The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/16/11 at 04:19 PM ET
Updated 6x with a persistent Parise rumor at 4:26 PM: Sometimes simple news is the best news regarding limited information, so the fact that the Red Wings reassigned Tomas Tatar to Grand Rapids, and that MLive’s Ansar Khan offered the following early practice update via Twitter, make all the difference in the world given the Wings’ brutal December schedule and their charming little slate of four games over the course of six nights—and four time zone changes—starting with Saturday’s home tilt against Los Angeles:
Everybody practicing today for Wings.
Edit: make that doubly good news:
[Justin] Abdelkader says X-rays on foot showed only a bruise. He is sore but made it through full practice and will play Saturday.
As we wait for the official practice updates to hit the wires, the Free Press’s offered a less than surprising observation given the Wings’ loosey-goosey play during the 3rd period of their loss to Nashville last night..
Mike Babcock’s pretty vocal today; #Redwings being worked hard night after loss in Nashville.
And the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff offers more good injury news:
#redwings to assign F Jan Mursak (broken ankle) to #AHL Grand Rapids for conditioning stint shortly after Christmas break.
If you feel like revisiting unpleasant memories, NHL.com’s Dan Rosen recalls Scott Niedermayer’s series-changing goal against the Wings in the 1995 Stanley Cup Final, and the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff offers a sort of “Red Wings connection” to Niedermayer:
Two of [his] Cup wins directly impacted the Detroit Red Wings. The Devils beat the Wings in the 1995 final, and downed Detroit in the 2007 Western Conference final. That 2007 win over the Wings, as well as Niedermayer’s 2003 Cup win, came at the expense of current Wings coach Mike Babcock, who in 2003 was bench boss for the Ducks.
That’s an interesting cross-reference, because Babcock is the Niedermayer of coaches, with title wins at more levels than any other coach. He captured a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2007-08. Internationally behind Canada’s bench, Babcock earned world championship (2004), world junior (1997), and Olympic (2010) gold medals. He also earned a CIS title in charge of the Lethbridge Pronghorns in 1994.
On suspensions and concussions: As noted yesterday, Brendan Shanahan met with the Wings in Nashville to talk about his disciplinary policy, and Pro Hockey Talk’s Mike Halford stated the obvious about said exchange:
The meeting also allowed Shanahan to get reacquainted with some familiar faces. He spent nine years with Detroit before leaving in 2005-06, but many of his former mates are still with the team: Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Dan Cleary, Niklas Kronwall, Valtteri Filppula and Jimmy Howard. So yeah, like half the roster.
Not that this “familiarity” would have any bearing on Shanahan’s role as the league’s chief disciplinarian. He’s got strong ties to other organizations as well — St. Louis, New Jersey, New York (Rangers) — and it’s not like the Wings give him tons of material to work with anyway. Detroit is almost always one of the NHL’s least-penalized teams and hasn’t employed a dedicated fighter since Brad May in 2009-10.
In fact, the suspension handed down to Brendan Smith in the preseason — for an illegal check to the head of Chicago’s Ben Smith — was the first fine or suspension given to a Wings player in four seasons.
After the meeting, the Wings’ players—and general manager—spoke to MLive’s Ansar Khan about the NHL’s seeming concussion epidemic, with the Wings suggesting that the NHL’s concussion-testing protocols and the anti head-shot rules and directives with which the NHL has empowered Shanahan to lay out severe suspensions are at least making headway (no pun intended):
“Still, you wake up today and there’s a lot of players with concussions,” Holland said.
The list of star players sidelined with concussions includes Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Claude Giroux, Milan Michalek, Jeff Skinner and Joni Pitkanen. On Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers announced that defenseman Chris Pronger is out for the remainder of the season and the playoffs due to post-concussion syndrome.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Holland said.
“I think the league’s doing a better job identifying and treating players with concussion-like symptoms,” Holland said. “They’re trying to make this game as safe as possible, while preserving the intensity and the physical aspects that make our game a great game.”
Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart missed the final three months of the 2002-03 season with a concussion.
“For us to be aware of it is important,” Stuart said. “It’s one of those injuries that could have long-term effects, so you want to make sure you’re on top of it.”
