The Malik Report
Given what's about to come out of Pittsburgh, ESPN's Craig Custance's sound and even-handed Insider-only entry discussed in the mid-day report, and especially given what Mark Madden had to say this morning, these Tweets from Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika are now probably the most reasonable and logical assessments of Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's future that you're going to read until...Well, until Babcock either signs a contract extension over the next calendar year, or he doesn't:
To be clear: Mike Babcock has one year left on his contract, and there is zero reason to think he is going anywhere right now. (1)
Fact: The Red Wings will sit down with Babcock at some point in the near future to discuss an extension. (2)
Opinion: I think Babcock will play out the last season of his contract and assess his options this time next year. (3)
Opinion: Babcock likes Detroit. He works fine with Holland. But he knows he will have great options. Why not leave options open? (4)
Last point. Fact: You cannot trade an NHL coach. (5)
OK, one more. Opinion: If Babcock leaves next year, he's going to go a team he thinks can win the Stanley Cup. Doesn't need $ or rebuild.
No, I don't think Babcock will coach at Michigan -- and I'm a U-M alum. He's going to make more than $2M coaching a Cup contender.
Update: Here's the non-insider version of Custance's reasoned take:
As I write this, Team USA's tied 3-3 with Kazakhstan in the 3rd period, Penguins GM ray Shero's being fired (the next couple of months should involve even more Babcock-to-Pit rumors), Sweden will play Slovakia at 1:45 PM EDT, and both Game 5 of the Griffins-Stars series and the Val-d'Or Foreurs-London Knights game begin at 7PM EDT (on WOOD Radio and AHL Live for the Griffins, Sportsnet and the NHL Network for the Memorial Cup).
The Val-d'Or Foreurs' morning skate's over...
This is the only news from the Griffins' morning skate thus far (no updates regarding the statuses of Jurco, Tootoo or Ferraro)...
I'm no fan of the, "The grass has to be greener for Mike Babcock elsehwere, I mean, it's DETROIT" theory (see also: what every Michigander hears about the burned-out heart of their crappy state--it's downright meme-tastic), and I'm even less enthused about Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden's suggestion that the Penguins can "force" the Red Wings to surrender Mike Babcock to them, as he suggests in the Beaver County Times:
If Detroit won’t release Babcock, the Penguins should sign current assistant Jacques Martin to a one-year contract, thus making it clear that Babcock takes over in 2015-16. Babcock refuses to sign an extension with Detroit. He becomes a lame duck. Babcock has already said he’s in no hurry to do a new deal.
That paints Detroit into a corner. Babcock gets released.
It’s a dirty game. But the Penguins need to play it.
[sarcasm] Yes, because the Red Wings' ownership would totally be like, "Sure, why not, here you go, Pittsburgh." Because he's totally told the media, half a dozen times, that he likes it in Detroit, that he likes the ownership, the roster, the working conditions, the general manager, the region, and like the media keeps telling us, he is in fact lying through his teeth, pining to coach Dear Sid if that whole Toronto thing doesn't work out. Right. [/sarcasm]
I get that the Babcock rumors are going to come fast and furious until he either re-signs with the team or doesn't sign with the team over the next calendar year, but as I said in the overnight report, he's not some sort of magical coaching free agent (the ownership doesn't have to make him available to speak with anyone if they don't wish to do so), and both he and Ken Holland have stated that they plan on speaking with each other regarding an extension during the offseason.
Anyway, Madden continues...
If you're a Red Wings fan, this is a good weekend in terms of hockey entertainment. If Game 7 between the Ducks and Kings this evening (9 PM EDT on NBCSN), the start of the Rangers-Habs series on Saturday (1 PM on NBC and the CBC) or Game 1 of the Western Conference Final (Chicago vs. ???) on Sunday don't interest you...
1. The World Championships' Friday-and-weekend-games include Justin Abdelkader, Danny DeKeyser and Team USA playing Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan at 9:45 AM EDT (on NBCSN), as well as Tomas Tatar and Slovakia battling Sweden at 1:45 PM (via alternate means). Jakub Kindl's Czechs and Tatar's Slovaks also play on Saturday, and the Americans, Swedes and Czechs play games on Sunday, too.
The round robin portion of the tournament will wrap up on Tuesday, with the playoff rounds taking place from Wednesday the 21st until Sunday the 25th,
I don't mean to spear this to death, but I'm gonna give it a try:
My final take on the handshake line shenanigans is this: Milan Lucic is paid $6 million dollars a season to be a bully. He very, very evidently doesn't respect his opponents, and based upon the league's ridiculous, "Past precedent = you CAN spear that" logic, it's clear that the NHL tolerates his behavior.
Lucic will also receive over ten thousand dollars in playoff bonus money, and for all his efforts to bully, instigate, intimidate and cause bodily harm, he was given ONE task: to preserve the artiface of sportsmanship, by acting like an adult for all of 90 seconds.
