The Malik Report
Late last night, ESPN's Craig Custance revealed that Red Wings legend Gordie Howe may make his last public appearances at today and tomorrow's Red Wings games, and this morning, the Free Press's Helene St. James reveals the heart-breaking truth behind his familys decision to finally pull Howe from the public eye:
Howe hasn't been around as much the past few years, as dementia slowly has taken over his life, progressing from mild to intermediate. Son Mark Howe, a scout for the Wings, said Gordie "is struggling. I think his memory might be down to two minutes, maybe five on a good day."
Howe is never left alone any more. He has been in Detroit staying with old friends for about a week. Before that, he was with his daughter, Cathy, in Texas. Howe stayed with Mark, in Philadelphia, for 10 days around Christmas.
"All you have to do is make oatmeal for him in the morning, then have a cookie or apple pie or chocolate ice cream before bed, and then he's happy," Mark said. "But if it's not someone that he knows who's with him, he really struggles. He was watching the Wings game the other night, and after two periods he put on his coat and made to leave. He said he was going to see Sid Abel at the end of the street. That's the first I'd heard of that kind of thing. But that's the stage he's at."
Continued, and Jimmy Howard, Niklas Kronwall and, in the rest of St. James' story, Pavel Datsyuk also talk about Howe's lingering influence upon them:
This was supposed to be part of the Red Wings-Blackhawks set-up, but the entry took up too much bandwidth, so one must think on one's feet, even at 4 AM.
Amongst this morning's Red Wings-related topics:
Regarding the trade deadline: Ken Holland followed up his conversation with NHL.com's Brian Hedger regarding the trade deadline by stating unequivocally to the Free Press's Helene St. James that the Wings will not trade their 1st round pick in this year's draft, nor will they go the "rental"route.
Will the Wings' management, pro and amateur scouts bunker down at the Joe, kick every tire and attempt to find players that will improve their team?
Yep. But they're not going to sell the barn to buy a horse, nor are they going to screw themselves cap-wise going forward for the sake of making a deadline splash--and landing DeKeyser is a huge contributing factor to that equation, as did the Wings' 2-for-3 and 3-for-4 road trips through Western Canada and the Western U.S. proved that this team is gelling together pretty nicely during what is admittedly a rebuilding and-or-transitional year:
Today's going to be a little bit surreal in more ways than one. Nicklas Lidstrom (in town to visit pals, recruit Danny DeKeyser and then head down to Florida for a "spring break" trip with his family) and 85th-birthday boy Gordie Howe will attend today's matinee between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 PM EDT, NBC/NHL Network Canada/97.1 FM), and it's entirely possible that we'll see the team make some more roster moves as Johan Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson may play today (farewell, Kent Huskins)...
But, regardless of who actually plays for the Wings after the team dons #9 commemorative jerseys during the pre-game skate, the Wings' players face a particularly stiff task: in beginning a slate of back-to-back games against the Blackhawks and Avalanche, today's opponent comes into town possessing a staggering 8-0-and-1 record at Joe Louis Arena and a 10-1-and-2 record against the Wings of late, and the Blackhawks will start a goalie opposite Jimmy Howard who boasts a 9-2-and-2 record against Detroit in Corey Crawford.
Red Wings legend Gordie Howe turns 85 on Sunday, and the Red Wings will commemorate his birthday by wearing commemorative #9 jerseys in warm-ups prior to Sunday's matinee against Chicago (12:30 PM EDT, NBC/NHL Network Canada/97.1 FM, and the jerseys will be auctioned to support the Gordie Howe Foundation).
Howe is slowing down a bit and battles a "mild cognitive impairment" at times, but his family told the Canadian Press that he'll attend both Sunday and Monday's games (he's signing autographs during the 1st or 2nd intermission, and with a movie about his comeback with the Houston Aeros set to preiiere on the Hallmark Channel on May 4th, Howe will be in the public eye again, but ESPN's Craig Custance reports that Howe's appearances on Sunday and Monday may be the last times fans will be able to see him in such a crowded setting--though the family is pulling back the curtain on Howe's now very-private life for the sake of their father's enjoyment of the next two days:
Updated 2x at 3:27 PM: Per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi, with Carlo Colaiacovo ready to return from his shoulder injury and the fact that the Red Wings signed Danny DeKeyser, the team needed to make roster room, and it's done so by trading Kent Huskins to the Philadelphia Flyers:
Updated 10x at 2:52 PM: The Detroit Red Wings took to the ice this morning to prepare for Sunday's matinee game against the Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 PM EDT, NBC/97.1 FM, and the Hawks lost 2-1 to Anaheim last night) with a new face in the lineup...
