The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/11/11 at 04:19 PM ET
Updated 4.5x with Stanley Cup appearance news at 4:52 PM: August must translate to “multiple personality disorder” in the hockey dictionary, because this morning we were talking about Ian White the x-factor and whether the Red Wings’ new team plane can fly to San Jose without refueling (answer:
[edit: See below, because the answer is apparently yes!]) and this afternoon, the Red Wings’ “Operation Bobblehead” campaign and fan voting takes a strange turn as Todd Bertuzzi’s sent some jabs at Danny Cleary’s via the Wings’ Twitter account, and Jake Duhaime posted an interview Kris Draper conducted with 95.5’s Mojo in the Morning which revealed the following:
1. Chris Osgood will essentially be known as the team’s assistant goalie coach;
2. Draper will “share an office” with Chris Chelios as Draper begins his managerial career;
3. These guys are making sure that they take maximum enjoyment out of razzing the hell out of each other:
Via the Wings’ Twitter account, here’s Cleary’s latest campaigning video (methinks that he’s down at the rink to speak to the training staff as the coaches are either at the Under-18 Five Nations Cup or the Ivan Hlinka tournament):
While we’re talking about social media, Duhaime posted the finalists of his “Dream Team” fantasy hockey GM competition, and, via RedWingsFeed, Chris from Nightmare on Helm Street is paying close attention to Mike Commodore’s comments from his Twitter account…
As for what we might call harder-hitting news, the Free Press’s Helene St. James’ article on White provoked a pair of reactions from other websites that continue to pump out content in August, starting with Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski...
Remember when the San Jose Sharks acquired Ian White to replace the retiring Rob Blake as a top four defenseman, and then didn’t bring White back? Not it’s the Detroit Red Wings’ turn. [Freep]
And continuing with Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien’s take on what White’s signing means in terms of Jonathan Ericsson’s future with the team:
At one point, Ericsson seemed like the next great Swedish diamond in the rough for the Wings’ vaunted European scouts. It’s stunning how far his stock has plummeted in the last year or two; I’d guess there are at least a few Red Wings fans who shudder at the idea of Ericsson getting a significant increase in ice time.
The Red Wings have a tendency to extract the best out of most of their players though, so it wouldn’t be shocking if White and/or Ericsson play a bit over their heads. It seems like White might have a slight edge at this point, but it could be an interesting battle to follow during training camp and next season in general.
Take the first: the Wings’ expectations for White aren’t unrealistic. They don’t expect him to “replace” Rafalski alone—Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Ericsson and even Jakub Kindl and Mike Commodore have to help, too—and the Wings are probably expecting 30-35 points and some PP help from White, not a stride-for-stride swap-out;
Take the second: this is definitely Ericsson’s make-or-break-it season, especially given his contract, and while Ericsson’s the Wings’ fan base’s resident whipping boy, Mike Babcock finally instituted his preferential defensive rotation in attempting to give each and every pair close to 20 minutes a game, and I think that he’s going to rotate the three pairings just as he rolls four lines once again this season. That means lots of ice time for both Ericsson and White and a rather arbitrary definition as playing on the “second” or “third” defensive unit depending on the situation.
To me, the bigger questions involve the fact that the Wings’ “top three” on the power play include Nicklas Lidstrom, Kronwall and White, and that fourth defenseman’s spot on the second pairing is up for grabs, with Ericsson and Stuart as the probable finalists (barring something wacky like Babcock choosing to employ a forward on the point), and the fact that Ericsson or White’s status as a “top four” defenseman might be determined depending upon which player ends up earning more PK time given that Lidstrom doesn’t kill penalties anymore.
Otherwise, while the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau isn’t just talking about the Red Wings in an article discussing the fact that teams with solid identities sell the most tickets, but the Wings are his prime example thereof…
In 2010-11, the road teams with the highest attendance numbers all had distinct personalities to them. The Red Wings were the league’s highest-drawing road team, with a stunning 99.9 percent of tickets sold. Fans in 29 other NHL cities know what they’re getting when Detroit is in town – an abundance of skill, speed and no mindless, goon-infested gong shows – and they respond to it.
Trailing the Wings for top spot are the Chicago Blackhawks (97.4 percent) and Pittsburgh Penguins (97.2 percent). Like Detroit’s, their images have been bolstered by a recent Stanley Cup victory, but again, we’re talking about teams predicated on quickness and superior talent.
And again, via RedWingsFeed (hey, Pitea’s Tidningen can’t provide us Tomas Holmstrom interviews twice a day), I happened to enjoy this dig at the Wings from the Score’s Rick Moldovayni, who suggests that the NHL’s Research, Development and Orientation camp might want to test out some additional rule tweaks:
Create a special “Detroit Red Wings room” in the Hockey Hall of Fame and induct every player who played with the team since 1995 or so into the Hall. This will eliminate the constant “Should this player make the Hall of Fame?” conversation we have every time a Red Wing retires.
Not exactly, but I do think that it’s up to the Wings to ensure that the contributors to its 20-year playoff run, 4 Cups and 6 Stanley Cup Finals appearances are recognized on a more permanent basis. The Wings need to establish their own Hall of Fame and at least “honor” special players’ legacies and numbers, a la the Toronto Maple Leafs, if only to ensure that an appearance on the Jumbotron isn’t the only thing a retired Wing who misses out on a front office job can look forward to…
But it’s also very likely that if the Wings were to tap into their Alumni Association for signings and appearances that are cross-promoted with a Hall of Fame, jersey “honoring” or any other sort of Wings function, they’d sell more merchandise and more tickets than they already do, and when the team’s making money by very justifiably milking its past, everybody’s happy.
There ain’t a thing wrong with a fan ordering a Ciccarelli or Draper jersey from Hockeytown Authentics or Fanatic U because the Wings recognized them in a special ceremony or employed them as team “ambassadors” for a meet-and-greet with the general public every now and then.
Update: Via the Wings, here’s a video tour of N812ME, a.k.a. Red Bird III:
Update #2: According to Chuck Shipp, Olympia’s senior pilot, the aircraft won’t have to stop to refuel going out West, it’s got WiFi inside the cabin (the cabin’s been renovated with multiple displays and a WiFi network, as I suspected) and it’s, well, newer. Shipp says that Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch picked out the interior and red-and-blue exterior (it’s a little more incognito) as well as the 68-passenger layout.
I’m starting to wonder whether Modano grumbled to the press on purpose, for the sake of giving the Wings a little more oomph in the player-recruiting department by noting that the team’s essentially replaced its team plane with something newer and better every 10 years, and that this one’s got longer “legs,” is state-of-the-art technology-wise and of course includes a flight and cabin crew that’s familiar with its passengers, so in addition to never flying commercial airlines when you’re a Wing, the flight attendants know what your preferences are and will have whatever you need to feel comfortable ready to go before you’ve boarded the plane.
That’s quite a perk to have and it’s very representative of how well the Wings’ players are treated by their ownership.
Update #3: Via RedWingsFeed again, Expressen’s Linus Hugosson posted a photo of Henrik Zetterberg speaking to Viasat Hockey after a charity hockey game.
Update #4: Per a Twitter pal whose account is friends-only, Boston Bruins defenseman Stephen Kampfer just announced the following:
For all my Jackson/Michigan followers. The Stanley Cup will be at Darylls Downtown in Jackson on August 25th from 4-6 for pics. So come out
And help enjoy the cup!! Look forward to seeing you all there!
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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.