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Coach Nelson’s cautionary prospect tournament tale

The Red Wings' prospects under-performed during their prospect tournament, going 1-and-3, but Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson suggested that the Wings' prospects would rebound during main training camp, as the Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook noted:

“We’ll get a better indication when the experienced guys come in,” Nelson said, referring to the Red Wings’ full training camp that starts Friday at Centre Ice. “These are all kids playing with each other. When you put a kid in with a veteran defenseman who has been around, it helps that player out. You surround these young guys with good leadership and they see these leaders playing the game the right way, they follow.”

To demonstrate that point, he recalled seeing a player who didn’t stand out much in the Prospect Tournament over a decade ago in 2003.

“We had this player who came into this tournament and he had a good tournament, but it wasn’t spectacular,” Nelson said. “I think he had a goal and a couple assists. You could tell there was flashes, but nobody really said much. Then you saw him in main camp and he elevated his game, and you saw him in the exhibition games, he elevated his game. Then all the sudden, he’s on the Wings. This guy was (Henrik) Zetterberg.”

Cook continues...

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That’s a nice story about Z but I think everyone knew Zetterberg was a star to be.  No such blue chip prospects in this pool.  But it will be interesting to see who can pick up their game when surrounded by the veteran players.  Regardless of where the Wings are currently heading I’m pretty darn excited that hockey is back.

Posted by Steve1306 on 09/13/17 at 08:23 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I was at that tourney, and I can promise you the people in the stands were talking about Hank. I was also at that training camp, and he did step up his game along side the vets.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 09/13/17 at 08:24 AM ET


Nice story about Zee.

But most star players follow a different path…they look head and shoulders better than everyone else at these prospect tournaments.

I’m 100% sure that if Cholowski or Rasmussen or Svech or Hronek came in and absolutely stole the show at this tournament, we’d all be extremely excited and feeling confident that we’ve finally found an elite star talent.

Posted by fatsavage on 09/13/17 at 10:16 AM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

What the Zetterburg story omitted is that he played in the olympics that year. The only non Nhl’er if I recall correctly.

Posted by cigar_nurse from On The mend for next season Greenville Pylons on 09/13/17 at 08:10 PM ET


even my grandma knew Zee was going to be a star and she was dead in 1999. Nelson must not be as good a coach if the serious thought Zee wasn’t going to be a star.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 09/13/17 at 09:55 PM ET

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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.