The Malik Report
Chris Conner didn’t play a part in the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 4-3 shootout win over the the Okalahoma City Barons on Saturday night, but with Ken Holland in attendance, Conner did enough to receive quite the reward—Conner will head to Detroit to serve as an insurance policy should Todd Bertuzzi (groin) be unable to play on Sunday afternoon versus Chicago. This is no small feat given that the Wings want to see what Conner can do before the playoffs start…Or that Conner avoided a 5-hour, middle-of-the-night bus ride to Hamilton, Ontario to play the Bulldogs on Sunday. Here’s the Griffins’ release:
The Detroit Red Wings on Saturday recalled right wing Chris Conner from the Grand Rapids Griffins. Conner saw a five-game point streak end on Saturday night as the Griffins extended their winning streak to five games with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Oklahoma City Barons. The 28-year-old forward ranks fourth on the Griffins with 36 points (11-25—36) in 41 games.
A native of Livonia, Mich., Conner has also skated in seven games with the Red Wings, recording one goal, two assists and a plus-two rating. In 146 career NHL games with Dallas, Pittsburgh and Detroit, he has tallied 43 points (17-26—43).
The New York Times’ Jeff Z. Klein spoke to both Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi and Wings GM Ken Holland about the team’s decision to sign Bertuzzi to a two-year extension recently, and while Bertuzzi offered little more than a shrug when he was asked about his lasting legacy as an NHL player…
“I don’t know,” Bertuzzi said. “I’ll answer that in two more years.”
Holland was willing to speak about Bertuzzi’s growth as a player and person some eight years removed from his attack on Steve Moore and the civil suit which will go to trial next fall:
“Todd, from my recollection, from what I saw, is not that type of a player that happened in that incident,” Detroit General Manager Ken Holland said. “I think that we all deserve a second chance.”
Holland admits to Klein that the Wings’ management sat down and questions whether they were willing to take on a player with as much baggage as Bertuzzi possesses the first time they acquired him back in 2007, but that wasn’t the case when Bertuzzi re-signed in 2009. In Detroit, he’s just “Bert”:
Updated 6x with Filppula-Zetterberg-Hudler line talk at 6:43 PM: Given the Red Wings’ already shorthanded status, given the, “Rut roh, Raggy” level of bad news of late (see the Brad Stuart stuff from earlier this morning) and given that the Wings still managed to defeat the Minnesota Wild 6-0 on Friday night, MLive’s Ansar Khan fired off a Twitter update which more or less forces one to wait and hope for better news once Khan and NHL.com’s Brian Hedger wandered into the post-practice media scrum at the Joe (both the Wings and Hawks practiced at City Sports Arena due to a Black Keys concert at the Joe tonight, but the Wings bus back to the Joe, usually in their gear, after said practice two miles east of the Joe)...
Bertuzzi and Cleary not skating today for Wings, in addition to Datsyuk and Lidstrom.
Cue the, “Oh, s***” alert: Expressen’s Linus Hugosson let me know via Twitter that he spoke to Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson recently, and Andersson told Hugosson that Brad Stuart is definitely leaving the Wings this summer.
As it’s 7 AM as I’m writing this and I haven’t slept since a mid-afternoon nap on Friday, here’s an incredibly rough translation of his article:
Despite having hockey in my DNA thanks to my mom’s side of the family, I was quite the, “Sports are barbaric!” nerd until a middle school buddy whose Korean parents barely spoke English told me I needed to watch a Red Wings who’d defected from the rapidly-collapsing Soviet Union way back in 1991, and as my dad (who’d tried to convince me to play football, baseball and basketball before giving up and agreeing with my mother that I would play soccer whether I liked it or not at 7 years of age) didn’t know all that much about playing hockey, my mother and my friend Joe helped me learn how to play street hockey.
Between those details and the fact that I’ve followed a team which embraced Russians, Swedes, Czechs, Slovaks and anybody else who could play hockey, even when the Russian 5’s presence yielded derisive chants of, “USA, USA!” from Blues fans and montages of the Soviet flag and the Russian national anthem when the Wings played on Hockey Night in Canada in the mid-90’s, I’ve never understood the concept that hockey is anything less than, as the NHL’s Diversity program suggests, “For Everyone,” and the concept that certain ethnic or racial groups or women “don’t belong” in American or Canadian hockey plan old pisses me off.
