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Red Wings overnight report: Nicklas Lidstrom’s Tiger/Chili Pepper evening, and calm before the storm

Perhaps for the first time in his career, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom received the full celebrity treatment on Friday night. Lidstrom began his evening by delivering the Tigers’ lineup to some photo-happy umpires (per the Free Press’s Julian Gonzalez’s gallery) prior to the Tigers-Yankees game, of course flanked by one Tomas Holmstrom...

And then, as WRIF’s Meltdown and the Red Wings’ Twitter account noted, Lidstrom, Holmstrom, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Chris Chelios received backstage passes for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ concert at Joe Louis Arena. I was told that when Lidstrom took to the stage, things got a little crazy, and that’s certainly what the Detroit News’s Adam Graham indicated:

It’s not easy to upstage a band of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, but Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sold-out concert at Joe Louis Arena Friday night was stolen out from underneath them by Nicklas Lidstrom, the Detroit Red Wings defenseman who retired earlier this week after 20 seasons with the Wings.

Chili Peppers drummer and hometown boy Chad Smith brought out Lidstrom at the close of the group’s 100-minute concert, proudly introducing him as “Nicklas (13-letter curse word) Lidstrom.” Lidstrom emerged, his arms raised in the air, and the crowd — who had been giddy for the Chili Peppers all night — went into hysterics.

After hugging Smith, a noted Wings fan himself, Lidstrom took the microphone and said of his 20 years of memories at Joe Louis, standing in front of the arena on the Chili Peppers’ stage “might top it all.” He reminisced briefly about trying out for the Wings, and said his ovation was hard to imagine. “This is unbelievable, guys. I love you!” he shouted, and got the love right back from the Hockeytown crowd.

Lidstrom’s triumph was the heart of a Red Wings’ heavy evening at the Joe. Early in the concert, Chili Peppers bassist Flea thanked the Wings “for letting us use your building,” while Smith sported a Red Wings logo on his drum kit and on the back of his sleeveless shirt. And Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who joined the band in 2009 when on-again, off-again guitarist John Frusciante left the group, came out for the evening’s encore sporting, yes, a Lidstrom jersey.

I adore the fact that Lidstrom got to let his hair down—and that we Wings fans were able, for once, to see the Wings’ players quietly enjoy the city’s attractions and each other’s company (and let’s face it, Chris Chelios and “party” kind of go hand in hand)—and I do think that we should call Nick “Nicklas Mother****ing Lidstrom” from now on, just because wink

But something tells me that Tomas Holmstrom drove an exhausted man home. As noted in that monster multimedia post, Lidstrom ran a media gauntlet form sun-up to sundown and beyond, including a twelve-minute interview with Hockey Night in Canada’s Gord Stellick and a Leaf-happy Mark Osborne, confirming that he will stay with the Wings’ organization in some capacity…

And Chelios spoke to The Fan 590’s Joey Vendetta about Lidstrom.

 

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If you missed it, it’s a day late and a dollar short, but WJR posted its clip of Lidstrom speaking to Mitch Albom, too…

 

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And a day after the Detroit Free Press‘s editorial page hailed Lidstrom as a role model for everyone, the Detroit News spent a chunk of its editorial page offering similar sentiments:

On Thursday, Hockeytown lost a sporting legend when Nicklas Lidstrom, an all-star defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings, announced his retirement after 20 years. Lidstrom’s tenure saw the Red Wings make the playoffs each year and hoist four Stanley Cup titles (‘97, ‘98, ‘02 and ‘08), not to mention an Olympic Gold Medal in 2006 with his native Sweden. Lidstrom was a stabilizing presence after the 1997 auto accident that cut short the career of Vladimir Konstantinov. In 2008, after a groin injury forced Lidstrom to miss his first playoff game, he returned in time to help defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the finals. Mr. Lidstrom, you wore the Winged Wheel well. Best of luck in retirement.

 


Otherwise, slowly but surely, the news cycle is moving away from Lidstrom’s retirement, and so we should be grateful that MLive’s Ansar Khan let us know why the Wings have yet to sign Tomas Jurco to deals similar to those inked by Calle Jarnkrok (click for Capgeek.com’s breakdown) and Teemu Pulkkinen (ditto), perhaps review what is now the product of over sixty hours of Malik Report entries...

