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The Malik Report

Grand Rapids Griffins playoff tickets go on sale Friday

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:

GRIFFINS PLAYOFF TICKETS ON SALE FRIDAY

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Tickets for the Grand Rapids Griffins’ first two home games during the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs will go on sale to the public this Friday, April 14 at 10 a.m.

Following Grand Rapids’ 2-1 shootout victory against Charlotte last night, the Griffins have secured home-ice advantage for the first round. Grand Rapids’ opponent and dates for the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals will be announced no later than Saturday night, when the Griffins complete the regular season with a trip to Milwaukee. Game time is 7 p.m. EDT.

Grand Rapids and Chicago are currently tied atop the division in points (96), but the Wolves have one game in hand.

The Griffins host Charlotte in their final home game of the regular season on Friday at 7 p.m.

Single-game playoff tickets will be available at all Star Tickets locations, including The Zone, online through http://griffinshockey.com/tickets by ph,one through Star Tickets at (800) 585-3737, or via the Griffins app for iPhone or Android.

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Olympia CEO Tom Wilson’s letter to Red Wings fans

From the Detroit Red Wings:

Dear Red Wings Fans,

Thank you for being an integral part of the historic 2016-17 Farewell Season at The Joe.

We affectionately said goodbye to Joe Louis Arena with Stanley Cup championship celebrations, special alumni reunions, thrilling tributes and commemorative giveaways - capped off with the Farewell Weekend festivities.

The season will be remembered for the loss of two legends - in hockey, in the city of Detroit and beyond. The outpouring of love and support during memorials for both Gordie Howe and Mike Ilitch was unprecedented as hockey fans united to pay their respects. Thank you to all who shared in these memorable and heartfelt experiences.

With the continued leadership of the Ilitch family, we will carry out Mr. I's vision of a world-class sports and entertainment district in the heart of Detroit while maintaining the organization's championship standards he constantly strove for.

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Wings at the Worlds: Danny DeKeyser joins Team USA

Team USA named 15 players to their World Championship team on Thursday, and Danny DeKeyser joined Justin Abdelkader and Jimmy Howard as three Red Wings representatives on Jeff Blashill's team.

MLive's Ansar Khan confirms the news:

Danny DeKeyser took a step back this season in his play with the Detroit Red Wings, but he was still good enough to earn a spot on the U.S. World Championship team.

DeKeyser joins teammates Jimmy Howard and Dylan Larkin on the squad coached by the Red Wings' Jeff Blashill. The tournament runs May 5-21. The U.S. will be playing in Group A in Cologne, Germany. Group B will compete in Paris, France.

DeKeyser previously played in this event in 2014, picking up two assists in seven games.

Team USA has named 15 players to its roster thus far. In addition to the Red Wings, other players selected are forwards Nick Bjugstad (Florida), J.T. Compher (Colorado), Andrew Copp (Winnipeg), Christian Dvorak (Arizona), Jordan Greenway (Boston University), Anders Lee (Islanders) and Brock Nelsen (Islanders), defensemen Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg), Connor Murphy (Arizona) and Daniel Brickley (Minnesota State University) and goaltenders Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg) and Carl Petersen (Notre Dame).

As Khan notes, Petr Mrazek is the Wings' other participant at the moment, playing for the Czech Republic, but Justin Abdelkader is possible but not probable for Team USA as he evaluates a knee injury.

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Wings at the Worlds: Jeff Blashill chooses his assistants for Team USA

From USA Hockey:

Assistant Coaches Named for 2017 U.S. Men's National Team

Capuano, Pecknold and Appert announced today alongside support staff

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Jack Capuano (Cranston, R.I.), Rand Pecknold (Bedford, N.H.) and Seth Appert (Cottage Grove, Minn.) have been named assistant coaches for the U.S. Men’s National Team that will compete at the 2017 IIHF Men’s World Championship May 5-21 in Cologne, Germany, and Paris, France. Jeff Blashill (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.), head coach of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, was previously named head coach of the team.

Continued; RPI coach Seth Appert is a friend of Blashill's friend, but the rest are "new colleague" hires. It's worth noting that Florida Panthers equipment manager Chris Scoppetto, who once worked as the Wings' assistant equipment manager, will be sharpening Team USA's skates as well.

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‘Two Things’: Checking in with Tom McCollum and a superb WDFN interview

Of brief Grand Rapids Griffins and Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. I'm not alone in having a soft spot for long time Grand Rapids Griffins goaltender Tom McCollum, who took part in last night's 2-1 Griffins win over McCollum's Charlotte Checkers, and the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner checked in with McCollum last night:

The 27-year-old McCollum was the Detroit Red Wings' first-round pick and 30th overall in the 2008 NHL draft. McCollum left as the Griffins' all-time leader in goalie games played (226), minutes (12737:53) and saves (5,653). He was a member of the 2013 Calder Cup Trophy team.

"It's great to be back," McCollum said. "I feel like I almost grew up here. Obviously, as far as maturing from a teenager to an adult, that all happened here for me. The city holds a strong place in my heart."

As Wallner notes, McCollum's faced a challenging 2016-17 season...

McCollum signed a professional tryout (PTO) with the Los Angeles Kings in August, was released and signed a two-way contract with the Calgary Flames. From there he was assigned to Calgary's AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat.

