Kronwall drew plenty of attention from the Flyers and their fans when midway through the second period he delivered a shoulder check that caught Voracek squarely in the head.
As a dazed Voracek lay on the ice – blood dripping from his mouth and his rigid arms momentarily motionless over his head – the Wells Fargo Center crowd fell quiet. The hit knocked Voracek out of the game and caused tempers to percolate between the teams.
Following Tuesday’s game, Kronwall said that he felt the hit was legal like many of his other trademark collisions this season against Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky, Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler and Flyers’ Daniel Briere.
It’s hard to imagine Brendan Shanahan, the league’s vice president of player safety, levying supplementary discipline against Kronwall since he didn’t leave his feet to deliver the hit. And while the head was the first point of contact, Voracek appeared to be slumped forward at the time of the collision.
According to the league official, Voracek’s head might have been seen as the principal point of contact, but only because it was the initial point of contact, and not due to Kronwall targeting the head but in the nature that Voracek approached the Wings’ defenseman.
There still remain some hits in the league where a player’s head – by nature of the way the player receiving the hit – dips, ducks, turns or moves just prior to contact with a legal check.
Kronwall did not leave his feet or lift an elbow, and he was not assessed a penalty for the hit, which according to the league was the correct call on the ice.
There have been no fewer than 17 players on a growing list of Kronwall victims that includes Dany Heatley, Teemu Selanne, Evander Kane, Radek Bonk, Vinny Prospal, Tim Jackman, and Ryan Clowe, who has been crushed on two separate occasions by the 6-foot, 190-pound blue liner.
Then there’s the gigantic hit that turned Kronwall’s name into a verb when he knocked out Chicago’s Martin Havlat during Game 3 of the 2009 Western Conference finals.
On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Daily News called Kronwall’s hit on Voracek one of the “most gruesome hits in recent Flyers memory”, ranking it with Scott Stevens’ colossal brain-jarring shot on Eric Lindros in the 2000 Eastern Conference finals.
It’s tough, if not completely off base, to compare Kronwall to Stevens, after all, Kronwall has never been suspended in his 7 ½-plus season career.
Instead of trying to find fault in Kronwall’s hits, when will opposing forwards learn to protect themselves and skate with their head up when he’s on the ice? Instead of reactively running at Kronwall after he’s already blown-up a guy, perhaps forwards need to be smarter about retrieving pucks along the half wall in their own zone.
Kronwall’s motive seems to be the same with every big hit: The opposition rims the puck around the boards and a forward tries to gather in the pass for a breakout of the defensive zone. But it’s usually when the forward looks down at his feet for the puck, and he’s pounded by an anticipating Kronwall who slides down from the point to drop a big, clean hit.
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|Ken Daniels called a Wings' game from ice level before he ever did in Philadelphia. But he and analysis Mickey Redmond will finally cross the City of Brotherly Love off the list this Tuesday. (Photo by Dave Reginek)|
We’re not sure how many other broadcasters – short of Hall of Fame voices Budd Lynch and Bruce Martyn – have called 1,000 Wings’ games either on radio or television, but it’s probably safe to assume that those gentlemen called games from every arena in the league during their extraordinary careers.
So how is it that in his 13-plus seasons with the organization, Daniels and his broadcast partner, analysis Mickey Redmond, will finally call their first Wings’ game together from the City of Brotherly Love on Tuesday night?
“Over the years the networks have grabbed so many games,” said Daniels, who can finally claim to have called a Wings' game from all 30 NHL cities. “You have to go back before Versus even, when Fox was doing games, too.”
Tuesday will be just the seventh time that the Wings have traveled to Philadelphia for a regular-season game since the 1997-98 season, which also happens to be the year that our friends from the Great White North gave us the silky smooth articulator.
With five of the last six games played on either Saturdays or Sundays, it’s certainly easy to see why the broadcast networks would have liked the Wings-Flyers matchup for so many years. It didn’t hurt either that Detroit and Philadelphia played for the 1997 Stanley Cup and were widely considered Cup contenders throughout the next decade.
And while Tuesday will be the fourth time that Daniels has ever called a game in Philly – he’s broadcast from there for Versus and CBC – the 7 p.m. game will be Redmond’s first since his playing days ended more than 37 years ago.
Asked if he thought it peculiar that he’s never called a game with his longtime TV partner, Redmond shook his head, and said, “I don’t think so because in this world nothing is odd anymore. It’s so odd that it’s normal with the unbalanced schedule.”