Maybe it was the rink (the same one where Team USA played a trainwreck game against Latvia), or maybe it was the fact that Expressen's Mattias Ek reported that Jimmie Ericsson and Erik Gustafsson (Gustav Nyquist's roommate) battling fevers, but Sweden played just well enough to eke out a 2-1 victory over France on Thursday (Sweden's playing back-to-backs like Team USA, with a showdown with Tomas Tatar's Slovaks set for Friday)...
And Gustav Nyquist didn't look like himself. He played 15:44 and had 1 shot, but finished at -1 playing a line with Calle Jarnkrok--whose speed has turned into a lot of chasing after the puck and trailing the play instead of anticipating where the puck's going and getting to areas of the ice before the puck does (that, and he's still getting bumped off the puck pretty easily)--but Nyquist's own speed, poise, playmaking savvy and shot have been noticeably absent as he's posted a goal and an assist over the course of four games thus far.
If you read the surprisingly rambly overnight report (I didn't mean to bury Gregg Krupa's fantastic Mantha profile at the end, but the narrative unfolded that way), the London Knights may not have won the OHL championship (Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm did), and they may not have played for three weeks, but the Mastercard Memorial Cup's hosts certainly seem to believe that an exhausted Val-d'Or Foreurs team and Mr. Mantha will be easy pickings in Friday night's tournament-opener (on Sportsnet at 7 PM; Sportsnet's already geo-blocking their videos, so that's swell).
There's no doubt that Mantha and Val-d'Or--and Bertuzzi and Guelph--will be playing the best of Junior Hockey's best in each other and the Edmonton Oil Kings, as well as those stacked Knights. That means Mantha, Bertuzzi et. al. will have to battle through some incredibly heavy checking, but some of this bluster is...
Bluster, and the whole, "Mantha is a one-dimensional player, we can check him into submission" line's been the line about him since the get-go.
DeKeyser, Abdelkader take part in a trainwreck of a U.S. loss to Latvia; Americans look disorganized
Updated 2x with Abdelkader quotes at 1:34 PM: The Red Wings' first two participants in World Championship hockey today have wrapped up a game that was...Interesting. As in, "What the hell was that?"
The Americans basically have a bunch of recent college graduates and yet-to-"arrive"-in-the-NHL prospects, Justin Abdelkader wearing the "C" and Tim Thomas in the net, and in front of what really was a "home crowd" for Latvia, with the Russian refs seeming to have a quota (though they let the really gratuitous stuff go on both sides) and whistles raining down on both teams...
Tim Thomas played like he was defending Vladimir Putin, Danny DeKeyser did not have his best game on defense, and I'm wondering if the "fever" that Expressen's Mattias Ek reports has spread to Gustav Nyquist's roommate, Erik Gustavsson, and linemate, Jimmie Ericsson (Sweden will be undermanned when they play France at 1:45 PM EDT today) somehow spread to both the Americans and Latvians.
"Awww," warp factor ten. The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that Jordin Tootoo penned an even happier ending to the viral video which took the hockey world by storm(!) thanks to a kind gesture prior to the Griffins' 3-2 win last night:
Camden Smith, a 5-year-old from Lowell who got a dream gift from hockey veteran Jordin Tootoo last month, received a surprise follow-up.
Tootoo, a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins, met Smith before a playoff game on Wednesday, May 14, and signed a stick he gave the youth April 19 in a video captured by the AHL team that went viral with more than two million views.
Smith, unaware that his favorite player was coming, squealed “Tootoo!” as the forward arrived to the team’s locker room - just as he did when he first received the gift on April 19.
The first video went like this...
Tomas Jurco's absence didn't deter the Grand Rapids Griffins from defeating the Texas Stars on Wednesday, but that series does not resume until Friday evening. Anthony Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs won't open the Memorial Cup in London until Friday (on Sportsnet in Canada), either, and there are no NHL games today, so if you want to watch hockey, the World Championships are pretty much your only option.
As MLive's Ansar Khan notes, three Red Wings players will be taking part in the Worlds today, and two of three will appear on TV:
The U.S., with Red Wings Justin Abdelkader and Danny DeKeyser, meets Latvia Thursday at 9:45 a.m. The U.S. (2-1) is in a three-way tie for second place in Group B with six points, six behind Russia (4-0).
Sweden, with Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist, faces France Thursday at 1:45 p.m. The Swedes lead Group A with eight points.
The balance of this entry focuses upon one Anthony Mantha--if only eventually, after a lot of Memorial Cup scene-setting--but after he and Val-d'Or won the QMJHL title on Tuesday, even the Wings' website weighed in on Mantha's potential, let's allow said scene-setting to dial the superstar expectations down for just a moment here.
As far as the London Free Press's Ryan Pyette is concerned, this year's Memorial Cup field lacks any real star quality...
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.