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The Malik Report

Three things: does Chicago ‘suck?’; praise for Datsyuk; 8:47 of Babcock being Babcock

Two of the three stories which follow are in the Red Wings-Blackhawks Game 3 update thread, which will continue to be updated this afternoon, but these three stories also merit specific mentions:

Topic 1: I happened to wonder aloud whether the Chicago Blackhawks' hatred for the Red Wings is analgous to that of Ohio State fans' hatred for everything related to the University of Michigan, and the website Alternative Hero provided a merchandise-hawking answer...

Would you wear this? Does "Chicago Suck?" I certainly despise the Blackhawks, but I don't think they, their players or their fans "suck," and I'm not a person who believes in wearing stuff that suggests that other people (see: Sidney Crosby) "suck," are "babies," or anything else. Sure, the hate flows through me once the puck's dropped, but...I mean, we're not talking about Maple Leaf fans here...

Topic 2: This story probably merits its own entry. Via RedWingsFeed, the Windsor Star's Dave Waddell wrote an absolutely wonderful (on par with ESPN's Craig Custance's Wings story from earlier today) story about Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk receives oodles of praise from Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kyle Quincey, Henrik Zetterberg and Mike "Zero Chance [he'll return to Russia]" Babcock, but this part is as good as any as something of a gateway drug excerpt:

Datsyuk isn’t one of those gifted players that just conjures up his magic from deep inside his creative brain. What makes him so dangerous is that creativity is combined with the work ethic and will of a technician who’ll settle for nothing short of perfection. When you see Datsyuk unveil some new sleight of hand, it’s almost invariably been honed in practice first.

“More practice,” Datsyuk said of his secret.“Much easy to play in game. Make special plays, it makes it easy.”

Datsyuk works on new wrinkles over and over before or after practice, often with Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg being his guinea pig. If it can work on the tenacious Zetterberg, it’s going to work on everybody else.

“He does all the time,” Zetterberg said. “He always comes up with something new. It’s fun to play with him and be close to him to see what he does every day.”

However, Zetterberg admits he rarely tries to steal a Datsyuk move for his own game. A man has got to know his own limitations.

“It’s out of my league,” Zetterberg said. “I’ll probably break something if I tried, so I’ll let him just do his thing.”

Perhaps the best testament to Datsyuk’s all-around game is he’s one of the few players who can regularly make the TV highlights on both sides of the puck on a nightly basis. For Datsyuk, playing a two-way game is obvious logic and he explains why when asked if he enjoys scoring goals or making a great defensive play better.

“I’d be happy with both, follow each other,” said Datsyuk explaining good defense turns into offence.

Waddell continues at length, and I can tell you one truth about the world's best players, the elite of the elite, as has been suggested to me by the Red Wings' coaches and management and the players themselves:

They keep working on getting better, all the dang time, because they believe that there is always more to learn, more to achieve, more to perfect and more work involved in ensuring that they stay on top of their competition by throwing new things their way. Just as importantly, the elite of the elite do so not simply because they believe hard work is necessary, but also because they enjoy putting in the work. Datsyuk works his ass off in the weight room, works his ass of tweaking his heavy-bladed, grip-tape-blowtorched sicks, and he works his ass of trying to be better by doing bizarre and wonderful things during and after practices, but he thoroughly enjoys what he does.

Just as Tomas Holmstrom hated leaving the ice without tipping some Nicklas Lidstrom shots down, Datsyuk wants to keep dekeing, dangling and surprising his opponents with stick checks and shoulder-to-chin hits, so he plays keep-away with Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula, Damien Brunner and whoever else wants to goof around at the end of practice, he puts pucks off the side boards in front of the benches during warm-ups in addition to skating in on the net and shooting to see how his sticks are working, see how the ice is behaving and figure out whether some of his moves will work on a given night...

He's a workhorse who loves working like a horse. And that is why Pavel Datsyuk is Pavel Datsyuk.

Topic 3: Red Wings coach Mike Babcock gave an 8:47 game-day presser, and he discussed Game 3, Jonathan Ericsson, Justin Abdelkader and Joakim Andersson's respective evolutions into strong performers, Paul MacLean's Jack Adams Award nomination, whether coaches who "push people" for a living actually like the players they don't talk to on a particularly regular basis, Marian Hossa, his perceived-to-be-new role as a "teaching" coach, whether the 2013 season was a "better" coaching effort for him than any other season, the youth movement (Nyquist, Andersson, Brunner and Smith), and being positive:

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Comments

SYF's avatar

Datsyuk isn’t one of those gifted players that just conjures up his magic from deep inside his creative brain. What makes him so dangerous is that creativity is combined with the work ethic and will of a technician who’ll settle for nothing short of perfection. When you see Datsyuk unveil some new sleight of hand, it’s almost invariably been honed in practice first.
“More practice,” Datsyuk said of his secret.“Much easy to play in game. Make special plays, it makes it easy.”

