The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/29/11 at 10:09 PM ET
Updated with a “morning report’s” worth of news at 3:18 AM: I received a press release from the Wings while I was at the beach (windy and wavy on Lake Superior, but once I was out over my head, the current disappeared), so if you’re interested, several members of the Red Wings will take part in an event held by the Urban Harvest Ministries and the Clark Park Coalition on Saturday:
RED WINGS TO TAKE PART IN UHM FAMILY DAY IN DETROIT TOMORROW
… Fun-Filled Event Goes Saturday Afternoon; Brian Rafalski and Jim Nill Set to Appear at Ball Hockey Tournament …
DETROIT, MI… The Detroit Red Wings will be teaming up with Urban Harvest Ministries and the Clark Park Coalition to present the 2nd Annual Family Day in Detroit, scheduled to be staged on Saturday, July 30 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Taking place at southwestern Detroit’s Clark Park (between Vernor & I-75) and featuring fun activities galore, this event is open to the public.
“Urban Harvest Ministries has worked in countless cities throughout the United States and abroad and working with the Red Wings at this event is undoubtedly one of the most exciting partnerships we’ve ever engaged in,” says UHM Family Day in Detroit organizer Dr. Tom Grassano. “We’re very much looking forward to tomorrow’s festivities and hopefully we’ll be able to make a significant impact on the lives of underprivileged young people currently living in an in-need community.”
Former Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski and longtime Assistant General Manager Jim Nill will both be on hand for the event’s outdoor ball hockey tournament, which will get underway at 3:00 p.m. Michigan State Spartans hockey players Kyle McMahon and Trevor Nill will also be attending Saturday’s festivities, as will former Detroit Tigers pitcher Todd Jones.
In addition to ball hockey, the 2011 edition of Family Day in Detroit will feature entertaining activities such as face painting, clowns, and carnival games in addition to various inflatable fun zones. An eclectic array of musical acts will also be performing at Clark Park on Saturday, with food set to be provided compliments of Forgotten Harvest and the Salvation Army.
Several Detroit-based youth groups have volunteered to help facilitate Saturday’s activities while nearly 30 local charities will be lending their support to the proceedings in a variety of capacities. The American Bible Society will also be distributing various items to event attendees, including family-friendly reading material (comic books, children’s literature) as well as CDs and DVDs. Family Day in Detroit is presented as part of Urban Harvest Ministries’ Hope for the City program, which has been uniting Motor City residents through a variety of community outreach projects for six years. More information on this magnanimous campaign can be obtained by visiting http://www.uhm.cc/detroithope/.
In the event of inclement weather on Saturday, Family Day in Detroit will be held on Sunday, July 31 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
As previously noted, another Wing who had retirement on his mind, one Mike Modano, spoke to a Dallas-area radio station, Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket, and suggested that he’s leaning toward retirement, as Defending Big D’s Brad Gardner reported.
The Ticket’s audio files are presented in .ASF format, so the KK media player might or might not play the show, but you can click on the “Download File” link and open it in a new window if you want Windows Media player or whatever your browser uses to open the file on its own:
Here’s what Gardner gleaned from the interview...
The BaD radio boys finally delved into the elephant in the room. Would Mike like to play next season? Dan started his line of questioning with an assumption and said “You don’t want it to end with that injury, right? You would play again?” and Mike responded in quite the opposite manner.
“I don’t know. I think that was the swan song,” Modano replied. The tone of his voice struck me on both he first and second listens as quite telling. You may want to give it a listen if you’re having trouble believing him. If Twitter was any indication many people did.
“So do you want to make your official announcement of your retirement right here?” asked Dan McDowell…
“Not yet,” came the quick response.
He did say these kinds of things last summer, but not quite this late on the cusp on August. Bob and Dan tackled that too, reminiscing that last summer they had been sent YouTube footage of a shirtless Mike Modano running and training hard prior to his Detroit signing. Had he been running up any hills this morning? The response came quickly again “No. No hill running.”
In what might be a symbolically ironic turn, the conversation quickly switched to his golf game and his nerves on the putting green.
