The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/26/12 at 11:44 PM ET
Updated with more from Chelios at 11:23 PM: The Red Wings are going to move quickly to fill the assistant coaching vacancy created by Jeff Blashill’s demotion to the Grand Rapids Griffins, and while it’s assumed that the Wings will look internally to find a candidate to succeed Blashill, Red Wings executive and player mentor Chris Chelios tells the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness that he’s not interested in the job:
“I’m not ready to take over a full responsibility job like that,” Chelios said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I think I’m two years away from actually taking a full-time job again.”
“I can honestly say I would hope to find a position like that in my future, but right now I’m pretty content with having that freedom of going to see my kids play,” Chelios said.
Chelios worked with the Griffins’ young defensemen last year, on and off the ice. He was in Grand Rapids between two and three days a week and attended nearly every home game. Chelios also helped in the press box, sending down information to the coaching staff regarding special teams.
“Obviously there’s been a coaching change in Grand Rapids with Blash going down there and taking over as head coach, so I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet,” said Chelios, who did make a few of the road trips with the Griffins. “I’m sure we will. I’d like to be asked back to coaching again.”
Chelios is intrigued by the Wings’ attempts to sign University of Wisconsin defenseman turned free agent Justin Schultz, however…
“I’ve seen him play against Michigan State a couple of times and I’ve seen him play in a couple of tournaments,” Chelios said. “He’s a big, strong kid with a real heavy shot.”
Schultz, who turns 22 on July 6, became an unrestricted free agent on Monday and can start talking to teams about a contract, but can’t be signed until July 1. Schultz is a two-time Hobey Baker finalist and WCHA defensive player of the year. He totaled 40 goals and 73 assists in 121 games over three seasons with the Badgers.
The Wings have had their share of Wisconsin defensemen including Brendan Smith, who was Schultz’s teammate in 2009-10, and Chelios (1981-’83).
“You’ll never know until he does it, but with his size, his strength and his skating ability, if he’s not ready he’s really darn close,” Chelios said. “College is a lot different than the NHL. The jump from college to the AHL is a lot easier. Physically there’s no question he’s ready.”’
And we’re going to take something of a parallel tack as the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell spoke to Wings GM Ken Holland about attempting to find a replacement for Blashill within the next 7-10 days…
“Mike Babcock and I are talking about names,” Holland said. “Mike is talking to a few people. We’ve got a short list we’re happy with. We want to make sure we’re not missing anybody. Mike wants to take a few more days.”
“We’re not sure if we want a defenceman who’s played the game or a coach on staff who’s got coaching experience,” Holland said. “We’re open to different types of candidates.”
The Wings have a plethora of recently retired players on staff, but none beyond Jiri Fischer’s World Junior experience, has any coaching experience nor have they expressed any public interest in coaching.
Windsor Spitfires coach Bob Boughner was a candidate last summer and fits the Wings’ criteria well this time around. However, his recent statements are he’s focused on staying in Windsor and trying to build for the Spits’ Memorial Cup bid. Boughner has also said he’d much prefer a head coaching position. Boughner was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
And when University of Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves was in Windsor to attend the Roger Neilson Coaches Clinic earlier this month, he talked up Schultz’s game as well:
“The thing about Justin is, on a day-to-day basis, he’s wired to be the hardest working player out there in practice,” Eaves said. “He’s flying every drill, jersey flapping. He’s also a competitive kid. He’s an overachiever, but one with great skill. He’s has a good chance to be a good NHL player.”
Eaves said Schultz is also a very coachable player. He listens to advice well from a variety of sources. Eaves credited Schultz’s good friend Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs) with influencing him to play a third year of college hockey.
“His buddy Jake told him he could skate and had the skills, but he’d playing against real strong men,” Eaves said. “The NHL is a man’s league. It was important he got bigger and stronger and learned to dominate without the puck against the younger guys first. He did that this season.”
Waddell also confirms that the Wings are willing to give Schultz not just a spot on the training camp roster, but their opening night NHL roster if necessary.
It’s assumed that Schultz and his agents fielded offers on Monday, chatted about them on Tuesday, and will continue to go through them o on Wednesday:
“We’ve expressed we’re interested,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “His agents (Don Meehan and Pat Morris) will sit down with him today.”
Waddell also confirms from Holland that the Wings will make one last pitch to Jiri Hudler’s agent, Petr Svoboda, on Friday, but that the Wings are offering him much less than the $4-plus million salary he’s seeking (Waddell says the Wings’ offer is for about $3.2 million per season)...
Finally, this one comes from RedWingsFeed: The Newark Star-Ledger’s Rich Chere spoke to New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise about his future, and while Parise seems set to test the unrestricted free agent waters, he’s not ruling out a return to New Jersey:
Parise said today that his agents, Wade Arnott and Don Meehan, have been talking to Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello the last few days. However, he acknowledged it is very possible there will be no deal before Sunday’s noon (ET) deadline for the start of free agency.
“If that does happen, my agents have done a really good job of doing the best they can to prepare me for it. But first and foremost, we want to try to get things worked out with New Jersey,” the 27-year-old left winger told The Star-Ledger.
Parise said even if he becomes unrestricted, it does not mean he has ruled out staying with the Devils.
“Not at all. I’m sure a lot of people will think that, but that’s very far from the case,” he said. “If it does happen to get to Sunday, that’s by no means saying I don’t want to go back to New Jersey. I know the perception would be, ‘Oh, he wants out.’ But that’s not the case. I haven’t been lying. I’ve said all along how much I like playing in New Jersey. So that wouldn’t be me saying, ‘I don’t want to play there anymore.’ ”
Even before he led the Devils to the Stanley Cup finals against the Los Angeles Kings, losing in six games, Parise was viewed as the premier potential free agent this year. The Detroit Red Wings are believed to be poised to make the biggest offer, with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild also in the mix.
This past season Parise earned $6 million, the same as teammate Ilya Kovalchuk. But it would not be surprising to see teams offer multiple-year deals that average $9 million or $10 million per season. In 82 games this season Parise scored 69 points (31 goals, 38 assists) with three game-winning goals. In the playoffs he had 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 24 games, ranking sixth behind Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Kovalchuk, Claude Giroux and Drew Doughty. The odds seem to point to Parise becoming unrestricted on Sunday.
“I can’t comment on that,” he said. “But if it does get to July 1st it’s going to be a bit overwhelming.”
Chelios, 50, relishes his flexible schedule as the Red Wings’ advisor to hockey operations, a position that enables him to watch sons Dean and Jake play at Michigan State. He said he’s not ready to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of being an NHL assistant coach.
“I hope to find a position like that in my future, but right now I’m content with having that freedom of going to see my sons play,’’ Chelios said. “I think I’m two years away from actually taking a full-time job again.’‘
Chelios retired in 2010, after parts of 25 NHL seasons, including 10 with the Red Wings. In his current position, Chelios works with the front office and coaching staff, providing insight on a wide range of issues and helping to mentor and develop young players with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“I was with them for the whole year last year,’’ Chelios said. “I’d go down 2-3 times a week, go on the ice and work with the young (defensemen), working with (the coaches), sometimes I’d be in the press box helping out with special teams.’‘
Here’s his take on Schultz:
Chelios said he saw prime free-agent defenseman Justin Schultz of Wisconsin play against Michigan State twice, and he was impressed with his size and skills.
“You never know until they do it, but with his size, strength and skating ability, if he’s not ready, he’s really close,’’ Chelios said. “Physically, there’s no question he’s ready.’‘
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