The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings didn’t exactly dazzle and missed several opportunities to take definitive control of their perhaps karmically correct 4-3 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks, going 0-for-4 on the power play and only denting the twine behind Roberto Luongo twice over a 40-minute period of time in which they out-shot their opponents 30-11…
But a win is always welcome for the Wings, especially when it comes away from Joe Louis Arena, so the Wings flew to Edmonton to enjoy a well-deserved day off before taking on the red-hot Oilers (did I say that right?) with a slightly more commanding lead over each and every one of their Central Division and Western Conference rivals, the Canucks included, and that’s what really matters.
Am I allowed to swear on this blog? Because I sure feel like doing so right now…
I’m penning a Red Wings-Canucks overnight report in the middle of the night, trying to balance this, that and the other thing on the head of a pin, but as I scrolled through the Wings’ notebooks, RedWingsFeed on Twitter, a.k.a. Mike Serven, and I had the same thought as the Free Press’s Helene St. James mentioned that a player the Wings really hope will return down the stretch is having “complications” of a highly concerning variety as he attempts to recover from a broken jaw suffered a little over two months ago:
Assistant general manager Jim Nill said forward Patrick Eaves, out since Nov. 26 after breaking his jaw, is suffering from concussion-like symptoms and remains out indefinitely.
Update: MLive’s Ansar Khan filed a middle-of-the-night report about Eaves’ condition, too:
Maybe the Vancouver Canucks’ fans can at least argue that they got some karmic retribution despite dropping a 4-3 shootout decision to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
The Wings out-shot the Canucks by an insane margin through the first two periods (30-11) and out-shot Vancouver 43-25 overall, but the Wings went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time and surrendered 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 leads to a Canucks team that certainly felt that its one power play should have a zero next to it.
It’s not that the Wings were dirty—the Canucks and Wings played a game that was equal parts high-flying offense, grit and grime in a generally clean manner (perhaps the low-bridge attempt by Keith Ballard which drew Todd Bertuzzi’s ire excluded from a Wings fan’s standpoint), but even I can’t deny that the Wings got away with a few hacks, whacks and high sticks that should have resulted in penalties.
As we await the puck drop between the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks tonight at 10, a pair of stories which I don’t want to get lost in the game-day update thread or the Howe follow-up popped up, and while some of us (me, anyway) don’t like having stories fall into our lap right before game time as we’re usually already into our routines and/or eating dinner before a late night game like this one, the Vancouver Province’s Ed Willes and the Vancouver Sun’s Cam Cole posted a pair of columns which cannot be ignored or postponed to the “overnight report.”
Willes addresses the 37th anniversary of Todd Bertuzzi’s birth as a segue into an article discussing the Red Wings as a team that has, and I quote, “Been old for almost as long as they’ve been great.” The Red Wings have little worries about this year’s team being past its expiration date, as Ken Holland told Wiles:
“We like an old team,” shrugged GM Ken Holland.
Apparently so. This season, in the minds of more than a few observers, was supposed to be the year when the Wings succumbed to the ravages of time and started looking and playing like their age. Let’s just say that presumption has proven erroneous. Playing with virtually the same core group that has averaged 111 points a season since the lockout, the Methuselas of Motown are as good as they’ve ever been and remain one of the model NHL franchises. Nick Lidstrom turns 43 in a couple of months. Tomas Holmstrom just turned 39. The exquisite centre duo of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are 33 and 32 respectively. And the Wings just keep rolling.
“Winning is fun,” said Babcock. “When you lose every night, the season is 164 games long and when you win, it’s 41 games long. That’s a big part of it. But we’re no different than anybody else. You’re scared every day. How long can you keep it going?”
But yes, the Wings are indeed worried about the future…
Updated 4x at 8:40 PM: In a somewhat strange twist given Marty and Murray Howe’s comments to the Canadian Press’s Donna Spencer regarding their father’s battle with what is clearly the initial signs of some sort of Alzheimer’s or dementia-related illness, Marty told the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa that his father’s slow mental decline does not involve a specific diagnosis of dementia per se:
“Just to set things straight Gordie does not have dementia,” Marty Howe said as he was driving with his dad from Kamloops, British Columbia, to Vancouver for a press conference Thursday afternoon. “He has had a cognitive problem for 7 or 8 years that causes mostly short-term memory loss. If he had dementia we would be lucky to have him with us.”
According to a Canadian Press report, Dr. Murray Howe, another of Howe’s sons, said his father likely has mild cognitive impairment, which is considered and intermediate condition between the normal aging process, in advanced age, and early dementia.
For a few years now, reporters attempting to contact Gordie Howe for specific memories of his glory years with the Red Wings and in the NHL have been cautioned by the Howe family, that their father or grandfather’s memory of such events is no longer entirely reliable.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James also asked Wings coach Mike Babcock to weigh in as to how Howe’s performing in terms of personal interactions while also stating (perhaps on caution from the team) that Howe’s memory is “deteriorating”:
Updated 5x at 8:55 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks prepare to tangle this evening (10 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet Pacific/WXYT), the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that Danny Cleary looks ready to play tonight, but the Wings are making a strange lineup change given the Canucks’ toughness…
Danny Cleary on the ice this morning at Rogers Arena #RedWings
Commodore and mursak out tonight
MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms...
Wings are on the ice for morning skate in Vancouver and Cleary is skating. everyone is skating.
Wings skating with usual lines: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 20-43-11, 48-8-96 (39). No word yet on who sits on 4th line.
