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ESPN’s Custance offers five questions/issues whose answers will tell the Red Wings’ 2013 season tale

Updated with two more Wings previews at 12:26 PM: This slightly dippy blogger (early mornings =/= my favorite) stuck NHL.com's Red Wings preview in the overnight report, and this morning's chatter from Darren Helm and Mikael Samuelsson regarding their injuries, as well as one Pavel Datsyuk's future plans were jammed into the morning skate post, so let's try to change things up with ESPN's Craig Custance's Red Wings preview.

Custance believes that can and probably will remain a playoff team, but he suggests that the Wings face five critical question-mark issues whose answers will determine their 2013 season's fate.

Amongst those questions and/or suppositions:

1. Brendan Smith Needs To Be Ready: When it was clear Lidstrom wasn't coming back, at least there was a strong contingency plan. The Red Wings could make a run at college defensive prospect Justin Schultz and sell him on seizing Lidstrom's lost minutes. Then they would sign free agent Ryan Suter and bring up Smith. Lidstrom is irreplaceable, but that trio would have come pretty close. Instead, Schultz signed with Edmonton and Suter joined the Wild. That leaves Smith. More than ever, they need the longtime prospect not only to play but to contribute significantly. "What they've told me is they want me to be an impact player," Smith told ESPN The Magazine. "They don't want me to fly under the radar and just be another defenseman there. They want me to play minutes and produce. That's what I want."

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Wakiji: Red Wings’ Kronwall, Babcock, Zetterberg believe their blueline will prove worth

Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji wrote an excellent article discussing the state of the Red Wings' defense, speaking to Wings coach Mike Babcock, new captain Henrik Zetterberg, youngsters Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl, would-be top pair defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and alternate captain Niklas Kronwall about the state of the team's somewhat thin defensive corps.

She found that Kronwall is taking something of a stand regarding those who suggest that the Wings' Lidstrom and Stuart-less blueline will serve as its Achilles' heel:

"I think in here we truly believe that we have the right pieces, and hopefully, that's something we'll show you here in the next few games," Kronwall said.

Babcock has never been one to focus on what the Wings don't have. He's thinking there's an opportunity available for anyone who wants to take it.

"Nick played 23-4-5 minutes and Stuie played 23-4-5 minutes, so there's a ton of ice time right there for somebody to grab hold of," Babcock said. "I think there's going to be huge growth, obviously, in Kronwall and (Jonathan) Ericsson. But Q (Kyle Quincey) is a guy who can really take a step for us. Whitey (Ian White) had a pretty good year last year. (Jakub) Kindl, (Carlo) Colaiacovo, (Brendan) Smith, what are they going to grab?"

A lot of the load is going to fall on Kronwall, who turned 32 on Jan. 12. He's now the grizzled veteran on the blue line.

"Of course, now with Nick being gone and Stuie being gone, obviously, it's going to be maybe a little more responsibility," Kronwall said. "But at the same time, I have to try to go out there and play my game, not try to over exaggerate anything or try to do too much because that's how you end up in trouble."

Continued, and the article's worth your time.

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Red Wings training camp day 3, post 1 in progress: Datsyuk skates but won’t take part in scrimmage

Updated 9x at 12:17 PM: The Detroit Red Wings are preparing for tonight's Red vs. White scrimmage (6 PM on Fox Sports Detroit and WXYT 1270 AM; the scrimmage is free and open to the public, with free parking and concession stands open, and doors will open at 5, but general admission + 3,400-seat rink = arrive earlier than 5 PM if possible) via an early-morning skate at Compuware Arena today.

This post will attempt to cover its Tweet-by-Tweet news updates, starting with the following from WXYZ's Brad Galli, and two in-progress Tweets from the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

The Free Press's George Sipple confirms...

