Roughly translated: Henrik Zetterberg’s agent, Gunnar Svensson, and teammate Niklas Kronwall weigh in on the captain’s health

Of roughly-translated Henrik Zetterberg-related note this morning:

1. Henrik Zetterberg’s agent, Gunnar Svensson, spoke with SVT.se’s Tobias Dahlberg this morning, stating that his client still wants to play hockey, and that Zetterberg hasn’t made his final decision yet:

Agent’s response: “There is no final message”

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill announced today that Henrik Zetterberg’s career is probably over.

But his agent, Gunnar Svensson, says that his ambition is still to play.

“Of course, that’s what he wants. There is no answer to the question,” he says to SVT Sport.

Continue reading Roughly translated: Henrik Zetterberg’s agent, Gunnar Svensson, and teammate Niklas Kronwall weigh in on the captain’s health

Stars and Stripes Showdown recaps

Updated 3x at 11:56 PM: Okay, I posted my audio from the Dylan Larkin-organized “Stars and Stripes Showdown,” and here are some initial articles regarding the event, with the first coming from the AP’s Larry Lage

Dozens of U.S.-born NHL players paid tribute to Jim Johannson and raised funds for two of his favorite causes, his 2-year-old daughter and grassroots hockey.

Auston Matthews and Patrick Kane were among the American stars and standouts who gathered for a charity game won by the Blue over the White 14-9 Sunday.

“He was very good to me and my family,” said Matthews, who played for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program before Toronto drafted him No. 1 overall in 2016. “He gave me an opportunity to play for USA Hockey.”

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin led the push to get many players in the league to travel, at their expense, to play an exhibition game in for 3,000-plus fans at USA Hockey Arena.

“Guys went about and beyond,” Larkin said. “All I had to do was send a couple texts.”

The event honored Johannson, who died at age 53 in January. He was a longtime USA Hockey executive and was serving as the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team general manager when he died.

“It’s a great tribute to a great person we miss every day,” said Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey

And the second coming from the Detroit News’s Nolan Bianchi:

To see all these players out there and them giving back to the sport, giving back to the Johannson family, it’s a spectacular day for USA Hockey and for hockey in our country,” executive director of USA Hockey Pat Kelleher said. “That’s what made me smile today.”

The game featured 12 Michigan natives including Chicago Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat (Farmington Hills) and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (Rochester). Perennial NHL All-Stars Auston Matthews (Maple Leafs), Patrick Kane (Blackhawks) and Zach Parise (Wild) also played.

Larkin was accompanied by Red Wings Jimmy Howard, Luke Glendening, Justin Abdelkader and prospect Jake Chelios, son of Detroit legend Chris Chelios.

Larkin said he was happy to be the one to help recruit the biggest names in the sport in honor of the late Johannson.

“As it got going, having Auston and Patrick Kane here is huge, Seth Jones, these guys flying in on their own expense, I can’t thank them enough for coming in,” Larkin said. “It really does speak to who JJ was.”

Kane captained Team Blue and Matthews Team White; they joined Johannson’s 2-year old daughter Ellie, wife Abby, father Ken, brother John and sister Judy for the ceremonial puck drop before the game following an emotional video tribute that Larkin said was a surreal experience.

“It’s a huge hole in a lot of people’s lives. All I could think about is, ‘There’s one person missing,'” Larkin said. “(Johannson would) be real proud if he knew what was going on today.”

Bianchi continues, and he posted a video interview with Larkin:

FYI:


And for the equipment nerds:

  1. Howard was back in his Vaughn pads after an entire summer of trying out Bauer 2S pads;
  2. And Dylan Larkin was trying out Warrior QR1 gloves with “shot blocker” protection on the backhands:

Update: Here’s USA Hockey’s 4-and-a-half-minute highlight clip from the game:

Update #2: Here’s USA Hockey’s recap of the game:

Continue reading Stars and Stripes Showdown recaps

Casting a shadow upon a hopeful weekend

I’ve been paying serious attention to the situation with Henrik Zetterberg since the first credible reports of his issues with back problems surfaced, and I was holding out hope that, somehow, Zetterberg might be able to pass his physical and keep his career going…

But listening to coach Blashill’s remarks after today’s Stars and Stripes Showdown were painful.

Everything that Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom dug up, everything that Niklas Kronwall has said to the Swedish media, all the hints and suggestions were made plain by Blashill, and the lack of optimism from Blashill, Justin Abdelkader and Dylan Larkin was palpable, as well as the sense that the team’s closed ranks around their captain, regardless of how near or far they are from the real story.

It’s bad. Zetterberg hasn’t been able to train as he would have liked this summer, and the Wings aren’t holding out a whole lot of hope that Zetterberg will be able to somehow translate a summer of not training into a fall of making up for lost time. Instead, as Blashill and Holland told the media this summer, the Wings have been drawing up two roster plans, one for what happens if Zetterberg returns, and one for what happens if Zetterberg does not.

