The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/26/12 at 04:29 PM ET
Red Wings fans can’t necessarily be surprised by this, but, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness and MLive’s Ansar Khan note, the 11 games missed by the Red Wings’ captain and an up-and-down season production-wise yield Nicklas Lidstrom not heading to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas for the first time in what seems like forever:
Zdeno Chara of Boston, Erik Karlsson of Ottawa and Shea Weber of Nashville are this year’s finalists for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman.
It marks just the third time in the past 14 seasons that Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, a seven-time Norris Trophy winner, was not a finalist.
Lidstrom’s chances to be a finalist faded when he suffered a deep bone bruise in his ankle on Feb. 25 and missed 11 games.
Lidstrom, last year’s Norris winner, has been a finalist 11 times since 1998, finishing second three times (1998-2000) and third once (2009). He was not a finalist in 2004 (sixth) and 2010 (fourth).
Despite the vast majority of the NHL’s press corps insisting that they’d included him on their ballot, Lidstrom didn’t make the final cut of Lady Byng Trophy (most gentlemanly player) finalists, either.
• Much of this morning’s crop of Red Wings news articles involved the future of one Tomas Holmstrom (Will he continue playing, or has he been squeezed out of the Wings’ roster because Gustav Nyquist provides more speed, play-making and scoring, even if he’s utilized as a fourth-line winger? Would the Wings be willing to bring Holmstrom back to entice Lidstrom to return? Will he become the first Wings power play coach, or perhaps the first guest color commentator on a seven-second delay because he’d call penalties “s***ty” or “bulls*** calls?”), and 97.1 the Ticket’s Jeff RIger weighs in on the topic (in a story which includes a gorgeous wallpaper-sized image of Holmstrom in his office) this afternoon:
It seems like the big factor with Homer is his body and the question of whether it can hold up for another season with all the abuse he takes. It is no secret Holmstrom takes a beating each and every night lining up in front of the opposing goalie. He gets whacked and knocked over constantly and one would think that at some point he would not be able to take it anymore. “I love the game and I would love to play 3 or 4 more years” said Holmstrom. “It’s so much fun to come to the rink but can my body take it one more year or two more years? It’s lots of wear and tear on the body.”
Even though Homer is constantly banged up, he feels like he has more hockey left in him, so much that if he were to come back the longtime forward would want more playing time. “I would love to play 15 minutes” replied Holmstrom. I’m not asking for 23 minutes but I would like to get the ice time for sure and I think I still can play.”
Holmstrom was actually upset about the way he was used this previous season saying, “If I’m going to play next year am I going to play on the 4th line again and get 9 minutes of ice time? It’s not that easy to get out there and make stuff happen when you have limited ice time.”
Holmstrom also let the media know just how hard last season was for him. “It’s been tough,” he said. “Right from the get-go there was not much ice time. I tried to do my job, I didn’t bitch or anything just played my game and did my thing.”
But, when it’s all said and done Homer wants to be in Detroit and if he doesn’t play for the Wings next season, well then he will just retire instead of playing for another team. “No, I don’t think so” said Holmstrom. I’ve been in Detroit all my career and it’s here that I want to retire for sure.”
Riger posted a 4:30 video of Holmstrom’s end-of-season media availability as well (and if you see an ad beforehand, all I can tell you is that running Firefox with AdBlock Plus and NoScript make browsing the web pleasantly confusing as blocking that about:blank script all but eliminates advertisements):
• In news related to a player whose time as a Wing is all but certainly finished, albeit for very different reasons, the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness (via RedWingsFeed) adds a few more quips and quotes to the Brad Stuart leaving town conversation today, noting that Stuart didn’t completely rule out returning to Detroit and “sucking it up” for one more season while his stepdaughter finishes high school in San Jose due to custody issues on Mrs. Stuart’s part…
“I’ve been living here and my family’s been in California,” Stuart said. “I’ve got a stepdaughter that needs to finish high school so that’s how it is. There’s really no way to get around that. I guess it’ll be up to me to kind of decide what needs to be done. As much fun and as great as it’s been to play here, it’s been equally as tough not having my family by my side. Those are things I’d like to consider, at least try to fix. It’s not as easy as just picking and choosing where you want to go,” Stuart added. “I guess the decision I’ll have to make is am I going to go to free agency, see what happens, or not. I haven’t talked to Kenny (Holland) yet so I guess I’ll have to talk to him a little bit about it. I’m sure there will be a point where he wants to know one way or the other. I don’t really know that yet. It’ll be within a month, probably, I guess, or a month and a half.”
