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Red Wings mid-day news: School of Grind, second-class status and a different kind of ‘battle’

If you’re in Troy, Michigan this week and have a free minute to head to the Troy Sports Arena, Red Wings special assist…hockey op…erm, executive Kris Draper’s Core Sports Fitness center is holding its annual youth hockey camp this week, and the Troy Patch’s Kevin Elliott reports that both Draper’s Grind Line teammates and a few other Wings will be making appearances as they filter back into town:

The official Red Wings Grind Line will take the ice this week with about 130 youth skaters at the Troy Sports Center for a four-day hockey camp for kids ages 6-13. Former Detroit Red Wings Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty are back on the ice to deliver a hockey school. Draper, who has been hosting the hockey school for the past three off-seasons with CORE Fitness, is co-owner of the fitness company, along with Dr. Jeff S. Pierce.

During the camp, a few surprise guests from the Red Wings typically come on the ice to work with the skaters.

“I started talking to Maltby about it during a round of golf,” Draper said in a news release. “He wanted to do it, and then we wanted to include Mac as well, sent him a text and he was on board right away. We talked about how much fun the three of us have had playing for the Red Wings and the friendship we’ve created, and thought it’d be pretty neat to put a hockey school together.”

In a somewhat related “past tense” news category—as in “has-been”—the Oakland Press’s Pat Caputo (via RedWingsFeed) says that the Hockey News’s latest yearbook has just come out, and when Caputo perused it at the office, he read a prediction regarding the Red Wings’ place in the Western Conference which we ought to get used to hearing pundits suggest is appropriate for a post-Grind Line team:

The Hockey News Yearbook is out and the notion the Red Wings are a favorite to win the Stanley Cup championship has waned.

The Hockey News picks the Red Wings to finish fifth in the Western Conference. They list the Red Wings’ odds of winning the Stanley Cup championship at 10-1.

They are the picking the Washington Capitals to capture the Cup, defeating the Blackhawks in the finals. The Hockey News projects the Capitals (6-1), the Penguins (13-2), the Bruins (8-1), the Flyers (8-1), the Blackhawks (8-1), The Canucks (17-2) and the Sharks (17-2) ahead of the Red Wings.

They place the Kings (12-1) ahead of the Red Wings in the regular season, but evidently feel like Detroit will perform better in the postseason. So the Red Wings are either, at best, the eighth- or ninth-best team in the NHL.

I don’t believe that. I think they still rank in the Top 5. I mean the Flyers? That could be a disaster after their bizarre off season moves. The Caps to win it all? Aren’t they the all-timers when it comes to failing in the postseason?

And I do like the way Ken Holland didn’t overreact to the free agent market and tweaked the Red Wings this off season. I also believe the Red Wings have several younger players who will grow into more prominent roles - Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Jakub Kindl - and Brennan Smith is going to be really good player.

The Red Wings still have, by far, the deepest and best roster in the NHL.

That’s somewhat debatable after Brian Rafalski and Chris Osgood’s retirements, but the Wings are still “up there” among the elite in terms of both their depth and their ability to finish atop the Western Conference…

But ever since the Wings had to scramble to make the playoffs two years ago, the talking heads who’ve been predicting the Wings’ demise for the past fifteen years have insisted that the 2009-2010 season’s injury-marred record is in fact the “new normal” for a team meriting, at best, borderline Cup contender’s status because the team is finally too old, too small and too injury-prone to compete with the league’s next big things. I expect that most pundits will predict that the Wings finish anywhere from second in the Central Division and in 4th or 5th place to 8th, and I’m sure a few of the bigger mouths will insist that the Wings won’t make the playoffs at all just to stir the s*** and generate web traffic via a controversial prediction or three.

When I snag my copy of THN’s Yearbook, I’ll post their prediction and any other pertinent Wings news.

In the literal “has-been” category, I can only shake my head at this press release from the CBC, per the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle and the Wings:

A female hockey player, Tessa Bonhomme, will skate for the first time in CBC reality series Battle of the Blades this fall. Bonhomme, an Olympic gold medallist and member of the Canadian national women’s hockey team, is to be paired with Olympic gold medal figure skater David Pelletier when the third season of Battle of the Blades kicks off Sept. 18.

The CBC reality series asks hockey players to don figure skates and take up pairs skating, with the help of some of the world’s best figure skating stars.
...The other hockey players competing in Season 3:

•Brad May, a former Toronto Maple Leaf and Vancouver Canuck who won the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks.