The tone around today’s Jim Johannsson-themed “Stars and Stripes Showdown” was so optimistic, and the players and coach alike spoke about the fact that they felt honored to be able to help out Joe Kocur’s charity in its 10th annual charity softball game on Saturday, and then to start up what they hope is a yearly event on a late-August Sunday. Today was about hope…


Until the words, “Can you tell us about Henrik?” were uttered. Then things got a little quiet, faces stiffened up and issued stern expressions, and there wasn’t much hope at all.

Instead of the optimism which permeated the weekend, “I hope” and, “I think” replaced, “I know,” and, “We’ll see,” “We’re hoping,” “I’m not sure” and, “I don’t know if” became the watchwords.

Whatever the situation is, and we won’t know for sure how bad things are until Henrik Zetterberg tells us, it’s not good, and when optimistic hockey players are sticking out their jaws and furrowing their brows, that’s not a good thing at all.

Update: Here are some of Blashill’s comments, as noted by MLive’s Ansar Khan

Continue reading Casting a shadow upon a hopeful weekend

I went to a Dylan Larkin-organized hockey game and news about Henrik Zetterberg’s health took post-game center stage

The “Stars and Stripes Showdown” at USA Hockey Arena was a tremendously optimistic event, with over 21 first-round picks paying tribute to the memory of Jim Johannsson over the course of an action-packed game…

And the aftermath was a combination of positive in the players and coaches recounting their time with “J.J.,” and negative in Dylan Larkin, Justin Abdelkader and especially coach Jeff Blashill speaking as guardedly about Henrik Zetterberg as I’ve ever heard them speak.

Things do not sound very good for Zetterberg, especially given coach Blashill’s remarks regarding Zetterberg’s inability to fully train this summer, and while the Wings are going to go through the business that is speaking with their captain and then addressing his medical concerns as completely as possible, I would not bet a cent on the prospect of Zetterberg playing this upcoming season.

The USA Hockey media department was tasked with an impossibility in bringing out a cavalcade of guests to speak with the media one-at-a-time…So they brought people out in groups. As a result, Dylan Larkin’s interview is preceded by a bit of Auston Matthews speaking with the media, including TSN and Sportsnet, which were on hand to snag quotes from the Leafs’ captain.

Larkin was more focused on the event as it came to fruition instead of his tremendous role in organizing the gathering, and whatever happens with Zetterberg, Larkin has “taken a step” this summer in the leadership department, that’s for sure:

Justin Abdelkader had a good chuckle about being out-numbered by so many Michigan players, but as a USA Hockey alum, he had a lot to say about Johansson’s legacy, the weekend’s charitable events and yes, Zetterberg’s future, though he hasn’t spoken with Z:

After his usual, “Hi, George, how was your summer?” that the coach greets me with each fall, coach Blashill got down to both the business of discussing a game in which there wasn’t much coaching, celebrating the legacy of a dear friend gone too soon in Johannsson, and at the prodding of the well-assembled media corps, addressing Zetterberg’s status in some detail.

According to Blashill, who has spoken with Zetterberg, Z hasn’t been able to train as he would like (just as Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom has reported), and it sounds like the team is going to let Zetterberg take his physical and let the chips fall where they may.

According to Blashill, the team has made plans for both a team with Zetterberg in the lineup and a team without Zetterberg in the lineup, which would likely shift Andreas Athanasiou to center, and Blashill does not believe that if Zetterberg was unable to train this summer, that he’d have any chance of making the team later in the season.

Blashill also said that Mike Green was on track to be cleared for contact play during training camp, and otherwise, he didn’t believe that anyone was injured, though he noted that now that the players are about to hit the ice at LCA for a couple of weeks’ worth of pre-training camp “Captain’s Skates,” there may be some dings here and there come September 12th.

Blashill also said that the players will probably take their physicals the morning of the team golf outing on the 13th, but some veterans may take them early, so there is that unknown as well.

That’s what I’ve got for you right now. I’ll try to cover the rest of the media stuff this evening.

 

 

 

Jeff Blashill, Kris Draper and Mickey Redmond appear on the latest ‘Red and White Authority’ podcast

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, special assistant to the GM Kris Draper and color commentator Mickey Redmond appeared with Arthur J. Regner on the latest “Red and White Authority” podcast:

Stars and Stripes showdown takes place today at 2 PM, will be webcast on Hockey.tv

If you are able to attend, today’s Stars and Stripes Showdown will take place at 2 PM EDT…


And if you are not able to attend, as the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa noted, Hockey.tv will be airing the game online:

Three things: Two jabs and a bit of hope

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. It takes a while for the Hockey News’s articles to pop up on the internet radar, so this lovely gem from the THN’s Matt Larkin, discussing “Stanley Cup windows” for Atlantic Division teams, splattered itself across the screen a day late:

