The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/11/13 at 08:51 PM ET
Between the Red Wings' naming of Tyler Wright as the team's director of amateur scouting and Jeff Finley as head scout, Jim Nill's departure before he took Joe McDonnell with him, the both truncated and incredibly differently-ran drills which took place during the second day of the Wings' summer development camp and the interviews I've had with both the coaches, management and the players taking part in this summer camp, on days one and two...
This is gonna sound campy, but I have no doubt that the organization is at something of a crossroads.
Five years removed from its last Stanley Cup championship, the Wings made some aggressive personnel moves during free agency to bolster what was an almost team-surprisingly-reluctant but successful embracing of a "youth movement," at least by Red Wings standards, and that youth movement's success was bolstered by the Grand Rapids Griffins' playoff performance.
As I've been watching the vast majority of the Grand Rapids Griffins 2013-2014 season's blueline perform and a new crop of prospects and free agent invites get to know the organization and the tremendous on and off-ice expectations it places upon its personnel (and coaches, and management), well, there's definitely a sense that, to some extent, Nill's departure took the wind out of the sails, and that McDonnell leaving after the draft was a blow that was neither as fond a farewell nor nearly as expertly planned for as Nill's exit was (see: Ryan Martin running the Griffins now, Kris Draper rounding his way into executive form).
It has, however, been fascinating to see the team close ranks and regroup, despite the sense that the organization may or may not be pivoting on something as tenuous as the state of Darren Helm's back, which is a work in progress.
The vast majority of the team's amateur scouts were here today to welcome Wright (who ran the Blue Jackets' draft for 3 years and was its director of player development for most of his 8-year career with the team; he played in 613 NHL games and spent the last 13 years of his life in Columbus, too) and Andrew Dickson into the fold, and to congratulate Jeff Finley (who has 708 games of NHL experience on his resume, for the record) on his promotion.
On the ice, Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill, associate coach Jim Paek, assistant coach Spiros Anastas, director of player development Jiri Fischer, goaltending coach Jim Bedard, Red Wings video coordinator Keith McKittrick, Toledo Walleye assistant coach Dan Watson, player mentor Chris Chelios and now informal puck-tipping consultant Tomas Holmstrom were, at times, all available to help the players along. Ditto for Tomas Storm and Andy Weidenbach, who make a fine living giving skill development and power skating courses, respectively (Jim Bedard holds goalie clinics, too).
Babcock and Ken Holland looked on, as did de-facto assistant GM Martin, as did Draper, the players were working with strength and conditioning coach Peter Renzetti off the ice (and my goodness, do the players adore Renzetti despite his brutal fitness regimens), they had the Wings' trainers and both the Wings and Griffins' equipment staff at their disposal, and whether they've been learning how to eat properly from a nutritionist or fielding a video presntation from Holmstrom, watching Chelios and Fischer model drills or are taking instruction from any of the coaches available to them, the message is certainly there:
It's a team effort, and while, as Ken Holland told me, it's incredibly hard to become a Detroit Red Wing, the organization is filled with dedicated, passionate people who are always challenging themselves to improve, to learn, to grow, to get better at what they do, and there's a whole network of support designed to help those who are willing to put in the extra on and off-ice work required upon the long journey from draft pick to prospect, strong major junior athlete, eventually a Red Wings prospect serving time with the Griffins and Walleye....
To work their way up to the NHL and to, as so many players have suggested, have the opportunity to play for the Red Wings organization and to play alongside the Datsyuks and Zetterbergs.
Somewhat appropriately, Pavel Datsyuk just Tweeted this:
That's it for me. I'll be back with an "early overnight report" in a bit. Other people have posted good content while I was writing this butI just want to get it out there and then get back at 'er after a breather as I've been working since 5 PM and it's almost 10...And I got to the rink at 7:45.
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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.