Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Prospect news: Axel Holmstrom, Janmark star in SHL play

As noted in the off-day post, Mike McKee and Teemu Pulkkinen received profiles because McKee's rounding into a sound defensive forward at Western Michigan Univeristy and Pulkkinen's playing downright dominant hockey in the AHL, respectively...

And of the three Wings prospects who played hockey today, two of them had superb outings.

In the SHL, Axel Holmstrom scored game-tying 3-3 and 4-4 goals in Skelleftea AIK's 5-4 loss to Lulea (click on the link for highlights), and Holmstrom's 2 goals, +1 and 33% faceoff winning percentage came in 15:05 of 4th line play;

Mattias Janmark also scored the game-tying goal and registered an assist in the Frolunda Indians' 4-3 shootout loss to Djurgardens IF (again, link --> highlights), and Janmark took 4 shots, finished at +1 and played 19:31 on Frolunda's 1st line;

And back over on this side of the pond, in the OHL, Jake Paterson faced a 40-shot barrage and stopped 36 of them in the Kitchener Rangers' 4-1 loss to Windsor.

FTR: Julius Vahatalo is playing in the Finnish J20 league, and he registered an assist in TPS Turku's 4-2 loss to Tappara yesterday.

Update: Fox 17's Steve Amorose filed a report dicussing Jared Coreau's status given that Petr Mrazek's demotion to Grand Rapids may send Coreau to the ECHL despite a superb sophomore campain with the Griffins:

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Club teams help Detroit earn its ‘Hockeytown’ moniker, churn out NCAA athletes & NHL’ers

"Hockey season" will last for at least two more months in the NHL, but in developmental hockey leagues, we're already in "championship season," and as such, Crain's Detroit Business's Bryan Gurvey wrote a wonderful article explaining why Detroit can now back up its "Hockeytown" moniker.

While Metro Detroit may not have the high school hockey tradition Minnesota can boast (though we're catching up), our "club" hockey programs are unparalleled, and between Detroit Honeybaked, Belle Tire, Compuware, Little Caesars, the U.S. National Team Development Program and the region's 4 OHL franchises (Flint, Saginaw, Sarnia and Windsor), Southeastern Michigan and Southwestern Ontario is something of a professional hockey player factory...

And, as Gurvey notes, it's the "club" teams that lead the way:

HoneyBaked Ham Co. sells glazed, spiral-cut hams at 425 shops nationwide. Little Caesars is one of the world’s largest pizza chains. Compuware Corp. is a business software firm with thousands of customers. Together they’ve produced more than 50 players for the National Hockey League.

Only in ice hockey — and almost exclusively in Detroit — do large companies lend their brands and hundreds of thousands of dollars to individual teams that shape grade-schoolers into college and big-league prospects.

Some youth soccer teams wear sponsors’ logos, and companies such as Nike Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. subsidize soccer, lacrosse, and basketball camps and tournaments. But those arrangements are a far cry from the Motor City’s year-round, vertically integrated hockey machine.

Along with retailer Belle Tire Inc. and auto dealer Victory Honda, Little Caesars, Compuware and HoneyBaked are known in the hockey world less for what they sell than how teams wearing their colors rank among the best in North America.

Frank Provenzano, former assistant general manager for two NHL teams, skated against some of Detroit’s corporate squads when he was growing up in Canada. “I didn’t even know what Compuware was,” he says. “I still don’t. I just know they put out great hockey teams.”


[edit: The best part of this article is that whether Darren Eliot's talking about the club system or others weigh in, this article describes the way things work "warts and all," and I haven't read an article both this supportive toward AND critical of the Detroit hockey machine in a long time /end edit].

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Red Wings-Penguins tailings and off-day news: on Howard, the PIT loss, trade talk and McKee

Updated 6x at 3:10 PM: At the very end of his media availability after last night's loss to Pittsburgh, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told the media that the team's taking today off, so today's Red Wings-related news is rather scattershot in nature.

As Paul noted, the Globe and Mail's Cathal Kelly has suggested again that the Leafs are going to target Babcock as part of their "rebuild," but Kelly's "He could probably win now in a city such as San Jose. But why would he care?" illustrates how disconnected Kelly is from the realities of Babcock's desire to win right *#$%@& now;

Paul also noted that the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner wondered aloud what the Grand Rapids Griffins might do if the Wings choose to demote Petr Mrazek (given that Tom McCollum and Jared Coreau are already doing quite well), and Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin dropped an intriguing hint as to whether the Wings will carry 3 goalies...

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Sergei Fedorov makes the radio rounds ahead of Michigan Sports Hall of Fame induction

Sergei Fedorov will be inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame this evening, and he's made something of a radio tour over the past couple of days, which is good given that Derek Jeter and Tom Izzo will steal the spotlight tonight.

First, Sergei appeared on Detroit Sports 105.1 yesterday, discussing his status as a Metro Detroit resident during the offseason, his job as CSKA Moscow's GM and the boos he faced when he first left the Wings...

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Report: Sabres wanted Larkin AND Mantha for Myers

Edit/update: Well this solves it: it was OR.

This comes "third-hand" from a retweet by DetroitHockey.net's Clark Rasmussen and Fan vs. Fan's Bryan Yates as the source, but I believe it to be reliable:

According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, ‪#‎Sabres‬ GM Tim Murry had an offer placed on the table that Ken Holland of the ‪#‎RedWings‬ was pondering. Murray was waiting for his response before going forward with anything else.

The offer was Tyler Myers in exchange for top prospects Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.

Holland finally rejected the deal, which allowed for the trade we know to take place. ‪#‎NHL‬

As already reported, and per The Score's Justin Cuthbert, last night, TSN's McKenzie told NBCSN's Liam McHugh that the offer was for Larkin OR Mantha...

