The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/22/12 at 05:18 AM ET
As so many of you wait for the Red Wings to theoretically get into the Draft day trade mix (the Wings do not have a pick in tonight’s 1st round, which will air on NBCSN from 7-9 and then switch to CNBC, but have six picks in rounds 2-7, which take place Saturday at 10 AM, and will be aired on the NHL Network and streamed on NHL.com—unless you live in Canada, where it’s all on TSN), despite Wings GM Ken Holland’s suggestions to the contrary...
Perhaps one Mike Ilitch’s take on when the Wings expect to make hay with their $24 million in cap space, shared in a mostly Tigers-centered conversation with the Free Press’s Evil Drew Sharp, might set the record straight:
He’s excited about the coming NHL free agency July 1 and said the Wings will be ready to make a big impact.
“We’re going to be flying all over the country,” he said.
Things tend to happen a little faster than that, but it’s good to hear that Ilitch is willing to lend the use of his private plane to the Wings’ brass.
Otherwise, yes, as MLive’s Ansar Khan notes, big names like Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Keith Yandle, Roberto Luongo, Jordan Staal, Jay Bouwmeester, Niklas Hjalmarsson and others might be in play, Khan states the Wings’ plan (cap space to be gobbled up by re-signing restricted free agents Justin Abdelkader and Kyle Quincey included)...
The Red Wings don’t trade often. They prefer to add and subtract through free agency. That will be their priority this summer as well. They will be major players in the free-agent market that opens on July 1, with close to $20 million in salary-cap space.
Before receiving confirmation from Holland that, just as he told the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, the Wings
“I talked to a few managers,’’ Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We don’t have much going, but I’m calling around, inquiring to see who’s out there. Trades today, other than at the trade deadline (when teams dump salary for picks or prospects), it’s equal player for equal player. We’re looking to add. We’ll explore July 1. We have the cap space, the roster space.’‘
If a team, like Detroit, believes it has a good chance to land [Ryan] Suter and/or ]Zach] Parise – thus, not having to relinquish any assets – there is less urgency to trade.
“It’s difficult to make trades because so many things are involved in today’s world that weren’t involved before – parity, the salary cap,’’ Holland said. “But there’s always rumblings, always a lot of talk. Some leads to something, some dissipates into nothing.’‘
Holland said he is willing to acquire the negotiating rights to prospective free agents. Nashville GM David Poile has stated he will not deal Suter’s rights, while acknowledging the star defenseman is set to explore the market. It seems doubtful that the Devils would deal Parise’s rights.
Holland could opt to trade forward Jiri Hudler’s rights. He hasn’t spoken to Hudler’s agent in two weeks. Hudler, in all likelihood, will hit the market, where he would get much better offers than what Detroit is willing to give (not much more than $3.2 million per season).
It’s possible that the Washington Capitals might trade Alex Semin’s rights as he’s sure to test the free agent waters, but I’d imagine that the Wings want to see whether they can land Suter or Parise before going that route—or going the trade route.
If anything, especially given that Hudler and Jaromir Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, will steer his shorter, younger client toward a near-$5 million payday somewhere else, I would imagine that the Wings may try to snag another 2nd round pick, if not move up to the last 10 picks of the 1st round, via sending Hudler’s signing rights elsehwere, but I don’t see the Wings making any other moves today or Saturday.
When the Wings do get to work on Saturday, first picking 49th overall and then utilizing the 80th, 110th, 140th, 170th and 200th picks, the Wings do plan on changing their strategy somewhat.
As Wings assistant GM Jim Nill, who runs the proceedings for the team during the draft, told the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell, the Wings believe that it’s now necessary to consciously steer themselves toward selecting bigger, stronger players that are more accustomed to playing the kind of chip-and-chase, obstruction-friendly hockey that the NHL’s steered toward over the past season (despite a meeting of the GM’s minds scheduled for late August, nobody seems to know whether there’s an appetite toward actually encouraging referees to enforce penalties on hooking, holding, clutching and grabbing anymore).
