The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/04/12 at 06:10 AM ET
Updated 3x with a Kyle Quincey story at 7:11 AM: The Red Wings’ players begin their participation in the World Championships at 5:15 AM EDT today, when team USA faces off against France (on NBC Sports), and after Jimmy Howard and Justin Abdelkader get their feet wet, the rest of the Wings’ participant—with the exception of Pavel Datsyuk (who you can continue to vote for in EA Sports’ NHL 13 Cover Vote until May 10th)—will be in action at various times today.
As IIHF.com’s John Sanful suggests in his Team USA preview, while Abdelkader will play a supporting role on the third line, the team’s expecting Howard to carry the mail in the crease:
Team USA has three strong goaltenders to choose from in Helsinki. Two are coming off impressive NHL campaigns and another who’s represented his country on the international level. Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard is in Helsinki and figures to play a key role for the Americans. Howard is a starting goaltender capable of carrying the load, should he have to throughout the tournament. In three full seasons with Detroit, Howard has registered 109 wins. As a collegiate player, Howard starred for the University of Maine Black Bears.
Richard Bachman may also see some time. Bachman’s season has been a revelation. After injuries and inconsistency plagued the Dallas Stars goaltending, Bachman was given a chance and earned the job as the Stars’ backup goaltender. John Curry will be making his national team debut. He was a member of Team USA entries at the 2007 (where the Americans finished as runner-up) and 2011 Deutschland Cups in Germany.
IIHF.com’s Andrew Podnieks also points out that Tomas Tatar will play a larger role for Slovakia’s offense than one might assume:
The biggest name among the forwards in surely Miroslav Satan, if for no other reason than he is the only player here who was on the 2002 gold-medal winning Slovak team. He’ll be joined by Juraj Mikus, Marcel Hossa, and Branko Radivojevic as those with plenty of experience.
But there are some other players whose inclusion is worth following, starting with Tomas Tatar. Drafted by Detroit in 2009, he’s being groomed by the Red Wings in Grand Rapids of the AHL. The 21-year-old left winger will learn plenty here in Helsinki, and he might just contribute more than a little bit as well.
We probably won’t see much of Petr Mrazek as he’s joining the Czechs as their third goalie, but it’s obvious as all hell get out that Pavel Datsyuk will be counted on as one of Russia’s prime-time performers, and Valtteri Filppula’s one of only four NHL’ers and 3 NHL skaters on Team Finland—Filppula, Mikko Koivu, Jussi Jokinen and Kari Lehtonen represent the NHL’s only contribution in terms of active players participating in the tournament for the country which will host the medal rounds—so while Filppula told Expressen’s Adam Eriksson that the Swedish press’s mocking headlines about the “little brother” about to be ran over by its most bitter rival this side of Russia in Team Sweden were…cocky…And he told Ilta Sanomat’s Vesa Laakso that he’s ready to contribute offensively while playing on Koivu’s wing (my Finnish is terrible, but Filppula did state that playing on left wing instead of center allows him to focus on one-on-one match-ups while pressing without being a defensive liability)...Filppula’s Finns are in tough against the star-studded Russians and Swedes, though any tournament which involves single-game elimination and wins determined by shootouts does indeed mean that “anyone can win.”
It’s here that I need to interrupt the narrative flow here bluntly admit my limitations.
As a one-man show with a few pals who are willing to help with translation, and with Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen, Calle Jarnkrok, Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg playing for Sweden, plus more players speaking to foreign-language media even in the English-speaking Howard and Abdelkader, Filppula talking in the nearly indecipherable language that is something from the Caucuses Mountains somehow taken root in Scandinavia (and Estonia), Tatar talking in Slovak, Datsyuk in Russian and Mrazek in Czech…
There is no way in hell that I’m going to be able to monitor everything that these players say, never mind try to translate it all and get the details to you in a timely fashion while also capturing the minutae of their commentary with complete accuracy. I’ll do my best to get as much to you as I can, but…Even with assistance, there’s just so much going on over the next sixteen days that I’m not sure if five separate bloggers who speak English, Swedish, Finnish, Russian, Czech and Slovak would be able to snag everything and pump it all out in English for you.
This, “It’s really hard to catch it all” factor is especially true for the Swedish press—which should remind us all why Henrik Zetterberg’s status as one of the Red Wings’ assistant captains and possible future captain has nothing on the scrutiny the “next Peter Forsberg” is facing as Sweden’s alternate captain and the team’s first-line center (he’ll play between Loui Eriksson and Johan Franzen; Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall will constitute the team’s first defensive pairing), never mind his and Emma Andersson’s status as the “David and Victoria Beckham of Sweden” off the ice.
Seriously, Zetterberg’s getting talked up at a level that must make playing in Detroit seem like playing in Timbuktu, and I’m not going to be able to give it all to you. The fact that I was absent for two practice days hurts my cause even more.
Thankfully, KK reader Adam Jurison sent me several articles regarding Zetterberg over the past few days, including an interview from SVT held on Tuesday…
Reporter: How do you feel? It isn’t long since you landed here in Stockholm
Z: A little tired. I landed two hours ago and went direct to the Globe (Stockholm arena) and put on my gear for the team photo.
