The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/12/12 at 07:16 PM ET
Very briefly (still ramping up to full speed here, sorry folks): here’s a roundup of the various Red Wings and Predators storylines from Thursday. The news regarding Shea Weber (more on it later) comes as a bit of a surprise, per the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper:
Greetings from today’s Predators practice update. Shea Weber was not suspended by the NHL for hitting Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass at the end of yesterday’s game. Weber was fined $2,500, the league maximum, and assessed a minor for roughing on the play.
“I’m just glad he wasn’t hurt. Like I said, we’re just focused on Game 2,” Weber said.
He also mentioned he talked with NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan this morning, and the message was clear: “Play to the edge and not over. It’s cut and dry and everyone is going to have to do that in here.
Last night, Coach Barry Trotz strongly believed Weber shouldn’t have been suspended. He re-affirmed those beliefs today.
“Shea is a big part of our team. The league does a great job all the time of reviewing and nothing gets by them anymore. When I was asked yesterday about it, they handled it and handled it in a very thorough way,” Trotz said. “With five seconds to go, we won the draw, Shea got it and they were trying to get it off of him any way they could, and Zetterberg came in when Shea’s back was turned and that was probably the reactionary.”
Trotz said defenseman Hal Gill didn’t skate. But they did this on purpose, so he could rest his injured “lower body.”
Obviously, Henrik Zetterberg wasn’t exactly delighted about the incident…
Zetterberg said he was mad after the hit, which cracked his helmet in two places.
“I thought it was dirty,’’ Zetterberg said. “I think it was directed toward my head and if you look at what’s happened over the last few years with all of the head injuries I think that should not belong in the game.”
He said he was “a little woozy’’ after the incident but recovered quickly. Asked if he was upset that Weber was not suspended, only fined $2,500, Zetterberg said, “You can’t really control what isn’t in your hands. When he saw it on tape Weber grabbing the back of head and driving it into the glass, Zetterberg said, “I thought it looked bad, but I guess it wasn’t bad enough.”
Did the NHL fail to make a strong statement?
“I think you have to ask Shanny (league vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan) about that and the league, but I guess they didn’t think it was bad enough,’’ Zetterberg said. “We all know that playoffs are a little more physical. But you still have to play within the rules.”
And in terms of the rest of the team, they weren’t happy, either, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes:
Wings forward Johan Franzen said he didn’t think a $2,500 fine was enough to keep players from doing such things. Captain Nicklas Lidstrom said the lack of a suspension “was somewhat surprising, but it is what it is.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock said he had “no thoughts” on the matter, claiming he’d just gone on a long jog specifically to clear his mind of the topic.
At the end of the 3-2 loss to the Predators, Zetterberg checked Weber, who responded by grabbing Zetterberg’s head and slamming it into the glass, twice. Zetterberg wasn’t available for comment after the game. Wings coach Mike Babcock said he was too far away to see much and hadn’t yet seen the replay. Speaking Wednesday night, Weber wrote it off as “playoff hockey.”
NHL senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations Brendan Shanahan, a former Wing, reviewed the incident and talked to Holland after the game. The NHL’s department of player safety settled for fining Weber $2,500, the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement.
“This was a reckless and reactionary play on which Weber threw a glancing punch and then shoved Zetterberg’s head into the glass,” Shanahan said in a released statement. “As is customary whenever supplemental discipline is being considered, we contacted Detroit following the game and were informed that Zetterberg did not suffer an apparent injury and should be in the lineup for Game 2. This play and the fine that addressed it will be significant factors in assessing any incidents involving Shea Weber throughout the remainder of the playoffs.”
In terms of remorse, Alexander Radulov spoke to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose about Darren Helm’s injury…
“I didn’t know, I just saw it this morning,” said Radulov, the Predators’ forward, who accidentally cut Helm’s right forearm with a skate blade.
Helm rushed off the ice moments after the two players collided in the Wings’ zone during a Predators’ first-period power play. Helm finished his check on Radulov and as he fell backwards to the ice, his right skate came up and slashed Helm as he was falling forward.
“It’s obviously awful, I didn’t mean to do anything,” Radulov said. “He came into hit me, it’s hockey and it’s awful. A bad injury and hopefully he will be OK.”
