Category Archives: Uncategorized

Quote of the day … Wings coach Mike Babcock

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock all but comes out and says what’s missing from Johan Franzen’s game of late.

“I think (Justin) Abdelkader’s our biggest … because he’s tenacious and hard. Your bigger people that have that ability … I watch (the New York Islanders’ Anders) Lee, he’s at the net all the time, so that frees up other people. To me you need guys like that. (Darren) Helm’s done a nice job like that. Abdelkader’s done a nice job like that. Jurco’s trying to do a job like that. The more of those people you have that can play heavy the better opportunity you have to spend time in your zone.”

Mr. Hockey’s health improving following stem cell clinical

DETROIT >> Finally, some good news on Gordie Howe.

After a stem cell clinical trial, Howe is walking unaided and taking part in daily household chores according to a statement from the family.

“Our family decided to give our father this opportunity,” the statement read.

Howe underwent the two-day, non-surgical procedure on Dec. 8 at Stemedica, a biotechnology company that manufactures allogeneic adult stem cells in its U.S. government licensed facility in San Diego, California.

The treatment included neural stem cells injected into the spinal canal on day one and mesenchymal stem cells by intravenous infusion on day two.

“His response was truly miraculous,” the statement continued. “At the end of Day 1 he was walking with minimal effort for the first time since his stroke. By Day 2 he was conversing comfortably with family and staff at the clinic.”

The family was contacted in late November by Dr. Maynard Howe and Dave McGuigan. McGuigan knew the family as a result of his previous employment with the Wings.

“When tested, his ability to name items has gone from less than 25 percent before the procedure to 85 percent today,” the statement said. “His physical therapists have been astonished. Although his short-term memory, strength, endurance and coordination have plenty of room for improvement, we are hopeful that he will continue to improve in the months to come.”

The company is currently conducting federally licensed and institutional Review Board approved clinical trials for several medical conditions, including stroke, using Stemedica’s stem cell products.

“At the time we were contacted, Mr. Hockey had been rapidly declining and was essentially bedridden with little ability to communicate or to eat on his own,” the statement added.

Howe, who’s known as “Mr. Hockey”, is 86 and has been living with his daughter, Cathy, in Lubbock, Texas.

Howe suffered a significant stroke on Oct. 26, which impaired his speech and caused him to lose functionality of the right side of his body.

He’s had a couple mini strokes since.

Howe has been suffering from dementia for several years and recently underwent spinal stenosis surgery.

Howe, who spent the first 25 seasons of his career with the Wings, still holds franchise records for games played (1,687), goals (786), points (1,809), power-play goals (211) and game-winning goals (121).

Howe is the NHL’s all-time leader in games played (1,767) and ranks second in goals (801), third in points (1,850) and ninth in assists (1,049).

Howe finished his career with the Hartford Whalers at age 52.

He made the last of his 23 NHL All-Star Game appearances that season at Joe Louis Arena.

He got to play alongside his sons, Mark and Marty, in the World Hockey Association for six seasons where he totaled 30 goals four times and reached 100 points at least twice.

Howe’s wife of 55 years, Colleen – known as “Mrs. Hockey” – died in 2009 after a lengthy battle with Pick’s Disease, an incurable neurological condition that causes dementia.

Franzen has been battling an illness for a few weeks; he hasn’t scored since Nov. 20 and it a team-worse minus-9

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.

Johan Franzen (illness) and Stephen Weiss (shoulder) both took part in a full practice.

Franzen hopes to return to the lineup Friday against the New York Islanders after missing Tuesday’s shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Weiss, who separated his shoulder on Dec. 12, is shooting to return Sunday at home against the Colorado Avalanche.

For Franzen, he’s been battling an illness for a number of weeks.

“I’ve been under the weather for three weeks or so I think my body shut down for a few days,” said Franzen, who didn’t feat he had the mumps. “I’ve just been battling flus, stomach flus, regular flus, for the last few weeks. I just haven’t been able to get healthy.

