The Malik Report
The Free Press's Drew Sharp, Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave and a slew of other media types, myself included, were present for the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-1 loss to the Utica Comets on Thursday evening, as was a certain guest of the Red Wings named Sergei Fedorov.
I came to Grand Rapids to watch the prospects and to speak with hockey players, because there's nothing better than "working" games; people like Gave, Sharp, and those who attended Wednesday's Griffins practice (the Free Press's Jeff Seidel and Detroit News's Ted Kulfan) have made the trip to Western Michigan for more obvious reasons--like the fact that the Red Wings' next coach is most likely wrapping up his tenure with the Griffins (thus allowing reporters a pretty dang good "pre-scout" of a Babcock disciple), or the fact that Dylan Larkin (who gave a 5-minute post-game interview that had very little to do with his good performance and not-so-good 2 minor penalties during Thursday's game), is at least for the moment the next big thing among Red Wings prospects.
Sharp penned a story in which he made sure to ask both Jeff Hoggan and coach Blashill the "no comment" topic while noting that a 1-to-3-person press junket has become a 12-person melee...
Updated 2x at 10:07 AM: The Grand Rapids Griffins dropped a disappointing 4-1 decision to the Utica Comets on Thursday, and as a result, the Griffins trail the best-of-seven series 2 games to 1 going into Friday's Game 4 (7 PM EDT on The AHL Live/WOOD Radio).
Grand Rapids got more than enough shots on Jacob Markstrom--41 to be exact--but Grand Rapids didn't drive to the Comets' net with the kind of intensity or numbers of players stopping and staying in Markstrom's sightlines to do anything less than fall prey to Utica's patented counterattack-and-let-the-goalie-mop-up-single-shots game.
By the time the Griffins really ramped things up in the third period, they were already trailing a 3-0 game, and none of Jeff Blashill's resets of the Griffins' lines took hold. The Griffins also gave up the second of Sven Baertschi's three goals with Dylan Larkin in the penalty box for the second time, so it was not the most auspicious "in Michigan" debut for Larkin, though he did play well overall.
The Grand Rapids Griffins open a 3-game home-ice stretch when they host the Utica Comets this evening (7 PM EDT on the AHL Live/WOOD Radio), and this could be the "pivot" (if not pivotal) game of the series as Grand Rapids and Utica are tied 1-1 after 2 games, with the Griffins having been snuffed out by the Comets' tight-checking ways in Sunday's Game 1 and the Griffins solving the Comets and Jacob Markstrom in Game 2.
Tonight, the Griffins hope to employ home-ice advantage as two formerly unfamiliar-with-each-other teams continue to get to dislike each other.
I'm hoping to contribute to some sort of live blog, but the wireless service at Van Andel Arena is shaky, so contributions will be on a touch-and-go basis; thus far I've had good luck finding, ahem, creative ways to watch the game on OnHockey.tv and stream2watch dot com. The fact that tonight's game isn't facing NHL competition might make it easier to find online.
Among this afternoon's "set-up" articles ahead of Game 3 of the Grand Rapids Griffins-Utica Comets series (7 PM EDT on the AHL Live/WOOD Radio/alternate means):
The AHL posted a "morning skate" entry...
Via RedWingsFeed, Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland about the fact that the Wings pushed the Tampa Bay Lightning to 7 games, which seems improbable now that the Lightning are a win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final...
"That's sports," Holland said. "We thought we had the potential to make some noise in these playoffs, but in the end, we weren't good enough. We've got to find a way to get a little better."
"Getting a little better" depends largely upon Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Luke Glendening, Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith and Petr Mrazek's continued improvement and maturation, as well as bounce-back campaigns from Henrik Zetterberg, Jonathan Ericsson, and yes, even Jimmy Howard.
The offseason -- from the moment the Wings are eliminated through the rush of free agency that begins on July 1 -- is the busiest time of the year for Holland. And this year has been busier than usual as he tried in vain to negotiate a new contract with his coach. Mike Babcock left for Toronto, so Holland is occupied this week talking with Jeff Blashill, who's preoccupied himself trying to win a third playoff series this spring and get the Grand Rapids Griffins into the Calder Cup finals for the second time in three years.
