The Malik Report
Joe Hicketts is currently a "Black Ace" for the Grand Rapids Griffins, and he spoke with the Victoria Times-Colonist's Mario Annicchiarico regarding his attempts to make a good impression on Todd Nelson and the Griffins' coaching staff as Hicketts prepares to turn pro next fall:
Victoria Royals captain Joe Hicketts received some advice from both head coach Dave Lowry and general manager Cam Hope in exit meetings before joining the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League for the remainder of the playoff season.
“They just said they figured I would be going and good luck with everything and go up there and make an impression,” Hicketts said shortly after arriving in Michigan on Sunday where the Griffins are leading the Milwaukee Admirals 2-0 in the best-of-five Central Division semifinals. Game 3 is set for tonight.
“I’m sure it’s the first step for a tryout for next year, so it’s going to be exciting. That’s the goal,” he said of playing in the minors. “As much as I love Victoria, it’s time to move my hockey career to the next level and the minor-pro league is probably best for that.
“I’m going to work hard this summer and give myself a real opportunity to do that. I’ve done a lot in the WHL and with two world juniors. I’ve got the experience and know what it takes to get to that next level. I’m looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.”
Hicketts, 19, will now try and compete with and against players, in some instances, almost twice his age. Longtime NHLer Daniel Cleary is on the Griffins’ roster.
“I get to experience the next level of hockey. I’m not sure if I’ll get in the lineup or not, but I’ll get to learn from the older players and see what pro hockey is about again,” he said. “Last year, I came in wide-eyed and didn’t know how to soak it all in. This year, I know what to expect a little more and I can try and make the most of it.”
WDFN's Matt Sheppard listened to Ken Holland's press conference yesterday, and unlike Jeff Seidel, Drew Sharp or John Niyo, Sheppard was particularly troubled about Holland's suggestion that "fans should expect less" from a Red Wings team that Holland suggested can no longer be considered as competing for the Stanley Cup:
Holland and his staff should know Red Wings fans aren't just discouraged with the early exits, but also that this team isn't even close to competing for a Stanley Cup.
The Wings have been bumped in round one three straight years and four of the last five. What is wrong with having higher expectations than that?
What's wrong with having higher expectations than playing promising young players more than eight minutes a night while your tired veterans are playing heavy minutes in the third?
What's wrong with wondering why you send down a big winger who seemed to make a difference on the power play, but bring up a journeyman center who plans on going back to his native land after the season any way?
What's wrong with wondering why you play a Swedish defenseman signed long term instead of a young edgy d-man?
Holland and Mark Howe think their model of winning is still the right way. It's not and they haven't adjusted quickly enough.
If they continue this route, they won't have to wonder why they don't have a job any more.
Nothing particularly surprising came out of the Red Wings' locker room clean-out day, but Jimmy Howard's comments regarding his status as being open to a trade did raise a few eyebrows. MLive's Brendan Savage took note of Howard's remarks:
"It's part of the business," Howard said Monday at Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings cleaned out their lockers after losing their first-round playoff series against Tampa Bay. "A lot of times, a lot of people go through it in this business. If that were to happen, it happens.
"It would be disappointing. I've met a lot of great people in this city, made a lot of great friends. That's the nature of this business. Sometimes you got to pack up and move on."
Howard was the Red Wings undisputed No. 1 goalie for six seasons until losing his job to Mrazek at the start of the 2015 playoffs.
Howard told Savage and the assembled media that he's not sure if he'd be willing to play a limited number of games as Petr Mrazek's back-up:
"That's something I'm going to have to think about and talk over with my family and people that are close to me," Howard said. "I really haven't given it all that much thought. It's only been several days. I haven't given it too much thought as to what's going to happen or what my future is. I'm just enjoying the last several days with my family so I haven't really given it much thought."
Would Howard request a trade?
"Like I said, we'll have to wait and see," he said. "See what happens."
Savage continues, also offering Ken Holland's take on the Mrazek-Howard tandem...
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Daniel Cleary regarding his leadership role on the team as the Griffins open the home portion of their first-round series against Milwaukee this evening, and as many reports have stated, Cleary's really "found a purpose" in Grand Rapids:
"I certainly readied myself for the playoffs, for sure," Cleary said. "I love this. We know all the clichés, but it is where reputations are built, where you create bonds when you win and we have a very good team."