“Beginning of this week I just felt really, really awful, like no energy, nothing,” Franzen added. “I figured I needed a couple days just to get healthy. I think it’s run its course.”

Franzen said they ran tests on him Wednesday and found no mumps virus, which has hit the NHL hard this season.

“I’ve been battling stuff the last few weeks, enough was enough,” Franzen said. “I just needed to get rid of it. Sunday I got really, really sick. Tuesday I tried to skate in the morning skate and I was really shaky. I just was running on empty.”

That illness could have affected how Franzen performed on the ice.

He hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 20 and is a team-worse minus-9.

“No,” Franzen said when asked if he was frustrated he wasn’t scoring much.

“Not really, mostly in the corners, passing pucks,” Franzen added when asked if he felt he was creating chances.

Asked if it was important for him to go into the short Christmas break on a strong note Franzen said, “I hope we win the last three games. That would be nice. If we win three games I’m happy, it’s a good Christmas gift.”

Franzen has never finished a season with a minus.

“We need him playing hard,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Everybody on the team, if your work doesn’t come before your skill you got no chance to be any good, period. So if you’re not a worker, no chance in today’s NHL, period. That’s why you look through it and see the teams. You’ve got to skate and you’ve got to work and if you can’t you’ve got to have people around you that flat-out can. But you can only have one guy per line max that doesn’t really haul.”

Howard in the midst of career season with Wings … except when it comes to shootouts

DETROIT >> Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard is in the midst of his best season in the NHL.

Let’s just not talk about his performances in the shootouts, where he dropped to 0-6 on the season Tuesday, allowing 11 goals on 15 shots.

“We don’t have them in the playoffs,” Howard said. “That’s when it really matters.”

The regular season for Howard is a much different story.

Howard ranks fifth in goals-against average (2.05), eighth in wins (13) and shutouts (two).

“It’s been good,” Howard said when asked about his start to the season. “There have been a couple games, obviously a couple goals, I’d like to have back, but that’s going to happen to every goalie over the course of the season. As a team we’re just doing a great job finding ways to win games and I think that’s a great sign of a young team maturing.”

Howard is 13-5-7 this season.

“If you go back to his first five games his save percentage was through the roof,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Those first five games we weren’t confident and going yet and we needed him even more so I think that’s really important.

“Now his job is just kind of be good night in and night out,” Babcock continued. “Howie’s a guy that can really give us confidence the better he plays the more swagger the team has. I really thought when we were trying to find ourselves and gain confidence Howie was really good.”

Howard credits his health as being a main reason for his success early on.

“That’s the biggest thing,” said Howard, who was drafted by the Wings in 2003 (second round, 64th overall). “I put in the work in the summertime. (Good health) gives you the confidence to go out there and do your job.”

Howard, 30, recently moved into third on the all-time wins list in franchise history. In his career he has a 2.38 goal-against average, .917 save percentage and 20 shutouts.

“To be honest with you I haven’t really given it any thought,” Howard said. “That’s the farthest thing from my mind. I guess what it comes down to is I’m thankful I’ve been able to play so long here in one city.

“We battled through a lot of injuries last year to a lot of key guys,” Howard continued. “We scratched and clawed and found a way into the playoffs. We felt coming into this year, with everyone getting healthy over the summer, the younger guys getting a year older, we felt we had a good team.”

Howard is in the second year of a six-year deal he signed at close to $5.3 million a season to be the franchise goalie.

“He gives us a chance to win,” Johan Franzen said. “He’s a steady, steady guy. He shows up every night and does what we need. If we can get it done up front he’s going to give us a chance to win the game.

“He’s been good for a long time,” Franzen added. “I think he’s always been steady, but maybe he’s a little bit better this year.”

Howard is the 12th highest paid goalie in the league according to CapGeek.com. New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist is No. 1 at $11 million a season.

“You won’t hear too much from him on game days, but he’s the type of goalie that rises to the occasion,” Stephen Weiss said. “When we’re not at our best and we need him to back us up he’s been there numerous times for us.”

