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The Malik Report

The overnight report: Reviewing the Wings’ assistant coaching situation

To review:

Tomorrow at 11 AM, the Grand Rapids Griffins are going to announce that Todd Nelson is their next coach. The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner touched on some of the reasons that Nelson is a bit of a folk hero as the first professional hockey player the Griffins ever signed and an assistant coach under Danton Cole during the first year that the Griffins were a Wings affiliate.

We are still waiting on the Red Wings' announcement of their coaching staff, and there's a reason for that, as the Windsor Star's Bob Duff noted:

The Detroit Red Wings will name former Edmonton Oilers coach Todd Nelson as the new man in charge of the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday. They aren’t as certain as to when they will announce the coaches that will work under new head coach Jeff Blashill in Detroit.

“We’re working on it,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “We’re hopeful of getting the staff (completed) by the end of the week, but it might take a little longer.”

We know that Chris Chelios won't be a "bench coach," but will work with the Wings' defense, and spend a month with the aforementioned Cole at the World Junior Championships as an assistant coach for Team USA...

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Ken Holland Is Kicking Some Tires

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland is working the phones exploring what's available via trade, which ties into whether or not the team decides to buy out forward Stephen Weiss.

Front-office personnel and the pro scouting staff spent Tuesday through Thursday parsing the Wings and how they relate to this year's and next year's salary cap, how the Wings stack up against the rest of the Eastern Conference, evaluating all the other 29 NHL teams and assessing players available on the free agent market.

"Now when I talk to other general managers, I have an idea of what our staff think we need, what we'd like to do," Holland told the Free Press. "I've called some managers, and I'll talk to more over the weekend. Let's explore what's out there. We're trying to figure out how to get a little better. It's not a great UFA market."


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‘Lunchtime tidbits’: on assistant coaches, mock drafts and free agent lists

Consider these your "lunchtime tidbits":

The Free Press posted a photo gallery of 18 free agents who might be on the Wings radar, but Vancouver's Shawn Matthias isn't on the list;

And MLive's Brendan Savage noted that Joel Eriksson Ek is a popular mock draft pick for the Wings;

Update: The Grand Rapids Griffins have posited their latest installment of "Between the Benches":

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Larkin, Turgeon receive invites to Team USA’s summer evaluation camp

For what it's worth, USA Hockey has announced the roster and schedule for its annual summer World Junior Evaluation Camp, and both Dylan Larkin and Dominic Turgeon have been invited to the event. The Lake Placid, NY-based event will pit two USA Hockey teams against visitors from Finland and Sweden, and it will take place from August 1st to 8th.

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Zetterberg, Babcock earn ‘2015 All-Playoff Team’ votes from ESPN Insiders

Via an Insider-only entry, ESPN writers weighed in regarding their "2015 All-Playoff team," and Hockey Abstract's Rob Vollman made a surprising pick up front...

Vollman: My vote went to Detroit's captain Henrik Zetterberg. He's one of the toughest shutdown players against whom to play, while also posing a potent scoring threat of his own. He's the type of player who does it all, taking on top opponents in both zones and killing penalties, while averaging almost four shots per game throughout his career. Fitting much the same model as Jonathan Toews, Zetterberg is the ultimate player to take on a playoff run. Most playoff teams have at least one line of elite scoring threats, making players like Zetterberg that can neutralize them a veritable necessity.

While a predictable former Wings earned the "best coach" nod from Corey Pronman:

Coach: Mike Babcock

Also receiving votes: Hitchcock (one)

Pronman: When it comes to coaches, my evaluations are based on a combination of three factors, in this order of preference:

1. Deference to people in the industry and what they say
2. My personal experience dealing with the person and
3. Any form of statistical evaluation

On the first, there is a moderate consensus among NHL people that Mike Babcock is the best coach in the NHL currently. The praise you hear for him is very high as a tactician, a workhorse and an overall hockey mind. Statistically, Detroit was always a dangerous team under him even as the roster has changed substantially, and not always for the better. We've compiled one powerful All-Playoff team -- and Mike Babcock is the coach to lead it.

The entry continues...

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Grand Rapids Griffins to announce head coach on Friday

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:


WHAT: The Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League will introduce their 10th head coach in franchise history. In addition, a major announcement will be made regarding the leadership of the team’s front office.

WHEN: Friday, June 19 at 11 a.m.


WHO: Griffins majority owner Dan DeVos, Griffins senior vice president of business operations Tim Gortsema, Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin and the new head coach will speak and be available for interviews.

STREAMING: The press conference will be streamed live at http://www.griffinshockey.com as well as on the Griffins’ iPhone and Android app.