The Detroit Red Wings were apparently reluctant to give up a prized prospect to land Tyler Myers.

The team's long-rumored flirtation with the towering defenseman - who was traded from Buffalo to Winnipeg on Wednesday - hit a snag when the Sabres requested either Dylan Larkin or Anthony Mantha in return, Bob McKenzie reported on NBC on Wednesday.

McKenzie suggested the Red Wings' hesitation to part with prospects and picks will make it difficult to land experience on defense before the March 2 trade deadline.

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Are The Wings Planning On Keeping Three Goalies?

from Peter J. Wallner of Mlive,

Petr Mrazek, who has been with the Detroit Red Wings since November, is expected to rejoin the Griffins at some point to join a congested but effective goalie situation in Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids already has Jared Coreau, who has emerged as a steady starter with three shutouts in 17 games, and veteran Tom McCollum (who spent two-plus weeks in Detroit himself), with a team-high 22 games played.

Detroit could keep three goalies, but the organization will likely have Mrazek return to Grand Rapids and play regularly with the long-range plan to have him back up Jimmy Howard next season.

However, the Red Wings don't have to hurry, either. They have an extra roster spot because Johan Franzen (concussion symptoms) is on injured reserve.

Ryan Martin, Red Wings assistant general manager, said Thursday morning "no changes are planned as of now."

read on

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Penguins wrap-up; on special teams, advanced stats, trades & Sergei

The Red Wings' 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins may involve a score that flattered the defeated team, and when the Wings boarded a midnight flight back to Detroit, I have little doubt that the Wings did so with their figurative tails tucked between their legs.

The Wings got their asses kicked, and while the Wings sit only 2 points behind the Montreal Canadiens (with the same number of games played, 53) and 3 points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (with 3 games in hand), the Wings' schedule gets incredibly harder for the balance of the month--including Saturday and Monday's home games against the Winnipeg Jets and Canadiens, respectively, and then road games in Chicago, Dallas, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Nashville...

So the fact that the Wings blew their first "big test" game since they played Tampa Bay (and lost 5-1) has placed more than a sunflower seed's worth of doubt in the minds of Wings fans who fear that Detroit's 9 wins over the past 11 games are more a result of capitalizing on weak competition and an "easy" schedule as opposed to signs that the Big Red Machine is slowly reassembling itself.

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Niyo: Red Wings, Johan Franzen in concussion-related holding pattern

I've had three severe concussions in my life, and the most recent one was bad enough that, even as someone who's got health insurance again--and has been told by my doctor to get healthy, dammit--I'm afraid that if I buy a bike, I'll fall and scramble the rest of the egg (even if I'm wearing a helmet), that if I buy a pair of skates, I'll take a header, or if I play a contact sport, I'll end up with Eric Lindros noodle brain.

You and I have both been worried about the status of Johan Franzen, or more realistically speaking, the total lack thereof, since he suffered a concussion of some sort on January 6th against Edmonton, and so the Detroit News's John Niyo asked Ken Holland about #93's murky future. According to Niyo and Holland, the team can only "wait, see and hope":

"He's got a wife, he's got kids, he's got a life to lead," Holland said. "So he needs to get better. He needs to get healthy."

And then he can worry about the rest — the practicing, the playing, maybe even the playoffs.

Holland, meanwhile, says he won't bother worrying about the fiscal concerns associated with one of his veteran players' uncertain future. He'll deal with the salary-cap maneuvering when the time comes, possibly in a few weeks at the trade deadline, if necessary. But he won't address the issues that could come along if Franzen can't return — retirement, recapture fees and the rest — until all this plays out. Franzen, 35, hasn't played — hasn't skated, actually — in more than a month, and there is no timetable yet for when he will, or when he might, as he follows the day-to-day recovery protocol after another concussion.

"Right now, he obviously doesn't feel good enough," Holland said Tuesday, before the Red Wings boarded a flight for Pittsburgh without Franzen. "So he's not here."

Niyo continues, telling us that 1. Franzen's updating trainer Piet Van Zant and his teammates, and 2. Franzen's working with a physician from the University of Michigan (I'm guessing it's the same specialist the Wings referred Tyler Bertuzzi to about a year ago at this time), and as for the whole concept of placing Franzen on a retirement-based Long-Term Injured Reserve Exemption?

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Prospect news: Bertuzzi registers 3 points for Guelph; on Paterson’s trade to Kitchener

Several Red Wings prospects engaged in games on Wednesday, and one feature story involved a prospect who was recently traded, so here goes:

In the SHL, Mattias Backman played 18:30 and took 2 shots, but finished at -2, in Linkopings HC's 3-2 loss to Farjestads BK;

In the KHL, again, Alexander Kadeikin is injured, but SKA St. Petersburg continues its playoff-bound trajectory, defeating Dynamo Riga 3-1;

In the OHL, Tyler Bertuzzi scored 2 goals, registered an assist and finished at +3 in the Guelph Storm's 6-3 win over Erie;

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Quick take, Red Wings vs. Penguins: Wings need to learn from an old-fashioned ass-kicking

These are the games that make us all worry. The Detroit Red Wings' 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins could very well simply be "one of those games," a tilt where the Wings' quality of competition (or lack thereof) and sporadic schedule were going to catch up with a team that had won 9 of 10 games...

But we've watched the Wings lay eggs against their toughest opponents all season long, and after losing to Tampa Bay (at least the Wings still have 3 games in hand on the Bolts) and Pittsburgh, with games against Montreal, Chicago, Anaheim, LA, San Jose and Nashville all on the February schedule, this one is cause for "Rut roh, Raggy, were the Wings just feasting on 'lesser lights' for the last 10 games?" questions among the fan base.

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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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