The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/05/12 at 09:10 AM ET
Red Wings prospect Petr Mrazek and the Czech World Junior team didn’t exactly finish where they’d hoped to at the World Junior Championships, but they ended the tournament on a winning note via a non-televised, 5-2 win over Slovakia (whose Tomas Jurco sat out due to a hip flexor injury) in the fifth place game. Mrazek stopped 29 shots. Mrazek put things bluntly while speaking to the Calgary Herald’s Bryce Forbes...
“If somebody would have told us before the tournament we would be fifth place, we will take it,” he said. “But it’s a little disappointing after the Russian game.”
And NHL.com’s Aaron Vickers:
“We would’ve been happy before tournament, but now we’re not happy because we wanted a medal,” said Radek Faksa, who was named player of the game for the Czech Republic after scoring the game’s opening goal.
Goaltender Petr Mrazek, who could be in line to earn the tournament’s top goalie honor, agreed[:] “If somebody told us before the tournament we would be fifth place we’ll take it, but it was a little difficult after the Russia loss (in the quarterfinal).”
The spirited Czechs got a shot past starter Juraj Simboch before Slovakia could manage a shot on goal. Seconds after Tomas Hertl missed a one-time opportunity while staring at an empty net, Faksa hammered a shot over the right shoulder of the Slovak goaltender to make it 1-0 just 5:45 into the game. The goal came a full two minutes before Slovakia’s first offering on Mrazek, a shot from outside the blue line at 8:10.
“I saw it was a free puck so I shot for the first time and I didn’t see it,” said Faksa, named the player of the game for the Czechs. “I just listened to the fans. I was excited. It was important because we were a little nervous because it’s Slovakia.”
Petr Holik made it 2-0 at 13:37. Taking a pass from Petr Straka in the slot, Holik fired the puck over Simboch’s glove to give the Czechs a two-goal lead. They added another before the period was out. With both Marko Dano (goaltender interference) and Adam Janosik (cross-checking) whistled for infractions on the same sequence, the Czechs went to work quickly with the two-man advantage. Vojtech Mozik wired a low shot past Simboch’s glove with 3:14 remaining for a 3-0 lead.
Mrazek, who faced an average of 35.4 shots in his prior five games, had to stop just six shots in the opening period—three of them from outside the blue line.
“There were a couple of tough shots there, I had luck,” Mrazek said. “We played very well the first 15 minutes.”
Both the Canadian Press and IIHF’s recaps offer no quips, there are no highlights available, and while the Calgary Herald also posted an 8-image photo gallery from the game, the Calgary Sun just posted a 10-image gallery as their writers are preparing for today’s Bronze medal game between Canada and Finland (3:30 PM EST, NHL Network U.S./TSN) and Gold medal game between Mattias Backman’s Swedes and Russia (8 PM EST, NHL Network U.S./TSN).
Again, Jurco didn’t play for Slovakia and Marek Tvrdon finished the game with 4 minutes in penalties, so they didn’t add to their stats (1 goal and 7 assists over the course of 5 games played for Jurco, and 3 goals and 1 assist over the course of 6 games played for Tvrdon) in the scoring department, but Mrazek finishes the tournament with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .9279 save percentage over the course of three wins and three losses.
Mrazek earned his share of raves over the course of the tournament, including one more plug from TSN’s Bob McKenzie during a World Junior Championships edition of the “NHL on TSN Quiz”....
Question: Which goalie would you want most in net for the gold medal game?
Bob McKenzie: Petr Mrazek. He was theatrical and that upset some people but he was lights-out good and he didn’t break down as badly as some of the other goaltenders did. There were times when Finland’s Sami Aittokallio dropped the ball and there were times when Russia’s Andrei Vasilevski dropped the ball against Canada. There was one game where Mrazek wasn’t great but I thought he was terrific.
