Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings catchy uppy post 1: on free agent speculation, prospects and the Worlds (in English)

When last I left you, the boss kinda sorta worried you about the Captain when in fact, it was me that would return after my internet service provider, which just got “bought out,” decided that it would easily and simply “migrate” its servers to the new company’s hardware and software over the course of four hours on Tuesday morning. That didn’t happen, and somewhere around 32 hours after my net went out and six or seven hours were spent listening to the the equivalent of physiological warfare by the worst “on hold” music ever (I’ll post it online when I figure out how to do so), my internet was eventually, slowly and painfully restored.

On Tuesday morning, when everything went down, we were talking about the possibility of the Wings and Hurricanes duking it out for Zach Parise, and on Twitter, Mike Comodore was, and is, trying to trade his flat screen TV in Detroit for something special, and the Wings bafflingly sent their fan most likely to burn and/or auction off Red Wings stuff…A bunch of Red Wings stuff. For free.

Between then and now, the ice was taken out of the Joe, something of a free agent frenzy erupted again in the land of Wings fan discussion, and in terms of our ability to participate in the shape of the Wings to come…

Well, you’ve got voting for Pavel Datsyuk as EA Sports’ NHL 13 cover athlete, and watching what NBC Sports will air from the highly Wings-populated World Championships, if you’re “geo-blocked” from online IIHF.com streams because you live in the U.S., anyway.

We’ll get to the Worlds later, but for the moment, this short survey of, “What I missed while I was gone, mainstream media version” will stick with concrete news, as noted by MLive’s Brendan Savage, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, the Free Press, CBS Detroit, you name it, everywhere, including our friends in Toronto, who keep insisting that the Toronto Maple Leafs have been kindly given the opportunity to play some team at a 113,000-seat facility in extreme Southwestern Ontario:

• Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski revealed that Detroit’s self-proclaimed “team Vanilla” will get the HBO: 24/7 treatment…

We’re bringing it back,” [NHL chief operating officer John] Collins told Puck Daddy exclusively on Tuesday, although he said a formal announcement is forthcoming.

There was no guarantee “24/7” would come back for a third season, after a change at the top at HBO Sports. The Associated Press speculated in January that HBO could “decide to keep the show, and possibly expand it from its four-week run, or move in a different direction.”

Collins said there are going to be two significant changes for next season’s production, beginning with the fact the NHL will be more involved behind the scenes.

“We’re going to work a little more closely with HBO on production. We’ve been in partnership with them, but now that we have an original productions group here, we’re going to work a little more closely with them on the production side,” said Collins.

What does that partnership entail?

“I think it’s going to be more of a collaboration,” he said. “To the fan, they won’t see any difference in production whatsoever. We’re not going to limit access. We’re not going to change any approval rights. There won’t be anything different about this.”

We’ll see what Wings coach Mike Babcock, who was outspoken about not liking the concept of having his coaching strategies laid bare, thinks about that…

• And Collins somewhat depressingly (at least from the average fan’s standpoint) told Wyshynski that sponsors’ desires to gobble up tickets, plus the whole Leafs-season-ticket-holder-list is a thousand miles long and the fact that Leaf and Wing partial and full season ticket-holders will be appeased first, means that a Winter Classic ticket will be incredibly difficult to get if you don’t already have an “in” to get a leg up on the fan who saves up his and/or her pennies to take in a handful of Wings games a year:

Question: One such tent pole is the Winter Classic: How’s the preparation for that going?

Collins: It’s a beast. We’re ahead of where we’ve been. Last year, we didn’t announce until September. The two or three before that, we announced around July 4. So we announced five or six months ahead, and thank God we did. There is so much work to be done.

It’s such a big event because we’re using two venues in Comerica and the Big House. We’ve got 110,000 tickets and 80 suites, and tons of demand. We’ll probably have 200,000 tickets for various events with the Red Wings at Comerica. And it’s big because it’s Detroit and Toronto.

