The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/27/12 at 08:33 AM ET
File this line under, “Blog post starters you’re regrettably going to read me saying rather regularly between now and the draft”: This morning’s most notable Red Wings news story comes from Sweden, because Niklas Kronwall has changed his mind about remaining in Detroit to supervise the building of a new home, and instead, he’s going to leave for Stockholm with Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Jonathan Ericsson to take part in the World Championships.
Why the change in thought? The Swedish press went into overdrive after the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation announced that Kronwall would join the team, so it didn’t take long to find out. Kronwall told Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom and Johan Larsson that he was able to delay the big decision-making regarding architectural plans for a few weeks so that he can join his brother Staffan (who just signed with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s new KHL team, by the way) and his teammates at the Worlds:
-“We found a solution because we got so much done this week in terms of building the house that I can leave for a few weeks. The rest of the construction decisions can be put off until after the World Championship,” says Kronwall to HockeyExpressen.se.
Kronwall confirmed the news to Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman, Mats Wennerholm and Peter Ohrling (and what follows is a rough translation of his conversation with Bjurman):
“Yeah, that’s right. Everything worked out in the end, and it will be really fun to play in the World Championship at home,” says Niklas to Sportbladet.
Building a new house was the reason that Niklas hesitated to participate in the World championship.
“Yes, but when I spoke to [team Sweden GM Johan] Garpenlov, we agreed to keep the door slightly open [to me playing] when we spoke the first time,” says Niklas Kronwal from Detroit last night. “And now things have gone a lot faster and better than I expected. And all along, I wanted to come home and play in the World Championship.”
So when will you [come]?
Kronwall’s brother, Staffan, already played in the Swedish World Championship team [during their game] in Brno, [Czech Republic], and served as the captain against the Czechs yesterday.
Niklas played in the World Championship for Sweden in 2007, when he was the #1 defenseman and led the Swedish team in points, and was a player on the last World Championship team to bring gold to Sweden.
“We’re hoping to accomplish something similar,” he says.
So Kronwall, Zetterberg, Franzen and Ericsson will play for Sweden; Justin Abdelkader and Jimmy Howard will play for the U.S.; Pavel Datsyuk, as MLive’s Ansar Khan notes, will play for Russia; Jakub Kindl is attempting (as he told iDnes’s Ondrej Novotny, and iDnes is apparently holding a web chat with Kindl at 1 PM Czech time—or AM EDT); Tomas Tatar will play for Slovakia; and Valtteri Filppula will play for Finland.
So that’s a total of nine Red Wings who are guaranteed spots on five separate World Championship teams, and, if Kindl makes the Czechs’ roster, 10 Wings playing on 6 different teams, and Aftonbladet’s Mats Wennerholm reports that Calle Jarnkrok at least played pretty well in a pre-tournament game alongside Johan Larsson and Gabriel Landeskog.
Jarnkrok probably won’t make Sweden’s roster as it will be jam-packed with NHL’ers, but at least they’re giving him a chance to impress the team for potential employment at a later date.
In news of other Wings players or prospects still playing hockey, Tomas Jurco didn’t register a point but took five shots in the Saint John Sea Dogs’ 3-2 overtime victory over the Chicoutimi Sagueneens on Thursday evening. Jurco’s Sea Dogs now hold a 3-1 lead in the QMJHL semifinal (they don’t have an “Eastern” or “Western” conference as there are three divisions in the Q). Jurco has still posted 18 points over the course of 11 playoff games, and Saint John can advance to the QMJHL final on Saturday.
In the OHL, an overworked Petr Mrazek and the Ottawa 67’s might bow out of the Eastern Conference Final as they face a 3-1 deficit against the Niagara IceDogs going into tonight’s game.
