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Little Caesars Arena ribbon-cutting stream

The Red Wings' website has posted a live stream of the Little Caesars Arena ribbon-cutting ceremony:

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The Latest On Andreas Athanasiou

Update: Here's more from the Free Press's Helene St. James:

The odds look more and more like Andreas Athanasiou will leave the Detroit Red Wings for Russia.

Darren Ferris, Athanasiou’s agent, told the Press today that “because of the huge disparity, the KHL has moved to more of a probability at this time.”

Athanasiou is believed to have an offer of one year at $3 million from AK Bars Kazan. The Wings fattened an initial offer of one year at $1.25 to two years at $1.9 million per year.

The Wings are 10 days from the start of training camp.

General manager Ken Holland, en route to the ribbon-cutting this morning of the new $863-million Little Caesars Arena, told the Free Press via text there is “nothing new” on the talks. The agent for Athanasiou did not immediately return requests for comment.

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Stream Today’s Little Caesars Arena Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

We will try to get an embed code for it closer to the start time.


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The Outlook For Jonathan Ericsson

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2017-18 outlook: Ericsson got off to a good start last season, playing with poise, managing the puck well and limiting mistakes the first month of the season. But he couldn't maintain that level before suffering a season-ending wrist injury Feb. 9.

One of the keys for Ericsson is making better decisions with the puck. He has a tendency to rush things and turn it over when pressured. The coaching staff's message to Ericsson has been to hold onto the puck a second longer, holding off opponents with his big frame, which they hope will result in better decisions with the puck and fewer giveaways.

Ericsson must also avoid being caught flat-footed. He needs to move his feet more so he's not standing still while making passes.

Barring injuries, the Red Wings plan on pairing Ericsson with Nick Jensen to start the season. Jensen's mobility and puck-moving ability should benefit Ericsson.

Key question: Will Ericsson stave off challenges from younger defensemen Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul to maintain his regular lineup spot?


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The overnight report: Gloom and doom, prospect news and multimedia

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

A. In season previews:

The Wings will likely hold their first "Captains' Practice" that's open to the media today, so we should start on a happy note, right? Well, The Athletic's Dom Luszyczyszyn's Red Wings preview is...um...possibly as gloomy a Wings preview as I've ever read:

Looking at every other team in the same fashion is absolutely shocking in just how completely mismanaged Detroit’s contract situation looks. No team pays as much for arguably their six worst skaters than Detroit and just five teams get less value from them.

It’s a disaster.

It’s not like these contracts are coming off the books anytime soon either. They have one ending yearly for the next six seasons, which means for the next three years they’ll likely be spending $15.3 million per year on DeKeyser, Abdelkader, Ericsson, and Glendening. That’s as bleak a situation as I can think of for any team’s cap, and it’s not even mentioning some of their other questionable contracts. It’s money that can be used elsewhere, but given Detroit’s recent history in that department, I’m not sure them having $15.3 million lying around would be used very wisely anyways.

Not having top end players is rough, but it’s this cap hell Detroit has put themselves in that makes their immediate future look darkest. The Wings are a team that’s lacking talent, likely heading for a bottom-five finish and yet somehow also a cap team with lengthy commitments to some of their worst players.

It’s a very grim situation, one that I wouldn’t hesitate to call one of the league’s worst for the present and future. This will likely be another tough year for the Red Wings and things are only going to get tougher from here on out.

Luszyczyszyn continues (paywall), and...all I can tell you is that it's the Red Wings' "kids," including some of those who will take part in this weekend's prospect tournament, who give me the most optimism for the Wings' future. The problem is that most of "the kids" aren't going to steal any jobs this upcoming season, and that's scary.

I am hoping and praying that the Red Wings' past season was a clusterf*** of star, supporting and complimentary players--and coaches--all having their worst seasons at the same time, and I am hoping that the Red Wings are mediocre enough to contend for a seventh or eighth-place playoff spot. As a fan, I don't know what else to do, and as a blogger, I think that's the highest we can hope for the Wings will finish for the next two or three years.

B. In the prospect department:

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A Q and A with Christopher Ilitch on Little Caesars Arena’s ‘opening day’

Little Caesars Arena will hold its ribbon-cutting ceremony today, and the Detroit Free Press provides a set of articles dedicated to LCA this morning. From the a discussion of its architecture and a timeline of the development to a comprehensive discussion of the arena's nuts-and-bolts amenties and features, and a realistic assessment of the parking issues, the Free Press has offered a significant amount of useful content...

But in terms of spotlighting its offerings, I felt that this question-and-answer from John Gallagher's Q and A with Christopher Ilitch was the most news-worthy item, because it's a rare glimpse into Ilitch's sports and business philosophies:

As head of your family’s Ilitch Holdings, how do you divide your time between pizza, sports, entertainment, charity and everything else?

