The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/07/12 at 06:51 AM ET
Updated 2x with a Franzen interview at 5:56 AM: SVT.se’s Marie Lehmann reports that Jonathan Ericsson will not play today, and Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros reports that he barely skated at all before leaving the ice in pain: After a “light” day at the World Championships on Sunday, the Red Wings’ Worlds participants will take part in a very, very busy day of games today, with Wings coach Mike Babcock taking in the Helsinki games
From the scheduling post (again, many thanks to MLive’s Brendan Savage for putting the “master plan” together) and adding in some new details, here’s today’s agenda, with all starts listed in Eastern Daylight TIme:
May 7: 9:15 AM—Canada vs. France; 10:15 AM—Czech Republic vs. Norway; 1:15 p.m. – USA vs. Slovakia (live on the NBC Sports Network); 1:15 p.m. – Denmark vs. Sweden
If you’re keeping score at home: Kyle Quincey will make his debut in the Canada-France game; Petr Mrazek is technically on the Czech roster, but he won’t be playing in goal; Jimmy Howard and Justin Abdelkader play for the U.S., though I’m not sure whether Howard will start as he’s played two games already; and Jonathan Ericsson (he’s injured and won’t play), Johan Franzen, Calle Jarnkrok and Henrik Zetterberg play for Sweden.
As usual, TMR readers and myself will post some streams in the comments section, but I’ll suggest to you that I’ve already gotten a website called firstrowsports.eu (add in the HTTP’s on your own), ye olde Justin.tv and a really fantastic website called livetv.ru/en (watch out for spyware) bookmarked, and while some streams have been jittery, I’ve been able to watch the Russians play on Russia 2, the Swedes play on TV4 and I’ve heard games called in Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and Finnish as well.
In terms of this morning’s media coverage, I really ended up covering the vast majority of Sunday’s Russia-Norway and Finland-Slovakia stuff in the Sunday post,and while the Swedish karaoke shenanigans were a lovely distraction, there’s a strange dichotomy going on in terms of my job:
As it turns out, juggling 40-something websites in Russian, Swedish, Czech, Slovak and Finnish is, as you might imagine, overwhelming and somewhat daunting,* but while player profiles and insightful player commentary pop up half the time, the other half of the articles being pumped out involve what you might expect from the NHL—various experts, columnists and talking heads weighing in and analyzing games and player personnel decisions, offering opinions that might interest you if, say, you knew that Leif Boork is the Don Cherry of Sweden, but add that up with the fact that Swedish newspaper websites sometimes choose to wait to update their day’s stories until 9 or 10 AM local time, and at least once the tournament got underway and the player profiles shook out like a pre-NHL playoff news explosion, things have settled down a bit.
Sunday evening’s news involved the fact that Henrik Zetterberg did not practice at Hovet Arena, but plans to play in today’s game against Denmark, but it appears that Jonathan Ericsson’s probably not going to play as a cross-check to the small of back, which caused bleeding at the very tippy top of his buttock muscle, has migrated down through the vast array of muscles, tendons and ligaments which attach to the base of the spine, and he’s now 50/50 at best for today’s game with a sore hip. Here’s what Ericsson had to say to Expressen’s Henrik Sjoberg in an article that popped up while I was writing this entry (very roughly translated, of course)
Here’s the truth about the star defenseman’s injury
He left with reported bleeding from his buttocks.
But Jonathan Ericsson’s sidelined by something completely different—which makes the star’s back injury more uncertain.
The SI-joint [sacroiliac joint] is what it’s called. My movement’s become stiff, and in some situations I can really feel it in my legs, and that’s what makes me worry that it will get worse if I continue [playing],” says Ericsson.
One of the Tre Kronor’s key defensive reinforcements left early in the opening game against Norway.
Jonathan Ericsson had to step aside with what was reportedly bleeding in his buttocks, and he also didn’t play against the Czech Republic.
“It’s not the buttocks, but instead the jets down there. the sacroiliac joint is built there,” he says.
Is there a nerve that makes it radiate into your buttocks?
“Yes, something like that. I’ve got an injury that feels tight and it becomes more sore when I tough certain things. I’ve had an MRI, but it didn’t show anything,” says Ericsson.
“It’s not a nerve”
He continues: “It’s better today. I received treatment and after each session, it felt better. And I’m supposed to try to skate on the ice in the morning (read: today).”