Question: Have tickets gone on sale yet?

Collins: The clubs’ [tickets] are going on sale in the next couple of weeks. The demand from sponsors is huge — at least twice as big as any previous Winter Classic. The demand from the clubs is off the charts. Everyone’s calling the Detroit box office and the Toronto box office. So we’re trying to figure out how many tickets the teams need or can use, and how many we can get into the general marketplace.

It’s feeling as tight as Citizen’s Bank was, to be honest.

I might also suggest that you take a look at DetroitHockey.net’s Clark Rasmussen’s pair of Winter Classic jersey concepts, because we’ve been lacking those in a big way from Wings fans…

And while I’m talking about plugs, I need to mention that RedWingsFeed provided serious-ass help in terms of putting this together, and if there is a Twitter must-follow, it’s RWF.

 

In terms of less tangible but no less talk-worthy issues, and I’d love to hear what Mike Babcock had to say to Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner (link just goes to FSD’s Wings page), as Babcock engaged in a “lunchtime” interview with Regner that FSD has yet to post…

• Something of a tizzy developed here on KK, and just about everywhere else, where the “crazy cop” (Mike Babcock is the “good cop” and Ken Holland is the “bad cop” in the equation) of the Red Wings’ management team, one vice-president Jimmy Devellano, put aside any CBA concerns and told WDFN’s Ron Cameron that, as MLive’s Brendan Savage thankfully transcribed, that the team wants to sign a top-six forward, top-pair defenseman, backup goalie and a big nasty forward or two this summer, suggesting that the team does indeed need to start keeping up with the more physical teams in the league…

“It appears that way,” he said. “Certainly we’d like to get a bit bigger and a little tougher. We’d like to get a little bigger size-wise and a little tougher. We really prefer tougher players who can play the game, not just somebody who can play two-three minutes and fight. We prefer somebody like Darren McCarty or Joe Kocur or Martin Lapointe. That type of player who can play and is big and strong.”

Devellano also talked about his role as a Detroit Tigers’ vice president; possible NHL conference and divisional realignment; the Collective Bargaining Agreement; drafting Steve Yzerman; prospects Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist being “penciled in” for next year’s team; and his start with the Red Wings 30 years ago.

Before delving into the team’s free agency desires feet first:

“I can’t mention names because that would be tampering,” Devellano said. “But the only thing I will tell you is Ken Holland will be very aggressive come July 1. I think you know how we operate. I think you know how Mike Ilitch operates. We’ll be aggressive. If there are some good players out there, we’re gonna go hard. We know the team needs to improve. I would just leave it with Ken. He knows that we need another defenseman and we could use another forward. That doesn’t mean those things will be easy to get because there will be other suitors. But you know the Red Wings will be aggressive and won’t just sit on their hands.”

Devellano said he expects the NHL salary cap to increase from $64.3 million this year to somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 million next season. That could leave the Red Wings with about $20 million to re-sign some of their own players or to spend on free agents.

“There are so many different avenues to try and build a team,” he said. “We certainly used the draft but unrestricted free agency is an important tool for us, maybe the most important. If you can make a trade, they’re not easy to do, but you make a trade.  We will continue to draft and always look to see who the best unrestricted free agents are and try to add one or two of them as we go along.”

Devellano scoffed at the notion that the Red Wings’ roster needs to be torn apart and rebuilt because the club is too old. He said other than Lidstrom (42), Tomas Holmstrom (39) and Todd Bertuzzi (37), most players are still in their prime or approaching it.

“You take those three players away ... the team is not really old,” Devellano said. “We want to try and remain competitive. We don’t see any reason to tear down the team. We don’t think our fans want us to tear down the team. I think they want us to do whatever we can do to win. I don’t know why we would tear up the team with players like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard and Johan Franzen. I’m not sure why we would do that. Tearing up the team means you’re going to miss the playoffs. We did have 102 points this year. People can say we’re getting older. Yeah, that is true. We are but certainly our older players for many years have been our best players. We can be faulted for getting older. Our older players were very, very good.”

