The Malik Report
from Tom Awad of Hockey Prospectus/ESPN,
While Datsyuk was at his peak, the Red Wings were unstoppable. From 2005-06 to 2008-09, the Red Wings had both Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in their primes, and Lidstrom who, at ages 35 to 39, was still arguably the best defenseman in the NHL. During those four seasons, the Wings averaged 116 points in the standings, finishing 1st, 2nd, 1st and 3rd overall in the league, respectively.
In retrospect, it's surprising that they didn't win more than one Stanley Cup during those years. Datsyuk had already won the Stanley Cup during his rookie season with the juggernaut Wings of 2002, but he was only a third-line player, forming the "Two Kids and an Old Goat" line with Boyd Devereaux and Brett Hull. However, he was the driving force behind the post-lockout Wings. During their championship run in 2008, they looked unstoppable, losing only six games on their way to the Cup. They came within one goal of winning a second back-to-back Cup in 2009, losing Game 7 to the Penguins, 2-1....
The 21st century Wings won't be remembered as a playoff dynasty, but they may yet turn out to be the last truly dominant team the NHL ever sees, as the salary cap continues to drive parity across the league. And Datsyuk will be remembered as the Russian magician who helped make it all possible. There is no doubt that, in a few years, he should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
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Via RedWingsFeed, Kyle Quincey finds himself in a different spot and different role than Darren Helm, today's other UFA-to-be whose situation was examined by the local media, and Quincey told DetroitRedWings.com's BIll Roose that he's not necessarily looking forward to waiting to find out whether he remains a Red Wing:
“A lot of people don’t know that side of the job,” Qunicey said. “Packing up a house and not knowing where you’re gonna be. You’ve got family that need to know where they’re gonna be, and when you have no answers for them it’s kind of the (dirty) part of the job I guess.”
Quincey, who was a fourth-round pick by the Red Wings in 2003, found a niche during his second tour with the franchise. More than a year and a half ago former coach Mike Babcock paired him on the right side with Danny DeKeyser. It was only then that Quincey began to feel comfortable in his reunited role with the team.
“Babs tried to put a few guys with (DeKeyser) on the right side for the first week or two and it didn’t work out,” Quincey recalled. “Then he came to me and he goes, ‘Can you play the right side?’ which he’s never let me play – ever. And I never looked back. I haven’t played on the left side since. I can obviously play both sides comfortably and it was a challenge that I ran with and kind of really take a lot of pride in. Danny’s a great player, so it’s very easy to play with him for sure.”
“A veteran in Colorado told me ‘we’re in the business of winning,’ ” he said. “Teams that win stay together. If Kenny offers me something I’d love to come back. We love it here. But if not, July 1, and just see what happens.”
Roose continues, giving Blashill's take on the state of the defense.
Here is the Grand Rapids Griffins' Game-Day Preview video, hosted by Bob Kaser, and featuring assistant coach Mike Knuble and defenseman Nick Jensen:
And among the AHL's "Morning Skate" notes:
MLive's Ansar Khan duly notes that Darren Helm sounded very "iffy" about returning to the Red Wings without significant clarification as to his role with the team:
"I love it here. I love the city. I love the fans, the people," Helm said. "We've made a lot of really good friends that would definitely be really hard to move away from. A lot of people have helped me outside the team to keep me on track with my health and those are tough guys to find as well."
The Red Wings like the speedy Helm's versatility – his ability to play on a top-six scoring line or a bottom-six checking unit. He has played the wing the past couple of seasons but not too long ago was labeled the best third-line center in the NHL by former coach Mike Babcock. He kills penalties and can play a net-front role on the power play.
"I need to talk to (coach Jeff Blashill) and Kenny and see where everything is headed and where I see myself fitting into this organization or where they see me fitting into this organization, then I'll have to make some tough decisions," Helm said.
He said it's tough moving around from line to line depending on what role needs to be filled.
