The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/24/11 at 10:33 PM ET
Updated 2x at 11:13 PM with Franzen stuff, visor talk and Nicklas Lidstrom’s street-re-naming ceremony video: Our friends at NBC Sports have decided to “flex” their schedule during the last weekend of the regular season, swiping the second half of the Red Wings’ back-to-back games against the Chicago Blackhawks from Fox Sports Detroit. The Wings host the Blackhawks on April 8th
at 7:30 PM and will now have to make a quick turnaround for yet another wacky start, with the Hawks hosting the Wings at 12:30 PM EDT on Sunday the 10th—or 11:30 AM local time. Here’s NBC’s press release regarding said game:
DETROIT RED WINGS AT CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS IS NBC SPORTS’ “NHL GAME OF THE WEEK” ON SUNDAY, APRIL 10
Central Division Rivals “Flexed” For National Broadcast
NEW YORK (March 24, 2011) –The Sunday, April 10, Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks game has been flexed as NBC Sports’ “NHL Game of the Week” and will be played at the United Center in Chicago at 12:30 p.m. ET, the National Hockey League and NBC Sports announced today.
The showdown between these longtime Original Six rivals comes on the final day of the 2010-11 regular season. With both clubs jockeying for position in the tight Western Conference standings, this game could impact the match-ups for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs that will be finalized hours later.
The Red Wings are currently first in the Central Division standings and second in the Western Conference with a record of 43-22-9 (95 pts). The Blackhawks are currently second in the Central Division standings and fifth in the Western Conference with a record of 40-25-8 (88 pts). These two clubs have competed against each other three times so far this season, with Chicago leading two wins over the Red Wings’ one.
At least 13 days prior to the scheduled game, one game is selected for broadcast on NBC. All NBC games will be broadcast on Sundays and all games will be presented in HD. Games not flexed to NBC will be available to the teams’ regional carriers and remain at the originally announced start time. The April 10 match-up was first announced on the Thursday, March 17, edition of “NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman” on NHL.com and SIRIUS XM Radio airing from 6-7 p.m. ET. All subsequent flexed games will be announced on NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Upcoming 2011 NBC Game of the Week Regular-Season Flexible Schedule
Apr. 3 |NY RANGERS at PHILADELPHIA |12:30 p.m. ET
Apr. 10 |DETROIT at CHICAGO |12:30 p.m. ET
Also: I’m genuinely annoyed right now, and not just because my 69-year-old aunt decided to hijack my afternoon for a “few hours,” resulting in the usual five-hour grocery shopping odyssey (I love my aunt but she drives me nuts). A few days ago, I posted the highlights of a Sovetsky Sport interview Pavel Datsyuk conducted with the interview’s author, Pavel Lysenkov, and Sovetsky Sport readers.
So why am I peeved? Because, “I found it first?” No. I’m a blogger, and I essentially re-post other people’s work in one place for the sake of readers’ convenience, so there’s no intellectual property issue regarding who found what first. What I am annoyed about is the fact that the Free Press and News don’t credit Piontkovsky for superbly and elegantly translating the interview from Russian to readable English, and I’m annoyed because there’s no citation stating that Pavel Lysenkov’s the guy who conducted the interview with Datsyuk to begin with (Piontkovsky notes that it’s from Sovsport and that’s good).
So go ahead and read Piontkovsky’s translation. It’s excellent and much better than my bullet points. But know that the interview was conducted by Sovetsky Sport’s Lysenkov and that one should always cite the original source whenever possible.
Now the Wings have Nill on a long contract in which he commits to the organization for two more years, after which time he has windows whereby he can move the following three years. For this he’s the highest-paid assistant GM in the league, with the exception of perhaps Dave Nonis. Here’s a guy who has helped unearth virtually every young player the Wings have discovered, picking last or close to it every year in the draft, he following the theory that Holland and Jimmy Devellano before them always believed.
“We’re all just glorified scouts, really,” says Nill, who played junior hockey with Holland growing up. “It’s about finding and developing players, it always has been, although now it’s harder because of the cap issues.