Savage also reports that Devellano bafflingly suggested that Joey MacDonald, who has a one-way, NHL-only contract, would be playing in Grand Rapids as the team will upgrade its back-up goaltending, offering little room for both Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum to coexist at the AHL level…But let’s just say that Jimmy D is dreaming big and not necessarily subscribing to the notions that the Wings’ decision-makers are more cautiously embracing.

Here’s the interview:

Download file

• MLive’s Phillip Zaroo Also noted that USA Today’s Kevin Allen fully believes that assistant GM Jim Nill, who turned down the Montreal Canadiens’ GM’s job because his wife’s battling cancer, will eventually leave the Wings to helm his own team, but for now, Nill and capologist Ryan Martin remain Holland’s right-hand men (I would expect either Martin or Kris Draper to replace Nill in a few years)...

• And the “bad cop,” whose job is very specifically to temper expectations in the free-agent spending department, talked up the Wings’ prospects instead in a conversation with the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan about improving from within (and there’s a David Guralnick photo gallery of said “top prospects” attached to the article) via a discussion of Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith, Calle Jarnkrok, Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Tatar, Petr Mrazek, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Xavier Ouellet and Joakim Andersson as the “next generation” of Wings players:

“This going and signing seven guys and all of a sudden you have 68 wins, that’s unrealistic thinking,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We’ll use unrestricted free agency if there’s a player that we feel can make us better. We’ll pursue them. But it just can’t be free agency.”

With the possible retirements of Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom, and the uncertain returns of unrestricted free agents Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler, the future could be now for the Red Wings prospects. And for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve got lots of pieces that are in the primes of their careers,” said Holland, ticking off names such as Datsyuk (33), Zetterberg (31) and Niklas Kronwall (31). “We can get right back and compete with the rest of the league. Certainly we have to have a good summer individually and we have to make decisions from a management standpoint. Part of getting better has to be internal.”

Players such as Smith and Nyquist, in particular, will be challenged during camp to reach their potential and make the roster. But the continued progress of the franchise’s draft picks and their eventual graduation onto the roster is also necessary. With the advent of the salary cap after the 2005 lockout, teams have more difficulty keeping every player they want. With those financial restraints, it’s crucial that young talent keeps coming through and replacing key personnel.

“In training camp (last September), we challenged our 20-somethings to take a step and I thought a lot (of that group did) take a step,” Holland said. “That’s part of growing a team. At the end of the day, when you look at the four teams left in the West (Conference playoffs), they’ve been building and growing. It’s the league (right now). We have to figure out a way, we have a lot of pieces, we have to make a few moves and we can be right in the thick of things.”

The Red Wings, however, deviated from their typical plan this season. They dealt their first-round pick in June’s draft to reacquire defenseman Kyle Quincey, 26. Holland, however, felt so comfortable with the prospects currently in the pipeline — a defenseman such as Smith, skilled forwards such as Nyquist, Jarnkrok and Riley Sheahan, and goaltender Petr Mrazek — that dealing the first-round pick was OK.

“Eventually, (it) has to be guys like Nyquist and Brendan Smith and (forward) Riley Sheahan and (forward) Calle Jarnkrok and Petr Mrazek and (forward) Louis-Marc Aubry; it has to be internal,” Holland said. “That’s the system. As l look today at the teams playing in the West (playoffs), isn’t that what they’ve done? They’ve drafted, they’ve developed and they’ve built and they got themselves in position where they have pretty good depth, and they have good players and now they’ve won a playoff round.”

• This morning, MLive’s Ansar Khan also duly noted that Mister Smith is preparing for what he hopes is his first full season with the big club:

“I think I played well and showed them what I’ve got,’’ Smith said. “The biggest thing for me is to hit the gym really hard this summer and get bigger and work my way into the lineup. I’m pretty excited to have played as many games as I did, and hopefully that will give me that much more of a chance to jump right into the lineup.’‘

He will look to add more muscle to his 6-foot-2, 199-pound frame.

