The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: Kindl cut from Czechs’ Worlds team; Mrazek, Franzen gab about tournament
by George Malik on 04/30/12 at 08:36 AM ET
Updated 3x with more English and Swedish at 8:37 AM: The Czech national team’s program is a very, very…Political animal, with players who’ve gained the good graces of the team’s coaches and management currying favor in terms of “earning” spots on World Junior Championship, World Championship and even Olympic rosters, so it is with consternation but not surprise that I report a bizarre scenario to you this morning:
While the Czechs announced that Wings prospect Petr Mrazek would join their roster on Sunday evening, today, the Czech news agency CTK reports that Czech coach Alois Hadamczik and GM Slavomir Lener (who famously suggested that North American junior hockey leagues had all but destroyed the Czechs’ developmental hockey program at the 2010 World Hockey Summit) have chosen to drop Red Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl from the team, replacing him with Slavia Prague defenseman and 20-year-old Jakub Krejcik.
According to a different version of the CTK story that translates slightly differently, Kindl was never guaranteed a spot on the team (which is true), and thanked the Czechs for the opportunity to try out for the team, but Lener apparently stated that the fact that Kindl has been playing overseas since 2006 factored into deciding to include exactly one defenseman with NHL experience—Lukas Kraijcek—on his team’s World Championship roster.
iSport.cz reports that Kindl was told that he could accompany the team to Finland, but wasn’t deemed to be ready to play in the first game, and would have to wait and see what happened in the early round-robing games as a healthy scratch—assuming that he wasn’t replaced by a higher-profile Czech who was eliminated from the second round of the playoffs, despite the fact that Kindl joined the Czech national team on Monday to play in the majority of its exhibition games—and chose to be thanked for his time instead.
I’m not sure whether Kindl will choose to return to Detroit, pack up his gear and spend his summer in the Czech Republic again, or whether he’s going to spend his summer in the U.S. once again, but there’s no doubt that he’s got to be pissed off because he’s been told to take a hike for players who’ve accumulated more national team experience while playing in the KHL or, as you might expect, “at home” in the Czech Extraliga.
At the other end of the spectrum, Petr Mrazek—who was very specifically told he couldn’t play for the Czechs at the 2011 World Junior Championships because he chose to play in the OHL instead of turning pro in the Czech Extraliga—is obviously delighted about being invited to play as the team’s third goaltender, and here is a very, very rough translation of his interview with iSport.cz’s Kvetoslav Simek:
This is the biggest surprise nomination on the Czech team! 20-year-old goalie Peetr Mrazek will head to Sweden and Finland for the World Championship as the third goaltender. “Wow, I didn’t expect something like this,” responded Petr Mrazek after the official announcement of nominations was delivered to iSport.
Question: Coach Hadamzcik talked about you after the World Junior Championships, but you’re only 20—how much were you surprised by your inclusion?
Mrazek: A lot! A few weeks ago, I thought the three goalies had already been determined. And now that I’ve been eliminated from the OHL playoffs (Mrazek and the Ottawa 67’s lost in the OHL’s Eastern Conference Finals), I suddenly got a message that this might happen. It was great news for me.”
Question: But is the news reason enough for you to celebrate?
Mrazek: There’s nothing to get excited about. It’s awesome news, but what’s important is yet to come. This is a huge plus for me that I get to meet with players who’ve played in the NHL, Russia and are the best in the Extraliga…I’ll have a chance to practice and train with them, and that’s great. Moreover, I’ll be playing with Jakub Stepanek (his girlfriend is Mrazek’s sister). That’s icing on the cake.”
It’s so strange, two years ago you were excluded from the World Junior team because you went overseas without HC Vitkovice’s support, but now you’re going to play in two championships in a single year...
Mrazek: Yes, it’s a bit strange, I agree. I’m so glad I finally earned a chance to play at the World Juniors (Mrazek was named the best goaltender in that tournament). And now I get to be the third goaltender in the men’s tournament! This is an awesome year. It’s the perfect chance for me to gain experience that I’ll be able to use later on in my career. This is great and I really appreciate it.”
Question: When will you join the Czech team?
Mrazek: “On Wednesday morning. I can’t wait, I’m really looking forward to it.”