To some extent, the Wings are attempting to account for Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement and the concept of their picks coming into the mix 5-7 years down the line, when Pavel Datsyuk will be near 40 years of age and Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula will be mid-30-somethings like me, the Wings are hedging their bets…
And Chris Osgood’s late arrival to Pittsburgh involves being present to confer with Nill, Jim Bedard and the amateur scouts about goalies, but we’ve all seen teams trend toward drafting monstrously large goalies, so a Wings team desperately in need of depth at that position with only Thomas McCollum, Petr Mrazek and probable departure Jordan Pearce behind Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald will look for bigger puck-blockers as well.
The Wings do have some size in their system—Teemu Pulkkine, Calle Jarnkrok, Tomas Tatar and even Gustav Nyquist are the classic small-but-skilled Wings picks, but Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Ryan Sproul, Max Nicastro, Marek Tvrdon, Brian Lashoff, Andrej Nestrail, Trevor Parkes and especially Louis-Marc Aubry are 6’2” or taller, and you’ll have to trust me when I say that Xavier Ouellet, Brent Raedeke and especially Mitchell Callahan don’t “play small.”
Nill reiterated his points of emphasis to MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“Our skill level is down, so we have to get bigger,’’ Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “The playoffs proved that. It’s a big man’s game.”
The Red Wings’ first pick is the lowest it has been in eight years. But they are confident they can get a quality player with the 49th overall selection. That’s because much of their core is comprised of players who were taken lower than that.
“Those (lower) picks are usually longer away from playing for your team, 4-6 years,’’ Nill said. “That doesn’t mean they can’t be as good as anyone else. There’s players in every round that end up playing in the NHL. Our job is to find them.’‘
“The days of a team having way more skill players than other teams are over,’’ Nill said. “The (salary) cap doesn’t allow it, so you have to get bigger and stronger. You used to have to make a play to get the puck up the ice. Now, with no red line, you can throw the puck up the ice, tip it in and chase it. You need certain players to play that way.’‘
As always, the Red Wings aren’t targeting a particular position. Nill said they’ll take whoever they feel is the best player available, defenseman or forward. It is highly unlikely they will trade up – they don’t want to part with the assets that would require.
“To trade away a key part of your foundation for a player who might not make it to the NHL for 5-6 years doesn’t make sense for where our team is now,’’ Nill said. “We want to add to it, not delete.’‘
And yes, as Nill told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, the Wings are fully confident in their ability to pluck an NHL player or two (that’s the Wings’ every-year goal, to find one or two eventual NHL contributors) out of the mid-to-late-round pile:
[A]ssistant general manager Jim Nill and his staff will be tested again during the NHL draft, which begins today and concludes Saturday. What makes things a bit more difficult for Nill and Co. this year is that the Red Wings don’t have a first-round pick. They’ll have to wait until Saturday, when they have the 49th (Round 2), 80th (Round 3), 110th (Round 4), 140th (Round 5), 170th (Round 6) and 200th (Round 7) selections.
“There’s depth in this draft,” Nill said. “We just have to find those guys.”
They have before: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula and Jonathan Ericsson were all selected in later rounds.
While most analysts don’t see this draft full of impact players, Nill disagrees. Nill said there might not be a player like Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in the draft, but someone could develop into a player resembling Crosby.
“There are about 10 to 12 players who are pretty equal, with different skills,” Nill said.
The trick is figuring out which players have those type of skill sets.
“Especially where we’re picking,” Nill said of the Red Wings’ late-round selections.
As DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose notes, in the Wings’ final “draft history” article, the jury’s still out on draft years 2003-2011, but he offers a number that reminds us of the realities of the hard part that comes after the draft—attempting to nurture and mentor players into professional athletes who are physically and mentally ready to play in the NHL anywhere from 3-8 years from tomorrow:
Time will tell how the Red Wings did in the last nine NHL drafts. Currently, 17 of the last 66 prospects selected have appeared in at least one league game, including All-Star goalie Jimmy Howard and forward Johan Franzen, who has set several scoring records for the franchise.
