The Malik Report
A few stories popped up this morning that didn't quite make the overnight report, but a sleepless blogger (stomach virus or getting adjusted to Belarus time ahead of the World Championships' start
tomorrow Friday, you pick one) found it rather intriguing that, while Mike Babcock both discussed his coaching future and the Red Wings' player personnel decisions to come, he's suggested that the Wings owe Jordin Tootoo the privilege of NHL employment.
Ahead of the Grand Rapids Griffins' second-round series against the Texas Stars, which begins with a pair of games in Austin, Texas on Thursday and Saturday, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with the Wings' resident good soldier (or as Capgeek calls him, the Wings' "Buried Player") about his season spent mostly riding buses.
Wallner reports that Tootoo's battling an, "Upper-body injury" (let's just say that by AHL standards, that's a transparent diagnosis), but Tootoo hopes to get back into the lineup to prove that he's still an NHL player that happened to be a salary cap casualty, and not the other way around:
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock wasn't able to enjoy certain sports radio talk show hosts' quests to engineer a divorce between coach and team; instead, the Jack Adams Award finalist was in Val-d'Or, Quebec, watching Anthonty Mantha score 2 goals and add an assist as his Val-d'Or Foreurs took a 2-1 lead in the QMJHL's championship series and conducting an English-language interview with RDS after the game.
Babcock expressed concern about Mantha's ability to transition from the pace of "kids' hockey" to the professional game, and he readily stated that he believes Mantha will start next season with the Grand Rapids Griffins...
But he also stated the obvious regarding Mantha's 6'5" frame, saying: "You know, we've never had anybody with that kind of size that scores like that, does that make his track quicker? I don't know the answer to that question. It's just a matter of time, so we'll see what happens."
In light of the fact that the Grand Rapids Griffins will kick off their second-round playoff series against the Texas Stars on Thursday, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke with Griffins coach Jeff Blashill about shepherding the next wave of Wings prospects and dealing with the parent club's call-ups:
Updated 5x at 12:51 AM: You can watch Mike Babcock speak with the French media regarding Anthony Mantha, for 3-and-a-half minutes, here.
When more's available, I'll post the highlights and news I can find, but for the present moment:
In the OHL, Tyler Bertuzzi scored the first of three Guelph Storm goals which rallied the team from three one-goal deficits en route to a 4-3 OT win over the North Bay Battalion, giving Guelph a 2 games-to-1 lead in the OHL's Robertson Cup final (Bertuzzi now has 9 goals, 6 assists and 15 points in 16 playoff games played);
And in the QMJHL, Anthony Mantha had an assist on the game-tying goal, scored the game-winning goal and then an insurance goal as the Val-d'Or Foreurs rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 5-2, giving Val-d'Or a 2-games-to-1 lead in the QMJHL's President's Cup final (Mantha, named the game's first star, has 20 goals, 10 assists and 30 points in 20 playoff games played).
The teams will battle each other in the 4th games of their respective series on Wednesday.
Prior to "Babcockgate," the Free Press's Helene St. James delivered a pair of scoops regarding the Wings' free agents-to-be and the state of Pavel Datsyuk's knee, and today, the rest of the beat writers caught up.
Regarding the latter matter before the former one, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan confirmed that Datsyuk probably won't need surgery to repair his wonky left knee...
After the Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk posited the suggestion that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock should be wooed by the Toronto Maple Leafs (because, magically, teams' ownership groups apparently let each other poach coaches and management)...
Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika reported that Babcock was headed to Quebec instead to scout Anthony Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs this evening, and the Wings beat writers' reaction stories to Babcock being named a Jack Adams Award finalist included oodles of praise for the coach's teaching abilities from none other than Gustav Nyquist.
This afternoon, something of a point-counterpoint set of commentary unfolded, with Babcock sounding every bit like a coach immersed in his current job while speaking with NHL Live for nearly eight minutes (via RedWingsFeed)...
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.
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