So it’s very interesting to read Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jim Paek, who was my pal Joe’s favorite player as the first Korean-born NHL’er and a 2-time Stanley Cup winner with the Penguins, reflect upon playing for Bob Johnson and Scotty Bowman, plying his trade for the IHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks and reflecting upon his legacy while speaking to the Hamilton Spectator’s Steve Milton:
The Detroit Red Wings will probably have to play against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday without the services of Todd Bertuzzi, who sounds “questionable” at best after slightly pulling his groin during the Red Wings’ 6-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night, but as I suggested in the “quick take,” the Red Wings displayed so much jam, grit, patience, poise and even swagger during what was a pretty darn tightly-contested game until Darren Helm gave the wings a 3-0 lead 37 minutes into the game, and especially until Valtteri Filppula gave the Wings a commanding 4-0 lead 3:25 from the end of the second perio…
That it’s hard for the subjective wings fan in me to feel anything less than nearly absurdly optimistic about the Wings’ ability to overcome the absences of Pavel Datsyuk (knee, out for about another week), Lidstrom (ankle, out till at least Tuesday) and Jonathan Ericsson (wrist, out for about a month) because the Wings built upon their 5-2 victory over Columbus in terms of both style and substance, spending just as much time out-working the Wild as the Wings did eventually out-classing their opponent.
Update: Regarding Todd Bertuzzi’s “lower-body injury,” per MLive’s Ansar Khan:
Bertuzzi is day to day with tender groin, Holland said. Questionable for Sunday’s game.
Holland on Bertuzzi: “He’s day-to-day, just a tender groin. we’re not taking any chances. See how he feels tomorrow.’‘
More Holland on Bertuzzi: “I’d say questionable for Sunday. Nothing serious. This time of year we want to be very cautious.’‘
The Detroit Red Wings’ 6-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild was both a case of a smart, veteran Wings team pouncing upon an opponent that got into town very, very late and a Red Wings team that started the game sans Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and Jonathan Ericsson’s (wrist) services, and played the 3rd period without Todd Bertuzzi (Wings coach Mike Babcock wouldn’t elaborate on his “lower-body injury” but to say to HSJ that he’d be reevaluated)...
Building upon their very ugly 5-2 win over Columbus on Monday by playing a gritty, spirited and hard-working game that was worthy of a much more desperate opponent, and by playing the kind of high-skill, up-tempo game that the slightly short-staffed Wings must, must, must embrace to keep winning when Chicago comes to town on Sunday.
To some extent, the younger, pluckier Wings did much more than perform superbly individually and collectively: they learned how to walk, if you will, without their two most important players not named Jimmy Howard in Lidstrom and Datsyuk, and taking the Wild out with such poise and panache is nothing less than fantastic for the team’s confidence going forward.
Updated 8x at 6:56 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Minnesota Wild tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/FS North/97.1 FM), there’s finally good news on the injury front for Detroit, per MLive’s Ansar Khan:
Wings skating with these defense pairs: kronwall-stuart, quincey-white, smith-kindl. Janik is 7th D.
Wings skating with these lines: 51-40-26, 11-8-44, 20-43-93, 96-48-39.
Quincey playing for Wings tonight. Janik reassigned to Grand Rapids.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James confirms...
Updated 2x with an interesting Ken Daniels tidbit at 5:21 AM: The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Minnesota Wild tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/FS North/97.1 FM) without the services of their two most important players not named Jimmy Howard in Pavel Datsyuk (knee, probably still a week out), Nicklas Lidstrom, who’s been ruled out of this weekend’s games with a bone bruise in his left ankle/foot, and a support player in Jonathan Ericsson (out for a month with a broken wrist), but probable returnee Kyle Quincey (groin, skated on Thursday) and the Wings need rather desperately to kick off a stretch of three games in five nights by bulding upon their three game losing streak-busting win over Columbus and getting on something of a roll.
The Vancouver Canucks did the Wings a favor by defeating the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, affording the Wings the opportunity to remain tied with the Blues for first in the Central Division standings while only dropping 3 points behind the Canucks, but if the Wings do win the Central, they could very well face the 12th-place Wild, who lost goaltender Nicklas Backstrom’s services but rallied from a 4-1 3rd period deficit to tie the Montreal Canadiens and ultimately lose 5-4 in a shootout.
Per the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell, I’m sure that Coach’s Corner will involve some anti-Red Wings and anti-Maple Leafs talk after Wings GM Ken Holland and former Leafs president Richard Peddie offered the following takes on banning fighting in developmental programs, perhaps all the way up to the CHL level at some point:
“I’d love to see it at the lower levels,” Holland said. “Are we ready for no fighting in the NHL? I don’t think so. I think the game is evolving at the National Hockey League level. You get into the playoffs and there’s hardly any fighting. I think it’s great there’s no fighting in youth leagues. It’s a good thing.”
Former president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Richard Peddie also supports a ban on fighting outside of professional hockey.
“I don’t disagree with what they’re doing at the junior levels on the whole fighting side,” Peddie said. “I know there are lots of pros and cons. I’ve heard it debated at the (NHL board of) governors’ meetings. There are things very unique in hockey versus basketball and baseball. I’m really up in the air at the pro level, but at the junior level, I’d have no problem with it whatsoever.”
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.