National team doctor Bjorn Waldeback: “He’s got an injury in an area where everything is connected. Then it hurts him. He’s been carefully examined. It’s a very common phenomenon that it radiates out from his back and so it’s not a nerve issue. No nerves are pinched in a visible way.
“Day-to-day regarding the injury”
The SI joint is the part that holds together the lower lumbar portion of the pelvis.
The joint is held together by several strong ligaments, which means that it moves in a way that is very small.
There is uncertainty over Ericsson’s injury, though nob one believes that it will keep him sidelined for too long.
“Day-to-day is the term that applies. It’s hard to say when he will play, but not against Denmark, though it’s more probable that he’ll play in the game after that,” says Waldeback.
I can speak to pain in what my physical therapist called my “iliosacral” area when I needed a long slate of physical therapy for back and hip flexor issues: literally, all the muscles, ligaments and tendons that affect the lumbar region of your back, the muscles that attach to your butt, your hip flexors and even some groin and abdominal muscles run through the SI joint (for once, I’d suggest heading over to Wikipedia for more background info), and if Ericsson got whacked so hard there that he suffered bleeding from his muscled, I s*** you not, he’s sore in every part of his musculature from his shoulder blades down to his knees (and to put things delicately and politely, everything isn’t just sore or achy—it hurts like a mother-you-know-what-er, and just bending over or reaching for certain things, like Ericsson says, can yield all sorts of pain from places where you didn’t know you had muscles and ligaments). The SI joint is that important, so it’s no surprise that Ericsson’s so damn hobbled.
The other news this morning involves the St. Louis Blues’ ouster from the NHL playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings as it applies to the Worlds’ teams player personnel:
• Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom reports that neither Patrik Berglund nor Alexander Steen are doing somersaults over the possibility of joining Team Sweden, but that hasn’t stopped the media corps from all but drooling over the possibility of adding the pair, and Aftonbladet’s Mats Wennerholm’s hoping that the Predators lose to Phoenix tonight so that goalie Anders Lindback and forward Patric Hornqvist might join the proceedings as well;
• In the Czech Republic, iDnes’s Michael Langr reports that Czech coach Alois Hadamczk hopes to add Roman Polak and/or Vladimir Sobotka (and if that means kicking Petr Mrazek off the team, so be it);
• And in Slovakia, the Slovak news agency TASR is dreaming by suggesting that Jaroslav Halak, who was apparently nursing an ankle injury that sidelined him for the vast majority of the Blues’ sweep-out, can miraculously heal and bolster the Slovaks’ goaltending.
I also need to note that, as Sportbox.ru’s Yevgeny Belousov points out, Pavel Datsyuk played with top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov and, on Sunday, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nikolai Kulemin (and the IIHF decided to adopt a different version of Cyrillic spelling, so you’ll see the name “Kulyomin” on his jersey), who replaced Sergei Shirokov on the line.
Datsyuk did score a goal on Sunday, and while his line isn’t exactly generating the same chemistry as the Franzen-Zetterberg-Loui Eriksson line...
He really doesn’t look like himself—it’s pretty evident that his knee or perhaps some sort of groin or ankle injury which resulted from overcompensating for his knee is hampering his mobility, and his strength on his stick doesn’t look as “Datsyukian” as usual (cue the chronic wrist issues he’s been battling for the past few years?). He is still adjusting to the big ice again, but it looks like he felt it was absolutely necessary to heed his country’s call and play, and I’m starting to wonder if the Wings’ doctors simply told him that he couldn’t further injure himself, and that his chronic injuries needed nothing more than rest…So he figured that he could put off finally giving his body the R&R that it needs for two more weeks. Team Russia didn’t exactly reward Datsyuk or Evgeni Malkin for coming to the tournament by adding letters to their jerseys, choosing to award the captaincy and alternate captancies to KHL players instead, but Datsyuk has always said that if he is at all fit to play, he will always play for Russia, and he’s keeping his promise, come hell or injury high water.
Back over on this side of the pond, don’t forget that Datsyuk is facing off against David Backes in EA Sports’ NHL 13 Cover Vote, and the voting closes on May 10th;
• The Free Press’s Helene St. James will also be engaging in a live chat on Tuesday at 11 AM EDT;
• Continuing to move from “small to large” perspective-wise, DetroitRedWings.com’s Zack Crawford spoke to former Wing and Leaf Errol Thompson in his latest “Dual Citizenship” series;
• According to the Wilkes-Barre, PA Citzens’ Voice’s Jonathan Bombulie, Gordie Howe took in Sunday’s playoff game between the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the St. John’s IceCaps with his son, Wings director of pro scouting Mark Howe:
“We’re just coming here to watch a hockey game,” Mark said. “I’m doing a report on a few guys, but just having him along, I enjoy being in his company.”