“That would be the main focus we’ve talked about, just get bigger and a little bit stronger, not losing any speed and maybe even gaining speed,’’ Smith said. “I think that will ensure me to be one of the top six.’‘

As Khan suggests, that depends on what happens with Nicklas Lidstrom—who, I should mention, both the Ottawa Sun and the Winnipeg Sun’s Kirk Penton mused about, whether the Wings can somehow manage to convince Brad Stuart to stay (unlikely), whether the Wings will add to their defense via free agency, and whether the team decides to keep Jakub Kindl, but Lidstrom believes that Smith can make a difference:

“He’s got that raw talent that can be a difference-maker, and he can skate with the puck,’’ Lidstrom said. “It’s just the matter of getting that experience. You have to play to make some mistakes, get over them and move on. So he has a lot of potential.’‘

Let’s all be surprised that Smith wants Lidstrom to return:

“He’s unbelievable. It’s like he makes no mistakes out there,’’ Smith said. “Selfishly, I’d like him back so I can keep picking up more tips from him and keep watching him. Is (Lidstrom’s return) going to hurt my chances? I don’t know what’s the plan. The biggest thing for me is to get bigger and stronger and work myself into the six with Nick. That would be cool.’‘

Need more Endorsements? Smith has more than a few fans in the Wings’ locker room:

“He played really well, made the easy plays, played physical when he needed to,’’ [Niklas] Kronwall said. “His skating ability is his biggest asset and he used it really well.’‘

Asked if he’s counting on Smith and forward Gustav Nyquist being on the roster at the start of the season, coach Mike Babcock said, “We’re counting on them to have real good summers and give themselves the best opportunity, physically, to be here. That’s all going to depend on what we do (over the summer) and how well they play at training camp.”

And then, however, as the Chief noted, the Vancouver Sun’s Tony Gallagher derailed Red Wings Nation’s natural, “Okay, so Jimmy D’s hoping for the best, Holland’s preparing for the worst, and what’s probably going to happen is what Babcock suggests—somewhere in between, where the Wings sign a couple of top-flight players in a goal-scoring forward and a top-pair defenseman, maybe a big and/or ornery and/or steely-voiced fourth-liner, and then they’ll hope that Joey Mac’s back is OK and that they’ve got prospects ready to make the jump” train of thought and went ZOMG PARISE SUTER CAP SPACE WINGS SUPER FUN TIME:

When July 1 rolls around, the Western Conference is apt to take a strange turn. Then again, if the same team that appears to be in the best possible position to make the biggest noise that day does as expected, it could also be a different conference or division that is impacted the most.

We speak here of the Detroit Red Wings and the approximately $20 million they have at their disposal to chase free agents, and an owner, Mike Ilitch, with the track record indicating he’s going to do just that. Question is, will realignment go ahead after Collective Bargaining Agreement talks are finished or not?

Players like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise are apt to be stoked about joining a team that already has the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and quite likely a returning Nicklas Lidstrom, and also boasts a long tradition of winning despite this year’s early exit from the playoffs.

The Wings figure to have the inside track on both these prize catches, just as perhaps the Vancouver Canucks have a possible similar advantage if Nashville flames out in the second round and the Predators determine they must do something with restricted free agent Shea Weber sooner than later if he decides not to stay. But that’s several steps removed.

If in fact it is going to be “business as usual” July 1, as all the GMs have been instructed to say, the Wings will be loading up. And given the Devils are expected to lose close to $20 million (before playoff revenue that is) this season, the chances they’ll be shelling out massively to retain Parise is as likely as he is to believe that he will get help around him in such a budget crisis. So many feel the gifted young forward is a goner in New Jersey.