Reporter: And the match you’re not going to play in because it wasn’t so long since you got here…
Z: It’s a little tight. I wasn’t here for terribly long before we left and it’s nice to come here and practice a little. Practice today, tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, then begin on Friday instead.
R: (People) always talk about the larger rink, so maybe you feel like you don’t have your game legs?
Z: No, I don’t think that. I don’t want to push too hard tomorrow and hurt anything, just enjoy it, but I’ll get to practice tomorrow. It’ll be an adjustment. It’s always an adjustment when you come to a bigger rink again, so we’ll see how it feels on Friday.
R: When you got knocked out of the NHL Playoffs the way you did, how long did it take before you felt like you wanted to take part in the World Championships?
Z: It didn’t take long at all. I felt good and healthy, and really wanted to keep playing despite the ending that we had in Detroit, so it didn’t take many days.
R: You had a whole season where you played every match behind you. How do you see it?
Z: It was the worst start in my career, actually. It was really hard the first 25-30 games, then it began to get a little better. Then after Christmas it felt good.
R: The thing that happened with Shea Weber in the playoffs, how do you feel that affected (influenced) you?
Z: It didn’t affect me at all. It hurt a bit but I wasn’t injured. So I don’t think it had any meaning and didn’t stear the last four games what happened at the end of the first.
R: The talk a lot about how Team Sweden (Tre Kronor) is playing a little different from how they did when you were with them the last time. How much do you feel the difference now?
Z: Not so terribly much. It’s going to be interesting over the next few days. It’s also nice that we have a few days that we can talk together and go through how we’ll play, but I don’t think there’s going to be any big problems. We have a good group here. Good leadership. We’re going to be ready when it starts.
R: How cool is it going to be to be with Team Sweden (Tre Kronor)?
Z: Very very cool. It’s been as you said six years since I could take part, so it’s always fun to come here and meet everybody around it and the guys on the team. And it’s on home ice, so that’s a little something extra.
R: They’ve talked a lot about that before. How important is it that it’s on home ice for the players?
Z: It’s cool. We had a meeting in August before we went away to our clubs and we went over a bit about what’s coming over the next two years, then it went how it went in Detroit, so I’m grateful to be able to come here and play on home ice.
An interview Zetterberg conducted with Dagens Nyheter’s Sven Gustavsson (click for a really nifty picture of Team Sweden’s team picture) on Wednesday…
Zetterberg’s Home - That Usually Means A Medal”
A ready superstar is home to play in the World Championships. That usually means a medal. Henrik Zetterberg has played in five WCs and taken four medals. He comes to this year’s WCs after playing all 82 regular season NHL games for the first time.
In 2008 Henrik Zetterberg was the world’s best hockey player. His play especially against Sidney Crosby when Detriot won the Stanley Cup was brilliant.
He also contributed strength to the unique double gold medals in the WCs and Olympics in 2006.
“What got you to accept a spot on the WC team?”
Z: I’m whole and healthy and really wanted to keep playing. I also felt that I could come and contribute something. We also have a strong team this year. It’s cool that those who have the chance are coming to play, especially now on home ice.
“How do you explain that you were able to play all 82 games?”
Z: I’ve maybe taken a little better care of my body, preparing a little better for the games. I also try to take care of my legs and groin a little better after the games.
In earlier seasons Zetterberg played both center and wing and on wing he was part of one of the NHL’s best pairs with the Russian Pavel Datsyuk, but this season he has only played center. Most often he’s played with Johan Franzen. It’s a Detroit duo for Team Sweden coach Pär Mårts to build on.
Both Loui Eriksson and Daniel Alfredsson have been named as a possible third forward on the line.
“There are many good players here and we’re going to test a good deal before we find the right combination. A big plus is that we have four days to train before the WCs. We’re going to work on a lot I think,” says Zetterberg.
On Monday it became clear that Erik Karlsson is going to reinforce Team Sweden. What do you think about that?
Z: “Unbelievably cool. It’s hard for me to see anyone winning the prize for the best defenseman. I have seen him many times and played against him. He’s an incredibly good defenseman. He’s a good player, quick and very offensive, so he’ll fit in well here.”
There’s now a new philosophy around the team with Pär Mårts in charge. What do you think about it?
Z: “Cool. It’s fun to skate,” answers Henrik with a smile across his whole bearded face. “The whole offensive plan to let us try things that gives us self-confidence is really cool.”
On the 82 game season Zetterberg had 22 goals and 47 assists. It’s a bit off from his best year in 08 when he had a fantastic 43 goals and 49 assists.
How do you rate your own season?
Z: “It was probably the worst start in my career,” answers Henrik, and thinks about a fall in which he rarely found the back of the net. “Up through December it was a catastrophe, then it changed and after the All Star break it went really good.”
The super talent from Njurunda is among the older players on Team Sweden, and as a leader with Detroit it’s clear that he’s going to take the same role with the WC team.
“Yeah, but it’s not something that I’m completely un-used to. I’m only 31 and played (in the U.S.) for 9 years, played in 3 Olympics and 5 WCs. So I’ve been a part of a lot. But the thing about being a leader is not something you walk around and think about.
