The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/19/11 at 07:19 AM ET
As the Free Press’s Helene St. James has wound through an astonishing set of ten sets of expectation-stating articles about the Red Wings’ key performers for the upcoming season, we’ve gone back and forth between lock-step agreement and disparate discourse regarding realistic expectations of and roles for certain players to take.
I don’t think any of us are going to disagree with her assessment of Darren Helm, who posted 12 goals and 32 points while maintaining his status as the team’s best defensive forward not named Datsyuk or Zetterberg:
Offense is a secondary part of Helm’s role, however. His main job is to provide speed and energy, be physical and to kill penalties. Helm does a much better job in the latter area than the Wings’ overall penalty kill (82.3% in 2010-11) indicates, as he’s often able to get control of the puck and then carry it all the way up the ice, eating valuable seconds off the clock. He doesn’t convert those breakaways into goals very often (though his two shorthanded goals last season did lead the team), but he’s working on that.
Helm’s speed has earned him the nickname “Danger” from teammates and drawn advice that he slow down just a touch to get a better handle on the puck at the tail end of breakaways.
Helm’s never going to have the deft-handed touch of a player who can post 30 goals, but is 20 out of the question a few years down the line?
Though really only two seasons into a promising NHL career, Helm has been around the Wings quite a bit and is considered, by management, a key component. His contributions on the ice reflect a work ethic that has seen Helm go from being a fifth-round draft pick in 2005 to an established role player by age 24. He’s a well-liked guy in the locker room, where he merrily takes in comparisons to “Dumb & Dumber” character Lloyd Christmas from his teammates and gives back just as good—like when he dressed up as Todd Bertuzzi for Halloween.
Helm could end up centering the third line along with headlining the penalty-killing forward group in 2011-12. He’s a hard worker wherever he goes and is only going to get better.
Helm and Abdelkader will definitely compete for the coveted spot as the center who benefits from the fact that the Wings really have eight “top six” forwards, but for the moment, I get the feeling that Wings coach Mike Babcock will give the nod to Abdelkader and continue to utilize Helm as the player who steadies the Wings’ ship when things aren’t going well (Helm, like Kris Draper before him, can go out there and grind the hell out of opponents cycling in the Wings’ end to settle things down and/or get the crowd on its feet via a superb penalty-killing shift) and provides forechecking pop to the fourth line.
I guess that’s the question for me—Helm himself has suggested that he can expend more energy playing with a physical edge when he’s earning fourth-line minutes, so how much more ice time can he take while crashing and banging the hell out of his opponents? Helm and Eaves are both the Wings’ steadiest penalty-killers and their best forecheckers, and if Helm’s utilized as the center of a line which is supposed to provide more offense, would he have to hold some of his grit and grind back? He absolutely ran a clinic in running one’s opponents into the ground when he turned Eddie Jovanovski into a pinata during the Red Wings-Coyotes series, and while he may have already reached his offensive peak, having a 10-goal-scorer and 30-to-35-point-producer on the fourth line is remarkable in itself.
In other words, it’s hard to replace Helm as the team’s fourth-line center until somebody better comes along, and quite frankly, I don’t think Abdelkader’s as cut out for the job as Helm is for his current position.
The Red Wings’ national TV schedule was revealed on Thursday afternoon, and I’ll let the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan and the Grand Rapids Press summarize the highlights thereof, with the GR Press earning my “quote the whole damn thing” nod:
The Detroit Red Wings will be on U.S. national TV an NHL-high 17 times, starting with a special “day after Thanksgiving game’’ Nov. 25 at the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins on NBC (1 p.m.).
Here is the rundown of the Red Wings’ 11 other exclusive national TV games:
Nov. 30 vs. Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m. (Versus)
Jan. 8 at Chicago, 7:30 (Versus)
Jan. 14 vs. Chicago, 12:30 (NBC)
Jan. 25 at Montreal, 7:30 (Versus)
Feb. 6 at Phoenix, 8 p.m. (Versus)
Feb. 12 vs. Philadelphia, TBD (NBC or Versus)
Feb. 19 vs. San Jose, 12:30 (NBC)
Mar. 21 at N.Y. Rangers, 7:30 (Versus)
Mar. 28 at Columbus, 7:30 (Versus)
Apr. 4 at St. Louis, 7:30 (Versus)
Apr. 7 vs. Chicago, TBD (NBC or Versus)
In addition, these five non-exclusive games will be on Versus but also available on Fox Sports Detroit:
Dec. 6 at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Dec. 27 at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Jan. 3 at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Jan. 23 vs. St. Louis, 7:30
Feb. 21 at Chicago, 8:30
Boston and the Rangers are the only other teams on U.S. national TV 17 times.
