The Malik Report
I spoke to several Red Wings prospects at the conclusion of this afternoon’s on-ice session at the Red Wings’ summer development camp, and while I’ll be writing up my observations from said sessions shortly, here are the interviews a little bit early:
Via RedWingsFeed, Ken Holland mentioned this yesterday during the Doan talk and it was mentioned again during the overnight report, but I suppose it’s owed first billing. Holland was asked whether the Red Wings are no longer at the top of free agents’ lists given that Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signed elsewhere, and he “defended Hockeytown” as follows while speaking to MLive’s Phillip Zaroo:
“I don’t,” Holland said, when asked if he thought perception of the team has changed, “because I field calls. We might not always be No. 1, but we are one of two teams that Ryan Suter met with.”
Even if the Red Wings could have matched the Wild’s offers, it wasn’t something they would’ve necessarily done because such sizable deals handcuff an organization for future moves.
“Once you make those types of decisions you’re out of the game for a decade,” he said. “We’re not going to have major announcements this year, next year and the year after. The league doesn’t work like that. I’m confident that at some point in time, and it might be next year, that the history, the tradition, the commitment of our ownership and the passion of the Red Wing fans is going to all add up to us bringing a player of significance here.”
But it’s not for a lack of trying on the Wings’ part. Hell, even as the Chief pointed out, I can tell you for a fact that when Holland was up here at the summer development camp, he was working his Blackberry on an incredibly regular basis, as were Jim Nill, Ryan Martin and even Mike Babcock. It’s not as if the Wings have just thrown up their hands and bought into the underwhelming, “We like the team that we have” line that Holland is selling the digital sound recorder-wielding types (for this week, that means, “Like me”). No, the Wings didn’t land the big fish, and no, the Wings may not end up adding much more than a veteran defenseman and/or a goal-scoring winger before the season begins, but my goodness, it is not for a lack of trying, and it’s not as if Holland’s phone never rang, either—there was a good 50-50 split when it came to initiating or responding to inquiries.
As the Red Wings’ summer development campers slowly but surely find themselves headed toward the end of their time here in Traverse City, the coaches planned on winding things down ever-so-subtly today, but they didn’t account for a giant wrench being thrown into the proceedings: Brendan Smith told me that the bus that was supposed to take the prospects from their resort hotel to the rink was over 40 minutes late, and as the Wings’ brass stay at the Grand Traverse Resort, it took ten calls before Smith got a hold of Jiri Fischer and managed to inform the coaches and management that the players would be late.
Hockey players are inevitably creatures of habit, and when a slate of workouts or on-ice activities start an hour later—and the coaches inform the players that their break between an 8:30-10:30 session starting at 9 and ending at 11 will be truncated so that the 2:30-4:30 sessions remain on track—gents who are such creatures of habit that they’re very specifically bused back to their hotels so they can catch 30 or 45 minutes of sleep were very “off” early this morning, and I think this afternoon’s going to be that much tougher for them…
It’s been a strange morning at the Red Wings’ summer development camp. The players’ bus didn’t come to their hotel on time, so the on and off-ice activities didn’t begin until almost 9 instead of 8:20, but the team won’t have a short break in between the morning’s workouts and skill drills and the afternoon’s sessions, which will further throw off players’ schedules because so many are accustomed to mid-day naps.
So this news post more or less plays off the Zamboni scrape entry and generally involves more minor tidbits than not:
After signing Nathan Paetsch and Triston Grant to AHL-only deals to bolster the Grand Rapids Griffins’ veteran presence, the Red Wings have chosen to give a second NCAA try-out a chance to earn a contract with the big club in the same manner that Luke Glendening hopes to achieve. The Wings inked another graduating team captain—Ferris State Univeristy defenseman Chad Billins—to an AHL deal this morning:
The Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday signed defenseman Chad Billins to a one-year contract.
Billins signed an amateur tryout with Grand Rapids on April 12 but did not see game action with the club. The Marysville, Mich., native served as a co-captain for the Ferris State Bulldogs’ run to the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four, where they were defeated in the championship game by Boston College. In 149 games over four seasons with Ferris State, Billins tallied 67 points (17-50—67) and 108 penalty minutes, including 29 points (7-22—29) in 43 games in 2011-12.
