The Malik Report
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])
Of prospect-related note:
The Toledo Walleye received 2 assists from Martin Frk en route to a 3-2 win over the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday, giving Toledo a 3 games-to-2 lead in the teams' second-round series--after the Komets tied things up with wins in Games 3 and 4. The Walleye's website posted a recap and a highlight clip:
I posted a Tweet in which I summarized the CBC's Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman's "Headlines" segment as it applies to Mike Babcock, but if you're not a Twitlonger-reader...
Friedman also said that when he spoke with Babcock today, Babcock stated that his concerns in terms of any destination involve the relationship he'd have with the general manager, the team's plan and how his family feels about the situation. He did not mention money because, as several sources pointed out to Friedman, the money is going to follow Babcock wherever he goes and he's going to get a large contract.
Friedman did say that if Babcock is interested in signing in a particular city, he will visit it, but as Babcock is not returning from the World Championships until May 17th, that doesn't leave him a lot of time to visit cities between the 18th and the Wings' negotiation deadline of May 25th, and that's where the Tweets involving the Oilers moving on and either working out a longer-term deal with Todd Nelson or possibly hiring Todd McLellan instead came in.
Fun update time:
If you are interested, there's scuttlebutt on the Penguins' desire to pursue Mike Babcock (or the lack thereof), chatter about Babcock in New Jersey and some Babcock-to-Edmonton, as well as an Associated Press handicapping of his situation, thumbs not included...
But the Wings news that is not Babcock-related this evening involves Ken Holland's takes on Dylan Larkin's readiness to "turn pro" (and Holland is probably boarding a flight to Prague to watch Larkin in person as I write this), as stated to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“I think whatever decision he makes is a great decision,” Holland said. “Going back to Michigan for another year, playing with your age group is a positive. If he turns pro, there’s no doubt he can play at the AHL level. The question is can he play at the NHL level. You don’t know that until he gets to training camp in Traverse City. He’s still pretty young. The Detroit Red Wings will support his decision.”
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.