Howe, a 23-time all-star who scored 801 career NHL goals, shook hands, posed for pictures and chatted with fans and admirers between periods of an Eastern Conference semifinals game between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and St. John’s Ice Caps.
“He likes to be in a rink,” Mark said. “He doesn’t see much hockey anymore and he just loves to be around people, so he’s having a good time.”
Mark said his father, age 84, isn’t quite as mentally sharp as he used to be, struggling with his memory, for example, but that he walks three to four miles four or five days a week and stays active with a schedule that includes charity events and trips to games.
“It’s important to keep him busy,” Mark said. “A lot of people don’t understand why. They say, ‘Why is he still traveling? Why is he still doing stuff?’ Well, if he just sits at home and he’s not around other people, he just gets stagnant. Mentally, it’s not as good for him, so we try to get him out there. You’re careful of his schedule, but he needs to be out with people. That’s what life is all about.”
• Also in the alumni department, the Detroit News’s Terry Foster chose to pen an article about the potential retirements of Nicklas Lidstrom (??? World’s best poker player remains completely indecipherable in the, “Will he stay or will he go hints?” department), Tomas Holmstrom (he could be squeezed out by Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak given that Babcock sees him as a fourth-liner) and Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace, and Foster asked Wings exec Kris Draper and beloved alum Dino Ciccarelli, who was Tomas Holmstrom’s forebear and really the player Scotty Bowman wanted “Homer” to model himself after, about the difficult decisions Lidstrom, Holmstrom and Wallace face:
The tough part is watching. Kris Draper knows he could win a key faceoff or dig one more puck out of the corner. But he’s in the press box at Joe Louis Arena, sitting next to Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, studying every play and every situation. That’s Draper’s job now that he’s a retired hockey player.
“You know I missed game day,” said Draper, who retired last season after 17 years with the Red Wings. “The minute you walk through that rink there is excitement and intensity. You know you are going out there to play a game you love. There is nothing like it in life that is going to fulfill that again. That is what makes professional sports so special.”
“We all play sports to compete and win,” said Ciccarelli, who owns Ciccarelli’s Sports Bar Theater in Shelby Township. “At our level, there is a drive that pushes you to the highest level. When that is taken away from you, you miss that.”
Ciccarelli, however, believes he knows what Lidstrom is going through.
“I don’t think he knows,” he said. “I didn’t know. He loves the game. I guarantee it has nothing to do with money. He wants to know if he can play at a certain level. Does he want to go through the grind? There are family decisions. If he can play less minutes and be effective, he might come back.”
Still, there are good things to retirement, too. Draper got to see his older daughter Kennedy’s Christmas play. He takes his kids to school in the morning. He works out, goes to the rink and then picks up his kids in the afternoon. He missed out on a lot of those activities when he was playing.
“There were some tough times and there were some emotional times,” Draper said. “My son (Kienan) almost cried himself to sleep talking about not being able to see dad be a Red Wing. But you realize that is not the right reason to go on with your hockey career. It was the right decision. I realize that, but there are a lot of things I miss about the game.”
• And finally, DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose offers reason to smile regarding a very special Wings alumnus who had no choice about his retirement:
For the second time in six months, Vladimir Konstantinov’s artwork will be on display at the Gallery U Boutique on West 4th Street in downtown Royal Oak. The “Rite of Spring” is a collaborative exhibit between the former Red Wings’ defenseman and the gallery’s artists that will debut on May 10. The show is from 7-9 p.m. EDT.
In November, more than three dozen framed and signed paintings by Konstantinov were sold at the show. Konstantinov’s November show was an eye-opener to the mission and creative enterprises of Universal Institute in Troy, Mich., a program that offers rehabilitation and living services for individuals affected by traumatic brain injuries. Painting allows Konstantinov to foster personal development, increases coping skills and enhances overall cognitive function.
