The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/30/13 at 04:24 PM ET
I may be covering the Red Wings-Predators game as best as possible and am monitoring the Winter Classic stuff going on at U of M (NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports that the weather forecast looks good) and the Alumni Showdown news--and this is a good question...
I'm actually at Comerica Park today to take part in the Grand Rapids Griffins-Toronto Marlies game taking place at 5 PM (on FSD and Sportsnet). If you want to follow along, the Griffins, the AHL, the Marlies, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner, Fox 17's Steve Amorose, WOOD TV's Larry Figurski and of course Kukla's Korner's woman on the street, Monica McAlister, are all here Tweeting away, and so am I...
And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke to the Griffins after their morning skate:
The Griffins went through a 45-minute morning skate shortly after 10 a.m. in what was their only time on the ice before their game later Monday against the Toronto Marlies as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival.
“When the puck drops we’ll be ready to go, but what we’ve said to this point is, ‘Let’s enjoy this unbelievable atmosphere’ and let’s enjoy it with each other and other families,' " said Blashill, whose team practiced Sunday morning at Van Andel Arena before busing to Detroit.
A family skate planned for Sunday night had to be cancelled when the Ontario Hockey League doubleheader was delayed and ran late.
Instead, after a brief, informal practice, family and friends joined the team on the ice for about 15 minutes.
Temperatures were barely above 20 and crisp conditions are expected by game time, with mostly cloudy skies. The sun on Sunday caused some slush on the ice and delayed the OHL games.
As for the ice early Monday, Blashill said: “The ice was great today. Right now, it’s as good as any ice we play on."
The drive from Grand Rapids to Detroit is rather unremarkable. Flat land and clusters of trees pockmark the edge of the highway.
At the end of that two-plus hour journey lies yet another nondescript structure, its exterior different gradients of grey and without windows. Yet inside that building lie the hopes and dreams of every player who wishes to one day don the winged wheel, and this season more have done so than originally planned to.
The Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's top AHL affiliate, captured the Calder Cup in 2013 on the backs of a well-balanced mix of skill, grit, and goaltending prowess. A number of the players who not long ago lifted a cup are now suiting up for a team looking to lift the Stanley Cup, as injuries have decimated the Red Wings in 2013-14 and prompted a number of recalls from Grand Rapids.
Great learning experiences and ample ice time have been acquired by many of Detroit's top prospects, and while the Wings' ECHL affiliate in Toledo has not fared as well as Grand Rapids both have been excellent training grounds for a deep pool of Detroit's professional prospects.
In addition to those players currently battling it out in the minors, the Detroit Red Wings are benefiting now from the veteran prospects they have developed in their minor league system, players like Brian Lashoff, Tomas Tatar, and Gustav Nyquist, all of whom have graduated from prospect status at Hockey’s Future or are nearing that 65-game mark.
And he continues at length--with a story that's worth your time.
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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.