The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/26/11 at 07:47 AM ET
Two weeks from today, I’ll be heading up to Traverse City to cover the Red Wings’ prospect tournament and training camp. Most of the Red Wings’ major junior-playing prospects, junior hockey graduates and European prospects are either taking part in their teams’ training camps or, in the case of European pro leagues, playing in exhibition games, and according to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, via RedWingsFeed, the Red Wings themselves will begin to gather at Joe Louis Arena for informal practices next week:
#RedWings players have begun to return to Hockeytown this week. Their first informal team skate is set for Monday morning.
In general, the first participants in said practices (the CBA may forbid players from interacting with their coaches until training camp, but the players probably pay very cheap rates for ice time, they can interact with the training staff, and if, say, a coach or GM were to find themselves in the crowd because they showed up to work at the rink and there was an “informal” gathering underway, they’re allowed to watch) are a combination of prospects and players with school-aged children, as well as players from other teams who spend their off-seasons in Detroit, but the practices will become better populated in the first full week of September, and just as Kris Draper more or less ran last year’s “informal” skates, a player or two might choose to suggest that his fellow skaters engage in drills that they’re familiar with.
In other words, while attendance isn’t mandatory, we’ve gotten to the point where players are more or less practicing a few weeks before training camp begins (on September 17th, and remember that the Wings have sacrificed two exhibition games to enjoy two more days in Traverse City, playing seven instead of nine games so that the new coaches and players can put more work in to establish any system tweaks and engage in more practicing as the nine-game exhibition schedule has tended to take chunks out of the roster due to grind-induced injuries, mostly of the groin strain variety, over the past two or three seasons), and you can be sure that the media will attend a practice here or there and begin to crank up the news cycle within the next week.
So the summer vacation for Wings fans, which didn’t begin until Kris Draper retired, ends on Monday, and things will get busy again in short order.
Your friendly reminder! Single game tickets for all 2011-12 Detroit Red Wings home games go on sale at 12:00 p.m. on September 1st.
Want to nab your seats early? Sign up for text and/or email alerts by August 29th to receive presale access. http://t.co/fokMtrS
And if you missed it, Kukla’s Korner’s own Doug Miller will be attending “Hockeyfest” on September 10th, a fan-friendly event which includes a significant chunk of the roster taking part in either Q and A sessions with fans or autograph sessions, as that’s travel day for me.
Also in the upcoming events category, via the Grand Rapids Griffins:
A field of nearly 50 foursomes will tee off at Egypt Valley Country Club on Monday, Aug. 29 for the 17th Annual Griffins Youth Foundation Golf Classic, presented by Meijer and Dean Foods. One of the largest charitable events in West Michigan, the golf classic will be held at the renowned club in Ada, Mich., for the third straight year.
Numerous Griffins personalities, including coaches Curt Fraser and Jim Paek and alumni Darryl Bootland, Mike Fountain, Kory Karlander, Don McSween and Matt Ruchty, are scheduled to play in the scramble format that tees off at 10 a.m.
Two 18-hole courses will once again be used, with half of the field playing on the Ridge course and half on the Valley course. Participants will enjoy on-course food and refreshments during their round, and they’ll have the opportunity to walk away with high-end electronics and other exclusive items through a raffle and auction that will take place during a post-event dinner.
Registration is still available for individual golfers ($225) and foursomes ($800). For more information, please visit griffinshockey.com or call (616) 774-4585 ext. 3027.
The golf classic serves as the primary fundraiser for the Griffins Youth Foundation, whose mission is to promote academic excellence, community involvement and healthy lifestyles among the youth of West Michigan, enhancing their lives through hockey and ice-related sports. The net proceeds from each year’s outing enable approximately 200 underprivileged or underserved kids to participate in the foundation’s various programs – including first-through-ninth grade hockey, girls hockey and sled hockey – at no cost.
For more information about the Griffins Youth Foundation, please visit griffinskids.org.
