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The Malik Report

Wallner reports from the Grand rapids Griffins’ locker room clean-out day

The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner attended the Grand Rapids Griffins' locker room clean-out day, and the Griffins' vets were in a contemplative mood given that those who return--if they return--know they'll have a new coach and possibly new teammates as a result of what's about to happen in Detroit:

"It's definitely mixed emotions because we're proud of what we accomplished this year but disappointed that we weren't able to accomplish more," said goalie Tom McCollum, an unrestricted free agent July 1. "At the same time, it's definitely a little sad because we can definitely sense that there are changes that are going to happen around here."

The Griffins had a week to digest a season that ended in the Western Conference finals against Utica. Blashill, along with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and assistant GM Ryan Martin, met with most players in 10-minute interviews. They did not speak to the media.

"With what's going on with Blash ... your staff changes, your personnel is going to change," said captain Jeff Hoggan. "In three years we won one (AHL championship) and easily could have won two more. We were that close. How do you maintain that? Guys get older, move on, so it's definitely an end of a good run and we'll see if we can maintain it."

Wallner continues, speaking with Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans regarding their desire to return as veteran leaders, and Wallner posted a short video of players' comments as well:

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An accidental coaching heads-up via RedWingsFeed

Just saying....RedWingsFeed caught the Wings' website posting a photo gallery and then taking it down very quickly:

The Wings committed the same post-a-photo-gallery-and-take-it-down boo boo before Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Nicklas Lidstrom retired, so it appears that Blashill will be introduced as the Wings' 27th head coach in team history sometime late tomorrow morning.

Also, from the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson:

Knoblauch coached the OHL's Erie Otters this past season....The Philadelphia Daily News's Frank Seravalli reported that the Flyers interviewed the 36-year-old as a possible AHL coach as well.

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Griffins announce dates of home opener, New Year’s Eve game, Winterfest game

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins will open the home portion of their 20th anniversary season on Friday, Oct. 16 at Van Andel Arena, one of six 2015-16 home dates that have been confirmed by the American Hockey League.

In addition to their home opener, the Griffins will host their 19th annual New Year’s Eve game on Thursday, Dec. 31, as well as a game on Saturday, Jan. 23 that will lead into the 2016 Great Skate Winterfest, one of the team’s annual fundraisers for the Griffins Youth Foundation. Additional home dates include three Saturday games on Jan. 9, Feb. 6 and Feb. 20.

Opponents and start times will be revealed later this summer, when the complete schedule for the AHL’s 80th season is released. It will mark Grand Rapids’ 15th year of AHL membership and 20th season overall, featuring a season-long celebration of two decades of Griffins Hockey.


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The overnight report: Blashill endorsements, Franzen’s ‘numbers’ and a complaint(?)

This is a strange morning in terms of what I have to present to you, so you're going to have to hang on for a short but wacky journey around the Red Wings news cycle:

First, the Bob Duff riffed off a two-day old article in the Windsor Star to set up what will be Jeff Blashill introduction week in an article penned for Hockeybuzz. In his latest offering, Duff offered a voice who very specifically had NHL experience and only NHL experience with Jeff Blashill during the 2011-12 season as an endorsement of the soon-to-be new coach's stewardship of the Wings' prospects--as well as the voice of someone who won both a Calder Cup and a playoff MVP trophy under Blashill in 2013:

“The American Hockey League is a great hockey league,” Detroit left-winger Justin Abdelkader said. “It’s a grind in the playoffs down there. I think the experience they’ve gotten down there, the job Jeff Blashill has done to prepare those guys for this stage has really shown.”

Those who’ve experienced lengthy tenures under both Blashill and his predecessor Mike Babcock see many common traits in the way the two men operate, another factor that should make the transition easier for the players.

“He’s really, really similar,” Detroit left-winger Tomas Tatar said. “He’s helping the team a lot. I think it’s a really similar school to what we’re doing here. It’s a similar system so guys are coming up here really ready. He’s a good talker. He can motivate the players. I feel like the system and how he’s willing to play with the players is really good. Players feel like they can talk to him. He’s somebody who they can trust and feel good.”

Duff continues, and sometimes we forget that the Wings' vets have seen enough of the prospects Blashill's produced to have a pretty good idea of the kind of coach they're going to be dealing with.

Turning the nail on its head, via RedWingsFeed, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned a "By the Numbers" summary of Johan Franzen's 2014-15 season that reminds us that, for better or worse, Johan Franzen has been a good player and good soldier for the Wings over the long haul:

Continue Reading »

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Yet another, ‘The Pistons might move back downtown!’ story that may or may not have basis in reality

It appears that Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores has gotten ahead of himself a little bit--or at least the Detroit News's Terry Foster has allowed Tom Gores' vision to get ahead of the realities of sports ownership.

Gores is supposedly going to embark upon a project called "Big Math" upon hiring a new vice president of Palace Sports & Entertainment, and its big, headline-steadling, show-stopping plan involves somehow exploring the possibility of moving the Pistons to Downtown Detroit, be it regardless of whether they play in the Wings' follow-on facility or whether, Foster surmises, Tom Gilbert might build some sort of basketball arena on that boondoggle that is the Wayne County Jail expansion.

Continue Reading »

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Devellano weighs in on the Wings’ 1997 Cup win in conversation with FSD’s Gave

Via RedWingsFeed, Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave "celebrated" the 18th anniversary of the Wings' 1997 Stanley Cup win by discussing the importance of said championship with Jimmy Devellano:

"Thinking back to that Cup, I remember distinctly what it meant to me: It was relief," said Jim Devellano, hired in 1982 as general manager and now the team's senior vice president.