It’s a great question. I try to really focus on getting the right leaders in our business to run our nine operating companies. That’s a big part of my job — to make sure we’ve got the right people in the right seats. Secondly, I spend time with each business making sure each business has a great plan. And I’ll sit with the senior leadership team at that business, as well as developing the plan for the upcoming year and beyond. Third, then we spend time budgeting to make sure we have the resources to execute the plan we’ve developed. Those are probably three of the most important things I have to do. If I can make sure each business has a great leader, has a great plan, and is budgeted and we are providing, as owners, the resources they need to execute that plan, it puts us in a position to be successful.

Little Caesars Arena and the District Detroit is the largest initiative we’ve taken on in the 58-year history of our organization, and it’s demanded a lot of my time, and rightly so. The only way I could do, and a big part of the reason I’ve been able to do it, is because we have great leaders at all our operating companies and very loyal and longtime colleagues at our businesses that have allowed me to really spend a lot of time on this project.

Gallagher continues, and one wonders if Ilitch will allocate more of his time to sports and/or business now that the Little Caesars Arena has been constructed, or whether the District Detroit will continue to take up most of his time and energies.

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The Outlook For Petr Mrazek

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2017-18 outlook: It was a disappointing season for Mrazek, who earned a significant raise with a new contract and started the year as the clear-cut No. 1 goalie. But, following a four-game winning streak in October, he was inconsistent all season. He essentially was relegated to back-up status three weeks into the season and would have watched more games if Jimmy Howard hadn't spent a large chunk of the season on injured reserve.

The Red Wings replaced long-time goaltending coach Jim Bedard with Jeff Salajko, who had a good working relationship with Mrazek in Grand Rapids. Salajko helped Howard rebound, but Mrazek's struggles from midway through the 2015-16 season continued. Mrazek also didn't perform well enough at the World Championship, where he watched from the bench as the Czech Republic lost to Russia in the quarterfinals.

Still, it was surprising the Red Wings left Mrazek exposed in the expansion draft rather than Howard, who is eight years older. The Red Wings' inability to trade Mrazek and the Vegas Golden Knights' decision to pass on the one-time high-end prospect (even to use as a trade chip) showed how much his stock has dipped.

Can Mrazek return to his dominant form from the first half of the 2015-16 season? He should at least make a marked improvement from the past 11/2 seasons, which would be a big boost for the club. It will take a lot of hard work and determination. He should be highly motivated, not only from feeling slighted by being unprotected and bypassed in the expansion draft, but also because it's a contract year. If he continues to struggle, the Red Wings probably won't qualify him ($4 million is a lot to pay for an inconsistent back-up), making him an unrestricted free agent.


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Questions For Kris Draper

Craig Custance of The Athletic talks with Kris Draper,

CC: On a scale of 1 to 10, how concerned should Red Wings fans be about Andreas Athanasiou playing next season in the KHL?

KD: First of all, Ken [Holland] has always been a guy about getting a deal done. That’s the one thing, from some of my friends who are GMs, the one thing you hear is, ‘Ken gets deals done.' I’ve been fortunate to be involved. He’s talked to me, ‘What would you do?’ I’ve been able to give some feedback and I’m on the same page as Ken. I really hope AA signs his contract and stays a Detroit Red Wing for a lot of reasons but, most importantly, this is a young Canadian kid who has always dreamt to play in the National Hockey League. He has that opportunity to really ingrain himself as a Detroit Red Wing and make himself an everyday NHL player… Listen, everyone wants money, wants to get paid. It’s going to happen for AA. There’s no doubt there’s opportunity to have a real successful career in the NHL. I hope he doesn’t go to the KHL. He’s going to get a good contract. Is it going to be a fantastic contract? Not this time around. But it’s going to get there....

more (paid subscription) on AA plus more Q & A...

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Hicketts prepares for his sophomore pro campaign

CJFC Kamloops' Chad Klassen reported in from the Kamloops Blazers' training camp, where Joe Hicketts is preparing for his second pro season after winning a Calder Cup championship with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins (and there's a non-embeddable video attached to the story):

"It didn't seem to matter who was playing with who or who got called up to Detroit, we seemed to gel really well, and that's a credit to the leadership group that we had there in Grand Rapids," said Hicketts.

"Obviously it sucked to see Detroit lose that [25-year] playoff streak, but what came with that was we got some guys back for our playoff run, and we were lucky enough to run into some teams that had NHL clubs in the postseason."

Hicketts says this year presents a different group, like every year. But the Griffins, he notes, should be aiming just as high.

"We had a lot of guys more, whether it was signings at free agency, or we had one guy picked up in the expansion draft by the Golden Knights. So I'm expecting a different team, but I think our mindset has to stay the same," said Hicketts. "We came into last year with the mentality that we were going to win a championship."


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The overnight report: On Tyler Bertuzzi; regarding LCA’s seats, app and final touches

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. The Wings are posting prospect videos on their YouTube channel again, with Jiri Fischer, Shawn Horcoff and Todd Nelson weighing in on Tyler Bertuzzi's progress made:

2. And Fox 17 reports that Grand Rapids-based Irwin Seating Company built Little Caesars Arena's 17,000 seats:

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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.


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