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Caples: The Eastside Elite Hockey League All-Star Game is sold out

If you aren't already aware of this Saturday's Eastide Elite Hockey League All-Star Game in Mount Clemens, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples spoke with Steven Oleksy regarding the event:

“It’s a little bit bittersweet,” said the Eastside Elite Hockey League founder, professional hockey player and Chesterfield native. “Obviously it’s great to have the guys and have everybody involved and so much going on, but in the other sense, I want to play well, too. It’s always hard for me to shut off the business side when I’m out there and just play. I’ve got a great staff, I’ve got a lot of people helping me with everything, so that will be good, and hopefully it will allow me to relax and have some fun and play some good hockey.”

The Eastside Elite league has been up and running for nine seasons now, but 2016 will mark the first time the prestigious summer league holds an all-star game. The inaugural Eastside Elite All-Star Game, with a puck drop scheduled for 5:30 p.m., will feature the top vote-getters from the 10 Eastside clubs, along with some special invitees. Former Orchard Lake St. Mary’s captain and Eastside alum Cooper Anstett, now a musician pursuing a career in Nashville, will be in town for a special concert after the game, as well. Proceeds from ticket sales ($10 per person, children under the age of 5 get in free) will benefit the Mount Clemens Hockey Club. MiHockey is sorry to let people know, however, that ticket sales have been put on hold due to capacity concerns for the Mount Clemens Ice Arena. Four hundred tickets have already been sold.

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‘Three Things’: On Howard, Vanek and a Ted Lindsay signing on Thursday

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James examines Jimmy Howard's pluses and minuses...

Looking back: Head coach Jeff Blashill started the season alternating between Howard and Petr Mrazek until Howard began to struggle in December. Howard’s woes dragged on as he saw sporadic backup duty, although his starts did also come during the second game of back-to-backs. When Mrazek went into a free-fall, Howard was able to play well enough that he took over as starter by season’s end. Howard started the first two games of the playoffs, then was pulled as part of the response to going down 2-0 in the series against Tampa Bay.

Looking ahead: Attempts to trade Howard, 32, were unsuccessful, as the few teams needing goaltending help found solutions elsewhere. If Howard is traded, the Wings would also need another veteran goalie, as there isn’t a goaltending prospect in the organization capable of jumping in. The Wings would need to acquire someone very trustworthy, because there is still uncertainty regarding whether Mrazek can handle a full NHL season. In sum, for the time being, it makes sense to hang onto Howard — he bailed them out this season when Mrazek stumbled, and the playoff losses had more to do with uninspired play from teammates than goaltending. Spending in the $10 million range on goaltending is costly, but doable. It’s always possible a team will suffer an injury once the season begins and a trade scenario materializes. If not, Howard can be exposed in the expansion draft next summer.

2. ESPN's Tal Pinchevsky penned a list of players who are already "playing for their next contract," and Thomas Vanek is among them...

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Brad Richards Ends His NHL Career After 15 Seasons

via a release from the NHLPA,

Brad Richards is announcing his retirement today from the National Hockey League (NHL), following a decorated career that spanned 15 seasons.

Richards played a total of 1,126 career NHL games with five different teams: Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. The talented and highly skilled forward notched 298 goals and 634 assists for 932 points over the course of his career. He also eclipsed the 100-point plateau in career playoff scoring, registering 105 points in 146 postseason games.

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A pair of Russian-language interviews with Pavel Datsyuk

Pavel Datsyuk gave a set of interviews to SKA St. Petersburg's website and Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov on his 38th birthday, and here are rough translations thereof:

1. Here's the SKA interview:

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Morning news: On power rankings, surveys and foreign-language interviews

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. According to SI's Allan Muir, the Red Wings appear to be a playoff "outlier" per a mid-summer set of power rankings:

17.Detroit Red Wings
last week: 14
record
: 41-30-11
GM Ken Holland has been busy this summer, replacing Pavel Datsyuk with Frans Neilsen and taking a flyer on Thomas Vanek, but he has yet to address the pressing need for more speed and mobility on the blue line. There's still time but, for now, the Wings look like outliers.

2. I'm not sure how to deal with this one. Per MLive's Brendan Savage, a Hockey News survey of 200 or so people ranked the Wings' front office 21st out of 30 in the NHL in terms of "fan base faith" in the organization, but I don't know whether 200 people is a representative sample.

If you ask 200 Wings fans to volunteer right now, you could find some very disparate opinions of the front office, and you'd be surprised how positive some of those opinions are (really);

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Report: Windsor and London, ON will bid for 2019 World Junior Championship

From the CBC News via Yahoo Sports:

Two southwestern Ontario cities are teaming up in a joint bid to host the world junior hockey championships in 2019.

