The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/30/12 at 03:47 PM ET
Somewhere between watching the Blues game last Monday and sleeping through the Canadiens game (thankfully) due to a nasty sinus infection on Wednesday night, the man in charge offered a smart suggestion to someone who’s headed to the doctor for antibiotics today, and it translated to, “Stay down.” So I did, but it’s time to get back to work today, and as it turns out, the Red Wings are doing things a little differently, per the team’s Twitter account:
The team is en route to Calgary this afternoon. Game vs. the Flames tomorrow night.
The Wings usually practice at the Joe after the All-Star break, but given that they’re about to board Red Bird II to head to Calgary (Tuesday at 9 PM), Vancouver (Thursday at 10 PM), and then Edmonton (Saturday at 10 PM) and Phoenix next Tuesday (likely after some sort of Superbowl viewing party), something tells me that Paul Boyer and the team’s equipment staff suggested that a team that won’t stop playing on an every-other-night basis till Valentine’s Day(!) might be better served by not stuffing wet equipment into the cargo hold of an MD-81 for a four-hour flight to somewhere…That’s actually warmer than the place they’re leaving from.
I’ve got some serious-ass catching up to do in the interim, but let’s do a quickie review:
• The Wings beat the Blues last Monday, which was awesome. In a doubly remarkable turn of events, the Blues also seemed oblivious to the fact that gooning it up played into the Wings’ hands, which yields a tendency toward frustration that the Wings can exploit when the possible playoff opponents meet in St. Louis on April 4th. Or, as Mike Babcock told the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa, in an article discussing the team’s conscious decision to stray away from employing a full-time enforcer—much to the chagrin of one Donald S. Cherry…
Mike Babcock sometimes likes when his guys fight. When Todd Bertuzzi let fists flail during the playoffs last year, Babcock said it was something the Wings had not seen much of in recent years, and it motivated the team. Babcock also recently said he would prefer that all of the players were “tough and ugly.” But he meant that in the same way he would say that he also wishes they all played like Pavel Datsyuk.
Acquiring a fighter for the 2012 run to the playoffs is not a concern for Babcock.
“No, not someone who fights, because to me, that is a waste of time,” he said. “Fighting? What are you going to do, fight at the stoppages in the playoffs? I think you’ve got to play. Now, if you’re capable of playing and doing both, then that’s great. But that wouldn’t be a priority.”
The Red Wings have a supply of [finesse] players, and as the trade deadline of Feb. 27 draws near, they maybe looking for more.
“To me, if we could get another heavy winger, or heavy forward, or D — those would all be good things to help you,” Babcock said. “I put together a wish list every year, this time of year, and then management does what they can do.”
• Then the Wings’ brains got lost in customs or something as Nicklas Lidstrom came down with the flu and the team played like it in Montreal. The Wings were due to lay an egg after the emotional high they enjoyed by beating the Blues, but taking another opponent too lightly and dropping a7-2 decision to another Canadian team on national TV reminded us that the Wings’ biggest issues don’t necessarily involve personnel, but instead, lie between their ears.
• Somewhere in between, via KK reader Adam Rice, Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels had this to say to Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski, regarding the trade deadline and Ken Holland’s abundance of cap space.
Will the Wings make a trade? A big one? 41 minutes in, Daniels dropped a bombshell:
Yes, absolutely. Without a doubt. They could use a top-six forward, I would think. I would also think they need some size up front and I would think on the blue line they could use some size back there too and maybe another right-handed shot would probably be the preferences. So, I think there’s free areas and certainly with $5 million plus to spend, a position they have not been in before, I think when you see that Nick Lidstrom’s turning 42 years old, and I don’t know what will happen in the offseason with who’s unrestricted, and you know the name’s that are out out there like Ryan Suter or what happens with him, but I think they will be active for sure. I think they want to do something, realizing that they’ve got a good opportunity. Why not? Look at their record. I think the only thing this team really needs is some more size up front. Beyond the Bertuzzi’s and the Franzen’s… they’ll go for size, but a guy that can play too. They want a guy with some size who can play with some skill, not just a guy who can play for four or five minutes a game.
Somewhere in between, somebody also dropped a more realistic trade target than Suter or Zach Parise (trust me, if the Wings want to acquire their rights, they’ll do so at the draft, like the Sabres did with Ehrhoff and the Blue Jackets did with Wisniewski, because a few 2nd-round picks and a middling prospect is a much more affordable price), or maybe even Tuomo Ruutu or the ill-fitting Ales Hemsky, given their reported asking prices: Canadiens forward Travis Moen, a 6’2,” 215-lb winger who’s 29 and would bolster the Wings’ bottom six.
• We may also see a preemptive strike given the fact that Brad Stuart told MLive’s Ansar Khan that his family won’t be moving to Metro Detroit, and as such, he’s got a very hard decision to make regarding his impending free agency and his future in Detroit. If Stuart indicates that he’s leaning toward not re-signing before February 27th, it’s entirely possible that the Wings will go after a #4/5 defenseman to bolster their blueline (I think they would have gone after Francois Beauchemin had the Ducks not re-signed him, and had the Ducks not made a push that might land them right back in the playoffs, they might have gone after Teemu Selanne, too) knowing that Stuart will exit stage right after the season ends.