Both he and Suter have already been asked about that possibility of going to Detroit and both declined to comment, of course. But both talked about the great tradition the Wings have developed over the years, not the least of which is their reputation for treating players well.

Doubtless other teams will come out of their boots for both of these young Americans and Minny might even throw a bank in the direction of hometown boy Parise, but it’s not likely to cut much mustard given how poorly the Wild have performed.

I don’t mean to sound like a negative Nancy, but given that we know the Wings will not give Parise or Suter—assuming that they’re not going to stay with their current teams—the kind of “market value-plus-crazy money” deals other teams can offer them, we might be talking about the Wings more realistically going after Alex Semin, P-A Parenteau, Jay Garrison, Matt Carle or Dennis Wideman instead, and given the lack of depth in the goal-scoring department in terms of free agents, the Wings may end up having to make a trade (and dip into their pool of prospects) to acquire a goal-scorer.

I’m not the Chief, and I’m not going to offer the kind of swagger he does. My attitude is, “Let’s wait and see while expecting that this summer, for the first time in 3 years, the team’s coaching and managerial staffs know that they can’t get away with making any more lateral moves, so we have every reason to expect the team to take steps forward via free agency, but given CBA uncertainty and the fact that the pool of available free agents is so ridiculously shallow…Let’s not assume that the Wings will deliver us the moon and the stars.”

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming, as long as we’re realistic about what’s probably going to happen.

 

In terms of players who are expected to contribute to the Wings’ cause that are already signed, MLive’s Ansar Khan reported that Patrick Eaves continues to progress in recovering from his concussion…

“It’s a slow process, but I think I’m getting better,’’ Eaves, who turned 28 on Tuesday, said. “I’m very confident I’ll be ready. We have some time here I can recover and get treatment. I should be ready to go.’‘

Eaves suffered a broken jaw when hit by a shot from Nashville’s Roman Josi on Nov. 26 and had surgery two days later. The jaw healed by February, but Eaves continued to experience concussion-related symptoms, which kept him idled through the playoffs.

“I didn’t have it mapped out this way, but it happened and we’ll move on,’’ Eaves said last week, when players cleaned out their lockers. “It’s frustrating, but my wife took care of me the whole time.’‘

Eaves said his symptoms will dictate how hard he can work out this summer.

“I’m having less and less headaches and able to work out a little harder,’’ Eaves said. “I just got to stay with it. I’m able to ride the bike and I’m just starting to walk a little bit on the treadmill. … I was able to skate a couple times with the Black Aces (playoff reserves), but not a full practice. I still have a ways to go. … Baby steps every day.’‘

• And the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness reported good news from Joey MacDonald regarding his back issues:

“I can see a big improvement over the last couple of weeks and I still believe if we would have continued on here I would have been skating probably within the next week or two, but not playing,” MacDonald said. “I’m going to stick around here for another three to four weeks and before I leave here I want to be 100-percent, ready to rock.”

MacDonald hasn’t been on the ice since March 14 when his back flared up in a 4-0 loss in Anaheim. It was learned later that he had a slightly bulging disc.

“I want to be ready in July to start skating,” MacDonald said. “That’s the plan. It’s going in the right direction. I’m 75-80 percent right now.”
MacDonald, 32, had back surgery in 2006, but doesn’t think that will be necessary this time around.

“I had two (cortisone) injections already,” MacDonald said. “I’m working out, doing stuff I wasn’t allowed to for three weeks, so hopefully within the next little bit (I will start skating).”

MacDonald has one year left on his contract that pays him $550,000. The Wings have plans for him to backup Jimmy Howard after he unseeded Ty Conklin for that role during the season.

“I was disappointed when I got hurt, but getting the opportunity to come in and play a lot, be put in tough situations, like when we had that home streak going, I thought overall it was a good season,” MacDonald said. “Even down in Grand Rapids I thought I played well. Getting a chance up here to prove I can be the second guy.”