When Devellano came to Detroit from the dynastic New York Islanders (he was assistant GM there for the first three of four straight Cup titles in the early 1980s) he sat down with new owners Mike and Marian Ilitch, who got right to the point.

"How long do you think it will take to win the Stanley Cup," they asked.

"What you really bought here was an expansion franchise," he told them. "It has to be totally rebuilt through the draft. It's going to take eight years, at least. That's how long it took us with the Islanders."

It would take his Wings longer than that, though to be fair in eight years they had built a franchise that would begin a playoff streak that continues today.

"We persevered," said Devellano, 72 and in his 33rd season with the club. "Eventually we were able to win it, and then win a few more."

Gave continues...

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St. James asks a pertinent question: What will the Red Wings’ systems look like under Blashill?

Title and content contradict in an article by the Free Press's Helene St. James, discussing the Wings' coaching machinations while suggesting that the Red Wings' system of play will experience changes under Jeff Blashill.

Toward the former point. St. James confirms that Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde is the leading candidate to replace Blashill in Grand Rapids, and that Tony Granato may be the lone holdover from Mike Babcock's staff...

With Blashill getting the Detroit job, the Griffins will be in need of a new bench boss. Wings management will hold job interviews this week, but the leading candidate is Derek Lalonde, who has been guiding Detroit's ECHL team, the Toledo Walleye. The ECHL is the tier below the AHL.

Blashill will be the Wings' first new head coach in 10 years. He could inherit an assistant coach in Tony Granato, who spent the past season assisting Babcock. Unlike Jim Hiller, who has followed Babcock to Toronto, Granato has an option (his) year left on his contract.

And while St. James focuses on the "how we got here" part of the story...

Securing Blashill within the organization provided the Wings with an easy transition plan in case Babcock left. Blashill has familiarity with the Wings veteran players from his one season in Detroit, and has coached the younger players during their tenure with Griffins.

It's not unreasonable to suggest that, even after accounting for the fact that the AHL's level of talent requires a simpler playing style, the Wings' puck possession blueprint under Jeff Blashill will look more ugent, more direct and involve more north-south play while emphasizing the speed game even more than Mike Babcock did.

Continue Reading »

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As the Wings celebrate the 18th anniversary of the 1997 Cup, Slava Kozlov’s retired at 43

When the Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup of the "post-expansion era," I was a 19-year-old college student majoring in Engineering with a thinning head of hair. Times have changed since then, but this memory is still seared in my mind--as is what transpired only 5 days after the Wings won...

And I'm absolutely astonished to read Slava Kozlov tell R-Sport that he's going to take a coaching position with Spartak Moscow of the KHL, ending his playing career at 43 years of age, some 18 years after the 1997 Cup. He's the last member of that team to retire, and the last of the Russian 5 to hang up their skates.

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Two Red Wings-related ‘thoughts’ from Friedman

Among Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman's "30 Thoughts"...

27. When Jeff Blashill is named Detroit’s coach sometime this week, it will be interesting to hear what he says when asked about Dylan Larkin’s NHL readiness. Blashill was complimentary of Larkin, who got key minutes and played well in the AHL’s Western Conference Final.

You know the Detroit way. They didn’t promise Larkin anything and he’s going to have to beat out multiple players to make the team. Larkin will be 19 in July. Riley Sheahan played one game as a 19-year-old in 2011-12, Tomas Tatar had nine in 2010-11, Jiri Hudler 12 in 2003-04. The last one to really play in Detroit was Jiri Fischer, with 52 games in 1999-00.

Larkin will be in the same situation Anthony Mantha was prior to his injury: if he can "steal" a top-six forward's job, he will play in the NHL; if he's not ready to play in a top-six role, there's no point in having Larkin on the fourth line to check or riding a bike in the locker room while he watches the game as a scratch.

28. The Red Wings probably took a run at Jeff Petry in free agency, but, with Niklas Kronwall at $4.75M, they weren’t going to the $5.5M the Canadiens offered. My guess is Petry knew the only places where there was more money weren’t as appealing as Montreal. The organization did a good job here, not only did Max Pacioretty, Carey Price and PK Subban make it clear that he was wanted, but, from the moment he was traded there, the team worked hard to make the Petrys comfortable. That made a difference, on and off the ice.

The Wings were probably willing to break the "Kronwall barrier," but $5 million for 4 or 5 years is one thing; $5.5 million for 6 for a second-pair defenseman is a little too rich for the Wings' blood.

I'm guessing that the Wings will both revisit the Phaneuf trade and find out what Mike Green's looking for during the wining-and-dining period, but with Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet ready for NHL duty and Jakub Kindl a possible Blashill reclamation project, the Wings don't have as much impetus to look outside the organization as they have during previous summers (with deeper free agent classes).

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Jeff Blashill’s Hockey History

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Jeff Blashill was young, had no NHL experience and was relatively unknown when the Detroit Red Wings hired him as an assistant coach in 2011.

Four years later, following three seasons as head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Blashill is poised to take over behind the bench of one of hockey's most storied franchises.

The Red Wings are expected to name the 41-year-old Southfield native their new head coach early this week.

Blashill will be the league's second-youngest coach, but he is well-prepared for this step, having learned from many respected hockey minds and having succeeded at every stop along the way in a journey that began 17 years ago as a graduate assistant coach at Ferris State.

Those who hired him, worked with him and helped cultivate his coaching ability believe he has what it takes to prosper at the highest level.


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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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