The Malik Report
This is an interesting angle on a story that's become more than a little tired and old: the Toledo Blade's Derek Hackenberg believes that, should Mike Babcock move to greener pastures and Jeff Blashill graduate to the Detroit Red Wings, Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde would then be promoted from his ECHL post to helm the Grand Rapids Griffins:
If Mike Babcock departs after 10 seasons as coach of the Detroit Red Wings, Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill seems destined to get that job and Lalonde would be in line after one year in Toledo to jump to the American Hockey League as the Griffins’ coach.
“I honestly don’t think about it,” Lalonde said. “Jeff and I talk all the time and that’s pretty much the one thing we don’t talk about. You don’t look ahead. You focus on the task at hand and the things you can control. Do a good job and things take care of themselves.
“Sure, I have aspirations. Every move is an opportunity to better provide for my family, first and foremost. But, you know, I’ve been careful with jobs I’ve taken.
“Every time I’ve moved I’ve been comfortable that if I’m there for a long time I’ll be happy. And that’s certainly the case here in Toledo.”
Still, we have to assume Lalonde is on the rise in the Red Wings organization. How could it be any other way?
Dylan Larkin played a very limited role in the Americans' 3-0 win against the Czechs in the Gold Medal game, playing mostly 4th line minutes, looking steady but unspectacular playing alongside Matt Hendricks and Steve Moses (only playing 8:48)...
But Team USA really put on a clinic in scoring some predatory goals against Ondrej Pavelec at one end and receiving sterling goaltending from Connor Hellebuyck at the other end, and in between, the Americans' penalty-killing unit was spectacular, completely stifling 3 Czech PP's, including a double-minor, and just checking the hell out of the Jagrs, Plekanecs and Voraceks.
On the U.S. side, in addition to receiving great goaltending from Hellebuyck, Nick Bonino scored a goal and registered an assist, Charlie Coyle did the same, and Jack Eichel's pass to Trevor Lewis on the 2-0 goal was absolutely lovely.
So the "college kids" upset the hosts to earn bronze, and in terms of Larkin's performance:
Between TSN's interview with Mike Babcock and Ken Holland and the CBC's "Saturday Headlines," we have a pretty decent idea of what Mike Babcock is deciding between--most likely staying with the Wings or going to coach Toronto or Buffalo--though I believe we have to take the coach who says his "head is spinning" at his undecided word.
The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons posited several Red Wings-related observations in his Sunday notebook, and he believes that one of Babcock's utterances to Darren Dreger--the one suggesting that there is no better job than the one he has in Detroit, just different ones--tipped the coach's hand:
My read on Babcock: He looked around. He listened. He saw what was available. And he’ll return to Detroit because there’s no better place for him.
Simmons also wonders whether the Leafs-going-after-Jeff-Blashill talk is all it's cracked up to be:
The Leafs kicked tires on Paul MacLean and Pete DeBoer as interim coaches after firing Randy Carlyle. With Babcock’s free agency about to end and Todd McLellan on his way to Edmonton, do the Leafs turn back in that direction or does Blashill become their target?
If it wasn't Toronto, I wouldn't be worried at all about the Leafs going after a coach with so little NHL experience, but one never knows what the league's supposed flagship franchise (nice flag, eh?) might do.
The Free Press's Steve Schrader believes that Babcock sounds like a man who's played the field and found something better, much like Detroit sports' most recent high-profile defections:
Every once in a while, I find a colum that I stare at and stare at, trying to figure out what its message might be, and in the case of this missive from the Detroit News's mostly-retired Jerry Green, I believe his message, aside from telling "us bloggers" that we whipper-snappers are lazy, is that Gordie Howe deserves a bridge named after him as compared to Ted Williams' tunnel in Boston because Ted Williams was a dour grump:
Ted Williams and Gordie Howe played with exquisite skills before the beginning of my professional career in sports journalism.
And they waited around long enough so that I had the wonderful fortune to cover both for the Associated Press and then The Detroit News. Awe is the only word worthwhile to explain what it is like for a young sportswriter to sit down next to Williams or Howe and converse with them interview style.
The nouveau writers today – the bloggers who sit anchored in front of multiple TV sets, the ESPN dudes who invent clichés for our language, the Internet poseurs – they have no concept about old-fashioned digging and reporting.
Gordie Howe is pictured in Detroit in 2008.