Ray Ferraro: Vasilevski. The 17-year-old has carried Russia to the gold medal game. Yes in the semi-final, he had some uneven moments but when the Russians were easing their way into the tournament, this kid was standing tall for them. He’s going to be a first-round pick.
And the Left Wing Lock’s Sarah Lindenau looked back at Mrazek’s performance and his tendency to, erm, perform...
Petr Mrazek has become the star of the 2012 World Junior Championship. The 6-foot, 162 pound netminder has been the backbone of the Czech Republic team which eventually fell to the Russians eliminating them from medal contention. Mrazek’s most impressive outing was the 52 stop 5-2 victory over team USA sending them to the relegation bracket.
The 19 year-old goalie has become known for his exuberant on-ice celebrations following big saves or key goals for his team. But Mrazek has every reason to be excited with his team’s performance and his chance to represent his country. The Red Wings 5th round selection in the 2010 NHL entry draft wasn’t expecting to backstop the Czech’s after being barred from participating in the 2011 tournament due to a contract dispute with his former team, Vitkovice.
So while some have called his celebrations flamboyant, cocky, or even over the top, they have to remember the unfortunate political struggle that has kept Mrazek off the 2011 team. The contraversy centers around his decision to leave his homeland to play North American hockey in the OHL. Never one to mince words, Mrazek hasn’t been shy about expressing his frustration over his unfair exclusion last season.
“I was a little upset to not get to play (at the WJC),” Mrazek said in March of 2010. ”But it is their rules and their problem,” he said.
Mrazek, who signed a three-year entry level contract with the Red Wings earlier this season, will return to Ottawa of the OHL after the completion of the tournament and will have a chance to take the 67′s deep into the Memorial Cup playoffs. He’s expected to turn pro next season and will have a chance to earn a spot with Grand Rapids of the AHL. After his rapid progression the past two seasons, the Red Wings are hopeful that his competitiveness and natural athletic ability will eventually translate into an NHL career.
As did DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
[F]or now, whether or not Mrazek is the Wings’ heir apparent between the pipes, time will only tell. Yet for him to perform as miraculously as he did – and on such a big international stage – is quite impressive.
Prior to Thursday night’s consolation game against Slovakia, Mrazek had posted a 2-3 record with a 2.59 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and a shutout victory over Denmark. Mrazek has been so good that even in defeat the Czech goalie has earned Best Player of the Game recognition in losses to Canada (5-0) and Russia (2-1).
Besides Mrazek, the Wings have four other drafted prospects playing in the tournament, including Finland’s Teemu Pulkkinen and Slovakia’s Tomas Jurco. Both forwards are at the top of the tournament scoring list with Pulkkinen compiling six goals and four assists and Jurco collecting a goal and seven assists.
Jurco’s Slovakian teammate, Marek Tvrdon, has three goals and an assist in the tourney, while Swedish defenseman Mattias Backman has three assists and is a plus-5. Jurco, Tvrdon and Backman were all drafted by the Wings last summer in St. Paul, Minn.
After Mrazek’s performance last Friday, Joe McDonnell, the Wings’ director of amateur scouting, was elated, telling the Edmonton Journal, “When you have guys playing in the tournament, you hope that they show well and (Mrazek) was outstanding today. Actually, he was great every game he’s played in so far.”
Through 29 games with Ottawa, Mrazek is 16-7-4 with a 3.01 GAA and .909 save percentage.
And McDonnell also told the Edmonton Journal’s Farhan Devji the following about Mrazek’s future as it applies to the Thomas McCollum-Jordan Pearce equation:
McDonnell said Mrazek will turn pro next year, when he’ll “battle it out” with goaltender Thomas McCollum in Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.
Back in Detroit, the Red Wings took a much-needed day off after defeating the Dallas Stars in sloppy fashion on Tuesday, but the Wings’ beat writers took due note of the fact that Jiri Hudler has finally regained the form that the Wings hoped he’d display when he returned from Dynamo Moscow last season, as pointed out by the Free Press’s Helene St. James....