“I live in Novi, Michigan, which is a suburb they call Little Sweden because it’s loaded with Swedes and [Nick)] Lidstrom, [Tomas] Holmstrom and [Johan] Franzen all live there and because it’s so handy to so many cities in the OHL. It’s about 35 minutes from town, 20 minutes from the airport and I can be in three or four different rinks to watch players in a couple of hours. I travel a lot to Europe as well, so the airport is handy. But now that my youngest Cristin is graduating from high school, Trevor is playing at Michigan State and the family has grown up, I just might get around to taking one of those offers. But it would have to be the right move, because it’s so great working for this organization.”
The job Nill might end up with is this one in Detroit. Holland is still very much enjoying his work, but he’s always said he’d go when Lidstrom does and he might only have been half joking.
“We all say that here,” says Nill, who says he runs into many of his old 1982 teammates including Harold Snepsts, Thomas Gradin, Anders Eldebrink and Lars Molin in his travels. “Actually, I’m extremely happy doing what I’m doing, trying to keep this organization in the hunt every year. Ken hires people and lets them do their work, the same way Jimmy used to, and if you hire the right people things seem to work out pretty well.”
—Nill didn’t just open up in a rare interview: Johan Franzen suffers from an admittedly moderate-to-severe case of social anxiety disorder, but he talked to Gallagher about his on and off-ice evolution:
“I don’t really like talking with the media, but we all do it here so I’m fine with it now,” he said with the definition of a shy smile. “It’s not really something I enjoy, but I’m getting used to it. I’m not really sure when I’m going to be back. The groin is fine when I’m on the bike, but I need to try it on the ice before we’ll know.”
The Wings have developed Franzen to the point now where he’s one of the best power forwards in the game when healthy, as 59 points in his last 51 playoff games might indicate. He can play with anyone and still produce, and he well remembers when his mind figured it out, the confidence changing him from a dump-it-in guy to somebody capable of a whole lot more.
“It was ’08, the year we won it,” he said, indicating he could come up with the exact date if pressed. “Holmer [Tomas Holmstrom] was hurt and [Dan] Cleary got hit one night and I got a chance to be on the power play. I was standing in front of the net, that was my role, and I got some goals on tips, put in a couple of rebounds, and from there I had the feeling I could keep doing it. I started getting more opportunities to be on the power play, the coach showed confidence in me and put me out more with good players, and that’s where we are now.”
Says fellow countryman Nick Lidstrom of that game: “It was like a light went on when he got that chance. We all remember it.”
“I’m really not so sure why I’m good in the playoffs, but I do like the games when they are tough and everyone is going all out and the space on the ice isn’t so much,” he says. “I guess maybe I’m able to use my strength more, the refs let a little more go. I know I like those games, guys trying to hit you more. It’s fun.”
What wasn’t fun for Franzen was when he and his teammates went to the White House the year following their 2008 Cup and then-President George W. Bush, who was always very comfortable in these sporting situations, innocently began having some fun with Franzen’s nickname ‘the Mule.’ Having been singled out, Franzen blushed the colour of a Wings jersey, frozen by the TV lights amid the whirring sound of the motor drives on still cameras. To be in that situation with his particular anxiety was about as bad as it gets, but he seemed to come through fine.
“At the time I hated it, but what can you do, you just have to get through it,” he said, head down on the bike thinking back to that day. “Now of course, it’s a better memory, something I’ll never forget.”
— Here’s an FYI from the Vancouver Sun’s Brad Ziemer...
.Associate coach Rick Bowness has had a chance to visit with his two sons on this trip. Rick Jr. works in the Detroit Red Wings’ media relations department, while Bowness’s other son, Ryan, is manager of player development and hockey administration with the Thrashers.