In terms of at least maintaining some sort of semi-professional level of composure, he most difficult task I’ve faced while covering the Red Wings’ summer development camp involves fighting the almost involuntary urge to yell, “Get a defenseman! Get a scorer! For Gord’s sake, do something!” when I find myself within close physical proximity of members of the Red Wings’ front office.
I’m as much a passionate Red Wings fan as any of you are, and while I understand the Wings’ rationale in “waiting out” what is an incredibly stagnant free agent marketplace—generally speaking, a lack of movement in terms of player signings seems to indicate that in addition to being picked over, this summer’s thin crop of free agents’ representatives are still asking for top-dollar compensation for their somewhat middling clientele, and given the Wings’ lack of depth on the blueline, I’d imagine that the Wings have very little leverage with which to suggest that someone like Pavel Kubina or Carlo Colaiacovo shouldn’t be earning $4 million or more dollars simply because they can skate in a straight line…
The Red Wings’ prospects who took part in the afternoon version of today’s skill development and team drills at the Wings’ summer development camp were a wee bit more chipper than those who had to try to sleep off adrenaline after a rousing Tuesday night scrimmage, but the turnaround from heading back to their hotel at 10 PM and trying to get some shut-eye in before their 6:50 AM wake-up call was tough for them…
And it was tough for me, at least in the sleep deprivation category. Running on about two to two-and-a-half hours of sleep, I managed to get through the day via a two-liter of Diet Mountain Dew and remembering that I needed to snag that afternoon interviews necessary to make this trip worth your while…
Updated 3x at 10:49 PM: Some might think that the Red Wings’ announcement that they’ll hold two Alumni games with the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival to be as bright as what Jordin Tootoo did for charity recently, but I tend to think that the decision makes sense on several fronts:
1. First and foremost, the Wings and Leafs alumni associations are two of the biggest and most wide-reaching in terms of their membership;
2. The Red Wings very specifically have several players in their front office who could still play, and more than a few of the alums from the 97, 98, 02 and 08 Cup teams will want to reprise their roles, and the mid-to-late-90’s Leafs weren’t half bad, either;
3. Alumni tend to come out of the woodwork for games like these;
MLive’s Phillip Zaroo spoke to Red Wings GM Ken Holland about a certain Shane Doan and the fact that, well, his agent claims that Doan’s interested in playing for every team in the frickin’ universe, and that his “deadline” for actually considering free agent offers keeps on getting pushed back and pushed back.
Given the silly level of sales pitching going on, the Wings won’t fly to recruit Doan; if Doan wants to come to Detroit, the Wings will listen, but they’re not going to get worked up about it:
“I think Shane Doan has to make a decision, obviously, if he wants to leave Phoenix,” Holland said. “The media likes to create a lot of stories, but at the end of the day, a player has to make a personal decision that fits their wants and needs.”
Though Doan’s agent Terry Bross has been vocal with seemingly every reporter who’ll listen, he hasn’t said much of substance. So Holland will wait until Doan’s situation comes into focus a bit more before he starts counting his chickens.
“If and when he decides that he wants to leave Phoenix,” he said of the 35-year-old, “I think he’s a player that all 30 teams in the league would love to have.”
And, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James sensibly put it:
Even awesome jobs can be very difficult, and sometime after I penned my mid-day update from the Red Wings’ summer development camp, the effects of a) having missed all the juicy tidbits that Ken Holland revealed after the Winter Classic Alumni Game presser and b) more importantly, running on two-and-a-half hours of sleep were taking their toll. I was almost nodding off during the middle of the Wings prospects’ afternoon session, and I was all but ready to go back to the hotel and crash.
But after thinking about it, I knew that I’ve got a job to do, and that with Thursday and Friday remaining, my opportunities for interviews are dwindling, so I kinda owed it to the people who’ve paid my way to stick with it and worry about crashing when the day was done.
As such, below the jump cut you’ll find an eight-and-a-half interview with Wings assistant GM Jim Nill, who’s been maddening to try and pin down, Wings first round draft pick James De Haas, Brendan “Captain Fun” Smith, Riley Sheahan and Michael Babcock III:
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.