The Malik Report
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner attended the Grand Rapids Griffins' locker room clean-out day, and the Griffins' vets were in a contemplative mood given that those who return--if they return--know they'll have a new coach and possibly new teammates as a result of what's about to happen in Detroit:
"It's definitely mixed emotions because we're proud of what we accomplished this year but disappointed that we weren't able to accomplish more," said goalie Tom McCollum, an unrestricted free agent July 1. "At the same time, it's definitely a little sad because we can definitely sense that there are changes that are going to happen around here."
The Griffins had a week to digest a season that ended in the Western Conference finals against Utica. Blashill, along with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and assistant GM Ryan Martin, met with most players in 10-minute interviews. They did not speak to the media.
"With what's going on with Blash ... your staff changes, your personnel is going to change," said captain Jeff Hoggan. "In three years we won one (AHL championship) and easily could have won two more. We were that close. How do you maintain that? Guys get older, move on, so it's definitely an end of a good run and we'll see if we can maintain it."
Wallner continues, speaking with Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans regarding their desire to return as veteran leaders, and Wallner posted a short video of players' comments as well:
Just saying....RedWingsFeed caught the Wings' website posting a photo gallery and then taking it down very quickly:
The Wings committed the same post-a-photo-gallery-and-take-it-down boo boo before Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Nicklas Lidstrom retired, so it appears that Blashill will be introduced as the Wings' 27th head coach in team history sometime late tomorrow morning.
Also, from the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson:
Knoblauch coached the OHL's Erie Otters this past season....The Philadelphia Daily News's Frank Seravalli reported that the Flyers interviewed the 36-year-old as a possible AHL coach as well.
From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
HOME OPENER SET FOR OCT. 16
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins will open the home portion of their 20th anniversary season on Friday, Oct. 16 at Van Andel Arena, one of six 2015-16 home dates that have been confirmed by the American Hockey League.
In addition to their home opener, the Griffins will host their 19th annual New Year’s Eve game on Thursday, Dec. 31, as well as a game on Saturday, Jan. 23 that will lead into the 2016 Great Skate Winterfest, one of the team’s annual fundraisers for the Griffins Youth Foundation. Additional home dates include three Saturday games on Jan. 9, Feb. 6 and Feb. 20.
Opponents and start times will be revealed later this summer, when the complete schedule for the AHL’s 80th season is released. It will mark Grand Rapids’ 15th year of AHL membership and 20th season overall, featuring a season-long celebration of two decades of Griffins Hockey.
This is a strange morning in terms of what I have to present to you, so you're going to have to hang on for a short but wacky journey around the Red Wings news cycle:
First, the Bob Duff riffed off a two-day old article in the Windsor Star to set up what will be Jeff Blashill introduction week in an article penned for Hockeybuzz. In his latest offering, Duff offered a voice who very specifically had NHL experience and only NHL experience with Jeff Blashill during the 2011-12 season as an endorsement of the soon-to-be new coach's stewardship of the Wings' prospects--as well as the voice of someone who won both a Calder Cup and a playoff MVP trophy under Blashill in 2013:
“The American Hockey League is a great hockey league,” Detroit left-winger Justin Abdelkader said. “It’s a grind in the playoffs down there. I think the experience they’ve gotten down there, the job Jeff Blashill has done to prepare those guys for this stage has really shown.”
Those who’ve experienced lengthy tenures under both Blashill and his predecessor Mike Babcock see many common traits in the way the two men operate, another factor that should make the transition easier for the players.
“He’s really, really similar,” Detroit left-winger Tomas Tatar said. “He’s helping the team a lot. I think it’s a really similar school to what we’re doing here. It’s a similar system so guys are coming up here really ready. He’s a good talker. He can motivate the players. I feel like the system and how he’s willing to play with the players is really good. Players feel like they can talk to him. He’s somebody who they can trust and feel good.”
Duff continues, and sometimes we forget that the Wings' vets have seen enough of the prospects Blashill's produced to have a pretty good idea of the kind of coach they're going to be dealing with.
Turning the nail on its head, via RedWingsFeed, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned a "By the Numbers" summary of Johan Franzen's 2014-15 season that reminds us that, for better or worse, Johan Franzen has been a good player and good soldier for the Wings over the long haul:
Yet another, ‘The Pistons might move back downtown!’ story that may or may not have basis in reality
It appears that Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores has gotten ahead of himself a little bit--or at least the Detroit News's Terry Foster has allowed Tom Gores' vision to get ahead of the realities of sports ownership.
Gores is supposedly going to embark upon a project called "Big Math" upon hiring a new vice president of Palace Sports & Entertainment, and its big, headline-steadling, show-stopping plan involves somehow exploring the possibility of moving the Pistons to Downtown Detroit, be it regardless of whether they play in the Wings' follow-on facility or whether, Foster surmises, Tom Gilbert might build some sort of basketball arena on that boondoggle that is the Wayne County Jail expansion.
"Thinking back to that Cup, I remember distinctly what it meant to me: It was relief," said Jim Devellano, hired in 1982 as general manager and now the team's senior vice president.
When Devellano came to Detroit from the dynastic New York Islanders (he was assistant GM there for the first three of four straight Cup titles in the early 1980s) he sat down with new owners Mike and Marian Ilitch, who got right to the point.
"How long do you think it will take to win the Stanley Cup," they asked.
"What you really bought here was an expansion franchise," he told them. "It has to be totally rebuilt through the draft. It's going to take eight years, at least. That's how long it took us with the Islanders."
It would take his Wings longer than that, though to be fair in eight years they had built a franchise that would begin a playoff streak that continues today.
"We persevered," said Devellano, 72 and in his 33rd season with the club. "Eventually we were able to win it, and then win a few more."
Title and content contradict in an article by the Free Press's Helene St. James, discussing the Wings' coaching machinations while suggesting that the Red Wings' system of play will experience changes under Jeff Blashill.
Toward the former point. St. James confirms that Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde is the leading candidate to replace Blashill in Grand Rapids, and that Tony Granato may be the lone holdover from Mike Babcock's staff...
With Blashill getting the Detroit job, the Griffins will be in need of a new bench boss. Wings management will hold job interviews this week, but the leading candidate is Derek Lalonde, who has been guiding Detroit's ECHL team, the Toledo Walleye. The ECHL is the tier below the AHL.
Blashill will be the Wings' first new head coach in 10 years. He could inherit an assistant coach in Tony Granato, who spent the past season assisting Babcock. Unlike Jim Hiller, who has followed Babcock to Toronto, Granato has an option (his) year left on his contract.
And while St. James focuses on the "how we got here" part of the story...
Securing Blashill within the organization provided the Wings with an easy transition plan in case Babcock left. Blashill has familiarity with the Wings veteran players from his one season in Detroit, and has coached the younger players during their tenure with Griffins.
It's not unreasonable to suggest that, even after accounting for the fact that the AHL's level of talent requires a simpler playing style, the Wings' puck possession blueprint under Jeff Blashill will look more ugent, more direct and involve more north-south play while emphasizing the speed game even more than Mike Babcock did.
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.