The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/20/11 at 01:53 PM ET
Updated 2x at 12:04 PM: That clunk following a soft thud that you just heard echoing across North America was Ken Holland’s shoes hitting the carpet as he put his feet up on his desk in Vernon, British Columbia. With the Wings’ signing of Ty Conklin to a one-year deal that’s supposedly worth $750,000 (per Andy Strickland), the team’s more or less finished its summertime roster-building at both the NHL and AHL levels.
We can expect a press conference sometime over the next eight weeks to announce whatever the heck Kris Draper’s going to do (I’m assuming that the presser will be held closer to training camp), and it’s possible but not probable that the Wings could move Jiri Hudler to add a top-six forward, but with 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies ready to go at the NHL level, and Joey MacDonald, Garnet Exelby, Chris Conner, etc. in wait with the Grand Rapids Griffins, the team’s good to go and Holland may as well start focusing on his golf game after the team holds its Conklin media availability this afternoon.
The Wings will continue to make midsummer waves in the news department for another two to three weeks, however, and the Wings’ Twitter account reports that Justin Abdelkader had a fine time flying with the Blue Angels this morning:
Abdelkader getting instructions before jumping on board with the Blue Angels. http://t.co/cUfL5qH
Abdelkader does have an interest in aviation. Don’t know what his nerves are like, but he sounds amped to get in the air
Abdelkader doing loops a few thousand feet above us before landing.
Success for Justin! http://t.co/4G5mMa0
Abby: The flight was awesome. Something I will remember for the rest of my life.
Abby: Growing up, always fascinated by pilots, to go up with these guys is just amazing.
PHOTOS: Justin Abdelkader rides with the Blue Angels. http://t.co/4PU1uPy (Check it out!)
Speaking minutes after thrilling through a 45-minute flight with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels today, Abdelkader noted he saw parts of Ann Arbor soon after takeoff from Willow Run Airport. Abdelkader flew with Lt. David Tickle.
“We were joking around,” Abdelkader said. “We flew over Ann Arbor, went over the Big House – if we’d had had a couple bombs on it, maybe we would have dropped a couple on there.”
Abdelkader, of course, is a former Spartan. He spoke glowingly of the experience aboard the F/A-18 Hornet. Tickle said Abdelkader experienced 7.4 G-force, flew as high as 15,000 feet, and got up to about 550 miles per hour.
“It was pretty tough on your body,” Abdelkader said. “You’ve just got to breathe right and try to squeeze your legs and keep the blood up towards your head so you don’t black out. I was in and out a few times, it got a little black, but I came right back. It was a lot of fun.”
Tickle said Ann Arbor was never in any danger.
“One of the maneuvers I can show him is a bombing hop,” Tickle said. “As we speak right now, we have men and women flying in Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever else. So I wanted to be able to show him kind of what we do. We just happened to be over Ann Arbor at the time and I know he’s a big Michigan State guy. So it worked out great we could pretend we were bombing Ann Arbor for him. Obviously I would never bomb Ann Arbor. I have nothing against Michigan.”
I’m guessing that we’ll read more stories about Abdelkader’s adventure and see some video thereof later today…
On the other side of the Atlantic, Pavel Datsyuk’s sharing a birthday with Wings owner Mike Ilitch, and the Hockey News’s Rory Boylen reports that Datsyuk’s hockey camp in Ekaterinburg, Russia is working its players particularly hard doing dry-land training :
The rain fell hard and the thunder sounded Monday night at the Kurganovo Complex after a loud first day of workouts at the PD13 hockey school. It was an early, overcast morning after a long, gruelling session the day before, so the challenge Tuesday for the instructors was to make sure the kids were involved and active right from the get-go.
Enter Jeremy Clark, professional trainer, off-ice director at the camp and owner of the Minnesota Top Team facility. Clark specializes in MMA-style training and did some fighting of his own. But the type of workouts he swears by are valuable to hockey, which makes him a key piece of this team. Clark focuses mostly on core exercises and preaches the importance of balance. Weights are overrated in this program because there are so many other, more basic elements you can use to give yourself better overall strength and fitness.
After following the younger age group Monday, I joined up with the older kids (10 to 12) Tuesday as they took to the field to be put through Clark’s paces right off the bat. At PD13, the schedules remain the same every day for each group, alternating between on- and off-ice twice a day with lunch and a video session in the middle. But the drills change, which is something especially important to Clark, who believe strength is built through muscle confusion.
The kids started off with two laps of the track, stretching and a couple other warmups before being split into groups at six workstations. Among them were medicine-ball tosses, lunges and pulling a resisting partner halfway down the field while holding a stick. The kids cycled through each station at two-minute intervals and went around the field twice.
By the end of it all they were red-faced and panting and with the on-ice session so close all they really had time to do was put on their gear. They gasped in disbelief when Clark told them they’d be spending about five times longer on these types of stations by the end of the week. At least the afternoon session was made up of a soccer game to give them exercise and a bit of fun, too.
“Muscle confusion” is trainer-speak for working out so hard that one might hand his or her trainer their lunch (no word as to whether Abdelkader kept his breakfast down), and this morning’s focus remains squarely upon Chris Osgood’s retirement and legacy, with Kirk Maltby weighing in on his friend’s career with The Fan 590’s Roger Lajoie...