In news regarding Red Wings players past and present, former Montreal Canadiens goaltender, prolific author and member of Canadian parliament Ken Dryden launched into yet another anti-NHL-violence essay in the Globe and Mail today, and he led off with the following parable, if you will…
It was the Stanley Cup final, the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, 1964. The game was in Toronto. Leafs goaltender Johnny Bower was 39. He had kicked around the minor leagues almost all his professional career but everyone knew he would do anything to stop shots, even put his maskless face in front of them. In the last few years he had earned his chance.
Gordie Howe had always been great. He had the hands to score, the elbows and attitude to command the corners, and the fists to embarrass anyone foolish enough to take him on. He was 36. Bower and Howe were both from Saskatchewan, Bower from Prince Albert, Howe from Floral. They had fished together. They were great competitors.
The puck was shot into the corner in the Leafs’ zone. Bower moved toward the puck uncertainly, leaving himself exposed from behind. Howe bore down toward the puck. Howe, the toughest guy around, could’ve plastered Bower’s head against the glass, perhaps deciding the Cup.
Instead, he yelled: “Look out, John, I’m behind you.”
The Leafs won the Cup. I was 16, living in Toronto. I read the story the next day in the newspaper. Howe’s “Look out, John” comes to me 48 years later.
Before switching into the present tense with the following:
I love the first round of the playoffs. Everything is fresh, everything is possible. First seeds play eighth seeds that are just as able to win as they are. Upsets happen. By the last two rounds especially, when even the unworldly energy of the underdog seems to flag, talent tends to win out and the outcomes become more predictable. In the first round there are also games everywhere on the digital box, time zone after time zone. If the games don’t quite blend into each other, the emotions of them do. Every next game in a night seems more exciting because of the last one. Every next game seems more out of control because the last one was.
This year’s first round felt like a giant primal scream. The scream began when Nashville’s Shea Weber rammed the head of Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg into the glass. It picked up volume after the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin took out Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, culminated with the Torres hit and in the days that passed before his final suspension was announced. By then, things seemed different than they had ever been before. You could hear it in the intensity of the talk on sports channels, on mainstream channels, in newspapers, and on the streets. Players going down one after another! What’s going on here?
You can continue reading the article if you wish, but you can safely bet that Dryden will insist that the NHL doesn’t need to listen to the Don Cherrys of the world and bring back enforcers to “enforce” gratuitous violence by making Brendan Shanahan do his job instead…
In very different news that might be just as thought-provoking, the Free Press’s Helene St. James summarizes the Wings’ individual award outlook as follows:
The fact defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom’s name wasn’t included among the finalists for the 2012 Norris Trophy leaves the Red Wings in short representation at the NHL Awards show in June.
Lidstrom is practically synonymous with the trophy for best defenseman, having won it seven times, including last year. He had a great first half this season and appeared on track to be a finalist. However, he ended up missing a dozen games during the second half because of illness and injury, and wasn’t among the top three vote-getters.
The finalists are Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, Nashville’s Shea Weber, and Boston’s Zdeno Chara. The winner will be announced June 20 in Las Vegas, along with the complete voting (members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association voted on the award at the end of the regular season and had to list five nominees, so Lidstrom should have some votes).
The trophy is expected to go to either Karlsson or Weber. Karlsson tied for 10th among all players with 78 points, the most by a defenseman since Lidstrom had 80 in 2005-06. Karlsson led all blueliners with 19 goals and 59 assists. Weber, who was runner-up to Lidstrom a year ago, tied Karlsson with 19 goals and had a career-best 49 points. Chara, the 2009 winner, had 52 points and was a plus-33.
There are only two awards left to announce—today’s Hart, awarded to the regular-season MVP (which is almost certain to be Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin) and coach of the year on Monday. The Wings are not expected to have finalists for either of those, leaving them with Pavel Datsyuk as their sole nominee. Despite missing 12 games, he was among the finalists for the Selke Trophy, which recognizes the top two-way player.
I don’t think that Lidstrom or Datsyuk will be named to the league’s First or Second All-Star Teams, either, so the NHL Awards will be…Different.
And finally, I’ll try to launch off a slate of grades for the Wings’ forwards today or tomorrow, news cycle permitting.
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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.