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The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: NHL.com provides an outside perspective on the state of the Wings

Updated with a little off-the-cuff Lidstrom gabba at 5:13 AM: NHL.com’s “30 in 30” series discusses the Red Wings’ outlook going into the 2012-2013 season today, and given that it’s the middle of August, it’s probably a good time to get an outside perspective on the “state of the team” given that we know the team is likely to re-sign Justin Abdelkader, ink one more defenseman via free agency and then, well…wait and see what both their youth movement and the CBA can bring before making more meaningful additions over the course of the regular season.

NHL.com’s Dan Rosen starts at the beginning, asking Wings coach Mike Babcock how the team plans on beginning the “post-Lidstrom era,” and even I get worried when Babcock tells Rosen that, and I quote, “I’m always scared to death in the summer”:

“Nick Lidstrom is like a security blanket—he just makes you feel good,” Babcock said. “When he leaves, like when Stevie (Yzerman) left, it makes you uneasy. But what’s the matter with change? Embrace it. Get the old adrenaline pumping and let’s go.”

As scared as he is, Babcock’s adrenaline is pumping and his excitement for the 2012-13 edition of the Detroit Red Wings is high because he wants to see which players will step up and emerge as leaders and go-to guys in the absence of arguably the greatest defenseman in a generation or more.

“We can’t replace him. We’re not trying to replace him—his quiet confidence and his ability to coach the coach, to run the team with no ego,” Babcock said. “But (Henrik) Zetterberg, (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Niklas) Kronwall, they’re not slouches. They were watching Stevie, and now they got a chance to watch Nick. It’s important when you get your turn you embrace it.”

Once training camp begins, Babcock’s finger will immediately point at Kronwall as the guy on the defensive side who has to take over and be the new No. 1 in front of All-Star goalie Jimmy Howard. Jonas Gustavsson will be Howard’s new backup. Kronwall was a No. 3 until Brian Rafalski retired after the 2010-11 season. He moved up to No. 2 last season, but with Lidstrom now in the front office, the 31-year-old known for his pulverizing body checks will be counted on to be the steadiest of Detroit’s defensemen. Detroit is contemplating adding a veteran blueliner through either a trade or free-agent signing to replace Brad Stuart, who is now with the San Jose Sharks, but as of today they’ve got Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Ian White, Kyle Quincey, Jakub Kindl and rookie Brendan Smith.

“It’s their chance now,” Red Wings vice president and assistant general manager Jim Nill told NHL.com.

Lidstrom’s departure obviously has no bearing on the Red Wings’ high-end talent up front. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula return to lead a talented group of forwards, but Babcock knows for the Red Wings to be at their best, their depth forwards have to take another step forward this season. It also appears that Tomas Holmstrom, a leader for years in Detroit, will not be back. Babcock will look to Darren Helm, Justin Abedelkader and Danny Cleary. He sees them as being just as important to the Red Wings’ overall success as Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

Detroit won six of the 14 regular-season games Helm missed last season because of injury. The Red Wings won 42 of the 68 games he played in—and Helm produced only 26 points. Helm got hurt in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals and couldn’t return in the series. The Nashville Predators defeated Detroit in five games.

“Datsyuk and Zetterberg drive the team, but Helm is one of the drivers and that’s what makes him an X-factor,” Babcock said.

Regarding Helm specifically, Babcock tells Rosen that the team signed Helm to a 4-year, $8.5 million deal—the kind of deal up-and-coming forwards with more offensive chops tend to command—because Helm’s the player who balances the ship…

“We were the No. 1 team in the NHL after 60-plus games last season and we traded our first-round pick because it was then the No. 30 pick,” Babcock said. “Helm got hurt and now we would have had the 19th pick.”

With Helm healthy and in the lineup, the Red Wings feel they have enough forward depth to compete with any team in the NHL. He’s not as gifted as Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg, but Babcock said he thinks Helm is the best third-line center in the NHL because he gives the Red Wings depth, speed and faceoff wins—three elements that make for a dangerous opponent. Babcock went so far as to include Helm in a grouping with Datsyuk and Zetterberg as the forwards who make the Red Wings’ offense go.

