The Malik Report
Updated 7x at 12:09 PM: No surprise here: the NHL revealed its Jack Adams Award finalists, and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's name made the cut (as did Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper and Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy):
Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings
Babcock led the Red Wings (39-28-15, 93 points) to their 23rd consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff berth, the longest active streak in North American professional sports. Detroit overcame a franchise-record 421 man games lost due to injury, headlined by the 37-game absences of star forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. The Red Wings used 38 players during the regular season, including nine who made their NHL debuts -- the club's highest figures in both categories since 1990-91. Babcock is a Jack Adams finalist for the second time, having placed third in 2007-08.
The NHL Broadcasters' Association votes on the Jack Adams Award, and I've read that they had to submit their votes before the playoffs began.
I don't believe that Babcock will win given the hype surrounding Roy's work with the Avs, but it'll be interesting to see the Death Stare in Vegas.
Update: MLive's Ansar Khan had a Babcock-as-Adams-Finalist article ready to go...
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's highly likely to be named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year in an hour or two, but the Free Press's Helene St. James' reports about the Wings' free agents and the status of Pavel Datsyuk's knee should serve as the only other news tidbits of the day--barring any more flights of coaching whimsy, anyway...
But things are about to get busy all over again. Tonight, Anthony Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs and Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm will attempt to snap 1-1 deadlocks in the QMJHL and OHL's respective championship series;
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins flew to Texas ahead of the team's second-round playoff series against the Texas Stars, which begins in Austin this Thursday...
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock seems to have at least taken some amusement from the media's suggestions that his end-of-season comments about his contract status hinted that he "wants out," but Babcock--who will be named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year in a couple hours--generally reserves his meanest, zap-holes-through-you death stares for members of the media who attempt to put words in his mouth. He hates the practice with a passion.
You can hear the near-growl in Babcock's voice when he responds to a question with, "I didn't say that" or, "I never said that." Regrettably, the coach's repeated radio appearances stating that he's happy in Detroit, that he wants to remain with the Red Wings after his contract expires next summer, and that he feels his relationship with his general manager and ownership are productive two-way streets...
Have done absolutely nothing to quell the coaching rumor mill from turning. This morning, the Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk's declared that the, "Maple Leafs should go big with Babcock," suggesting the following...
Two scoops for the Free Press's Helene St. James over the course of one evening. First, an early-edition article allowed St. James to reveal that the Red Wings will only consider retaining the services of two of their unrestricted free agents-to-be--Jonas Gustavsson (maybe) and Daniel Alfredsson (ditto)...
And her article published in this morning's Free Press delivers good news regarding Pavel Datsyuk:
The summer of healing appears to be off to a good start for Pavel Datsyuk, who spent half the season plagued by inflammation in his left knee. “It looks like he’s not having surgery,” [Red Wings GM Ken] Holland said. “At the end of the year, he had no pain, he wasn’t playing on painkillers. He’s going to stay in touch with doctors, but I don’t think he’s going to have surgery.” Datsyuk said last week he had an MRI scheduled to determine if he’d need his knee surgically repaired.
This article looks like an "early edition" note--sans quotes--but the Hamilton Spectator posted a very important set of "exit meetings" updates from the Free Press's Helene St. James, who reports that the Red Wings have already made some final decisions regarding some of their unrestricted free agents-to-be:
Holland said Monday he has met with pending unrestricted free agents Todd Bertuzzi, David Legwand, Kyle Quincey and Jonas Gustavsson.
Holland said he told them he'll reach out to their agents later this month with final decisions, but simple math reveals, for example, Bertuzzi won't be back, because there isn't room on the National Hockey League team's roster for him. Ditto on Legwand, a trade-deadline acquisition, and Mikael Samuelsson. The Wings already have 11 forwards under contract for next season, with Tomas Jurco the only one eligible to be sent to the minors without waivers.
The Grand Rapids Griffins have posted a capsule preview of their second-round playoff series with the Texas Stars, and the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner discussed the parameters thereof (the series begins in Austin, Texas, with games on Thursday and Saturday) via a conversation with Griffins coach Jeff Blashill:
“Texas plays a lot more similar to us in that they take a lot of time and space away and are very aggressive,” Griffins coach Jeff Blashill said. “Wherein last series our break outs coming out of our end were executed one way, in this series we’re going to have to put a high emphasis on it because they’re going to put a lot of pressure on us. If we have to spend a lot of time in our end, it’ll be trouble for us.”
Wallner continues and reports that the Griffins will head to Texas tomorrow.
Quickie update: via RedWingsFeed, the Griffins posted a video in which Blashill discusses the series as well:
I guess it's speculation season, because I woke up to read the Tennessean's Josh Cooper wonder aloud whether the Nashville Predators should snag Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill, or his playoff opponent...
The Texas Stars, coached by Willie Desjardins, take on the Grand Rapids Griffins, coached by Jeff Blashill. Texas is the top affiliate of the Dallas Stars, Grand Rapids the top affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.
Last season – Blashill's first as head coach with the Griffins – Grand Rapids won the Calder Cup. It cemented the former Red Wings assistant as a potential NHL coach.
Considering how much the Predators admire the Red Wings organization and how it operates, Blashill could merit some attention from Nashville, which is entering the fourth week of its coaching search.
And the Free Press posted a USA Today story in which Kevin Allen suggests that the Wings' assistant general manager is among the NHL's best GM-to-be candidates:
The Red Wings' beat writers have completed their set of grades as the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness issued a more holistically-based set alongside those of MLive's Ansar Khan, the Free Press's Helene St. James and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, and again, I'm quite curious as to both what you think about said grades and whether you'd be receptive to some alternate set of assessments...
The Grand Rapids Griffins will head to the Lone Star State to battle the Texas Stars in the second round of the AHL playoffs this week--as the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner notes, the AHL employs a 2-3-and-2 series format, too, so it must be mentioned that "home ice advantage" is interpreted a little differently there--and the Detroit Free Press's George Sipple spoke with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill about managing his team's 6-day break between the series clincher over Abbotsford last Friday and this round's opening game on Thursday, May 8th:
“We took Saturday off and thought we’d practice today,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “If we play Texas, Tuesday is a travel day for us and not a practice day. We wanted to make sure we got three skates in before we played them.”
The Griffins will play the AHL regular-season champion Texas Stars in the best-of-seven conference semifinals, beginning with Games 1 and 2 on Thursday at Saturday at Cedar Park Center in suburban Austin, Texas. The series switches to Van Andel Arena for games May 13-14. The Griffins won three of the four meetings versus the Stars in the regular season.
Blahsiill tells Sipple that the Griffins' playoff scoring leader, Teemu Pulkkinen, still has some improving to do...
Per the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins will play the Texas Stars in the second round of the AHL playoffs...
And I know this because Griffins assistant equipment manager Andrew "Steggy" Stegehuis was checking his phone:
Update: The AHL just posted the Griffins-Stars series schedule...
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