Both Daniels and Redmond are especially thankful to be calling this particular Wings-Flyers contest, if for nothing else, the pre-game ceremony which promises to be very emotional.
The Flyers’ organization plans to retire Mark Howe’s No. 2 before the game, which Fox Sports Detroit will carry in its entirety.
The entire Howe family, including its patriarch, Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, will be in attendance at Wells Fargo Center. Also expected to attend, is Maureen McCrimmon, the widow of the late Brad McCrimmon, and the couple’s two children.
Mark Howe and McCrimmon were defensive partners and friends during their Philadelphia playing days, and again for a short time in Detroit in the early 90s.
“Just knowing that they were best friends, it’s really neat,” Daniels said. “I know that Mark wants Maureen to be there for Brad and that’s pretty cool.”
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|Nicklas Lidstrom shortly after he was struck in the ankle by Jan Hedja's dump-in shot in the second period of last Saturday's game. (Photo by Dave Reginek)|
But this time as he pressed his heels and the back of his body against the half wall deep in the Red Wings’ zone the rim-around shot by Colorado defenseman Jan Hejda took a bad bounce and struck Lidstrom on the outside of the right ankle.
The unfortunate play will cost Lidstrom a few more games as he’ll miss Friday night’s contest against the Minnesota Wild and Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Lidstrom was injured following a neutral zone face-off won by the Avalanche when Hejda blasted a shot from center ice around the left boards and behind the Wings’ net with 15:09 left in the second period.
“It just hit me in that right spot, even though the skate is protected it's still going to hurt if you're hit right in that spot,” Lidstrom said. “I got hit a few weeks ago on the inside. That was different, not as bad, not as sore as this one is.”
Lidstrom only managed to finish Saturday’s game because he didn’t remove his skates during the intermission, which he’s done consistently throughout his 20-season career. Had he taken off his right skate he wouldn’t have gotten it back on, Lidstrom said.
But now Lidstrom is becoming a little concerned that the ankle could be more problematic than first thought.
“It's been almost a week now and it's still sore," he said. "I was hoping it was going to be a couple of days and maybe miss one game and then be back at it. It's been lingering longer than I thought.
“I'll take the weekend off and then re-evaluate on Monday and see how it is. It's been longer than I thought it was going to be, so we just have to wait it out see how it feels on Monday.”
The 41-year-old legend drove to the Detroit Medical Center, where he had X-rays, immediately after Saturday’s game. He had another X-ray taken on Monday, but both reports were negative. Lidstrom did not play in Tuesday's 5-2 win at Columbus.
Lidstrom’s diagnosis is a deep bone bruise, which until late this week, prevented him from putting a skate boot on without much pain. The swelling as subsided enough that he can at least put a skate on, but not without a level of discomfort.
“It was just too sore once I tied the skate. It was too sore to push off,” Lidstrom said. “When you're skating you kind of push off with your toes and I just couldn't push off. Just from putting the skate on, it's too sore to even push off, so there's no need to go on the ice when I can't push off.
“I'm not going to do anything with the foot for a few days and hopefully it'll settle down and we'll try it out on Monday again.”
If Lidstrom does come back for a 21st season next fall, he said that he would entertain thoughts of wearing the clear-plastic guards over his skate boots that more and more defensemen are wearing.
“It's something I'll take into consideration, he said.
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|Henrik Zetterberg talks to Herman Liv, the five-year-old son of former Red Wings prospect Stefan Liv, who died in a Russian plane crash last year. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)|
But in the meantime, he’s getting a kick out of having houseguests, including the two young sons of his former Grand Rapids teammate, Stefan Liv, who died last September in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash in Russia.
“Now we have some kids in the house it's hard to play around with those guys,” said Ericsson, who suffered a fractured left wrist last Saturday. “Carrying them around I usually have one in each arm. Now I can't really do much with either of them.”
Acting as a chaperone, Ericsson was in the Wings’ locker room Thursday introducing his teammates to five-year-old Herman Liv. His three-year-old brother Harry and their mom, Anna, did not attend Thursday’s practice.
“The kids are fine, they’re too young, I think, but for Anna her days are up and down, of course. So it’s nice for them to think of something else for once.”
Ericsson’s injury occurred as the Wings were killing off a Colorado power play at the start of the second period. Brad Stuart was attempting to clear the puck when Ericsson stepped into the path of the high-rising puck.
