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Jim Nill on Mike Ilitch

Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill gave a pre-trade deadline Q and A to the Dallas News's Mike Heika, and Nill touched upon Mike Ilitch's legacy:

Q: You were recently at the funeral for Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch. What did you learn from him?

Nill: He was a businessman and he was tough and demanding, but he was a real people person and a family man and he just balanced everything perfectly. He was always about what can I provide you with to make us better. It was the same way in the pizza business, what can I do to help you make us a success.

Q: It seems he had a real drive to do things "the right way."

Nill: That was just his personality, and it does spread throughout the organization. There is just a feeling that you do things like this, not like this. I was 20-plus years with him and I got to learn from one of the best: How to treat people, how to react when things are going bad. Everyone thinks about all of the great times they have had there, but they had some tough times, and he got them through that.

Heika continues, mostly disussing Stars-related topics with Nill...

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‘Meet Christopher Ilitch?’ Something like that.

Two weeks after Mr. Ilitch's passing, Christopher Ilitch has made an appearance at the Tigers' Spring Training facility, but it's not likely that we'll see him making a post-season State of the Wings address. I'd suggest that a sit-down with Mitch Albom for a "getting-to-know-you" story is even less likely.

As such, I highly recommend that those of you who want to get to know the man who now has final say and full sway over the Tigers and Red Wings' moves give the Free Press's John Gallagher's profile of a methodical man:

Christopher Ilitch would never claim to be the flashiest member of his large family.

"I have a business school background," he told a Free Press reporter in a 2005 interview. "I'm very methodical. I'm very analytical."

No one among a wide range of business associates and acquaintances disputes that self-assessment. The sixth of seven kids born to Mike and Marian Ilitch, Christopher Ilitch has earned a reputation as a careful, deliberative business leader who takes a data-driven, analytical approach to solving problems and who won’t be rushed in his decision making.

Some who know him say Christopher is more like his mother, long the behind-the-scenes overseer of the family’s finances, than his more flamboyant father, who reigned as the public face of the family's pizza, sports, entertainment, and real estate empire. But low-key works: Christopher Ilitch has used that deliberative approach to rise from managing a single Little Caesars store in Walled Lake nearly 30 years ago to the job of CEO of his family’s vast holdings since 2004.

And with the passing of his legendary father, Mike, on Feb. 10, Christopher, 51, seems likely now to emerge even more as a public figure in Detroit and as the next-generation face of his family’s efforts.

Gallagher continues...

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Prospect news: Griffins beat Admirals 6-2; Walleye win in OT over Wheeling; Hronek 2A

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, Matt Lorito had 2 goals and an assist, Dominic Turgeon had a goal and 2 assists and Jared Coreau stopped 39 of 41 shots as the Grand Rapids Griffins won 6-2 over the Milwaukee Admirals.

The Griffins' website filed a recap:

Continue Reading »

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‘Saturday Headlines’ includes some Wings scuttlebutt

Updated 2x at 1:50 AM: From Toronto to Grand Rapids to the blog via Paul:

On Hockey Night in Canada's "Saturday Headlines," Nick Kypreos stated that the Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in Riley Sheahan of all people, and Elliotte Friedman stated that the Red Wings want to re-sign Brendan Smith, but Adam Oates pointed out that Mike Babcock knows Smith and the Leafs may be interested.

It would be very, very weird if the Red Wings made one deal with the Leafs, never mind two, but I could certainly see Sheahan fitting in with Babcock's youth movement...

And where I'm reporting from, the Grand Rapids Griffins are up 4-1 on the Milwaukee Admirals after 2 periods at Van Andel Arena.

There are a LOT of trade rumors out there, but the "Saturday Headlines" crowd is far more well-connected than most.

Update: Also, from the New York Post's Larry Brooks:

added 9:51pm, Watch the segment at Sportsnet, Wings talk is the first topic.

Continue Reading »

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St. James examines the Wings’ goaltending situation and the expansion draft

The Free Press's Helene St. James has examined the forwards and defensemen that she believes must be protected during the expension draft, and today, she examines the Red Wings' goaltending situation:

Protect: Petr Mrazek, but only if he continues to shore up his game. It is problematic he has lost the starting job two years running. A big reason why the Wings are out of the playoff picture is how poorly Mrazek has played much of this season. He finally has started to look good his past handful of starts, although he’s still giving up one bad goal a game. His numbers – 2.98 goals-against average, .902 save percentage in 37 games – disappoint more in light of the Wings declaring Mrazek the No. 1 guy last summer. He is under contract through next season, at $4 million.

Expose: Jared Coreau, Jimmy Howard. If Mrazek does not trend in the right direction the rest of the season, then protect Coreau and expose Mrazek. Coreau has been as inconsistent as Mrazek – in 13 games, Coreau has two shutouts, but also a 3.27 goals-against average and .893 save percentage – but Coreau is a lot cheaper, signed through next season at just $612,500. Howard was playing the best hockey of his career when he was injured in a collision on Dec. 20, with a 1.96 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in 17 games. He is also going to be 33 on March 26, and he has two years left on a contract with a $5.3 million cap hit.

St. James continues, noting that the end of Coreau's waiver-exempt status next season = the Wings are definitely going to shed a goaltender by next October.

