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The Malik Report

Accentuating the positive as the Red Wings prepare to open the 2013 season against the Blues

Updated 2x at 9:30 PM: This afternoon's Red Wings news cycle hit "pause" pretty early as the Red Wings hustled to Metro Airport to board Red Bird III and flew to St. Louis almost immediately after wrapping up their final pre-season practice at Joe Louis Arena. This evening, a combination of Wings-Blues tidbits (tomorrow's game starts at 8 PM EST, and will air on Fox Sports Detroit, with a season preview airing at 7 PM, and 97.1 FM--and if you checked out the Wings' combined radio and TV broadcast schedule, you'll notice almost half their games will air on WXYT AM instead of the Ticket's FM station), Wings personnel notes and NHL previews and prognostications merit an evening post, so here it is.

Starting at the beginning, with player personnel news, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan confirms that Darren Helm (back), Jakub Kindl (groin) and Todd Bertuzzi (flu) will miss tomorrow night's season-opener, with Helm and Kindl slated to miss multiple games due to their injuries:

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What Al Sobotka (and other non-player NHL luminaries) did during the lockout

Sports Illustrated's Brian Cazeneueve took an intriguing tack in terms of "catching up" with famous hockey names by speaking to Boston Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt, Philadelphia Flyers PA announcer Lou Nolan, Nashville Predators play-by-play annoncer Pete Weber, Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates and somebody whose name Cazeneueve spells as "Al Sabotka" about a certain Joe Louis Arena's building manager's activities when the Detroit Red Wings weren't skating on the ice Al Sobotka tends to so meticulously. Here's what Al did during the lockout:

The Zamboni Driver: Al Sobotka, Detroit Red Wings

Al Sobotka, 59, is the building operations manager at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena and the Zamboni driver at Red Wings' games. During his 41 years with the team he has become as essential to the games as the ice he manages,

but he is most often recognized for cleaning up and then twirling overhead the many octopi that fans hurl onto the ice at playoff time. "It's become part of the show," he says modestly.

The show has endured, despite the lockout. Without NHL hockey, the Joe hosted youth tournaments, events for season-ticket holders, corporate parties, and scheduled concerts and college hockey games. Sobotka oversees arena details from painting to seat repair and also cooks monthly barbecues for the team. Each meal requires 36 slabs of ribs with his spice rub, 25 pounds of burgers, eight chickens and 40 links of Cajun chicken sausage. With a full plate of responsibilities, Sobotka remained a full-time employee along with a dozen of the Wings' building staff, including electricians and engineers. "I felt bad for the (part-time) concession workers and cleanup guys," he says. "They are like family."

Sobotka earned high praise when the 1994-95 lockout forced a late start to the Stanley Cup Final in Detroit, where outside temperatures hit 98 degrees. "We used de-humidifiers and supplemental air on both ends of the arena," he says. "The players were surprised at how well the ice held up. We can do the same this year if we have to."

Continued

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Red Wings release radio and TV broadcast schedules

Fox Sports Detroit posted its preliminary Red Wings broadcast schedule about a week ago, and now the Red Wings have issued a press release stating both its TV and radio broadcast slots for the 2013 season.

RED WINGS ANNOUNCE 2012-13 TV/RADIO SCHEDULE

Detroit, MI…The Detroit Red Wings today announced their 2012-13 broadcast schedule that includes all 48 regular season games carried live on both television and radio.

For the 13th year, all Wings regular-season and playoff games will be carried live by CBS Sports Radio with Ken Kal and former Red Wings captain Paul Woods providing the call.  CBS Radio will broadcast the games on a combination of 97.1 The Ticket and 1270 AM with more than half of the games simulcast on both stations.

FOX Sports Detroit (FSD) continues its award-winning production and carriage of Red Wings games by airing a total of 41 regular-season contests with 35 games slated for FSD and six on FOX Sports Detroit Plus (FS PLUS).  Additionally, FOX Sports Detroit will carry all non-exclusive games in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs if the Wings qualify.  NBC (four) and NBCSN (three) will carry seven regular-season Red Wings contests in Detroit and nationally.

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Duhatschek and Red Wings GM Ken Holland discuss the post-Lidstrom era

The Red Wings afternoon post-practice news post will still be updated for the next hour or two (as the Red Wings' beat writers file their practice reports), but, via RedWingsFeed, the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek leads off his weekly notebook with an intriguing conversation held with one Red Wings gM Ken Holland about his team's attempts to sustain its 21-year playoff-qualifying streak without Nicklas Lidstrom:

“We’re not going to replace him,” said Holland, “so what do we do? Obviously we used to have a superstar on defence. In his prime, he’d play close to half the game. When you weren’t sure, you threw Nick on the ice. Now, I think Nik Kronwall is a really, really good defenceman. There’s no doubt he’s the face of our defence. It’s Nik Kronwall and then it’s a committee.”