In the interim, the “Biosteel” camp is still underway in Toronto, and as Paul noted, the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk spoke to head trainer Matt Nichol about the…unorthodox…training methods the players are spending what Feschuk estimates to be around $9,000 to endure.
Their filmographer, A Millz Productions, also posted a video from Day 3 of the camp, and both Brendan Smith and Thomas McCollum make appearances, as does a terrible remix of Fatboy Slim’s “Right Here, Right Now”:
And he’s not a prospect per se, but Michigan Technological University posted a press release regarding a Wings hopeful of a different kind in 27-year-old free agent signing and mighty mite Chris Conner:
Former Michigan Tech hockey standout Chris Conner (2002-06) is exactly where he wants to be. The 139-game National Hockey League veteran is home in Michigan preparing for preseason camp with the Detroit Red Wings, the team he idolized growing up in Westland, Mich.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to put on a Red Wings jersey,” said Conner. “Hopefully I can go into camp and turn some heads.”
Conner posted seven goals and nine assists playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins a year ago, then became an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
There were several teams that showed interest in the 5-8 right winger, but the choice was easy for Conner. He signed with the Red Wings in early July, giving himself a chance to play close to home. Conner, his wife Lindsay, and their children Caden (age two) and Brynnlee (three months) had maintained a home in Plymouth even while Chris was playing in Pennsylvania the last two seasons.
“I grew up loving the Wings. And, I really feel like this is a good opportunity for me to play,” he said.
Conner, like he has for the last several years, is spending his offseason training with good friend Ryan Kesler, star center for the Vancouver Canucks. Preseason camp for the Red Wings opens Sept. 16. Conner, who has a two-way contract, will be working for a spot with the Red Wings. He could also see time with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.
The next topic of Wings-related note will probably get you talking, but it’s the kind of stuff that I hate discussing. NHL.com’s Dave Lozo announced (again, via Paul) that a bunch of NHL.com writers played fantasy GM’s recently…
Shortly after the rush of free agency in early July, the NHL offseason’s pace becomes, well, more family skate than all-out playoff shift.
But that doesn’t mean we stop thinking about hockey. In fact, the brain can wander pretty deep into the forest of sticks and pucks. One question that comes to mind: What would happen if every team in the NHL had to start from scratch? What if every single player no longer had a team to call home—but had their current contract—and the League had to have a draft to fill out their 23-man rosters for the upcoming season?
We figured it would be fun to answer the muse: So in late July, 15 NHL staffers gathered in a conference room at NHL headquarters and redrafted the entire League.
Next, we asked EA Sports if they would simulate an entire regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs with these new configured teams. The answer was, sure, absolutely, so you can look for the simulation of the “regular season” posted on NHL.com by the end of the month. Come early September, we will post the “results” of the first three playoff rounds, plus League trophy winners and, naturally, the Stanley Cup Final. Should be a fun way to finish off the summer before NHL training camps begin.
Detroit Red Wings (GM: Brian Hunter)
Steve Downie - Vincent Lecavalier - Patrick Kane
Brian Rolston - Brayden Schenn - Justin Williams
Mike Rupp - David Moss - Tomas Kopecky
Colin Greening - Vernon Fiddler - Drew Miller
Christian Ehrhoff - Henrik Tallinder
Tomas Kaberle - Milan Jurcina
Dmitry Kulikov - Roman Polak
Scratches: Jakub Kindl, Alexandre Giroux, Dana Tyrell
Review: There’s lots of Cup experience on this team, nothing new for the Red Wings. Howard stays put, but loses Lidstrom. He still has a pretty good top pairing with Ehrhoff and Tallinder defending the zone. Rolston finding his scoring touch and Williams staying healthy will be key for the Red Wings.
