The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/14/13 at 05:24 PM ET
The Grand Rapids Griffins will attempt to sweep the Syracuse Crunch and capture their first Calder Cup tonight at Van Andel Arena (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio; Adam Almquist won't play tonight), and the Red Wings' website posted a game-day preview video:
Several TMR readers have attempted to "live blog" the game in other threads, so this is an "open post" for live-blogging purposes, save two articles (and the Drew Miller post has been updated, too)::
1. First, a story from Fox Sports' Art Regner regarding Chris Chelios and Chris Osgood's respective roles as player mentors for the Griffins' players:
“To be part of the Red Wing organization is a special thing,” Blashill said. “They’ve been the best-run sports team over the last twenty years. They’re an Original Six franchise and I think our players realize just how special this really is.” Our guys just don’t want to play in the NHL, they want to play for the Detroit Red Wings and that’s a great thing.”
Blashill added that the Wings are a treasure trove of information.
“When you add the experience of Cheli, Ozzie, Drapes, Jiri Fischer, Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Mike Babcock and Ryan Martin, it’s been great,” said Blashill. “I can lean on them in different situations. I’m the type of person in a leadership role where I ask for a lot of opinions and then I make a decision. I’ve asked all those guys for their opinions at different times this year.”
“I’m basically here learning how to coach,” Chelios said. “I don’t have a whole lot of input as far as the games, but it’s been good on the ice talking to kids if they do have some trouble, if you see them struggling or not even getting the opportunity because of the numbers, that’s when (my input) comes into play.” When I’m asked my opinion, I give it. I’ve played long enough that when you’re watching up in the press box, it's a whole different game as to standing behind the bench coaching.”Chelios would like to coach too someday, but he’s at least a year away from committing to the profession full-time. With a daughter playing college lacrosse and two sons being seniors next year on Michigan State’s hockey team, he wants the freedom to watch his children compete. Even though Chelios is not in Grand Rapids on a daily basis, he has had a positive influence on the Griffins.
“From a player’s side, things that used to anger you or you thought were right when you played aren’t the case when you find out what it’s like being a coach,” Osgood said. “There are a lot of tough decisions. There’s a lot more work that goes into it than you ever imagined as a player. Coaches actually like the players. Sometimes you (players) think they don’t, but they do. They want to see them do well.”
“Everybody is a little different,” Osgood said. “Everybody has their own way as to how they want to be coached. You have to learn the different ways to push buttons to make a player successful.”
“I’m going to enjoy it just like a little kid,” said Pare, now in his fifth season in a Griffins jersey.
Sharing his excitement were Brian Lashoff and Jan Mursak, who have appeared in at least parts of five and six seasons in Grand Rapids, respectively, along with Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson, who have played the better part of four seasons with the Griffins.
“Obviously, not making the playoffs the last three years was tough, but the core group of guys here have learned a lot,” Lashoff said. “This year has been a lot of fun.”
The Griffins beat Houston in five games in the first round, Toronto in six games in the second round, then Oklahoma City in seven games to advance to the American Hockey League finals for the first time. Grand Rapids reached the Turner Cup Finals in the old IHL in 2000.
“It’s been a while, so we’re extra excited,” Mursak said. “We’ve played a lot of good teams in the playoffs and the games have been close, but we beat them. To come so far, we want to win it all now.”
Syracuse entered the finals with an 11-1 postseason record. Ten Crunch players were also members of last year’s Calder Cup-winning Norfolk Admirals team that finished the postseason with 10 straight wins. “It’s going to be a really tough challenge,” Tatar said.
3. Okay, make it 3: Fox 17 posted three game-day videos, including a profile of Griffins play-by-play commentator Bob Kaser, a profile of Griffins trainer John Bernal, and something of an inside merchandising scoop.
Update: Make it four things:
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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.