The Malik Report
During my time spent at hockey rinks, I've learned that the best facilities managers--i.e. the men in charge of making ice--are equal parts artists, alchemists, perfectionists, most definitely workaholics, and especially curmudgeons. Al Sobotka, the man in charge of Joe Louis Arena's ice surface, most certainly fits that bill, and tonight, Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika reveals that the man in charge of the ice surface at Michigan Stadium's a man after Sobotka's heart:
Millions will watch on television across the United States and Canada. More than 100,000 will come to Michigan Stadium, almost certainly setting a world record for hockey attendance. CF-18 fighter jets will fly overhead. The Zac Brown Band, Mayer Hawthorne and The Tenors will perform. The Toronto Maple Leafs will face the Detroit Red Wings in the 2014 Winter Classic.
At the center of the spectacle will be this: an inch and a half of ice, atop less than a quarter of an inch of aluminum flooring, atop a chemical solution pumped from a refrigeration trailer, where the temperature can be tuned to within half a degree.
“Everything revolves around that,” said Dan Craig, standing in a fourth-floor club area of the Big House, looking down through a window, literally overseeing the construction of the rink below. “If that doesn’t happen, everything else goes out of orbit.”
Updated at 5:33 PM: As Paul noted, the Red Wings' present and underachieving roster received a downright remarkable show of support from GM Ken Holland via the CBC's Elliotte Friedman this morning, and given that the Wings have lost six of their past eight games, including last night's ugly 3-0 home "fiaskot" (as they say in Swedish) to the Islanders.
Things have obviously gotten worse now that Jonathan Ericsson will miss 3-5 weeks after suffering broken ribs last night against the Islanders, but I firmly believe that this team will "stay the course," though I hope that Ericsson's injury spurns the Wings to more aggressively pursue the top-three defenseman the team needs even more now that Niklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser are numbers one and two.
The blog entry must go on, however, and I also thought that this quip from Friedman was worth mentioning:
Via RedWingsFeed, the Red Wings did a great job of promoting the looming Hockeytown Winter Festival and especially the pair of Alumni Showdown games--by asking Kris Draper, Dino Ciccarelli, Joey Kocur, Chris Osgood and Mickey Redmond about their levels of excitement leading up to January 31st, and then offering behind-the-scenes footage from the Wings' outdoor practice at Comerica Park this past Wednesday (and no, Tomas Tatar, you should not wear your cold-weather compression shirt to the club, you do not "look jacked"):
I hate to say it, but given the proliference of "vintage cream"-colored gear, the best part of the video might have been seeing that Pavel Datsyuk was breaking in a pair of red pads with a special Winter Classic logo on them.
Update: It would figure that the Wings' wonderful Digital Media Producer, Dan Mannes, was behind the production:
Updated 7x at 5:24 PM: Awful news regarding Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson from the Free Press's George Sipple:
You don't screw around with broken ribs.
Update: Sipple had an article ready to go, and his article offers quotes from Wings GM Ken Holland:
Yahoo Sports' Dmitry Chesnokov posted an eye-opening tidbit regarding a former Red Wing this morning (via RedWingsFeed):
This rumor initially came from Hockeyfans.ch's Martin Merk (who also writes for IIHF.com), and most Russian sports websites confirmed the report (and the Spengler Cup takes place in Davos, Switzerland from December 26-31), but CSKA Moscow's press officer did confirm to Sports.ru that Fedorov's on the team's active roster...
And a little later in the day, Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov stated that CSKA informed him that Fedorov may or may not play for the Moscow team when they battle Vityaz Podolsk in a KHL regular season game tomorrow, "American Christmas" day (Christmas falls on January 7th for the Eastern Orthodox church this year).
I guess we'll have to wait and see whether Fedorov's going to engage in some warm-up games before the Wings' Alumni Showdown on the 31st. Mickey Redmond had stated that Fedorov and Slava Fetisov weren't flying to Detroit until the night of December 30th, anyway...
via Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts at CBC,
- Last year, Red Wings GM Ken Holland refused to give up on his group, despite injuries and inefficiency. He repeatedly said he wouldn't make a judgment until he saw them healthy. When I spoke to him after they made the playoffs, he delivered a passionate dissertation about how he never thought of breaking up the group because he believed in their pride to keep the consecutive playoff streak alive. Does he still feel that way right now? "Yes," he said last week (NB: Any quoted person is not the source of any anonymous comments).