In Sweden, things are a little bit different. Calle Jarnkrok and Team Sweden—minus Detroit’s contingent—will play in Gavle, home of Jarnkrok’s team, Brynas IF on Tuesday (against Team U.S.A.), and just as Hockeysverige.se’s Uffe Bodin reported that it’s highly likely that Jarnkrok will make the team’s roster, Sweden GM Johan Garpenlov told Arbetarbladet’s Erik Illerhag that Jarnkrok and fellow youngsters Johan Larsson and Mattias Ekholm will at least be given the opportunity to impress the team’s management against the U.S.
• At Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, reporters hung out on Monday morning—Swedish time, or “overnight” to you and me—to wait for players lugging hockey sticks to emerge from the baggage area, and they found Johan Franzen arriving from Detroit. He spoke to Aftonbladet’s Erik Karlsson about his impressions as he, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Ericsson prepare for the Swedes’ Worlds opener against Norway on Friday…
Franzen: “I think this is going to be cool”
Sportbladet met up with “The Mule” at Arlanda.
Arlanda: The big NHL invasion has begun.
At 9 AM Johan Franzen arrived at Arlanda as the first player from Detroit’s team.
“I think it’s going to be cool,” he says to Sportbladet.
Today, the first big NHL reinforcements for the World Championship team are coming.
First to Arlanda was Johan Franzen, 32, who took most of his trip with Henrik Zetterberg, but was split up while connecting to a flight from Amsterdam.
“I’m a little jet-lagged”
“It’s going to be fun, I’m a little jet-lagged, but I’m going to go to my hotel now and get some sleep, so I’ll be practicing this afternoon,” he said.
Once he arrived at Arlanda he learned the news that Daniel Alfredsson would be flying over to join the team, too.
“We talked about the two players from Ottawa on the plane [Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson] and now one of them is coming, so that’s cool. He (Daniel Alfredsson) had a really great season, too, I saw him playing in the playoffs, and he looked really good.”
“A chance to go really far”
Franzen—the best goal-scorer on the Red Wings in the winter, with 29 goals—is one of 12 players from the NHL who are playing for Sweden at the World Championships. That makes him feel very hopeful.
“Yes, it’s obvious that we know we’ve got a great team, and a great chance to go really far, but it’s the World Championship, and it’s all about getting off to a good start, so we can build our team confidence.”
Yesterday coach Per Marts announced that five players—these [NHL’ers]—won’t play in the World Championship’s home [tune-up].
Sweden opens the World Championship against Norway on Friday night.
And Franzen spoke to Expressen’s Jonatan Lindquist and Sophie Gill as well:
Franzen has taken his place in Sweden: It should be awesome
Today, Johan Franzen landed in Sweden.
The Detroit star has high expectations for the [held-at-]home World Chapionships which begin on Friday.
“We know we’ve got a great team and a really great chance to go far,” says Franzen to HockeyExpressen.se.
The Stanley Cup playoffs were a huge disappointment for the Swedish team, the Detroit Red Wings, who were eliminated in the quarterfinals against the Nashville Predators, 4 games to 1. But Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen quickly decided to play at the World Championships on home soil. Today, Franzen landed in Sweden, and HockeyExpressen.se met him at Arlanda.
“The trip went great. Now I’m going to go to the hotel to sleep for a few hours, and then I’ll practice this afternoon,” says Franzen.
“A great season”
When he landed, he learned the good news that Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson will play for the Tre Kronor, and probably Erik Karlsson as well.
“Me and Zata flew together and chatted about the pair from Ottawa, because we weren’t sure,” says Franzen.
“It’s cool to hear that Alfredsson’s coming, he had a great season and looked superb in the playoffs.”
Do you think that Erik will play?
“I hope so, it would be fun to play with him.”
Hoping for a good start
Daniel Alfredsson told HockeyExpressen.se today that Sweden will win Gold, and Franzen also believes that there’s a great World Championship in the offing for the Tre Kronor.
“We know we’ve got a really good team and a really great chance to go far. It’s all about getting off to a good start so we build self-confidence,” says Franzen.
“It’s also cool that my family and friends will be able to have the chance to see me play live, that’ll be awesome.”
For the record, Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman reports that Erik Karlsson might not play because his status as a restricted free agent means that he’s got to take out insurance himself (which Jiri Hudler was advised to not do by his agent, Petr Svoboda, as Hudler will become an unrestricted free agent this summer).