In all, the 17 Wings’ draftees who’ve appeared in the league have played a total of 1,897 games.
As Roose notes, there are always prospects who jump the developmental curve and become NHL’ers “early,” like a certain 2005 draft pick recently signed to a 4-year contract extension…
• 248 Games
• 32 Goals, 83 Points
• 2008 Stanley Cup champion
The first of the 2005 draft class to make his NHL debut with the Wings, Helm was so highly thought of by Detroit that he was brought up from Grand Rapids to center the club’s fourth line late in the final month of the 2007-08 season. He remained in Detroit for the Stanley Cup run and actually scored his first NHL goal in the Western Conference finals against Dallas. He bounced between Detroit and Grand Rapids the following year before securing a permanent role with the Wings in 2009-10.
Helm’s speed creates plenty of scoring chances for the Wings, but add his grittiness and his strength on the puck, and he’s quickly becoming a legitimate threat as a fourth-line center and making opponents take notice. And now that the Wings have locked him up to a new four-year contract, the versatile center, who is also a huge asset on the penalty kill, gives options to the coaching staff, who could use him as a top-six forward.
But this fellow tends to represent the rule as opposed to the exception, despite his absolutely stellar talent level, because it took him from the day he was picked in 2007 to really the middle of this past season to develop both physically and mentally.
• 14 Games
• 1 Goal, 7 Points
Smith is the 12th defensemen in 49 years of the NHL draft that the Red Wings have selected in the first round. While Niklas Kronwall is among those players, it’s Smith who just might be the most important to the Wings’ continued success. Obviously, Nicklas Lidstrom is irreplaceable, but now that the legendary defenseman has retired, Smith will be asked to take a permanent roster spot with the NHL club. He’s a smooth skater, and like Lidstrom, seems to move effortlessly. Smith is an offensive-minded player, who has exceptional vision and a knack for making crisp tape-to-tape passes.
The Wings had the luxury of allowing Smith to develop the last two seasons in Grand Rapids. He was called up to Detroit twice last season when injuries shortened the Wings’ blue-line depth. … It’s still early, but Smith’s projected potential is limitless.
Bluntly speaking, the Wings will be drafting 17-to-19-year-olds, and most of them have been told how wonderful and how incredibly talent they are for the vast majority of their hockey-playing careers. Most of them have no idea how incredibly hard things get until the shocks they experience at the Wings’ summer prospect camp, and, if they’re lucky, the prospect tournament in September, and sometimes their bodies, brains and skills don’t intersect.
This might as well be the equivalent of graduating middle school for the Wings’ draftees. The rest of their major junior or college careers represent high school, and the ECHL and AHL represent college. Where they go from tomorrow is, ultimately, up to them.