“I think we’re all moving in the right direction,” [Nicklas] Lidstrom said. “We as players have to make sure you’re not going after someone’s head. The league is looking after us as well. You’re still going to have the odd hit that’s going to happen where a guy’s moving at the last second, but I like the measures we’ve been taking.”
In programming news, the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema spoke to Fox Sports Detroit’s Greg Kelser about something you and I have probably been wondering about for some time: what’s FSD going to do about the fact that the NBA lockout’s end yields scheduling conflicts on TV?
According to Kesler, we won’t see any Wings games shifted to FSD+ for the Pistons’ sake:
FSD is scheduled to carry 65 of the team’s 66 regular-season games this season—the April 13 game against the Milwaukee Bucks is slated for ESPN—but 13 games will be on FSD Plus due to schedule conflicts with the Detroit Red Wings, including the Pistons’ season opener at Indiana on Dec. 26.
In Babcock’s words, “Sometimes you need to be reminded,” so the Ann Arbor Chronicle’s John U. Bacon offers up a reminder of something we may have begun to take for granted as he reviews 2011 from a “year in sports” perspective:
The Detroit Red Wings made the playoffs for their 20th consecutive year – an incredible accomplishment of consistency in the modern era of parity and free agency. If you’re in college, you cannot recall when they were so bad we called them the “Dead Things.” General manager Ken Holland is the best in sports. Period.
And finally, for the moment, anyway, the Wings are encouraging you to vote for the Carhartt hardest-working player for December. Chris Conner? Pavel Datsyuk? Johan Franzen? Ian White? There are many deserving candidates, though my vote would go to Datsyuk.
Update #1: Here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan’s practice report:
Justin Abdelkader’s left foot is sore from getting hit with a shot during the third period of Thursday’s 4-3 loss in Nashville, but he said X-rays revealed no fracture. It’s only bruised. He made it through the entire practice and said he’ll be ready to play Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena (7 p.m., Fox Sports Net Detroit).
“It’s going to be sore, but it’s one of those things where you’re always going to have bumps and bruises during the season; things you play through,’’ Abdelkader said. “They did X-rays, no break, just bruised. I’ll be ready to go.’‘
The Red Wings want to quickly rid themselves of the unsavory taste of Thursday’s game. On one hand, they dominated for the better part of 55 minutes, playing the kind of game they’ll win most nights. But the disastrous final five minutes (two Shea Weber goals—one on the power play, another on a bizarre bounce) left them frustrated and feeling robbed.
“Overall we played a pretty good game,’’ defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Our forwards did a great job of taking the pucks deep and cycling and holding on it and making it tough for their D-men. We made some mistakes. I was involved in some of the goals. Obviously, we have to find a way to be better around those situations.’‘
Kronwall and defense partner Brad Stuart each were a minus-3.
Also, per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
Niklas Kronwall and the #RedWings are at St. Robert Bellarmine Elementary School in Redford this afternoon. twitpic.com/7u4ssj
Update #2: Sehr cool, per the Muskegon Chronicle’s Tom Kendra:
Former Detroit hockey greats will once again grace the L.C. Walker Arena ice, as the Red Wings Alumni Game returns to Muskegon on Sat., Feb. 11.
Hockey Hall of Famer Mickey Redmond, Jimmy Carson and Kris Draper, who combined to play 27 seasons for the Red Wings, have all committed to play in the biennial contest, which will face off at 7:15 p.m.
Wings alumni will compete against a lineup of recognizable Muskegon hockey names. Additional players for both teams will be announced as they are confirmed.
“Hockey has been a part of Muskegon’s social fabric since the early 1900s,” said Lumberjacks President/COO Tim Taylor. “We are excited to bring back the former Muskegon greats, as well as welcoming a number of legends who have worn the famous winged wheel, symbolic of one of the greatest franchises in all professional sports.”
Tickets for the game are on sale at the L.C. Walker Arena box office, as well as on StarTickets.com and at your local Meijer. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Call (231) 724-JACK(5225) for more information. Make sure to ask about special VIP passes available!
Update #3: The Free Press’s Anthony Fenech tossed off several Twitter updates...
