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The Malik Report

Morning audio and Red Wings news as we await the Alumni Games pressers at 12:30

I will be turning TMR over to Paul around 12 as being here and having to write about the Wings’ summer development camp = I won’t be in the best position to posit rosters for the two Winter Classic Alumni games that will be played between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs Alums (as season ticket-holders have stated, there will be two games), but while we await the following…

This bleary-eyed blogger (2.5 hours of sleep, yay…Not) was a little anxious in the locker room today, but I did snag three interviews. The first was conducted alongside the Free Press’s George Sipple and Michigan Hockey’s Nick Barnowski, and we all had a long conversation with Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek:

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Xavier Ouellet showed up for the first time today in terms of his standing out, and I spoke to him as well…

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And I wasn’t too bright and just gabbed with Mike McKee, Willie Coetzee and Landon Ferraro about the Reebok equipment representative coming in to show off their new wares—Ferraro’s using a new CCM stick with a Taylor Made blade, though he’s not too thrilled about it being white, white, white, McKee is 6’3” and 230 pounds, but he uses an 85 flex stick, and Coetzee says he hadn’t even tried the new Reebok 20K stick in his pattern (Drury) but he was excited about trying it out (though he admitted that while Reebok treats players wonderfully, the lack of choice at the AHL level, save the 3 veterans who get stick exceptions, kinda stinks as Willie would rather use an Easton stick)...

So you get me talking to Brent Raedeke and Raedeke being kinda distracted because he thought I was talking about the long break they had between Monday’s two-a-days and a scrimmage. The conversation gets off track a bit but it happens. We were both a little dippy this morning wink

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In other Wings news, of the Twitter variety, and from the Wings:

• The Free Press reprinted this story from the Traverse City Record-Eagles’s James Chase, minus the paywall, and it’s worth reading:

Ann Reeves was “absolutely overwhelmed” Tuesday afternoon, after she received a couple more donor checks supporting the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Skills Camp in Ontario.

Rufenach, a Detroit Red Wings prospect, was electrocuted last month while touring in Switzerland.

To honor his memory, Reeves, director of the Red Wings Skill Development Camp here, helped organize Bryan Rufenach Day at Centre Ice arena. The fund-raising effort, culminated by a prospects scrimmage before 800 fans Tuesday night, raised $2,400. Reeves presented Rufenach’s family—who drove nearly 10 hours from Lindsay, Ontario, to be here—with a check for that amount to help fund the skills camp, which Rufenach started in his hometown.

“I have to tell you, this has been an emotionally charged experience for me,” Reeves said. “Bryan, meeting him four times, left a very deep impression. What a wonderful person he was. He started a skills camp for kids in his hometown. It was for house hockey kids, not travel kids, so they wouldn’t have to pay. That’s what he did after his first contract. Then, tragically, he passes away.

“All these volunteers you see here today felt compelled to do something. We reached out to the family, and to the Red Wings. The Red Wings jumped on board. The Toledo Walleye jumped on board. The Grand Rapids Griffins jumped on board. It’s been amazing.”

Rufenach, drafted in the seventh round in 2007, signed a professional contract last season after four years at Clarkson. He played for the Griffins and Walleye.

“He was just a great young man,” said Jim Nill, the Wings’ assistant general manager. “He always had a smile on his face. He was always happy. He played the game hard. He was a good player. He’ll be dearly missed, but we know he’s looking over us.”

• DetroitRedWings.com’s Andrea Nelson talked to the Wings’ players about Rufenach day:

“We gathered here today to pay tribute to one of our fallen prospects, Bryan Rufenach,” said Ann Reeves, the director of Red Wings events in Traverse City. “He was here last year for development camp, training camp and the prospects tournament. He was tragically killed about a month ago and the volunteers and I were compelled to do something.”

In conjunction with the Wings, Grand Rapids Griffins and Toledo Walleye, organizers of the 2012 summer camp designated July 10 as Bryan Rufenach Day. Friends, family, fans, coaches and players gathered at Centre I.C.E. Arena to pay tribute to Rufenach and his family.

“Rufio was such a good guy and such a good teammate to all of us,” former teammate and current Griffins forward Trevor Parkes said. “It’s definitely something you don’t want to be a part of because you never want something like that to happen, but it’s special to be there and know you’re here for him and his family.”

The debut of Rufenach’s memorial came on an 80-degree, sunny day that found attendants enjoying a number of activities. Food, live music and a dunk tank that sent prospect Mitchell Callahan falling into ice cold water entertained spectators young and old. A portion of all donations was given to the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Fund.
“I think it was very emotional for a lot of us that knew him,” defenseman Brendan Smith said. “I was drafted the same year as him and I couldn’t believe it when I heard about it. That we could do this for the whole organization and some of his buddies here, that we can do this for him and his family is just awesome. It was a great game so it was pretty cool for his parents for him to see that.”
Will Coetzee said he’ll miss Rufenach’s jokes in the locker room. Coetzee called Rufenach “Rufio” after the character in the movie “Hook.” Rufenach’s jokester personality reminded Coetzee of the character that helped Peter Pan fight Captain Hook, and the nickname stuck.