He has scored nine of his 11 goals over the past month, contributing his last two in Tuesday’s 5-4 victory at Dallas. After the game, coach Mike Babcock was effusive about Hudler.
“I think Huds in particular has really come on,” Babcock said. “It took him a month and a half, two months to really get going again, but he really seems to have confidence. He’s working so much harder. I thought he was excellent in the defensive zone tonight and made lots of good plays and was real good, obviously, offensively.”
The Wings knew Hudler, 28, could score: He had 23 goals in 2008-09, helping him land a two-year deal worth $5.75 million. He also attracted the attention of the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo, which lured him to Russia for a rumored $5 million. It went badly, and Hudler returned to the Wings for ‘10-11. That went badly, too.
“I don’t look back, never,” Hudler said as he stood in the locker room at American Airlines Center. Well, maybe a little: He acknowledged it’s a relief to see the puck go in again. “I feel pretty good since start of the season, but when you get into the season, for some players it takes you time to figure out, get the touch for the puck and all that, after long time off.”
Hudler has adapted to being the net-front presence on a line with Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula, setting screens despite being on the smaller side. Hudler’s first goal Tuesday came when he deflected a shot by Zetterberg off a skate.
“It takes your confidence level higher when you are in those battles, and when the guys shoot the puck and they score, it makes you feel good,” he said. “I’m just excited team is playing really well. I’m just happy.” Less cautious, too.
And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted that Hudler happened to change his approach to off-season training, which seems to have produced desired results (though Hudler bristles at the suggestion that any sort of UFC-inspired tweak was necessary to regain his form—and he might be right; it might have simply taken him longer than he’d anticipated to readjust to the NHL, to the point that last season was something of a write-off by the time he’d caught up again):
“I’ve felt good since the start of the season,” said Hudler, who took part in a rigorous offseason conditioning program that has had a positive effect. “When you get into the season, it takes time to get the touch (feel) of the puck after a long time off. I don’t look back.”
The line of Hudler, Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula has been consistent, with Filppula having a huge comeback season (13 goals, 20 assists).
Playing with players such as Zetterberg and Filppula, said Hudler, has been a prime reason for his resurgence.
“They’re world-class players,” Hudler said. “They see, and have a great feel for the game. I’m doing different things than I did before (more time in front of the net), and it’s been fun.”
Said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock: “He’s really come on. It took him a month or two to get going, but he seems to be confident and he’s working harder.”
The Red Wings made a personnel swap on Wednesday as well, sending Joakim Andersson back down to Grand Rapids and, in the afternoon, anyway, officially recalling Chris Conner from the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema took note of the Move...
Conner hasn’t played since breaking his left hand in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 13. In six games with Detroit, he has one goal, two assists and a plus-2 rating. All three points came in his last three games.
On Monday, Conner was reassigned to Grand Rapids, where he had seven goals and 16 assists in 20 games. He practiced Tuesday and Wednesday with the Griffins.
Earlier Wednesday, the Red Wings also officially reassigned center Joakim Andersson back to the Griffins.
Andersson made his NHL debut against the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 27, and went scoreless with a plus-1 rating in four games with the Red Wings. He received a season-high 10:07 of ice time in the Red Wings’ 5-4 win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
And I suppose you could argue that just as Babcock plans on giving Jakub Kindl another chance to steal his job back from Mike Commodore, Babcock’s going to give Conner one more chance to stick (and steal his job back from Cory Emmerton) before Jan Mursak returns from his conditioning stint this week, all while adding a little more speed to the mix this weekend, especially if Darren Helm and Tomas Holmstrom remain sidelined with groin injuries after today and tomorrow’s practices…
But I have a theory regarding this move that might be a little more simple, as noted by the Griffins’ website’s press release noting said recall:
The Griffins will travel tomorrow to Abbotsford [British Columbia] in preparation for two road games against the Heat on Friday and Saturday. Both games start at 10 p.m. EST.
