The Malik Report
A for the record update at 9:27 AM: FYI if you are in Traverse City: Per the rink, the Wings’ prospects will conduct an intra-squad scrimmage at 3 PM on Sunday.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock made an unorthodox move in choosing to hire Western Michigan coach Jeff Blashill, who’s all of 37, and Rockford IceHogs coach Bill Peters, who can boast the only pro experience among both coaches—to the tune of three years as an AHL head coach—but Babcock told the Wings’ press corps that, to some extent, anyway, he very specifically chose to go with “younger legs” behind the bench instead of tapping into the half-a-dozen or so former NHL head coaches or assistant coaches without a job.
Babcock told the Windsor Star’s Jim Parker that an extensive search which included consultations with the game’s power brokers yielded his surprising decision:
“I’m looking for new ideas, new thoughts,” said the 48-year-old Babcock, who is entering his seventh season as head coach in Detroit. “We’re trying to evolve our game, get better. The way to do that is change. (The players have) heard the same voice for a long time.”
Windsor Spitfires president Bob Boughner, who was an assistant coach in Columbus last season, was rumoured to be a candidate for the job. Babcock would not say what other candidates he interviewed and Boughner did not respond to a request for comment.
“I went through a long process, talked to a lot of people, went back and forth,” Babcock said. “I talked to the heads of the OHL, Quebec (Major Junior Hockey) League, the Western (Hockey) League. I looked at college, looked at U.S. juniors. I tried to find guys who’ve won and made a difference everywhere they’ve been.”
Updated 2x at 9:32 PM: The second day of the Red Wings’ summer development camp concluded after a spirited workout by “Team Lidstrom,” which engaged in the same drills Team Zetterberg took part in this morning. Again, for reference purposes, here are the participants…
Updated with a video interview with Blashill at 8:06 PM: The Detroit Red Wings raised more than a few eyebrows when the team announced that Mike Babcock chose Western Michigan University coach Jeff Blashill and Rockford IceHogs coach Bill Peters to flank his shoulders for the next three seasons. Neither of the Wings’ new assistant coaches have any coaching experience at the NHL level, and Peters is the only coach with any professional experience whatsoever—to the tune of three years behind the IceHogs’ bench.
According to Babcock himself, however, given that he’s been the Red Wings’ coach for over half a decade, fresh perspectives were necessary to keep both his and his players engaged and exposed to new perspectives, as he told MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“I’ve been in Detroit six years and after a while you start to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher—womp, womp, womp!” Babcock said. “I’m looking for new ideas, new thoughts. We’re trying to evolve our game. The way to do that is change. (Players) have heard the same voice for a long time.”
“I’m looking for young, excited workers are are willing to challenge the head coach,” Babcock said.
ESPN Dallas’s Master Tefatsion spoke to former Red Wings forward and Dallas Stars legend Mike Modano about his status while Modano prepared for a celebrity-studded charity baseball game on Saturday in Frisco, Texas, and Modano still hasn’t decided whether he plans on continuing to play:
“I’ve just been taking it easy,” said Modano, the host of the event. “I’ve been on some vacations, kind of lying around playing some golf and not really in a rush to make a decision one way or the other about what’s going to happen.”
Modano, 41, played for the Red Wings last season after spending the previous 20 with the Stars in Minnesota and Dallas. Modano has talked about his decision to a few of his friends at the baseball event who have opposing stances on what Modano will ultimately choose:
“I think if the right opportunity came along for him I think he’d love to put the skates on for one more year because he was in was great shape this year before he got hurt up in Detroit,” said The Heroes Foundation founder Charlie McKinney, one of the charities that will benefit from the baseball game. “... I think he feels he’s got one more year in him.”
Between serious-ass internet troubles and the Wings’ slow but sure revealing of their Mike Babcock’s assistant coaches, this morning’s first full on-ice session at the Red Wings’ summer development camp involved observations made by a somewhat distracted blogger, but I can at least offer several impressions from the morning’s activities.
Once again, here are the rosters of the teams taking part in the camp…
Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji caught up with Red Wings director of pro scouting Mark Howe to discuss the fact that was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s induction class of 2011, as well as the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame’s induction class, and Howe is…still pretty darn amazed by what Wakiji suggests has been a “productive summer”:
“I found out about the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame about a month ago,” Howe said in a phone interview Thursday after a luncheon announcing the inductees. “There’s been a lot of good news coming my way.”