He also added that if it was nearly anyone but Detroit calling last year, he would not have come back. Perhaps that’s the most telling thing about his decision to be made soon. If it took Detroit, a team he clearly holds in very high esteem (everyone does in the league) to get that one more year out of him, where else is there to go but down from there?
“I think I had to do it. I think I would have just really kicked myself if I didn’t take the chance to go there.”
And here’s NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman’s take:
“I don’t know,” he said Thursday when asked about his playing future by Dallas radio station 1310 AM. “I think that was the swan song.”
Modano, 41, was limited to just 40 games last season due to a serious arm injury. He severed three tendons and a nerve in his right arm during a game Nov. 26 in Columbus when a Blue Jackets player’s skate got caught inside his glove. The injury sidelined him three months and scuttled his hopes for a happy homecoming; Modano had grown up a Red Wings fan in Livonia, Mich.
“The injury really was a big buzz kill,” Modano said.
He missed three months, and when he returned in March, he had just 2 goals and 4 assists in 18 games. When the playoffs started, he was a healthy scratch for all but two games.
“When I came back in March, there’s the heated race for the playoffs, the lineup is almost solidified,” Modano said. “And (Wings coach Mike) Babcock is pretty hard-headed when he likes something and it works. It’s very hard to change his mind. So I knew I was going to be the odd-man out for the playoffs.”
Modano admitted it was hard to watch the Wings sweep the Coyotes in the first round and lose in seven games to the Sharks in the conference semifinals, but said it didn’t change the fact that he felt he made the right decision to play for the Wings after spending the first 20 seasons of his career with the North Stars/Stars organization.
“I think I had to do it,” he said of playing for his hometown team. “I would have really kicked myself if I didn’t take the chance to go there, play in Detroit, play with those players, be around them daily. (GM) Kenny Holland was great, the coaches were great, the Ilitches. Playing in front of the family, being around them all winter long was great. I saw the parents twice a week. I thought if I didn’t do it ... I could say I tried it, at least I could say I did it.”
And as Yahoo Sports’ Sean Leahy notes, Modano ended with, well, a classic Modano line given the situation:
The interview ended with Modano telling the hosts, “See you in a couple weeks for the big announcement.”
Given Modano’s tone throughout, it’s hard to pick up any ounce of sarcasm in his goodbye and it appears the NHL will lose another great veteran before summer’s end.
It’s just time, Mike. From everything we’ve heard here in Detroit you were a fantastic professional and we Wings fans feel awful about how things turned out, but it’s time to say goodbye.
We’ll stick with Puck Daddy for a little bit as Justin Bourne actually offered praise for a Wings defenseman who Yahoo Sports’ Sam McCaig suggests cannot intimidate opponents, suggesting that Nicklas Lidstrom’s “softer” play is in fact an asset:
The best defensive strategy these days focuses on body position.
When you play that guy who defends “soft” — think Nick Norris of the Detroit Red Wings — it’s a steady stream of almosts and smothered shots and frustrating, half-hampered opportunities.
It’s a difficult thing for young defensemen to master, because it requires a certain amount of patience, something that doesn’t always come naturally to 20-year old men in an aggressive sport.
When you first get your chance to impress coaches and scouts as a young guy, it’s tough to convince yourself that the best method of showing them your skills is to sit between the net and the offensive player and not doing anything extraordinary. It’d be a lot easier to try to smash said forward, and have the scouts all go “hmm, yes, aggressive and tough, we like him.”
Only nowadays, that just looks like you don’t have a head for the game.
When you play aggressive and tough all the time, you get a label, so guys know to be prepared to have to jump when you’re out there. And since you’re a guy who gives up the odd opportunity because you’re aggressive already, that label is only going to get you beat more often. Without me singling out any particular defensemen, I’m sure you can think of a guy on your favourite team who can’t learn to be patient, tries to kill guys all the time and gets roasted at least once a game.
As a forward, there’s nothing less appealing than a guy backing up with me who has “good stick” on the puck as I try to get from the corner to the net. We get hit all the time out there, nobody’s afraid of that, so I’d much prefer to take my chances against the dude who runs around.