The Stanley Cup’s travels don’t involve members of the Red Wings organization this summer, but its schedule will finally include some time in the State of Michigan over the next week or so. On Thursday, MGoBlue.com announced the following…
Former University of Michigan ice hockey player and current member of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins Steve Kampfer (2007-10) will be sharing his day with the Stanley Cup with the U-M community on Thursday, Aug. 25. Kampfer will put the Stanley Cup on display from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the U-M locker room at Yost Ice Arena.
“I’m excited to bring the Cup back to the place that has made me the player I am today,” said Kampfer. “Coming back to the place I wanted to play at since I was the age of four is a dream come true. I couldn’t be more excited to share it with the great fans of Michigan as well. Without them, we wouldn’t have the best rink to play college hockey in. I want fans to be able to see the Stanley Cup and enjoy the day with my family and friends.”
Kampfer will be signing complimentary autographs. Pictures with Kampfer and the Stanley Cup will cost $10, with all proceeds being split between C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the University of Michigan ice hockey program.
For those of you who are wondering whether Kampfer will bring the Cup to Jackson, MI as well, Jamie Favreau found that there’s a Facebook page which states that the Cup will be at Daryl’s Downtown Jackson from 3:30 to 6 PM for another photo opportunity which will exclusively benefit C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
As for the rest of its Michigan itinerary, the Free Press’s Steve Schrader offers news regarding both Tim Thomas’s day with the Cup and that of former Wing Bob Essensa:
The Stanley Cup is headed this way, courtesy of Bruins with Michigan ties. Goaltending coach Bob Essensa, a former Spartan, will have it at the 24th Street Sports Tavern in Oxford at 9 p.m. Tuesday, and goalie Tim Thomas is taking it to Davison High from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Thomas isn’t going to have the Cup available for photos with fans, but as I recall, he’s going to take it all the way to the University of
[edit: Vermont, sorry] on Wednesday evening, so he’s got a jam-packed schedule (and it kind of sucks that the Bruins are only giving their players one day with the Cup, but that’s another story to dwell upon at another time)...
And speaking of scheduling, the Wings’ Twitter account states that signing up for Red Wings email news alerts will allow you to access a pre-sale prior to the Wings’ single-game tickets going on sale on September 1st (though as soon as they reveal the Ticketmaster password, you and I both know that it’ll be blabbed all over the place)*;
Regarding player immortality in video game or plastic form, as the Red Wings continue to entertain votes for their final Operation Bobblehead giveaway, Kukla’s Korner’s Doug Miller confirmed that EA Sports’ NHL 12 game’s Legendary players include Steve Yzerman, Chris CHelios, and Gordie Howe, too…
Image courtesy of Big Bad Toy Store
In the, “If You Missed it” category, the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 2011-2012 regular season schedule was also released on Thursday, and both Calle Jarnkrok and Jimmy Howard—the latter of whom is suggested to be the resident Wing “on the hot seat” by NHL.com’s John Kreiser—were profiled on NHL.com…
Taking a hard left, I’m going to try to summarize the more interesting points of news from the NHL’s Research, Development and Orientation camp as they apply to this year’s game.
1. Test 40-inch-deep nets during the exhibition season;
2. Adopt curved glass near the turnbuckles next to the benches (how this will apply to the turnbuckles located between benches is uncertain as that’s prime network TV analyst-stationing territory);
3. And adopt a “verification line” behind the goal line and install high-definition cameras inside every net for every game (as opposed to just the playoffs; NHL.com’s Dan Rosen says the cameras will break away from the net for player safety’s sake) to help clarify whether pucks have actually entered the net, with potential tweaks to the goal netting to come.