As Wakiji duly notes, Howe actually missed the Hockey Hall of Fame’s repeated attempts to reach him until the Wings asked him to answer the darn phone...
“I was on the road, been on vacation for a week and then was home for two and a half days before heading to Detroit for the July 1st free agency,” Howe said. “I was running around getting caught up and I had a couple calls that didn’t show up on the caller ID so I didn’t answer. About 15 minutes later I got an e-mail from the Red Wings office that someone in Toronto wanted to get a hold of me about an appearance. I wrote back and said if they called, I would answer.”
Updated 9x at 3:45 PM: For the record, here’s my initial take: Babcock suggested to various interviewers over the past two weeks that he was leaning toward younger and/or less proven coaches who would provide both new voices and the kind of drive that yielded promotions for McLellan, MacLean and McCrimon. As MLive’s Ansar Khan notes, Bill Peters has both pro experience in the AHL and familiarity with Babcockas he was one of Babs’ assistants with the Spokane Chiefs, and as for Blashill…He’s as young and unproven as they come at the NHL level, which is probably a good thing. Blashill’s also a former goalie!
The Red Wings have named Bill Peters and Jeff Blashill as Assistant coaches. Both coaches have signed three-year contracts.
Peters spent past three seasons as the Head Coach of Rockford (AHL), while Blashill was behind the bench at Western Michigan University.
Red Wings fans have attempted to start up various campaigns asking new Red Wings defenseman Mike Commodore to wear #64 to honor one of the late 1980’s most ubiquitous computers, and Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski gave all Wings fans a big assist by asking Commodore whether he’s interested in doing so, in part to raise money for charity, and here’s an update from Wyshynski:
On Thursday, we gave the COMMODORE 64 movement a stiff push with four reasons why this needed to happen, including a charitable one: Puck Daddy will donate $64 to Mike Commodore’s favorite charity should he wear No. 64 next season with the Wings.
We offered you guys a chance to match that pledge as a show of support for the number change. After less than 24 hours, we have 54 readers willing to ante up if Commodore wears No. 64 with the Wings. That’s $3,456 currently committed to the charity of Mike’s choice (assuming everyone follows through with the pledge and that charity of his choice is OK with those donating).
Updated substantially at 11:22 AM, and for the record, the won’t talk about the news till 12 PM EDT, when DetroitRedWings.com will announce the signings: Oh, the wonders of modern technology. I’m sitting here with 20 of the Wings’ top prospects in front of me, and a technical glitch yielded no internet service and a mess of a post-fixing issue with Paul helping the “overnight report” shift back from garbled to readable after almost an hour of trying…
In any case, the web’s back up here and the Kalamazoo Gazette’s Graham Couch says that it’s official—one of the Red Wings’ new assistant coaches will be Western Michigan coach Jeff Blashill:
Western Michigan University hockey coach Jeff Blashill has resigned, a university spokesperson confirmed this morning, the Broncos second-year hockey coach stepping down to accept an assistant coaching position with the Detroit Red Wings.
Blashill’s resignation is official as of 9 a.m. WMU’s hockey team was told earlier this morning.
A national search for a Blashill’s replacement will begin immediately.
Expect Mike Babcock to name another “younger” coach as his other assistant in short order, and the Free Press’s George Sipple noted....
Updated with 2 more stories at 8:36 AM: July is never a “slow” month for the Red Wings, and today we should learn quite a bit about the team’s future as the Wings reveal the identities of the assistant coaches who will flank Mike Babcock’s shoulders. At the present moment, it sounds like Babcock will go with “younger legs,” as noted by both the Free Press’s George Sipple...
[Red Wings GM Ken] Holland wouldn’t discuss any potential candidates but did say they were looking “some people with some different ideas. We’ll see.”
He said Wings coach Mike Babcock talked to many people in the industry, from college and junior coaches to assistant coaches to former NHL head coaches.
“We got down to a small, workable number the last few days,” Holland said Thursday. “Tomorrow we’ll announce our staff.”
And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan all but confirmed that Babcock’s assistants won’t be household names:
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.