If the Wings were going to make any sort of personnel move that didn’t involve asking a player to fly back from Western Canada, it had to be made on Wednesday. The fact that Conner, a Westland native, is back just in time to take part in the Wings Fathers’ Trip this weekend doesn’t hurt, either.
Looking at the bigger picture going forward, no pun intended to Hudler or Conner, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan penned a concise mid-season assessment of the pluses and minuses surrounding the Wings, and here are his “reasons to believe” that the Wings might not be reaching the “halfway point” of their season just yet:
Jimmy Howard: The goaltender is responsible for 24 of the 25 wins. There simply aren’t many goaltenders who have played better. Howard has been the best Red Wings player to this point.
No great teams: You can make a case for Boston being a tad better than anyone in the East. But in the West, no team has stood out, and Detroit is there with any contender (Chicago, San Jose, Vancouver) being mentioned as the best. If the Red Wings can secure home ice, it would give them an edge.
Trade deadline possibilities: The Red Wings have wiggle room to be major players at the trade deadline (Feb. 28) — be it another forward with size or scoring ability (Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu or Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky ), a defenseman (Carolina’s Bryan Allen ) or backup goaltender (New York Islanders Evgeni Nabokov ).
I included that last point to drive myself nuts…They’re the names that’ve been bandied about, and regarding Allen, who seems to injure Henrik Zetterberg (who, as Kulfan notes, has to crank up his scoring pace a bit) every time the Wings play against whatever team Allen plays on, I’d be stunned if he joins the Wings just out of spite.
That being said, as noted by many, many sources on Wednesday evening, Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray told the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott that any player not named Teemu Selanne or Saku Koivu is available from the Ducks (trumping a nice bit of news about Ruslan Salei’s son), though he told Elliott that he’s going to be trading players for players, not players for draft picks. I think that perked everybody’s ears up a bit.
Looking at an even bigger picture, unpleasant news version: I don’t know if there’s anyone who believes that Todd Bertuzzi should have to do anything other than surrender a significant chunk of his career earnings to one Steve Moore, but the CBC’s Michael Drapack revealed the scope of Moore’s lawyer’s demands while noting that Bertuzzi’s lawyer has dropped his client’s lawsuit against former Canucks coach Marc Crawford:
Moore hasn’t played since, and is suing Bertuzzi and Orca Bay, the parent company of the Vancouver Canucks, for about $38 million. Crawford is not named as a defendant in Moore’s suit. Now, Moore’s lawyer wants to know what prompted Bertuzzi to drop his lawsuit against Crawford.
“Hypothetically speaking, and by analogy, if the jury awarded $25 million, but there is an agreement that says we’ll take care of $20 million, that would be highly relevant,” lawyer Tim Danson said in Ontario Superior Court of Justice Tuesday in Toronto.
Geoff Adair, Bertuzzi’s lawyer, refused to confirm or deny there is any such agreement between his client and the Vancouver Canucks. Crawford’s liability falls to the Canucks as he was their employee at the time.
Bertuzzi will have to go to court next fall to deal with the civil suit, and I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but the fact that Moore’s lawyer’s held this case over for such an extended period of time in hopes of landing a uber-gigantic sum of money for himself and his client as opposed to settling for a smaller amount which would allow Moore to move on with his life creeps me out. Bertuzzi did something terrible and he should literally pay for it, but he’s been able to move on with his life, and Moore’s been stuck in suspended animation as a victim to whom monetary justice has been owed for almost seven years now.
That’s got to be an awful way to go, and I hope that Moore can find the kind of peace that Bertuzzi has with what transpired sooner than later, because as we’ve learned over the last seven years, neither the perpetrator or victim are anything more or less than what you and I are—human beings.