Speaking of McCaig’s somewhat infamous rankings, Lidstrom ranked fourth behind Duncan Keith, Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara because of a lack of intimidating presence, or so McCaig suggested, and while Johan Franzen earned a mention amongst the top right wingers and Pavel Datsyuk, McCaig suggested, is a more complete but less great player than Sidney Crosby, and today, here’s what McCaig has to say about Jimmy Howard:
21. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Steady, reliable stopper with flashes of brilliance.
I guess I can’t complain about that…
My favorite story of the day comes from the Toronto Star’s Denis Grignon, via RedWingsFeed, as he spoke with Chris Osgood about his status as the last true helmet-cage-wearing goaltender. Osgood wore a Cooper SK 2000 helmet and Cooper HM-30 cage throughout his career, and now that Tim Thomas has gone from a helmet-cage “Mage” to a full-on mask with a modified cut to facilitate a “cage-like” appearance, Osgood’s retirement means that the helmet-cage combo is gone, at least at the NHL level.
Gagnon also spoke to Dan Cloutier and Glenn Healy about their fidelity to the SK 2000/HM-30 combination, but I’d prefer to focus on Osgood’s comments:
“i was always laid back,” said Osgoode. “(Other goalies) would get their masks painted. I never wanted any attention on myself. And that’s what my helmet represented.”
Osgood suffered a few pressure cuts from pucks smacking into his forehead and essentially splitting his skin open, and he took more than a few dings to the jaw, but he remained true to his helmet-cage combo for several reasons…
“I tried wearing (a modern mask) a couple of times,” said Osgood. “But the minute I put it on, my teammates gave me such a ribbing that I had to take it off.”
That love affair came with another price, too. Because the helmet was obsolete, finding replacements and parts was a constant quest. While [Glenn] Healy and his equipment managers had to “scrounge for pieces, even finding stuff in beer leagues,” Osgood had it a bit easier.
“I was fortunate someone would show up and just give me one out of generosity.”
Whenever he got traded, a box of parts typically followed him. Luckily, Wings head equipment manger Paul Boyer was creative with more than just a drill and wrench.
“I got Mickey Redmond, our TV play-by-play guy, to ask viewers for wires, side clips, anything they might have for this thing.”
And when the team masseuse remembered he had two HM30s in his garage back home in Moscow, Boyer promptly had them shipped.
Osgood did indeed end his career wearing a helmet made for goaltenders for CSKA Moscow’s dominant Soviet-era teams, and that’s just how he likes it:
“I like the fact I was the last guy to use it,” he says, “That’s part of the reason that I kept using it.”
Heading back to the promotional department, I ought to mention that “Operation Bobblehead” continues on the Wings’ website, and I’ll let Crain’s Detroit Business’s Bill Shea do the cross-promotional work for me as I felt kinda funny mentioning something like this:
The Detroit Red Wings have unveiled 10- and 20-game season ticket packages that allow fans to build online their choice of games through a new interface on the official team website, redwings.nhl.com.
Games are divided into gold, silver and bronze choices, meaning ticket buyers don’t get a pure a la carte option for the team’s 41 home games.
For example, in the 10-game option, they can pick two gold-level games out of 10 options, two silver-level games from 14 options and four bronze-level games from 16 choices. There also is one preseason game from a choice of four.
The 20-game package is a choice of 10 gold and silver games, seven bronze games and two preseason games.
Both packages include the season opener against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 7 at Joe Louis Arena. The gold packages include games against popular rivals or recent playoff foes such as the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.
The 10-game package starts at $290 per seat and the 20-game deal begins at $560 — which represent slight increases over last season.
In tidbit (or is it “Timbit?”) news items: Sports Illustrated got inspired by Mike Commodore’s decision to decline wearing #64 and explained why certain players chose certain famous numbers, including one Gordie Howe:
Gordie Howe - 9
When the man who would go on to be Mr. Hockey arrived in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings in 1946, teams traveled by rail and players were assigned sweater numbers that corresponded to their berths in the sleeper cars of trains. The lower berths were bigger, so larger players were assigned to them, thus defensemen and goaltenders wore the lowest numbers. Howe, a six-foot, 200-pound forward, first wore 17, but later succeeded in claiming 9, and a more comfortable bunk, when future Hall of Famer Roy Conacher was traded to Chicago in November 1947.