“It was kind of coming at my face and that's the reason I brought up my arm,” said Ericsson, who was hit on the outside of the left wrist. “I’m hoping 4-5 weeks, that's what they say. It could go faster it could go slower.”
The injury was unavoidable and had nothing to do with the length of his gloves, which clearly didn’t protect him Saturday night.
“When you put your hand like this,” Ericsson said, holding his hand up to cover his face, “it opens everything up.”
The fracture makes it difficult to grip a stick and the rotational movement of Ericsson’s forearm is adversely affected.
“They did another x-ray two days again,” he said. “There's a break just on the tip on the (out) side almost all the way out there. There were a few cracks too around (the wrist).”
Ericsson hopes to regain skating as soon as he can tie his own skates.
“I'll start skating pretty soon, maybe tomorrow. We'll see,” he said. “It's all to get my legs working because I can't do anything with the stick.”
|Mark Howe spent 10 NHL seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. Now the Red Wings' director of pro scouting will have his Flyers No. 2 retired in a pre-game ceremony next week. (Getty Images Archives)|
And why wouldn’t it?
By reaching the pinnacle of an NHL player’s career with his enshrinement into the Hockey Hall of Fame this season, Howe joined the elite of his profession. That experience, coupled with his dad’s attendance at the ceremony, was the crème de la crème.
So when Philadelphia owner Ed Snider called Howe and asked the former defenseman if he was fine with having his black-and-orange No. 2 raised to the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center, Howe said, “Sure.”
But next Tuesday’s ceremony was nearly nixed by the league, which apparently prohibits pre-game events on the ice once the calendar flips to March.
“Ed told me that the league told him ‘no’, but they really wanted to do this with the Red Wings in town,” said Howe, the Wings’ director of pro scouting.
As a courtesy, the Flyers put in a call to the Wings’ front office just to double-check if they were OK with honoring the former player, which they both share in common.
Of course, the Wings didn’t have any objection to seeing history when Gordie and Mark Howe becomes just the second father-son tandem in any professional sport to both have their numbers retired. Bobby and Brett Hull were the first father and son to have their jersey numbers retired.
Howe, 56, played for three NHL clubs, including the Wings from 1992-95. But it was his 10 seasons in Philadelphia where Howe made a name for himself. All told, Howe amassed 1,246 career points in 22 professional seasons. His 742 NHL points ranks 13th among Hall of Fame defensemen.
Howe is the 62nd NHL defensemen to enter the Hall, and just the second American-born blue liner – joining New York Rangers great Brian Leetch – to be enshrined. And Howe’s number will be retired six-days shy of the 40th anniversary commemorating the night when his famous father’s No. 9 became the first digit so honored by the Wings’ franchise.
“It’ll be a special night, for sure,” Mark Howe said.
|Coach Mike Babcock and his former assistant Todd McLellan worked together in Detroit for three seasons. (Photo by Dave Sandford)|
The former Red Wings’ assistant continues to deal with concussion-like symptoms after he was accidentally struck in the head with a stick during Sunday’s game in Minnesota.
To make matters worse, the Sharks lost to the Wild, finishing a dismal nine-game road trip with a 2-6-1 record. Then the team’s charter plane experienced mechanical problems leaving the Sharks in Minnesota for an additional day.
“Well, I haven’t been hit in the head with a stick on the bench – except for a few stitches to the face in practice,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said this week. “But the time we went off the runway in St. Louis was probably the worst time as flights go, but I really haven’t had an experience like that.”
McLellan was hurt on a freak play in the second period of Sunday's 4-3 loss. He was accidentally clubbed by the stick of Wild defenseman Marco Scandella, who had been checked into the Sharks' bench by Jamie McGinn.
In the moments after McLellan went down, no one seemed to know what occurred. A frightening scene ensued as a stretcher was wheeled across the ice to the Sharks’ bench.
McLellan is the latest NHL coach to suffer an upper-body injury, joining Edmonton’s Tom Renney and Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff on the injury list.
Renney was concussed earlier this month when he was struck in the head by a puck during a practice. He missed eight games before coaching last Saturday against Phoenix. Ruff broke ribs when he was sent flying by defenseman Jordan Leopold during a practice.
The Sharks had led the Western Conference in points, earning McLellan a coaching assignment in last month's All-Star game in Ottawa. But now the Sharks are clinging to their playoff lives as Phoenix, Colorado and Dallas are all giving them a serious run.