In foreign language-news related to Wings prospects, the QMJHL hasn’t announced it in English yet, but the Rimouski Oceanic defeated the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL’s other semifinal, and as such, they’ll play for the QMJHL title against Tomas Jurco’s Saint John Sea Dogs, according to the French version of the QMJHL’s website, starting on Friday, May 4th in Saint John, New Brunswick.
In news regarding a Wings player who will take part in the Worlds who needs a little help, TheMajors.net’s Adam Hernandez reminds us that Red Wings forward and Team Russia participant Pavel Datsyuk will be up for voting in EA Sports’ NHL 13 Cover Vote starting on Thursday, May 3rd, when he faces off against St. Louis Blues forward David Backes.
Wings fans can vote for Datsyuk between May 3rd and 10th, and if he wins against Backes, he’d advance to the semifinals of the competition.
In “scuttlebutt news” of a different kind, the Montreal Gazette’s ever-wacky Jack Todd finds it downright weird that the Montreal Canadiens made an exception to what is now a rule to speak to Jim Nill, who declined an invitation to become the Canadiens’ next general manager because his wife is battling cancer:
[N]ew names have been added (and then subtracted) to the list. Like Detroit’s assistant GM Jim Nill, who told a reporter that he spoke twice with the Canadiens, but bowed out for family reasons.
That raised eyebrows, because while Nill is superbly qualified, he’s a unilingual anglo – and Serge Savard, who is conducting the search with club president Geoff Molson, is on record as saying that’s a non-starter.
In the alumni department, part 1: The Free Press’s Helene St. James notes that if Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean were to win the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best coach, he’d kind of sort of prevent the Wings from being shut out at the NHL Awards (it’s highly unlikely that Selke Trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk would unseat Patrice Bergeron or the aforementioned Backes given that he missed a month recovering from knee surgery);
• In the alumni department, part 2: As part of their “Dual Citizenship” series of articles, spotlighting players who’ve both played for the Red Wings and Maple Leafs as a lead-up to the Winter Classic, DetroitRedWings.com’s Zack Crawford spoke to Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford about his tenure as a Red Wings goaltender given that he grew up near Toronto, and played a handful of games for the Maple Leafs as well:
“It was a night and day experience,” Rutherford said of the difference between Detroit and Toronto. “I’ll just start with my short experience in Toronto: growing up as a kid it was a team I always wanted to play for. Unfortunately, by the time I got a chance to play for them, I was near the end of my career and their team wasn’t very good. So I’m proud to say that I played for the Maple Leafs and wore the Maple Leafs jersey, but the experience wasn’t as good as I would have liked. But that was more about how I played, it was more personal than anything else.”
In December 1980, the Wings traded Rutherford to the Leafs for center Mark Kirton. Rutherford’s experience with the Leafs included a 4-10-2 record and 5.12 goals-against average. Despite his lackluster NHL debut in Toronto and his less than stellar time there, Rutherford saw better days in Motor City over the course of his career. His situation was somewhat unique in that he played for the Wings on three different occasions.
“As for Detroit, I can’t say enough about playing for the Red Wings,” Rutherford said. “I think I was there about 10 years, and I think I played the fourth most games of any goalie with the Wings. We went through tough times in the ’70s and didn’t have real good teams, but what a great organization and city to play in. I have a lot of memories of the 20 years that I lived in Detroit, a lot of great memories.”
When it came to an Original Six rivalry separated by only a few hundred miles, the standings didn’t matter.
“Regardless of where teams were in the standings, even if one team was really good, and the other one wasn’t as good, those games were very meaningful games,” Rutherford said. “But they got a little out of hand; they got a little rough at times. It was the teams that (Darryl) Sittler played on, (Mike) Palmateer and those guys.”
After spending a year and a half with the Leafs and Los Angeles Kings, Rutherford finished his career with one last game for the Wings in 1982.
“The Wings were on a youth movement,” he said. “They signed Greg Stefan and Corrado Micalef, two first-year goalies, and Jimmy Devellano signed me as insurance, not knowing if both those guys were going to be ready to play and as it turned out they were and that’s when I retired.”