“This guy is just one of those Energizer bunnies. He keeps on trucking,” Babcock said. “[Helm] walks in and immediately charges up the room. That’s how important he is to our team. You know, sometimes as a coach when you lose a guy the appreciation for that guy goes up.”

Babcock has never measured Helm’s value by his points—good news for Helm considering he had 26 in 68 games last season after scoring 32 points in 82 games in 2010-11. However, the coach did admit that Helm can improve on his production to become a 40-point guy, and he needs to become more dominant in the faceoff circle.

Helm won 51.9 percent of his faceoffs last season (403 of 777). It was a slight decline from the prior season, when he won 52.6 percent of his draws (493 of 938).

“I think one of the things you have to be careful of here is you have to do what you do and do it to the best of your ability,” Babcock said. “He’s at the stage of his career, no matter who they play against us on the road it should be no issue. If it’s (Anze) Kopitar, it should be no issue. He can play against anybody, and with his work ethic and tenacity he can wear anybody out.”

And when looking at the Wings’ depth chart, NHL.com’s Corey Masisak believes that the team’s sixteen forwards don’t necessarily make up for the fact that the Wings are currently only six defensemen deep, but it can’t hurt.

Masisak believes that the Wings’ starting lineup will look like this…

Forwards: Danny Cleary - Pavel Datsyuk - Johan Franzen

Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Damien Brunner

Gustav Nyquist - Darren Helm - Mikael Samuelsson

Drew Miller - Justin Abdelkader - Todd Bertuzzi

Cory Emmerton - Jordin Tootoo

Defensemen: Niklas Kronwall - Ian White

Jonathan Ericsson - Kyle Quincey

Brendan Smith - Jakub Kindl

Goaltenders: Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

And as such…

There is quite a logjam at forward in Detroit. [Todd] Bertuzzi has been a top-six player during his tenure with the Red Wings, but his production has slipped and he’ll be 38 in February—he could be in for a Holmstrom-esque dip in ice time. A healthy [Danny] Cleary and newcomer [Damien] Brunner look like possible replacements for Jiri Hudler and Bertuzzi in the top six, but don’t count out Nyquist or Samuelsson as contenders for those spots as well.

This lineup doesn’t even leave room for Patrick Eaves, who has two years at $1.2 million per left on his deal, or prospects Tomas Tatar or Jan Mursak, who could force their way into the opening-night lineup with a strong training camp. If the Red Wings only keep six defensemen, holding onto 15 forwards is possible and that would mean another spot for Eaves’ or Mursak’s one-way contract.

It seems rather implausible that Holland won’t add a veteran defenseman of some kind before the season begins. Detroit has five guys on one-way contracts plus top prospect Brendan Smith, who is a lock for a roster spot. Beyond those six, someone like Brian Lashoff or Adam Almqvist would be in line for an NHL debut if injury strikes.

Both are still young and likely to stay in the American Hockey League until needed, though. If the Red Wings want a seventh defenseman as insurance on the roster, expect them to grab a veteran free agent on a cheap deal.

Rosen asks six key questions facing the Wings, including the obvious, “Who fills the Lidstrom void?” question, Jonathan Ericsson and Danny Cleary can establish and/or reestablish themselves as blue-chip performers, whether Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith and some of the Wings’ top prospects are ready to roll (we’ll get to that particular issue in a minute), but his final question reads as follows:

Is Detroit’s record run for consecutive postseason appearances in jeopardy? The Red Wings have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 21 straight seasons, an NHL record and the longest current streak in any of the four major professional sports leagues. The past 20 of those playoff berths have come with Lidstrom as a cornerstone defenseman. They have won the Stanley Cup four times over the course of the past two decades-plus.

The current team, at least on paper, is good enough to keep the streak intact, but there is no denying that for the first time in a long time the Red Wings are vulnerable. They lost Lidstrom and Stuart off the blue line and did not replace them, hoping instead that Smith is ready for full-time duty and everyone else is capable of doing more than they ever have. That also means White has to show he can be a consistent two-way defender without Lidstrom as his partner.

The Red Wings lost Hudler to the Calgary Flames and replaced him with aging Mikael Samuelsson and Brunner, who has never played a professional game in North America. They are hoping that Nyquist and/or Mursak can make the jump to the NHL, but by no means can they say either is a sure thing.

