The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/09/11 at 08:32 AM ET
On a very rainy Tuesday morning, we already know that nobody wants Brett Lebda and that the Red Wings’ re-signing of Jonathan Ericsson to a 3-year deal averaging $3.25 million per season might be Ken Holland’s least popular move in, well, a really long time, but just as this summer’s wacky unrestricted free agent market proved Holland’s estimation of Ericsson’s asking price right, the Free Press’s Helene St. James believes that Ericsson can live up to greater expectations by living up to his nickname, “Big E”:
By salary alone Ericsson should be propelled into a larger role in 2011-12, but a spot in the top four next to Lidstrom, Stuart and Kronwall isn’t a given. Newcomer Ian White is going to challenge, and possibly Brendan Smith, whom officials are eager to see force them to keep him in Detroit rather than send him down.
The key for Ericsson will be to use his 6-foot-4, 220-pound size: clear the crease, force forwards to the outside, play with an edge. He’s a big body and needs to play like it. He’d benefit from playing with Lidstrom because Lidstrom is a great safety net, but Ericsson also could thrive playing 20 minutes a game anchoring the third pairing and killing penalties.
In charitable news, the CBC Windsor reports that Windsor’s Hotel-Dieu Grace hospital announced a significant expansion and $80 million investment in its cardiac wing, and the Windsor Star’s Sona Puzic noted that the memorial motorcycle ride held in Bob Probert’s memory this past June raised a significant chunk of change to help the community match 10% of the Province of Ontario’s investment in the hospital, and very specifically, its angioplasty unit:
Monday, the family of former NHL player Bob Probert, who died of heart failure last year, presented a cheque for more than $102,000 toward the campaign — proceeds of a recent fundraising motorcycle ride in his honour.
Probert’s widow Dani told reporters she’s grateful for the cardiac care boost. CAW Local 444 president Rick Laporte, who was delayed at the U.S. border while being rushed to a Detroit hospital in the throes of a heart attack, said he’s relieved to know future cardiac patients will have round-the-clock access to top-notch care right at home.
And in much less charitable but no less political news, Crain Detroit Business’s Bill Shea suggested that the location of a particular rail stop on the M1 Rail line along Woodward Avenue suggested that one of its backers, Wings owner Mike Ilitch, might be inadvertently revealing his intentions to build Joe Louis Area’s follow-on facility on the empty lots just north of I-75, but I can’t say that the City of Detroit’s reaction, per WXYZ’s Smitha Kalokhe, is anything less than predictable:
City leaders say the stops aren’t just about where the city is now, but also in the future. It’s the kind of clue that has sparked speculation that Ilitch Holdings, led by Mike Ilitch, could build a new hockey arena near the area.
“Since a lot of land is being purchased and cleared, and it’s right on Woodward, it would make sense,” said Charles Pugh, Detroit City Council President.
The project, worth more than $500 million, is funded through city and federal dollars, along with money from the private group, M1. Mike Ilitch is a member of the group and also an owner of the Joe Louis arena through Ilitch Holdings. In a statement to Action News, Ilitch Holdings Spokeswoman Karen Cullen said, “We have made no requests with regards to specific stops on the M1 rail line.”
But that isn’t stopping Pugh from thinking big. He also plans to urge Tom Gores, the new owner of the Pistons, to consider relocating his team as well.
He says, “I’m going to say to Mr. Gores, look don’t you want your Pistons fans to get there easily on the Woodward light rail?”
Construction on the project is expected to begin next spring and could be completed as early as 2015.
Typical City of Detroit blather (and I love the fact that Arena Digest couldn’t even come up with a new metaphor, lifting my “reading the tea leaves” line, but that’s another story for another time…), regrettably.
In the multimedia department, this is plain old spiffy: when Pavel Datsyuk won the Kharlamov Trophy as the Russian-player-voted MVP and visited Sovetsky Sport’s offices to pick it up (again, Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov posted an absolutely fantastic interview with Datsyuk), he actually spoke to Russia Today in English, praising the Red Wings organization’s familial atmosphere, suggesting that earning his coach’s trust is one of the reasons that he’s so successful and offering a typically Datsyukian answer as to why he’s rarely penalized, claiming that he’s not strong enough to hook his opponents (wink wink):
• Yahoo Sports’ Sean Leahy noted that EA Sports is probably going to add some “legends” to its NHL 12 franchise, including a roughhousing Wing and a Chicago Blackhawk who wears #7…
• I suppose this counts as a preview of sorts, too: Marie Hallman posted a few pictures from an informal game played between a few Swedish NHL’ers and Eliteserien players in Stockholm on Monday, including one Niklas Kronwall;
• The Wings’ Twitter account posted yet another picture of Darren McCarty wearing a kilt to Saturday’s charity softball game held by Joey Kocur and the Wings’ Alumni Association;
• And I’m not sure whether he qualifies as a Red Wing anymore, but Swedish goalie mask maestro David Gunnarsson posted a picture of HV71 goalie Daniel Larsson’s new mask;
In legitimate prospect news, Mattias Backman went scoreless as a team of Swedish World Junior Championship hopefuls tangled with Team USA’s “blue” squad at their Junior Evaluation camp in Lake Placid, but Teemu Pulkkinen scored a goal for Finland in their 5-3 loss to Team USA"s “white” squad;
• And RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau noted that 12 players who’ve taken part in the Wings’ prospect tournament in Traverse City over the past 14 years have played in 500+ NHL games, including Danny Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg;
If you’re comfortable with “repeats,” NHLPA.com’s Chris Lomon posted a very, very belated interview with Nicklas Lidstrom from the NHL Awards…
Ty Conklin: Ready for his second stint with Detroit, Ty’s value will be very low on draft sheets, especially due to his weak 3.22 GAA and .881 SP% last season. In 2009-10, he was 10-10-2 with a 2.48 GAA and .921 SP%. In his first stint with Detroit in 2008-09, he went 25-11-2 with a 2.51 GAA. Playing behind Howard, I think Conklin can earn 30 starts. Having him contribute from start to finish will also go a long way in resting Howard for the playoffs, something Detroit will need to do if they expect him to take the Wings even deeper than last season. Similar to Hedberg, Conklin will be very comfortable coming off the bench, especially against teams in the East.
Update: As a heads-up, NHL.com’s posting serious-ass season previews for each and every one of the NHL’s 30 teams this month, and they’re going to reach the Wings tomorrow. The stories usually hit between 12 and 4 AM and I’ll post ‘em in tomorrow’s “overnight report.”
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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.