• In the sort-of-alumni department: According to the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema and the BBC, Grand Rapids Griffins enforcer Adam Keefe has chosen to leave North America to play for the Belfast Giants;
• Ditto, kinda, per the Columbus Dispatch’s Bob Hunter:
When Kris Draper announced his retirement after a 20-year career mostly with the Detroit Red Wings, one of the people he thanked was former Blue Jackets president and general manager Doug MacLean.
Draper spent his first three NHL seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, who had drafted him in the third round in 1989. Draper played in only 20 games, though, and was traded to Detroit in 1993 for $1.
“I would like to thank Bryan Murray and Doug MacLean for making that whopping trade with Winnipeg to acquire me for a dollar,” Draper said in a news conference at Joe Louis Arena.
Murray was the Red Wings’ general manager at the time and MacLean was GM of Detroit’s top farm team.
The Wings got good value for that dollar: Draper went on to play 1,137 regular-season games in Detroit and win four Stanley Cups.
As promised, here’s the Midland Daily News’s Fred Kelly’s conversation with Darren McCarty, who’s at this evening’s Great Lakes Loons baseball game in Midland, MI:
Fred Kelly: How is retirement going for you?
Darren McCarty: “I love it. I’m fortunate to stay around the game and do a little TV and a little radio, stuff like that. I’m enjoying it. ... And I still have the opportunity to come out here (for public appearances) around the state of Michigan, places like Midland. I love Midland. I spend a lot of time here. My son (Griffin, aged 15) plays a lot of (travel) hockey against the Midland (North)Stars, so we’ve been up here a lot, and I’ve got some good friends up here. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to beat the Midland Stars. They always have a great program. ... (Dow Diamond) is a beautiful ballpark, and I’m just flattered to be able to come out here.”
F.K.: Any thoughts on the recent retirements of Kris Draper and Chris Osgood?
D.M.: “Since Drapes and Ozzie just retired, I’m trying to give them the heads-up on what to expect. ... I told them they’ll be surprised by how much they’ll enjoy the game more now that they’re done, without the pressure and just the day-to-day grind. You step away from it, and that’s when you enjoy it. I became a bigger fan of the game when I was done than during my last few years (in the NHL). I told them, ‘Don’t worry about (missing the game).’ They’ll get to stay in the (Red Wings) organization (as consultants), so that’ll keep them going.”
F.K.: What are your fondest memories of playing with the Wings?
D.M.: “We (the Grind Line) took pride in shutting down all the (opponents’) top lines, and we chipped in goals in different ways, too. ... My favorite memories were of going into a scrum and opponents would be saying how they were going to kill those guys (Draper and Maltby) and how big a nuisance they were. And I’d go in there and say, ‘You’re not going to kick their butts, because I’m here.’ But I would agree that they (Draper and Maltby) were that big of a pain in the butt. [laughs] If I had played against them, they would have drove me nuts, too. They were unbelievable teammates.”
F.K.: How will you remember the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry of the mid-1990s to early 2000s?
D.M.: “From ‘96 to ‘02, it was the best rivalry in any sport. ... It was a classic punch-in-the-face, go-back-and-forth (battle). We had to go through them, or they had to go through us (to get to the Stanley Cup finals). It used to be like the Cowboys-49ers. ... The bottom line is that they got the best out of us, and we got the best out of them. And we’ve got the (Stanley) Cups to prove it. It was fun to be a part of. Looking back on it, it was just a blast.”
F.K.: Who was your favorite teammate?
D.M.: “Well, Drapes (Kris Draper) is my best buddy. We grew up together. But one of the most influential people in my career was (former Red Wings’ enforcer) Joey Kocur, who is still one of my best friends. Him and (former Red Wings’ teammate) Dino Ciccarelli were very influential to me, especially early on, but even continuing on as I got older and they were done playing. We’re good friends to this day.”