"Winning is a big part of it," Helm said. "I really don't mind playing on the bottom lines as long as there's that respect factor. You get opportunities in different situations. If it looks like that's the case that I'll get to play in those, then I'll be happy. If they tell me right away that's not going to happen then I may not want to stay."
Khan continues, noting that Ken Holland certainly sounds like he wants to re-sign Helm.
Update: DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji has more on Holland's perspective:
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. Mickey Redmond spoke with WDIV's Jamie Edmonds after the Wings' playoff ouster, offering seven minutes' worth of opinions as to how the Red Wings might improve their blueline (via trade), the team's need to add size to the mix, possibly at the expense of one of Nyquist or Tatar, his take on Pavel Datsyuk's situation (farewell and thank you), and he addresses the youth movement in positive terms;
2. Regarding Datsyuk, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned an overnight column discussing Datsyuk's locker room clean-out day comments, and Krupa noted that Datsyuk's teammates are following Jeff Blashill's, "Pavel's going to do what Pavel's going to do" line:
“He’s going to do what he wants to do,” Gustav Nyquist said. “He’s been a great player with this organization for a long time and he’s still one of the best players in the league. It’s been great having him here as a teammate and I learned a lot from him.
“But whatever he wants to do, he’ll do what’s best for him and his family. We’d love to have him back but it’s up to him.”
Justin Abdelkader, who earned Datsyuk’s respect for his work habits as a linemate, said, “It’s his decision to make. He’ll do what’s in his heart. All we can do is just thank him for what he’s done for this organization.”
3. And let's address the elefant i plats (elephant in the room, in Swedish, I think): The Fan 590's Greg Brady spoke with WDFN's Matt Sheppard this morning, and at the 10-minute mark, Brady and Sheppard address the "Swedish Mafia" issue.
Here's my blunt take: I don't disagree with the person who's encouraged me to commit suicide as part of his scorched-earth sports mentality. I don't believe Brady's suggestion that Zetterberg and Kronwall may have influenced the personnel decisions to ensure that Swedes were playing.
Joe Hicketts is currently a "Black Ace" for the Grand Rapids Griffins, and he spoke with the Victoria Times-Colonist's Mario Annicchiarico regarding his attempts to make a good impression on Todd Nelson and the Griffins' coaching staff as Hicketts prepares to turn pro next fall:
Victoria Royals captain Joe Hicketts received some advice from both head coach Dave Lowry and general manager Cam Hope in exit meetings before joining the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League for the remainder of the playoff season.
“They just said they figured I would be going and good luck with everything and go up there and make an impression,” Hicketts said shortly after arriving in Michigan on Sunday where the Griffins are leading the Milwaukee Admirals 2-0 in the best-of-five Central Division semifinals. Game 3 is set for tonight.
“I’m sure it’s the first step for a tryout for next year, so it’s going to be exciting. That’s the goal,” he said of playing in the minors. “As much as I love Victoria, it’s time to move my hockey career to the next level and the minor-pro league is probably best for that.
“I’m going to work hard this summer and give myself a real opportunity to do that. I’ve done a lot in the WHL and with two world juniors. I’ve got the experience and know what it takes to get to that next level. I’m looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.”
Hicketts, 19, will now try and compete with and against players, in some instances, almost twice his age. Longtime NHLer Daniel Cleary is on the Griffins’ roster.
“I get to experience the next level of hockey. I’m not sure if I’ll get in the lineup or not, but I’ll get to learn from the older players and see what pro hockey is about again,” he said. “Last year, I came in wide-eyed and didn’t know how to soak it all in. This year, I know what to expect a little more and I can try and make the most of it.”
WDFN's Matt Sheppard listened to Ken Holland's press conference yesterday, and unlike Jeff Seidel, Drew Sharp or John Niyo, Sheppard was particularly troubled about Holland's suggestion that "fans should expect less" from a Red Wings team that Holland suggested can no longer be considered as competing for the Stanley Cup:
Holland and his staff should know Red Wings fans aren't just discouraged with the early exits, but also that this team isn't even close to competing for a Stanley Cup.
