The Malik Report
Rain also didn’t stop a record number of people from attending the event in support of the Joe Kocur Foundation for Children, which gives back to the local community through a collaboration with children's charities throughout Southeastern Michigan.
The softball event is the foundation’s signature event and is championed through the efforts of an all-volunteer committee and through the kind donations of local sponsors and donors.
And while the fans were beneficiaries of coveted autographs and photos with their favorite NHL stars, the biggest beneficiaries were the charities that received the proceeds from Saturday’s event, which eclipsed an estimated $100,000, adding to the $200,000-plus already raised this year by the Joe Kocur Foundation for Children.
The benefitting charities included Wings of Mercy East Michigan, F.A.R. Therapeutic Arts and Recreation, The Huron Valley Special Olympics, Play Like Jackson Foundation, Team Kendal Kidz, Lakeland High School Public Service Scholarship and this year’s special honoree, Jackets 4 Jackson.
“When we started our foundation eight years ago we wanted to find a way to give back to the community,” Kocur said to West Oakland news outlet, Spinal Column. “We had friends, we have businesses, we had everything that we felt we needed to give back to the community. We are raising money for families that are going through some hard times.”
Grand Rapids Press reporter Peter J. Wallner spoke with Griffins defenseman Nathan Paetsch and coach Todd Nelson regarding a changing of the veteran guard in Grand Rapids, especially with former captain Jeff Hoggan moving on:
"Change is tough but it is a constant in this league," [Paetsch] added. "We all know that Hoggie was a great, great captain and we'll miss his presence, for sure, and it will be strange for me because he's been a teammate for so long."
The Griffins also did not bring back longtime goalie Tom McCollum and lost leading scorer Andy Miele (signed with Philadelphia Flyers), but the organization restocked veterans in the offseason that will crowd the roster again when camp opens next month.
There are six on the roster, and that could expand to eight and does not include the uncertain status of Daniel Cleary.
Of brief Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. ESPN's Corey Pronman ranked every team by its prospect pipeline in an Insider-only entry:
18. Detroit Red Wings
Previous rank: 7
The Wings' farm team has quite a few guys who are on the bubble of being NHL players; Detroit will have to make decisions on them soon, otherwise they risk losing them on waivers. The top part of their system is pretty good, with several players who have a chance to be quality NHL players, even if there's no "star" prospect in this system. The big slide in the rankings is two-fold: Dylan Larkin graduated, and players like Evgeni Svechnikov and Axel Holmstrom didn't have quite the seasons I expected from them in 2015-16.
2. The Red Wings' single-game tickets are on sale presently, but if you're looking for the home opener or last couple of games at the Joe, they're already sold out
3. Both the Grand Rapids Griffins and Ilitch Charities are holding their charity golf tournaments today:
Ansar Khan of Mlive answers a few questions from the fans...
Q: Do you expect (Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall) to lace them up for the Wings in 2017-2018? I think they are much closer to retirement and have fewer reasons to stick around than most people probably think.
A: I think they'll play at least two more seasons, but I wouldn't be shocked if they hung up the skates after this year. It depends on their health.
Kronwall, 35, was plagued by knee issues last season, which they said can't be remedied with surgery. He withdrew from the World Cup but hopes to be ready for the start of training camp.
Zetterberg, who turns 36 on Oct. 9, has a history of back trouble, but managed to play all 82 games in 2015-16.
After this season, Kronwall will have two years remaining at a cap hit of $4.75 million, but his salary decreases to $3.5 million and $1.75 million. Zetterberg will have four years to go at a cap hit of $6.083 million but an actual salary of $7 million for 2017-18, $3.5 million in 2018-19 and $1 million in each of the final two seasons.
I don't think either will officially retire before their contracts expire and leave the team facing a cap recapture penalty....
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. In translatable news you can use, Hokej.cz reports that a Czech Under-20 team captained by Filip Hronek took silver in a 4-Nations Cup pitting the Czechs against gold medal-winning Sweden and teams from Finland and Russia;
2. In news I could use a hand with, Tomas Nosek gave a very lengthy interview to iSport's Pavel Rysavy, and while Nosek's optimism regarding his chances of making the NHL and determination to work hard to earn his opportunity are evident in the Google translation of the interview, a native-speaker's expertise is going to be necessary to separate Google garble from translatable text;
3. In prospect-in-absentia news, in the Champions League, Axel Holmstrom didn't play in Skelleftea AIK's 4-0 win over KalPa Kuopio, while Christoffer Ehn
was a healthy scratch skated in the Frolunda Indians' 5-2 win over Dynamo Pardubice;
4. The Free Press's Helene St. James offered a set of takes from her visit to the Little Caesars Arena 3D-printed model, and among them:
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill was the Grand Marshal at the Michigan 400 in Brooklyn, MI today, and he talked shop with a friend from his coaching days in the USHL, as the Windsor Star's Bob Duff noted...
When NASCAR driver Michael Annett was growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, in the early 1990s, he liked to go to the rink and watch Jeff Blashill play goal for the USHL Buccaneers.
On Sunday, Blashill returned the favour.
Detroit Red Wings coach Blashill served as grand marshal for the Pure Michigan 400 and when he announced to the drivers to start their engines, one of those who answered the call was Annett, at the wheel of the No. 46 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet.
“I played my junior hockey in Des Moines, Iowa, so of all places I went from the hockey hotbed of Michigan to Iowa to grow as a hockey player,” Blashill recalled. “During my time in Des Moines, Michael Annett was a young hockey player growing up.
“We’ve got mutual connections to some real good friends of mine. I’ve always kept track of his career and how he’s doing, so I’m excited to watch him here.”
And part of being the Grand Marshal meant a few laps in a pace car at Michigan International Speedway, as WXYZ noted...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
2016-17 outlook: Larkin was a bit of a savior last season for a team that struggled to score, stepping up big from the start as a 19-year-old. Perhaps the rigors of his first NHL season caught up with him after the All-Star break, when he produced just five goals and seven points in his final 28 games.
Larkin, who can play all three forward positions, was used mostly on the wing as a rookie. Now, he will have new responsibilities as the first-line center. He'll be playing head-to-head against a lot of top centers, so he'll need to be reliable defensively. He could also improve his playmaking skills. And, as is the case with all young player, he needs to get stronger.
He has elite speed, a motor that keeps churning and a terrific shot, so he has the ability to increase his production. Henrik Zetterberg, Larkin's center most of last season, is expected to start the season at wing on a line with Frans Nielsen. Larkin might play with Justin Abdelkader and either Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar. Or perhaps Zetterberg will wind up back on that line.
AWood40's playoff goal highlight reel continues today with the Red Wings' playoff goals from the 1992 season. This clip includes one of my favorite Wings goals ever--Sergei Fedorov's OT and series-winning goal over the Minnesota Wild, which was the first playoff goal to be confirmed via video review:
Of Twitter-related Red Wings note this evening:
1. The Wings released their promotional calendar today:
2. The Joe Kocur Foundation's annual charity softball game took place today in Highland, MI, and a good time was had by all (despite the rain):
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. Fox Sports Detroit's "The 313" spoke with Al Sobotka about his favorite moment at Joe Louis Arena...
2. In the "coming attractions" department, there's a movie coming out called Ice Guardians, which will chronicle the evolution of the enforcer, and Joe Kocur will appear in the film:
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.