The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/24/11 at 07:11 AM ET
What might be this morning’s most pertinent Red Wings-related news comes in the form of words issued by a Wings analyst regarding a Stanley Cup won 20 years ago—Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien noted that the Pittsburgh Penguins are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1991 Stanley Cup championship, and Fox Sports Detroit analyst Larry Murphy and Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek are taking part in the festivities.
It’s Murphy’s comment to NHL.com’s Alan Robinson which might temper what’s sure to be Wings fans’ imminent annoyance at the cavalcade of NHL predictions which will insist that the Red Wings are finally too old, too slow, too soft and too likely to finish in the bottom half of the Western Conference standings to be called Cup contenders anymore:
“You don’t want to be the best team in October; you want to be the best team, in April and May, and that’s what happened,” Murphy said. “The environment was one of improvement. We had the tools, and then we added a couple of pieces at the end, the type of players that we needed to put us over the top, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Between the team’s turnover in witnessing the retirements of Brian Rafalski, Chris Osgood and Kris Draper, the decisions of assistant coaches Brad McCrimmon and Paul MacLean to leave the team to pursue other opportunities and the fact that the Wings understand that one can’t simply swap out Ian White for Rafalski and Ty Conklin for Osgood and expect the same results—instead, the Wings plan on replacing Rafalski by committee (see: Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart and Jonathan Ericsson) and recommitting to playing sound defensive hockey via the tweaks new assistant coaches Jeff Blashill and Bill Peters will bring in—but whatever hiccups the Wings experience won’t detract from the team’s status as a still star-studded and still experienced enough to adapt to these changes while continuing to win on a regular basis.
At this time of year, we’re all too willing to skip forward and suggest that off-season moves can accurately predict which teams will succeed over the long haul when the honest truth is that as fans, September marks the beginning of an eight-month journey toward the playoffs, and the Wings will both individually and collectively grow, change, mature (yes, even the Wings can “mature”) and withstand the ups and downs of the regular season while continuing to prove their legions of critics wrong on a game-by-game basis from September onward.
And as Murphy suggests the 91-92 Penguins’ cause was aided by players acquired the trade route, it’s all but certain that Ken Holland and the Wings’ coaches and management will assess whatever needs develop during the course of said 2011-2012 regular season and make any necessary additions via an abundance of salary cap flexibility at the trade deadline, so…
Long story short, there’s no point in putting the cart before the horse, and as the early season prediction-writers in the mainstream media and blogosphere attempt to suggest that they can divine the futures of each and every one of the NHL’s 30 teams (see: the Hockey News’s yearbook, as reported by the Oakland Press’s Pat Caputo, suggesting that the Wings will finish 5th in the West), well…We have to remember that they’re engaging in educated guesswork, and we’re very free to disagree with their assessments while admitting that we don’t necessarily know how things will turn out, either.
I know this might seem a little heavy-handed for August 24th, but we’re going to be swimming in season previews soon, and there’s something to be said for offering a reality check before things get busy.
Otherwise, today’s news tends to fit into the “reminder” category, starting with the following from the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
The field has been set for the final vote in the Red Wings’ Operation: Bobblehead. It will be Todd Bertuzzi vs. Justin Abdelkader vs. Niklas Kronwall.
They received the most love from fans in preliminary voting for the sixth spot in the team’s season-long Bobblehead Thursday promotion. Final voting will continue until Monday at facebook.com/detroitredwings and detroitredwings.com.
Already guaranteed a 6 1/2-inch polyresin figurine are Pavel Datsyuk (Oct. 13), Henrik Zetterberg (Nov. 3), Johan Franzen (Dec. 8), Danny Cleary (Jan. 12) and Nicklas Lidstrom (April 5). The bobblehead for Bertuzzi, Abdelkader or Kronwall will be distributed to the first 7,500 fans at the Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 23, when the Wings play Vancouver, the Stanley Cup runner-up.
• If you missed it, part 2, from the Livonia Observer:
Detroit Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock is scheduled to speak at a joint luncheon for the Livonia and Novi chambers of commerce Thursday, Sept. 8.