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Jurco weighs in after his first practice with Chicago

This is probably the last article I'll post about Tomas Jurco for a while. Jurco practiced with the Blackhawks on Saturday, skating on a line with Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa, and he spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus after practice:

Tomas Jurco came to the NHL as something of a YouTube sensation, with his quick hands and hockey imagination on display in a variety of jaw-dropping highlights from his days in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

But that trick-shot stuff doesn’t always fly in the NHL, and then-Red Wings coach Mike Babcock wanted to see him play a more physical style befitting his 6-1 frame. And Jurco did what he was told. Or, at least, he tried.

“My first year with Babs, if I wanted to stay in the league, I had to do whatever it took to stay in the league,” Jurco said. “[I had] a two-way deal. I had to change my game a little bit. This is the NHL, and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to stay in the league.”

It never panned out for Jurco in Detroit, a promising rookie season a distant memory as he spent most of this season as a healthy scratch after recovering from offseason back surgery. But as the newest Blackhawks forward — acquired Friday for a third-round draft pick — he’s hoping that skill will be more valued, and that he can bring back some of that offensive flair he showed in juniors.

“It’s been a tough couple of years for me in Detroit,” Jurco said. “This is a fresh start for me, and I’m very excited for it. … I wasn’t progressing in the last year or so, so I think this is a great time to push my game to another level.”

Lazerus continues...

Update: Jurco also posted something on Instagram:

Continue Reading »

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Nicklas Lidstrom weighs in on ‘Slap Shot’s’ best moment

NHL.com asked current and former NHL players and coaches about their favorite memory from Slap Shot, which turns 40 this season, and Nicklas Lidstrom weighed in:

Nicklas Lidstrom, former Detroit Red Wings defenseman: "There are great moments in the movie. Which one should I pick? Probably when the French goalie is being interviewed with his gear on and he's showing different penalties and slashing and what not. So it does have some great moments in that movie."

The article continues, and here's the clip of Denis Lemieux explaining  penalties:

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Another Proposed Expansion List For The Detroit Red Wings

Ansar Khan of Mlive answers some fan mail,

Q: A recent mock expansion draft has Las Vegas selecting Anthony Mantha from the Red Wings. Do you believe Detroit would leave Mantha unprotected for the expansion draft? I would think that Mantha and Dylan Larkin would be the two main forwards that the Wings would build their roster around. What would be your best educated guess as to which seven forwards/three defensemen/one goalie that the Wings would protect?

A: No chance that Mantha would be left unprotected. In fact, he would be the first player they would put on the protected list. Larkin is exempt, as are Grand Rapids prospects Evgeny Svechnikov, Tyler Bertuzzi and Robbie Russo, among others.

At forward, I see the Red Wings protecting Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Justin Abdelkader, Henrik Zetterberg and Frans Nielsen, who is automatically on the list because of his no-movement clause.

Coming into the season, there was speculation they might leave Zetterberg exposed, thinking Vegas would not select him because of his age (37 at the start of next season), health (has had back and knee issues) and contract (four more seasons at a cap hit of $6.083 million). But he’s been Detroit’s best player and his salary dips from $7 million in 2017-18 to $3.5 million the following season and $1 million in each of the final two years.

If available, there is no guarantee Vegas wouldn't take him. I don't believe the Red Wings would take that chance with their captain, the heart and soul of the team.

This would leave the following forwards available: Darren Helm, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening, Martin Frk and Tomas Nosek.

Defense is a little tougher to handicap. Danny DeKeyser is certain to be protected.

Right now – and my opinion could change by the end of the season – I think they will also protect Mike Green and Xavier Ouellet. This is assuming they don't re-sign Brendan Smith before the trade deadline.

Why protect Green, who has one year remaining at $6 million? He provides offense from the back end, something they lack and will need next season. And if they’re out of the playoff picture at next year’s deadline, he would be a trading chip. They also might opt to re-sign him to a short-term deal for less than what he’s making.

That would leave veterans Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson exposed -- neither of whom will be taken because of age, health, contract and performance reasons – as well as young D-men Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul. Jensen could play himself onto that protected list....

Khan looks at the goaltending position in regards to the expansion list plus more Q & A...

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A few more thoughts about the Jurco trade

I was on the road when the Red Wings traded Tomas Jurco to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 3rd round pick, so a text message right before I arrived in Grand Rapids was my first heads-up as to the fact that the Wings and Jurco had come to an amicable divorce.

Ken Holland's comments suggesting that Jurco might not have come back as a restricted free agent were accurate, and given that Jurco was drafted in the 2nd round (along with Landon Ferraro back in 2011), and given that he wasn't playing, a late 3rd round pick is about all I would realistically expect for an estranged player not playing hockey;

Reading Stan Bowman's comments about Jurco, as conveyed by the Wings' press corps, is just a weird experience. To read Bowman compare Jurco to Dick Panik, who's turned out to be a relatively useful performer for Chicago was weird, too--Jurco and Panik faced off as the Grand Rapids Griffins won the Calder Cup in 2013, and at the time, the pair were equivalent in potential.

As DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji noted in her article covering Bowman's conference call with the media, Panik has blossomed in a manner that Jurco has not:

Continue Reading »

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Al Sobotka shares his memories of the Joe

The Detroit Free Press's Mandi Wright produced a wonderful video of Joe Louis Arena facilities manager Al Sobotka reflecting upon The Joe's pluses and minuses 38 years into his tenure at the rink. Al knows the building better than anybody, and he clearly loves it--but he hates the stairs!

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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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