Prhaps covetously watch Zach Parise and the New Jersey Devils play in tonight’s Stanley Cup Finals game, and patiently wait for the Sunday rumor columns to add more to Friday’s news about Ryan Suter speaking with Predators GM David Poile (the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan’s blog entry and Twitter comments seem to be attempts to douse water on Wings’ fans hopes, to say the least), Thursday’s news that the “upper limit” for the 2012-2013 cap will exceed $70 million, if only temporarily, and then wait to chat with the Free Press’s Helene St. James on Monday morning, right?

Not exactly. As noted what seems like a lifetime ago—on Wednesday morning—after tonight’s Tigers-Yankees game, Red Wings GM Ken Holland, assistant GM Jim Nill, capologist Ryan Martin, VP Jimmy Devellano, coach Mike Babcock, “special assistants” Chelios and Kris Draper and all the team’s pro scouts will spend Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mapping out their free agency plans, perhaps armed with TSN’s Scott Cullen’s presumptive Wings “off-season game plan” and Capgeek’s lists of free agent forwards, defensemen and goaltenders.

They’re going to spend three of the next four days preparing to act more aggressively than the team has in a decade, hoping to add, whether by trade-and-sign moves at the draft, plain old trades or, most likely, free agency, one or two top-pair defensemen, a top-six forward who can score goals, a back-up goaltender and maybe a fourth-line forward with size and grit, and the front office is also going to decide whether Homer holds a press conference announcing his farewell sometime this month, too.

Today’s lack of content, at least on a comparative basis to what we’ve been reading over the past three days, is nothing less than the calm before a month-long storm, and the lulls between now and July 1st will be punctuated by fireworks.

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan offers a simple assessment of the Wings’ tasks at hand…

How do the Red Wings get better? How do they get back to playing this time of year?

Those questions are top of mind when the team’s decision-makers get together Sunday-Tuesday during their annual pro scouts meetings. And that’s when general manager Ken Holland, assistants Jim Nill and Ryan Martin, senior vice president/alternate governor Jimmy Devellano, coach Mike Babcock and scouts will evaluate every player in the organization — and the league.

“I want to see what everybody is thinking, get opinions,” Holland said.

And it starts with talk of retirements. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom announced his Thursday. Forward Tomas Holmstrom, 39, may be next.

Then there’s Brad Stuart, who likely is leaving to sign with a team close to his family in San Jose, and Jiri Hudler, whose 25-goal season may have priced himself out of Detroit.

So that leaves the Red Wings looking at the market.

Who do they pursue? And how much are they willing to spend? Their interest in Devils forward Zach Parise and Predators defenseman Ryan Suter is known. But numerous other teams will be in the hunt, too. After that, though, the quality in the market falls off dramatically.

“After that,” we’re talking about Alex Semin and P.A. Parenteau up front—with Semin guaranteeing that he’s going to test the market on Russian websites, though he does have a pain-in-the-ass agent in Mark Gandler—Matt Carle, Dennis Wideman and Jason Garrison on defense, and at least a surprisingly deep pool of goaltenders.

Despite Kulfan’s concerns about Suter, and the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper’s almost angrily-worded insistence that Detroit would be a terrible place for Suter to play (too much pressure, too old, too slow, and a dragon slain), I think it’s a coin flip as to whether Suter will stay in Nashville or choose to test a marketplace where 29 teams would happily back up a Brinks truck to his off-season home in Wisconsin, offering to take care of him financially and offer him some privacy (which Detroit, a big hockey market with less than rabid TV, print and radio coverage, as well as a spread-out suburban layout and respectful Midwestern fans, can actually offer him—after all, Brad Richards isn’t a social butterfly, but he’s playing in New York)...

And Parise? I think he’s a coin flip, too, regardless of whether the Devils win or lose the Cup, but Newark Star-Ledger’s Tom Politti doesn’t anticipate Parise returning to New Jersey, suggesting that the Wings have the best odds of landing him:

Detroit: Not only are the Red Wings always one of the most attractive destinations for free agents, thanks to their passionate fan base and commitment to winning, but this offseason they are expected to have about $20 million in salary-cap room to spend, and a desire to spend it after losing in the first round.

Former Maple Leafs GM Gord Stellick told the Wall Street Journal, “(The Red Wings are) never going to go after an unrestricted free agent as hard as they’re going to go after Zach Parise.” If they offer a winning tradition and $9 million a year, could the Devils compete — especially with the latter?

Odds: 2-1.

My bottom line regarding free agents is simple: we don’t know what the hell they’re thinking, and with perhaps the exception of Semin, we have no clue whether they’re going to be up for grabs at the draft or available on July 1st.