Still experiencing headaches, McLellan missed Tuesday’s home game against Philadelphia.
“Todd continues to make progress in his recovery from the stick incident in Minnesota on Sunday evening but is still experiencing concussion-like symptoms,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in a statement posted on the team’s website. “Thus, he will not be behind the bench until cleared by doctors to resume his coaching duties.”
Assistant coaches Matt Shaw and Jay Woodcroft lead the team in McLellan’s absence Tuesday.
“Our main concern at this point is for Todd’s full and complete recovery,” concluded Wilson in his statement.
In Nov. 2007, the Wings were forced to spend an additional night in St. Louis after the right rear wheels of their plane inadvertently crossed into a soggy grass area next to the tarmac and sank in mud. McLellan was on that flight, too.
|Chris Osgood, Darren McCarty and Dominik Hasek are examples of veteran players who have returned to Detroit under general manager Ken Holland. (Photo by Getty Images)|
No, it wasn’t because he had been traded from Colorado to Tampa Bay and then to Detroit where he originally began his NHL career as a fourth-round draftee nearly nine years ago. Rather, Quincey was stunned to learn he is the youngest of 17 Red Wings players who have left the organization – for one reason or another – only to be brought back by general manager Ken Holland.
“When you think of those guys, it’s just a huge compliment,” Quincey said. “I never really thought about it that way, but you bring up a great point and it’s a very great compliment and I’ll take it that way. That’s very nice.”
The 26-year-old Quincey is the third 20-something that Holland has reacquired, joining forwards Jiri Hudler (27) and Jason Williams (29). The other reacquired players were all in their 30s with the exception of Igor Larionov, who was 40, and Dominik Hasek, who was 42 when he returned to Detroit for a third time.
In his 14 years as the 10th GM in franchise history, Holland has brought back a few different goalies, scorers, leaders and fighters, but the basis of his philosophy has plenty to do with familiarity of each player and character of the person.
“In all of the cases, it's because we were familiar with the player, we had positive feelings about the player when he left,” Holland said. “In Kyle Quincey's case, we internally debated, and we made some decisions to keep some veterans around. We made some decisions to keep a couple of kids ahead of him that obviously, in hindsight, were wrong decisions. But we liked him enough to have that debate.”
Over the years, there’s also been a league-wide cogitation about the Wings’ overall age, and re-signing aging veterans only fuels the nonsense. But Holland says the tired and worn out debate is just that – unfounded and pointless.
“There’s been the age-old discussion about our team since 2001, since we lost out to LA,” Holland said. “Are we too old? Are we past our prime? Are we done? And it's 2012.”
The majority of the returning players have worked out for the Wings. Certainly Hasek, Dallas Drake, Chris Osgood and Darren McCarty are prime examples, as they returned to help Detroit win the 2008 Stanley Cup.
Yet whether they won a Cup or not in their return, all have been key veterans who played significant roles, guys like Todd Bertuzzi, Joey Kocur, Doug Brown and Kevin Miller.
“In all the cases, you know the player from the past. You liked them,” Holland said. “At the time with Kocur, we wanted some toughness, we wanted some experience. In Kyle Quincey's case, we wanted a defenseman.”
The hope is that Quincey can be a solid puck-moving defenseman while playing 22 minutes a night. But you never know how much you’re missed until you go away.
“We should have never let him go in the first place,” Holland said of Quincey. “He became available, and now he's back.”
|Pavel Datsyuk, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery this week, hopes to be back in the lineup in two weeks. (Photo by Dave Reginek)|
“Maybe it was bothering me a little bit (before), but not like what happened in San Jose game,” said Datsyuk, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at the Detroit Medical Center on Tuesday. “I felt something in my leg, needed to check it.”
Despite a slow start, Datsyuk is having a Hart Trophy-like season, collecting 14 goals and 48 points in his last 42 games. One of, if not the best, two-way forwards in the NHL, Datsyuk is second in the league with 81 takeaways.
The surgery was necessary as doctors cleaned up some loose cartilage in his right knee. It’s expected that Datsyuk will miss at least two weeks, bit no more than three weeks.
“The doctor said after being in there it was something that needed to be done,” general manager Ken Holland said. “Our concern was Pav complained (Monday) and I don't know if he complained much before. With two months to go before the playoffs start – fortunately we've had a good run – we've got some points banked away. The timing couldn't have been better.”