Helm was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in downtown Nashville, where he underwent surgery to repair severed tendons in his right arm. He was expected to be released from the hospital later today and will rejoin the Wings at the team hotel.
“I made a pass and I see that he’s coming, so I was ready for the hit because I was open,” Radulov said. “He hit me, it was a clean hit, a big hit, but I just fell down. I didn’t even feel anything. Even at the end of the game I didn’t know (about the injury), I saw and read about it this morning. I saw that he wasn’t playing anymore, but I didn’t think that anything serious like that happened.”
Otherwise, NHL.com’s John Manasso reports a sliver of good news about Darren Helm…
Babcock: no nerve damage for Helm. #RedWings
Ken Holland spoke to Khan about Helm…
“He’s an important guy,’’ Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “I’m disappointed for Darren because he worked real hard to be back for the playoffs.
“He plays with tremendous passion and determination. I know how much he loves this game. It’s a big loss, but that’s playoff hockey.’‘
Helm was scheduled to be released from the hospital today.
The injury likely will prompt coach Mike Babcock to move Justin Abdelkader from fourth-line center back to third-line center, where he played the final 10 games of the regular season, when Helm was idled by a sprained left MCL.
Cory Emmerton would then move from wing back to center on the fourth line. Rookie Gustav Nyquist or veteran Chris Conner likely will be inserted into the lineup for Game 2 Friday in Nashville.
“Abby stepped up and did a good job last night,’’ Holland said. “If you’re going to go on a long playoff run, you’re going to get hurt. The good news is we got guys like Conner, who has playoff experience (with Pittsburgh last season), and Nyquist. We got players with NHL experience.’‘
Riley Sheahan skating as extra with top-six group at #RedWings practice
Bottom-six white group is Cleary, Holmstrom, Emmerton, Abdelkader, Miller, Nyquist, Conner
Practice lines are Franzen-Datsyuk-Bertuzzi; Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler for top six
Bottom six: Emmerton with Holmstrom and Miller/Conner; Abdelkader with Cleary and Nyquist for starters
Babcock said he got locked out of Bridgestone Arena after going for jog, had to have cleaning person let him in
Babcock said he has “no thoughts” on Weber fine, not suspended. Says he ran off any kind of ill feeling he could possibly have
Babcock says Nyquist is in for Game 2
Babcock: We don’t have the personnel to get back at Weber. That’s not how we’re built.
Babcock: We have to be better five-on-five.
Zetterberg looks like he’s skating well in practice, as expected.
Everybody skating today for Wings. Except, of course, Helm.
Nyquist skating on 3rd line with Abdelkader and Cleary. Miller moved to 4th line with Emmerton and Holmstrom.
Wings skating with these lines: 51-40-26, 93-13-44. 14-8-11; 20-48-96; 5-52, 55-23, 27-18. 35, 29. Extras: 41, 39, 15, 4
Babcock said Nyquist will play Friday
The fine’s been levied, Zetterberg didn’t get hurt and the Wings have to play better—between the whistles—to avenge their loss on Wednesday. A little physical panache and running Rinne wouldn’t hurt, but the Wings have to remain smart and not go out for revenge, neither on Weber, who dinged Zetterberg, nor Paul Gaustad, who tried to chop Pavel Datsyuk’s hands off…or anyone else. It’s about winning and scoring on the power play. Those are the Wings’ deterrents.
The Wings/Griffins made an intriguing signing today as well:
Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday signed defenseman Chad Billins to an amateur tryout.
A native of Marysville, Mich., Billins logged 29 points (7-22—29) and 24 penalty minutes in 43 games with Ferris State University this season. The 22-year-old defenseman served as a co-captain for the Bulldogs during the team’s run to the NCAA Frozen Four, where they were defeated in the championship game by Boston College. The 5-10, 175-pound defenseman skated in 149 games in four years with Ferris State, notching 67 points (17-50—67) and 108 penalty minutes.
Billins joins the Griffins for their final weekend of the regular season. The team will host the Chicago Wolves on Friday at 7 p.m. before traveling to Hamilton to take on the Bulldogs on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets for the Griffins’ regular season home finale are available at griffinshockey.com.
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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.