No comment. This stuff annoys the hell out of me. I don’t like the thought of my favorite Wings playing for any other team but the Wings, and that’s that. I’d rather look at the Wings maze instead…
While we’re playing Armchair GM and/or Hockey Expert, Barry Melrose made an appearance at Thursday’s Great Lakes Loons baseball game, and here’s what he had to say to the Saginaw News’s Kyle Austin about the real Wings roster’s 2011-2012 Stanley Cup chances:
“They’re always going to be contenders,” Melrose said. “Any team that has Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen, the list goes on. Any team that has that type of talent with the tradition of the Red Wings, they’re always going to be a playoff team.
“Are they a favorite? No. I don’t think you can put the Red Wings quite with Chicago or Vancouver or Pittsburgh, Boston. I don’t think you can quite put them there right now. I think Kenny Holland’s made a career out of making good deals and finding players when he has to find them. I think if you just look on paper, maybe Detroit isn’t as good as some other teams in the NHL, but it’s still hard to bet against the Detroit Red Wings.”
Regarding said ultimate prize, I posted a bunch of articles regarding Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas’s day with the Stanley Cup in Davison, MI on Wednesday, and Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika follows that up with a superb article of his own about the blue-collar goalie;
AnnArbor.com’s Nick Baumgardner and the Free Press’s Mark Snyder covered Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer’s showing of the Stanley Cup at Yost Ice Arena on Thursday morning, and the Jackson Citizen-Patriot’s Gary Kalahar reports that the reason Kampfer was only able to show off the Cup at Darryl’s Downtown Jackson for all of 45 minutes involved the fact that, well:
The crowd waited patiently as the cup was delayed more than an hour from its announced arrival. A late change meant Bruins ownership requested the cup be back in Boston briefly in the afternoon, so it was flown out and then back to Jackson.
If you ask me, that’s bloody lame. The kid only gets one day with the Cup and the Bruins decide they need to borrow it…Not cool. I know that Tyler from the Triple Deke headed to Jackson to see the Cup and went home empty-handed, and I’m sure that more than a few fans felt as stiffed, but don’t blame Steven for it!
In the programming department, the NHL Network’s taking a look back at the Wings’ almost epic comeback against the San Jose Sharks this past spring, and they’re airing Game 5 of the series tonight at 6 PM and 8 PM EDT;
If you felt that it wasn’t too early to freak out about the fact that Dick Axelsson was benched for Modo Ornskoldsvik’s last pre-season game, Allehanda.se’s Per Hagglund reports that we can breathe easy as Axelsson will play for the team in a two-games-in-two-nights slate against two Finnish teams, Lukko Rauma and the Lahti Pelicans. A player on the bubble for Modo? Former Wings prospect Johan Ryno;
In the alumni department, the Brampton Guardian reports that former Wings prospect Ryan Oulahen, who had to retire due to a hip injury sustained as a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins, has joined the coaching staff of the OHL’s Brampton Battalion;
• According to NHL.com’s Bill Meltzer, um…Andy Delmore is playing in Croatia this season (!);
• The Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston revisited the fact that Brendan Shanahan has volunteered to become the most hated man in hockey as he prepares to spin the wheel of just…I mean take the helm as the NHL’s disciplinarian this year;
• And I do not know what to make of this article by SI’s Adrian Dater, other than to note that former Wings coach and advisor Scotty Bowman believes that players don’t “bond” the way they used to due to technological distractions:
“There’s a lot of things competing for their attention today,” Bowman said. “It’s just a lot different. I don’t know if it’s that teams aren’t as close as they used to be, but players don’t seem to need to rely on each other for company as much like they used to. Now they can just go talk to a million other friends if they want, on what do you call it—Facebook?”
This has nothing to do with nothing, but I found it amusing to read that Gary Bettman’s half-brother, Jeffrey Pollack, is the commissioner of “Epic Poker”...
And heading back to “last minute” land, I’m about $400 short of being able to pay for my hotel in Traverse City for the Wings’ prospect tournament and main training camp, so I’m hauling out ye olde Paypal button. If I haven’t exhausted your willingness to toss a buck my way, I’d appreciate anything you can give.
You’ll have to use my email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate, if you can/will/feel like it.
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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.