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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:

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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.

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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.

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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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St. James talks draft combine interviews with Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin

The NHL's draft combine is wrapping up today with fitness testing at Buffalo's Harborcenter, and the Free Press's Helene St. James asked Red Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin to discuss the prospect interview process as it pertains to finding the right "fit" between player and organization:

"Scouts have spent a year or more in most cases watching the players on the ice, speaking with coaches about the player, but you really have a small picture of what that person is like off the ice," assistant general manager Ryan Martin told the Free Press. "So this gives you a chance to sit down with them and ask questions about their background and family, and if there are any red flags, to confront the player on that and give him a chance to answer. Or if the scouts see deficiencies in the player, ask him how he plans to improve that area. The opportunity to see what makes them tick is a valuable part of the overall assessment."

Martin and general manager Ken Holland sat in on about half of the interviews this year, but principal duties are handled by team scouts, including Tyler Wright and Jeff Finley, with input from Kris Draper and Jiri Fischer. Interviews last 20-25 minutes.

"Usually we start out by having a player tell us about himself," Martin said. "That's easy for them to do. From there, we'll go into specifics, like if they had a bad tournament, or a really good tournament, we delve into that, ask them how they handled it. You interview 30 kids in a day, so you have to make it specific to the kid."

St. James continues, explaining how the interview process has evolved over the past half-decade...

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Morning news: On Blashill’s ‘trust factor,’ the salary cap, draft rankings and the Griffins’ ‘best’

On a morning that MLive's Brendan Savage simply asks whether Jeff Blashill is the best candidate for the Red Wings' coaching job, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff has penned an article pointing out that Blashill "has the trust" of his Griffins graduates:

“Blash has been huge,” Detroit forward Landon Ferraro said. “He’s taken me from a guy that had the tools to get here and get a chance to someone that’s actually got here.”

There are similarities to the way Blashill operates and the methods employed by Babcock during his decade in Detroit. When you talk to Blashill, you can even hear some of Babcock’s catchphrases in his analysis.

“They both are really good hockey minds and they care and they want to make sure they give their teams everything to succeed on the ice,” Ferraro said.


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Another year of Daniel Cleary?

I'm just going to leave this article from the St. John's Telegram's Robin Short here and try to not let my temper get the best of me:

Cleary’s 36 now, his best days a long ways off in the rearview mirror. He’s played over 1,000 NHL games, more than any other NHLer from this province, and he’s been beaten and broken up. He plays, for all intents and purposes, on one leg, thanks to a crippled knee.

But you know what? He still yearns to play, hoping there’s a spot somewhere in Detroit next season.

“Are you kidding me?” he asked rhetorically. “I live for it. You don’t play this long without loving the game. I love to practise, I love to skate, I love working out. I love everything there is about hockey.”

Cleary will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1, and plans to speak with Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland about Detroit’s plans soon.

Sources within the Red Wings’ organization suggest Holland and Detroit management are big on living up to their word, and there was some kind of agreement a couple of years ago between Cleary and the team that the Wings would take care of him after turning down a couple of big offers to remain in Detroit.

Short claims that part of the "promise" the Wings made to Cleary for turning down that purported 3-year deal with the Flyers involved one final contract year for the 2015-16 season....

As part of the deal, apparently, there was a handshake agreement on another contract for 2014-15, which they agreed on last July. And yet another for 2015-16. Supposedly. Maybe for a Detroit discount of $750,000 or so.

And that's just nuts. Cleary was a highly-paid healthy scratch for the vast majority of last season, and it's time for Landon Ferraro, Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco to play, not Daniel Cleary to get another year's worth of taking up a roster spot and taking time away from the faster legs.

Cleary can always, as Short suggests, join the front office in a Kris Draper-like "special assistant to the GM" role.

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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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