In Boston, where I was schooled in journalism more than 60 years ago, there has long been a tunnel commemorating the name of Ted Williams. A tunnel seemed to be the perfect fit for Williams, too. He preferred to be silent and deep, except for the occasional display of bravado.
And now Gordie is destined to join Williams, commemorated for perpetuity with an artery for vehicular traffic.
They were the best of what they did in their eras, contemporaries with radically different personas.
Simmons continues, and he paints a touching picture of Gordie Howe, and a not-so-touching picture of Ted Williams...
The Toledo Walleye are in playoff trouble. They gave up 3 second-period goals en route to a 4-3 loss to the South Carolina Stingrays on Saturday, and the Walleye now trail their Eastern Conference Final 2 games to zip (with Martin Frk registering 1 assist in 2 games).
The Walleye's website posted a recap and highlight clip...
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman and Damien Cox discussed Mike Babcock's status at the beginning of their "Saturday headlines" feature, and according to Friedman, only the Maple Leafs and Sabres have asked for permission to speak to Babcock, and there's no indication that the number of teams might increase before Wednesday. Both Friedman and Cox suggested that, should Babcock remain in Detroit, the Leafs and others will seriously look at Jeff Blashill as a coaching candidate, as well as Sheldon Keefe from the Soo Greyhounds.
The gents discussed other toipcs, including GM searches and the fate of 2016 draft pick Auston Matthews, but the Babcock stuff's the most interesting to you and me:
Todd Richards had Team USA play a typical Blue Jackets game, trying to lurk in the weeds and milk a 1-0 win in the 3rd period...
And regrettably, in the 3rd period, a Dylan Larkin wide shot was picked up by Sergei Mozyakin, Mozyakin charged by Torey Krug, who did a fly-by, and Mozyakin skated in and fired a shot that was tipped by Matt Hendricks over his own goalie, Connor Hellebuyck, with only 12:43 remaining in regulation:
The Russians soon made it 2-0 via an Alex Ovechkin goal, Shipachyov made it 3-0 late, and Malkin scored an empty-netter to make it 4-0.
As a result, the young Americans will play the host Czechs for bronze on Sunday at 10:15 AM (probably on NBCSN and/or NBC Sports Live Extra), but there's no shame in losing to a stacked Russian team thanks to a few key mistakes, nor is there any shame in getting "Bobrovski'd," which Hellebuyck, Larkin and the Americans got on Saturday.
In terms of how Larkin looked in this game (he took 4 shots and finished at -1 in 15:22 of ice time), and how he's looked overall:
Tyler Bertuzzi has been absolutely dynamite for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL playoffs, and given that he's spent the last season being the Guelph Storm's go-to player (especially after Guelph traded Stephen Pierog) on offense, it's not surprising that he's picked up where he left off in an extremely competitive Major Junior league scoring-wise (he has 5 goals and 3 assists in 7 games playing on the Griffins' top line with Tomas Nosek and Kevin Porter or Andy Miele and Mark Zengerle), nor is it surprising that the net-front pest is driving opponents absolutely nuts.
What is surprising is the fact that Bertuzzi has been battling some sort of viral infection for the past month; he missed the first two games of the Griffins-Marlies series as a result, and as of last Saturday, he was still shaking off a "flu bug" that required Bertuzzi to, in his words, basically sleep between games and practices to play like any semblance of his usual self.
Play he did, and play well, he did, so the Free Press's Helene St. James checked in with Griffins coach Jeff Blashill regarding Bertuzzi's progress, and she received a glowing review:
Possibly the best overtime moment in recent Red Wings history (Igor Larionov's double OT winner exempted):
When someone mentions Matthew Wuest, the first thing I do is smile, because I know that, as is the case for many of us hockey internet pioneers, we didn't like each other.
Wuest and I were engaged in following the Red Wings on a near-professional level (he building a website, me sticking to hockey bulletin boards) long before most of you knew that there was a thriving Red Wings community online, and he was better at what he did than I was at what I do, a trained journalist to an English major, so he reached out to the Wings' scouts when he built RedWingsCentral in the very late 90's, and he built an amazing legacy.
I think that it's incredibly appropriate that the Wings chose to name the Prospect Tournament title after Wuest, who you know for Capgeek as well as RedWingsCentral, I'm pretty dang sure that his partner in coverage, Sarah Lindenau, ought to have the MVP trophy named after her mother, too, but that's a campaign for another day.
In any case, Wuest was the best at what he did because he wasn't afraid to ask, and Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin told the Free Press's Helene St. James that he learned of Wuest right away...
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.