What we do know is that Ken Holland and his front office companions prefer to add personnel by the free agent marketplace whenever possible, and we do know that losing Nicklas Lidstrom, losing Brad Stuart, never really replacing Brian Rafalski, probably replacing Tomas Holmstrom with some badly-needed goal-scoring and $26 million of at least temporary cap space, combined with three years’ worth of lateral free agency moves’ results in disappointing playoff runs, mean that the Wings absolutely must move decisively and absolutely must improve the team this summer.

For now, we’ll wait to hear what the Wings’ management has to say come Tuesday or Wednesday, we’ll read the Sunday rumor columns, and we’ll have to cross our fingers that the preferred candidates reach the market. But we’re about four full weeks away from some serious-ass moves.

 


For the moment, however, we’re going to move to the “also of Red Wings-related note” category:

• MLive’s Ansar Khan both took a picture of Darren Helm’s “Harry Potter” scar on his right arm and spoke to #43 about his recovery process after finally taking off the splint protecting his slowly-healing flexor tendons on Wednesday:

“The strength is coming back, the movement is pretty good,’’ Helm said Thursday, during Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement press conference. “Doctors are saying I should make a full recovery.’‘

Helm was injured in Game 1 of the playoffs in Nashville on April 11, when he was cut by Alexander Radulov’s skate blade six minutes into the first period. He had surgery the same night. It was his first game back after missing 3½ weeks with a sprained left medial collateral ligament.

“I’m starting to do more therapy on (his arm), where I can do different strength activities,’’ Helm said. “(Wednesday) was really the first day outside of the cast, so doctors took a look at it and said it’s ahead of schedule. I should be working out hard in a couple of months and get back and ready for camp.’‘

• In the multimedia category, Hockeysverige’s Uffe Bodin gave an excellent interview to Ottawa’s Team 1200 (in English, of course), speaking about Lidstrom’s status as stunningly under-appreciated even in Sweden, gabbing a bit about the Ottawa Senators’ Swedes and sharing some insights about Gustav Nyquist and Calle Jarnkrok while paying tribute to the captain. The interview’s more than worth your time:

• Otherwise, the Swedish papers are taking a breather today, just like the Wings’ media corps, so I only found one foreign-language story of note: according to Sportbox.ru and Russia 2, the Russian national team will receive their World Championship rings in mid-August;

• This matters much, much more than you might think in terms of the placement of the Red Wings’ follow-on facility: According to the Detroit Free Press’s Todd Spangler, the U.S. secretary of transportation will be in town on Monday to discuss what Matt Helms notes might be federal funding for the M-1 Rail line on Woodward Avenue, which is backed by a score of Detroit movers and shakers, including Mike Ilitch, and, at least according to some reports, may have a stop at Temple Street, just north of I-75;

• This made me smile: NHL.com posted a clip of Nicklas Lidstrom’s first goal, scored in October, 1991 against the St. Louis Blues. Lidstrom scored on soon-to-be teammate Vincent Riendeau, was set up by Steve Chiasson, and Jimmy Carson, Gerard Gallant and Paul “Rocketman” Ysebaert were on the ice with Lidstrom.

Back in the day, those CCM Supra gloves—laces and all—that Lidstrom was wearing were the coolest thing around, and the Montreal 99 Graphite stick he used (basically a wood core surrounded by fiberglass and longitudinal strips of graphite) was state-of-the-art.

• Let me know when you’re ready for the Traverse City Summer Camp fund to get going;

• And finally, I hate to drop all these damn personal notes, but I’m into sixty-something hours worked since Wednesday, and Java and Flash updates conspired to crash my usually reliable computer for almost an hour when I kept trying to restore the Firefox session used to compile this report, so I am about fifteen feet beyond the end of my rope right now. I’m gonna try my best to lay low this weekend and cross my fingers that not much happens in English, Swedish, Slovak or any other language until after the organizational meetings are over. I don’t mean to bitch and moan—I’m actually very proud of the work I’ve done, and I hope it helped you deal with Nick’s retirement, because we’re gonna be literally grieving it for a long time—but this has been a Nicklas Motherf***ing Lidstrom haul, and I need to start actually eating meals and get more than three or four hours of sleep every 24 hours.

Here’s hoping that Homer gets at least a week to digest his future, and that we don’t have to deal with a press conference of Lidstrom’s magnitude for at least another half-decade.


