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Peter Karmanos On The Passing Of Mike Ilitch

RALEIGH, NC - Peter Karmanos, Chief Executive Officer, Owner and Governor of the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes, today issued the following statement on the passing of Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch.

"Mike Ilitch and I shared a love for the sport of hockey and for the city of Detroit," said Karmanos. "Though we were rivals on the ice when it came to Little Caesars versus Compuware and the Red Wings against the Hurricanes, I have great respect for what he accomplished as a businessman and owner. My deepest condolences to his family and the Detroit Red Wings."

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Detroit’s Young Defensemen In The Spotlight

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

With the Red Wings fighting desperately to reach the playoffs for a 26th straight season - the odds against them with a 22-22-10 record - the three young D-men will be seeing extra duty at the most crucial point of the season.

That will create extra pressure on all three beginning tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are fourth in the NHL's overall standings with a 34-14-5 record.

"It's always there in the back of your mind but mentally I try to stay focused on the game at hand and all we know is winning, beating Columbus, is going to help us in our playoff position and losing is going to hurt us," Jensen said.

"So all we can focus on is playing Columbus. You don't want to look too far ahead because if you do you're going to lose focus on the game at hand."...

Sproul, who possess a big shot from the blue line, hopes to add some much-needed offense with Ericsson on the sidelines.

"It's unfortunate obviously when a guy goes out with an injury like that, especially he who is obviously a big part of the D corps," Sproul said. "It's definitely an opportunity for us and I think we got to step in and make sure we make the most of it....

With a plus-5 rating in 38 games, Ouellet is one of six Red Wings in the black. (Jensen, at plus-4, is the only other defenseman who isn't a minus.)

"I got to be at my best every night, that's what's going to keep me in the lineup," Ouellet said. "I feel like I had a sequence where I was doing really, really good, I was at a really high level and then maybe slowed down a little bit. I guess that's what it is.


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The overnight report: Red Wings-Blue Jackets set-up—both teams expect a battle

The Detroit Red Wings will battle the Columbus Blue Jackets in a late-afternoon/early evening tilt (5 PM EST on FSD/FS Ohio/97.1 FM), and neither team will be in a particularly good mood heading into today's game.

Columbus is coming off a 3-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, and while the Blue Jackets were quite happy with the way the (stick) breaks went during their 3-2 OT win over the Wings on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets have suddenly lost 3 of their past 4 games, and they're going to want to take out their frustrations on the Wings.

It's uncertain whether Niklas Kronwall or Xavier Ouellet will get back into the Red Wings' lineup as Friday's practice in Columbus was an optional one, but the Red Wings are an increasingly desperate team coming off a pair of losses to Columbus and then Washington, and Petr Mrazek is likely to start the front half of a set of back-to-back games (with the Wings playing in Minnesota on Sunday at 12:30 PM EST).

The Blue Jackets were mostly happy campers on Friday as they practiced at Columbus' Winter Park on Friday, skating outdoors in a lighthearted affair, as ColumbusBlueJackets.com's Alison Lukan noted:

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Prospect news: Griffins lose to Iowa; Walleye lose to Brampton; Pope scores 2 goals

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the Iowa Wild 2-2 in the 3rd period, but Iowa pulled away, eventually defeating the Griffins 4-2. The Griffins' website posted a recap:

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Steve Yzerman on Mike Ilitch’s passing

Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith spoke with Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman regarding the passing of Mike Ilitch:

"Both Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch, as well as their entire family, have had an immeasurable impact on not only my career, but my life," Yzerman said in a statement. "Going back to the age of 18 when I arrived in Detroit, the guidance, generosity, concern and love Mr, Ilitch had always shown me and my family are things I will forever be grateful for.

“I was extremely fortunate to have played my entire career for a man who's love of hockey and burning desire to win were the catalysts which drove the Detroit Red Wings to four Stanley Cup Championships after purchasing the team in 1982.

“Mr. Ilitch has left an incredible legacy in baseball, hockey and Metropolitan Detroit. He will forever be
remembered for all the ways he enriched our lives.  Mike Ilitch will live on vividly in my mind and heart forever.”

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Surveying the media’s coverage of Mike Ilitch’s passing

The sporting world's reaction to the passing of Mike Ilitch at 87 years of age has been exactly as wide-ranging and heartfelt as you'd expect, and there's so much information--even from a Red Wings perspective--that I can only realistically offer a survey of the commentary on a source-by-source basis.