 

And in terms of some of the aforementioned future prospects, Hockey’s Future mentioned that two Wings prospects barely missed their Top 50 list cut…

For the QMJHL entrant to this list, winger Tomas Jurco, he’s a good prospect who must shine on a roster that boasts several strong NHL prospects. Jurco plays for the St. John Sea Dogs, the defending Memorial Cup champions currently making a run at more QMJHL and CHL hardware. The scoring Slovak turned in another solid offensive regular season and is following that up with an equally productive playoff campaign. Jurco, a prospect of the Detroit Red Wings, possesses good offensive instincts and a strong work ethic as well as the size to handle NHL competition. He’ll need some time in the minors, but he looks like another wise selection for Ken Holland and company.
...
Looking to Europe, one player given consideration was Detroit Red Wings prospect Calle Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok is a teammate and linemate of Jakob Silfverberg on the 2012 SEL champion, Brynas IF. While Silfverberg has received most of the accolades, including a spot in HF’s Top 50, Jarnkrok has shown himself to be a skilled playmaker with some offensive upside to his game. The fact that he and Silfverberg, along with Minnesota Wild prospect Johan Larsson, have been instrumental in leading their team to an elite championship at a young age suggests that all three players have a bright future in the NHL.

• HF’s Tony Piscotta explained why Teemu Pulkkinen’s not being mentioned too regularly among the Wings top prospects right now…

6. Teemu Pulkkinen, Jokerit Helsinki
NHL Rights: Detroit Red Wings
Drafted 4th round, 111th overall, 2010

Big things were expected of Pulkkinen this season, both in SM-Liiga play and at the 2012 U20 World Junior Championships. Coming off a rookie season where he had nearly a point-per-game and was plus-23 in 55 games, Pulkkinen was expected to continue to establish himself as a can’t-miss prospect with Jokerit and combine with the Granlunds to lead Finland to a medal.

While the expectations may have been unrealistically high, the lack of effectiveness and production, particularly in the second half of the year, raised some concerns.

A nagging ankle injury and inconsistency limited Pulkkinen’s effectiveness but according to a scout who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, Pulkkinen did not handle things as well as he could have.

Jokerit played its best hockey down the stretch but with Danish import Nichlas Hardt and veterans Ben Eaves and Ilari Filppula handling the top line duties, Pulkkinen mostly played in the third and fourth lines.

“His game was not on a good level. I also think he will bounce back but he had a terrible last third of the season,” said the anonymous scout.

In the WJC tournament, Pulkkinen was one of Finland’s leading scorers but was kept in check by the tougher squads from Canada and Sweden, giving fuel to those who feel his big junior numbers may not necessarily translate to pro hockey.

Struggles for 20-year-olds making the adjustment to pro hockey are nothing new and Pulkkinen’s offensive tools, particularly his explosive shot, are top rate. He will be challenged to get things back on track with Jokerit in 2012-13.

• And the Hockey News’s Ryan Kennedy suggested that Jarnkrok is “one to watch” at the Worlds:

Calle Jarnkrok, C – Brynas (Swe.) His teammate Jakob Silfverberg went straight to the NHL playoffs, but Jarnkrok will have to be content with winning a Swedish League title and joining his fellow young gun on the national team for the World Championship. Jarnkrok was a point-per-game player during Brynas’ run to the promised land and a solid plus-12. Drafted 51st overall by Detroit in 2010.


Regarding said World Championships, I’ll try to flood you with Swedish later this evening, but for the moment, we’re going to stick with English.

• In Gavle, Sweden on Tuesday, as MLive’s Ansar Khan, the Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan and USA Hockey’s website noted that Jimmy Howard made 31 saves over 2 periods of play while Team USA defeated Sweden 3-2 where Jarnkrok and the Swedish Eliteserien champions, Brynas IF, play.

Jarnkrok did register an assist, and his strong performances over the Swedes’ rough exhibition outings are why he’s playing ahead of more established players.