• And in the alumni department, part 3: As noted by the Associated Press, the Detroit Red Wings’ director of pro scouting, who happens to have been enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a Philadelphia Flyers alumnus, and his father, who you might be more familiar with, watched Sunday’s Flyers-Rangers game. NHL.com posted a clip of the pair taking the game in:
If it matters, part 1: The Sports Network’s Jesse Pantuosco suggests that Henrik Zetterberg remains in the top ten among NHL centers…At least in terms of fantasy value (and no, I don’t know why Pantuosco chose to omit Datsyuk from his lineup):
10. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings: Though not as impressive as he has been in years past, the 31-year-old from Sweden was still a very serviceable fantasy center in 2011-12. His goal total hasn’t fluctuated much at all over the past three seasons (23 in 2009-10, 24 in 2010-11 and 22 this season) and Zetterberg remains one of the better distributors in the game (47 assists). What’s most impressive about Zetterberg is his durability: he didn’t miss a single contest this year and he only missed two the season before that. Zetterberg probably won’t be in the MVP discussion next year but his consistently solid play makes him hard to pass up.
• If it matters, part 2: The Ottawa Citizen’s Andrew Duffy wants to remind us that Red Wings scout Hakan Andersson personally recommended that the Senators hire the European scout which sold them on Erik Karlsson, one Anders Forsberg, the year before Ottawa picked Karlsson 15th overall at the 2009 Entry Draft in Ottawa.
I don’t know if you remember this, but when the Wings couldn’t trade up to get Karlsson themselves, they more or less told the Senators that they sure as hell better snag Karlsson, which Ottawa did by swapping first-round picks with Nashville.
And finally, this is a two parter: I have started my “grades,” which is good, but I’m kind of on the fence regarding attempting to keep Swedish hours during the World Championship. I’m planning on watching all the games that are available on the NBC Sports Network and providing you with as much info regarding the players as possible, but I’d prefer to not go to bed at 7 or 8 and wake up at no later than 5 AM to provide real-time updates.
Update: Via RedWingsFeed, of course MLive’s Brendan Savage spoke to the players who he deems the “Red Wing Four” in English, and of course MLive didn’t publish his article till 7 AM EDT (you’d think MLive was like the Swedish papers, which do the same thing):
“It’s going to be fun,” said Zetterberg, 31. “It’s been six years since the last time I went over (to play in Sweden). Eleven years ago, I played in a World Championship back in Sweden. It’s not often that chance comes around. The way everything ended here, I want to keep playing hockey and have a nice ending to the season. It is bittersweet. You would rather have had a practice here today and focus on round two (of the Stanley Cup playoffs). But we’re not and so when an opportunity came to go over and play for your country, it’s an honor and I’m looking forward to it.”
No other country in the 16-team field features a lineup with as many NHL players from the same club as Sweden. And the list of Red Wings could have been even longer had captain Nicklas Lidstrom and forward Tomas Holmstrom been on Sweden’s roster.
“It’s going to be fun, a lot of fun,” said Franzen, 32. “We have a really good team put together. It’s a chance to do something different. We made an early exit (from the playoffs) the last two years and it feels like we need to do something positive. We have a chance to do well. If we get a medal or even win, that would be great and a good finish to the season.”
While suiting up for Sweden is nothing new for Zetterberg and Franzen, this will the first time Kronwall has represented his country on the world stage. He doesn’t expect it to be anything like playing in the NHL.
“I try not to compare the two because they are so different,” said Kronwall, 31. “But when you go play for your country, everything is based on two weeks and a hot goaltender and being able to play strong for two weeks. Here, it’s obviously a grind over a long season. Obviously, with what happened at the Olympics, it would be nice to go back and do better than we did there. But at the same time, you play hockey because you want to win and this year we didn’t win here and that would be a good way to accomplish something this year.”
“I wasn’t planning on being done for the season at this time of year ... and I didn’t really hesitate. When I got clearance from Detroit, I didn’t have a question,” said Ericsson, 28. “I’d rather be in the Stanley Cup (playoffs). I’m kind of focused and still feel the urge of playing. It’s a little bit special it’s in the home country as well. I’m going home anyway and it’s always an honor to play for the national team. It’s a chance to get redemption for how we ended the season and try to finish it off in a better way. It’s going to be fun.”