London and Windsor are working together on a joint application for the popular tournament, according to a report presented at London's community and protective services committee Tuesday.

Committee members endorsed a plan that would see the $600,000 bid cost shared between the city and Tourism London.

Coun. MohamedSalih supported the plan.

"I'm not much of a hockey fan myself, but I think it's a great opportunity and I think many Londoners would appreciate this," he said during Tuesday's meeting.

Continued

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Discussing Brendan Smith’s pluses and minuses

The Free Press's Helene St. James examines Brendan Smith's pluses and minuses this morning:

Looking back: Smith lasted four games into the season before he was made a healthy scratch, but his banishment did not last long. He played all but one game between Nov. 20 and Feb. 23 before he again was benched, culminating in being scratched the last seven games of the regular season. He reappeared two games into the playoffs and backed up his insertion with a big hit minutes into Game 3, sending Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette flying. For a while, coach Jeff Blashill appeared to like the pairing of Smith with Mike Green. Smith saw some duty on the penalty kill, less on the power play and averaged 17:36 minutes per game, sixth among defensemen. He had 94 hits, 42 blocked shots and 35 giveaways.

Looking ahead: Smith, 27, brings the Wings grit and aggressiveness. He competes hard and is willing to go at it with an opposing player on behalf of a teammate. (Justin Abdelkader has this trait, too; likewise, newcomer Steve Ott.) Smith can cause heart palpitations with his sometimes reckless decision-making, and the quicker he smartens up in this area, the better. He’s an unrestricted free agent next summer, so the Wings need to decide this season whether Smith is part of their future.

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The ‘Larkin Hockey School’ is a family affair

Via RedWingsFeed, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples filed a report and photo gallery from the "Larkin Hockey School" in Waterford, MI:

The inaugural Larkin Hockey School kicked off this week in Waterford, Mich., with the four Larkin boys – Colin, Adam, Dylan and Ryan – bringing their hockey expertise back to their hometown rink.

And while the hockey camp logos may pay homage to the one Larkin family member who currently plays for the Detroit Red Wings, the camp is a group effort for the cousins – with Adam leading the way.

The second oldest of the Larkin boys – brother to youngest Ryan and cousin to Colin and Dylan – will start his third season with Yale’s hockey team this fall. When you attend an Ivy League school, you are required to be ‘the brains of the operation,’ apparently.

“That’s what they tell me, anyways,” Adam told MiHockey during a break in the action Tuesday morning. “I’m the one of the four Larkins that goes to Yale, so they tell me I have to do all the figuring things out and I’ve been working a lot with [Lakeland Hockey director Brad Martin], so it’s been good. Obviously everybody has something to contribute – all the counselors we’ve brought in but also my cousins and my brother. It’s good.

“I’d like to think of myself as the brains of the operation, but at the same time, it’s a group effort.”

Caples continues...

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Kulfan: Daniel Cleary still wants to play hockey

From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

Dan Cleary admits some of the days and nights were awfully difficult last season. Cleary hadn’t played minor-league hockey since 1999 before being waived and sent to Grand Rapids by the Red Wings before last season began.

The long bus rides, or returning from Grand Rapids after games, all left plenty of time to think.

“I’d be driving back and thinking to myself, ‘What in God’s green earth are you doing?’ ” Cleary said.

But know what? Cleary, 37, wouldn’t mind playing some more hockey, serving a similar role to that he had last season, and is leaning in that direction again.

Now it’s just a matter of some organization — maybe the Red Wings? — giving him that chance.

“I really enjoyed what I did last season, being in that role, helping the young kids grow into being future Red Wings,” Cleary said. “I’m training to do that (playing). It took me a few days (after being sent down), but after I settled into it, I really enjoyed the experience in Grand Rapids. It’s a great coaching staff, great group of guys, great training staff.

“It was a lot of fun, and I still want to play. The thing is, though, is can this body hold up over the course of a season? But I feel I can help mentor young players, and show them what it takes to play in the NHL.”

Continued

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A call for calm among the fan base

I've been looking to file away the Hokej.cz's report that former Wings prospect Richard Nedomlel has signed with Sparta Prague of the Czech Extraliga for the upcoming season, but I've found myself almost afraid to do so thanks to the state of the fan base.

Richard was never a top prospect, and while he battled a defensive personnel crunch in Grand Rapids, "Big Richard" never found a way to add an extra step to his skating or an extra gear to his game in terms of keeping up with the pace of play. These things happen--not everybody develops into an elite player, and sometimes guys end up "going home" after making earnest attempts to break through the North American pro leagues.

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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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