The Malik Report
Updated 5x at 12:06 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will have their hands full when they battle the New York Islanders this afternoon (4 PM EST, FSD/MSG Plus/97.1 FM; don't expect a "morning skate" for either team), but today's game definitely feels like something of an appetizer for Saturday's media maelstrom in Ottawa and Sunday's Alfredsson Returns to Ottawa affair (5 PM EST, FSD/TSN, and there's some sort of Alfredsson video tribute in the works, too).
After trying to scoff down a Thanksgiving dinner, the team boarded Red Bird III for a 7 PM flight to Long Island. The Wings will battle the Islanders tomorrow afternoon at 4 PM (on FSD and MSG Plus; the Islanders lost 3-2 to Winnipeg on Wednesday, and they've dropped 4 straight games since defeating the Wings 5-4 in a shootout on Saturday the 16th), and then they'll descend upon a media maelstrom ahead of Sunday afternoon's Daniel Alfredsson reunion and/or Wings' attempt to defeat the Ottawa Senators for the first time in 3 meetings (after being spanked 6-1 on October 23rd and 4-2 last Saturday, with both games taking place at the Joe).
The Utica Observer-Dispatch's Don Laible penned a superb review of Mark Howe's memoir, Gordie Howe's Son: A Hall of Fame Life in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey, and co-author Neil Greenberg told the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat's Mike Mastovich that Howe was nearly as blunt as Darren McCarty was was with Kevin Allen in providing honest and forthright recollections about his life's major, minor and sometimes embarrassing milestones--at length...
But this evening, the Utica Observer-Dispatch's Laible offers an insight into a part of Howe's life that he discusses more infrequently than any other aspect thereof in his day job as the Wings' director of pro scouting:
Today, Howe lives out of a suitcase mostly, on the road evaluating prospects and veterans, on a constant search to strengthen the Detroit Red Wings organization. As their director of pro scouting, life is good for Howe.
"I've been doing it (scouting) for 19 years, since I retired," says Howe as he was en route from Hartford,Connecticut to New York's Long Island for a Wings-Islanders matchup. In scouting, a different team, in a different city on a daily basis are the requirements of the position. On this particular visit on the Island, Howe was to meet with Detroit's general manager post-game. The caveat to evaluating the players for the Saturday afternoon NHL game, the previous night Howe, the former Olympian, took in the AHL Hartford Wolfpack home game. Mark was able to stay at his brother Marty Howe's home and skip the usual hotel atmosphere.
Beware, Red Wings fans: an auto-play clip lurks within this entry!
Ahead of tomorrow and Saturday's pair of home tilts in which the Grand Rapids Griffins will host the Texas Stars, Hockey's Future's Tony Androckitis' notes about the Griffins' scoring leaders are worth repeating...
The defending 2013 Calder Cup champions are off and running in 2013-14 and wasted no time showing that last year wasn’t a fluke. The Grand Rapids Griffins opened the season with an 8-1 win over Rochester and lead the Midwest Division by six points with a record of 13-4-1-1.
Leading the way for the Griffins has been second-year forward Tomas Jurco. The Detroit Red Wings’ second round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft is fifth in the AHL in scoring with 22 points (10G-12A) in 19 games played and is already approaching his offensive production from his 74-game rookie season where he tallied 28 points (14G-14A). Jurco is not enduring “the sophomore slump” and started the season on a four-game points streak. He hasn’t shown signs of slowing down just yet ,either, recording points in five of his last seven games (5G-3A), including his first professional career hat trick in a 5-3 win over Rockford on November 15th.
On the backend, rookie defenseman Ryan Sproul leads the Griffins offensive attack with five goals and eight assists on the season after coming off back-to-back 20-goal seasons as a defender for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. His five goals leads all rookie defensemen while his 13 points have him third in the AHL among rookie defenders. The 2012-13 CHL Defenseman of the Year hasn’t appeared in his first NHL game just yet, but it’s only a matter of time for the offensive defenseman to be given an NHL look.
Grand Rapids' Fox 17 duly noted that Jurco's leading the way for GR:
Various luminaries and political types from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the State of Michigan, City of Detroit, the State and U.S. legislature, the province of Ontario and City of Toronto will be making their presence known at the Winter Classic on New Year's Day, but I can only shake my head at this report from the Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington, who reports that the worst mayor since Kwame Kilpatrick is sure to do his best to steal the spotlight:
There are 107,000 hockey fans expected at the New Year’s Day outdoor NHL Winter Classic in Michigan and Mayor Rob Ford says he plans to be one of them.
“Definitely,” the mayor said of the much anticipated Jan. 1 game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. “I don’t have the plans worked out yet but I want to go.”
The Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins' players took to Twitter to wish all their fans a happy "American Thanksgiving" On Thursday:
Bertuzzi did skate today, Datsyuk did not.
Also, the lines this morning where the same from last night's game.
added 1:58pm, from Ansar Khan of Mlive (on Datsyuk)
According to Fox Sports Detroit's Ken Daniels, the Red Wings will be practicing at Joe Louis Arena sometime today despite having defeated the Boston Bruins 6-1 on Wednesday--with the team slated to fly out to Long Island for its mid-afternoon games against the Islanders on Friday and Daniel Alfredsson's former employers on Sunday--so the Wings won't have much of a Thanksgiving.
TMR is going into "low and slow-cook" mode today, however, so I'm going to leave you with a superb quote from Jonas Gustavsson, snagged by MLive's Brendan Savage, which I certainly hope is true for the Wings going forward...
NESN posted quite the pre-game video of one Red Wings executive and Hockey Hall of Famer informing Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley that, at least in one respect, Wednesday night's 6-1 win over the Boston Bruins was worthy of the NBCSN "Rivalry Night" tag even prior to puck drop--because one does not get in the way of a former hard-charging defenseman and his perch in Joe Louis Arena's cramped, one-row press box:
I adore Chris Chelios as a former Red Wings player, as an executive and as a salt-of-the-earth person, but I can certainly tell you that if you have been identified as a member of the media, and he doesn't know you, he doesn't trust you, or he simply has somewhere to go, he'll do just what he did to Edwards and Brickley--walk right past you and look right through you.
Or sometimes it's the other way around, and I've come pretty close to taking a Chelios check more than once because the man all but literally runs the gauntlet of digital sound recorders when he spots them and those that hold them looking for a "quote."
The Detroit Red Wings have won two of their past three games--and their second of three meetings with the Boston Bruins, taking Wednesday's game by a 6-1 tally (the Wings lost 4-1 on October 5th, but won 3-1 on October 13th, with both games taking place in Boston; the teams won't meet again until April)--but the team won't be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors for long.
According to Fox Sports Detroit's Ken Daniels, the Wings will be practicing later today at Joe Louis Arena, despite today's status as "American Thanksgiving" and they'll fly to Long Island this evening ahead of Friday's 4 PM game against the Islanders and Sunday's Alfredsson-Senators reunion.
The Wings don't exactly have a Toledo Walleye-style bag skate on tap, but they're definitely not going to be enjoying their holiday or the lack thereof.
The Free Press's Helene St. James also reported that Wings coach Mike Babcock had revealed his goaltending rotation for this upcoming weekend...
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.