Looking at an even bigger picture, pleasant news version: As the Maple Leafs continue to plug the hell out of the concept that they should not only be the Wings’ opponent if Detroit does host a Winter Classic, but that they should in fact host the event themselves (expect more of this talk to occur when the Wings visit the Leafs on Saturday, especially given that it’s a Hockey Night in Canada game) and both Pro Hockey Talk’s Jason Brough, the Detroit Free Press and the Windsor Star continuing to suggest that a Wings-hosted Winter Classic is a “done deal” (methinks chickens unhatched should not be tallied)...
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff offered a thought about Windsor, Ontario’s status as an unlikely host for a future World Junior Championship—in light of the fact that Windsor’s hosting of the World Under-17 Junior Hockey Challenge was successful—that’s at least worth thinking about:
While events such as the CHL Top Prospects Game, Subway Super Series and OHL All-Star Game are definitely solid stepping stones to what will likely lead to a successful Windsor Memorial Cup bid when the OHL is next up to bat in 2014, any thought that this event could be the first step toward a world junior hockey championship being held here would be nothing more than a pipe dream.
That’s not meant as a knock against Windsor by any means, just a heaping dose of reality. Do the math, and it’s clear that the world juniors are no longer within our grasp. In recent years, the event has moved to NHL centres, rinks that seat upwards of 20,000, and it’s been drawing capacity crowds in places such as Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and even Buffalo. Estimates are that this year’s event in the two Alberta cities will bring in some $15-20 million.
Imagine how high the ticket prices would have to climb to earn that kind of dough at the 6,500-seat WFCU Centre. And some people balked at the $17 ticket prices for this event. With opportunities to go to Toronto or Montreal when Canada again hosts the world juniors in 2015, where do you think Hockey Canada will be headed?
“I think it makes it difficult,” [Hockey Canada marketing director Jeff] Beck said of Windsor’s chances. “The event has definitely grown to another level. I think it would be a tough one for a group like Windsor to approach.”
The thought of a combined Windsor-Detroit world junior bid is a nice one, but the IIHF has made it clear that it has no appetite for a cross-country host situation.
The Red Wings have expressed some interest in a world junior at Joe Louis Arena, and the best hope for Windsorites to see the world junior up close would be if Detroit makes a bid the next time USA Hockey is up as tournament. In fact, it’s safe to safe that’s likely our only hope.
That’d be interesting, wouldn’t it?
Regarding the World Junior Championships, Igor Larionov has made his way to Calgary to watch his Russian-born clients take part in the World Junior Championship final against Sweden today, and he spoke to the Calgary Herald’s George Johnson about the Russians’ style of play (he was at the World Under-17’s speaking to Duff earlier this week):
“I like it very much, the way they play,” critiques the former Detroit Red Wings star, long renowned a saavy, cerebral analyst of the sport. “When you watch them the whole tournament — and I’ve watched a lot of games … they’ve brought back a fast, exciting game to Russian hockey. Even that game against Latvia, when they showed that kind of skill, that’s how we played on the KLM line. One-touch passes, skating through the neutral zone, slowing down the game a little bit. All different aspects. That’s what I thought. This is like the greatest hockey. It brings back memories of when I played. It shows this game can still take people off the seats.”
Larionov, in his guise as player agent, sits in the small, semi-circular stands overlooking Rink 3 at Winsport Arenas on the eve of Thursday’s gold-medal game between Russia and Sweden. He’s watching two of his clients, the projected No. 1 pick in this year’s NHL dntry draft Nail Yakupov and defenceman Artyom Sergeyev, prepare for the most nerve-jangling night of their young lives.
What fascinates Igor Larionov, what fires his hope and imagination, is fast, skilled, compelling hockey. The style of game — Russia being the best example here — that enthralls old fans, the ones who remember the magic of he and his KLM linemates, and makes new ones.
“That’s who we play the game for. The trap … It used to be dump-and-chase, now it’s chip-and-chase. It’s not a favourite of mine. Yes, you’ve gotta play some defence, but at the same time you’ve got encourage the skill. (We need) patience of the coaches with these young men — doesn’t matter, Russians, Canadians, Swedes, Finns — to use all their strengths to bring the game to the next level.”