Zetterberg and Datsyuk are superstars, but each has been injury prone in the past. Zetterberg did play all 82 games last season, but Datsyuk missed 12 games and was battling injuries throughout the season.

Detroit wants to rely on Johan Franzen to be a consistent difference-maker up front. The problem is Franzen can be one of the League’s premier power forwards one day and invisible the next. Todd Bertuzzi is 37 and coming off one of the least productive seasons of his career (38 points in 71 games). Cleary is 33 and also took a step backward last season.

Minnesota got better. Dallas got better. Anaheim could be a threat again. Calgary and Colorado both believe they have improved. There will be plenty of competition for Detroit in the Western Conference.

The Free Press’s Helene St. James has already pondered whether Niklas Kronwall can become the #1 defenseman the team needs him to be, and whether Danny Cleary can play like a top-six forward again, but while some have suggested that Kyle Quincey’s the team’s x-factor on defense, I happen to think that St. James’ subject for today’s installment of her series on crucial performers going forward is in fact the player who needs to prove the most this season—Ian White.

White’s going into a contract year, and he needs to prove that his $2.75 million salary is in fact woeful underpayment of a top-four defenseman with 30-40-point production, not the back end of a two-year, $5.75 million gamble on a player who only looked good when he was a) playing alongside Nicklas Lidstrom and b) wasn’t worn down from playing 20 minutes a night:

Looking at numbers: Seven goals, 25 assists, plus-23 in 77 games in 2011-12.
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Looking back: The Wings signed White, 28, last summer after losing Brian Rafalski to retirement. Rafalski was one of the team’s best passers, and played a significant role in getting the offense going from the back end. White was used to playing with the puck from his days in Toronto and used those skills as he transitioned into Detroit’s top-four grouping. He won the lottery in drawing Nicklas Lidstrom as a partner, hovering near the top among NHL defensemen in plus-minus rating the first half of the season. White looked a lot more human after being separated from Lidstrom, whose skills included being hockey’s best safety net and always being available as an outlet in case of emergency. White was average in the playoffs, contributing one goal and no assists in five games against Nashville.

Looking ahead: With Lidstrom and Brad Stuart gone, White stands to play a more prominent role. As good as he is moving the puck, he needs to be dependable in his zone. He could be called upon to help as a penalty killer, something he didn’t do much of last season. He’s one of the few players on the team who shoots right-handed—and the only defenseman—which makes him especially valuable on the power play. He’s not a very big guy, registering only 49 hits last season.

Based on the personnel the Wings have now, White probably will be paired with either Jonathan Ericsson or Kyle Quincey. Neither will provide the cushion White had with Lidstrom, and Quincey will want to get involved with the puck, requiring White to hang back.

Given the high prices teams pay for defensemen, White’s $2.875-million salary-cap hit is reasonable, and his puck skills fit well with Detroit’s system. He’s just entering his prime and has a future contract on the line—factors that should help White help the Wings.

I hope so, because, barring an unlikely pre-season trade, the Wings have a shallow pool of free agent defensemen to choose from, with Carlo Colaiacovo, Michal Rozsival, Pavel Kubina, Jaroslav Spacek, Scott Hannan, Brett Clark, Milan Jurcina, wild cards like Chris Campoli, Matt Gilroy, Cam Barker and lesser lights like Colin White, Sean O’Donnell, Jim Vandermeer and Kent Huskins representing the entirety of the Wings’ options available for only the price of their contracts.

Here’s NHL.com’s “30 in 30” summation of the state of the Wings, from Rosen:

 

 

Going forward, in the present tense variety, Wings prospect Xavier Ouellet had an assist on the overtime goal which gave Team Canada’s World Junior Selection team a decisive victory over the Russians at the Canada-Russia Challenge in Halifax, NS.

The series ended up being split 2-2, so the teams engaged in an overtime to determine the series winner, and while Ouellet was generally quiet throughout the series, and the Canadian Press and Metro Halifax’s Matthew Wuest’s recaps don’t mention him, Yahoo Sports’ Neate Sager reports that Ouellet and Canada were the recipients of a lucky and/or earned bounce:

In 4-on-4 Overtime, [Ryan] Strome was on the ice on a forward unit with Charles Hudon and a clearing attempt bounced off of Xavier Ouellet to Hudon on the near boards. After a second failed clearing attempt, Strome made a step around Mikhail Naumenkov and delivered a wicked shot over the shoulder of a cheating Andrey Vasilievsky who had to play deep with Ouellet cutting to the net.