WINDOW CLOSED: Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators

Here’s a depressing stat: the Red Wings, perceived as a bottom-dwelling rebuilder right now, have the highest salary cap number in the league. That’s how badly they’ve buried themselves with expensive veteran contracts, from Frans Nielsen’s to Darren Helm’s to Justin Abdelkader’s. Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha have developed into impact forwards, and Filip Zadina was an absolute steal at sixth overall in the draft, but the Wings’ veterans might continue to keep them a bit too competitive, robbing them of the lottery-ball count necessary to secure a franchise-altering superstar pick like Jack Hughes next summer. If Henrik Zetterberg’s bad back keeps him out all year, it might be a blessing. At this point, losses help the Wings more than wins. They are years away from competing in the Atlantic. Don’t forget who’s at the top of this division. Kucherov, Stamkos, Hedman, Tavares, Matthews, Marner, Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak and company will bully the bottom teams black and blue.

The way the Red Wings will pry open their Stanley Cup window might take years of drafting and developing players and more years of drafting and developing players, but at this point, staring at a still-living body of players (competitive or not) and poking at them for a giggle’s sake is getting old.

I suppose that’s the Wings’ lot for the next couple of seasons, and one earns one’s way out of the franchise-as-a-punchline category, but as a partisan, the zingers still sting from time to time.

2. Speaking of which, the state of the Red Wings’ defense is not exactly elite, but I think THN’s Sam McCaig’s ranking of Mike Green’s status among the league’s #1 defensemen is a wee low (if only by a couple of spots)…

29. Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings: In reality, you want him on the second pairing and running the power play.

3. And in cheerier news, the London Free Press’s Ryan Pyette reports that Wings draft pick Alec Regula was named the London Knights’ Rookie of the Year at the team’s end-of-the-2017-18-season awards ceremony. Regula may not be a #1 defenseman in the making, but he’s “part of the solution.”

Catch-up post: On Kronwall, Athanasiou, mobile ticketing, Drew Miller, Witkowski taking flight and some plugs

Of Red Wings-related note over the course of the past few days (sorry, between a stomach bug and somebody hitting the “hibernate” button, I rather badly needed a couple of days off):

A. MLive:

  1. Ansar Khan wondered aloud whether the Red Wings will sit Niklas Kronwall for back-to-back games and reduce Kronwall’s role in general as the 37-year-old prepares for what might be his final season;
  2. And Khan suggested that Andreas Athanasiou either has to improve his game-by-game intensity, or he might be traded.

B. The Athletic:

  1. The good news is that prospect guru Corey Pronman ranks the Wings 7th in organizational rankingsThe bad news is that he’s counting down, not up, so the Wings are ranked as the 24th-best in terms of their prospect pipeline. As you might imagine, I disagree a little bit with Pronman, though I cannot deny that the Red Wings have a litany of grinding forwards and second-or-third-pair defensemen in an organization that endured a rough transition from Jim Nill’s regime to that of Tyler Wright…

C. DetroitRedWings.com:

  1. Like it or not, “Mobile ticketing” is the way that you’ll be entering the Little Caesars Arena this upcoming season, so the Wings posted a tutorial about the process:

2. In the “editorial content” department, Arthur J. Regner penned a scouting report/”By the Numbers” look at defenseman Gustav Lindstrom and his 2017-18 season;

3. Luke Witkowski flew with the Thunderbirds on Friday, taking a back-seat flight in an F-16D Falcon as a VIP ahead of the Thunder Over Michigan airshow at Willow Run Airport this weekend;

4. Drew Miller is more or less retired after a season playing in the Swedish League, so he spoke with DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji from the Wings’ fantasy hockey camp, also speaking with Arthur J. Regner on the latest “Red and White Authority” podcast:

5. Dana Wakiji also filed an article about the Wings’ fantasy hockey camp;

6. And the Wings posted a video of the Danny Cleary hockey school stopping in Bloomfield Hills, MI:

 

D. Otherwise…

1. On Twitter…


2. Out west in Victoria, British Columbia, Joe Hicketts spoke with CHEK’s Kevin Charach as he skated with the WHL’s Victoria Royals;

3. According to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Jeff Blashill spent part of this week taking part in the USA Hockey Coaches’ Symposium in Lake Placid, NY;

4. And in the gratuitous plug department, my friend Courtney is among the second group of Grand Rapids Griffins alternate jersey design submissions, and UniWatch is asking fans to vote upon said jersey designs.

Update: Also:

1. Joe Kocur spoke with Arthur J. Regner for a “Red and White Authority” podcast:

2. The Toledo Blade reports that the Toledo Walleye unveiled a 10th anniversary logo;

3. And Toledo Walleye forward Shane Berschbach engaged in a Q and A with ECHL.com.