Now, after the mountain of hype and 10 days of competition, there is nothing beyond one game, two nations. A person would be hard pressed in pinpointing one player who’s been involved in more high-stakes clashes over a career than Igor Larionov. His countrymen, he advises, must put the exhilaration of Tuesday’s Canadian ouster behind them.
“Unfortunately,” he says, “yesterday’s game was yesterday. It’s yesterday’s news. So you’ve got to re-focus, get some rest and be ready for (Thursday’s) game. Because now you’ve got a chance, a once-in-a-lifetime chance, to be a world champion.”
I always like reading what Larionov has to think about the game…Big brain, big smarts, well-spoken, and I’m glad that Babcock’s Wings play more puck-possession hockey than anything else.
Also of Red Wings-related note: USA Today’s power rankings are determined by an 11-person panel and include rankings but not comments, and the first half of January’s rankings (they’re bimonthly at USA Today, not weekly) have the Wings sitting in fourth place among the league’s 30 teams, and both Jimmy Howard and Nicklas Lidstrom are tied for second place among their respective position’s rankings (i.e. goaltender and defenseman);
The CBC’s Tim Wharnsby offered the following observation in his slate of power rankings as well:
4. DETROIT RED WINGS (25-13-1) Too bad they can’t play all their games at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings lead the league with 15 victories at home. (Last Week: 6)
• I certainly don’t think he’s going to win the Jack Adams Award because he coaches the Red Wings, but the guy who would prefer that HBO leave him alone if the Wings do indeed host a Winter Classic earned a mention in ESPN’s Scott Burnside’s Jack Adams Award “trophy tracker”:
5. Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings: The Wings have the top plus/minus in the Western Conference, at plus-40, and are almost unbeatable at home, where they are 15-2-1. They’ll get a healthy dose of home cooking in the second half of the season, which is bad news for St. Louis and Chicago , etc. and while the team needs to be better on the road (it is 10-11-0 away from Joe Louis Arena), is there anyone who doesn’t think the Wings have the tools to still be playing come May and June? The fact that the demanding Babcock is still getting maximum point production out of his team after continued forays deep into the playoffs in recent years suggests he’s still got it going on.
• Via RedWingsFeed, former ESPN columnist and NHL Live host EJ Hradek gave a shout out to one of Mike Babcock’s favorite players to prod:
• I can only shake my head, however, at the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers’ comparison of Ryan O’Reilly and a player that Babcock never has to prod in Pavel Datsyuk, all while Chambers suggests that O’Reilly should win the Selke Trophy:
[O’Reilly’ leads Colorado with 29 points and leads the NHL with 55 takeaways. Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, a perennial all-star who won the Selke Trophy in 2008, 2009 and 2010, is second in the league with 54 takeaways.
“I’m just playing this game to win,” said O’Reilly, who also leads Colorado forwards in ice-time average, at 18:46. “Some guys on the team are saying, ‘You might be going (to Ottawa)’ and I’m like, ‘It would definitely be an honor.’ It’s definitely something that would blow my mind.”
O’Reilly is no Datsyuk, one of the world’s elite players, but the Red Wings center wasn’t this productive while approaching his 21st birthday and 200 career NHL regular-season games. O’Reilly, who joined Colorado as a 18-year-old, third-line defensive specialist in 2009, has already exceeded the 26 points he amassed in each of his first two NHL seasons. He is now the Avs’ top-line center and power-play specialist, in addition to playing with wingers Gabriel Landeskog and Milan Hejduk against the opponent’s top scoring line at even strength.