Babcock said Mursak and Commodore out tonight
As does Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating...
Updated at 12:21 PM with anti-Kronwall talk from Vancouver: The Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks won’t hit the ice for their morning skates ahead of tonight’s match-up (10 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet Pacific/WXYT) until 2 PM EST and 1 PM EST, respectively, but several stories popped up which are worth mentioning here and now:
• First, the CBC’s Gord Stellick has this to say about the treatment Pavel Datsyuk received from his fellow players during the All-Star festivities:
It was a great acknowledgment and a sign of respect for Zdeno Chara to forgo team captain alliances and bias for the first-overall pick and use it to select Pavel Datysuk. It showed to the world the seal of approval from his NHL peers how much Datsyuk is respected by his fellow NHL players. A great informal honour.
• After ESPN’s Scott Burnside and Craig Custance indirectly addressed tonight’s game, and TSN’s Dave Hodge stirred the trade deadline pot by noting that Ken Holland has a pretty good record in terms of adding reinforcements to his roster, MLive’s Ansar Khan discussed tonight’s game plan in terms of Canucks coach Alain Vigneault’s desire to witness his players crashing, erm, I mean “generating traffic” in front of Jimmy Howard while “matching” the Wings’ physical play all over the rest of the ice surface:
Updated 3x at 6:48 AM: When the NHL’s supposedly least-hated team, the Detroit Red Wings, face off against the Vancouver Canucks tonight (10 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet Pacific/WXYT), there’s obviously little doubt that the Canucks remember this hit from the teams’ last meeting, a 4-2 Canucks victory on December 19th…
And given that Ryan Kesler attempted to fight Niklas Kronwall take out Henrik Zetterberg’s knee after Kronwall leveled him, and Kevin Bieksa suggested that someone needs to jump Kronwall and “beat him up” to teach him a lesson in terms of standing up for himself after predatory hits, there is no doubt whatsoever that, despite the Canucks’ rather meager protestations to the contrary, Vancouver will take a page out of the St. Louis Blues’ book, and are all but assured to both find a way to target #55 and physically “punish” the Wings’ players in the same manner that the Blues attempted to do a week-and-a-half ago.
Update: The CP posted a video which accompanies the story: Red Wings legend Gordie Howe is in Vancouver to attend tonight’s Wings-Canucks game and then visit the WHL’s Vancouver Giants on Friday, so I wasn’t necessarily surprised when Sportsnet posted a photo gallery which accompanies their fantastic magazine article about how Mr. Hockey’s getting on just under three years after Mrs. Hockey passed away.
It should come as little surprise, however, that the Howe family has chosen to go into more detail about what they’re now admitting is a sad reality: both Marty and Murray Howe are now readily admitting to the Canadian Press’s Donna Spencer that, three years after their mother’s battle with an aggressive form of dementia called Pick’s Disease ended, their father’s now battling dementia as well:
“He’s a little bit worse than last year, but pretty close to about the same,” son Marty says. “He just loses a little bit more, grasping for words. The worst part of this disease is there’s nothing you can do about it.”
The Howe family hasn’t chased a diagnosis of exactly what kind of dementia Gordie has. They did that with Colleen, who died at 76 of Pick’s disease. Pick’s is a rare form of dementia marked by changes in mood, behaviour and personality, followed by memory loss similar to that experienced in Alzheimer’s. Gordie’s dementia is currently mild and it’s unclear how it will progress. One of his other sons Murray, a doctor who specializes in radiology, says his father’s symptoms don’t fit either Alzheimer’s or Pick’s.
“He has what we call mild cognitive impairment,” Murray says. “His brain power is not what it used to be. In terms of the prognosis and diagnosis, it’s still wide open. He doesn’t fall into what I would say is any particular category. He really doesn’t seem to fall into the Alzheimer’s dementia category because his disease is pretty stable.”
Spencer notes that an interview she conducted with Howe a year ago raised questions about his state of mind, and now the family’s willing to publicly admit that Mr. Hockey’s “not firing on all cylinders” because they’re affiliated with several Alzheimer’s and dementia-related charities…
I would prefer to not overload regular KK readers with, “All Red Wings, All the Time” coverage, but this particular article is a little too good to bury in the sea of Red Wings-Canucks practice day updates. The Vancouver Sun’s Iain MacIntyre believes that, and I quote, the Red Wings are, “The Dynasty That No One Hates,” and have “Earned the Love” of legions (cue cries of protest from Blackhawks, Blues, Predators, Sharks, Ducks, etc. fans, as well as those who are not appreciative of Tomas Holmstrom’s art of goaltender imitation). Thankfully, Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn’t believe MacIntyre for a second:
“Does it do me any good to have a theory after you just made that nice statement?” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday when asked about the double-standard and why no one hates the Wings. “Just write it like that. Perfect. I think we’re a good team and I like to think we play the game well. We’re a team that plays between the whistles and that’s just the way our personnel is built. We’d play different if our personnel was different. You coach what you have and play with what you’ve got.”
See, even the coach throws the general manager under the bus. Reprehensible.
“I played against Detroit more than I played for them, and the good way to put it is you have respect for them,” defenceman Mike Commodore said. “A lot of guys end up staying here for a long time. Other guys come in here and maybe their career is at a standstill or they’re on the backside of their career, and they’re able to come here and get rejuvenated. Players respect that, too. The way things are done in Detroit has garnered respect. It’s a pretty clean hockey team. We play hard, but nobody in here is running around getting in people’s ears. We play a clean, straightforward, puck-possession kind of hockey.”
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.