It seems like a long time ago, but on Thursday, the NHL released the Red Wings’ 2012-2013 schedule, and if you missed it, here it is again:
DATE VISITING TEAM HOME TEAM TIME
Fri Oct 12, 2012 Nashville vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Tue Oct 16, 2012 Detroit @ Buffalo 7:00 PM ET
Thu Oct 18, 2012 Detroit @ St Louis 8:00 PM ET
Sat Oct 20, 2012 Detroit @ Chicago 8:30 PM ET
Mon Oct 22, 2012 Vancouver vs. Detroit 6:00 PM ET
Tue Oct 23, 2012 Detroit @ Columbus 7:00 PM ET
Fri Oct 26, 2012 San Jose vs. Detroit 7:00 PM ET
Sat Oct 27, 2012 Detroit @ Winnipeg 7:00 PM ET
Tue Oct 30, 2012 Detroit @ Vancouver 10:00 PM ET
Thu Nov 1, 2012 Detroit @ Calgary 9:30 PM ET
Sat Nov 3, 2012 Detroit @ Edmonton 3:30 PM ET
Tue Nov 6, 2012 Edmonton vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Fri Nov 9, 2012 Calgary vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sat Nov 10, 2012 Minnesota vs. Detroit 7:00 PM ET
Tue Nov 13, 2012 Dallas vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Thu Nov 15, 2012 New Jersey vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sat Nov 17, 2012 Detroit @ Minnesota 8:00 PM ET
Mon Nov 19, 2012 Pittsburgh vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Wed Nov 21, 2012 St Louis vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Fri Nov 23, 2012 Detroit @ Florida 7:30 PM ET
Sat Nov 24, 2012 Detroit @ Tampa Bay 7:00 PM ET
Tue Nov 27, 2012 Phoenix vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Thu Nov 29, 2012 Los Angeles vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sat Dec 1, 2012 San Jose vs. Detroit 7:00 PM ET
Tue Dec 4, 2012 Colorado vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Fri Dec 7, 2012 Washington vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Mon Dec 10, 2012 Boston vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Thu Dec 13, 2012 Phoenix vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sat Dec 15, 2012 Detroit @ Nashville 8:00 PM ET
Tue Dec 18, 2012 Los Angeles vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Thu Dec 20, 2012 NY Islanders vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sat Dec 22, 2012 Columbus vs. Detroit 7:00 PM ET
Wed Dec 26, 2012 Detroit @ Carolina 7:00 PM ET
Thu Dec 27, 2012 Detroit @ Pittsburgh 7:00 PM ET
Sat Dec 29, 2012 Detroit @ Ottawa 7:00 PM ET
Tue Jan 1, 2013 Toronto vs. Detroit 1:00 PM ET
Fri Jan 4, 2013 Nashville vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sun Jan 6, 2013 Detroit @ Chicago 8:00 PM ET
Wed Jan 9, 2013 Detroit @ San Jose 10:30 PM ET
Sat Jan 12, 2013 Detroit @ Los Angeles 10:30 PM ET
Sun Jan 13, 2013 Detroit @ Anaheim 8:00 PM ET
Tue Jan 15, 2013 Detroit @ Phoenix 9:00 PM ET
Thu Jan 17, 2013 Vancouver vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sun Jan 20, 2013 Detroit @ St Louis 7:30 PM ET
Tue Jan 22, 2013 Calgary vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Wed Jan 30, 2013 Montréal vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Fri Feb 1, 2013 St Louis vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sat Feb 2, 2013 Detroit @ Philadelphia 7:00 PM ET
Tue Feb 5, 2013 Columbus vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Thu Feb 7, 2013 Detroit @ Phoenix 9:00 PM ET
Fri Feb 8, 2013 Detroit @ Dallas 8:00 PM ET
Sun Feb 10, 2013 Detroit @ St Louis 7:30 PM ET
Wed Feb 13, 2013 Chicago vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Fri Feb 15, 2013 Colorado vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sun Feb 17, 2013 Detroit @ Minnesota 7:30 PM ET
Tue Feb 19, 2013 Detroit @ Chicago 8:30 PM ET
Thu Feb 21, 2013 Detroit @ New Jersey 7:00 PM ET
Fri Feb 22, 2013 Anaheim vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Mon Feb 25, 2013 Detroit @ Los Angeles 10:30 PM ET
Wed Feb 27, 2013 Detroit @ Anaheim 10:00 PM ET
Thu Feb 28, 2013 Detroit @ San Jose 10:30 PM ET
Sun Mar 3, 2013 Chicago vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Wed Mar 6, 2013 Edmonton vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Fri Mar 8, 2013 Detroit @. Columbus 7:00 PM ET
Sat Mar 9, 2013 Columbus vs. Detroit 7:00 PM ET
Wed Mar 13, 2013 Detroit @ Calgary 9:30 PM ET
Fri Mar 15, 2013 Detroit @ Edmonton 9:30 PM ET
Sat Mar 16, 2013 Detroit @ Vancouver 10:00 PM ET
