The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/08/11 at 06:24 AM ET
Updated at 8:25 AM with pretty cool charity news: We’re reaching pretty much the zenith of our summer as Red Wings fans here. With the Stanley Cup Final underway and, as Ken Holland has suggested, no real pressure on players or agents to get down to the business of deciding their futures and preparing for the personnel moves to come, this might as well read as “Azimuth A” of the Wings hockey desert, with the other being the middle of August, right before players return from their off-season homes.
I’ve been on the other side of, “You are your own sports desk, so you do the research,” and having your team in the Cup Final while you’re trying to catch everything that’s said or written about your team is nothing less than exhausting and insane, whereas this, especially with Nicklas Lidstrom’s decision weighing heavily upon the franchise’s course of action…This is like watching and waiting for a water heater to explode on Mythbusters. You know the big boom’s going to happen, but you don’t know when, so you stare more and more intently, with more liberal measures of anxiety and near paranoia, worried that you’re going to miss the scoop of scoops…
So, in other words, while you’re doing your thing, I can assure you that there’s been no change in terms of the work I’m putting into TMR. I’m more jittery than usual, in fact, and it’s about as comfortable as the 95-degree temperatures outside.*
In any case, the Free Press’s Helene St. James delivers good news on a particularly fuzzy front, reporting that Todd Bertuzzi is, as of Wednesday morning, making big steps toward recovering from the concussion he suffered in Game 7 of the Wings-Sharks series:
Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi is slowly making progress as he recovers from a concussion suffered nearly a month ago.
Bertuzzi told the Free Press on Tuesday that he had worked out two days this week without any issues. He has to go at least a week without any symptoms (such as headaches) before taking the baseline test that players must undergo before being cleared from a concussion.
Bertuzzi was hurt May 12 during a collision with San Jose’s Dany Heatley during the first period of Game 7. Danny Cleary suffered a concussion during the second period in the same game when he was accidentally hit by teammate Jiri Hudler, but he was cleared a week later.
On the coaching front, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reported that the Wings have reached out to Todd Richards, the Wild’s former head coach, to see whether he’d be interested in joining Mike Babcock’s staff, but in an updated blog entry, Russo found that the courtship has not reached hot and heavy stages by any stretch of the imagination:
Richards wouldn’t confirm the teams, but according to sources, he’s got interviews lined up with Columbus and Winnipeg for assistant coaching positions. Detroit’s also interested in Richards, while Dallas could be a possibility if Peter Horachek, who used to coach Richards in Orlando, gets the Stars’ coaching job.
“I’m taking phone calls and talking to some people, but that’s really all it is right now,” Richards said.
In news that dovetails pretty nicely with Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner’s 35-minute interview with Darren McCarty on Tuesday—as on Friday the 10th, McCarty and Claude Lemieux will be taking part at in a charity dinner at the Rub BBQ Detroit restaurant, and this Saturday, they’re signing autographs at the Gibraltar Trade Center Taylor—I raised an eyebrow when the Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher explained how the NHL’s acting disciplinarian, Mike Murphy, brought Brian Burke into the equation while evaluating Aaron Rome’s potential suspension:
“All I spoke with Brian about was how when he made the (Claude) Lemieux decision (on Kris Draper in ‘96), how he calculated playoff games in relation to games of the regular season,” said Murphy. “He had no say or input into the decision whatsoever.”
One of the gentlemen who raised the Stanley Cup in 1997, Dave Lewis, was hired as an assistant coach by the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night and officially announced as such on Tuesday, and both CarolinaHurricanes.com’s Paul Branecky and the Raleigh News-Observer’s Chip Alexander provide further reading in that regard…
And if you missed it, the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell noted that Igor Larionov’s annual hockey camp will take place in Voskresensk, Russia on June 19th, and Larionov spoke to Sport-Express’s Slava Malamud from Moscow. Larionov’s watching the finals from afar and is hoping that the Canucks win. Here’s the pertinent part of his interview, albeit roughly translated:
Which player has impressed you the most?
“Mark Recchi, certainly. He’s 43 and he’s still one of the best players on the team.”
He’s broken your record, by the way. He became the oldest player to score a goal in the final.
“Great, I’m glad for him! I hope that, in the other games, there won’t be three overtimes, so he doesn’t take that one last achievement.”
How does a former Canuck feel about supporting Vancouver?
“Well, of course [I’m cheering for them]! In January I predicted that the Canucks would win the Cup. The team’s been built since the days of Brian Burke. Boston’s a typical North American team, in the best sense of the term, but Vancouver plays the kind of clever, beautiful hockey that we played in Detroit. Or even, if it’s possible to compare, like the style of Barcelona—puck control, short passes, smart plans of attack. I’d like to see our sport progress, and for that sake, I believe it will be better if Vancouver wins.”
