The Malik Report
Updated 5x at 3:07, with some observations and pictures: Of playoff-related prospect note:
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Milwaukee Admirals 4-1 to sweep the teams' first-round series, taking the best-of-5 set in 3 games, and the game included two of the most bizarre goals that I've ever seen. Grand Rapids scored the game-tying and game-winning goals, by Brian Lashoff and Anthony Mantha, respectively, THROUGH the Admirals' net. Both goals had to be confirmed by video review:
The AHL's website has already posted a recap...
In a column discussing Tomas Tatar's possible use as a trade chip for the Red Wings, the Free Press's George Sipple reveals that Tatar may not be able to play in the World Championships for Slovakia due to a "chip on his shoulder":
Tatar is hoping to play for another team soon. He wants to play for Slovakia at the IIHF World Championship, which starts May 6 in Russia.
Holland said Tatar was dealing with a rotator cuff injury. Tatar wouldn’t specify what the injury was, but said he had to be cleared by team doctors in order to play.
“I had a little medical problem, so I have to do some stuff here,” Tatar said. “It kind of came from the regular season and it went all the way to the playoffs. I don’t really want to talk about it now till I will know 100% what it is.”
Evening news: Wings take in batting practice; Larkin’s optimism contrasts comments of Tatar, Nyquist
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
2. Dylan Larkin is headed to the World Championship because he wants to play more hockey, and during the Red Wings' locker room clean-out day, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa noted that Larkin was one of the few Wings expressing enthusiasm and a little bit of defensive "pluck" about his team's need for change:
AWood40 gives us something to enjoy on this "off night" in the NHL--12 minutes of Dylan Larkin's 2015-16 season goals:
from Tom Awad of Hockey Prospectus/ESPN,
While Datsyuk was at his peak, the Red Wings were unstoppable. From 2005-06 to 2008-09, the Red Wings had both Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in their primes, and Lidstrom who, at ages 35 to 39, was still arguably the best defenseman in the NHL. During those four seasons, the Wings averaged 116 points in the standings, finishing 1st, 2nd, 1st and 3rd overall in the league, respectively.
In retrospect, it's surprising that they didn't win more than one Stanley Cup during those years. Datsyuk had already won the Stanley Cup during his rookie season with the juggernaut Wings of 2002, but he was only a third-line player, forming the "Two Kids and an Old Goat" line with Boyd Devereaux and Brett Hull. However, he was the driving force behind the post-lockout Wings. During their championship run in 2008, they looked unstoppable, losing only six games on their way to the Cup. They came within one goal of winning a second back-to-back Cup in 2009, losing Game 7 to the Penguins, 2-1....
The 21st century Wings won't be remembered as a playoff dynasty, but they may yet turn out to be the last truly dominant team the NHL ever sees, as the salary cap continues to drive parity across the league. And Datsyuk will be remembered as the Russian magician who helped make it all possible. There is no doubt that, in a few years, he should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
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Via RedWingsFeed, Kyle Quincey finds himself in a different spot and different role than Darren Helm, today's other UFA-to-be whose situation was examined by the local media, and Quincey told DetroitRedWings.com's BIll Roose that he's not necessarily looking forward to waiting to find out whether he remains a Red Wing:
“A lot of people don’t know that side of the job,” Qunicey said. “Packing up a house and not knowing where you’re gonna be. You’ve got family that need to know where they’re gonna be, and when you have no answers for them it’s kind of the (dirty) part of the job I guess.”
Quincey, who was a fourth-round pick by the Red Wings in 2003, found a niche during his second tour with the franchise. More than a year and a half ago former coach Mike Babcock paired him on the right side with Danny DeKeyser. It was only then that Quincey began to feel comfortable in his reunited role with the team.
“Babs tried to put a few guys with (DeKeyser) on the right side for the first week or two and it didn’t work out,” Quincey recalled. “Then he came to me and he goes, ‘Can you play the right side?’ which he’s never let me play – ever. And I never looked back. I haven’t played on the left side since. I can obviously play both sides comfortably and it was a challenge that I ran with and kind of really take a lot of pride in. Danny’s a great player, so it’s very easy to play with him for sure.”
“A veteran in Colorado told me ‘we’re in the business of winning,’ ” he said. “Teams that win stay together. If Kenny offers me something I’d love to come back. We love it here. But if not, July 1, and just see what happens.”
Roose continues, giving Blashill's take on the state of the defense.