Mon Mar 18, 2013 Anaheim vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Wed Mar 20, 2013 NY Rangers vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Fri Mar 22, 2013 Dallas vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sun Mar 24, 2013 Detroit @ Colorado 8:00 PM ET
Tue Mar 26, 2013 Nashville vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Thu Mar 28, 2013 Detroit @ Nashville 8:00 PM ET
Fri Mar 29, 2013 Detroit @ Dallas 8:00 PM ET
Sun Mar 31, 2013 Chicago vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Tue Apr 2, 2013 Detroit @ Columbus 7:00 PM ET
Fri Apr 5, 2013 Winnipeg vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Sun Apr 7, 2013 St Louis vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Tue Apr 9, 2013 Minnesota vs. Detroit 7:30 PM ET
Thu Apr 11, 2013 Detroit @ Nashville 8:00 PM ET
Sat Apr 13, 2013 Detroit @ Colorado 3:00 PM ET
As the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes, the Wings seem to have to pay for a favorable chunk of home games relatively early on in their schedule (starting with that potentially intriguing game against Nashville on October 12th) and hosting the Original Six:
They foray into Canada starting Oct. 27 with a trip that begins in Winnipeg, then continues to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Thanksgiving is going to be short for the Wings as they play at Florida on Friday, Nov. 23, and at Tampa Bay the next night.
The end of November starts a streak of 10 of 11 games at home. As has been the habit, the Wings hit the road immediately after Christmas—Dec. 26 at Carolina, Dec. 27 at Pittsburgh and Dec. 29 at Ottawa.
The traditional New Year’s Eve game has been eliminated this year because the Wings will host Toronto in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at Michigan Stadium.
Early January features the first trip to California, starting Jan. 9 in San Jose, with the second in late February. Western Canada pops up again in March, with stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. The Wings close the season April 13 at Colorado.
Season realignment would have made for a gentler travel schedule for the Wings—if the players association hadn’t put the kibosh on that. So it’s back to at least two trips to every opponent in the Western Conference and missing out on home-and-homes with everyone in the East.
This season, there are no stops in Boston, at either New York team, at Washington, Toronto or Montreal. The Panthers, Flyers, Senators, Sabres, Lightning and Hurricanes aren’t on the menu at the Joe.
In terms of the Wings’ free agent targets, TSN’s Bob McKenzie believes that Justin Schultz will receive the rookie cap max deal (a $3.8 million cap hit) and assurances of playing on an NHL team’s roster means that he’s going to a team like Edmonton, not Detroit:
Question: Where will Justin Schultz land?
McKenzie: The Anaheim Ducks know the jig is up there. They know that Schultz, who they selected in the second round of the 2008 Draft, will become a free agent this Sunday. Once Ryan Suter and Zach Parise are gone as free agents, Schultz, the blue chip prospect from the University of Wisconsin, who should be a top-four defenceman for a long time in the NHL, is going to be one of the most sought after free agents. There’s a strong belief that he wants to play on a Canadian team, and one that will give him the opportunity to be a major contributor right off the hop. The Edmonton Oilers fit that bill perfectly and there’s a lot of speculation that Schultz might be receptive to that, but nobody knows for sure until Schultz starts talking.
• This is a day late, but for confirmation purposes, ESPN 1500’s Jess Myers reiterates Zach Parise’s stance on his future, which is that he’s not going to reveal much of anything:
Zach Parise continued to remain very guarded about what the future might hold on Wednesday while attending an NHL players charity game Wednesday to benefit the Defending the Blue Line program at Ridder Arena. The New Jersey Devils winger and captain, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, is expected to be pursued by several teams, including the Minnesota Wild. Parise declined to discuss how negotiations with the Devils have gone in the days leading up to free agency.
