The Malik Report
Updated with Babcock in Buffalo news at 9:56 PM: I stared at this article for a long time and tried to figure out what a conversation between Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney (a former Red Wings assistant) and the Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones had anything to do with the Babcock sweepstakes--as opposed to simply suggesting that Mike Babcock might be a good fit in Edmonton--and this quote sort of jumped out at me. Renney suggests that Babcock isn't necessarily going to be a good fit just anywhere, and that there's a good reason for that:
“I think he’s in an envious position because he’s so successful. I think if he’s not the best coach in the world he’s in the top three or four guys for sure,” said Renney.
“The one thing is, the organization has to be ready for Mike and Mike has to be ready for it.
“Mike has been at one place a long time. And there’s a certain template there that has stood the test of time for a reason. Quite honestly, that’s with or without Mike. What Mike did was fit into it very, very well and place his own set of demands onto that whole program and make it as successful as it’s ever been.”
(i.e. the Red Wings' puck possession system of hockey and their post-lockout player development "program")
What does Renney think the odds might be of Babcock coming to Edmonton, especially now with the Oilers about to draft the next Wayne Gretzky in Connor McDavid?
“That’s a mitigating factor,” said Renney.
Jones continues, and again, I'm not sure that the story of how Tom Renney, former Hockey Canada CEO and now Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson and Babcock became associated with each other some eleven years ago is going to strike you as interesting, but it is intriguing to find someone suggest that Babcock isn't simply a miracle-worker.
And meanwhile, in the land of insanity...
I'm not going to make this BabcockWatch, but the Toronto Star's Bruce Arthur wrote a pretty dang good article describing the reasons he believes Babcock shouldn't go to Toronto, which he may or may not have visited yesterday, perhaps picking Buffalo, which he may or may not be visiting presently, or another locale:
[H]e shouldn’t come to Toronto. He might, one supposes — the Maple Leafs have permission to speak with Babcock, along with every relevant coach on their A-list, and the two sides reportedly spoke in Detroit Saturday. They will likely speak again. The Leafs could drive a dump truck full of money up to his house. Babcock’s craggy profile aside, he’s not made of stone.
But it would be crazy. Babcock’s stated list of priorities includes the voice he is given in the organization — not too much, but not too little — a chance to really win, and what his wife thinks. Add the salary, too. Maybe he can get the voice here, to a degree; the general manager title is vacant, and Babcock could be given input while Brendan Shanahan, and especially Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter and Brandon Pridham, do the majority of the work. His wife would probably enjoy the city, as long as she is not invested in sane and adequate public transit planning.
But the plan to win — yeah, there’s the problem. If Babcock wants to bite the bullet and work with a rebuilding team — which, since Detroit’s perennial playoff appearances haven’t sated him, is far short of automatic — then he could call Edmonton, or Buffalo, and work with either a generational player and some Hockey Canada confidantes, or with a young core filled with promise and GM Tim Murray, who helped get him to Anaheim. They’d need goalies, to start, and time.
No, the only thing the Leafs really have to sell, besides the forklifts loaded with money, is the challenge. Come on, Mike. You think you’re good? Nobody has been good with the Leafs, or good enough. If we build this thing the way we want to, it will offer the greatest reward of any job. Sure, our current players haven’t responded well to any coaches, but like you said of the Olympic team, anybody can be taught to check; you need scorers. Imagine if you turned Phil Kessel into Corey Perry. Imagine how good a coach you’d be considered then?
from Chuck Pleiness at the Oakland Press,
From the sounds of things, Mike Babcock will not be coming back to the Detroit Red Wings.
Although nothing is official and nothing will become official until around the end of May, the writing of his departure has been on the wall since last offseason.
The Wings offered Babcock a contract last June that he didn’t accept.
They came back with another offer in January, which is believed to be for four years and just over $3 million a season, but Babcock wanted to wait until the playoffs were over to discuss matters.
Then came Friday when general manager Ken Holland gave his coach for the past 10 seasons permission to begin talking to other teams about taking over for them behind the bench.
Babcock is trying to say all the right things.
I watched the Slovaks drop a 3-2 OT decision to Russia today, and I'm starting to wonder if Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco are plain old exhausted from the NHL season given their individual performances at the Worlds. Tatar continues to over-deke-and-dangle, commit turnovers and generally struggle to move the puck up ice without being his own worst enemy, and Jurco's been ineffectual at best as a 3rd-line center.
The Slovaks aren't exactly stacked, and the Russians put up stiff competition, but it was disappointing to watch Tatar semi-float and Jurco go at 80%, and at this point, the only way I can explain their performances is to suggest that a combination of physicla fatigue, mental fatigue and attempts to do far too much on their own yield the reasons why neither player's been a positive difference-maker for the Slovaks...
And instead, Tatar's ineffectual attempt to kind-of-sort-of check Vladimir Tarasenko before Tarasenko scored the game-winning goal was par for the course, with Tatar using one hand on his stick to sort of wave at Tarasenko as he slithered behind Tatar and fired a wicked wrister into the back of the net. Tatar got a late chance to un-tie the game late in the 3rd period, but it was a tight-in shot that he shanked. Tatar's admittedly not playing in a scoring role, but it's still disconcerting to see both the Tomases struggle to make a difference in prague.