Update #2: From the Port Huron Times-Herald’s Paul Costanzo:
Four area hockey players, and a former teammate of theirs with the Port Huron Flags, are playing this summer with an elite team out of Detroit. Mark Estapa of St. Clair Township, Jacob Truscott of Fort Gratiot, and Travis and Tiernan Shoudy of Marysville, along with Jake McCatty of Lapeer, were selected for the Detroit Red Wings Brick Super Novice team. The team, made up of players born in 2002, will play in tournaments throughout the summer, building up to the 23rd annual Brick Tournament July 2-8 in Edmonton, Alberta. The Brick is one of the most prestigious youth hockey tournaments in the world.
“All of them,” said 2002 Flags coach Bob King. “They’re going to be (very) good hockey players.”
King coached Truscott and the Shoudys through this past season, while Estapa and McCatty were members of the team up until this past season.
The Brick team is an all-star team from the state of Michigan and includes three players from Ohio. The team traveled to Toronto last weekend for a tournament. It is coached by former Detroit Red Wings forward Kris Draper.
“It’s awesome,” Tiernan Shoudy said of playing for Draper.
Update #3: Cue pretty much the same thing, from Aftonbladet’s Erik Karlsson (no relation to, well, Erik Karlsson):
“The goal is always to win”
Sportbladet met up with Detroit’s Swedes at Arlanda [airport in Stockholm].
Arlanda. He began his journey at the same time as Johan Franzen, but at 1:15 PM, superstar Henrik Zetterberg landed at Arlanda.
He’s coming ready for a World Championship with a gold medal craving.
“The expectations are really high, that’s why we’re here—to go all the way,” says “Zata” to Sportbladet.
After many “if’s” and “so’s” [i.e. a long wait], the whole star gallery from Detroit landed at Arlanda. The last of the set was Henrik Zetterberg, who started his journey the earliest.
“It’s nice after a long trip. But the ticket I flew over with required me to fly back here via Copenhagen [Denmark], but it wasn’t too bad,” says Zetterberg, when he rolled into the arrivals terminal with five large bags full of stuff.
Immediately after he boarded a taxi to ride to Stockholm and engage in an initial meeting with the rest of the Tre Kronor.
“It’ll be fun to meet with the guys today and then rest and prepare to practice properly in the morning.”
Zetterberg doesn’t see the golden expectations of the star-studded Swedish team’s fans as a problem.
“The expectations have always been high, but that’s why we’re here—to go all the way. But there are many nations that have a chance, it’s all about playing well at the right time to give us the best chance to win,” he syas.
Does it mean something extra for you now that you get to share your superstar status with Daniel Alfredsson?
“I tihnk we have many stars on our team, there’s nothing wrong with that,” says the Njurunda native.
Johan Franzen, Zetterberg’s traveling companion from the U.S., was the first to the airport.
It was a tired but hopeful goal-scoring king [Franzen] who met Sportbaldet at the arrivals terminal.
“It’s going to be fun, I’m a little jet-lagged but I’m going to go to the hotel now and get some sleep so I can practice this afternoon,” [Franzen] said.
Once he arrived at Arlanda he learned that Daniel Alfredsson had joined the team while he was flying over.
“We talked about the two guys from Ottawa on the plane, and now one of them is coming, so it’s cool. He (Daniel Alfredsson) had a really great season, too, I saw him in the playoffs and he looked good.”
Franzen is one of 13 players arriving from the NHL for the World Championships, something that makes him hopeful.
“Yes, it’s obvious that we have a really great team and a great chance to go really far, but it’s the World Championship, and it’s all about getting off to a good start so that we build confidene on our team.”
At 12:30 defensive stars Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall landed on Swedish soil, and both were equally hopeful.
“We’re here for a reason,” says Niklas Kronwall, and he continues: “The team looks great, absolutely. Most importantly, we’ve all played together, even the role players. Not only “Zata” and “Frasse” but also the role players, and I think that’s really important to build a great team.”
Both had found out about Daniel Alfredsson’s good news before they got on the plane, and cheered the decision, of course.
“I saw it, cool that Affe can come,” said Jonathan Ericsson.
“Really awesome, I almost couldn’t believe it.”
Now there’s all this talk about gold, what do you think are its chances?
“Yeah, it’s easy to make those projections when you build up this kind of team. But it’s nothing to sit in a chair knitting these expectations, it must be said,” says Kronwall.
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