The Malik Report
Updated 15x at 5:23 PM:
Mike Babcock was emotional to the point of holding back tears during his farewell presser to the Detroit media on Friday. Some stories from the event are already popping up, so here they are, starting with WXYZ's quips and quotes...
"It gives me great pride for what we were able to accomplish in my 10 years here," said Babcock. "My decision was mine totally, it was about a new opportunity and a new challenge."
During the press conference, Babcock became emotional as he thanked the fans for their support.
"I've been here a long fricken time, they're probably getting tired of me," he joked.
"It's been real special to say the least," said Babcock, who fought back tears a few times at the start of the media scrum.
Babcock thanked everyone from Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch to general manager Ken Holland, to other executives, players, coaches and staffers for their support and friendship during his tenure in Detroit.
With his contract set to expire, Babcock on Wednesday agreed to become the Leafs' head coach, and he held his introductory news conference with his new team on Thursday in Toronto.
He said it was difficult to leave Detroit, but that he's eager to begin a new stage of his career.
"My decision was about a new opportunity and a new challenge," Babcock said.
And Michigan Hockey posted a 4-minute YouTube clip from the 12-minute presser:
In the, "I will get to this soon" category, several Wings fans have informed me that Christoffer Ehn has been transferred to Karlskoga IK of the Swedish Allsvenskan, and that Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson praised Hampus Melen in an interview with Visat Sport's Linus Hugosson. I'll get to both of these topics when I can as the Babcock stuff is taking precidence right now:
Andersson says that Axel Holmstrom needs another season in the SHL to round out his game...
Mike Babcock will appear at Joe Louis Arena this morning at 11 AM to speak with the Detroit media for one last time, and Sportsnet will air the presser live:
Updated at 1:42 PM: Earlier this morning, WDFN's Matt Shepard spoke with both Red Wings GM Ken Holland and defenseman Niklas Kronwall regarding Mike Babcock's departure, Jeff Blashill's probable status as the Wings' next head coach and where the Wings go from here:
Per the Associated Press, Slava Fetisov's becoming quite the curmudgeon:
Former Detroit Red Wings star Slava Fetisov has called for Russia to reintroduce Soviet-style restrictions to prevent promising young hockey players from moving to the NHL.
Fetisov, who is now a senator in Russia, tells Russia's R-Sport news agency that federal law should be used to stop Russian players from moving to North America before they turn 28.
The aim is to keep ''our most talented guys, the ones who the people come to see.''
Fetisov was one of the first players to benefit from the relaxation of Soviet-era rules which prevented any hockey players from leaving. He moved to the NHL in 1989 with the New Jersey Devils when he was 31, and went on to win two Stanley Cups with the Red Wings.
Among this morning's stories of pre-Mike-Babcock's-11-AM-presser-which-WJBK-WDIV-WXYZ-and-other-people-will-stream-live note:
We get to call the fact that Jeff Blashill is going to be the Wings' next coach the newest, "Worst-kept sports secret in town," but Ken Holland appears insistent upon not naming him as such until the Grand Rapids Griffins--who begin their 3rd-round playoff series against the Utica Comets on Sunday--have concluded their post-season activities.
"I really want to keep our focus on this playoff series versus Utica," Blashill texted The Detroit News on Thursday evening. "I look forward to speaking with Ken next week but right now my singular focus is game one Sunday."
As noted by Grand Rapids' WZZM 13, Blashill had to say something very similar to the media after Thursday's Griffins practice:
I'm getting more than a little tired of talking about Mike Babcock, but I'm sticking this story by the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson in TMR instead of Kukla's Korner because one very specific person spoke with Matheson regarding both Toronto and Detroit's likely wishes in the Babcock-to-Toronto scenario--William Scott Bowman, a senior advisor to hockey operations with the Chicago Blackhawks:
"I wasn’t surprised Mike left Detroit,” said Bowman, a former Red Wings head coach. “The offers were high in Buffalo (and Toronto). I don’t know if Detroit wanted to go that high."
"They knew it would be tough to keep him because it had gone on for so long,” Bowman said about the fact Babcock hadn’t signed an extension last summer or in January, when one was offered. There’s the lure of Toronto and Canada; it’s the biggest market, the wealthiest team.”
The Maple Leafs don’t have anywhere near the young talent Detroit had. There’s no Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg at centre, which makes a coach’s job easier than most.
“Detroit probably expected something to happen (with Babcock) because they retained Jeff Blashill,” Bowman said about the Red Wings’ farm team coach. “I think he’ll be the leading candidate to coach there now. They didn’t want to lose him last year and said they were counting on him (replacing Babcock) if he was willing to wait.”
The Red Wings gave Blashill a healthy salary to stay another year in the American Hockey League and know another team wouldn’t get permission to talk to him about an NHL job.
“With Toronto, there’s (team president Brendan) Shanahan there. They didn’t hire a high-profile general manager and I presume they won’t. So Mike will have a say (in personnel matters), maybe a big one in who to keep and who to trade,” Bowman said. “He had a pretty good say in Detroit, too, but when you have a pretty good manager like Kenny Holland, he’s making lots of moves you don’t know about. This is tough on Buffalo … there’s good (unemployed coaches) out there, but they didn’t get the lottery (No. 1 pick) and the poor guy going in now knows he’s second choice. Not that it matters, I guess, because they’ll be back coaching. It’s not (the Sabres’) fault, but it sort of looks bad on them.”
Red Wings GM Ken Holland made the sports talk radio rounds in a big way, discussing the end of his working relationship with Mike Babcock, the process by which Babcock chose to part ways with the Wings and possibly the future, suggesting that at least Jeff Blashill is a leading candidate to be the next coach--though no final decisions, "Will be made until after the Grand Rapids Griffins' season is finished," to use his words--and he appeared on both Winnipeg's TSN 1290's Hustler and Lawless show to discuss said topics...
And Holland appeared on The Fan 590's Prime Time Sports show for about 20 minutes, just after 6 PM EDT, also discussing said topics with Bob McCown.
Below, you will also find Babcock's interview with McCown from earlier in the day. Babcock insisted that Jeff Blashill will be the Wings' next coach (for what it's worth, TSN's Bob McKenzie also reported that Wings assistant coaches Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer will be leaving for Toronto).
Take this for what you will, from Sportsnet's Jeff Marek and Mike Babcock's chat with The Fan 590's Bob McCown:
Babcock was talking about personnel who left the Wings as proof of a quality program and he mentioned Blashill, "Who's gonna be the coach."
Nicklas Lidstrom actually did this a year ago, but it makes for interesting reading, per the Free Press's Steve Schrader:
It sounds like a plot on "The Big Bang Theory."
Two really smart science-type guys decided to study whether you can apply intelligence and learn to make up for physical limitations to excel in sports.
So Swedish researchers Jan Lennartsson and Carl Lindberg went to the man who seemed to be the smartest hockey player on the planet, former Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom.
Not that Lidstrom wasn't physically talented, but he always seemed to know what was going to happen before it did.
And it turned out he agreed with their theories, that he learned how to analyze situations and put himself in the best position to succeed, often not going by the book.
Lidstrom was so much help to the research, he was listed as a co-author on the paper that backed up the research, "Game Intelligence in Team Sports," published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
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.