As the true leading character that he is, he answers naturally like this on the role he’ll play for Team Sweden:
Z: “I play where they put me.”
On the fourth line too?
Z: “Yeah, there’s only ten matches so it’s best to accept the role you get and do the best you can with it. It doesn’t matter who you play with. You play for the team and for the country.”
When pressed to give his favorite to win the gold among the big hockey countries, he says
Z: “We’re definitely up there. Anybody can win against anybody, and the team that gets it together for three games wins.”
And the highlights of a video interview Zetterberg and Kronwall gave to SVT:
Reporter: With the WC premiere only two days away, we’re waiting for Team Sweden to finally begin winning. The team is gathered here along with some NHL players and it’s the NHL players that must turn the tide for this losing national team.
Kronwall: I believe above all that all of us that are coming from the NHL can come with a little more aggresiveness and (we can) change the routine, if I can say so.
Reporter: Is there a risk; everyone believes that the NHL players are going to lift the team, do you feel a lot of pressure?
K: No, but I think that we will have higher expectations. We know that we have a good team, but you have to do the job, too. That’s where it begins. We have to live up to the task, and see to it that everybody still works hard.
Reporter: The game against the U.S. yesterday was only the ending of a long string of losses. Six (losses) in a row is enough, but additionally the goal difference is 12-26. The six latest additions from the NHL are innocent so far. The question is if it’s not just the three (new) defenseman that are the most important (addition).
Kronwall: I don’t think that it’s such a big problem really. It’s not going to be playing right away with the team. It’s just a little bit with a bigger ice surface and working together more. It feels a little bit that with the practice the last few days that there’s a little more ice to face off on, so to speak, so I’ve got to try to get used to it quickly. It’s a little different playing this way.
Reporter: The new Team Sweden that practiced at the Globe today is on paper an excellent team, but without a winning track record. The NHL stars have just been knocked out of the playoffs.
Is it a pressure to feel that everyone thinks that you’ll solve things here?
Zetterberg: We have that every day so we’re used to it. We have it with our team, too, so it’s nothing new for us.
Reporter: How should you work on this in a mental aspect?
Z: Not directly. We’re so used to living with pressure as a part of our job, so there’s not going to be any difference here in a few days when we begin.
Reporter: Are you nervous?
Reporter: Is it going to be fun?
Z: Very cool.
Zetterberg told Expressen’s Mattias Ek that he at least knows Norway’s Martin Roymark as he’s played for Zetterberg’s Swedish alma mater in Timra IK, but there’s a sense that the Swedes are nervous about the fact that they don’t know the Norwegians very well.
Otherwise, in terms of Swedish article highlights?
Well, on Tuesday, the “Detroit Four,” as MLive’s Brendan Savage has called them, told Aftonbladet’s Emil Karlsson that they were indeed hoping to play with Daniel Alfredsson, but Karlsson reports that Alfredsson will play on the second line with Viktor Stalberg and Markus Kruger—though Calle Jarnkrok will center Gabriel Landeskog and Jakob Silfverberg on the third line instead of playing on the fourth—and after Zetterberg was named an alternate captain on Wednesday, Zetterberg told Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros that he and Franzen at least know Eriksson pretty well because they’ve faced his Dallas Stars regularly over the past two seasons—and, as Zetterberg told the Swedish news agency TT, it’s not as if Eriksson is anything less than a Wing-killer.
• I wish I could watch Zetterberg’s “Exclusive with Ekwall” interview, even in Swedish, but neither you nor I can watch TV4’s videos unless we live in Sweden;
• Zetterberg did tell ST.nu’s Maria Nordstrom that the Swedes would be playing a “more aggressive” style under coach Par Marts than the one the Wings employ (presumably due to the larger ice necessitating that you don’t get “lost” along the side boards—the Wings, to some extent, need to balance a net-front presence with a strong perimeter game because teams’ trapping defenses almost necessitate working it around the side boards to force defenders to chase puck carriers and open up spots for forwards to sneak into the slot), saying that he’s got a little more leeway to be creative when defensive mistakes don’t burn you as easily as they do in the NHL, and in classic Zetterberg fashion, he’s started to reiterate a Wings-like mantra in saying that everybody starts at zero wins today;
• The vast majority of Swedish websites, including Eurosport and Eurosport.se’s Henric Larsson, see the Worlds boiling down to Sweden versus Russia not only in their “grouping,” but overall, with the Canadians and Americans providing the other stiffest competition (the Finns are something of an underdog);
• Niklas Kronwall stated the obvious by telling Sveriges Radio’s Linn Nenzen and Michael Widerberg that he’s absolutely delighted to be playing in the World Championships alongside his brother, Staffan;
• Johan Franzen did tell SVT’s Sara Styllback that the team’s excited and raring to go ahead of their game against Norway today—but SvD.se’s Jan Bengtsson reports that it’s entirely possible that only 7,000 of the 13,8000 seats in the Globen Arena will be sold for today’s game;
• And yes, Niklas Kronwall did speak to Expressen‘s Jonatan Lindqvist about his famous checks, and here’s a very, very, very “quick and dirty” translation thereof:
Terror in the World Championship: to be checked by Kronwall
Gabriel Landeskog has seen players turn right around when he’s on the ice. Niklas Kronwall has the ability to intimidate players in the world’s toughest league.
