The Malik Report
If the Red Wings gave an award to most improved player, it probably would have gone to Justin Abdelkader last season.
Abdelkader, 28, more than doubled his career best in goals with 23 (previous high 10, done twice) and added 21 assists for 44 points in 71 games.
That's 16 points more than Abdelkader's previous high in points.
So what will Abdelkader do for an encore?
"Just build off last year," Abdelkader said after a recent informal skate at Joe Louis Arena. "Obviously I had a really good year. Confidence has grown each and every year and I think just gotta keep doing things right to put myself in position to succeed. Working hard every day, working on individual skill set during practice and bringing that during the game. I think just building off last year and working hard, doing whatever I can to put myself in that same position."
Continued...and if you're wondering whether the Wings held an informal skate today, the answer is that they were busy engaging in charitable work:
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today announced the itinerary for the seventh annual MI Wings Community Tour, presented by ITC Holdings Corp., with two groups of Red Wings players scheduled to make four total stops, including to a military base, U.S. Coast Guard Station and two hospitals. All four stops on the community tour are closed to the public.
Four players – Justin Abdelkader, Jakub Kindl, Petr Mrazek and Tomas Tatar – will participate in the west leg of the tour starting with a visit to the U.S. Coast Guard Sector in Detroit to visit more than 100 U.S. Coast Guard members and take a ride on a 45-foot Rescue Boat along the Detroit River. The group will then travel to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich., to visit with patients and their families in the hospital’s playroom.
Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, Brian Lashoff and Riley Sheahan will go on the east leg of the tour to visit cancer patients and participate in joint therapy exercises alongside patients at the MidMichigan Health Center in Midland, Mich. The group will continue to Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center in Grayling, Mich., where the players will witness roll-over demonstrations of various military vehicles and have an opportunity to fire weapons with the guidance of trained military members.
Every military member and hospital patient will receive a co-branded Detroit Red Wings and ITC autographed poster and goody bag with promotional items during the community tour.
From the Winnipeg Free Press's Sheldon Birnie:
Winnipeg is a hockey town. Every neighbourhood has their outdoor rink in the winter, kids play ball hockey in the streets all year round, and the whole town goes crazy when the Jets win big.
It’s no surprise that the city has produced some of the game’s superstars over the years. But as times passes, legends fade, and heroes who once stood tall as giants are slowly forgotten.
"Currently, Jonathan Toews is Winnipeg’s hockey hero," said Danny Schur, writer, producer and director of a new film that looks to re-establish an old great into prominence in our city’s pantheon of bladed heroes.
Schur’s film Made in Winnipeg: The Terry Sawchuk Origin Story blends new interviews and dramatic historical re-enactments to tell the story of Terrence Gordon Sawchuk. Born and raised in the North End before moving across the Red River to East Kildonan, Sawchuk went on to play an incredible 21 seasons as a goalie in the National Hockey League.
"For me, Sawchuk redefines ‘iron man’ athlete," said Schur, an in-demand goalie himself in Winnipeg’s adult rec leagues. "He became this huger than life icon to Winnipeggers, and specifically Ukrainian Canadians."
The stakes are particularly high for the Red Wings and Dallas Stars heading into tonight's game at Centre ICE Arena (7 PM start), as DallasStars.com's Mark Stepneski notes...
If the Red Wings win, they'll advance to the championship game on Tuesday; if the Wings don't win, they will most likely play in the 3rd place game.
After practice, the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau and I spoke with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson regarding the challenges his team faces going into tonight's game against Dallas, the pressure of heading to the championship game as it happens to represent an opportunity to win the Matthew Wuest Cup, getting off to a stronger, steadier start, going with the hot hand in net in Jake Paterson (Adam Marsh and Justin Lemcke are also in the lineup tonight, replacing Kurt Etchegary and Jalen Chatfield) and generating more offense against the speedy Stars:
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. MLive's Brendan Savage summarizes the Red Wings prospects' situation as they prepare for tonight's game against the Dallas Stars (7 PM at Centre ICE Arena):
The stakes tonight are simple for the Detroit Red Wings. A victory over the Dallas Stars will assure them of a spot in Tuesday's championship game of their prospects tournament at Centre I.C.E. Arena.
They'll also advance if they reach overtime regardless of who wins.
The Red Wings (2-0) lead the Gordie Howe Division with six points, two more than Dallas. They'd finish with nine if they win tonight in regulation and would finish with seven if they lose in overtime or a shootout.