Here is the Grand Rapids Griffins' Game-Day Preview video, hosted by Bob Kaser, and featuring assistant coach Mike Knuble and defenseman Nick Jensen:
And among the AHL's "Morning Skate" notes:
MLive's Ansar Khan duly notes that Darren Helm sounded very "iffy" about returning to the Red Wings without significant clarification as to his role with the team:
"I love it here. I love the city. I love the fans, the people," Helm said. "We've made a lot of really good friends that would definitely be really hard to move away from. A lot of people have helped me outside the team to keep me on track with my health and those are tough guys to find as well."
The Red Wings like the speedy Helm's versatility – his ability to play on a top-six scoring line or a bottom-six checking unit. He has played the wing the past couple of seasons but not too long ago was labeled the best third-line center in the NHL by former coach Mike Babcock. He kills penalties and can play a net-front role on the power play.
"I need to talk to (coach Jeff Blashill) and Kenny and see where everything is headed and where I see myself fitting into this organization or where they see me fitting into this organization, then I'll have to make some tough decisions," Helm said.
He said it's tough moving around from line to line depending on what role needs to be filled.
"Winning is a big part of it," Helm said. "I really don't mind playing on the bottom lines as long as there's that respect factor. You get opportunities in different situations. If it looks like that's the case that I'll get to play in those, then I'll be happy. If they tell me right away that's not going to happen then I may not want to stay."
Khan continues, noting that Ken Holland certainly sounds like he wants to re-sign Helm.
Update: DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji has more on Holland's perspective:
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. Mickey Redmond spoke with WDIV's Jamie Edmonds after the Wings' playoff ouster, offering seven minutes' worth of opinions as to how the Red Wings might improve their blueline (via trade), the team's need to add size to the mix, possibly at the expense of one of Nyquist or Tatar, his take on Pavel Datsyuk's situation (farewell and thank you), and he addresses the youth movement in positive terms;
2. Regarding Datsyuk, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned an overnight column discussing Datsyuk's locker room clean-out day comments, and Krupa noted that Datsyuk's teammates are following Jeff Blashill's, "Pavel's going to do what Pavel's going to do" line:
“He’s going to do what he wants to do,” Gustav Nyquist said. “He’s been a great player with this organization for a long time and he’s still one of the best players in the league. It’s been great having him here as a teammate and I learned a lot from him.
“But whatever he wants to do, he’ll do what’s best for him and his family. We’d love to have him back but it’s up to him.”
Justin Abdelkader, who earned Datsyuk’s respect for his work habits as a linemate, said, “It’s his decision to make. He’ll do what’s in his heart. All we can do is just thank him for what he’s done for this organization.”
3. And let's address the elefant i plats (elephant in the room, in Swedish, I think): The Fan 590's Greg Brady spoke with WDFN's Matt Sheppard this morning, and at the 10-minute mark, Brady and Sheppard address the "Swedish Mafia" issue.
Here's my blunt take: I don't disagree with the person who's encouraged me to commit suicide as part of his scorched-earth sports mentality. I don't believe Brady's suggestion that Zetterberg and Kronwall may have influenced the personnel decisions to ensure that Swedes were playing.
Joe Hicketts is currently a "Black Ace" for the Grand Rapids Griffins, and he spoke with the Victoria Times-Colonist's Mario Annicchiarico regarding his attempts to make a good impression on Todd Nelson and the Griffins' coaching staff as Hicketts prepares to turn pro next fall:
Victoria Royals captain Joe Hicketts received some advice from both head coach Dave Lowry and general manager Cam Hope in exit meetings before joining the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League for the remainder of the playoff season.
“They just said they figured I would be going and good luck with everything and go up there and make an impression,” Hicketts said shortly after arriving in Michigan on Sunday where the Griffins are leading the Milwaukee Admirals 2-0 in the best-of-five Central Division semifinals. Game 3 is set for tonight.
“I’m sure it’s the first step for a tryout for next year, so it’s going to be exciting. That’s the goal,” he said of playing in the minors. “As much as I love Victoria, it’s time to move my hockey career to the next level and the minor-pro league is probably best for that.
“I’m going to work hard this summer and give myself a real opportunity to do that. I’ve done a lot in the WHL and with two world juniors. I’ve got the experience and know what it takes to get to that next level. I’m looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.”
Hicketts, 19, will now try and compete with and against players, in some instances, almost twice his age. Longtime NHLer Daniel Cleary is on the Griffins’ roster.
“I get to experience the next level of hockey. I’m not sure if I’ll get in the lineup or not, but I’ll get to learn from the older players and see what pro hockey is about again,” he said. “Last year, I came in wide-eyed and didn’t know how to soak it all in. This year, I know what to expect a little more and I can try and make the most of it.”
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.