Before the World Championship premiere Sport-Expressen met him for a detailed conversation about how he manages to lay waste to his opponents.
“Of course, it feels good. I personally believe that such hits can shift momentum in games,” said Kronwall
Niklas Kronwall has established himself as one of the toughest hitters in the NHL, to which Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog can attest.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone in the league who’s better at it right now. Everyone knows about him, in the locker room before games we always tell the right wingers to keep their heads up, everyone looks up to him. I’m on the left wing, maybe I should thank God for that,” laughs Landeskog, and continues: “I remember the last time we played in Joe Louis (Detroit’s home rink) this year. Steve Downie was away on Kronwall’s side and right as he got the puck, he turned, because you know [Kronwall] will [nail you].”
Niklas Kronwall himself makes no secret that he likes to dish out punishment. There are a couple which he’s particularly pleased with.
“The ones I had on Dany Heatley and Ryan Clowe in last year’s playoffs. They were good, hard hits.”
Kronwall’s hits have become a phenomenon which, among other things, have resulted in the YouTube phenomenon being “Kronwalled.” It consists of people posting videos where people are suddenly violently hit in everyday situations.
“I’ve seen it, it’s a little nutty.”
Do you watch your own hits online?
“Sometimes, especially when they’re borderline. With everything going on during games, and there will be a huge commotion and you don’t necessarily know what happened because you haven’t seen the replay. Then it’s easy to go online and check on YouTube afterwards.”
“Somehow I’ve managed to stay on the right side of things, though some have been iffy. Previously, I used to leave the ice, a few years ago I jumped right before the hit. But I’ve tried to adapt to the new rules.”
“It’s kind of fun”
Do the harsher judgments bother you?
“For me personally, I just try to not leave the ice, and I always try to keep my elbows down. But overall, I think that the level of discipline was really good this year, it was easier to see where the bar was located and you could almost predict how many games suspensions would be.”
“In the first round of the playoffs there was a little ‘High Chaparral.’ The Pittsburgh-Phildelphia series was crazy, it was almost insane. There may not have been suspensions, but there were so many damn penalty minutes. You rarely see that in a playoff game.”
Kronwall is aware that the level of difficulty increases at the World Championship in terms of checking on the open ice.
“I’ll have to change my game quite a bit. During the first practice, it felt as if I had to skate a couple of yards to be in the right place. It’ll be a different game from the one I’m used to.”
But that won’t stop him from trying.
“Sometimes there are collisions. That’s a part of hockey and I think it can be fun.”
In other languages...
• Petr Mrazek told Hockej.cz’s Vaclav Jachim that he’s really “just happy to be there” as the Czechs’ third goalie, especially as he’s friends with fellow goalie Jakub Stepanek (I believe Mrazek’s sister is Stepanek’s girlfriend). He suggests that being able to play in the World Juniors and then soak up experience at the Worlds in the same season is amazing for him, and that he’s excited about getting to meet the Wings’ Swedes and especially talk to Jimmy Howard when the Czechs and Americans play as he knows that he’ll be spending next year with the Wings’ organization.
Mrazek also spoke to CTK, saying that he arrived in Prague with everything but his own clothes (goalie gear, yes, underwear, no), and that while he only knows Milan Michalek and Stepanek, he’s excited to hang out with the NHL’ers, KHL players and other “adults,” as well as meeting Peter Nedved, who he’s been reminded is old enough to be Mrazek’s father!
• And in Russian, Sport-Express’s Nikita Lukyanov reports that Pavel Datsyuk didn’t join the team’s ranks until they arrived in Stockholm on Wednesday, and Sovetsky Sport notes that they didn’t fully practice together until Thursday.
This translation’s even rougher than my Swedish, and I’m sure that Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov will translate it and reveal intricacies and nuances that I can’t, but here’s what I can give you:
Russian national team forward Pavel Datsyuk: I don’t age, I grow more experienced!
33-year-old Pavel Datsyuk gave an interview to Sovetsky Sport—one of the most outstanding players on the Russian team, along with Evgeni Malkin, but he winces when he’s called a star. As part of the “Straight Line” feature, Datsyuk spoke to hokey reporters and answered readers’ questions from Sovsport.ru.
“Emotions should be protected”
“What do I expect from the World Championship?” Pavel Datsyuk asks, surprised. “We came here for gold. And the emotions…they should be protected.”
Question: What were you doing when the Wings ended their season? You took a break to figure out whether to attend the World Championship…
Datsyuk: “I was waiting for my physical to go through with Detroit,” and the team held meetings. Once I was freed up, I let [Russia] know I was ready to join the team.”
Question: You came to Stockholm on May Day. Did you fly from Detroit with your teammate, Henrik Zetterberg?
Datsyuk: “No, we took different flights. How did I spend the day until the team arrived? To be honest, I didn’t find anything to do in Stockholm. I flew all night. I didn’t have much energy left. So I tried to hold out till 9 at night and fell asleep.”