Konstantinov was seriously injured in a limousine crash following a private party that celebrated the Wings’ Stanley Cup championship in 1997. He Along with teammate Viacheslav Fetisov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov, Konstantinov spent several weeks in a coma before finally pulling through, but suffered from serious head injuries and paralysis. Team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov sustained heavy head injuries and also spent some time in a coma; he has had a considerably more difficult recovery.
As part of its focus on creative art-therapy rehabilitation, Universal Institute operates Gallery U, where clients not only have the opportunity to showcase and sell their creations to the public, but also to manage the storefront on a daily basis.
Konstantinov’s condition has improved considerably since his accident. While he still has trouble speaking and walking, he is seen several times a season in the Wings’ locker room prior to their home games at Joe Louis Arena.
I can only say one thing in response to this article:
*I may go a little slower today in terms of news. Friday-Sunday involved sixteen-hour workdays and very little sleep, and that’s just a wee bit too much for me. I’ll try to pass along as much as I can, but I hope going at 80% instead of 110% will be OK.
Update: Grumble. A 5:30 AM feature story on Johan Franzen from Expressen’s Magnus Nystrom. Here goes nothing:
Franzen’s wicked side: “Hit in the hollows of the knees”
When he was recruited by the Detroit Red Wings, the team hoped that he wold be, at best, a reliable defensive forward on the third line.
Johan Franzen was one of the best playoff players. A symbol of the term, “Best when it counts.”
“It’s my will to win,” he explains.
Then he reveals his best thief’s tricks, and he will do whatever it takes to win World Championship gold.
Johan Franzen is a nice guy from Smaland. One of the most fun to talk to on this team. Often close to a smile, and he can answer some questions with whatever is in his head just to see how it works, who asked him to respond.
During our meeting at the players’ hotel in Stockholm, when another journalist interrupted us with a brief question about Erik Karlsson: “Erik plays a little too defensively and makes bad passes,” said Johan, with a serious tone.
Johan is the father of little Eddie Bo, and told me about how the 14-month-old son loves to skate with his dad.
Dubbed “the Mule” by Yzerman
Franzen has another side as well. It was old teammate Steve Yzerman who gave him the nickname, “The Mule,” “mule” meaning “hard ass.” Franzen has to pull on the ice with each stride. Johan Franzen is at his best when it counts—and one of the worst players to meet in such extreme situations.
Not just because he spent the four seasons 2007-2008 to 2010-2011 as the second-best player in the NHL in playoff goals with 33. Only Henrik Zetterberg was better with 34.
Everyone knows how good Zetterberg is. But far from Sweden,it’s understood how good Johan Franzen is.
And how mean he is.
After we talked about the joys of skating with our kids, we went over how tough it is to win in the playoffs.
To thievery, basically.
Doesn’t talk so much
“I like to hit,” said Johan, and he took a sip of water. “In the hollows of the knees. The very soft parts. Yeah, you’re doing so much out there. Something that always works is to use the heel of your stick on the laces of players’ skates. It’s very painful. It’s effective.”
You improve in the finals, while many other players disappear?
“In the finals it’s a different game. And players who will be spinning a little bit about how they played during the regular season suddenly think it isn’t as fun anymore. And you know exactly who they are.”
“We’re talking about before games. We can hear, ‘Niklas Kronwall, hurt that guy right away, so he’s gone from the game.’ We know which players find it hard to
- We’re talking about it before matches. We can hear: “Niklas Kronwall - stuff that guy right away, so he’s gone out of the match.” We know which players find it hard to trash talk or chat or get annoyed even if you just smile at them.”
At the last part Franzen is very good at. He doesn’t talk so much on the ice. But his eyes. Sometimes he grins evilly, and sometimes he just looks angry.
“I love those kinds of games”
When the games become crucial ones at the end of this World Championship, you already know which opponents you should target extra in the looks or thief’s tricks?
“Yes, absolutely. I know that. Then we have to find the right level. You can do anything as long as you don’t get kicked out.”
Franzen was Detroit’s best scorer this season with 29 goals. Although Detroit has had a tough time in the playoffs over the past two years, Franzen still has an enormous capacity to “stay right” on the track and find the target. Especially in the key games.
The World Championship should suit you perfectly, with the direct decisive games at the end—it gets to Game 7 immediately?
“I haven’t thought about that, but it’s a little like that. I love those kinds of games. That’s my desire to win. Then of course it’s special to be part of the World Championship team at home. Yeah, it’ll be fun.”
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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.