The Wings have been bumped in round one three straight years and four of the last five. What is wrong with having higher expectations than that?
What's wrong with having higher expectations than playing promising young players more than eight minutes a night while your tired veterans are playing heavy minutes in the third?
What's wrong with wondering why you send down a big winger who seemed to make a difference on the power play, but bring up a journeyman center who plans on going back to his native land after the season any way?
What's wrong with wondering why you play a Swedish defenseman signed long term instead of a young edgy d-man?
Holland and Mark Howe think their model of winning is still the right way. It's not and they haven't adjusted quickly enough.
If they continue this route, they won't have to wonder why they don't have a job any more.
Nothing particularly surprising came out of the Red Wings' locker room clean-out day, but Jimmy Howard's comments regarding his status as being open to a trade did raise a few eyebrows. MLive's Brendan Savage took note of Howard's remarks:
"It's part of the business," Howard said Monday at Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings cleaned out their lockers after losing their first-round playoff series against Tampa Bay. "A lot of times, a lot of people go through it in this business. If that were to happen, it happens.
"It would be disappointing. I've met a lot of great people in this city, made a lot of great friends. That's the nature of this business. Sometimes you got to pack up and move on."
Howard was the Red Wings undisputed No. 1 goalie for six seasons until losing his job to Mrazek at the start of the 2015 playoffs.
Howard told Savage and the assembled media that he's not sure if he'd be willing to play a limited number of games as Petr Mrazek's back-up:
"That's something I'm going to have to think about and talk over with my family and people that are close to me," Howard said. "I really haven't given it all that much thought. It's only been several days. I haven't given it too much thought as to what's going to happen or what my future is. I'm just enjoying the last several days with my family so I haven't really given it much thought."
Would Howard request a trade?
"Like I said, we'll have to wait and see," he said. "See what happens."
Savage continues, also offering Ken Holland's take on the Mrazek-Howard tandem...
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Daniel Cleary regarding his leadership role on the team as the Griffins open the home portion of their first-round series against Milwaukee this evening, and as many reports have stated, Cleary's really "found a purpose" in Grand Rapids:
"I certainly readied myself for the playoffs, for sure," Cleary said. "I love this. We know all the clichés, but it is where reputations are built, where you create bonds when you win and we have a very good team."
The Griffins, who lead the Central Division semifinals 2-0 with a chance to eliminate the Milwaukee Admiral at 7 tonight at Van Andel Arena, play better with Cleary in the lineup. They are 29-7-1-0 when he plays.
"This is what he lives for along with all our veterans," said coach Todd Nelson. "It's good for our young guys to see it."
Cleary is part of a unique group on the Griffins. The team includes captain Jeff Hoggan and defenseman Nathan Paetsch, 10-plus year pros who play at a high level yet have accepted their futures do not include the NHL. Both were also part of the Griffins' Calder Cup championship run in 2013. The unselfishness gives Nelson a lot of leaders in the clubhouse."It's a balance in the regular season where you want to develop (young talent) but you also want to win," he said. "I don't care what anyone says, if you don't go through it and learn how to win at this level, it's going to be very tough in Detroit.
"For me, we have experience here and they are here to help the other guys with the ups and downs and they've been through it before. Let's face it, they (veterans) want to win, too, and that's what we're involved with now."
I'm a go-to-the-source person, so I'll suggest that, after a full day's worth of articles and commentary, you might want to simply sit down and watch the 54 minutes' worth of Ken Holland's rambling, sometimes confrontational press conference--if not 10 minutes' worth of Jeff Blashill speaking as defensively as a head coach who bowed out in the first round after making the playoffs on a tiebreaker should be speaking--before reading the inevitable "Spirit of the Thing" columns from three sports columnists.
The three columnists all believe that the Red Wings' "streak" isn't worth very much, and they offer three takes on what the Wings should do to bulid an eventually competitive team.
But first, if you haven't seen or listened...
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.