Just as importantly, per the CP:

The series is a tribute to Kontinental Hockey League team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. The club was devastated last September when a plane carrying the team crashed and killed 44 players and coaches, including former NHL defenceman Brad McCrimmon.

Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said the series helped provide some closure for Byron McCrimmon, Brad’s dad.

“What we wanted to do was go over there and show respect to those players,” Nicholson said. “Another key thing was we wanted to take Byron, Brad’s dad, with us. He went through all the sites and visited so many of the people Brad knew before the fatal accident.”

TSN also posted a highlight clip from the game.

In terms of wrapping up the “30 in 30” coverage, however, Ouellet ranks ninth in Dan Rosen’s assessment of the team’s top ten prospects, and he points out that even with Ouellet in the mix, the prospect corps reflects the team in general as it’s heavy on forwards and a little short on defense—if you exclude free agent signing Brian Lashoff and sleeper pick and 12-13 North American debutant Adam Almquist, as Rosen does.

Perhaps necessarily shifting focus back to the big club…

1. Brendan Smith, D: Smith will be given the chance to start the season in Detroit’s top six after playing 14 games and producing seven points last season. The opening is a result of the departures of Lidstrom and Brad Stuart (now playing for the San Jose Sharks). Smith, Detroit’s first-round pick in 2007, has played primarily in the American Hockey League the past two seasons, piling up 66 points in 120 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

“He’s ready,” Nill told NHL.com. “He was pretty close to being ready last year, but we don’t want kids sitting up in the press box. We think it’s better for them to play in the American League. If they don’t make your top four lines or top six on defense, it’s better off they play in the American League. He played some games and played well, but he’s definitely ready now.

“He’s got a lot of different tools,” Nill added. “He’s a great skater. He’s got good offensive instincts. He plays physical. He’s got an edge to him. He’s got a lot of different intangibles.”

2. Gustav Nyquist, C: Despite his size (5-foot-10, 169 pounds), the Red Wings expect big things from Nyquist, who has seven points in 18 NHL games. He showed his promise with six points in seven games from March 9-26. He also played in four Stanley Cup Playoff games last season after getting called up because Darren Helm suffered a season-ending injury in Game 1 against the Nashville Predators.

Nyquist was a Hobey Baker Award finalist in 2010 and has played in 63 AHL games with Grand Rapids over the past two seasons. He finished tied with Tomas Tatar and Jamie Johnson for the team lead with 58 points last season, but he played in 56 games while Tatar and Johnson each played in 76.

“It’s kind of the same situation as Smith; he was close to making our team last season but it was his first year pro,” Nill said. “Coming out of college, historically a lot of those players start off well and hit a wall, but the nice thing with him is he never really hit the wall. He was one of the top rookie scorers in the American League even missing 20 games down there because of call-ups. He’s got great offensive instincts and he’s deceptive. He’s a really good goal scorer.”
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4. Tomas Tatar, LW: Tatar has spent the past three seasons piling up 147 points in 204 games with Grand Rapids. He had 58 points in 76 games last season. Now 21 years old, the No. 60 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft is expected to compete for a roster spot in Detroit. The Red Wings would like to see Tatar make the jump because he has gained the necessary experience and has done just about all he could at the AHL level.

“He’s only 21 and he’s already played three years in the American League,” Nill said. “His first year was a feeling-out year, but he played pretty well. The last two seasons he has scored 24 goals each year. He’s a very good prospect, and had a very good tournament in the World Championships for Slovakia. He won the silver medal and was one of the younger players in the tournament. He’s going to be one of those guys on the bubble, one of the 11 to 13 forwards, and if he doesn’t make the team out of camp he’ll be the No. 1 call-up.”

 

 


In news from across the pond, a lapsed and estranged Wings prospect had a solid debut for his new team, albeit in a pre-season game. According to Expressen’s Axel Pilby, Dick Axelsson scored two goals for the Frolunda Indians, who defeated the Vaxjo Lakers 5-2, while playing on the team’s top line, alongside Mattias Olimb and former Wing Fabian Brunnstrom.