Question: You practiced on a line with Evgeni Kuznetsov. Do you see his potential?
Datsyuk: “I saw Kuznetsov at the World Junior Championships. He was spoken about in glowing terms. But it’s hard to make serious conclusions after the first practice.”
“Will continue conversations with Bryzgalov about space”
Question: They say you’ve got a very small hotel room.
Datsyuk: “I lived for 20 years in 50 square meters, which was proudly called a ‘three-room apartment.’ Cramped quarters don’t frighten me. That was my take after my arrival. Everyone understands that we’re not here to stay in hotels. We have to show what we’ve got on the ice.”
Question: How important is having a roommate on the road to you?
Datsyuk: “To each his own. Some like to chat, others like to quietly collect their thoughts before games. I think it doesn’t matter who your roommates are. We all live on the same floor. Let’s gather in a common room to talk.”
Question: Even in most of the game? Maybe you’ll come out with Malkin on the same line.
Datsyuk: To go out and play? Then it’s not about talking, it’s about the atmosphere in the locker room and on the ice. Actually, I have an idea. Maybe to have our best efforts, every day we should change roommates,” Datsyuk says, grinning.
Question: I can’t imagine how you lived with Ilya Bryzgalov at the 2010 Olympics. He rambled yesterday, when he was talking to a journalist and he began talking about who performed better in space, Russian or American monkeys.
Datsyuk: “When we were in Vancouver we didn’t speak about the cosmos. But next season, Detroit will host the Winter Classic. We have to show ourselves like Bryzgalov did (Ilya became famous on the TV series about hockey HBO aired when he was asked to talk about the structure of the universe—Editor). Read more books and talk about the structure of the galaxy and celestial bodies.”
Radul in order
Question: Why did Detroit lose the series to Nashville in only five games? Experts believe that the composition of the Red Wings is hopelessly out of date, and that it’s time to rejuvenate the team.
Datsyuk: “This is repeated every year. Like, ‘Detroit is old and no longer the same’...Yes, the playoffs turned out to be a misfire. But at the time, Nashville was much fresher than we were. They were hungry and wanted to win more. That’s one of the most important reasons.”
“And the main one—we made mistakes, not the kinds we make in Detroit, especially in the playoffs. And we paid for it. In the most important games, you shouldn’t be allowed to make chlidren’s mistakes in your own zone. Nashville pounced upon them. And we couldn’t beat one more Tretiak (which Datsyuk christened the Predators’ goalie, Pekka Rinne—Editor).”
Question: What did you think of Alexander Radulov?
Datsyuk: He played well, he was one of Nashville’s best forwards.
Question: We ask because Radulov’s now being showered with criticism. Roenick and Jones called him the worst player on the Predators.
Datsyuk: “I can only speak for the series he played against the Red Wings, but I can assure you that Radulov was in order.”
Question: Now the Swedish national team is a small “Detroit.” Are you betting with Zetterberg and Franzen?
Datsyuk: “You said ‘wigs?’ I never wore one,” laughs Pavel. “In general, the ‘Wings” sent good guys to Stockholm. Just four of the Swedes are from Detroit! I’m sure that on the ice it will be very easy to understand each other.”
Question: Malkin said he didn’t know who was playing in our group in Stockholm. Do you know?
Datsyuk: “I heard that the Swedes, Czechs, Norwegians, Germans and Latvians. And the hotel has lots of Italians. In general, I wandered around the arena, looked at the locker rooms and the nameplates.”
“I was the oldest when I was 26”
Question on file: Who’s the oldest player on Team Russia?
Datsyuk: “I wanted to say [coach] Bilyaletdinov. But you said ‘player’”...
Question: So who is it?
Datsyuk: “It can’t be!”
Question: Yes, you are.
Datsyuk: “A passport’s needed to be checked in at the border. And anyway, you asked me the question wrong. Incorrectly.”
Question: How do you want to be asked?
Datsyuk: “Who is the most experienced player on Team Russia? Incidentally, at the 2003 World Championships in Finland, under Vladmir Pljuschev, I was the oldest forward on the team. And I was 26! So I’m not used to this role.”
Question: Time flies, doesn’t it.
Datsyuk: “That’s right. The main thing for me is to keep up with the youngsters…”
“Oh well, you raised the subject. I wanted to think about something sweet for my after-dinner nap. Now the dream’s disappeared. I’ll toss and turn and fidget,” Datsyuk sighed.
Question: Head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said he wants to pair Kuznetsov and Malkin. That Datsyuk will help [Kuznetsov]‘s level of play rise. Doesn’t the trio remind you of the famous line in Detroit, Zetterberg-Datsyuk and Brett Hull? Then they’d call you the old goat and the two young kids.
Datsyuk: “You have a good comparison, guys. Maybe on the first day I’ll cross you off the list of people who I’ll give interviews to,” says Datsyuk, solemnly. “But seriously, in my heart I’m younger than Hull in those years. Young guys will give me more energy.”
“Lady Byng left me”
Question: You said once in an interview with Sovetsky Sport that you hadn’t yet done anything for your country…
Datsyuk “I said it differently. Nothing was gained for my country. It’s clear that I tried, but the result didn’t happen.”