And MLive’s Ansar Khan ponders Osgood’s case for inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame:
Osgood’s candidacy will be debated for years, and he probably won’t get in on the first ballot in 2014. Mark Howe, who finished his career with the Red Wings in 1995, was elected just this year. Osgood should not be penalized for being in the right place at the right time.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland obviously is biased, but he makes a compelling argument for the goalie he drafted in 1991.
“He has the 10th-most wins in the history of the NHL,” Holland said. “When you’re in the top 10 of anything that’s been around 90 to 100 years it’s pretty special. People will say that he played on good teams and use that as a reason why he (shouldn’t be in). My response would be, most of the guys ahead of him on the list also played on good teams. And if it’s so easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s not easy winning 400 games and two Stanley Cups.”
Osgood won with remarkable consistency up until the past two seasons. He was one of the better goalies in the league for much of his career, but never widely regarded as one of the top three in any given year. He was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy only once, and finished runner-up to Washington’s Jim Carey in 1996.
His lack of individual awards will hurt his cause. He twice won or shared the Jennings Trophy, which is given to the goalies on the team that allows the fewest goals.
It also hurts Osgood’s case that the Red Wings waived him in 2001, three months after acquiring Dominik Hasek. But Osgood’s remarkable renaissance during his second stint in Detroit, starting in 2005-06, boosts his chances. Osgood was the team’s savior during its 2008 Cup run, ironically after Hasek faltered in the first round. And Osgood more than likely would have won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2009 if the Red Wings had defeated Pittsburgh in Game 7 of the Cup finals, instead of losing 2-1. A different result might have ended all debate. But now Osgood, beginning in 2014, will be kept in suspense every June, when the Hall announces its inductees.
“Getting into the Hall of Fame means the world to me,” Osgood said. “If I said it didn’t, I’d be kidding myself and lying. I know what I’ve had to do to get to where I’ve been over the years. I feel like I deserve to be in.”
Also: Stan Fischler suggests that the Red wings remain one of four elite teams that could challenge the Boston Bruins’ attempt to defend their Stanley Cup championship…
Detroit Red Wings
Any discussion of the NHL’s upper-echelon teams that does not include the Red Wings is unfair. In what could be Nik Lidstrom’s final season, the Red Wings will undoubtedly make a strong push to get the future Hall-of-Famer one final shot at the Cup.
And, as long as Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are on board, the sky is the limit for Detroit. Not to mention coach Mike Babcock; his contributions have made the Wings one of the leagues’ most consistent post-lockout teams.
And I don’t remember his name, but Sky Sports’...er, there’s no credit for the article…somebody spoke to defenseman Martin Ondrej, who’s joined the British Elite League’s Hull Stingrays, about taking part in the Wings’ 2008 training camp as an invite:
Ondrej added: “Being in the Red Wings camp was a great experience for me because I finally felt like a professional player!
“It was also a great experience to have Chris Chelios as my D-partner. After one week, I pulled my groin and could not continue in camp. I was so disappointed because I was in great shape.”
Update: I had a feeling this was coming…Hockey’s Future’s Brad Garnder takes a look at the Wings’ 2011 draft picks, and I’ll spotlight the player that received little press attention as the team’s sleeper pick:
Xavier Ouellet, D - Montreal Juniors (QMJHL)
2nd round, 48th overall
Height: 6’0 Weight: 179 lbs
The Wings’ second pick in the second round went to bolstering their defensive depth with the talented Xavier Ouellet. Born in France, the blueliner exploded onto the scoresheet in his second year with the Montreal Juniors.
He ranked second among defensemen on the club with 43 points in 68 regular season games, while his eight assists in 10 playoff games led the blue line. Ouellet meant more to Montreal than just the points, though, as he played on the top pairing with Charles Landry (TB) and was also tasked with shutting down the opponent’s top offensive line throughout the season.
Montreal Juniors head coach Pascal Vincent described the blueliner as, “One of the most consistent players on our team since the beginning of the season. He’s a very smart two-way player and that’s what he brings, he brings good decisions on the ice. He’s the type of player that when you put him on the ice, you’re just confident in him as a coach. Offensively, defensively, power play, penalty, against the top line. He knows what he has to do with the puck.”
With excellent poise and the ability to make smart reads at both ends of the ice, Ouellet brings as much two-way potential as any defenseman in the Detroit prospect system. He also brings solid mobility to the back end, though skating and adding strength are seen as areas in which he could improve.
“He’s like a sponge,” the coach said, “You tell him something once and you know he’s going to at least try it. He might not be able to execute everything right away, but he’ll try. We’re going to see the best of Ouellet when he’s 24, 25, 26 years old with his work ethic and his attitude and the way he’s progressing, he’s going to be terrific.”
Boy, howdy, is he ever a player who was born to play for the Wings. He’s not very physical but he’s elegantly smart in terms of his ability to move the puck and make plays and his skating is already very good.
Update #2: Red Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime also posted a slate of Chris Osgood memories and tributes from fans.
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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.