The Griffins, who lead the Central Division semifinals 2-0 with a chance to eliminate the Milwaukee Admiral at 7 tonight at Van Andel Arena, play better with Cleary in the lineup. They are 29-7-1-0 when he plays.
"This is what he lives for along with all our veterans," said coach Todd Nelson. "It's good for our young guys to see it."
Cleary is part of a unique group on the Griffins. The team includes captain Jeff Hoggan and defenseman Nathan Paetsch, 10-plus year pros who play at a high level yet have accepted their futures do not include the NHL. Both were also part of the Griffins' Calder Cup championship run in 2013. The unselfishness gives Nelson a lot of leaders in the clubhouse."It's a balance in the regular season where you want to develop (young talent) but you also want to win," he said. "I don't care what anyone says, if you don't go through it and learn how to win at this level, it's going to be very tough in Detroit.
"For me, we have experience here and they are here to help the other guys with the ups and downs and they've been through it before. Let's face it, they (veterans) want to win, too, and that's what we're involved with now."
I'm a go-to-the-source person, so I'll suggest that, after a full day's worth of articles and commentary, you might want to simply sit down and watch the 54 minutes' worth of Ken Holland's rambling, sometimes confrontational press conference--if not 10 minutes' worth of Jeff Blashill speaking as defensively as a head coach who bowed out in the first round after making the playoffs on a tiebreaker should be speaking--before reading the inevitable "Spirit of the Thing" columns from three sports columnists.
The three columnists all believe that the Red Wings' "streak" isn't worth very much, and they offer three takes on what the Wings should do to bulid an eventually competitive team.
But first, if you haven't seen or listened...
If you're not familiar with Twitter, or dislike it because the inane thoughts of millions scroll by, well, every once in a while it gives and takes at the same time, in nearly profound terms:
Oh ha ha, playof hubris! Oh...oh...oh.
I've updated the "Locker Room Clean-Out Day" post 18 times now, and there's quite a bit of multimedia available there, but I think that Ken Holland's 53-minute press conference, posted by the Red Wings, merits its own topic. He gave quite the lecture as to his take of the state of the Red Wings and the state of the Red Wings among other NHL teams:
Via RedWingsFeed, Gustav Nyquist is the seventh Red Wing (Datsyuk, Marchenko, Jurco, Glendening, Larkin, Pulkkinen) to commit to play in the World Championship. Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom reports that Nyquist will play in St. Petersburg and Moscow next week. What follows is roughly translated:
Gustav Nyquist ready for the World Championship with the Tre Kronor
He's recognized as a good scorer and won a bronze medal with the Tre Kronor two years ago in Minsk. Now Gustav Nyquist, 26, will strengthen the Tre Kronor's World Championship team in Moscow next week.
"Hockey season ended much too late in Detroit, so I'm excited about getting to go play in the World Championship," says Nyquist.
If you missed it, during the Red Wings' locker room clean-out-day post, this was updated...
And this just came out:
Update: From the Free Press's Helene St. James:
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Red Wings prospect Evgeny Svechnikov regarding the possibility of turning pro with the Red Wings next season, as well as his impressions of the Grand Rapids Griffins thus far:
Svechnikov, a left winger, is one of the "Black Aces," players from juniors and invitees we are with the Griffins for the postseason. The group includes second choice (third round) defenseman Vili Saarijarvi and fellow defenseman Joe Hicketts, from the WHL's Victoria Royals who is expected to be with the Griffins next season.
The 6-foot-3, 305-pound 19-year-old, who played the past two season for Cape Breton in the QMJHL, admitted he was tired from traveling overseas before arriving late Sunday to join the team, but ready to learn.
"This is pro hockey and a lot of older guys and more experience," he said. "There are more details to learn, how they prepare and just learning a lot."
Even if he doesn't play, Svechnikov thinks he can contribute with hard practices.
"I think I can bring some power and play hard and, again, it's a lot of improving for me," he said. "I going to work on getting quicker and working in the corners and a lot to account for."
Wallner continues, discussing the possibility of Svechnikov playing with Griffins coach Todd Nelson, and Wallner posted a video of Svechnikov's comments as well:
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.