The Malik Report
Red Wings player mentor (and the best-ever U.S. hockey player?) Chris Chelios visited his former employer, the Chicago Blackhawks, prior to his induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame tonight, and he received a feting that almost left him uncomfortable some twelve-and-a-half years after he agreed to be traded away from his hometown team. As Chelios told the Chicago Daily Herald’s Tim Sassone, the fact that he was cheered for the first time at the United Center made him feel a little conflicted given that the Hawks’ faithful booed him when, with his family in tow, the Hawks honored his career a season ago:
“Does it bother me? Absolutely, but I understand it,” Chelios said. “I swore I’d never play for (Detroit) and things changed overnight. They’re going to forgive me for that someday, they’ve got to. I played for the USA in other buildings during these World Cups and Canada Cups and Boston hated me, Philly, but when I’d go there with the USA jersey they all cheered for me, so they’ve got to forgive me here sooner or later.”
Chelios saw the direction the Hawks were heading in 1999, and what followed his departure was some of the worst years in franchise history. While some fans are quick to blame Chelios for contributing to that, they forget that late owner Bill Wirtz and former senior vice president and general manager Bob Pulford traded away Jeremy Roenick and Ed Belfour and allowed other top players such as Joe Murphy, Bernie Nicholls and Suter to leave.
“It started with Jeremy [Roenick] and Eddie [Belfour] leaving,” Chelios said. “I fell into that situation where the Hawks decided to bring (Doug) Gilmour and (Paul) Coffey in and it didn’t work. They were going to go with the young guys and it was just time for me to move on. Everybody was leaving and it was a transition stage.”
Chelios continued while speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns...
The Detroit Red Wings played nearly letter-perfect hockey in their 7-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets…Save the whole getting scored on on the first shift thing. For a team that was supposed to be exhausted after a late flight into Detroit, it took the Jets all of 35 seconds to score against Pavel Datsyuk’s line and the Lidstrom-White pairing, with a little help from a Bryan Little whiffleball that squeaked through Jimmy Howard’s legs, and the game was on.
Or so the Jets thought, as Kyle Wellwood told the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
“Obviously we wanted to have a great start, and we ended up getting the first goal, so we were pretty excited about ourselves,” Wellwood said. “They really turned up their game, and we weren’t able to play at their level.”
After that, as WinnipegJets.com’s Eric Postma notes, the Wings’ ruffled feathers (trust me, by next year at this time, we’ll all have run out of Wings-Jets flight and dogfight metaphors, so indulge me for a moment) shook the frost off and thrust a goal-scoring explosion down upon the Jets:
Updated with 2 stories in which Chelios actually speaks at 7:52 AM, Sunday morning: On Monday in Chicago, Red Wings player mentor and former Wings, Blackhawks, Canadiens and Thrashers defenseman Chris Chelios will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Rosenbloom suggests that the US HHOF is welcoming its ultimate inductee:
I don’t know what USA Hockey plans to say about Chris Chelios on Monday night. I’m not sure how the nation’s governing ice hockey body will describe Chelios when it inducts him into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in his hometown of Chicago. But it doesn’t get any simpler.
Greatest American hockey player ever. There have been better U.S.-born skaters, and the truth is, Chelios struck me as one of the clunkiest skaters among great players I’ve ever seen. There have been better U.S.-born passers and stick-handlers among defensemen, and there have been U.S.-born players with harder shots and more goals and more points.
But there never has been a better U.S.-born player than Chelios because there never has been another American who combined skill, smarts, leadership, toughness and longevity the way Chelios did.
Continued, and thanks to Paul for the link…
Update: Chelios discussed his induction with the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema when he visited the Griffins’ youngsters...
The Winnipeg Jets got off to a fantastic start against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, scoring a goal on the game’s first shift, but the game’s final 59:25 didn’t go exactly as Winnipeg had planned. Detroit out-worked, out-hustled, out-ground and plain old schooled (slightly sloppy 3rd period included) the Jets, defeating them 7-1.
The Wings definitely seemed shaken when the Jets pounced upon them, but the team simply chose to settle down, regain puck possession and give the Jets, who displayed a lightning-fast transition game and an excellent ability to cycle the puck down low and fire pucks into the slot for prime scoring chances, a little bit of their own medicine. The Wings slowly but surely took the puck back, cranked the pace of the game back down and then turned it up to a level that Winnipeg simply couldn’t handle, setting up in the Jets’ end and firing pucks out to open players in the slot in Todd Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg in the 1st period, a lurking Jiri Hudler in the 2nd, and, after Chris Conner scored his first goal as a Wing off two Jets players’ shin pads, the Wings kept going to the slot and continued to reap the rewards, with Filppula, Hudler and Miller scoring before the Jets finally chose to relieve Ondrej Pavelec of his duties early in the 3rd.
As mentioned this morning, the Red Wings raised a staggering $17,150 for the Salvation Army during their kettle bell-ringing competition on Friday, and perhaps it should come as no surprise that the most competitive member of the organization won the group-versus-group competition to raise the most money in his kettle, as reported by Wings community relations manager Christy Hammond:
Detroit Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock along with Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland reclaimed the team’s annual bell ringing title on Friday evening from forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, as the four duos of Red Wings personnel brought in a grand total of $17,150.10 for The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.