Datsyuk was at Joe Louis Arena for the Wings’ Thursday morning game. He did a light off-ice workout, and indicated that he didn’t think returning to the ice Friday was out of the question, saying, “Maybe not. We’ll see.”
Either way, Datsyuk said that he’ll continue with the off-ice work with an eye on returning in two weeks.
“No time to relax,” he said. “No free tickets to Florida, I need to work out.”
|For the second straight season, NHL players have voted Pavel Datsyuk as the toughest player to get the puck from. (Photo by Dave Reginek)|
Twelve months later, Datsyuk has tripled his influence among his peers as the top vote-getter in six different categories determined by the second annual NHLPA/CBC Hockey Night in Canada player poll released Sunday.
The poll surveyed 257 players on several topics, including which player they would pick to start a franchise; the Canadian city they feel is most suited for an NHL club; the cleanest player; both underrated and overrated teams; both fighting and the instigator; best referee; coach they would most like to play for; most demanding coach; assistant coach they think should be the next head coach; best and worst ice; and their favorite arena.
For the second straight year Datsyuk was named the cleanest player and hardest to take the puck from. He was also named the league’s smartest player; the most difficult player to play against; toughest forward to play against; and goalies said he’s the most difficult player to stop.
Datsyuk leads the Wings with 43 assists and 59 points. He leads the league with 81 takeaways.
Captain Nicklas Lidstrom was the only other Wings’ player to finish on top of a category, as he was named the best role model, finishing three percentage points ahead of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. Lidstrom was third as smartest player and toughest defenseman to playa against.
Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg also finished in the top five as the cleanest player.
Other Wings to receive mention in the poll included center Darren Helm, who was third as fastest skater and tied for fourth as best skater, and Jimmy Howard tied for fifth as the most difficult goalie to score on.
Mike Babcock finished third in two categories: which coach would you most like to play for, and which coach demands the most of his players.
Joe Louis Arena was fourth in favorite rink and third in best ice.
The Wings finished second to Chicago as the team that players would most like to play on.
To see the results, CLICK HERE
|Pekka Rinne, who has been impressed by the Red Wings' home winning streak, hopes the Predators can put a stop to it Friday night. (Photo by Getty Images)|
The Wings re-wrote the record book, surpassing a 36-year-old mark for most consecutive home victories when they defeated the Dallas Stars earlier this week, marking their 21st straight win.
Detroit hasn’t lost at home since dropping a 4-1 decision to Calgary on Nov. 3.
“I think it's truly amazing. Anytime a record's broken, or tied, or even in the same characteristic of any other record, it's special,” Stars forward Steve Ott said. “I think if you talk to Wayne Gretzky about Sam Gagner (eight-point game) and he'd tell you it's pretty amazing in this age. The players are a lot similar. The teams are a lot similar. That parity, it's so much closer than it was back in the 80s or the 70s, or even the 90s for that fact.”
Detroit has now gone 107 days without losing a game on home ice, outscoring opponents, 86-31. The Wings go for win No. 22 tonight when they host the Nashville Predators, who are currently the sixth seed in the Western Conference standings.
“I think it's one of the great records in the game,” Preds coach Barry Trotz said. “There isn't a team in this league that you can just say, ‘Hey play.’ There’s so many good goaltenders that can steal games. There's so many things that can happen. You've got travel. In the Western Conference, travel can beat you up. They've done it, and all the credit to them.”
Nashville is 13-2-2 versus its four Central Division foes – Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis and Columbus. The Predators will try to prevent from becoming the sixth team to lose more than once to the Wings during their winning streak.
Detroit defeated the Predators, 4-1 on Nov. 26. the last time they were in town.
“I don't think we can stress that too much,” Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said. “It's just a fact that everyone realizes and is in the back of our minds. But once the game starts, you're not going to think about those kinds of things. It's just another battle for another two points.”
The Wings’ record was first established by the Boston Bruins at the end of the 1929-30 season. Forty-six years later, the Philadelphia Flyers equaled the mark by winning the last 20 games of the 1975-76 campaign.
But Trotz is quick to point out that the Wings established the new mark in a far different fashion than the Flyers.
“Home ice isn't as big as an advantage as it was in the 70s, when you had to fight your way out of the rinks in Philadelphia, or somewhere like that, where you were just trying to get out of there alive,” Trotz said. “I think it's less intimidating that it was in the past. That's why I think it's more impressive of a record, because building aren't intimidating like they used to be.”
Hasn't the Predators' coach heard the playoff atmosphere inside Joe Louis Arena?