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On big Mike McKee

I was unable to speak to exactly one prospect that I wanted to speak with during the Red Wings' summer development camp, and the person was the most intriguing and puzzling prospect in the organization, the 6'5," 250-pound Mike McKee.

The Western Michigan University defenseman-turned-forward absolutely dances through the skill drills during the summer camp, but during scrimmages, he's invisible, and McKee's still playing limited minutes in a 4th line role with Andy Murray's Broncos. The Free Press's George Sipple spoke with Red Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin about McKee's potential:

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The 2002 Detroit Red Wings

from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,

They went a little nutty in the offseason

Detroit general manager Ken Holland had already been on the job for several seasons and two Stanley Cups (one as GM), so he wasn’t a guy who’d be afraid to come up with a strategy and execute it. In the case of the 2001 offseason, that strategy apparently involved watching a VHS tape of an All-Star Game from the early ’90s and screaming, “Get me all those guys.”

Holland got started in late June, trading Vyacheslav Kozlov and picks to the Buffalo Sabres for legendary goaltender Dominik Hasek. It was a lopsided trade in the Wings’ favor, driven more by the Sabres’ finances and Hasek’s desire to chase a Cup outside of Buffalo than by actual hockey concerns, and Holland took advantage. The acquisition paved the way for Osgood’s exit, as he was picked first overall by the Islanders in the waiver draft.

Days later, Detroit signed Luc Robitaille, who’d been part of the Kings team that had knocked the Wings out of the playoffs months earlier. They followed that up by signing Brett Hull in August, making them the first team in NHL history to have three 500-goal scorers on the roster at the same time. (The three were Hull, Robitaille, and Yzerman; Shanahan would make it four late in the season.)

When all was said and done, the 2002 Red Wings were very, very good. They were also old. Very, very old.

9 more points..

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According To You, Or At Least Some Of You, Dylan Larkin Is The Top Red Wings Prospect

from Brendan Savage of Mlive,

If one of the Detroit Red Wings prospects reaches the NHL this season, fans expect it to be Dylan Larkin.

That was to be expected given what the 2014 first-round pick has accomplished in the last year.

But what was a bit surprising is that Anthony Mantha, who just a year ago was being touted by many fans as somebody who was ready for the NHL, finished fourth in our poll asking which prospect will suit up for the Red Wings first.

How the mighty have fallen, eh?...

Of the 4,468 votes cast in our poll, Larkin received 2,275 – 50.9 percent – while Bertuzzi was second with 656 followed by Athanasiou (595) and Mantha (549).

more

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12 episodes, 85 minutes of Griffins ‘Between the Benches’ playoff chronicles

The Grand Rapids Griffins have wrapped up their "Between the Benches" chronicling of the team's march to the Western Conference Final, and the sum total of videos comes to 12 episodes and 85 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, with the series taking a little more importance given that the insights into the Griffins' locker room preparation and their coach's techniques now apply to the Detroit Red Wings:

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Equating praise with playing time?

The Free Press's Helene St. James offers the following regarding Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey and Jakub Kindl's likelihood of earning significant ice time on the Red Wings' third defensive pair:

Speaking earlier this month, Blashill sounded as if he would offer Smith a shot at power-play time, something Babcock didn’t do. Blashill’s assessment is based partly on having coached Smith in Grand Rapids.

“I think Brendan’s best offensive ability is roaming around below the tops of the circles,” Blashill said. “If he’s a weak-side guy on a power play, going to the net lots, he can retreat pucks because he’s quick and he’s strong and he’s competitive. He’s got good offensive instincts once he gets below tops of circles. I know at (the university of) Wisconsin he was on his off-side hitting one-timers.

“So those are all things we’ll explore as we go into camp, and I think the positive things for us is you’d rather have more guys that can do it than not enough, and we have more guys than we did.”

At 26, Smith has played 196 games in Detroit, being a full-timer since 2013. He showed off his offensive instincts best in 2013-14, when he had 19 points in 71 games. But he showed holes in his defensive game — dropping to a minus-7 defensive rating after his first five games.

His decision-making is a work in progress — he was benched three games after handling the puck while on Detroit’s bench — but he can skate and shoot. If he cuts down on risky plays, Smith might just find a backer in Blashill.

St. James continues...