“We’ve kept everything pretty private and we’re going to do the same thing for however long it takes,” he said.
New Jersey lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals and it’s believed the financially-strapped Devils are going to have a very difficult time keeping Parise. Parise was born in Minneapolis and is the type of very player the Wild could use on what promises to be a young team in 2012-13.
Parise signed autographs at Wednesday’s event, which benfits a charity that assists families of all branches of the military with costs associated with hockey.
Asked if any Wild fans tried to slip him a contract to sign in the autograph line, Parise said: “No, but I did get a couple recommendations from them. They’ve got great fans here.”
The 27-year-old Parise realizes the coming days are going to be very interesting. He has spent his first seven seasons with the Devils.
“(It will be) pretty crazy I think,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of people asking what’s going on, so we’ll get things figured out, pretty soon hopefully. As a player it’s something that you work hard to try and take advantage of and at the same time I think it might get a little stressful.”
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• If you want to watch the rebroadcast of Art Regner’s conversation with Darren Eliot and Ken Daniels on Fox Sports Detroit’s streaming page, go ahead, but it’s more or less three guys rambling about hockey in general, at least until Daniels gets on 20-some minutes in—and you can’t fast forward;
• In terms of draft-worthy prospects, the Wings always go off the board, so it’s hard to pick favorites, but University of Michigan recruit Jacob Trouba told NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman that he grew up as a Wings fan…
As a minor hockey player growing up in the Detroit area, U.S. National Team Development Program defenseman Jacob Trouba remembers going with his hockey association to watch Detroit Red Wings practices—and once getting Brendan Shanahan’s autograph.
“Sometimes they’d come out in the lobby and talk to you, that was about it,” Trouba told NHL.com. “I got Shanahan’s autograph—that was it.”
• Via RedWingsFeed, the Free Press’s George Sipple’s profile of Plymouth Whalers forward Tom Wilson reminds us that he’s the kind of player that the Wings are looking for, a 6’4,” scrapper, and Sipple posted a list of players with Michigan ties;
• And this is plain interesting, from the Ottawa Citizen’s Wayne Scanlan, in an article discussing the Senators’ trove of Swedish prospects:
The biggest factor in Ottawa’s sudden love for all things three-crowned: Swedish scout Anders Forsberg, hired by the Senators during the 2007-08 season, and now a coach of Skelleftea of the Swedish Elite League.
Forsberg was recommended to the Senators by renowned Detroit Red Wings Swedish scout Hakan Andersson (think Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Holmstrom … ). Senators general manager Bryan Murray, a Red Wings GM and coach in the early 1990s, had worked with Andersson in Detroit.
A former fishing guide, Andersson was hired by the Red Wings as a scout in 1990.
Today, Murray says the fact the Senators have drafted eight Swedes since hiring Forsberg comes down to having faith in their scouts, and the Senators have beefed up their scouting presence around the globe. Forsberg’s greatest gift to the organization: [Erik] Karlsson, Ottawa’s 15th pick in 2008.
• Does he count as a “prospect” because he’s a project? DetroitRedWings.com’s Zack Crawford offers a “By the Numbers” assessment of Kyle Quincey’s 2011-2012 season:
168: Number of shots on goal that he took during the 2011-12 season, his personal-high since debuting with the Wings in 2005. Among Wings defensemen, only Ian White had more shots on goal (196).
33: In 18 games played with the Wings this season, he delivered 33 hits. His average of 1.83 hits per game was fourth on the team, behind Brad Stuart, Patrick Eaves and Mike Commodore.
26: Accumulated 26 points during the 2011-12 season, which marks the third time in his career that he has finished a season with 25 or more points.
94: Number of shots that he blocked during the regular-season (70 for the Colorado Avalanche and 24 for the Wings).