And I’m ending this by saying that I’ve got a campfire to go to, so I’ll be back for an overnight report, so I really want to thank Mike Serven for starting up RedWingsFeed on Twitter as I’ve basically been able to look down at my phone and know whether it was time to charge headlong toward the activity room with my laptop bag slung over my shoulder—including the time that RWF had posted a link to a photo gallery of one Kris Draper, who the Wings’ website stated would retire, and I fired off a message to Paul to post the gallery/picture and got going from there. Many, many thanks, Mike.
Update: Okay, I can’t find a full “overnight report’s” worth of Wings-related stuff this morning, so I’d rather squeeze an update into this entry than post a new one consisting of scraps:
• As a very big reminder, the Grand Rapids Griffins’ New Year’s Eve Game jersey design contest on Puckdrawn.com ends on August 1st, and the competition’s already produced nine sets’ worth of concepts and oodles of jerseys in Puckdrawn’s concept gallery;
• If you’re wondering why Dmitry Chesnokov’s meeting with Pavel Datsyuk in Moscow next week and not Ekaterinburg, Chesnokov’s going to visit his old employer, Sovetsky Sport, when Datsyuk picks up the Kharlamov Trophy on August 2nd;
• If you’re also willing to listen to Brad McCrimmon talk for five seconds and then be over-dubbed in Russian, Sportbox.ru posted a video of the former Red Wings assistant coach talking about his new team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, as their training camp has already begun—and Ruslan Salei talks to Russia-2’s Vesti Sport about playing for McCrimmon as well. In Russian.
• Remember how more than a few Wings fans wondered why Tomas Vokoun signed a 1-year, $1.5 million contract with the Washington Capitals after Vokoun apparently approached the Wings but found out that he wouldn’t be given the opportunity to take the starter’s job from Jimmy Howard?
Yeah, CTK, the Czech version of the Associated Press, reports that Vokoun fired his agent for agreeing to the low salary;
• Henrik Zetterberg is taking part in a “farewell” game for two of his Swedish alma mater’s best prospects, Timra IK’s Anton Lander and Sebastian Erixon, and Zetterberg spoke to Dagbladet’s Oskar Lund about his take on his own team’s status, marking the second time in three days that he’s given an interview to the Swedish press.
Here’s a rough translation of his interview with Lund:
“We have a great team again”
Henrik Zetterberg is getting ready for a new NHL season
He was on the ice with Timra IK [Thursday].
After an injury-free summer, the NHL star now looks forward to a new season with the Detroit Red Wings—and hopefully a long and successful playoff run.
“We have a great team again,” says “Z.”
When Timra IK skated on Thursday on the ice inside the E. ON Arena, a real superstar took part. NHL pro Henrik Zetterberg made his season debut with Timra’s A-team.
“It was my first training session on the ice. It’s a little earlier than usual, but it was fun,” he says in the locker room afterward.
Over the past two seasons, Henrik Zetterberg and his Detroit Red Wings have exited the Stanley Cup playoffs early. Last season, Zetterberg suffered a knee injury before the playoffs, and once he returned the team was defeated by the San Jose Sharks in the quarterfinals.
“It was fun last year, but my injury’s timing was shitty, just before the playoffs. I did return and played in the second round, but it was rather disappointing,” says “Z.”
Are you fully healthy now?
“My knee’s completely healthy and I didn’t feel anything [bothering me] on the ice today, either.”
As such, Zetterberg can prepare in the best way possible for the coming season.
“My training has gone well. I’ve been healthy and hale, so I was able to go for the whole summer. It’s always a plus to be healthy during the summer,” he says.
What do you think about the upcoming season?
“I feel good. I think we have a great team again. We didn’t do too much in free agency, but that’s a sign that we have a pretty good team, that we believe in the players we have. We had some changes on the back end, but I think they’re [going to make us] better.”
In early September, Henrik Zetterberg will return to Detroit. Before that, he hopes to spend a little bit of time on the golf course in addition to preparing for the season.
“I try to spend a few hours there, but I wish I could play more,” says “Z,” who has a 10.5 handicap.
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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.