— As the Wings’ 2-1 loss to the Canucks on Wednesday applies to the standings, the Associated Press penned a playoff article in which the Wings’ place in the Western Conference‘s standings plays a large role:
The Detroit Red Wings know what it’s like to carry such expectations into the postseason. The Vancouver Canucks do not. That’s what makes the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs as wide open as can be. While the top of the NHL standings seems settled, much is to be decided at the bottom of the Eastern and Western conferences. It promises to be a frantic final 2 1/2 weeks that will determine who gets the first crack to knock off the Canucks, Red Wings and other prime contenders.
“Obviously, if we’re going to wind up on top of the conference, we should be the favorites,’’ said NHL leading scorer Daniel Sedin of the Canucks. “If we can play this good for 82 games, we should be able to do it in the playoffs.’‘
The Canucks stretched their lead over the Red Wings to 10 points on Wednesday night with a 2-1 win at Detroit. Vancouver is up by eight points on Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia, looking to wrap up its first Presidents’ Trophy. However, finishing first overall doesn’t guarantee playoff success - especially for a team that isn’t used to a target on its back.
“You see their record, you don’t win every night by accident,’’ said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, a Stanley Cup champion and three-time finalist. “But what the measure is going to be for them is what they do in playoff time - just like it is for us.’‘
The Red Wings have captured the Presidents’ Trophy, given to the team with the best regular-season record, six times since it was created for the 1985-86 season. They went on to win the Stanley Cup only twice. There have been just seven teams in 24 seasons to win both trophies. The Red Wings have as many titles - two - in years they didn’t nab the Presidents’ Trophy as those in which they did.
— Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika spends a good chunk of his “three periods” column discussing visor usage, and given that the Red Wings now have more players who wear visors than those who don’t on the roster (Franzen, Todd Bertuzzi, Tomas Holmstrom, Mike Modano and Jonathan Ericsson are the only Wings who don’t wear visors), and, perhaps moreover, given that several of the Wings’ players who wear visors have donned them due to close calls, it’s appropriate to close Wings-Canucks-related threads with this observation made by Kris Draper on the visor debate as it relates to Canucks super-defensive dynamo Manny Malhotra, who will miss the rest of the season and playoffs with an eye injury, as noted by the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:
“I kind of had the same thing happen a few years ago,’’ Kris Draper said. “I remember lying on the table and you’ve got blood in your eye and you can’t see. It’s scary. I remember saying if I ever made it out of this that I would put a visor on and never take it off.’’
“When you see another get hurt like that you’re very concerned,’’ Draper said. “He’s a real good center man. He can take draws on both sides and can kill penalties. He’s a guy in the last couple of minutes and you’re nursing a lead he’s going to go out and play a lot.’’
Paul Kariya was still a “Mighty” Duck when his follow-through clipped Draper in the eye. He, Danny Cleary and Nicklas Lidstrom didn’t wear visors until recently.
— Also from Cotsonika, regarding Monday night’s game:
@cotsonika tweet of the week: “An octopus hits the ice. Who has been hiding that all this time, figuring the Wings would come back from 4-0 to force overtime?” (Just before OT on Monday night, when the Penguins beat the Red Wings, 5-4, in a shootout.)
— Shifting focus to events taking place next week, via the Voice News...
Ken Kal, radio play-by-play announcer of the Detroit Red Wings, will read to Robin Ruzicska’s third-graders at Green Elementary School at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Kal’s performance wraps up L’Anse Creuse Public Schools’ participation in March is Reading Month, in which adults visit the school and read to children to underscore the importance of developing that skill.
— In the multimedia department, well, RedWingsTV asked a silly question in querying the Wings’ players as to which player is the most likely Wing to spend a full day in the gym (hint: he’s wearing a visor thanks to Paul Kariya):
— And today, the City of Novi re-named the street which leads to the Novi Ice Arena for Nicklas Lidstrom. The Red Wings’ Facebook page posted a photo of Lidstrom speaking to an assembled crowd, WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke to Lidstrom about the honor...
“I think it’s right up there. It’s a little bit different than winning, you know, Stanley Cups or awards — something that you do on the ice. So, this is something different but it’s something I’m looking forward to today,” he said.