The most the Stars (1-0-1) can finish with is seven if they win in regulation. If the game goes to OT, the most points the Stars could finish with would be six.
Teams are awarded three points for a regulation victory, two for winning in overtime or a shootout, and one for losing in OT or a shootout.
Savage continues with statistical notes...
From the Red Wings:
RED WINGS AIM TO ENHANCE PUBLIC SAFETY AND IMPROVE ACCESS TO JOE LOUIS ARENA FOR FANS
... New Clear Bag Policy Limits the Size and Type of Bags Permitted Into The Joe …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today announced a new clear bag policy for all Red Wings games held at Joe Louis Arena to provide a safer environment for the public and significantly expedite entry for fans.
Fans who have non-compliant bags will be asked to return their bags to their cars.
Beginning with the Red Wings first preseason home game on Tuesday, Sept. 23 against the Chicago Blackhawks, fans will only be able to carry the following style and size bag, package or container into Joe Louis Arena for all Red Wings games. Guests with a non-compliant bag will be asked to return their bag to their vehicle before entering The Joe.
- Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12.”
- One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar style).
- Small clutch bags not exceeding 9” x 6” – approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap – can be taken into The Joe with one of the clear plastic bag options above.
from Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com,
How important is it for you to have a familiarity with a lot of the young players on this team?
I think it helps the transition but by no means does it guarantee success. I feel it does help the transition and there's a respect earned both ways. I think I had the opportunity to earn the respect of a lot of the guys I've coached and vice-versa. They've had the opportunity to earn a lot of my respect. When you start a job without knowing anybody, it's a process to earn that respect. We can hit the ground running with some of that earned respect entering this year.
What do you anticipate from free agent acquisitions Mike Green and Brad Richards?
They both have been elite players in the National Hockey League, so anytime you add guys that are proven elite players at this level I think that's a great positive. I also think that both of them will fit into our sense in that we're all about winning. Individual accomplishment comes second to winning in the Detroit Red Wings organization and both these guys understand that and will help complement that culture that's been created. I think both of them are great fits within our lineup and they have a chance to have big years.
I happened to take a dirt nap after writing my impressions of the Red Wings' 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the Wings' prospect tournament on Saturday night, so I missed a few things that were posted between last night and this afternoon.
Let's start with the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau, who posted a photo gallery from last night's game, as well as a conversation with Andreas Athanasiou, who seemed to spark the Dylan Larkin-Anthony Mantha pairing's offensive game...
"We played well together and I think the chemistry came quick,” Athanasiou said. “I played with Mantha all year last season and then at the end of the year when Larkin came I was playing with him so there’s a little bit of chemistry with them. I think we played well together and it was just good to get the win tonight.”
The 6-foot-2, 193 pound forward was drafted for speed and off the charts skating ability. As he’s matured, Athanasiou’s hands and defensive game have improved greatly.
“I’ve always worked on my hands,” he said. “I think that is what makes me more of a player than just my speed is my ability to carry the puck, but I have learned the last two years in junior is how to play a 200 foot game. With my speed, I can always put myself between the player and the net and that’s something I have really worked on.”
Updated at 8:47 PM: While I was catching up on rest in Traverse City, many Red Wings fans in Southeastern Michigan took in Hockeyfest at Joe Louis Arena, and WDIV's Shawn Ley offered a report from the Joe...
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan penned an article about the event (and Johan Franzen being cleared to resume his career)...
Updated at 7:31 PM: from Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press,
They were hockey's top enforcers.
When they took the ice for the Detroit Red Wings, legs weakened on the opposing team and fans swooned in the stands.
Bob Probert and Joey Kocur, who became known as the Bruise Brothers, fought some of the best battles ever seen in the game as they ruled the heavyweight division for the Wings from the late '80s through the early '90s.
Red Wings grind line member Darren McCarty played with Probert, who died of a heart attack at age 45 in 2010, and Kocur.
"The best part of my job – I was kind of the third wheel," said McCarty during a packed Red Wings HockeyFest at Joe Louis Arena today. "I'm not a Bruise Brother – I'm Baby Bob, Joey's little brother. I got to play with them. I was a lot braver when they were in the lineup. I never had to fight the heavyweights. I'd say, 'If this guy or that guy gets out of line, I've got it. You take care of the heavy lifting – I'll just go out and play and cause some chaos that way.' "
Update: DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji also penned a story about Probert...
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.