By the way, about team-building. Considering that the Russian national team has changed its management—do you think there’s a chance, that there might be a general manager who has a North American understanding of the position?
Malamud’s basically asking Larionov if he’d be willing to helm Russia’s 2014 Olympic team, and Larionov turned down that invitation when he found out that both the Russian Hockey Federation and the Russian government would tell him which players to select, who to pick as a coach, etc. etc., he said no, and suggested that the team can’t and won’t succeed until a general manager can build a team without any political interference.
“I don’t want to interfere in that discussion. As I’ve already stated my point of view, which everybody’s known about for a while.
At the same time, if someone were to propose a list of candidates for the general manager’s position, would you make a suggestion?
“Now I’m doing what I enjoy—I’m a player agent that works with junior-aged players. I don’t want to start up a ruckus, and especially I don’t want to talk about that kind of thing in the press.”
You recently were named to the selection committee for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Is there a chance that Pavel Bure or Alexander Mogilny could make their way into the Hall this year?
“I have no right to extend an invitation. This year’s choices have been made, but the committee members sign an agreement to not disclose the candidates. I have no right to express my opinion or make a prediction.”
At the other end of the spectrum, as noted on Tuesday, Slava Fetisov donated his hockey memorabilia, championship rings and replica trophies to a sports museum in Vladivostok, Russia. The museum will reside in a sports and entertainment complex, and
For those of you who need a reminder, this isn’t exactly the suburbs of Moscow:
Map swiped from Matt Nelson’s blog, Rule the East
From some cursory glances at Sport-Express and Sovetsky Sport, there’s at least scuttlebutt that a hockey team might be housed in a rink to be built in Russia’s largest Pacific port city, so take that for what you will.
Slava and Igor started from the same place—wanting to be legally allowed to leave Russia to play professional hockey—and Fetisov’s currently a member of the KHL’s board of directors and is the GM of CSKA Moscow, the team for which he and Larionov once played, and Fetisov was previously Russia’s Minister of Sport.
Larionov, who helped SKA St. Petersburg and the KHL for a while, tired of both the travel and politics of hockey—the KHL is where the old Soviet bloc sport chiefs have gone out to roost amongst the big boys’ toys, so it is intimately tied to both the Russian government in terms of its sponsorship (Gazprom Export is a Russian government entity), its owners (either governments or oligarchs who swept up natural resources and industry after the collapse of the USSR) and politics (the KHL was established and its goal remains to rival the NHL as the best hockey league in the world)—so while the two gentlemen have taken similar paths, they’ve ended up in diametrically opposite positions.
As for the present-day Wings, and, hopefully, someone who won’t join the ranks of the Wings’ 1997 Stanley Cup alums soon, it actually took a glance at a note by Aftonbladet’s Stefan Persson for me to return to the press release announcing Nicklas Lidstrom’s status as a finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership Award, which received quite the addendum:
Lidstrom, the third finalist, made the playoffs with Detroit yet again and played far younger than his 41-year-old body would suggest possible.
“We’ve been looking at Nick [for consideration] for a long time,” Messier said. “He’s had to fill some pretty big shoes in Detroit when Stevie Yzerman retired. Since that retirement, nobody has talked about the lack of leadership in Detroit. I’m not sure how many players could have stepped into that situation and seamlessly filled the void created by Stevie Yzerman. He’s done it unbelievably well and the franchise continues to play and play well for Stanley Cups, while he reaches out to his community.”
I hope he continues to do so for at least another season or two.
Also of Red Wings-related note this morning: While we’re talking about alums and veterans, About.com’s Dallas Guide’s Angela Patterson reports that Mike Modano will take part in the “Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game” on July 9th in Frisco, Texas, and its proceeds will benefit the Mike Modano foundation.
I’m guessing that if Modano wants to announce his post-career plans publicly, there’s no place to do it like his own charity baseball game;
• In the political arena, yes, the fact that NBC re-upped its Olympic TV rights for 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 means that it’s incredibly more likely that the NHL will send its stars to Sochi, Russia in 2014 (don’t get me started on the politics involving the Caucuses) than it was prior to that announcement, although it’s still likely to be a sticky wicket in CBA negotiations;
• There’s some small irony in the fact that the Phoenix Coyotes traded Ilya Bryzgalov’s rights to the Philadelphia Flyers in one Wings-related vein: the best free agent forward who could hit the market whose name is not Brad Richards (no way in hell given the fact that the Rangers and Maple Leafs have bucks to overspend on a ridiculously thin crop of forwards) is in fact Flyers forward Ville Leino, who’s looking for $3-plus million in salary.