Tatar took 2 shots and finished at -1 in 15:06 of ice time; Jurco didn't take a shot in 8:02.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman dedicated a significant portion of his "30 Thoughts" to Mike Babcock, and he handicapped some of the "contenders" for the coach's services--including the Red Wings:
THE TOP CONTENDERS: Detroit, Buffalo and Philadelphia
Until Saturday afternoon, I had Edmonton in this group. But they are making a pre-emptive strike (as mentioned, more on that to come.) For now, the Oilers are removed from this section.
There is a lot of skepticism from outside that Babcock will stay. You can certainly understand why, but it may come down to who decides to wait him out and who doesn’t. Ken Holland was travelling to the Czech Republic on Saturday, so he was unavailable to chat. The last Detroit offer was in January, and according to several sources, would have made Babcock the highest-paid coach in the NHL.
The Ilitch family — which threw $306M to Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez last season — is not afraid of wielding its financial might. Maybe they get outbid by someone else, but Babcock will be well-compensated if he stays.
Yes, a frustrated and disappointed Babcock wondered about the future of his franchise after the Game 7 loss to Tampa. But, when he looks around, will he see a more resourceful club than one that’s made the playoffs 25 years in a row?
Friedman continues at extended length, confirming that Jeff Blashill is the favorite to replace Babcock and discussing Babcock's other options...
Update: Who knows about this:
The Hockey News's Mark Malinowski spoke with Red Wings pro scout and alumnus Kirk Maltby in a "Getting to Know You" article, and this qualifies as a "fun read":
Favorite Uniforms: “Aw man, I like the Wing’s wheel. And I’m being a little bit biased of it. But I’d say the winged wheel is a great, great uniform. Looking back on the old ones, I loved those old Vancouver black and yellows with the V. I still think those are really cool when they do the throwbacks.”
Favorite Rinks To Play: “Well, I love all the rinks, every one is different. They’re all pretty new now. I love the Joe (Louis Arena). It’s going to be a sad day when that one goes. Chicago—as intimidating as it was to play there at times—I thought that was extremely cool how you’d have to go up and down the stairs at each period to go to the dressing room. I was very fortunate to get to play in the Gardens in Toronto and Boston and the Forum in Montreal, also. Growing up being a hockey fan and obviously a fan of the Original Six, I got to play in all those original ones. So that’s a great memory.”
This game is going to air on tape delay at 3 PM, but you'll have to deal with the "spoilers":
The Americans have 1 more game before the elimination rounds begin; they'll play Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Slovakia on Tuesday at 10:15 AM EDT.
Here's a highlight clip:
from USA Hockey,
U.S. Head Coach Todd Richards showed confidence in his young center as Larkin played 7:07 in the third period of a tight contest, more than any other U.S. forward....
Richards praised the rising young talent.
"I'm impressed by how he plays the game as a young player who is making great strides," Richards said. "For me as a coach, the more you watch him, the more you trust him. He's a great skater, has speed and is a committed two-way player, who plays a 200-foot game."...
"You've got to go hard in the dirty areas, the corners and in front of the net to win battles, and especially on faceoffs," Larkin said regarding keys to success at this level. "All these guys are men and it's been a good learning experience playing against them."
Larkin's teammate, Brock Nelson, said he has been impressed with the 18-year-old's skill set.
"He's a smart hockey player and he's got a lot of speed," said Nelson, a member of the New York Islanders, who leads Team USA in scoring. "He's a good skater with great hands. He's only been here a week and he's gotten better every game."
Although It is uncertain when Larkin will make his NHL debut, Richards is convinced that the future is bright.
Among the roundtables and insistences that a Red Wings-Mike Babcock divorce is inevitable, it was at least somewhat refreshing to know that Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman's report about Babcock came from the coach himself.
Now we're heading back to the wonderful, magical land of divining someone's actions by asking other people (among them, "experts" in the field, "league sources" and columnists), with the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch offering this about the six and possibly seven teams looking for a coach...
Coaching is kind of like a game of musical chairs in the NHL where a few guys seem to switch seats every so often.
“You have to think once the music stops Babcock and McLellan are going to be sitting in two of the seats. The rest are to be determined,” a league executive told the Postmedia Network.
What has to happen for those looking for work first is Babcock needs to decide what he’ll do, because he’s in unchartered territory for a coach by refusing to sign an extension before the season and many believe he wants to break the bank for his brethern and go to the highest bidder.
If that’s the case, then that’s fine, but many hope this doesn’t drag on for long because he’s holding up the rest of the marketplace. A team might not want to hire a certain coach if they’ve got a shot at getting Babcock, which means the rest of the league could be in one big holding pattern.
And this about Babcock himself ([sarcasm] and did you know that somebody named "Jeff Blashill" may replace Babcock? [/sarcasm])
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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.