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Off Day Odds and Ends

This really seems like the longest we’ve gone without a game in quite some time, doesn’t it?

1. Darren Helm and Tomas Holmstrom have both been back on the ice for practice with the rest of the team. Ansar Khan of MLive reported on Twitter that they’re both confirmed out for sure for Saturday’s game at Toronto. Both Homer and Helmer think they’ll be ready for Sunday’s game at Chicago, but Mike Babcock was non-committal.

2. Jakub Kindl will be back in the lineup against the Maple Leafs. Mike Commodore will likely be the defenseman removed from the lineup.

3. I suppose congratulations are in order for the six players who won the fan vote to be the “starters” for the NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa on January 29th. That would be forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Milan Michalek, and Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators, defenseman Erik Karlsson, also of Ottawa, defensman Dion Phaneuf of the Leafs, and goaltender Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. Thomas has a 1.90 goals against average (currently 3rd in league) and a .940 save percentage (currently second in league). Those are all-star numbers by anyone’s standards. The other guys… well. The voting was done completely by internet, with close to 24 million votes cast. The NHL has not released the I.P. addresses of the votes to tally how many of them came from computers in Ottawa running vote-vote-vote shell scripts. And seriously, there are no starters from the entire Western Conference?

The rest of the All-Stars will be named by the NHL and that list will be released on January 12th.

4. More heartfelt congratulations are in order for Gustav Nyquist, the only Grand Rapids Griffin (even though he’s currently on the Wings’ roster) named to the AHL All-Star Game.

5. Congratulations are also in order for the “Vote For Jimmy” write-in campaign to get Jimmy Howard named as an All-Star starter. He wound up in 6th place among all goalies with 192,685 votes, which, for a write-in, is pretty impressive. I would be pretty shocked if the League didn’t invite him when the list comes out next week.

But here’s my confession: I never once voted for Jimmy to go to the All-Star Game. I think he absolutely deserves to go. I think I get more and more impressed by him every time I see him play. At this point in the season he’s been without a doubt the team MVP and he’d be on my shortlist for Vezina Trophy candidates. But doesn’t he deserve a few days off? He’s started 34 of the Wings’ 39 games this season. The All-Star Game is really just a meaningless exhibition. Granted, 6 total goalies will be at the game and each will only play one period, but it seems like it would be better for the team in the long run if he could just take a small break. The long grind of February and March games is looming, with hopefully a long playoff run beyond that. A short break could be a useful thing.

6. Speaking of Jimmy Howard, his next win will be the 100th of his career.

7. The Red Wings-related Twitter feeds (at least the unofficial ones) were practically exploding Wednesday afternoon with news that the NHL had “confirmed” that the 2013 Winter Classic would be between the Wings and Leafs at Michigan Stadium. As the day wore on, it turned out that the only source for this was an AM sports station out of San Francisco. It seems highly likely that Detroit will indeed get to host the Classic next year. (Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports called this the second-worst kept secret of this year’s Classic.) The Leafs would certainly be a possible opponent, even though no Canadian team has yet played in the Classic. The “rule” has been that the Heritage Classic is for Canadian teams and the Winter Classic is for U.S. teams. This isn’t set in stone by any means, and Wings-Leafs would be a huge draw for the Original Six nostalgia factor. Probably the biggest thing to hammer out would be the venue. The Big House can seat 100,000 people, which means more revenue– however, that revenue would have to be shared with the University of Michigan. Comerica Park, on the other hand… Mike Illitch already owns it. No profit sharing needed. Also given that Illitch is and has always been a supporter of the city of Detroit itself, I think he’d push really hard to have the game in downtown Detroit instead of in Ann Arbor. (Also, I’m not sure that former Spartans Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader could play a game in the Big House without getting twitchy and unhappy. Just sayin’.)

Will I be at the Winter Classic? Me, the Florida native who still has to bundle up like a southerner to go outside in winter? The one who spends the entirety of January, February, and the first half of March daydreaming of spring? The one who actually perks up and feels revived on those 90 degree July days with 98% humidity?

Yeah, probably.

It’s Red Wings hockey. And I’m a fan. It’s what I do.

(Just make sure I have some thermal undies and my down-filled parka.)