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Red Wings players weigh in on the effort necessary to ensure fans stick with them

This morning, 97.1 the Ticket's Jeff Riger wonders aloud whether free access to training camp and a 36-hour window of tickets available for purchase minus Tickemaster fees, starting on Thursday, will give Red Wings fans enough reasons to forgive the NHL's lockout trespasses and "stick with" the team. He asked several Wings players about their thoughts on the uphill battle that is healing the damage done to their relationsihp with Detroit die-hard hockey fans, and here are their thoughts on the subject:

Dan Cleary- “I don’t know, probably not! We’ve upset a lot of fans, we’ve extremely P.O’ed the fickle fan and we really annoyed the huge fan. Our job as players is to put a good product on the ice, sign an extra autograph, more autographs if you can, whatever… I don’t know! With the shortened season it’s going to be hard to do a lot of appearances. All I know is that our team will work hard represent the jersey proudly and our fans will come back and support us.”

Jimmy Howard felt for the fans during the lockout-“Whenever you get a chance to sign an autograph for someone or take a photo you definitely should. They have been stuck in the middle here throughout the whole lockout process and if you ask anybody in here we feel really bad about what we did to the fans. We definitely need them, that’s what drives the Joe every time we play there, that’s what makes it so much fun.”

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Red Wings overnight report: Day 3 includes morning skate, captain-christening and Red vs White game

Updated with NHL.com's Red Wings preview at 3:54 AM: The Detroit Red Wings will begin their last day of training camp held at Compuware Arena this morning bright and early, taking to the ice at 9:30 AM for a 45-minute-long practice before heading home for a game-day nap and returning to the rink (again, the event is open to the public, admission is free and parking is free) for a 6 PM Red vs. White scrimmage between members of the Red Wings and Griffins' organizations (which will air on Fox Sports Detroit and WXYT, and if you are going, plan on showing up closer to 4 than when the doors open at 5, because general admission in a 3,400-seat rink means first come, best seat).

The format allows the Wings to both begin to re-acclimate their bodies to a "morning skate and game" format while also allowing the players to finally compete against each other--and the prospects who want to take some of their jobs sooner, and some of their jobs later--before enjoying a welcome respite from on-ice work to rest those groins on Wednesday.

Tomorrow, the Wings will work out off the ice at Joe Louis Arena, but they're going to press the "repeat Tuesday's schedule" button at the Joe on Thursday (again, public admission, free parking, concessions stands open, the whole shebang) for a 10 AM practice and a 7 PM scrimmage (this time an intrasquad one, because the Griffins have game in Charlotte to fly to) and on Friday, the Wings will hold a 12 PM practice and fly to St. Louis to begin the season on Saturday night.

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Is a 48-game season a ‘sprint?’ Yes, but it’s also an attention-to-detail-oriented demolition derby!

Scotty Bowman now works as a senior advisor for the Chicago Blackhawks, but the man who won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings pushed the team to its first Stanley Cup Final appearance under his tenure during the abbreviated 1994-1995 season.

So Scotty definitely knew what he was talking about when the New York Times' Jeff Z. Klein and Stu Hackel asked Bowman to discuss the nature of the 48-game NHL season to come, and Scotty seems to agree with his former colleagues in Detroit--Wings GM Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock--in suggesting that teams are not facing a "sprint" to the playoffs, but, instead, a full-contact demolition derby of 48 games over the course of all of 99 nights.

Injuries, call-ups, trades, fatigue and short shifts, oh my? Damn straight:

“The teams that have guys playing on their farm teams who can come up and play on the fourth line at the N.H.L. level will have an advantage,” Bowman said. His club was spared injury problems in ’95, and he says he expects teams to use four offensive lines as often as possible rather than three, to keep the forwards fresh.

In 1995, Bowman made sure his Red Wings took quicker shifts by drilling them on one of the game’s subtleties, changing on the fly.

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Red Wings training camp day 2, post 3: on the Red vs. White game and Captain Z

Updated 2x at 10:24 PM: The Detroit Red Wings' second day of training camp produced:

1.The first nagging groin injury in the form of one Mikael Samuelsson being held out of practice;

2. News regarding Fox Sports Detroit's broadcast schedule (which begins with Tuesday night's Red vs. White game at 6 PM; the Wings also practice at 9:30 AM, and both events will be open to the public and free to attend), confirmation of Center Ice and Gamecenter Online's pricing  ($49.99);

3. A scheduled press conference which may or may not involve naming Henrik Zetterberg captain;

4. And discussions regarding both Zetterberg's imminent captaincy and the Wings' need to win back fans by both the team and organization's collective and individual actions, on and off the ice.