And in case you aren't sure who they've picked, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner confirms that it's Todd Nelson.

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Chelios to consult with Red Wings but not serve as a full-time bench coach

Updated 3x at 12:05 AM, okay, it's an overnight report: If you didn't pick up the message that Chris Chelios being named an assistant coach on Team USA's World Junior Championship team sent, the Free Press's Helene St. James spells it out: the Wings have chosen to utilize Chelios as a sort of consultant/part time coach who will work with the team's defensemen and possibly help during home games, but he's not going to be a full-time assistant coach alongside Tony Granato, the other "bench coach" and whoever ends up coordinating video:

Chelios has his business interests and is still a very active sports dad despite his kids either playing at the collegiate or minor pro levels, so bringing him into coaching at the NHL level slowly makes the most sense for someone who has a very literally active lifestyle.

My best guess is that we'll see a bench consisting of Tony Granato, Pat Ferschweiler from Grand Rapids and possibly Griffins video coach Bill LeRoy, who's been with the Griffins since 2001, but that's a guess.

Ken Holland suggested that he wanted to announce the coaching staff of the Wings and Griffins "all at once," so we'll find out more about Blashill's appointees and the shape of Todd Nelson's coaching staff in Grand Rapids either tomorrow (probably Thursday) or Friday.

Big update: St. James spoke with Chelios regarding his role:

Starting next season, Chelios will be working with defensemen in Detroit, similarly to what he did the past few seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Chelios will not be on the bench with new Wings head coach Jeff Blashill.

"Blash made me feel really good with my role, it was great to work with him," Chelios told the Free Press. "It'll be good not to have to drive to Grand Rapids any more, I feel like I've earned the right to come back with Blash and work with the Wings. Hopefully, I can help out a little bit. I'll spend as much time as I can players, be on the ice for practices, at meetings, travel as much as I can."

Chelios will not be on the bench during games, and his travel will be limited somewhat by his new role as an assistant coach with the 2016 U.S. National Junior Team. USA Hockey announced Chelios, an executive advisor to Wings general manager Ken Holland, will work with head coach Ron Wilson at next year's IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki.

"I'm committed to a camp at the end of July, start of August, some events in December, and then I'll be gone for about a month over Christmas," Chelios said. "It was really nice of Kenny to allow me to do this."


Blashill has yet to make his two assistant bench coaches known. The Wings are still talking to Tony Granato, who spent the past season working under former head coach Mike Babcock. Granato didn't exercise the option he had left on his old contract with the Wings, but that makes sense as he'd want a new contract to reflect working under a new coach (i.e., more term than one year. Blashill got four years). Granato was in charge of the defense and penalty kill.

Update #2: MLive's Ansar Khan confirms...

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TSN names Gustav Nyquist’s goal vs. Ottawa its Play of the Year

This is just awesome smile

Per MLive's Brendan Savage:

Nyquist was an easy winner over Anaheim's Ryan Kesler in the POY Showdown final, finishing with 257,858 of the 422,095 votes cast. That's 61.09 percent.

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Axel Holmstrom understands that earning an NHL contract is the ‘first step’ toward making the NHL

Norran.se's Arvid Marklund spoke with Axel Holmstrom regarding his 3-year entry-level contract with the Red Wings, and even in roughly-translated Swedish, it sounds like Holmstrom's got his head on straight:

Axel Holmstrom: "A childhood dream"

He's got an NHL contract. But the super-talent looks forward to continuing to develop with Skelleftea AIK.

The 18-year-old super-talent is obviously pleased that the contract with the Detroit Red Wings is official and signed.

"It feels very inspiring, it's a childhood dream come true," says Holmstrom to Norran. "But it doesn't mean that you'll get to play in the NHL. It's a long way [away], and it means you have to continue to work hard to get there," Axel continues.

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Morning news: More about Todd Nelson and ‘digging’ a low bowl

Updated 3x at 11:44 AM: Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James is the fifth reporter to confirm that Todd Nelson will coach the Grand Rapids Griffins...

Todd Nelson will be announced as the new head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's American Hockey League affiliate, as early as today. Details of the contract are still being worked out. The position became open June 9, when the Wings promoted Blashill to head coach after three seasons with the Griffins.

Nelson, 46 and a former defenseman, has a considerable coaching resume. He most recently was the interim coach of the Edmonton Oilers. He was an assistant with the Griffins in 2002-03, before going to the Muskegon Fury, where he coached that team to the IHL title. He was an assistant with the Chicago Wolves when they won the AHL's Calder Cup in 2008.

2. Via RedWingsFeed, the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy penned something of a biography of Nelson's playing and coaching career...

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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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