Holland, the Wings general manager, did approach Stuart during the regular season about an extension which led to speculation that the defenseman’s time in Detroit had lapsed.
Stuart, 32, also has two young sons, 4 and 5 years old.
“My boys are getting older now, so it’s getting harder to be away from them,” Stuart said. “The team was great,” Stuart continued. “There were times if we had a Sunday off and didn’t play again until Wednesday, they’d let me take Sunday and Monday off so I’d go home Sunday, come back Monday night, miss a practice. The team was great about that. I couldn’t tell you how many times I did it, but a few probably, maybe once a month, depending on the schedule. But again it’s hard, flying in for a day is sometimes worse than not coming at all because they get all emotional. I made it through the last few years. It’ll be a decision we have to make whether we can do it again.”
If Stuart leaves and Nicklas Lidstrom decides to retire, it’ll leave a huge hole along with blue line.
“There’s a chance,” Stuart said. “I’m not going to tell you what percentage that chance is but I’m not going to rule anything out because that would not be smart on my part. I’ve already said if it was a strictly hockey decision I wouldn’t probably be talking about this. So there’s a chance, but I don’t know what that is.”
I’ve done quite a bit of thinking as to whether—and I don’t want this to sound any more callous, inconsiderate and/or downright mean than it already does—Stuart’s decision to turn down Holland’s overtures essentially subterfuged the Ken Holland and the Wings management’s ability to reinforce the team’s roster with some desperately-needed depth up front at the trade deadline, and…
I mean, there’s something to be said for the fact that the Wings very, very consciously chose to not have to spend $4 or $5 million on a Stuart replacement via free agency in spending their first-rounder on a relatively affordable Kyle Quincey, but just as the Wings were burned in a big way by the fact that last summer’s top-flight defensemen’s rights were traded for prior to the start of free agency, leaving the Wings with little other recourse other than signing Ian White and hoping for the best come the trade deadline, the tightness of the standings at the trade deadline yielded astronomical asking prices for the most ordinary pluggers and complementary players…
How do I want to say this politely? Sure, the market screwed Holland and the Wings’ brass over in terms of both free agency targets that weren’t going to cost $20 or $30 million in up-front, front-loaded contracts to sign, as well as trade deadline targets that weren’t going to cost the Wings, say, Nyquist, Tatar, Mrazek, Smith, Jarnkrok or Pulkkinen in addition to that first-round draft pick, but hockey is a results-oriented business, regardless of the impediments to success placed before players, coaches or managers, and the Wings’ brass failed in providing the necessary assets the Wings needed to defeat a Predators team that was so deep it was sitting half a dozen capable players on an nightly basis.
• Pleiness also provides injury updates regarding Patrick Eaves, who expects to have fully recovered from a season-ending broken jaw-turned concussion by the time training camp rolled around (and speaking of forward depth, did the Wings ever miss Eaves’ speed, forechecking ability and penalty-killing aptitude)...
Patrick Eaves said it, “I’ll be ready to go next year.”
Eaves has suffered from post-concussion symptoms after breaking his jaw on Nov. 26 when he was hit on the right side of his head going down on one knee to block a rising shot of Nashville’s Roman Josi.
“It’s a slow process but I think I’m getting better,” Eaves said. “It’s been baby steps every day. I’m having less and less headaches and able to work out a little harder. I’ve just got to stay with it. It’s all symptom-related, as soon as symptoms starts to go down I can do more without getting worse then I can move on.”
Eaves did skate a couple times with the Black Aces during the playoffs, but was unable to finish a full practice.
“I still have a ways to go but I’ll be ready next season,” Eaves 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.”
As well as Danny Cleary, whose ever-worsening knee injury makes me worried as worried can be that, when doctors operate on his messed-up knee next week, will find some four-letter-worthy problems which might require some serious, serious repairs:
“Well I’d hate to sprout off, but I have some significant issues going on,” Cleary said of his injured left knee. “They’ll know more when they get in there, you know? There are a lot of different things in there. There are some tears in there, loose cartilage, some bone on bone, a lot of fluid. The build-up of fluid was a major issue, so hoping that we can get it resolved.”
Cleary’s problems stem from Baker’s cysts that burst in his left knee and required fluid to be drained periodically throughout the season. He was given pain-killing injections before each game in the playoffs, which was something he couldn’t do in the regular season.