In each of Howard’s first two full seasons in Detroit he recorded 37 wins, becoming the only goalie in Wings history to win at least 35 games in each of his first two seasons.

Riley Sheahan: “It’s unfortunate for the guys that are getting (the mumps). We’re just trying to do things so we can’t get it.”

DETROIT >> Many of the Detroit Red Wings admittedly knew very little about the mumps virus.

They’re all learning quickly now.

The virus is spreading throughout the NHL and it just claimed its biggest name yet when Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was diagnosed over the weekend.

“It’s crazy,” Jimmy Howard said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“I’m trying to stay away from any kind of sickness,” Riley Sheahan said. “I know a lot of guys are getting it so we just have to be extra cautious. It’s unfortunate for the guys that are getting it. We’re just trying to do things so we can’t get it.

“It’s kind of one of those things we don’t have anyone in the room that has it so we’ll just keep going with the flow,” Sheahan added.

The number of infected players is in double digits now spread out over five teams.

It’s also being reported that two referees have contracted the virus.

Mumps is spread through contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva from an infected person or by sharing food and drinks.

The virus can also survive on surfaces and then be spread after contact in a similar manner.

The Wings organization is in the process of making booster shots available to players and team personnel.

“I understand a lot of the European players wouldn’t have (been vaccinated) so it’s important to provide the opportunity for them and that’s what we’re going to do,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re going to provide it to everybody and get it looked after. In the meantime we’re encouraging everyone to do what they can for their immune system. We do that here anyway.

“Sleeping and not getting run down, that’s easy to say when you travel like we do,” continued Babcock, whose squad just finished playing five games in eight days. “The reason your immune system gets run down is because you do that stuff. Ideally this will get us refreshed and not get the mumps.”

The New York Rangers’ Derrick Brassard also was diagnosed with mumps on Sunday.

“We haven’t played anyone who recently had it, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed,” Howard said. “Until something happens in here I’m not worried about it.”

The Rangers played at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 6.

“Oh, he does? Sweet,” Howard said when learning of Brassard’s positive test for the virus. “He was close the last time we played the Rangers. Yeah, sweet.”

Tatar: Wings need to battle hard against Florida, not like how little they battled in last meeting

DETROIT >> The Wings all know too well what kind of problems this Florida Panthers team pose.

All they have to do is look back at the last meeting this season.

The Panthers beat the Wings, 4-3, to snap Detroit’s four-game winning streak.

“They just play hard,” Johan Franzen said. “They protect the net pretty good. It was tough to get in there. We had a pretty bad start I think against them. Hopefully we can learn something from that.”

The loss to Florida was just Detroit’s first loss in regulation in the last nine games.

“I feel if we play like (Wednesday) we will beat them,” Tomas Tatar said. “They battle hard. Like the games we play against them we don’t want to battle hard. This is the NHL, things are so tight right now. You’re not good enough with just skill, you have to battle hard to help your skill. We need to want to win more than they do and we can get two points.”

The Panthers sit 11 points behind the Wings in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.

Ouellet only change to Wings lineup tonight against Florida

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Red Wings’ morning skate prior to the hosting the Florida Panthers at Joe Louis Arena.

Defenseman Xavier Ouellet will replace Danny DeKeyser in the lineup.

Ouellet made the two and a half hour trip from Grand Rapids to Detroit on Thursday.

“I think everybody’s been through this, especially in this organization, just like Nyquist, Sheahan, Mrazek, Tatar, even Smitty have been up and down, up and down for almost two years before being here for regular,” Ouellet said. “I’m just going through what everyone else has been through. I understand that. They support me.”

Ouellet has appeared in five games this season, recently filling in for an injured Brendan Smith, totaling a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating.

“I felt good last time I was here, went down and had a couple good games,” Ouellet said. “I’m back here. I’ve got to be consistent and play the same game I did when I was here last time.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock said that Ouellet will be the only change from the lineup he used in Wednesday’s shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.