The Red Wings have been a model of consistency during Holland’s entire 16-year tenure as GM. He likes to talk about a story, written by a well-known Toronto reporter at the end of the last lockout, predicting the Red Wings’ best days were behind them – and that in the new salary-cap era, where they couldn’t simply outspend the opposition, they would fall back into the pack. Holland said in an interview this week he still keeps that article on his desk as a daily reminder of the fickleness of pro sports and its ‘what-have-you-done-for-me-lately’ nature.

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The Latest On The Red Wings: Knuble signs with Grand Rapids; Wings send Lashoff down, Bertuzzi ill

Updated 6x at 3:35 PM: via Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Mike Knuble signed a 25-game pro tryout contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins. That means he'll play for the Griffins but can sign with any NHL team that comes calling.

Todd Bertuzzi (groin, sick) will not play in Saturday's season opener at St. Louis but the club hopes he'll be ready for the second game, Monday in Columbus.

Darren Helm (back) expects to miss the first three games. Jakub Kindl (groin) won't play Saturday.

Brian Lashoff was reassigned to Grand Rapids.

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness confirms...

As does the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

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Red Wings Friday practice post in progress: on health and the team’s roster crunch

Updated 3x at 12:57 PM: the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Mike Knuble "won't make the team": Fox Sports Detroit's streaming webpage will offer a live feed of the Red Wings' final practice before the truncated 2013 season begins on Saturday, with the Wings slated to hit the ice around 12 PM and skate for approximately an hour.

As we wait for practice to begin, here's a roundup of this morning's news stores, which focus upon the topic of the day in the intersection of the Wings' health concerns, including groin injuries nagging Jakub Kindl and Todd Bertuzzi, as well as a back injury that's bothering Darren Helm, with the roster crunch the Wings find themselves facing as they've got 27 players on the roster, but need to get down to 23 by this afternoon.

The fact that Patrick Eaves has been cleared to play, as noted by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, complicates the Wings' roster equation:

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Red Wings overnight report: sometimes it’s better to not give a f*** about what other people think

Updated at 4:06 AM with an excellent article about Niklas Kronwall, and give the Swiss Pavel Datsyuk Q and A a gander, too: At the end of an incredibly busy day at Joe Louis Arena, after the Detroit Red Wings had suffered a Jakub Kindl groin injury setback during their morning practice, chose to pass on Wade Redden, informally announced that Tomas Holmstrom will officially retire on Tuesday, announced the naming of three AHL and one ECHL prospects to their respective league's All-Star Games during an afternoon news cycle, and may or may not have lost Todd Bertuzzi's services for Saturday's opener in St. Louis as he chose to rest his sore groin after skating through half of Thursday night's practice...

And again, Friday's 12 PM practice will be free and open to the public, with free parking in the Riverfront Lot, and will be streamed on Fox Sports Detroit's website...

Wings coach Mike Babcock addressed the press a world away from his, "We're just so grateful to be here" mood when training camp started on Sunday, practically hissing and growling at the press after having read that ESPN's chosen Saturday's opponent as this year's Cup pick. After lecturing the press about the 10-day groin injury rule, MLive's Ansar Khan caught a classic Babcockian summary of what the team's attempted to achieve in going from zero to 48-games-in-99 nights over the course of a week:

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Hang on, fellow Red Wings fans, we’re groin to be fine…

Updated 3x at 9:55 w/ Babs gabba and pictures from practice: Oh joy, here the groins come again. The Red Wings will start the season without Jakub Kindl (groin), Darren Helm (back) and most certainly Joey MacDonald (back), and Mikael Samuelsson has just recovered from a groin injury. As it turns out, groin injuries are apparently contagious, though Todd Bertuzzi apparently only skipped the latter half Jam the Joe practice with a sore groin (more to come in the evening update post) for precautionary reasons:

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Now that the lockout’s over, the people who really make their living from hockey commerce are ‘back’

The #hockeyisback hashtag is a little condescending given that every hockey league save the NHL has been in action since last September or October, but the lockout's greatest casualties in terms of collateral damage were not owners, players or teams.

The fans bore the brunt of trying to stick with their favorite teams through over half a year's worth of collective bargaining Kabuki theatre, and those who truly could not afford to pay the bills without NHL games being played--those who work at rinks in broadcasting, as ushers, concessions workers, security, janitors, you name it, and the folks who own and work at restaurants, bars, hotels, parking garages and merchandise shops--very literally either did not work ,were laid off, orweren't able to pay the bills due to significant downturns in business.

Here in Metro Detroit, as ClickonDetroit.com notes (via RedWingsFeed), the return of the NHL is a Godsend for downtown businesspeople and their employees:

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Welcome aboard Red Bird III

I think the Griffins are just showing off now! After posting a wonderful video chronicling Landon Ferraro's participation in the Red vs. White game, the Grand Rapids Griffins take us aboard Red Bird III:

 

Update: While we're at videos chronicling the next generation of Red Wings, Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji and Art Regner interviewed director of player development Jiri Fischer this morning, and here's the video. FoxSportsDetroit.com will stream tomorrow's 12 PM practice (again, open to the public, free parking, free admission) as well, and will hold some interviews afterward:

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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.

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