Question: A silver at the 2010 World Championships in Koln…Isn’t that an achievement?
Datsyuk: “Maybe i remember it because I never won gold. But all the rest are kept in mind, just as what happened with the Czechs the first time.”
Question: They say that silver loses, and bronze wins. Is it true that athletes place a higher value on a medal for third place?
Datsyuk: “I think so. From the bronze medal there isn’t such a bad aftertaste. But I insist that it’s better to win gold.”
Question: For players to get to the Triple Gold Club, which includes Stanley Cup winners, Olympic Gold winners and World Championship winners? When one’s career is over, to look at their trophies…
Datsyuk: “Oh, and now from talking about my age, my career’s over?” Datsyuk said.
Question: What about after 20 years?
Datsyuk: “When you’re playing for the ‘triple,’ you don’t think about that. You want to win everywhere. The Olympics are the most important trophy for any hockey player. The Stanley Cup is too cool. This is what it’s about, to win all the prizes. Do I really need 50 years to chase after pucks, like Chris Chelios?”
Question: When the nominations for NHL trophies came out, you weren’t nominated for the “Lady Byng Trophy,” even though you’ve won the award four times.
Datsyuk: “Windy Byng was a girl, who left me. On the one hand, it’s bad. On the other, very good.”
Question: And what good is that, that you become a major league bachelor again?
Datsyuk: Previously, I wrote speeches on two pieces of paper, when I came to the ceremony, and then hid them in my tuxedo. Now if I’m lucky enough to win the “Selke Trophy,” I’ll only have one thing on the stage.
“If not for hockey, I would become a correspondent for Sovetsky Sport”
At the end of the interview with Pavel Datsyuk, we asked him questions from the famous Marcel Proust questionnaire.
Question: The quality that you most value in a man?
Datsyuk: “Men’s friendships.”
Question: And in a woman?
Question: Your favorite activity? Hockey?
Datsyuk: “That’s my job. And my occupation—fishing.”
Question: Your main quality?
Question: Your idea of happiness?
Datsyuk: “I can’t answer. I don’t know what happiness is. Maybe I never had it. Very close to it when my child was born.”
Question: If you didn’t do what you do, what would you like to be?
Datsyuk: “A correspondent for Sovetsky Sport.”
Question: Favorite fictional character?
Datsyuk: “Dr. Bender. And Transfiguration.”
Question: What makes you feel disgusted?
Question: Which historical figure do you have the greatest sympathy for?
Datsyuk: “Winston Churchill.”
Question: Your favorite saying?
Datsyuk: “Be good and throw it into the water.”
“Babbling, it’s enough to write questions!”
Question: Fans have left questions on the editorial page of Sovsport.ru. The man nicknamed vitebvb09 wondered why Detroit collapsed at the end of the playoffs, after winning a slate of 23 astonishing victories at Joe Louis Arena?
Datsyuk: “We were showered with injuries. Had a hard time without our leader. We took off chasing each other. And closer to the playoffs, it turned out that those who played all season were already gorged on hockey. There was no freshness in our most important games.”
Question ET asks for advice. “You recommended the book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, but I didn’t like it. What else do you recommend to read?”
Datsyuk: “Maybe Babcock? Just kidding, no need to…Find the book, Balm for the Soul. I don’t remember who wrote it, but if “Monk” didn’t go well for you, I’ll still give you a better book! There’s half of the letters!”
Question: What is it, the meaning of life?
Datsyuk: No, just little interesting stories.
Question from 8084Alex: Are you using a stick that’s built by Alexander Gulyavtsev?
Datsyuk: “It’s very rare. All goalies have caught onto it already.”
Question from Kinder85: Detroit, is it a city of contrasts?
Datsyuk: “Well, you could say so. it’s easy to find contrasts, finding myself in different areas of our city. One of the centers of the United States that experienced the financial cricis most strongly. And judging by the way Detroit played this season, too, I can think of contrasts.”
Question: Here someone else asked about Gulyavtsev..
Datsyuk: “Ghoul, stop asking me questions! You’re the head coach in Perm, stop advertising for yourself!”
Question from Nkz: Is there at least some chance that in 2014, when your contract ends with Detroit, that you’ll move to the KHL?
Datsyuk: “I do have a dream. I do want to return to Russia. But fans will correctly say: ‘Do you need a will we? If I’m in demand, I’d be happy to come to the KHL. Or I might appear in the next season if there is an NHL lockout.”
Question: Do you follow Motorist from your home city in Yekaterinburg?
Datsyuk: I got my news from friends. Was there a problem? Motorist was always the cause. There used to be a tradition, but in the last 15 years I’ve tried to forget about them diligently.
Question: Sovetsky Sport wrote about how some children came to their coaches who forbade them from school in the sections of Pavel Datsyuk’s master classes. Did that article affect you?
Datsyuk: “There were so many comments, and it was as if I needle in a haystack fell. I doubt that mere words can push off the situation from a dead space.”
Question from EvgeniyS: You wouldn’t want to open, when your career is over, a school for children named after Pavel Datsyuk?