We should not, however, expect that the NHL will:
1. Via Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien and a link to a blog NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman and Dan Rosen kept during the RDO camp, per Dan Rosen, reinstate a trapezoid-less area for goaltenders to play the puck behind the net, nor agree to install a “hybrid icing” rule (again, per Rosen);
2. Give Brian Burke’s “Bear Hug” rule a further look, because the National Post’s Sean Fitz-Gerald reports that the players didn’t know how to “bear hug” their opponents without obstructing them;
3. The Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby also says that the NHL’s GM’s won’t do more than suggest that they may review the league’s behavioral support programs on a public basis at the first GM’s meetings in November. The NHL and NHLPA have promised to conduct an in-house review of their substance abuse and behavioral health programs;
4. And no, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, the NHL won’t simply “make goalies smaller” yet again.
Addressing uncomfortable subjects, part 1: Okay, so I was reading Craig Custance’s write-up on the fact that Team Russia’s snubbing one of Igor Larionov’s clients, Alex Galchenyuk, and up popped a notice from my search engine monkeys that Larionov’s status as an NHLPA-certified agent means that he’s got a biography and contact page on the NHLPA’s website. I’m not sure that Igor knows that the NHL was going to make as much public as it did, because I believe the address given is his actual home’s address, so don’t do what that asterisk above suggested and *blab it all over the place.
Please utilize a Red Wings-fan-worthy level’s worth of politeness and maybe a little Michigan/Midwestern amount of aplomb in keeping this stuff on the down-low and respecting the fact that he’s a private person whose door one should not knock on unless one is invited over. Talking about stuff like player or alumni information getting leaked online makes me itchy, but I’d rather address it to suggest that we respect their privacy than to just leave it hanging out there.
Addressing uncomfortable subjects, part 2: I hate mentioning it every day, but thus far it’s been an uphill battle to raise funds to help defer the cost of staying in Traverse City for 15 days to cover the prospect tournament and main camp, and I really am at a level where, after having exhausted your charity during the summer development camp, I will beg and please and will very honestly suggest that the $5 and $10 donations are going to get me there this time around:
You’ll have to use my email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate…please and thank you and this makes me feel really uncomfortable, still.
I’m very, very flattered that someone nominated me, and I’m very flattered that some of you suggested that you’d vote for me, but there are some really fantastic blogs listed as finalists in the fan vote, including several Wings blogs, and there’s one big omission—Paul and Kukla’s Korner itself, because Paul’s the hardest-working Michigan-based sports blogger there is.
Before mom got out of the hospital on Thursday I told her I stumbled onto the site and found my name there (that’s how it happened, and mom is home and is doing better now) while fiddling around, and she thought it was cool, and really, that was enough for me. I’m very happy to be nominated, but I joined Kukla’s so that I don’t have to worry about doing things like promoting myself because I’m on what I believe to be the best blogging site out there along with my fellow employees, and, well…
Winning the fan vote might mean much more to other people than it does to me, so if they want to campaign for their day in the sun, give the vote to them.. Like I said the other day, this kind of stuff is difficult for me to talk about as I really try to avoid thinking about my image and don’t believe that it’s as important as just doing the work (I’d follow the team just as thoroughly anyway) and feeling useful by caring about doing my job well so that following the Wings is easier for you. I’m not BS’ing out there when I say that there are people who do this better than I do, so the whole recognition factor…
My mom thought it was cool that I was on the finalist’s list and that’s how I feel about it. I’m not gonna mention it again and if you do vote for me, thank you, but it’s just not important to me, so I’d rather have you make somebody else’s day instead.
I’ve more than learned about your level of support both financially and otherwise over my first full year at Kukla’s, when I was at camp, got sick, came back, went to the development camp and am now trying to get to training camp, I’ve learned about how much of a big deal some of you think I am (which is uncomfortable, too) at Herm to Hockeytown and H2H2…I already know and knowing how much support there is out there is part of what keeps me humble and keeps me working as hard as I do. So thank you already, and again, go make somebody else feel awesome by voting for them.
When doing the job is rewarding in itself, you just don’t have to worry about that other stuff, you know?
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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.