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Practice post: Franzen will return to Red Wings’ lineup Friday; on Babcock, Callahan, etc.

Updated 5x at 3:53 PM: On Wednesday, Todd Bertuzzi began to pursue a post-hockey-playing career in coaching (though he's still hoping to get a call from some NHL team) taking in the practices of Tyler Bertuzzi'sGuelph Storm, and you and I discussed the Red Wings' shootout issues, Mike Babcock's future, the Mattias Backman issue and the consistency of a certain general manager's points of view.

Thursday, the Red Wings got back to work after taking Wednesday off, preparing for a 3-games-in-5-nights pre-Christmas, home-ice stretch against the Islanders (on Friday; the Isles are tied with the Wings' 41 points but have 4 more wins than the Wings do), Avalanche (on Sunday) and surging Sabres (on Tuesday).

There was good news from the beat writers in that Johan Franzen--whose bad play apparently coincided with a physical illness--skated and proclaimed himself good to go on Friday, and that Stephen Weiss skated hoping to return to the lineup on Sunday.

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Practice Tweetapalooza: Franzen, Weiss skating with Wings, as is Ouellet

The Red Wings resumed practice after a necessary day off on Wednesday, and as the Wings hope to snap a 4-game winless streak during a 3-games-in-5-nights stretch (against the 21-win-possessing Islanders tomorrow, the Avs on Sunday and then Sabres on Tuesday), and there's good news of a sort at the Joe, per the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Amongst MLive's Ansar Khan's practice Tweets:

Franzen back on the ice at practice today. Weiss also skating.

...

Zetterberg was on the ice at the start of practice but has left early. Weiss took his place on that line with Nyquist and Abdelkader.

(Fear not, he returned)

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Early overnight report: On Gordie Howe, Wings prospect news, shootouts, faceoffs and Howard

Updated quite substantially at 2:57 AM on Thursday morning: Amongst this evening's Red Wings-related news stories:

I think it wasn't exactly hard to read the report that Gordie Howe would be well enough to make a public appearance in Saskatoon this February was...premature.

As Paul noted, MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Mark Howe about Gordie's condition, and Khan received a more accurate forecast...

"He's back in the ballgame," son Mark told M-Live on Wednesday. "Where it will lead to we don't know, but he's miles ahead of where he was weeks ago. In the last week he's been getting stronger, better. We're pretty encouraged by it."

If the former Detroit Red Wings great continues to progress, there's a chance he might travel to his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on Feb. 6 for the Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner in his honor. Wayne Gretzky is scheduled as the keynote speaker.

"A week ago I would have said there's no way in the world (Gordie could be there)," Mark Howe said. "If he continues to improve, we'll have to wait and see."

And Mark continued while speaking with Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji:

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Get ready for the Mike Babcock to Edmonton theory, which is patently nuts

Now I get the Toronto rumors, but given that, as the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa suggested, a certain Mike Babcock very plainly "wants to win"--which is what everyone who's got a damn oar planted in the Mike Babcock To Where? Rumor Mill River has suggested--I'm going to be rude and simply suggest that the esteemed and estimable Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones is, for once in a blue moon, off his rocker:

[If] there’s a way for owner Daryl Katz and new Oilers organization umbrella boss Bob Nicholson to win some public confidence and ensure that the Oilers don’t face the prospect of not being sold out for their first season in their new downtown arena, hiring Mike Babcock would go a long way.

Think about it. There’s the belief that the Detroit Red Wings coach, who former Hockey Canada head Nicholson gave the opportunity to become two-time Olympic gold medal winner, is going to go right through the season without agreeing to a new contract.

There’s the further belief that Babcock not only wants to find out what his true value is as his current contract expires, but that he might also want to be the flag carrier to raise NHL coaching salaries, which don’t compare well to those of the NFL, NBA or major league baseball.

Also Babcock has been in Detroit for 10 seasons, reportedly making $2 million a season. There’s an expiry date on head coaches, even the great ones.

And with the embarrassment of having had the worst team in the NHL throughout his seven years as Oilers owner, and paying people like Ralph Krueger and Dallas Eakins a combined 4½ seasons not to coach, you have to believe Daryl Katz would consider telling Babcock to fill in his own amount and term into the blank spaces on an Oilers coaching contract.

Jones continues, discussing Nicholson's long association with Babcock, Babcock's Canadian collegiate ties to Alberta, the Oilers possibly landing Connor McDavid, etc. etc., but as much as I feel for both the long-suffering fans of the Edmonton Oilers and their long-suffering, passionte media...This is just dumb.

Quoting Krupa, quoting Babcock:

"Listen, besides my family, the thing maybe I like most is winning. So, that's the process, here. That's what we're trying to do, here. And if you think I'm working harder, here, because I'm in my last year of my contract, it makes no difference. I grind. That's what I do. I'm a professional grinder. I love winning. So, you know, we'll see what happens — we've got a game, tomorrow."