Hockeysverige.se’s Robert Pettersson says that Brunnstrom registered two assists as well, and Gothenburgs Posten’s Thomas Cederfeldt reports that Axelsson got a thumbs-up from Frolunda coach Kent Jackson.

• And in news tied to McCrimmon, Jnytt.se’s Peter Gustafsson reports that HV71 Jonkoping and its fans will remember Stefan Liv by lighting Thai lanterns and sending them into the sky on September 7th, right outside Kinnarps Arena.

According to Jnytt’s Marianne Lundvall, Jonkoping’s airport will actually shut down for an hour to ensure that those lanterns are the only objects in the sky over Jonkoping.

 

 

Back over on this side of the pond, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan notes, former Red Wings defenseman and current New Jersey Devils scout Marcel Pronovost will be among 24 former or current Michigan athletes or coaches inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame tomorrow night (Thursday, August 16th).

The MSHoF is holding an induction ceremony at the Gem Theatre in Detroit, and VIP tickets for the event are available, but they’re, uh…expensive. $225 for an “Adult VIP” and $125 for an “Adult Individual.”

• And if you missed the Stanley Cup’s visit to Grand Ledge, MI last weekend, the Windsor Star’s Monica Wilson notes that you can see the Cup on Tuesday, August 21st in Amhertsburg, Ontario:

Hometown hockey hero Kevin Westgarth will be forever remembered in the dressing halls of the United Communities Credit Union complex. [The Amhertsburg City] Council decided Monday to name the main hockey dressing room corridor Westgarth Way after the L.A. Kings hockey player who put on hockey skates as a child for Amherstburg Minor Hockey.

Westgarth, 28, signed with the L.A. Kings in 2007, playing mostly on its farm teams until the fall of 2010. After two seasons in the NHL, he was there when the L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup this year.

Westgarth will return to his hometown Aug. 21, a day the town named Kevin Westgarth Day, to show off the Stanley Cup.

The cup will start its journey in the parking lot of Canadian Tire and join a procession that will go to the UCCU complex for a naming ceremony.

 

 

I spent a significant chunk of Tuesday covering CBA stuff and the cap space-trading wrinkle the PA added to their CBA proposal, and the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa wrote a long-winded suggestion that I’ve tried to use less than eight hundred words to say aloud:

The owners’ opening gambit plainly was intended to shock and awe. The players’ response — if Fehr’s words Tuesday are true — consists of substantive suggestions and a hand offered by millionaires to help billionaire owners solve their problems.

Do not cancel your cable subscriptions yet for the coming season.

“Today the players made a proposal on the core economic issues that we believe should lead to a new collective bargaining agreement,” Fehr said. “The players did not believe the owners’ original proposal was appropriate or likely to do that. We do believe that the proposal the players made today, once implemented, can produce a stable industry, one that going forward can give us a chance to move beyond the current labor strife that has plagued the NHL for the past two decades.”

If he is lying, time will tell. But the betting here is that he is not.

And while the players will likely have to offer more concessions, do not be surprised if they, and their leader, already know what those might be.

The NHLPA’s counter-proposal—really, a proposal of their own—impressed the hell out of everybody in terms of its creativity and forward-thinking-while-covering-the-players-asses’ nature, and now that both sides’ views of what the CBA should look like are on the table, negotiations can really begin.

Let’s hope they get on the same page by September 15th.

 


Speaking of things with limited time frames, both ESPN’s Craig Custance and the Left Wing Lock’s Sarah Lindenau revealed that the Wings’ prospect tournament is still tentatively “on,” and I’ve been doing some research on Kickstarter, so here’s what I know:

If you want me to start a transparent fundraising campaign, I can do that on Kickstarter, but I’m not sure how I would be able to refund your $ through them if the tourney is canceled on Kickstarter.

We still don’t know whether the Wings plan on holding their training camp in Traverse City no matter what, or whether they’d hold it at the Joe if there’s a lockout, and I know that I’m not the only person who has money and time tied up in going to TC for two weeks, so I’ll let you know what’s up as soon as I find out.

Many of you spend your vacation time and discretionary income to take in part or all of the prospect tournament or main camp, and I hope the Wings understand how important the camp is to you—and to Centre Ice Arena, which subsidizes the vast majority of its hockey programs via the proceeds from the tournament and camp.