Lidstrom’s a big star in his home country of Sweden, but he doesn’t have a street named for him there — at least not yet.
“Nope, I don’t, and I believe you have to be deceased to have one in Sweeden. So, I don’t have one there,” Lidstrom said.
So does it make the 40-year-old feel old?
“Well, I know that I’m getting up there in age and I’ve been playing for a lot of years. So, I look at it more as being truly an honor to have something like the happen to me and my family,” Lidstrom said.
And WXYZ posted a video of the ceremony:
The Red Wings’ website just posted a YouTube video of the ceremony as well:
Update #2: In the alumni department, via the Canadian Press:
Fresh off dispatching two-time defending Gagarin Cup champions Ak Bars Kazan, Salavat Yulaev defeated Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4-3 in the first game of their Kontinental League Eastern Conference final series.
Igor Grigorenko, who scored in the first minute of action, and Norwegian Patrick Thoresen lead Salavat Yulaev with a goal and an assist each, while Sweden’s Eric Ersberg recorded 33 saves in goal for the win. Metallurg, which scored all of its goals on the power play, was lead by star forward Sergei Fedorov, who netted a goal and added an assist.
The KHL’s Gagarin Cup playoff continues with Lokomotiv and Altant Mytishchi facing off in the second game of the Western Conference final in Yaroslavl. Game 2 of the Salavat Yulaev-Metallurg Magnitogorsk series will be Saturday in Ufa.
— In prospect news, the Everett Herald’s Nick Patterson reports that Everett Silvertips forward and Wings prospect Landon Ferraro should return from a groin injury to play in the Silvertips’ playoff opener against the Portland WinterHawks;
— The Kelowna Capital News’s Warren Henderson spoke to Kelowna Rockets forward and Wings prospect Mitchell Callahan about the team’s imminent playoff series against the Prince George Cougars:
Mitchell Callahan remembers vividly the nerves and anticipation he felt prior to his first major junior playoff game with the Kelowna Rockets two years ago. So the hard-nosed forward knows from experience what his rookie teammates must be feeling on the cusp of the Western Hockey League post season.
“I’m still feeling some nerves and I’ve been through this twice before,” Callahan said with a laugh. “The playoffs are a new game, a different atmosphere, the game is faster and more physical, and there’s a lot on the line every shift. I know it’s exciting for our younger guys, it’s going to be a little bit new to them and there’s going to be nerves…but I think they’ll be well prepared. This is what you play for all season.”
— The Portland Press-Herald’s Rachel Lenzi reports that there’s no news regarding the future of University of Maine Black Bears forward Gustav Nyquist:
Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said seniors Jeff Dimmen and Robby Dee will not opt to turn pro until after graduation, as both are recovering from injuries sustained during the season - Dimmen, a defenseman, played with an ankle injury while Dee, a center, battled an abdominal strain.
Whitehead also said that junior right wing Gustav Nyquist has not yet made a decision regarding his future, either at Maine or with the Detroit Red Wings, who hold his NHL rights.
— I can only suggest that Shaina Dennis’s profile of Nyquist on Her Campus’s website is interesting but may include some links and/or content that might be deemed “Not Safe for Work”...
— And in the AHL, where the Wings plan on placing Nyquist, the Hockey News’s Patrick Williams handcaps the Griffins’ chances of making the playoffs…
The Griffins have held a winning record since Feb. 20, erasing what had largely been a bust of a season. Though they have mostly gone without the services of proven veteran goaltender Joey MacDonald, the Griffins’ Jordan Pearce has taken over in net recently and carried the club through most of the second half this season. As well, veteran sniper Chris Minard has finally reacquired a scoring touch that had been dormant for most of the season. In the past month alone, the Griffins have tacked on 21 points to plant themselves firmly in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. However, Grand Rapids has a challenging schedule remaining, including three games against Abbotsford.
— And the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema interviewed Griffins scrapper Adam Keefe in a “getting to know you”-style interview.
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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.