The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/11/13 at 10:42 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings' summer development camp continued this morning with a slate of "two-a-day" practices, with Team Yzerman skating and Team Lidstrom working out from 8-to-10-ish, and the Team Yzerman working out and Team Lidstrom doing skill-development and team drills from 2-4 PM.
As the Free Press's George Sipple notes, Darren Helm's participation was limited:
And it sounds like the Wings are focusing on letting Helm get his "wind" back instead of hitting the gym too hard, too soon:
I did manage to ask Helm one question--I asked him how his golf game was--and he informed me that he hasn't swung a club in two years. So there's your hard-hitting journalism from someone who believes in giving Helm his "space."
In terms of format, the camp was VERY different from even what I had anticipated: Instead of 40 minutes' worth of skill development with Tomas Storm and then 40 minutes of Griffins-style skating drills, the skaters worked with Tomas Storm for 20 minutes, they worked with power skating coach Andy Weidenbach for 20 minutes, and fifty minutes into the session, the players left the ice for a Zamboni scrape.
In previous camps, the players have worked with Storm alone for 50 minutes, then Weidenbach for another 50, and they'd spend an hour or more skating with the Grand Rapids Griffins' coaches...But Jeff Blashill's taken that format and tossed it, choosing to match the off-ice intensity and pace of the circuit training the players experience at this camp with similar hard, short and intense bursts of activity and attentiveness during their skating sessions.
Even Blashill's drills were broken down into "sessions," if you will: for about ten minutes, the players engaged in end to end drills; for about ten minutes, the players played a half-rink game and the goalies worked with Jim Bedard; and the last 20 minutes of practice involved THREE simultaneous drills taking place, with the defensemen taking part in drills helmed by Chris Chelios and the forwards either tipping shots down in front of a set of goals placed between the bluelines, or, for the first time, forwards retrieving pucks, shoveling them back to the point and then standing in front of the goaltender to attempt to tip, screen and jam home rebounds, all under the guidance of Tomas Holmstrom.
I'm pretty damn sure that the entire scouting staff was present at the north end of the rink, with Ken Holland, Kris Draper, Mike Babcock and at least half a dozen other folks watching what was taking place for the first half of the first session, and that was different as well. I've never seen so many executives looking on.
I will describe what I witnessed shortly, but for the moment...
The ever-pleasant grinder that is Phillipe Hudon discussed his hopes to turn pro sooner than later with some affiliate of the Wings, his attempts to continue to establish himself as a checking forward and net-front presence as he battles his way through OCD, and his impressions of the camp and what it's like having Jiri Fischer as semi-"family":
Ilar Telyakov's English is better than my Russian, but not by much, so the 6'9" defenseman confirmed that Igor Larionov sent him to the Wings' camp, he said that he wanted to play like Zdeno Chara, and he did his best to answer my questions until he kind of intimated that he was done:
Alexei Marchenko's English was a little better, and he talked about taking part in the development camp, making the transition to North American-sized rinks and the AHL after playing for CSKA Moscow of the KHL, and he let me ask him why he winds up like Al MacInnis:
Despite getting his nationality wrong (I'm 1-for-every-year in terms of making big mistakes while speaking with goalies), Jake Paterson was very nice and talked for a long time about his progression with the Spirit, what he's working on skills-wise, his experiences at the World Championships playing for CANADA (not the U.S., George) and the fact that he actually hopes to skip the Spirit's outdoor game as he wants to return to the World Championships next December:
Martin Frk had given interviews to others but he was more than willing to spend seven minutes talking with me about winning the Memorial Cup with the Halfiax Mooseheads, his incredibly short summer and dealing with mental fatigue, his training regimens, what he's thinking about the challenges of going from Major Junior to a men's league in the AHL, and why he skates so damn hunched over (using a 75-flex stick with an Ovechkin curve):
And I kind of sort of barged into an interview that Jeff Blashill was giving, but he was quite accommodating as I asked him about the Griffins players' developmental leap thanks to their playoff run, what playoff success means to Grand Rapids, why the team brought back Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch, Triston Grant and Brennan Evans, what he's looking forward to next season in terms of both the first-year pros and players like Jurco, Ferraro, Almquist, Mrazek, etc., and yes, I did ask him why he chose to remain with the Griffins despite offers to coach elsewhere--and boy howdy, did I get a Mike Babcock-style answer from a man who sounds exactly like the guy who nudged his way into my interview to ask if Blashill was going to go jogging with the rest of the coaches in one Mike Babcock himself:
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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.