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‘Roughly Translated’: Pavel Datsyuk talks about his hockey school in Kazan

I had a bad feeling that there was something in the foreign-language press that was going to occupy a good chunk of my free time tonight, and a snippet from Sovetsky Sport proved me right: Pavel Datsyuk engaged in a very lengthy interview with Kazan's Business Online's Ruslan Vasilyev and Marsele Magizov, and here's a very rough translation thereof:

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Grand Rapids Griffins retain Alden Hirschfeld, sign Dominic Zombo, Derek Docken

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:

GRIFFINS BRING BACK HIRSCHFELD, SIGN ZOMBO AND DOCKEN

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday re-signed forward Alden Hirschfeld to a one-year contract and also signed forward Dominic Zombo and defenseman Derek Docken to one-year contracts.

Hirschfeld, 27, spent a majority of the 2014-15 season with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, where he ranked sixth on the team in scoring with 44 points (11-33—44) in 58 games, along with 21 penalty minutes and a plus-15 rating. He also made seven appearances with Toledo during the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs, tallying one goal and four PIM while helping the Walleye advance to the Eastern Conference Finals versus the South Carolina Stingrays.

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Will 3-on-3 OT help the Wings escape ‘bubble team’ status?

ESPN's Craig Custance penned an Insider-only entry discussing five teams that should "dominate" 3-on-3 overtime, and he picked the Blackhawks, Penguins, Lightning, Kings and the Red Wings:

5. Detroit Red Wings, Shootout record: 4-10

The Red Wings are another team that has struggled in the shootout over the course of the last few seasons and it was their GM Ken Holland who led the campaign to minimize the shootout.

Now, with the addition of defenseman Mike Green, the Red Wings will be exceedingly dangerous in overtime and they have a coach in Jeff Blashill who is one of the few in the league with experience coaching 3-on-3 from his time in Grand Rapids.

The ideal split of talent in Detroit would be a top unit of Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Tatar and Mike Green. When Datsyuk and Tatar played together last season at even strength, they controlled 60.4 percent of the shot attempts. Put them with Green and it’ll be fun to watch. That would leave a second unit of Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist and Niklas Kronwall, not flashy but a solid group that should be better than most second units.

Let’s say Detroit wins half the shootout games it lost last season, putting them at 105 points -- no longer a playoff bubble team, but instead a team pushing for an Atlantic division title. That’s exactly the kind of impact this rule change could end up having on the standings.

Custance continues, discussing the other teams at significant length...

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Recommended reading

You might want to read this missive from Winging It in Motown's Kyle McIlmurray...It speaks to the way that many of us feel about our Detroit Red WIngs:

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‘Two Things’: On ESPN’s ‘Ultimate Franchise Rankings’ and (Tim) Blashill on (Jeff) Blashill

Updated 2x at 11:44 AM: You take what you can get in the middle of July, so:

1. ESPN is asking fans to weigh in regarding their favorite NHL teams for ESPN's annual "Ultimate Franchise Rankings," so this is your chance to discuss the Red Wings' pluses and minuses with an international audience likely to read your aggregate comments;

2. And Michigan's High School Sports Scene's John Raffel spoke with Big Rapids High School hockey coach Tim Blashill regarding his brother, Jeff, and Jeff's readiness to coach the Red Wings:

Prior to the announcement that Jeff would be the new coach, he played in a golf tournament fund-raiser for high school hockey boosters. “He had a really good time,” Tim said. “I know our parents and team appreciated him being there. It was fun, and he enjoyed it. My dad came down [from Sault Ste. Marie]. It was fun to get together.”

But Tim Blashill said his brother realizes the challenges that confront him as a coach in the NHL. “One of the best attributes for Jeff is he's always thinking ahead and trying to prepare himself, so there's a lot going through his mind,” Tim said. “The first step was to get the job officially, have the press conference and go from there. He's always thinking about the future. He's always thinking about the next step.”

Tim Blashill learned plenty from his brother as a coach. “No. 1, he's ultra-prepared. Whatever he's done coaching-wise, he's dialed in and ready to go. He knows well in advance what he wants to accomplish. He has a way of communicating that to his players. That's one thing his players like about him. He communicates that way. Players like the way he communicates.”

Raffel continues...

Update: Make it "Three Things": Tomas Nosek spoke to ISport's Martin Svec [edit: and the initial iterview comes from Dynamo Pardubice's website, in video form /end edit] and here's a very rough translation of what he had to say:

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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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