This evening's news roundup will begin the Red vs. White game, which Pavel datsyuk may or may not participate in. Datsyuk returned to Detroit at 7:30 PM EST after completing an over-24-hour travel odyssey from Chelyabinsk, Russia...

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Let’s all guess what this Red Wings press conference may pertain to…Henrik Zetterberg’s captaincy?

From the Red Wings' public relations department...


The Detroit Red Wings have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, beginning at 4:45 p.m. ET at the Compuware Sports Arena in Plymouth, MI.  Participants at tomorrow’s press conference will include Red Wings Executive Vice President & General Manager Ken Holland, Head Coach Mike Babcock and the entire Red Wings team.

Following the press conference, the Wings will hold a special Red vs. White Game at 6:00 p.m., as the Detroit’s American Hockey League-affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, will combine with the Wings NHL players.  The event is open to the public and free of charge.  Doors to Compuware Arena will open at 5:00 p.m.

The Red vs. White contest also will be carried live by both Fox Sports Detroit, with Ken Daniels, Mickey Redmond and John Keating, and on 1270 AM with Ken Kal and Paul Woods.

Gee, I wonder if it has anything to do with somebody who endorses Swedish snowballs being named captain?

Update: As you might imagine, the Associated Press, the Free Press's Helene St. James, MLive's Ansar Khan, Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji, the Detroit News's Ted Kuflan, WXYZ's Brad Galli and the rest of the known universe are confirming.

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Red Wings training camp day 2, post 2: on Datsyuk, Zettercaptain, goalies and winning back fan trust

Updated 5x at 4:23 PM: Aside from news that Mikael Samuelsson has a sore groin and did not skate today for precautionary reasons, and that Darren Helm won't skate until Thursday at the earliest, day 2 of the Red Wings' training camp did not include too many surprises, and now quips and quotes are starting to roll in.

MLive's Ansar Khan reports that those of you who plan on showing up for tomorrow's 9:30 AM practice or tomorrow night's scrimmage against the busy Grand Rapids Griffins (6 PM EDT, ON FSD and 97.1 FM, and get there early as the rink will be packed) may or may not see Pavel Datsyuk, who spent the vast majority of the last 24 hours flying back to Detroit from sunny Chelyabinsk, Russia (sorry for the inline update, Twitter's embed code is being doofy)...

Babcock said it will be up to Datsyuk whether he wants to play in Red/White game Tuesday night after arriving from Russia tonight.

And Niklas Kronwall spoke to Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji about the imminent announcement that Henrik Zetterberg will be named the team's captain (expect that tomorrow, probably for the scrimmage as well, and don't forget that there will be a Wings-vs-Wings scrimmage on Thursday at the Joe, and that's open to the public, too)--as well as proving the team's doubters wrong:

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Grand Rapids Griffins ready to head to Detroit for Red vs White scrimmage, fly on Red Bird III, too

The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that the Grand Rapids Griffins are preparing to head to Detroit to take part in Tuesday and Thursday's "Red vs. White" scrimmage, and as they're slated to play several games immediately after the scrimmage, the Wings are giving the Griffins an assist by chartering Red Bird III to fly them to both Charlotte, NC and Rockford, IL:

[The scrimmage] will, in a small way, make up for the lost joint training camp held each September in Traverse City. But it is another game, too, for the Griffins during an already busy period.

“With not having the camp, it will be a nice opportunity to show them what you have,” said forward Gustav Nyquist, who has attended the past two camps. “But at the same time, they know how we’ve been playing and have watched a lot of games have a good idea what we can do. But it will be fun to mix up with the Wings and play with some really good NHL players.”

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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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