• I do need to mention that the Czechs are still insisting that Jakub Kindl left the Czechs on his own, despite evidence to the contrary—along the lines of Kindl being told that a 20-year-old would replace him among the Czechs’ starting six defensemen, and that he’d have to sit and bide his time as he “didn’t play well” enough and the Czechs were afraid he wouldn’t be able to re-acclimate to big ice, thus giving Kindl an “out” so that the Czechs could reward players with more national team experience and/or players who’d curried favor with the Czech Ice Hockey Association…

• As the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness noted, while the Wings’ participants are excited about representing their respective countries, Wings coach Mike Babcock made it very clear that he’s not thrilled with the concept of his team having to send players elsewhere to play in May:

“A lot of guys are going down, (but) I don’t like ‘em going in the fact that we should be playing here,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You shouldn’t have to travel to another country to play hockey. It’s not something that I’d like to be standard for our team. Yet, I think it’s really good.”

The other Wings taking part are Pavel Datsyuk (Russia), Valtteri Filppula (Finland), Tomas Tatar (Slovakia).

“Fil’s going to get a really good opportunity and he’s had a great year,” Babcock said. “Confidence-wise I think it’s a great thing for him, along with Ericsson, (Jakub) Kindl, Howie and Abby. I think for Franzen, Zetterberg, for Datsyuk — who’ve already played in the Olympics and have been what they’ve been, I don’t know if it’s as much of a confidence-builder, but for the Swedes and the Fins, they’re playing right in their own country. So, that makes it real special.”

• In the preview department, NHL.com’s Bill Meltzer has posted two profiles of the Finnish team and one summarizing the Czechs,’ Swedes’ and Russians’ chances, but as Paul noted, Russia Today profiled the Russians while spotlighting Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin’s additions…

(edit/update: there’s a story attached to the video, which you can read here)

• Zetterberg has been named an alternate/assistant captain for Sweden (according to the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren; Daniel Alfredsson will wear the “C” and Gabriel Landeskog will wear the other “A”), and as Paul noted, Zetterberg spoke to IIHF.com’s Lukas Aykroyd today. Here are some highlights from the interview:

Question: Are you having fun so far? Everyone here seems pretty excited to see you.

Zetterberg: Yeah, absolutely. It’s great to be back home and play for Team Sweden. Hopefully we can get a nicer ending here than we did in Detroit.

Question: You’ve worn the Tre Kronor jersey many times, but it’s been six years since you last appeared at the IIHF World Championship. What made you decide to play this year?

Zetterberg: Well, I think when we lost out in the playoffs like we did, really early, I felt healthy and really hungry to play more hockey. I always knew that the World Championship was here in Stockholm. So I took a few days [after Detroit was eliminated], and then made a call and asked if I could come.

Question: In 2006, you were part of the national team that won the historic, first-ever “double gold” in Riga. What were the keys to your success there?

Zetterberg: We played really good hockey. I think it all slowly was building up to a good tournament. I don’t think we had a great tournament all the way. But when it mattered most in the end, everything clicked. We had a good power play, good PK, and good goaltending. If you have those three key things, you’re going to do well in the tournament.

Question: It’s not just Swedish Wings who are here this year. Pavel Datsyuk is playing for Russia. Are you going to have fun going head-to-head with him on May 11 as opposed to being his buddy?

Zetterberg: Yeah, absolutely. We actually skated together a little bit at the Joe [Louis Arena in Detroit] before we got over here. We had little competitions that started already. It was a little tougher for him then because we had four guys from Sweden [from Detroit] and he was the only Russian. I’m pretty sure he’ll be motivated to get something back here and I think that helped me a lot.

As Paul says, Continue reading...

