’ll be pretty wonked for a few days afterward, so I’ll be laying low and hoping that not too much happens. It’s just too bad that mom and I could only stay for a week, because we’re just, just starting to arrive and relax. Next year, it’ll be two weeks again.
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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.