Blashill is expected to be introduced as Detroit's next coach at the end of the Griffins' season.
In a few weeks, Holland will meet with his pro scouts to discuss potential free-agent targets in July. That will be followed by meetings with amateur scouts to prepare for the NHL Entry Draft in Florida.
The period between the draft on June 26th and July 5th-8th is when teams make the vast majority of their roster moves these days, trades included, so if the Wings are to move a Stephen Weiss or Jakub Kindl, that period of time is likely to result in any trades or free agent signings.
Holland also tells Gave that he's not expecting to make a gigantic splash in free agency; this summer's class is incredibly thin, and while the Wings will probably look at Mike Green, Jeff Petry and Christian Ehrhoff on the blueline, the cap rising by only $2 million + the team having to re-sign Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen, Landon Ferraro and possibly Joakim Andersson as restricted free agents = the Wings' cap space will disappear in a hurry. [Edit: That's not to say that they won't have any money to go after a free agent, but $5-7 million in free space if Weiss and Kindl return = one target, not two /end edit].
Instead, the Wings are likely (at least for the present moment) to lean on the players engaging in a "long playoff run" with the Grand Rapids Griffins:
I'm not fond of, "Hey, he's on vacation with his girlfriend!" articles in the Slovak media, but Sport.cas.sk's Marian Korbel's article about Tomas Jurco and his girlfriend's visit to Budapest also includes some roughly-translatable information about his back issues:
The talented forward is still not training for the new season, but he is getting his injured back from the World Championships in the Czech Republic healed. "I have a problem with discs, I'm going for rehabilitation. But slowly we'll start with lighter weights," said Tomas, whose contract ends this summer. "The team still has my rights [as a restricted free agent], so I expect that within a few weeks I'll sign a new one or two-year contract, which will be a one-way deal," added Jurco.
The Red Wings have a traveling interactive exhibit in which alumni sign autographs and the Wings bring out some memorabilia and interactive activities to enjoy at sporting or other events, and today, the Wings announced its summer schedule; as a result, the date of Ted Lindsay's Hockeyfest to benefit the Ted Lindsay foundation for Autism Awareness, which will take place on July 11th:
DETROIT RED WINGS EXPERIENCE ANNOUNCES SUMMER LINEUP
... DRW Experience to be On Site at the Belle Isle Grand Prix This Weekend …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings Experience, presented by Coke Zero, today announced its summer lineup schedule, starting this weekend with the Belle Isle Grand Prix on Friday, May 29 through Sunday, May 31 in Detroit.
The DRW Experience features interactive games designed to give Red Wings fans an opportunity to test their hockey skills. Red Wings alumni will also be on hand at select dates to sign autographs. Additionally, members of the Flagstar Bank Red Patrol will distribute various giveaway items to event attendees, and fans will have an opportunity to participate in enter-to-win raffles for a chance at Red Wings prizes and autographed memorabilia.
I'm in Griffins playoff mode, so this may not interest you as Red Wings-related news, but it's important to the Griffins:
The video quality from the Utica Comets isn't the best, but We All Bleed Redd caught the hit in which Utica Comets forward Brandon DeFazio injured Grand Rapids Griffins forward Tomas Nosek, who left Game 2 and will miss Games 3 and 4 of the Comets-Griffins series...
The Toledo Walleye fell short of their Kelly Cup dreams as their season ended on Wednesday night, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.
The Walleye dropped a 1-0, TRIPLE overtime decision to the South Carolina Stingrays in Game 7 of the ECHL's Eastern Conference Final--via a goal against that was offsides by five feet--but the fact that Toledo rallied from a 3-games-to-none deficit to force a 7th game is nothing less than a remarkable achievement.
Toledo played in its longest game ever, and after the game, the Walleye reflected upon its 105:35-long game and season, a year removed from finishing as the ECHL's worst team
The Walleye's website posted a recap:
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.