 

And in the general news category: WDIV and the Free Press note that the Red Wings finished relatively high in ESPN the Magazine’s list of the highest-paying teams in professional sports;

• When he was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best coach, Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean spoke about the lessons he learned from Wings coach Mike Babcock while serving as his assistant, as noted by the Ottawa Citizen’s Wayne Scanlan…

While MacLean, 54, is technically a rookie NHL head coach, he spent six seasons as an assistant to Mike Babcock with the Detroit Red Wings and another two years with Babcock on the staff of the Anaheim Ducks. He brought to Ottawa Babcock’s theory about puck control and what he likes to call a “200-foot” skating game.

MacLean also learned from watching Babcock interact with players, first with a developing Anaheim team in 2002-04, then in Detroit, with an elite lineup.

“He had some really high-skilled players in Detroit,” MacLean said. “How he approached them and how he talked to them about the game was important for me to see.”

And the Free Press’s Helene St. James (the Freep also listed the last 5 Detroit sports coaches who were named “coach of the year” in their respective sports leagues)...

The Wings and Senators met once this season, in the opening game of the season, won by the Wings, 5-3. From there, MacLean and Wings coach Mike Babcock “touched base once a month,” MacLean said, “but if I needed to ask advice, he was always there.”

MacLean credited his time in Detroit with teaching him, through watching Babcock, “how he approached really good players, how he talked to them about the game. That was important for me to see.”

It was something MacLean was able to apply in dealing with his new team, especially Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and defenseman Erik Karlsson, who last week was named as a finalist for the Norris Trophy.

• St. James and the Free Press also took note of the fact that new Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin once played for the Wings, and that the Lester B. Pearson Award is now the Ted Lindsay Award, but has yet to be awarded to a Wing;

• Why no, Canada.com, it should come as little surprise that the Wings and Canucks, not the Bruins, remain the gold standards in terms of team-building and styles of play for Western Conference teams like the Coyotes;

• The National Post’s Bruce Arthur heavily quoted one former Wing Sergei Fedorov regarding the “NHL’s Russian Question”;

• The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan mostly wrote about the impending goalie shuffle we’re about to witness this summer in his NHL Insider column, but he also took note of the following:

To those Red Wings fans waiting for Predators defenseman Ryan Suter to become an unrestricted free agent, hold on.

Predators chairman Tom Cigarran said this week the organization is going to do everything it can to keep Suter and defenseman Shea Weber , who is a restricted free agent.

“We were going to keep the very best players to the extent we can, to the extent they want to play here,” Cigarran told the Tennessean. “To the extent they want to play here, we would step up and make sure we had the money available to pay them.”

• Amongst the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts:

17. For those of you who are language-watchers in Quebec, was told that on a couple of occasions, English-only candidates were suggested to Geoff Molson/Savard. The response was that such individuals would only be considered if superstars were not available.

18. That said, wouldn’t you love to see what would happen if Bergevin called Detroit and asked for permission to talk to Mike Babcock?

• And via RedWingsFeed, I’ll pause for now via some Twitter quips from Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos (who’s talking about a school in Toronto, not Metro Detroit)...

De La Salle is celebrating 160 yr anniversary. Part of celebration is retiring of former #Redwings and De La Salle student Kris Draper’s #33

And Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov:

Datsyuk: “For next year’s Winter Classic I need to read more books and come up with a follow up about the Universe and celestial objects.”
...
BTW, Datsyuk and Bryzgalov were roomies in Vancouver during the Olympics. “But we didn’t talk about space,” Datsyuk said.

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Comments

gowings's avatar

Datsyuk: “For next year’s Winter Classic I need to read more books and come up with a follow up about the Universe and celestial objects.”
...
BTW, Datsyuk and Bryzgalov were roomies in Vancouver during the Olympics. “But we didn’t talk about space,” Datsyuk said.


Wow…Pav is just the funniest player!

Posted by gowings from MTL on 05/03/12 at 06:52 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

This isn’t a catchy uppy post, it’s a novel.

Posted by RWBill from Brush Street cruising with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 05/03/12 at 07:27 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Welcome back, George!

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 05/03/12 at 08:23 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.