The one thing the Oilers don't have is a history of any sort of organizational competency in terms of the front office actually positioning the team in line to win pee-wee games. They make Toronto's corporate conglomerate look warm and fuzzy by comparison, and Ken Holland look like Stephen Hawking.

"Real talk." No *#$%@& way.

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Ken Holland On Anthony Mantha And The Shootout Problems

from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,

"Because of some of the numbers he put up in junior hockey (81 goals in 81 games last season), there were some unrealistic expectations," general manager Ken Holland said. "Then he got hurt and when he returned, guys were two months into the season. He's getting better all the time. You see flashes of all the things he can do.

"But it's a hard league. It's professional hockey. He's learning what it takes to be successful."...

Holland said the Red Wings' woes in the shootout this season could just be a normal cycle of things.

The Red Wings are 1-6 in shootouts and have lost three of them in the last week, the latest Tuesday's 1-0 setback to Columbus.

"Several years ago we were winning them more often than losing," Holland said. "It's about getting on a roll. You get on a roll, you don't think about it.

"You lose some of them, like we have, and suddenly people are talking about it, asking questions. We just have to work our way out of it, win some of them and get on a roll."

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Report- Great But Unexpected News On Gordie Howe

Scott Lewis of Sportsnet with the news,

NHL legend Gordie Howe is reportedly walking on his own and is scheduled to make his final public appearance on Feb. 6, 2015 in Saskatoon.

A representative of Sports for Saskatoon Media Croup, John Fraser, tweeted Wednesday that Howe’s son Marty confirms that his father is “walking under his own power” and is “expected” to make an appearance at a Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner on Feb. 6.

continued

added 5:52pm, from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

"He's back in the ballgame," son Mark told M-Live on Wednesday. "Where it will lead to we don't know, but he's miles ahead of where he was weeks ago.

"In the last week he's been getting stronger, better. We're pretty encouraged by it."

If the former Detroit Red Wings great continues to progress, there's a chance he might travel to his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on Feb. 6 for the Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner in his honor. Wayne Gretzky is scheduled as the keynote speaker.

"A week ago I would have said there's no way in the world (Gordie could be there)," Mark Howe said. "If he continues to improve, we'll have to wait and see."

more

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Off-day post: Tweets of note; on the Red Wings’ shootout woes and the lefty-righty-on-d debate

Updated 5x at 3:37 PM: I'm going to start off this mid-day post with Tweets instead of articles:

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The overnight report: on Babcock, Howard’s mask, Abdelkader and tidbits

So we're talking about Mike Babcock's contract this morning, and it's the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa doing the talking, suggesting that Babcock headed the Toronto media off at the pass last Thursday, by basically laying out the terms of continuing his employment in Detroit:

After saying he and Holland agreed "not to do this" during the season, he did it — he discussed his contract. But the very next thing he said was, "Our team's going good. Our team's playing good. I like the way they're playing. ...

"I'm happy here. I like the general manager. They treat me good. I don't know what else I can tell you."

Those were his words. His intention? To make clear that if the team keeps playing well and if they can get a couple of other key pieces while guys like Tomas Jurco and Anthony Mantha mature, why would he go anywhere?

He is satisfied and enjoying the gig, he said. The implication, heavy in the air, is that when he is not, he might be gone. Then he explained succinctly what satisfies him.

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Prospect news: Walleye back into 1st; Larkin at US WJC camp; Griffins’ weekly release

After Christmas, the Wings' prospects will be very busy at the World Junior Championships, at NCAA post-Christmas tournaments and the like, but the SHL's already begun its Christmas break, most NCAA Division I teams have finally let their hockey players go home for the semester break, and...Okay, in post-Soviet KHL, team has no break, even for Russian Christmas.

But Tuesday was quite slow, so this is a spare entry, minus an edit, anyway:

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Red Wings-Blue Jackets wrap-up: may this serve as the lowest point of the Wings’ offensive lull

If there is any good news regarding the Red Wings' 1-0 shootout loss to Columbus, it is this:

The Wings' 1 point earned allows them to remain 1 point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic (with Toronto having won its 7th straight, a 6-2 win over Anaheim) and remain tied with Montreal (lost 4-1 to Carolina) and stay only a point behind Tampa Bay (beat Philly 4-1), even though the Wings' win-loss-and-ROW-record is comparatively shitty.

The Wings have lost 4 straight games, going 0-1-and-3 of late, but the team's treading water, even if it's slowly being dragged away from shore by the tide.

The Wings are also 1-and-6 in shootouts, Ken Daniels said that Henrik Zetterberg's gone 20 games without a goal, and he's not the only Wings player trying to pass the puck into the opposition net, but Niklas Kronwall had 5 shots, Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm had 4 shots, and...

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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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