It’s even less likely that the Wings would attempt to out-bid someone else for a player who tuned out the Wings’ coaches before he was traded for cap space;
• It’s also a little amusing to read Kerry Fraser tell TSN readers that Tim Thomas was and is allowed to check opposing players as long as he’s inside his crease and doesn’t use his stick or equipment to kick, punch or slash an opponent (Pekka Rinne, are you taking notes?);
• When I read this quip by the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff, describing the Canadian soccer team’s inability to score on Team USA at Ford Field, I wanted to say, “He’s getting better!”:
To their credit, the Canadians carried more of the play to the Americans at the start of the second half, but their attacks featured all the creativity and imagination of a Darren Helm breakaway.
That quip didn’t make the recap with quotes, which is one of the reasons why I tend to drop links to both Duff and Waddell’s with-quotes and sans-quotes recaps when I can find them.
• * = I’m still very busy in terms of looking for news, helping Paul here and there and trying to un-fry my brain, but is anyone interested in having me do “grades,” perhaps as part of a pay-for-my-dinner in Traverse City program or something? We’re about 45% of the way to covering my hotel and expenses for the July 7-14th prospect camp in Traverse City, so thanks for your support, and…uh…spread the word?
The news is going to pick up in a hurry once the Cup final ends—it’s already June 8th, the Wings’ organizational meetings will occur on the 15th and 16th, the awards take place on the 22nd, the draft on the 24th and 25th, free agency hits on July 1st and bam, a month from now I’m in Traverse City, hopefully—so there’s good stuff to come and lots of news to come in a hurry, but in the interim, if you want grades, I can do ‘em.
In the interim, I’m still putting in a regular season day’s worth of work and attentiveness in, I’m reading the whatever-it-is-over-35 newspapers and websites in Swedish, Finnish, Czech, Slovak and Russian that I usually look at during the off-season (it would be really nice if CAS.sk took that picture of Marian Gaborik’s abs off the front page as they don’t do anything for me but remind me of Shawn Burr’s, “Sure, I’ve got those, but the laundry’s piled up on top of ‘em” line), and I just don’t do the prediction business in terms of drafting or free agency as the Wings never make my picks in the former (I like Khokhlachev and Rakell) or latter (sign Laich and Wisniewski, keep Ozzie, Eaves, Miller and Ericsson, and let Draper fight for a spot during camp?) categories, so you need to let me know what you’d like to see when it does come to “filler,” because I’m not a “filler” person by nature.
Let me know what you think. The whole concept of TMR is to help make following the Wings simpler and easier and start discussions amongst knowledgeable Wings fans at a round and equally-ranked table, so…Feedback is appreciated.
Update: Via PR Newswire, here’s a reminder about what really matters:
Muscular Dystrophy Patient Gets Relief from International Business, Charity
The Sergei Fedorov Foundation and ProBed step up to help a family in need
DETROIT, June 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/—At the age of 9, Nick Torrance was diagnosed with a rare and devastating form of muscular dystrophy called Duchenne. This muscle deteriorating disease progressively weakens its victims for the rest of their lives. There is no cure.
At the age of 16, Nick is now confined to a wheelchair, requiring constant help with every facet of his life, including eating, grooming and all personal care. While Nick sleeps, his family must physically turn him over every thirty minutes, because he doesn’t have the strength to move himself. The nightly ritual is physically and mentally exhausting to his caring family as well as Nick himself.
The solution was found in a bed that repositions its users automatically or by voice control. The Freedom Bed was developed by Vancouver, British Columbia’s ProBed Medical Technologies, Inc. The only problem was the bed costs over $30,000 and Nick’s health insurance denied the claim.
For months, the Torrance family has tried to raise the funds to pay for the bed, but only collected $5,000 in donations thus far. The Sergei Fedorov Foundation, a charity established by Sergei Fedorov that assists children in need worldwide, heard of Nick’s plight and sought to offer assistance.
According to Marc Beginin, attorney and director of the Foundation, “While Nick’s case was compelling, the price tag was out of reach, but together with ProBed we worked it out.” Beginin called ProBed and, at the Foundation’s request, ProBed waived half the payment with the Foundation picking up the rest of the tab.
“Being hockey fans ourselves, and working with many clients with muscular dystrophy, we were very excited to work with Sergei Fedorov’s charity and to help out Nick and his family,” said Stephen Plummer, president of ProBed.
Today, The Sergei Fedorov Foundation will present a $10,000 check on Nick Torrance’s behalf for the bed. With the payments already made by the family and ProBed’s generous donation, the bed will be bought and paid for.
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About The Malik Report
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.