The Malik Report
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings announced today that center Riley Sheahan has been signed to a two-year contract extension and defenseman Brian Lashoff has been signed to a one-year contract extension.
The Red Wings' organizational meetings were delayed to accommodate the Gordie Howe visitation and funeral, but now that we're shifting into the second half of June, it's time for the Wings' front office--the pro and amateur scouts, coaches, executives, prospect mentors, everybody--to meet over the next three or four days.
During the organizational meetings, the team will discuss its strategy for the upcoming draft, its free agency outlook in terms of both re-signing current personnel and prioritizing targets outside the organization, and it will evaluate possible trade situations as well.
As the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan notes, there's a bit of an elephant in the room for the Wings to discuss:
I hope this is the last bunch of Gordie Howe stories for the next little while. The last week has been hard on fans as well as hockey luminaries, and we all need to breathe a little bit.
1. The Wings did a fantastic job in capturing both Murray Howe's eulogy and the funeral in full:
The luminaries of the hockey world moved from Mr. Hockey's funeral to a reception in the owner's suite at Comerica Park, and at the reception, Marty Howe spoke with NHL.com's Dave Stubbs of his gratitude to the estimated 15,000 people who visited his father on Wednesday...
"It was 12 hours and 40 minutes," Howe said of the marathon visitation, thousands of fans streaming into the arena to pay their respects to arguably the greatest all-around player in hockey history. "I had to shut it off, at the end of the line, because we were going to be near 10 o'clock (13 hours from its start)."
This is so fresh to Marty Howe that in conversation he sometimes slipped from the past to the present tense while he spoke about his father.
"It just makes you proud to see the people coming and giving their respect to Gordie," he said. "He deserves it. He's a man of few words, but everything he says is good advice worth listening to. That's what we've learned. I've had no time to enjoy this tremendous outpouring of support. It has all happened so fast."
And the family's gratitude toward the Ilitches for ensuring that Mr. Hockey was remembered with so much dignity and class:
NHL.com's Dave Stubbs spoke with Bobby Orr regarding Mr. Hockey:
"I sit and look at Gordie's stats and I laugh," he said. "I actually giggle when I look at his stats. Twenty-two consecutive (NHL) seasons of 20 or more goals? That's outrageous. … His numbers are unbelievable, and he played in an era that was pretty tough."
Orr rolled his eyes and laughed as those words spilled from him.
"He was the guy, so you know they were going after him. You couldn't invent Gordie today. If he was playing with today's rules he might not be able to do anything at first. But he would adapt to the rules and guys wouldn't take liberties with him. The way he played, he'd do real well.
"But put all that aside. I obviously liked Gordie's hockey, but the man, well, he was one of the great individuals I ever met. When he was with my father he was so kind. I loved watching him tweak a kid's nose. I'd meet him at All-Star Games and I had him at Parry Sound for a benefit game years ago. He was just a gentleman. I never heard Gordie raise his voice.
"Watch him on the ice and then meet him off it, he was a different guy altogether. Gordie was a sweetheart off the ice. He was kind, and kind to everybody, whether it was a child or a grandmother. At All-Star Games he was the first one I'd want to bring to talk to my father and his friends."
Stubbs continues, and this is more than worth your time...
Updated 6x with video of the funeral service from the Red Wings @ 7:29 PM: From ESPN's Craig Custance...
On a gray, overcast day in Hockeytown, friends, family and hockey royalty gathered at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament for the funeral of Gordie Howe, who died Friday at the age of 88.
One by one they filed into the majestic church, including Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur, Scotty Bowman, Johnny Bower, Glen Sather and Chris Chelios along with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
A bus dropped off a large group of Detroit Red Wings, current and retired -- from 19-year-old Dylan Larkin to four-time Stanley Cup winner Darren McCarty.
Afterward, Mark Howe said the funeral provided the family with strength during a difficult several days following the death of his father.
"We know what an absolute treasure of a human being my father was," he said. "We're trying to celebrate his life. That's hard for me right now. He's a role model of everything I try to be as a human being. Unfortunately, I can't keep up with those standards, but I try. We're grateful to have so many wonderful years."
From the Associated Press:
The public is invited to attend a memorial Thursday for Ron Mason, the longtime Michigan State hockey coach.
There will be a public viewing at MSU’s Munn Ice Arena, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a memorial service.
Parking for the visitation and funeral service will be at Parking Ramp 5, which is behind the Communication Arts Building, with shuttle service to Munn Ice Arena. Shuttles to Munn will start at 10:30 a.m. and run until 4 p.m.
Mason died Monday at 76 years old.
Mason was hockey coach from 1979 to 2002, winning a national championship in 1986. He won 924 games over nearly 40 years at Michigan State, Bowling Green and Lake Superior State.
NHL.com's Pete Jensen penned a lengthy column discussing the "Fantasy Questions" facing NHL teams, and he reminds us that the decision regarding Pavel Datsyuk's future is nigh:
The Detroit Red Wings' outlook hinges on Pavel Datsyuk 's decision to either stay for the final season of his contract or retire from the NHL and head back to Russia. The Red Wings are on the hook for his salary whether he stays or goes, putting them in a predicament if they lose their longtime center. Datsyuk played more games this season (66) than he did in 2014-15 (63), yet finished with 16 fewer points. He had no points on 18 shots on goal in five playoff games.
It was an up-and-down year for Datsyuk and Red Wings that saw them extend their playoff streak to 25 straight seasons but exit quickly in the first round. Datsyuk's fantasy value would be lower than we've become accustomed to seeing if he stays in the NHL. If he leaves, the Red Wings likely would turn to their loaded prospect pool, which includes rising sophomore Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou or 2015 first-round pick Evgeny Svechnikov to fill the center void in their top six. Datsyuk's decision this month will have ramifications on Detroit's lineup entering free agency and training camp, so this situation is worth monitoring throughout the summer to see which of these high-upside forwards could be fantasy sleeper candidates.
I don't think that Svechnikov is ready to step into the NHL, but you never know.
Update: Sportsnet posted the entire eulogy:
The Free Press's Helene St. James, the Associated Press and Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples penned article about Murray Howe's wonderful eulogy to his father:
As he neared the end of his eulogy for Gordie Howe, son Murray Howe brought forth laughter.
Murray spoke for nearly a half-hour as he memorialized the Detroit Red Wings legend who was known simply as Mr. Hockey.
"I asked my dad a few years ago what he would like me to say at his funeral," Murray said during the service today at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit.
"He said, say this: 'Finally, the end of the third period.' Then he added, 'I hope there is a good hockey team in heaven.'
"Dad, all I can say is, once you join the team, they won't just be good, they will be great."
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.