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Niklas Kronwall On His Health And Future

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Niklas Kronwall is not prepared to be put out to pasture with Joe Louis Arena.

The Detroit Red Wings defenseman said he still has some hockey left in him despite his troublesome knee.

"I'd like to think there's a lot more, actually," Kronwall said Tuesday, during locker clean-out. "I feel better today than I did 12 months ago, so I think that's something positive. So, hopefully the summer training will be a lot different than it was last year."

He added: "Last summer, there were times when things were not as great. In saying that, I think everyone goes through different types of injuries. That's really no excuse. You just try to find a way through it."

continued

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Samuelssen: Wings must ‘bring Yzerman home’ to contend

Red Wings GM Ken Holland may very well have the general manager's job until he chooses not to work in that capacity any more, and at 61, he's still got some years left in him. Holland made it very apparent at the Wings' locker room clean-out day that Jeff Blashill is his coach for the foreseeable future.

With those realities in mind, my hope for the team as a fan involves a steadfast belief that the Wings' player development is "the future," and I'm armed with the belief that the expansion draft might provoke Holland to make some player moves and/or maximize the Wings' scant cap space with a roster-reinforcing move or two.

Those hopes might be somewhat modest, but I believe they're realistic given the owner's endorsement of an entrenched GM and coach--and Holland's annual end-of-season lecture.

The Free Press's Jamie Samuelssen tends to believe that job security in the Detroit sports scene is a little more fluid, and Samuelssen suggests that the Red Wings will actually return to contending status when they've swiped Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman several seasons from now, if not sooner:

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St. James issues 16-17 player grades

I have a mixed relationship with the concept of player grades, but I know that player assessments are in demand, and the Free Press's Helene St. James is the first Red Wings beat writer "out of the blocks" with Wings player grades, via a 25-image photo gallery:

Andreas Athanasiou, B: 18 goals, 11 assists, 29 points, minus-7 in 64 games. Entertaining to watch when he is on because his burst of speed and soft hands can create offense out of noewhere. On flip side, noticeable difference when he is not engaged. Needs to learn how to be tougher mentally and physically.

...

Mike Green, B: 14 goals, 22 assists, 36 points, minus-20 in 72 games. Delivered the production the Wings expected when they signed him, though they needed more from him on power play (10 points). Guilty of some brutal turnovers.

...

Petr Mrazek, C-minus: 3.04 goals-against average, .901 save percentage in 50 games. Lost his starting job twice. Mediocre in first half, finally showed signs of being in top form in February before a late slide (gave up 15 goals in last four starts). Is he their goalie of the future? Wings have to decide.

St. James continues, and I'd ask that you let me know whether you'd like my assessments as I tend not to do 'em.

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Prospect news: All-or-nothing for Ehn, Frolunda; scrappy Marsh; Griffins win shootout vs. Charlotte

Of prospect-related note:

In playoff action in the SHL, Christoffer Ehn finished at -1 with a penalty in 8:43 of ice time as his Frolunda Indians lost 6-0 to Brynas IF, setting up a Game 7 on Friday to decide the SHL Semifinal;

In the QMJHL, Adam Marsh had 2 shots and 11 penalty minutes in the Charlottetown Islanders' 4-3 OT win over Cape Breton. Charlottetown leads Cape Breton 3-0 in the teams' second-round series;

In regular season play, in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins secured home-ice advantage in the first round of the AHL playoffs via a 2-1 shootout win over the Charlotte Checkers.

Matt Ford scored the Griffins' regulation goal, Jared Coreau stopped 23 shots and Filip Hronek scored the shootout winner against former Griffin Tom McCollum:

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Krupa on a ‘pointed remark’

There is no doubt that Scotty Bowman is an absolute genius, and perhaps one of the best hockey minds ever, but he also has something of a reputation of being a savant--like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, those who speak with Bowman never quite know whether they're going to get.

That's true to some extent of Bowman's prepared remarks, too, and the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa duly noted that Bowman made a specific point during his speech at Joe Louis Arena's closing ceremony:

Amid the wonderful events Sunday when the Red Wings gave Joe Louis Arena an appropriately grand send-off, Bowman said Wings fans are key to the success of the franchise.

It was not just a throwaway line, in the spirit of the moment. As is almost continuously the case, Bowman was talking hockey. He knows about coaching with 20,066 Wings fans having his back and lifting his team.

“I want to say to you fans,” Bowman, said, tapping his right forefinger into the glass podium and delivering his next words with staccato rhythm for emphasis, “you made this franchise what it is today.”

Off the cuff? No way. The great hockey wizard purposefully saved it for last and pounded the point home, at the climax of his eight-minute discourse.

Over the top? Hardly. In the vernacular: Scotty don’t play.

Krupa continues, speaking with several Red Wings players regarding the passion of a fan base that at least Niklas Kronwall and Frans Nielsen feel give the Wings much more love and support than they deserved during a "down" season.

If I may extrapolate a little bit, it hurts to be a Red Wings fan right now, but it hurts in proportion to our passion for the team and its players. It will take significant emotional investment to make Little Caesars Arena a place worth Joe Louis Arena's reputation, too, and here's hoping that Wings fans are up to the task. The team? Well, we tend to love 'em no matter what, but it would be very, very nice if they could deliver some wins on a semi-regular basis...

And that is another story for later today.

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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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