 

 

And finally, at the close of what turned out to be a regular season-style 14-hour workday and 19-hour day in total, it seems appropriate to close with DetroitRedWings.com’s Q and A with an alumnus you may not be too familiar with, at least in the hockey department: the forward in question played as a scrappy defensive specialist, and if you search for him on YouTube, you’ll find stuff like this—and a rather staggeringly high number of fights given the name on the back of the jersey:

Sometimes things did not go so well for him, however…

So he’s trading quips with Roose when he’s not working as the team’s assistant general manager and prospect guru:

Question: Do you keep in touch with any of your former Red Wings teammates? If so, who?

Jim Nill: “Yes, very regularly because of the coaching circles, guys like Gerard Gallant, the scouting circles with Harold Snepsts, who works for Vancouver, and a lot of former teammates at the games here like Shawn Burr and Lee Norwood, and Doug Halward when I get down to Vancouver. There’s Dave Barr and Adam Oates, who are coaching, and I talk to Mel Bridgman, Tim Higgins and Paul MacLean quite a bit. Quite a few guys when you start thinking about it.”

Question: What was your favorite memory as a Red Wing?

Nill: “Probably the two years that I was here we went each year to the Final Four. We played Edmonton both years in ’87 and ’88. We had two great series against them and both times we probably deserved a little better fate, but they were a highly skilled team and we played well against them.”
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Question: Who had the biggest heart?

Nill: “That was a pretty big-hearted team, but I’m going to say Steve Yzerman. To go through what he went through with his injuries, he had to have a big heart. He loved the game.”

The Q and A is intriguing as a whole, and if you were wondering about his resume:

Like his son five years ago, Jim Nill was also a late-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues. However, the eldest Nill’s stay in the nation’s heartland was short-lived. A bargaining chip in a trade-deadline deal with the Canucks, Nill was shipped to Vancouver in March 1982, where he helped his new team reach the Stanley Cup finals. Unfortunately for the Canucks, they were swept by the New York Islanders.
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Nill enjoyed a nine-year NHL career as a right wing having also played for the Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and Red Wings. He spent his final 2 ½ seasons in Detroit uniform after being acquired from Winnipeg for Mark Kumpel in 1988.

Nill compiled 58 goals, 87 assists and 854 penalty minutes in 524 regular-season games. He later went to Adirondack as a player/coach, and retired as a player after the 1990-91 season.

And now you know that the person everyone describes as an affable, personable and plain old nice guy wasn’t always so nice wink

 

 

Update: Oh swell, just before I put my head on the pillow…

According to Expressen’s Jonatan Lindquist, Nicklas Lidstrom will get out of character on Swedish TV:

Lidstrom crushes myths about himself

You’ve never seen Nicklas Lidstrom [like this] before.

In tonight’s episode of “Patrick Meets” on TV3 at 21:00, “Mr. Perfect” lets loose with a bat on a car, sends a psych-out at Mats Sundin—and explains why guests at his wedding had to pay at the bar.

“It was because of [Tommy] Salo,” Lidstrom says on the program.

Nicklas Lidstrom is one of the greatest hockey players and he’s won all there is to win. He’s always been known as an almost unparalleled gentleman, both on and off the ice. In Detroit, he was nicknamed “Mr. Perfect” by teammates Kris Draper and Chris Osgood.

But Patrik Sjoberg does his best to dispel that myth. First, Lidstrom will tell you about the time he went into a rage at Tomas Holmstrom

“Went into the car and shouted”

“We’d bought coffee on the way to a game and I was a bit stressed. Holmstrom said it was clear to go and wen I turned left, we got into an accident. I was really angry at both him and myself. I went out and checked that the girl [involved] was okay, but then I went into the car and shouted a little.”

Sjoberg tries to provoke Lidstrom’s anger through various challenges—including a quiz on bumper cars, where it’s revealed that Lidstrom doesn’t know the blogger Kissie, or who is leading “Allsång på Skansen.” Sjoberg also allows Lidstrom to beat on an old Volvo with a bat, something that the rarely-angered Lidstrom gladly does.

“Salo made me…”

In the end, everything comes to a head when Sjoberg puts the question of a rumor that circulated in the hockey world during recent years to Lidstrom—that the guests had to pay their costs at multi-millionaire Nicklas Lidstrom’s wedding reception.