• Boyd Devereaux, an Ontario native who won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2002 and also played with the Edmonton Oilers and the Leafs.

• Defenceman Curtis Leschyshyn, who won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, and also spent time with the Quebec Nordiques and Ottawa Senators.

• Alberta native Cale Hulse who played for New Jersey, Nashville, Phoenix, Columbus and Calgary.

Oy yoy yoy…

Otherwise, if you’re interested, the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Hackel more or less


transcribed the highlights of NHLPA…let’s call him director of player affairs (as his title is “special assistant to commissioner Donald Fehr”) Mathieu Schneider on the Team 990’s “Melnick in the Afternoon” as the Team 990’s website only posts audio clips in an un-downloadable format…

And I can confirm that LandonFerraro on Twitter is Red Wings prospect Landon Ferraro.

Update: via Paul, Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy states the obvious in asking several Wings-related non-rhetorical questions:

Can the much-traveled Ian White be a suitable replacement for the retired-too-soon Brian Rafalski?
Is the Jimmy Howard-Ty Conklin tandem really the goaltending duo you can win a Stanley Cup with?
Does Nicklas Lidstrom have one more Norris Trophy season in him?

Because I’m grumpy today:

• No, but Ian White isn’t supposed to be Brian Rafalski’s replacement. The Wings are replacing him by committee and Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart and Jonathan Ericsson are all going to have to help White;

• Yes;

• In the words of someone who has a few narcotics habits in common with the dictator that’s crumbling today, “Duh!”

Update #2: Via RedWingsFeed again, the Free Press’s B.J. Hammerstein reports that WXYT’s AM station will switch to a conservative news talk format, because we clearly don’t have enough partisan political radio stations in the world…

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Red Winger's avatar

Yeah, the Red Wings predicted order of finish in the Hockey News Yearbook is a bit surprising. Just received the book today, and haven’t had time to read why they were picked in that spot. But I have a good idea: age.

How creative.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 08/22/11 at 06:01 PM ET


No, but Ian White isn’t supposed to be Brian Rafalski’s replacement. The Wings are replacing him by committee and Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart and Jonathan Ericsson are all going to have to help White;

OK here’s the thing: of course White is supposed to be Rafaski’s replacement.  Whether or not Rafalski retires and White is signed, the talk during the off-season would be that they’re hoping Kronwall, Stuart and Ericsson would be able to step up some more because Rafalski and Lidstrom aren’t going to be around forever.  So we can pretend that White isn’t Rafalski’s replacement all we want, but that is absolutely why the brass signed him and signed him for multiple years (unlike Commodore, who they signed for a single year because he’s just a #6 and if he doesn’t work out, who cares), so that he can have some stability and learn the system and be a cornerstone of the D in years to come.

Posted by Garth on 08/22/11 at 08:57 PM ET




Posted by John Chabot on 08/23/11 at 02:16 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Brain working not. Sorry for error.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/23/11 at 05:57 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

They are the picking the Washington Capitals to capture the Cup, defeating the Blackhawks in the finals.

I understand that smoking crack can be a lot of fun, but it does weird things to one’s mental faculties.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 08/23/11 at 07:33 AM ET


The Red Wings still have, by far, the deepest and best roster in the NHL.

That’s somewhat debatable after Brian Rafalski and Chris Osgood’s retirements
I actually think they’re better w/o Rafalski and Osgood.  Rafalski was a shell of his former self last year, mostly due to injuries.  White/Commodore are a huge upgrade defensively and White can take about 80% of Rafalski’s offense from last year.  The only shortcoming they have is Raffi’s still-deft 1st pass out of the zone.  Although even that led to many turnovers last year.

The Wings may have the deepest roster, but it’s not close to the best.  With only 3 top 6 forwards and about 8 who are third-liners, the Wings are still missing offense.  You can’t really count Cleary, Fil, Hudler, Homer or Bert as top 6 any more.  Hopefully the new coaches won’t keep using Cleary as a grinder, because he’s the most likely candidate to produce.  There are a half dozen teams with better top 6 forwards than the Wings have.  Hopefully that will be corrected by the deadline.

As for the predictions, it’s about right.  Chicago and Detroit will battle for 1st in the Central.  The one that has injuries will drop to 4th or 5th.  As the rosters look right now, I’d only put the Wings ahead of the Bruins and maybe a push with the Flyers.  The only reason they’re behind those teams in the yearbook is because the West is so much tougher to get out of than the East.  Flip the Pens with the Caps and it’s money.

Posted by jkm2011 on 08/23/11 at 10:51 AM ET

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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.