Datsyuk: “Maybe that’s my plan. Although I doubt that I will coach.Right now I’m specializing in absentia in ‘Sports Management.’ In order to properly organize a boarding school in Yekaterinburg. It’s still in my plans.”
Okay, back to English: For the record, the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones is covering the Worlds, and he reports that the Finns only have 4 NHL’ers because there’s a belief that Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen doesn’t appreciate them;
• And the Grand Rapids Griffins issued a press release highlighting their alumni taking part in the World Championship:
Nine current and former members of the Grand Rapids Griffins will compete at the 2012 IIHF World Championship in Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden, beginning tomorrow and concluding on May 20.
A current Griffin will compete in the tournament for the third consecutive year, as Tomas Tatar will make his second-ever appearance at the event for Slovakia. Tatar had two goals in six games for his country in the 2010 World Championship and also logged 16 points (10-6—16) in 13 games for Slovakia at the 2009 and 2010 World Junior Championships.
Five of the eight Griffins alumni at the event played with the parent Detroit Red Wings this season, including Finland’s Valtteri Filppula (2005-07), Sweden’s Jonathan Ericsson (2006-09) and Niklas Kronwall (2003-06), and the USA’s Justin Abdelkader (2008-10) and Jimmy Howard (2005-09). The quintet will be joined by three more of their Red Wings teammates in Pavel Datsyuk (Russia), Johan Franzen (Sweden) and Henrik Zetterberg (Sweden).
Joining Tatar on Slovakia is Florida’s Tomas Kopecky (2002-06). Other former Griffins slated to compete are Italy’s Derek Edwardson (2004-05) and Norway’s Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (2009-10). Also in attendance is Czech Republic goaltender Petr Mrazek, a fifth-round pick (141st overall) of the Red Wings in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft who played for the OHL’s Ottawa 67s this season and is eligible to join the Griffins in 2012-13.
Brian Burke believes Jimmy Howard could help the U.S. to a strong worlds showing. “Our goal is to change our fortunes here,” said Burke.
In terms of news a little closer to home, Wings prospect Tomas Jurco and his Saint John Sea Dogs will kick off their QMJHL championship series against the Rimouski Oceanic tonight in Saint John, New Brunswick, and Yahoo Sports’ Neate Sager is picking Saint John to win in 5 games;
• There’s no doubt that Darren Helm would have played for Team Canada had he not suffered lacerated tendons in his right wrist via a skate cut from Predators forward Alex Radulov, and the Free Press’s Helene St. James duly noted that Helm will be signing a new contract with the Wings sometime this summer (as will fellow restricted free agents Justin Abdelkader and Kyle Quincey):
Helm, 25, is a restricted free agent, but given his importance to the team—in addition to being excellent defensively, he has shown he can contribute 10-12 goals a season—he’s due to get a raise. Helm made $1 million this past season, slightly more than the $912,000 salary-cap hit he averaged the previous two years. He should come closer to $1.75 million per season on his next deal. The Wings count on Helm for speed and energy, and coach Mike Babcock bemoaned Helm’s absence in March and in the playoffs as devastating to the depth.
“Prior to our injuries, I thought we had a good group, I thought we were playing hard, and we were playing well,” Babcock said. “But I don’t think we ever scored again after we lost Darren Helm. We lost a ton of guys at that time, but Helmer gave us—we won a lot of games this year because our third line was just flat-out better and wore down the other team and kept coming. And he’s a huge part of our team. We’re not as deep as we used to be. It’s very apparent. I was concerned coming into the (Nashville) series that we weren’t deep enough up front. I was thrilled to death when I got the news that Helmer was coming back, and that lasted 3 minutes and 48 seconds or something like that.”
Helm, who had a sprained medial collateral ligament in March, suffered a deep gash above his wrist when he was cut by the skate blade of Predators forward Alexander Radulov in Game 1 of the series.
“I was pretty devastated,” Helm said, “but doctors say I’ll make a full recovery, so I have to be positive about that.”
Helm is learning to get by “with help from family and friends,” he said, while he’s stuck wearing a contraption that involves having his fingernails knotted to string to aid his recovery.
Speaking as the Wings cleaned out their lockers four days after losing in the first round of the playoffs, Helm said he planned to head home to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and start his off-season conditioning as soon as he’s able.
• According to Business2Community.com’s Felicia Dorng, the Red Wings may have the strongest relationship with its audience in terms of Twitter and Facebook followers, but she believes that they’re the NHL’s 5th-best team in terms of doing its Social Media job;
• And finally, this is a few weeks old, but We All Bleed Red on YouTube uploaded a very cool clip from Ron MacLean and Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner, in which MacLean pays tribute to Brad McCrimmon:
Update: From Ryan, here’s what Franzen and former Wing Olle-Kristian Tollefsen had to say to SVT:
Tonight begins the WCs at home for Team Sweden, which has lost their last six matches. Just like last year Sweden meets Norway, and last year it was a loss.
Franzen: It’s a good a team, and they get better every year, so we’ve got to be firing on all cylinders.
Norway’s Olle-Kristian Tollefson has a clear tactic
O-K T: We’re going to think about our game and not so much about Sweden’s. We might not get as much pressure in their zone and so we’ve got to be good in our zone.