Why no, Datsyuk wasn’t…Because he made his NHL debut at 23 years of age, ten years ago, and around the 200-game mark, when Datsyuk was 25, he posted a 68-point season;
• In the alumni department, part 1: WXYZ’s Julie Banovic reports that Saint Clair Shores’ Nautical Mile pond hockey tournament, which was going to include Kirk Maltby as a grand marshal, will be postponed until February 10th as the ice isn’t deep enough on canals heading to Lake St. Clair to safely accommodate hockey players;
• In the alumni department, part 2: The Plymouth Patch’s Heidi Bitsoli reminds us that the Wings’ Alumni Association will play against the Detroit Moose at the Arctic Ice Arena in Canton this Saturday at 5 to raise funds for juvenile diabetes research;
• In the alumni department, part 3, via the Halifax Chronicle-Herald:
Hockey hall-of-fame goalie and two-time Stanley Cup champion Bernie Parent will be part of the 40th annual Sports Celebrity Dinner in Halifax in February. Parent backstopped the Philadelphia Flyers to two championships in the mid-1970s. He won back-to-back Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies in 1974 and ’75.
Parent will join former world heavyweight boxing champion Larry Holmes, hall-of-fame quarterback Warren Moon and former NHL great Chris Chelios at the event, Feb. 9 at the Cunard Centre in Halifax.
The Wings’ scouts tend to head to Quebec in February to scope out QMJHL-playing prospects, so that’s a convenient time for Chelios to head to the Maritimes;
• In the promotional department, Channel 95.5’s Mojo in the Morning is offering free tickets to Danny Cleary bobblehead night on January 12th;
• Danny Cleary suffered the same injury and Patrick Eaves is going through the same recovery process as Wings prospect Ryan Sproul, who suffered a broken jaw after taking a puck in the face, and the Sault Star’s Peter Ruicci offers an update on the Soo Greyhounds defenseman’s situation:
“He’s not able to eat yet and it’s tough for him. But every day is a little bit better and that’s all we can hope for at this point,” said Richard Rotenberg, who, in recent days, has spoken to Sproul’s father, Phil, and traded text messages with the 18-year-old player.
The six-foot-three, 190-pound Sproul suffered a fractured jaw when hit in the face by a deflected puck in a Dec. 28 home game against Sarnia. He spent that night in Sault Area Hospital, returned to his home in Mississauga the next morning and underwent surgery there later that day. A plate was inserted into Sproul’s jaw and he’s expected to miss the next 6-8 weeks of Ontario Hockey League action.
“He’s not able to talk right now and he’s probably in a lot more pain than he’s letting on,” Rotenberg explained. “Hopefully, within the next couple of weeks he’ll be able to begin eating again.”
For now, Sproul, who was enjoying an outstanding second season with the Hounds, is limited to fluids taken in through a straw. That includes meal replacement products, milk shakes, soup and water. A second-round selection of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Sproul has 10 goals and 16 assists in 37 games this season. He is also a team-leading plus-17.
“This is absolutely not easy for him to go through,” Rotenberg said. “The trauma of the event, the trauma of the surgery, not be able to eat and the pain he’s feeling — he’s a tough kid.”
Again, as a veteran of major oral surgery via a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (don’t look it up, it’s yucky: I had my uvula removed, my tonsils removed, my soft palate trimmed and my throat opening carved open), I can relate. It’s awful.
• I still can’t find a video of what happened after Steve Ott knocked Pavel Datsyuk into the Wings’ bench—Todd Bertuzzi knocked Ott into the bench, too—but RedWingsFeed posted a YouTube clip of what provoked Bertuzzi’s anger:
• I can only respond to this Twitter update by MLive’s Ansar Khan with, “Thank goodness that the Wings don’t have to face Mike Ricci II”:
With his 7-game suspension, Chicago’s Dan Carcillo will be sitting out next two games vs. Wings, Sunday and Jan. 14.
• And I hate to bring it up yet again, but I’m gonna be out of the office for most of the day on Friday due to an appointment that starts at 10 AM on Friday (which is very early for those of us who are up in the middle of the night), so I’m probably going to post an abbreviated Overnight or Morning report, and I won’t be back until the late afternoon or early evening. Sorry!
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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.