The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/17/12 at 01:39 PM ET
Updated 4x at 6:41 PM: The story regarding Todd Bertuzzi possibly telling the Nashville Predators to get their own damn ping pong table was mostly debunked this morning via Twitter, so the Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James tried to get to the bottom of the story:
“I came out of our room, saw some of their guys wanting to play on our Ping Pong tables and told security,” Bertuzzi told the Free Press. “I didn’t do anything else. I didn’t move the table myself.”
Rumors that Bertuzzi had personally packed up the table and wheeled it away swirled around the morning skates today. The Wings host the Predators at 7:30 (NBCSN, FSD) in Game 4 looking to even the first-round series. No one among the Wings had heard of Ping Pong Gate, but greeted it with delight.
“You know he’s a terrible Ping Pong player,” Danny Cleary said with a grin. “At least he can do something with it. But it’s good. He’s our sheriff around here.”
When a TV reporter asked Detroit coach Mike Babcock about it during his morning press conference, he said, “is that true or not?” A team spokesman yelled out, “no,” which made Babcock laugh.
“So that’s why stuff like that is rumors,” he said. “Lots of the rumors that are going around, honest to God, when I’m bored, I start them to get them going.”
The team spokesman likened the situation to a visiting team’s player going into the home team’s gym and using the workout equipment, something that would never happen. Besides, the Wings feel it’s only fair to keep the Predators away from their hallway, as the Predators won’t allow the Wings to walk through the hallway outside their locker room at Bridgestone Arena, forcing the Wings to have to walk around to exit.
Continued with lineup news.
Update: The National Post’s Michael Traikos offers the Predators’ side of the story:
“They took that privilege away, I guess,” said Brandon Yip, who added that the Predators had no issue using the tables during the regular season. “It’s nothing. We just wanted to play a little ping-pong to get our co-ordination going, but they said they weren’t allowing us to play. It’s not a big deal though. It’s whatever they want to do.”
According to Red Wings TV producer Will Posthumus, forward Todd Bertuzzi played off-ice enforcer and “told them if they wanted to play, they needed their own table, and then folded up the table and rolled it into the Wings locker room.”The Red Wings PR staff denied this, although some Detroit players had a laugh at the big, burly Bertuzzi grabbing a Ping-Pong ball in his hands, crushing it and then walking away.
“You know he’s a terrible ping-pong player,” said Dan Cleary. “At least he can do something with it. He’s our sheriff around here. I’d do the same thing. We have two tables. We have a lot of guys who want to play, so we have to have them free.”
“It was the security guard,” said Yip. “There was no confrontation or anything like that. I don’t know where that came from, but [Bertuzzi] wasn’t out there.”
Whether it was Bertuzzi or not, Predators head coach Barry Trotz refused to get involved in the gamesmanship of playoff hockey.
“If they want a ping pong table in Nashville, we’re more than willing to give them one,” he said. “They have their toys, we have our toys. It’s their decision. It’s their toys. They can take them away.”
Update #3: Ditto for the Tennessean’s Joshua Cooper.
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