The event will take place at the Schoolcraft College VisTaTech Center from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Babcock, who led the Red Wings to the 2008 Stanley Cup Championship and the Canadian Olympic Team to a gold medal in 2010, will share how he contributes to the championship-caliber environment of the Detroit Red Wings, his methods of motivating and managing his players, and his thoughts on the upcoming 2011-12 season. “Coach Babcock spoke at a preseason luncheon for the Livonia Chamber last year and our audience was captivated by what he said as a hockey coach and as a business manager,” Livonia Chamber President Dan West said. “This year, we are pleased to involve our friends from Novi and grow the event.”
• Don’t forget that Tim Thomas will be showing off the Stanley Cup at Davison High School today from 1-3 PM, and Steve Kampfer will display it at both Yost Ice Arena and in Jackson, MI on Thursday;
• In the alumni category, via the Saginaw News’s Adam Bouton, Thursday one Barry Melrose will appear at the Great Lakes Loons’ baseball game as part of their “Red Wings legends” promotion;
• I can only shake my head at the following comparison made by the Vancouver Province’s Tony “Really, the Canucks are just like the Red Wings” Gallagher...
The timing of having a healthy, hungry [Cody] Hodgson arrive couldn’t be better if it comes to pass, as the Canucks will be looking for something to kick start them through the early stages of the season. If the goal in Vancouver is to emulate the consistency of the Detroit Red Wings organization, getting off to an early lead and running away from the rest of the weaker division every year is something Detroit perfected over the years. It put the Wings in position for a potential run at a Cup every season and allowed them to rest players down the stretch, rather than playing people like [Ryan] Kesler 23 minutes on some nights in the second half of the season as was the case last year.
This isn’t Wings-related news, but I think it’s important to state publicly: as the Canucks prepare to share Rick Rypien’s battle with depression to shake some of the stigmas from treating mental illnesses, it’s a comment from a doctor in Peace River, Alberta made to the Peace River (Alberta) Record-Gazette’s Jeff Blay that I hope will resonate with anyone who’s struggling with depression or any other mental illness:
According to Douglas Norton, one of the directors of Addiction and Mental Health in the North Zone of Alberta Health Services, depression is very common and not something people should be ashamed of.
“The causes of depression aren’t because of a flaw in someone’s character, as evidenced in the situation with the NHL player, it’s an issue that comes across all types of lifestyles and ages,” Norton said. Recognizing it as a common illness that affects everybody, young and old, is an important step, then you have to identify the symptoms and understand that it’s not just a case of having the occasional feelings of sadness or grief.”
Depression is best described as a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Symptoms can include feeling sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless.
It’s important for people to know what defines depression, and that it’s a very treatable illness that can be overcome if it’s addressed and put out in the open. If you notice a loved one or friend experiencing changes in weight and appetite, sleep problems, loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable, preoccupations with failure(s) or a low self-esteem, these are signs that may point to depression.
“It has kind of a chemical basis in the brain as well as ties to the level of acute stress and current living situation, and often those are a combination factor that lead people into depression,” Norton explained.
The first step is to visit a family doctor or general practitioner, and in milder cases, they can assess and treat the patient with medication, counseling or both. If depressive symptoms are noticeably more serious, the family doctor will then refer the patient to a psychiatrist, who can treat them as an outpatient or, if necessary, admit them to a hospital.
If you find yourself or someone you know experiencing symptoms of depression, don’t be afraid or ashamed to act quickly and begin treatment to handle this common but serious illness.
Emphasis on “common but serious” and having a very real “chemical basis.”
As somebody who’s had family members and friends struggle with severe depression and as someone who has a chronic and sometimes severe anxiety disorder, I cannot state strongly enough that any mental illness is just that—an illness—and when one doesn’t feel well, one should talk about their symptoms and seek treatment.
The stats suggest that one in five people will deal with a significant mental illness in their lifetime, and while some people “get it fixed” and move on, some people deal with such illnesses on a chronic basis, but the bottom line is that whether we’re talking about arthritis or anxiety, we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about what’s making us hurt so that we can feel better and cope with our illnesses if they do become an every-day annoyance.
One of the only places I don’t feel particularly anxious is at the rink, and again, I’m going to ask that if you can spare a few bucks, I’m about halfway to being able to pay for my hotel accommodations for a total of 15 days’ worth of time in Traverse City, MI to cover the Wings’ prospect tournament and main training camp, and I’d be grateful for 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.
Thanks again to everybody who’s donated and who plans on donating. It’s…humbling.
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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.