Like I said, he reminds me so much of impresarios Stevie Ray Vaughan and Louis Armstrong.  And that is a comparison I just don’t press on others lightly.  I’ve read so many stories about SRV and Louis Armstrong about their dedication to their respective instruments in solitary practice and the hours put into it.  Eddie Van Halen is great, but only SRV and Armstrong can turn their instruments into mere toys; they make the very difficult look so damn easy.

And that’s what I see when Dangles is on the ice.  A guy who makes the very hard look so ridiculously easy.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 05/20/13 at 02:25 PM ET

SYF's avatar

As for the hate, I don’t give a shit.  They can have it.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 05/20/13 at 02:34 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I happened to wonder aloud whether the Chicago Blackhawks’ hatred for the Red Wings is analgous to that of Ohio State fans’ hatred for everything related to the University of Michigan, and the website Alternative Hero provided a merchandise-hawking answer…

I’m an OSU alum… and for what is worth to you guys up north I can tell you that I find the anti-Michigan thing enormously annoying.  There is so much to respect about the U of M, and I’m a Michigan fan when they aren’t playing my alma mater.  I hate the pointless hatred that brings down both institutions, especially when the non-alumni crowd gets into it.  I especially hate it when CBJ fans try to relate CBJ/DET to the college football rivalry.  I can tell you I’ve had cigarettes flicked at me at Nationwide Arena over the fake rivalry they contrived from college football.  So to see someone pushing “Chicago Sucks” t-shirts…

well that’s disappointing on several levels for me.  Root like hell for your team during the game by all means, but try to keep in perspective after the final whistle.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 05/20/13 at 02:46 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I was in Chicago several times a year during the 90’s for work, and play, and l always tried to strike up a conversation with locals about hockey.  Very rarely did anyone show even a slight interest, much less knowledge, of the sport or their team.  They had no idea who Chelios, Amonte or Roenick were, much less legends like Mikita and Espo.

Now you can blame that on poor teams, Bill Wirtz’s poor dealings with local tv affiliates or whatever, but the fact is hockey was the red headed step child in that city for a long time.  So to have a bunch of fans, the majority of whom have literally been watching hockey for less than a decade, become such giant douchebags so fast, its not hard to develope a giant hate-on for them.

But in no way does the team, no matter how I feel about its players or fans, suck.  And the city itself has one of my favorite places in the US, Kingston Mines.

Posted by Hootinani on 05/20/13 at 02:56 PM ET

cowboycoffee's avatar

i would not wear that. It’s team, not the city.

It’s the most classless chant ever. Makes me think of the Death To America chants you hear overseas.

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 05/20/13 at 02:58 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

I live in Chicago, and wore my Datsyuk jersey all over town on Saturday.  For the most part, no, the “fans” here don’t really know what’s going on.  I keep a tally of people who say stuff when I wear the jersey: 10-2 on Saturday in favor of pro-Wings vs. anti-Wings statements.  Every time I wear the jersey, some dumbass always starts yelling “Detroit Sucks” - simple response: “stay classy, yo”. 

After Saturday’s game though, there were a few Hawks fans who did come up to me and said they were really impressed by Detroit.  That’s respect, and I respect that. 

Love the city I live in, dislike their team.  That’s how the line is drawn in my book.

Posted by TreKronor on 05/20/13 at 03:09 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Bekuzov, I went to U of M and the U of M-MSU rivalry is my annoyance. I respect the hell out of MSU and many of my friends got fantastic educations there, and I am NOT the type of student who went to U of M driving daddy’s Beemer with a job in the firm waiting for me, but to have that association tagged on me…It’s just dumb.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/20/13 at 03:10 PM ET

hockeychic's avatar

I really don’t like the “Sucks” slogans.  Living out here and being surrounded by “Red Wings suck” paraphernalia for years - I just don’t like it.  I’d rather cheer for my team then put down the other one.

Heck, it is an original six matchup.  Both very talented teams.  I don’t like the Hawks but I’d much rather wear a shirt proclaiming my pride in the Wings.

Posted by hockeychic from Denver, CO on 05/20/13 at 04:08 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Posted by hockeychic from Denver, CO on 05/20/13 at 04:08 PM ET

Eloquent.  Elegant.  Perfect.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 05/20/13 at 04:10 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Watching hockey games, especially in the playoffs, I cringe every time I hear a “sucks” chant. That gives me reason to chose sides in the series, just like Montreal’s thuggery gave me reason to root for Ottawa in the last round. It’s classless. I always prided myself as a Wings fan that we don’t pull that garbage at the Joe. Unfortunately, these morons have decided to do just that with that t-shirt. Shameful. Makes me sick to my stomach.  sick

Posted by Bradley97 on 05/20/13 at 04:37 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

SYf, I agree.  SRV had that intangible Datsyuk has to make them masters of their craft.

SRV used to practice to much the callouses would come off his fingers…. he’s superglue the skin back on and keep playing.  That’s someone who LOVES what they’re doing.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/20/13 at 04:50 PM ET

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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.