Update: By Nicklas Lidstrom’s cannonading shot, it never ends! Via RedWingsFeed, one of Lidstrom’s first defensive partners, Brad Marsh, and one of his would-be successors in Brendan Smith spoke to TSN’s Off the Record regarding Lidstrom and other topics, and here’s a YouTube-formatted video thereof from We All Bleed Red:

 

I will not, however, embed Sportsnet’s Doug MacLean’s pair of “funny stories” about Lidstrom, because just as Mark Osborne was a total dick on the CBC, lording the fact that Lidstrom didn’t check Nikolai Borschevsky on the tip-in goal that doomed the Wings against Toronto in 1993 (I still remember being at that game, and I still despise the Leafs) and gabbing about how great it was to beat the Wings for three frickin’ minutes, MacLean was haughty as hell when Lidstrom spoke to Sportsnet’s HockeyCentral at Noon, and let’s just say that MacLean didn’t do the heavy lifting in discovering or nurturing Lidstrom’s success:

 

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Jeebus, man, I know that I’ve done enough personalizing to make me ill over the past three or four days, but when you’re sharing stories with Nicklas Lidstrom, let the damn man talk about himself instead of asking him to flatter you.

He’s the genuinely wonderful guy and hockey immortal, and I would have liked to hear the national types do what the locals did—let Nick share his memories, thoughts and feelings about an amazing career and a life lived as a proud citizen of Hockeytown.

That’s what I hate about so much hockey discussion and so many websites—and yes, I know I’m doing it, too—this ain’t about conducting a testosterone war, marking one’s territory or determining who’s “more right,” who knows more about the game or who’s the dominant person in the room based upon a verbal or written pissing contest.

The reason I work so damn hard is because I want to try to establish an environment where we’re all fellow fans, we’re all assumed to be well-informed, regardless of how connected we are to the game or how long we’ve watched or played it, and where all our opinions are valid and we can, like Lidstrom’s defensive partners, talk, share our opinions and insights, learn things from each other, passionately follow our favorite team and players, feel like we’re a part of a community that’s bigger than ourselves, maybe give our following of a kid’s game some meaning in interacting with that community, and plain old coping with things as staggering as Nicklas Lidstrom retiring.

This ain’t about me, as fulfilling and ego-helpful as it might be at times. It’s about the Wings, it’s about trying to establish and maintain a positive community of Wings fans, and it’s about me compiling some articles and writing a bit and then turning the discussion over to you, because you’re the most important part of the equation, regardless of whether you comment, you lurk, you agree or disagree with something said, regardless of your gender, whatever other difference, this is about giving you someplace to talk about something we’re all passionate about…

And on top of all of that, it’s about trying to give ourselves and each other some perspective about something that we all take very, very seriously, but isn’t live and death, despite what our hearts and guts might tell us. On top of it all, it’s about enjoyment and fun.

Is that okay with you? I hope so.

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Comments

Avatar

Great work as always, George. Thanks for your hard work and dedication. Now get some well-deserved rest, man!

Posted by Seaner from San Jose on 06/02/12 at 06:29 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

What an awesome event that concert must have been.  So happy Nick is getting a huge dose of love from the Detroit fans before he goes back to Sweden.

Thanks for all the great stuff, George.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 06/02/12 at 10:33 AM ET

DocF's avatar

You bet, it is OK with me down here in Bubbaland.

Doc

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 06/02/12 at 11:35 AM ET

Neznarf's avatar

Heres some video of Nick coming out on stage last night….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRQPWfl5fHs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Posted by Neznarf on 06/02/12 at 11:41 AM ET

gowings's avatar

George, I can honestly say that your articles help me “deal” with #5 retirement. I live in MTL and I only need to read YOU to get ALL my information about the Wings and MORE! You are a great writer and I feel that I have known you for years…the only way I can say thank you for all this incredible work, is to encourage my friends and colleagues to read your work. Just great! smile

Posted by gowings from MTL on 06/02/12 at 11:47 AM ET

gowings's avatar

Neznarf :

Thanks for the link…god….just…speechless

Posted by gowings from MTL on 06/02/12 at 11:52 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Thanks George, unbelievable work again.  Can’t wait until my daughter gets off work this afternoon and sees the Abdelkader photo and story about the RHCP concert.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 06/02/12 at 11:54 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Posted by Neznarf on 06/02/12 at 10:41 AM ET

Thanks a million for sharing that link.  I was trying to imagine what that was like! Now we know.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 06/02/12 at 12:32 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Thanks for the compliments…I take them terribly most of the time, but I really appreciate every one, and Jeebus Monkey, I’ve got the 34-year-old’s zits and stiffness and allergies to prove that I was hunched over my computer like a video gamer on Red Bull and Cheetos over the past three-and-a-half days. It’s been nuts and I’m glad that the work put in mattered.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/02/12 at 09:33 PM ET

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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.