Franzen, who decided to play for Team Sweden in the WCs when his Detroit team went out of the playoffs in the quarter finals is anxious.
Franzen: There’s a lot of good people, interesting young players and a lot of good veterans too. It looks like a good mix, so it’ll be really cool.
Jhonas Enroth is going to be the Swedish goalie at the match at the Globe, which begins at 8:15 p.m. (Stockholm time).
Update #2: Cleaning out my search engine monkeys’ haul over the past three days:
• The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan reports that Danny Cleary’s knee surgery is slated for Tuesday, May 8th:
Danny Cleary has a date for his knee surgery. General manager Ken Holland said Cleary will have surgery on his left knee May 8, a procedure which should get Cleary into training camp healthy and ready to play in September.
“He’ll have it next week and he should be good to go,” Holland said.
Cleary slumped to 12 goals in 75 games this season and didn’t score a goal in five games during the playoffs.
The knee pain clearly seemed to have an effect.
Cleary said after the season it was difficult to talk from November, he was walking with a limp, and the fluid build-up and torn ligaments caused consistent pain.
• I’m not allowed to comment on Aaron Downey’s doofy suggestion to the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts about the prospect of banning any and all hits to the head in the NHL:
Downey thinks the NHL should consider dropping the instigator rule, which calls for a two-minute minor penalty in addition to a major penalty for players who start a fight, as a way to eliminate head shots. He believes if players know they would have to answer a challenge to fight if they targeted someone’s head with a body check that the problem would diminish.
Downey, who admitted to more than one concussion during his NHL career, said the injuries were not the result of illegal hits or blows that should have been illegal. He said he documented all of his injuries during his hockey career and blamed himself for his concussions, saying they came when he “wasn’t 100-per-cent focused as a warrior.”
• Speaking of “warriors,” where’s Chris Chelios these days? Taking part in a Kid Rock cruise in the Bahamas (seriously);
• In more serious but perhaps no less humorous news, the Oakland Press’s Monica Drake reports that Red Wings Alumni Association member (seriously) and comedian Dave Coulier will be holding a charity comedy show at 8 PM on Saturday, May 12th at Dame Preparatory in Pontiac, MI;
• For the record, here’s a quip from USA Today’s Kevin Allen’s Team USA World Championship preview, citing 5 reasons why the U.S. could win the tournament:
2. Jimmy Howard was a top-10 goalie in the NHL this season. He was sixth in wins (35) and in goals-against average (2.13) . His save percentage of .920 is good. “In this event, he can be a difference maker,” [USA Hockey assistant GM Jim] Johannson said. “Howard has the ability to keep you in the game every night and we have guys who can and will score.”
• And I won’t have to quote from ESPN’s Craig Custance’s Insider blog to state what he does rather bluntly: unrestricted free agents-to-be Dustin Penner, Bryce Salvador, Francois Bouillon, Alex Semin, Matt Carle and yes, even Mike Knuble have raised their stock as potential unrestricted free agents-to-be via their playoff performances.
Update #3: As usual, MLive’s article for the day doesn’t post till 7 AM EDT. Here’s Brendan Savage speaking to Kyle Quincey about pressing the re-set button in September:
“This is my first time being traded in the middle of the year,” said Quincey, whose only other NHL trade was from Los Angeles to Colorado in July 2009. “There’s a huge transition and just coming in fresh next year with training camp and seeing where you fit in from the start hopefully will feel a lot better. It’s a different role (after a trade). You come here and you have to find your new role. Every team you go to, you’re going to be in a different role. That’s part of the game. That’s why they pay you.”
“After a while, you kind of see where you fit in,” Quincey said. “The power play, penalty kill was a bit thing for me. Special teams are where I fit in here most. Third and fourth line in the playoffs. You know your role. You come to the rink every day and you know what you have to focus on.”
The Red Wings reacquired him just before the trade deadline last season in a three-team deal with Tampa Bay and Colorado. The price tag was steep – Detroit’s first-round draft pick this summer – and that coupled with the fact that the Red Wings went 7-10-4 after the trade didn’t exactly make Quincey a fan favorite in many circles. In 18 regular-season games with the Red Wings, Quincey had two goals, one assist, 29 penalty minutes and an even plus-minus rating. In five playoff games, he had two assists, six PIM and was minus-2. The five-game loss to Nashville in the opening round of the playoffs wasn’t easy to accept.
“Walking in today was really hard to swallow,” he said when the Red Wings cleaned out their lockers four days after they were eliminated. “It’s hard watching all these teams. You know we should be playing still. Give (Nashville) credit. They played us really well. They knew how to play us and they did exactly what they should do. You have to tip your hat to them.”
As for next season, Quincey doesn’t know what to expect. The Red Wings could be losing two of their top defenseman as captain Nicklas Lidstrom is considering retirement and veteran Brad Stuart might leave via free agency. And speculation is they’ll go hard after Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter if he decides to test the free-agent market.
“That’s the rumor I’ve been hearing,” Quincey said. “Obviously, he’s a great player. That would be really exciting. Just because of all the decisions some guys have to make, I have no clue (what to expect). Your guess is as good as mine.”
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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.