- "We got healthy for the last 10-12 games [last season]," Holland added. "We played our way into the playoffs, winning our last four, including the final one on the road. We beat Anaheim and led Chicago 3-1, two teams with lots of guys in their 20s." Detroit has basically been without two top lines and almost everybody, except Stephen Weiss (sports hernia), is coming back over the next week.
- It's well known that Holland hates the shootout. But he also doesn't consider the overtime format an effective measuring tool because it's irrelevant to how post-season games are played. His yardstick? "How did we do in the first 60 minutes?" The Red Wings were 14-8 before losing their last five.
- The other thing about Detroit is the organization now has a larger prospect base. Some, like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, are pretty much there, while others are a little farther away (Anthony Mantha, Ryan Sproul). Are they to be future Red Wings or pieces of bigger transactions?
Red Wings-Islanders wrap-up and overnight report: Wings must strive toward a higher standard of play
I had to take some time away from the computer after watching the Red Wings lose Jonathan Ericsson to some kind of hospitalization-worthy "upper-body" injury and after watching the Red Wings lose an awfully ugly 3-0 decision to the New York Islanders.
I was just too angry and too frustrated to write anything coherent. This game had "bad" telegraphed all over it like Kyle Quincey taking eight seconds to wind up for an inevitably-blocked shot on the power play.
To some extent, you could "feel" this one coming. The Wings were coming off a 3-2 OT win over Calgary and very specifically a thrilling 5-4 shootout win over the Maple Leafs in front of both HBO and Hockey Night in Canada's cameras, the team remains without Zetterberg, Abdelkader, Franzen, Helm, Howard (Weiss, obviously, given that he apparently had significant surgery to repair a "core muscle tear"), and Jonas Gustavsson's groin apparently flared up badly enough that Petr Mrazek had to start against an Islanders team that's about as intimidating as week-old Christmas ham.
Update: Oh, shit:
One would expect a let-down after the Red Wings more or less emptied the tank to rally from a 4-1 deficit and defeat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in a shootout on Saturday...
But the Wings didn't even show up until the third period in any real sense of the term, and dropped a 3-0 loss to the New York islanders which cost the team Jonathan Ericsson's services (shoulder injury?), cost the team any right to feel good about themselves going into the Christmas break, and it cost the fans yet another significant amount of money to watch an incredibly banged-up team play awful hockey.
While getting shut-out at home.
The Islanders' goals were mostly team-wide affairs, but when Kyle Quincey finishes at -3, Brendan Smith finishes at -2 and Daniel Cleary finishes at -2, you can kind of figure out who was screwing up.
Bad Brendan Smith pinch + Quincey playing the passer = easy goal for Kyle Okposo 10:57 into the 1st.
The Detroit Red Wings are playing absolutely dreadfully right now, losing 3-0 to the New York Islanders, and Petr Mrazek's in net because Jonas Gustavsson has a sore groin.
Worse, it appears that the team's lost Jonathan Ericsson's services again:
I don't know what to say about this, but Fox Sports Detroit just revealed its details on-air:
WHO HAS THE BEST HOCKEY CITY?
FOX Sports Detroit Girls Angela and Stephanie are taking on the FOX Sports North Girls Angie, Kaylin and Kendall in the quest for the best hockey city in America. The two FOX Sports regions will encourage fans to join the hashtag tug-o-war by using #Hockeytown for Detroit and #StateOfHockey for Minneapolis.
"The pride, passion and potential of our city is unmatched," said Angela. "Detroit is Hockeytown for so many reasons: our 11 Stanley Cup Championships, the names hanging in the rafters like Gordie Howe, Sid Abel, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Terry Sawchuk and Steve Yzerman and the way fans get behind our team whether in the stands at the Joe, at home or on the ice themselves. We are an Original 6 Team. We are Hockeytown."
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.