Ehhh, more like Baker’s cysts, torn cartilage and bone-on-bone grinding somewhat similar to—although not as severe as—what Steve Yzerman had to deal with in the early 00’s. Cleary’s knee is a mess…
“Well you know, just every day, just walking alone I couldn’t walk without a limp since November, so the games were really hard,” Cleary said. “I tried as hard as I could, what are you going to do? It’s hard playing on one leg. I wouldn’t do the same thing over again,” Cleary added. “Looking back on the fact, I was hoping that it would calm down, it just didn’t.”
Cleary will have surgery next week and expects to spend between six to eight weeks in rehabilitation. He hopes to be back and full strength for training camp, which is slated to begin in September in Traverse City.
“I just have to go in and have surgery on it and then just get on a maintenance program and it will be fine,” Cleary said.
• In participatory media news, from the Red Wings’ Twitter account, Pavel Datsyuk is currently up for voting against Evgeni Malkin in TSN’s “Play of the Year” showdown, with this goal against the Boston Bruins in the spotlight:
• The Wings’ Twitter account also notes that some guy named “Steven Yzerman” is attempting to get out of the Michigan Humane Society’s “doghouse” by raising $5,000—he’s raised a little under $1,700 toward his goal—to help, well, I’ll let him tell the story:
In support of the Michigan Humane Society’s 23rd annual Bow Wow Brunch, I’ve volunteered to be ‘in the doghouse’! So why would anyone volunteer for this, you ask?
Every year, the Michigan Humane Society touches the lives of more than 100,000 animals in our communities through programs including animal sheltering and adoption, veterinary care, cruelty investigation, legislative advocacy, humane education and much more. Yet none of this would be possible without our support.
In addition to raising awareness about a critical MHS program, I’ve set a goal of raising $5,000 to support the organization’s life-saving efforts. Once I reach my goal, I’ll be out of the doghouse! Any amount you are able to give to support my efforts will help tremendously - it all adds up, and every dollar donated will benefit homeless, abused and neglected animals right here in metro Detroit.
• Shifting gears in a big way, you can file this one under, “Sometimes the caption does tell the whole story,” from Sportsnet’s Patrick King:
Tomas Jurco has 10 goals and 18 points so far for Saint John in the playoffs.
• The Red Wings chose to allow all five finalists in their “rec team versus Red Wings Alumni association” game contest to suit up against the Wings’ alums, and MLive’s Peter J. Wallner reports that the Honeybadgers (a team whose nickname might apply to Holmstrom: “He goes to the front of the net, and, oh, those nasty-ass defensemen beat the hell out of him, but Tomas Holmstrom don’t care!”) are simply hoping to survive the experience:
The Honey Badgers, an adult rec league team that plays at Georgetown Township Arena, was one of five teams chosen to take on Red Wings alumni at Joe Louis Arena [this Friday].
“Yeah, we know we’ll get killed but we’re looking to have a good time, and hopefully have one or two plays we can feel good about,” said Mike Harju, the goalie for the team who submitted the 1 minute video.
The team in March entered the contest as part of the Bud Lite Faceoff Promotion through the NHL. Part of the requirement was creativity of use with the Bud Lite and Detroit Red Wings brands.
“We heard about it with about eight days left and threw it together at the last minute,” Harju said.
Most of the video is of the team in action, and captain Matt Walker talking to the team after a game.
“I’d give my right leg to play against the Red Wings,” Walker announces in the locker room, and then proceeds to take off his prosthetic leg.
Representatives from the two organizations picked the five finalists. The winning teams were based on fan vote but, Harju said, a mix up in the voting resulted in all five getting a turn against the alumni. The Honey Badgers will have a 30-minute game at 6:45 p.m. before family and friends against former Red Wings, including Mickey Redmond, Darren McCarty, Joey Kocur, John Ogrodnick and Petr Kilma.
• And finally, we’ve got a very good discussion going on regarding whether Ken Holland’s underwhelming comments during the locker room clean-out day media availabilities, especially given Mike Babcock’s enthusiasm about the Wings’ ability to sign and spend during free agency, constituted Holland simply lowering expectations toward what might be yet another less-than-eventful summer, or whether Holland was simply playing, “Good cop, bad cop” by tempering enthusiasm and, um, fibbing to the media about his true intentions. Please weigh in on the topic if you’re interested.
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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.