Mike Babcock: “We can skate our way around the rink, but if we work, we’re gritty and determined, we’re a much better team.” #Redwings
Babcock: “We gotta tighten up our own end.” #Fillinthehashtag #Redwings
Babcock on #Pronger: “I don’t know much about this concussion stuff but I was surprised they made a long-term assessment like that.”
Abdelkader: “Not broken, just bruised, when you put your foot in the skate sometimes you get sore.” #Redwings
More Abdelkader: “I think we have a group that can not only skate but can be physical and play with grit.” #Redwings
Kronwall: “I think we’ve been doing an OK job but I still think we haven’t reached our full potential. We def think there’s more to come.”
Kronwall, on the #PP: “We’re moving better. We’re more effective when we’re not just standing still and passing to each other.” #Redwings
More Kronwall on #PP: “When we were struggling there for a little bit, we didn’t shoot the puck enough” #Redwings #Shootthepuck
Kronwall on Datsyuk: “We’re so spoiled with him playing this way. ... Anytime he’s out there, he’s making a difference.” #Redwings
Lidstrom: “We’re just playing better as a team with the puck and without the puck. Overall, we’ve played a lot more solid hockey.” #Redwings
Update #4: There’s something to be said for respecting one’s rivals, and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan reports that the Wings are wishing Chris Pronger of all people the best as he battles severe post-concussion syndrome:
ronger has been a long-time nemesis of the Wings — with the Blues, Oilers, Ducks and now Flyers. There’s a lot of mutual respect there, and the Wings didn’t like to hear about Pronger’s health issues.
“Being out for the year with about 50 games to play, it must be severe,” Nicklas Lidstrom said.
Added Wings coach Mike Babcock: “Obviously, you’re cheering for him; he’s been a real mainstay in the league for a long time. Everywhere he’s been they’ve had good regular seasons, way better playoffs. He’s better at playoff time than anytime else.”
Babcock coached Pronger at the 2010 Olympics when the Canadian team won the gold medal.
“I was impressed with his understanding of the game and his understanding of other players and how serious he was in what they did, his position, and playing well,” Babcock said.
Also: It’s not Wings-related per se, but the Toronto Star’s Rick Westhead reports that hockey life is slowly resuming in Yaroslavl, Russia.
Update #5: Time to start scouting the enemy. LA Kings Insider’s Rich Hammond offers some personnel news regarding the Los Angeles Kings:
Willie Mitchell is “doubtful” to play tomorrow, John Stevens said after practice today. Stevens said he might make one lineup change for tomorrow’s game but declined to say what it might be. Jonathan Quick will start in goal.
As for Mike Richards, he will be with the team tomorrow but it’s not known when he will get on the ice. More notes and quotes to come…
Update #5.5: The Free Press’s Anthony Fenech stuck to just covering the state of Justin Abdelkader’s foot in his off-day report:
Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, who missed a portion of Thursday’s third period at Nashville after blocking a shot with his left foot, said the injury is just a bruise, not a break.
“It’s sore,” he said today. “It’s going to be sore, but it’s just one of those things where there’s always going to be bumps and bruises during a season.”
He said he will be good to go for Saturday’s home date with the Los Angeles Kings.
“I’ll be ready,” he said. “When you put your foot in the skate, sometimes it gets sore. That’s all.”
It frightens me to know that Kris Draper and Chris Osgood had to stumble through their lines more than once to craft their Volunteer Energy Commercial and/or train wreck that recalls Steve Yzerman’s dead-man-board-stiff recitation of lines for Metro Detroit GMC dealers commercials back in the mid 90’s.
Update #5.75: Fox Sports Detroit is asking fans to submit their favorite Wings stories/memories...
Update #6: Here’s an eyebrow-raiser, via TSN’s Darren Dreger’s mailbag:
I was wondering if there was any truth behind the rumours of Zach Parise getting traded? If so, who would be interested and what do think it would take to acquire him?
A: Mike, the sense is the New Jersey Devils’ priority is to re-sign Parise. Only when that process has been exhausted will Lou Lamoriello consider the ample trade interest. If Zach Parise were to become available, the lineup of GM’s willing to make a deal would be long. Among the most interested, I would think Detroit and Pittsburgh would be as aggressive as any team to make something happen. I’m skeptical it gets to that point.
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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.