“I think it’s just him being a jokester around the dressing room, having fun,” Coetzee said. “He’s a pretty serious guy at the same time. I think he worked hard and it’s just sad not to have him around the dressing room anymore.”

• Rick Bouwness offers his version of the scrimmage recap (mine isn’t as good in terms of framing a narrative, but it’s different), and I suggest that you read the entire article as this is just a snippet thereof…

The stands were packed at Centre Ice Arena on Tuesday night as the attendees of this year’s Red Wings development camp squared off in an exhibition match pitting the members of Team Zetterberg against their Team Lidstrom counterparts. Led by their captain Brendan Smith, a veteran of 14 NHL games, Team Lidstrom emerged victorious from what proved to be a highly-entertaining contest, taking the decision by a 6-5 final following a lengthy shootout.

“It was a very good, competitive scrimmage,” said Smith, who scored a goal and two assists. “I really enjoyed it.”

Landon Ferraro, Willie Coetzee and Andreas Athanasiou (two) also scored for Team Lidstrom while Mitch Callahan, Tomas Jurco, Marek Tvrdon, Richard Nedomlel and Martin Frk replied for Team Zetterberg. The game’s lone multi-goal scorer was pleased with how the evening went.

“I got my chances and I made the most out of it,” Athanasiou said. “Overall it was a good game. It was good that we won it. We were all looking forward to today, to get a chance to play. The level of intensity was really good out there and the level of competition was really high.”

Goalies Thomas McCollum (11 saves on 14 shots) and free agent invitee Parker Milner (14 saves on 16 shots) joined forces to pick up the win for Team Lidstrom, while Petr Mrazek (21 saves on 23 shots) and Jake Paterson (17 saves on 20 shots) wound up on the losing side of things despite each making several highlight-reel stops in their 1 ½ period of playing time.

“I felt pretty good,” said Mrazek, who was sensational during a busy opening period. “I haven’t played a game for a while so that made things a bit harder but we had fun out there.”

Mrazek’s strong play helped Team Zetterberg enter the first intermission with the score tied 1-1 despite Team Lidstrom owning a 17-10 lead on the shot clock. After Landon Ferraro wired home a high snap shot to give Team Lidstrom the lead 5:54 into the second period, Team Zetterberg linemates Marek Tvrdon and Martin Frk assisted on each other’s goals just 32 seconds apart in the stanza’s ninth minute, putting their squad up 3-2 in the process. Despite putting up a couple of points, Detroit’s top pick at this year’s NHL Entry Draft felt he could’ve done more.

“I think I can play better,” Frk said after the match. “But this was my first game with these new guys so I’m happy I scored and got an assist.”

As suggested, give ‘er a continue reading...

• Nick Barnowski’s recap from Michigan Hockey Now is excellent as well:

“It was just a game where everyone was playing on the higher levels so it was good for us,” Jurco said. “It was great to play against great players and play with great players, so obviously it was a good experience for me.”

The scrimmage was a change of pace for the players, as it was the first chance for them to play in game-like situations during the camp.

“It was fun to be back in that competitive environment; surprisingly everyone was at a pretty fast pace,” forward Riley Sheahan said. “It was definitely fun to be in that pace of the game and to get back on the ice.”

The game was played in front of a packed arena, differing from the small crowds the practices draw.

“[The crowd] makes it a little more intense,” Sheahan said. “Everyone wants to show their stuff, makes the pace goes higher.”

For 2012 draft pick Mike McKee, the physicality of the game was surprising, yet created a tempo that seemed to never stop rising.

“At the end of the day you’re still competing for the same job and you gotta go out there and work your hardest,” the rookie defenseman said. “We have no hard feelings and at the end of the day we shake hands, and that’s it. It’s tough on your body but it’s a great experience.”

• Nick posted a slate of audio clips of interviews with Phillipe Hudon, Riley Sheahan (who I need to snag), Mike McKee and Marek Tvrdon at his Nick on Sports blog (give him a follow on Twitter as well!);

• Via RedWingsFeed, Michigan Hockey Now’s Stefan Kubus notes that USA Hockey will announce its 2012 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee class today at 2 PM EDT, and the Free Press’s Helene St. James is confirming that Mike Modano will make the cut:

Mike Modano, former Detroit Red Wings forward and one of hockey’s all-time greats, will be among the names announced Wednesday, when the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame reveals its class of 2012, a source confirmed to the Free Press.

