The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/20/13 at 02:17 PM ET
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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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.