During a two-hour span of bell ringing at Hiller’s Market in downtown Northville, the players’ bosses raised $7,261 for the non-profit in addition to a $2,500 personal check from Holland. Last year marked the first time in five years of friendly competition that a player duo has brought in more money than Babcock and Holland.
Updated 6x at 6:18 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/WXYT/CBC), there’s good news for the miked-up Tomas Holmstrom and the Wings: Pavel Datsyuk did indeed take part in the Wings’ morning skate, and MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that he’s going to play:
No lineup changes for Wings tonight: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 11-43-41, 20-8-96; 5-18, 55-52, 4-23, 35.
Update the first: Here’s Khan’s game-day post:
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Winnipeg Jets tonight (7 PM EST, FSD with a miked-up Tomas Holmstrom/WXYT/CBC*) harboring no illusions as to the fact that tonight’s opponent may bear a team name that gives people like me and Darren Helm some warm fuzzies, but in terms of substance, this bears no resemblance to the last Jets team that visited Joe Louis Arena way back in 1996.
The Jets 2.0 have won four straight games, including a 4-2 Friday night win over the Hurricanes which marked the returns of Nikolai Antropov and Randy Jones to their lineup, and the Jets’ 7-2-and-1 record over the last ten games certainly gave Wings coach Mike Babcock pause while recounting Detroit’s last meeting with the real-life Jets—via a 5-2 loss to the then-Thrashers—to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
“They beat us like a rented mule,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “(We) should be careful. There are a lot of Jets players who’ve done very well and have played very hard.”
The Red Wings’ most important team activity on Friday had nothing to do with their participation in practice at Joe Louis Arena. Instead, several members of the Wings’ front office and roster engaged in a friendly competition to raise money for the Salvation Army, manning donation kettles around the Metro area, and as Drew Miller told DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, the Wings are well aware of the fact that the four-letter word that is poverty is all too common in our still economically recovering state:
“There are so many people working hard and getting by with what they have,” Miller said. “I think for us to be able to go and ring the bell and collect some money and help out anyway we can, that’s huge for our state, and we’ll help out and do our part. I feel very fortunate for the life that I’ve had and you want to be able to help people who are having tough times and definitely we see it because we’re living here in Michigan and we know people who are affected by it or you see it in different ways. I think in the whole country there are people that are having tough times and counting on some help and this is a way to help out and raise some money. It’s a huge thing. You see people give whatever they can, whether it’s some change or a dollar and some people put a lot of money into it. Any little bit goes a long way and it’s very generous of people to give.”
Coach Mike Babcock agreed…
Sportsnet’s Brett Popplewell wrote a massive article revisiting the tragedy in Yaroslavl which took the lives of former Red Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, defenseman Ruslan Salei and scores of NHL and international players whose untimely passings touched everyone in the hockey world. Popplewell’s article is both excellent and incredibly difficult to read, as it should be:
At 4:05 in the afternoon all but one of the Railway Men were sealed inside an aging plane, staring down an empty runway. In the cabin sat Lokomotiv, the gods of Yaroslavl whose names 600,000 people cheered and cried. Twenty-six hockey players and 11 coaches and staff embarking on a two-hour flight to their season opener in Minsk.
Directly behind the cockpit sat the coaches. There was Brad McCrimmon, the ‘Beast’ from Saskatchewan, one of two men on-board with his name on the Stanley Cup. Still driven by ambition at the age of 52, he had recently left his home in Detroit and crossed the Atlantic to coach this team. And beside him sat his assistant, Igor Korolev, the former Maple Leaf who played for five teams in a 12-year NHL career, back in his homeland but far from his family in Toronto on this, the day after his 41st birthday. Beside him sat his old friend Alexander Karpovtsev, the former Ranger who’d stood by Korolev’s side on his wedding day in Moscow 21 years ago. He was the second man aboard this plane with his name on hockey’s most revered chalice.
Behind the coaches sat the players. Young and old, from the former all-star to the struggling prospect, together they formed one of the strongest teams in the second-best league in the world.
Continue reading, and bring out your Kleenex box…
Updated 10x at 8 PM: The Red Wings are apparently practicing after their 5-2 victory over Phoenix last night, and NHL.com’s Brian Hedger reports that a certain player who suffered a “lower-body injury” on Thursday did indeed earn a little rest, while another skated with the Wings full-out for the first time in a good long while:
No Datsyuk at #Redwings practice today, as expected. Resting lower body injury, which Babcock described as a bump, not a tear.
Jan Mursak out on ice practicing for #Redwings as well. First full practice since broken ankle in late Sept.
“More to come,” obviously, as the Wings are getting a noontime practice in before engaging a friendly competition to raise money for the Salvation Army by manning kettles around Metro Detroit.
In the coming events category, via NHL.com and RedWingsFeed, Red Wings player mentor and former defenseman Chris Chelios join the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in Chicago, and Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness about Chelios’s legacy as a Wing:
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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.