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More from Ken Holland on Mike Ilitch

From the Free Press's George Sipple:

“His vision was to turn the Detroit Red Wings into a Stanley Cup championship-contending team and a Stanley Cup champion team and certainly all that happened,” Holland said. “But it really started in the early ‘80s when Mr. Ilitch bought the Red Wings and hired Jim Devellano and we won the Cup in 1997. It’s a real sad day for our team, for our organization, for our city. We lost an incredibly passionate man, a fierce competitor. Someone who was really, really committed to this city and to our team.”

Holland said Ilitch wasn’t at games that often this season, but he spoke to him two or three weeks ago.

Holland said he’d often go up to the owner’s suite about 20 minutes before games at Joe Louis Arena to give Ilitch an update on the state of the team.

“He wanted the Red Wings to do well,” Holland said. " ‘What can we do to make them better?’ He was a fierce competitor, an incredible owner. I think he’s the greatest owner of his era. One of the great owners in the history of the National Hockey League. Under his watch, four Stanley Cup champions. To where it was when he bought the team to where it is today, the buzz in downtown Detroit and the brand new arena. That’s all Mr. Ilitch.”


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Commissioner Bettman weighs in on Mike Ilitch’s passing

From the NHL:


NEW YORK (FEBRUARY 10, 2017) – Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League, tonight released the following statement regarding the passing of Mike Ilitch, the Detroit Red Wings’ owner since 1982:

"With the passing of Mike Ilitch, the Red Wings have lost the consummate owner, the National Hockey League has lost a cherished friend and passionate builder, Detroit sports has lost a legend and the city of Detroit has lost not only a devoted native son but a visionary and driving force in the rebirth of downtown," Commissioner Bettman said.

"Mike’s commitment to excellence and to winning were unparalleled and his commitment to the community was unrivaled – as was his boundless support of youth hockey. He was a prolific philanthropist, and, above all, a devoted partner and husband to his wife of 62 years, Marian. At this moment of heartbreaking sorrow, we send deepest condolences to the entire Ilitch family and to all who were privileged to know him, play for him or work for him."

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Jimmy D on Mike Ilitch

The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Jimmy Devellano regarding Mike Ilitch's legacy as the owner of the Detroit Red Wings:

The Ilitches long had loved hockey - their sons played it - and they sponsored youth hockey in the Detroit area starting in 1968 with the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey Program. Buying the Wings was realizing a dream.

Devellano, now a senior vice-president with the organization, was hired as general manager by the Ilitches. He recalls having lunch with them on July 12, 1982, when Marian Ilitch wondered how many season ticket holders the team had. "The answer was 2100," Devellano said.

That soon changed.

"Mike Ilitch was all in, to put it mildly," Devellano said.

Within two years, the Wings were back in the playoffs. They missed again in 1986, but in 1987, Joe Louis Arena throbbed with fans as the Wings advanced three rounds before losing to the Edmonton Oilers in the conference finals. A decade later, the Wings won back-to-back Stanley Cups, and Ilitch's reputation as a generous owner became legendary.

"You presented players to him, and whether it was Dominik Hasek or Brett Hulll or Luc Robitaille, or re-signing Nicklas Lidstrom or Sergei Fedorov, he was willing," Devellano said. "When we brought in Scotty Bowman, the good coaches were making $300,000. Scotty made a million with us. That was all Mike. No general manager can do that a without approval of ownership.

St. James continues...

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Attention to detail separated Ilitch franchises

My mom and aunt gasped when I told them that Mike Ilitch had passed away at 87 years of age, and that appears to be the default reaction to his passing, even given that the Red Wings and Tigers owner was in poor health for the better part of a decade.

I know that the day-to-day business operations of the Red Wings, Tigers and Ilitch Holdings have been in the hands of Chris Ilitch for the better part of a decade as well, and the family stated a long time ago that it planned on keeping the sports and business franchises in the family (as Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea noted), so there are no concerns as to the well-being of two of the city's sports franchises...

The thing that always amazed me about Mike Ilitch's sports operations, however, was something a little simpler than Mr. Ilitch's personal involvement in his sports franchises, and perhaps a little more subtle:

Red Wings players have always been able to walk out to their cars in the players' parking lot knowing that they would be left running on cold nights, so that the cars were warmed up for them, and they've always gone to the rink knowing that they'd be going home with full tanks of gas. I know those are trivial details, but to me, nothing emphasizes the "family" aspect of a sports business more than the assurance that you won't be going out into a 10-degree night with a cold car waiting for you.

Mr. Ilitch built a sports and entertainment empire that will out-live most of us, never mind Mike Ilitch and Gordie Howe, but it's attention to detail that separates the great from the legendary, and Mr. Ilitch ran his franchises with immaculate attention to detail.

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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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