The Malik Report
In theory, the weekends bookending the NHL’s Research, Development and Orientation Camp are the twin fulcrums upon which the NHL’s news cycle pivots and more or less re-sets itself. European hockey teams’ training camps and exhibition seasons are underway,* Major Junior teams are, for the most part, either going to get on the ice this week or next week, and we’re under three weeks from the start of most NHL teams’ prospect tournaments, but last week, European NHL’ers were wrapping up their summer vacations and giving their final interviews to the local press corps, and this week’s going to mark the start of the informal gatherings of players who are filtering back into their NHL cities of employment from summertime vacation spots all over two (or in Pavel Datsyuk’s case, three) continents.
Soon we’ll be awash in season previews and initial reports of players skating together and management gathering to perform any final tweaks on their roster and begin to pluck the few remaining free agents off the pro hockey unemployment line.
Three weeks from today, the first slate of practices at the Red Wings’ prospect tournament will be wrapping up, but this morning’s crop of Wings news was so incredibly lean that I couldn’t cobble together an overnight report, and this one yields a barely coherent set of tidbits, too.
NHL.com’s John Kreiser kicks off the proceedings by suggesting that the Red Wings believe Ian White should slide into the #2 defenseman’s role, which isn’t quite accurate given that the Wings are assuming that it’s Niklas Kronwall’s time to shine:
Ian White, Red Wings—The Wings took a hit when defenseman Brian Rafalski, one of the NHL’s most underrated players, unexpectedly announced that he was going to retire with one year still left on his contract. Detroit GM Ken Holland got a good look at White during the Wings’ second-round loss to San Jose and was impressed enough to sign him to a two-year deal. White doesn’t have the three Cups on his resume that Rafalski did, but the Wings are expecting him to be able to step in and serve as a second offensive defenseman behind Nicklas Lidstrom.
Updated with more tidbit-style news at 6:23 PM: Because three tidbits of Red Wings-related news and a reference to the overnight report are better than nothing on what seems to be shaking up as a quiet day news-wise:
• Let’s just say that when Lyle Richardson suggests that the Red Wings have a player who’s already a “candidate” to be traded if he struggles, it’s not hard to figure out which player he picked:
Jiri Hudler, Detroit Red Wings: A year ago, the Red Wings were looking forward to Hudler’s return from the Kontinental League, anticipating a possible career-best performance. Instead, he put up the worst numbers of his NHL career since 2006-07, with only 37 points. Hudler will be expected to rebound from that poor performance, but a recent report out of Detroit suggested if he struggles early, he’ll end up on the trade block.
As the Free Press’s Helene St. James has wound through an astonishing set of ten sets of expectation-stating articles about the Red Wings’ key performers for the upcoming season, we’ve gone back and forth between lock-step agreement and disparate discourse regarding realistic expectations of and roles for certain players to take.
I don’t think any of us are going to disagree with her assessment of Darren Helm, who posted 12 goals and 32 points while maintaining his status as the team’s best defensive forward not named Datsyuk or Zetterberg:
Offense is a secondary part of Helm’s role, however. His main job is to provide speed and energy, be physical and to kill penalties. Helm does a much better job in the latter area than the Wings’ overall penalty kill (82.3% in 2010-11) indicates, as he’s often able to get control of the puck and then carry it all the way up the ice, eating valuable seconds off the clock. He doesn’t convert those breakaways into goals very often (though his two shorthanded goals last season did lead the team), but he’s working on that.
This isn’t Red Wings-related per se, but as every hockey fan whose team has won the Stanley Cup fully believes that its rightful “home” is in the city where their favorite team plays, Red Wings fans will have the opportunity to see the Cup in what we tend to believe is its natural territory on August 26th via Boston Bruins defenseman Stephen Kampfer, according to MGoblue.com:
Former University of Michigan ice hockey player and current member of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins Steve Kampfer (2007-10) will be sharing his day with the Stanley Cup with the U-M community on Thursday, Aug. 25. Kampfer will put the Stanley Cup on display from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the U-M locker room at Yost Ice Arena.
“I’m excited to bring the Cup back to the place that has made me the player I am today,” said Kampfer. “Coming back to the place I wanted to play at since I was the age of four is a dream come true. I couldn’t be more excited to share it with the great fans of Michigan as well. Without them, we wouldn’t have the best rink to play college hockey in. I want fans to be able to see the Stanley Cup and enjoy the day with my family and friends.”
Kampfer will be signing complimentary autographs. Pictures with Kampfer and the Stanley Cup will cost $10, with all proceeds being split between C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the University of Michigan ice hockey program.
It’s “announcement day” or something similar. The Red Wings more or less revealed their 2011-2012 national TV schedule today, and their primary affiliate, the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, have posted their 11-12 regular season schedule today, too. Here’s the team’s press release (it’s very thorough):
From lovely Saint Joe’s in Ann Arbor (despite the fact that we’re across the road from Eastern Michigan University’s football stadium)...
The Wings tossed off the NHL’s press release regarding its national TV schedule, and we at least know that the Wings are going to make a bit of broadcast history (as for the regular TV sked, it has yet to be revealed—expect it to pop up in the next day or three):
Of very brief Red Wings-related news this afternoon (sorry for the throw-it-at-the-wall tendencies in this post as I’m literally headed out the door):
• In prospect-related news, part 1: RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau has posted the Carolina Hurricanes’ roster for the Red Wings’ 2011 prospect tournament on her Left Wing Lock blog, joining the Rangers, Stars and Wings’ confirmed rosters;
Red Wings overnight report: disagreement about Smith, disparate news and an out-of-the-office notice
Updated at 6:26 AM: As the Free Press’s Helene St. James continues penning what is now an epic ten-player slate of pre-season assessments regarding Red Wings players (we talked about the first, um, nine [wow] on Wednesday), we’ve had our share of disagreements as to certain players’ roles and futures with the team, but today…We come to a prospect whose role with the team in both the immediate and relatively distant (by Wings fans’ standards) future invokes debate as a matter of course.
Updated 3x w/ even more stuff at 3:51 PM: As an FYI, from Red Wings senior director of communications John Hahn...
Single game tickets on sale Sept. 1
Wings and fans look for more great excitement at The Joe
DETROIT—An electric Joe Louis Arena crowd saw the Detroit Red Wings force a Game 7 vs. San Jose in the final home game of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was described by fans as the “loudest and most energetic game ever” and fans can lock in the chance to continue that excitement on Sept. 1st when single-game tickets to every Wings home game in 2011-12 go on sale.
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.