“You’re absolutely right, it was (Tommy) Salo that dared me to do it. It was my way of sticking it to him.”

And there’s a psych-out with Mats Sundin.

First, Sjoberg asks Lidstrom if he’d like to sit at the bar and compare Stanley Cup rings with Sundin (Lidstrom has four, Sundin none)

“No, I have too much respect for ‘Sudden.’ But I’d sit at the bar with him, have a beer or drink and talk about hockey.”

Psych-out No to “Sudden”

Eventually, however, there’s a psych-out, when Sjoberg takes out Lidstrom’s four rings.

“Hey ‘Sudden,’ this is how four Stanley Cup rings look,” says Lidstrom as he greets the camera.

Sjoberg also leaves a trace on Detroit—a nameplate in Lidstrom’s old place in the locker room says, “Sjoberg 242.”

I’m guessing that the last sentence involves a little territory-marking by the TV show…Seems like a “Jock Talk” spiel.

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Comments

Avatar

As far as Masisak’s lineup speculation goes, I think it’s about right, but Cleary will not and should not be on the 1st line. Switch him and Nyquist.

Posted by Reddy on 08/15/12 at 07:59 AM ET

BrendonR's avatar

Nill on Jarnkrok:

We’ll bring him to camp and if he’s one of our top 12 forwards we’ll sit down and make a decision.

Gah!  So excited for the young guys to start having an impact.  I would love it if Calle makes the team this year, and I would imagine Jurco isn’t very car behind development-wise.

Posted by BrendonR on 08/15/12 at 08:05 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Cleary does better on a line where he’s a net front guy and that’s Mule’s spot.  I think you might be right Reddy but it all depends on how they do in preseason. 

Brunner’s right shot and speed would be a HUGE upgrade over Huds IF he can adjust to more contact and no gimme’s in the crease.  I’d rather see Sammy Clear and Bert in the bottom 6 but I can’t see the team signing Tootoo for what they did, and talk about the need for grit and sandpaper, and then not play him.  I think Miller ends up the odd man out.

Wish we had Eaves back.. really like Miller too though, he’s got sneaky slick hands and is squirrelly as hell.

But I know the front office is salivating at being able to put a Tootoo-Helm-Abby line on the ice with some regularity.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/15/12 at 08:23 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

btw, HATE the fact he think Mursak is a prospect with AHL options.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/15/12 at 08:26 AM ET

Avatar

Masisak believes that the Wings’ starting lineup will look like this…

I know a lot of people don’t like the Tootoo signing, but I have a hard time believing he was given a contract comparable to Darren Helm’s in order to be the 13/14th forward.

I also absolutely hate that the reality of our forward situation is that Cleary, Samuelsson or Bertuzzi will likely be in the top six.  “Hey don’t worry, instead of that top-six scoring forward we all wanted we’re going to have an old and/or broken body coming off a 12-14 goal season!  Yay!”

Posted by Garth on 08/15/12 at 09:23 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Some NHL guy speculating about the Wings’ lines doesn’t mean squat.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 08/15/12 at 10:50 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

“This guy is just one of those Energizer bunnies. He keeps on trucking,” Babcock said. “[Helm] walks in and immediately charges up the room. That’s how important he is to our team. You know, sometimes as a coach when you lose a guy the appreciation for that guy goes up.”

This could be a quote from not too long ago about Draper. I’m glad we got Draper 2.0. Now we just need a Maltby 2.0….. oh yeah, we do.
McCarty 2.0 is next?

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 08/15/12 at 10:57 AM ET

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Not sure I agree on the lines proposed. As skilled as that second line would be there is no size to protect Fil and Z. I anticipate something more like this:

Damien Brunner - Pavel Datsyuk - Johan Franzen

Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Mikael Samuelsson

Danny Cleary - Darren Helm - Todd Bertuzzi

Drew Miller - Justin Abdelkader - Jordin Tootoo

Gustav Nyquist - Patrick Eaves

Then move Nyquist in at 4th line center and Abby to the wing with Miller/Eaves/Tootoo fairly interchangeable.

Posted by WingnutBP from CA on 08/15/12 at 05:35 PM ET

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