Updated 2x at 4:53 AM: I know that my fellow members of the ever-twitchy Red Wings nation spent all of five minutes celebrating the Red Wings' signing of Danny DeKeyser before wondering what the team will do about Valtteri Filppula and whether the team can make playoff-strengthening moves at the trade deadline given Ken Hollad's comments to NHL.com's Brian Hedger (cue: Pavel Datsyuk's future and extending Jimmy Howard and Damien Brunner as well).
I'm sure that Holland, Jim Nill and the Wings' braintrust (Nick Barnowski reported that capologist Ryan Martin was in Grand Rapids to watch University of Minnesota defenseman Ben Marshall play in the NCAA regionals) spent about five minutes celebrating a signing that SI's Allan Muir accurately described was a "water is also wet" move to the rest of the hockey world before catching the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 loss to Anaheim and the now playoff-bubble-bound Columbus Blue Jackets' 6-4 win over Calgary(!)...
But I hope that Holland and Nill at least cracked a couple of beers and toasted what Red Wings fans thought was a sure "miss" on a "can't-miss prospect." As far as Red Wings fans are concerned, DeKeyser's signing proves that there's still an allure to playing for the Wings, a "cachet," if you will, that hasn't quite faded despite Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement, and that's a huge relief.
Updated 18x at 7:30 with comments from Holland and Jim Nill: I wrote the Red Wings-Sharks wrap-up from 1-5. Finally got to sleep at 6:30. Woke up around 9. Have been enjoing the watch for Danny DeKeyser since then (and posting the Wings beat writers' stories about Filppula and Colaiacovo, NHL.com's Hedger's interviews with Holland and Bill Roose's chat with Michael Shanks ahead of Gordie Howe's 85th birthday celebration on Sunday), and have been watching Red Bird III's flight path on Flightaware for such a long time that I'm practically ready to make airplane noises.
TSN's Darren Dreger posited this at 4:23 PM...
Then Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos offered this...
Updated 3x at 2:47 PM: As Red Wings broadcaster Ken Daniels revealed last night, the Wings will wear commemorative jerseys bearing Gordie Howe's #9 when they skate in warm-ups prior to Sunday's game against Chicago, with the jerseys slated to be auctioned off for the Gordie Howe foundation. Howe turns 85 on Sunday, and Mark and Marty Howe told the Canadian Press that Howe will attend both Sunday's game against Chicago and Monday's game against the Avs.
The Hallmark Channel also plans on airing a made-for-TV movie about Howe's time spent with the Houston Aeros, and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke to the actor plaing Howe, one Michael Shanks (who's on Twitter and just posted a photo gallery from the film on his website) about Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story:
"When this came along it was kind of the best of both worlds,” said Shanks, who is best known for his role as Dr. Daniel Jackson in the long-running military sci-fi TV series “Stargate SG-1”. It was the most fun that I’ve had shooting something, which I kind of expected too,” Shanks said. “I’d been dying to do a hockey movie throughout my career. Sure ‘Stargate’ was fun stuff … but when you get to combine your two passions, this is a rare opportunity."
Updated w/ Datsyuk/Howard talk at 1:10 PM: NHL.com's Brian Hedger told the Twitter world that he engaged in an expansive interview with Red Wings GM Ken Holland last night, and it involves Holland's take on possibly making trades given that the team's enduring what truly is a "rebuilding year." Sometimes you have to start at the end, so here's the end, and I highly suggest that you go back and read the rest of Hedger's article:
"We've got a younger team and we're trying to rebuild it," Holland said. "We have to decide if now's the time … are we a playoff team, and not only that but is now the time to do something or should we continue letting the kids go? We've probably got better depth than we thought we did when the season started, and the [young players] are going to get better. So we're going to continue to evaluate."
If the right deal materializes, look for Holland to pull the trigger. If not, he can be content standing pat.
"Trades, to me, can't be forced," Holland said. "Trades happen because two sides each get something they want. Even if you think you have a need and want to do it, there has to be a fit. Somebody else has to have a need. It's a responsibility to work the phone and see what's available, but part of our deadline moves will be internal. We hope to get some of our injured people back."
Update: Make it a two-parter. Hedger also spoke to Holland about the futures of Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard:
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.