• In the alumni department, participatory news version: again, the Bob Probert Memorial Ride takes place this weekend—it’s on Sunday the 24th, sorry about messing that up, and here’s more information from the Windsor Star:
Bob Probert Memorial Ride: This is the second annual Bob Probert Ride, in honour of No. 24, the local hockey icon who played in the National Hockey League with the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Black Hawks. The ride is Sunday. Registration is 9 a.m. and the bikes will launch shortly after 10 a.m. The ride stops will be: Dominion Golf and Country Club, Oldcastle; Verdi Club, Amherstburg; Colchester Bar and Grill, Colchester; Mr. Bigg’s Restaurant and Sports Bar, Belle River; and WFCU Centre, Windsor. More than 800 riders raised $100,000 for Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital last year. Registration is $30 per rider and $20 per passenger. For every $100 received in pledges, one rider rides for free. Visit http://probertride.com.
• Sad news in the alumni department from Pete Fish:
Serious news today. I have been kind of out of the loop since I came to Ireland, but have some Shawn Burr news for you all.
Shawn is in quite a lot of bone pain and the donor cells have not grafted to him yet. Normal graft period is 14-21 days and he is at 22 now.
Shawn might have to get another BMT to try and jump start these cells into grafting. Won’t be as extensive as the past BMT though.
Burr is still in good spirits and has a lot of good people around him in family, friends, and doctors. He is a grinder on and off the ice.
Shawn Burr news: Since the stem cells didn’t graft, over the next 3 days the frozen cells will be infused into him with the hope they will.
• In better revelatory news, from Greatest Hockey Legends’ Joe Pelletier, here’s something you probably didn’t know about Igor Larionov’s status as a bespectacled “Professor”:
“The Professor” pivoted the mighty Soviet “KLM” line - with Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov on the wings. Together they dominated the international hockey scene and the NHL in head to head competition. Their epic clashes with Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux in the 1987 Canada Cup are the stuff of hockey legend.
While Krutov and Makarov supplied the speed, power and razzle dazzle, Larionov brought a much more academic approach to the game. His brainy understanding of the game was nearly unparalleled. He was a master chess player, thinking several moves ahead and distributing his teammates with intelligent passes to make the line really work. I have the highest admiration for the players who have the equivalent of a masters degree in hockey. Larionov is right at the top.
What makes it even more amazing is, apparently, at the height of his career in the mid to late 1980s, he could barely see.
When Larionov joined the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks in 1989, one of his first adjustments to life in North America was to get his British Columbian driver’s license. Then-Canucks trainer Dusan Benicky tells the story:
“I took Igor for a driving test to get his B.C. licence and after he passed the questions test, he went to the visuals,” says Benicky. “When I asked him what he was seeing, he said ‘nothing.’ They sent us to an optometrist and you should have seen Igor when he put glasses on. He smiled like a little kid with candy. He was playing all these years without seeing.”
• If you were wondering about Damien Brunner, the 26-year-old Swiss forward who the Tampa Bay Lightning, Wings and Stars were pursuing, this Tweet from Blick’s Stephan Roth is particularly intriguing:
Swiss free agent Damien Brunner may end up with the Detroit Red Wings. “There are 3 teams in the mix”, he said to @blick_eishockey.
• And finally, the Pacifica’s going to Norm’s Total Automotive today (fantastic mechanic, honest, doesn’t fix what doesn’t need to be fixed, dedicated to his craft, cares about his customers) today, I’ve got to call Sprint as my phone’s dying after 2 years and needs to be replaced, I’m about to plop down major coin on hotel reservations and I’m halfway to my goal of about $1,400 so that I can afford to stay in Traverse City for the Wings’ prospect camp from July 7-14. If you can lend a hand, I’d greatly appreciate it:
You’ll have to use my personal email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate, and if you want to aid the cause by some other manner or means, fire me an email at that address or at georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com.
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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.