That being said, keep in mind that while you or I might dream up a scenario in which Nicklas Lidstrom says, “Sure, I’m coming back” before his annual May or June powwow with his family, Stuart says, “I’m outta here” and the Wings magically pick up a top-six forward and a top-four defenseman for a song (sorry, folks, with Conklin and MacDonald in the pipeline, unless Howard tires, the Wings don’t need to add a back-up netminder), other GM’s are saying, “Well, we really liked watching Petr Mrazek, Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco at the World Juniors, and maybe if you throw in Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist and a first-round draft pick, you can have our under-performing, high-salaried player [insert a Dustin Penner-like name here], so the reality of the situation is that nobody wants to do the Wings any favors, and instead, GM’s and the agents who help facilitate trades will probably be talking about asking prices that are far too high for a team that has most of the pieces necessary to go on a long playoff run—thanks to the maturation of Hudler, Filppula, Miller, Helm, Franzen, Kronwall, Kindl and even that defenseman you seem to love to think cannot do anything right—so while I do believe that KH will do his shopping over the next three weeks, I’m not expecting a blockbuster.
• We also witnessed Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard having a blast at the All-Star Game, which was just wonderful;
• And just as importantly from a, “Jeez, I hope we have hockey to watch next year” standpoint, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman refused to suggest that the “system is broken,” and he and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr at least played nice during the All-Star festivities, suggesting that they could get along while hammering out a CBA that might address revenue-sharing, the fact that it’s the floor, not the ceiling, that’s hurting teams (Dale Tallon’s turned the Florida Panthers into a superb team, but he did so by grossly overpaying for players nobody wanted to spend oodles of money taking gambles on because he needed to spend through the nose just to hit the floor), and as we all know, the players aren’t going to be too keen on taking another rollback or dropping the floor (which is understandable) unless their escrow concerns are met.
Yes, I know some of you are yawning right now, but if you don’t care how the league works and how the NHL and NHLPA choose to hammer out a CBA while attempting to avoid a lockout, you don’t care about the money you are spending to pay players, teams and owners very handsomely for the opportunity to follow the sport on TV and in person, so this stuff does matter for you and me as it determines where our money goes and how it’s spent by those billionaires and millionaires who we are both emotionally and financially invested in.
• I suppose I should mention this: we also learned that NHL 36 chose to focus on the fact that Nicklas Lidstrom was a 41-year-old taking part in back-to-back games, not that he has a hilarious carpool buddy or that in Detroit, age is not only just a number, but as Mike Babcock said, we’re particularly “blessed” (his term) to be following a team whose players have embraced the monotony that is doing the same thing over and over again to remain in tip-top physical and mental condition, and few, if any of them, seem to be anything less than incredibly thankful for the lifestyle they lead, sacrifices included, which is pretty damn remarkable.
If Lidstrom has imparted a bland personality upon his team, it’s the best kind of bland: it’s the kind of unremarkable, non-TV-friendly set of values and principles which (hopefully) eschew indulging in most of the vices which shorten careers and make players less effective, and while I’m sure that the Wings’ players are anything but Jesuit monks, they sure as hell do a nice job of keeping their noses clean and keeping their focus on the tremendous privilege that is playing for a team that treats them like kings…
And while I might write about this later, after watching Datsyuk at the All-Star Game, I don’t buy the line that Wings fans are “spoiled” because the non-casual wings fan seems to understand how incredibly lucky we are to watch good players and good people dazzle us on a nearly otherworldly predictable basis.
• I’d also encourage you to take a gander at WDIV’s transcription of his interview with WDIV’s Bernie Smilovitz. The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff described Babcock as teh Dean of NHL Coaches last week, and he’s not far off regarding the biggest Alpha Male on the team;
• And while it isn’t necessarily Wings-related, Crain’s Detroit Business’s Bill Shea wrote a fantastic article profiling the Wings’ parent companies’ corporate empires while talking about the Tigers’ signing of Prince Fielder, noting that the Wings might rake in as much as $20 million per season from their Fox Sports Detroit broadcast deal, and hinting at the Wings’ plans for a new rink. Give ‘er a gander as the article’s more than worth your time.
• Otherwise, lease let me know if there’s anything you want me to focus on during catch-up day, and don’t forget that both the NHL Network and Fox Sports Detroit will air tonight’s AHL All-Star Game (Gustav Nyquist is representing the Grand Rapids Griffins) at 7 PM EST.
Very sadly, as Chris from Nightmare on Helm Street noted, the Grand Rapids Press more or less laid off its entire staff, so we won’t be getting any more insightful articles by dedicated Griffins scribe Michael Zuidema, and that’s a huge loss for everybody who follows the Wings’ top prospects. Here’s hoping that the Griffins sign him as their beat writer, because he does an absolutely fantastic job.
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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.