Modano, 42, is the all-time goal-scoring and points leader among American-born NHL players. The No. 1 overall selection by Minnesota in the 1988 draft, Modano began his NHL career that fall, finishing as a Calder Trophy finalist. He won the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999. He retired in 2011, having produced 561 goals and 813 assists for 1,374 points in 1,499 NHL games.

He played for Team USA starting in 1988 at the world junior championships, with highlights including a gold medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Modano played for the Wings in 2010-11, after 20 seasons with the Minnesota/Dallas franchise. Born in Pontiac, he lived in Highland till he was 13, then in Westland until he was 15. Westland is home to the Mike Modano Ice Arena.

• Via RedWingsFeed, Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski is confirming ,a href=“http://en.ria.ru/sports/20120711/174546165.html”>RIA Novosti‘s report that Pavel Datsyuk and a host of Russian stars will take part in a charity game against the Kloten Flyers in Switzerland to honor the memory of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl on July 12th in Kloten;

• In very different news, also from RWF, Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner weighs in on the Wings’ abundance of cap space after losing out on Ryan Suter and Zach Parise thanks to, well, cap-induced parity:

It’s believed that Parise never had any intention of signing with Detroit. He wanted the Wings to make an offer so he could use it as leverage when he sat down with the teams he really was considering—New Jersey and Minnesota.

Remember, the entire world knew that the Wings were far under the cap, had holes to fill on their roster and were more than willing to overpay for a player they really desired. Whether you believe Detroit is a destination spot or not for today’s players, the Wings still have the reputation as a solid organization that will always try to put their players in the best position to win. A contract offer from the Wings remains a substantial negotiating chip.

When the Wings made Parise an offer on July 1, they didn’t hear back from him until July 4, when he informed them that they were out of the running. It’s believed that Suter was really considering Detroit and wasn’t just using the Wings to get the contract he was really seeking elsewhere.

Shane Doan, like Parise, could be using the Wings. Reports persist that Phoenix has the coin to keep him locked up in the desert and he doesn’t want to leave Arizona.

You can’t blame any player for manipulating the Wings. It’s a business and the Red Wings have far more urgent issues to address than being upset that they were used, then tossed aside. If there’s a problem that even the astute Red Wings have no answer for, it’s Father Time.

When Suter didn’t sign, it threw the Wings a huge curve because they thought they had a great shot at him and really needed Suter to anchor their defense. Because the Wings thought they were on Suter’s short list, they had to wait until he made a decision before they could address other major issues. If Suter had signed here, the Wings’ major offseason problem would have been tackled. Once Suter decided on Minnesota, the talent pool had pretty much dried up.

That’s why the Wings have been relatively quiet. They have to figure out if they’re willing pull the trigger on a trade, hold their nose and sign a free agent they’re not thrilled about, or become younger, hoping they catch a break on one or two of their prospects. 

There’s still plenty of time for the Red Wings to improve their roster. They will sign at least one veteran defenseman before the season begins, but that might be it. They could sit tight until the trade deadline and nab a star or two in a salary dump. Anyway you look at it, the Red Wings are embarking into uncharted territory. They have money, but they will not spend it just to spend it.

• Via Risto Pakarinen, Henrik Zetterberg told Expressen’s Mattias Eriksson and Jonathan Lindquist that he will play for the Swedish World Championship team next year if the Wings get dinged in the playoffs;

• And finally, as Nick was more industrious than I this morning, he spoke to Landon Ferraro, Trevor Parkes and Brendan Smith as well as Ouellet and Paek in an article he just posted.

It’s been loads of fun to be pushed by someone who’s just going into college and will probably send me out to pasture in a few years, and I’ll admit that it’s a little intimidating at times, but Nick doesn’t know I’m intimidated by him yet. Yet.

I’ll try to get more interviews this afternoon…

And from now on, TMR will be Paul’s baby as he covers the Winter Classic Alumni Games presser and I go off to write about today’s morning session.


Update: Wonderful quote from Jim Paek, via the Wings:

Jim Paek: “Everyone here is working hard, trying to get better. There’s a lot of information to absorb and they’re doing a great job” #DRWDC

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink



Thanks for the kind words, George. It’s been a pleasure working with you this week.

Posted by Nick Barnowski on 07/11/12 at 01:59 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

They are all deserved and earned.

And now the rest of the commenters are going to say, “Awwwwwww.” Screw you. Nick’s a great guy and a fantastic writer. It’s been awesome to have the competition but thank Gord he’s leaving Mr. Mediocre alone raspberry raspberry raspberry raspberry

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/11/12 at 02:05 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Get a room, you two.  LOL

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 07/11/12 at 03:35 PM ET

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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.