The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/09/13 at 08:41 AM ET
Updated 12x at 1:27 PM: From the Red Wings' very early morning skate...
And meanwhile, in Grand Rapids...
And go figure, NHL.com's Tal Pinchevsky penned a story about how Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek get along:
For a team long associated with some of the NHL's greatest skaters, the Detroit Red Wings' 2012-13 season may have been their year of the goaltender.
Jimmy Howard established himself as a franchise goalie before signing a six-year contract extension worth $31.8 million. The team's top prospect at the position, Petr Mrazek, had a standout first pro season, appearing in his first NHL game and leading the American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids to a Calder Cup championship.
With Mrazek looking to make the jump to the NHL this season, the potential for tension could be high. But the goaltenders instead have become good friends.
"He's a great kid," Howard told NHL.com. "He has a quiet confidence. He doesn't say much. Nothing really fazes him. He just goes out there and plays. That's great to see from such a young guy (21). I'm looking forward down the road to being partners with him."
Partners? Considering there are 30 starting goaltending jobs in the NHL, Howard would hardly be blamed for taking a more cutthroat approach to the young Czech who could be trying to take his in the next few seasons. But rather than look to stifle the development of Mrazek, who was an AHL All-Star last season, Howard, 29, has taken an interest in the prospect.
When Mrazek was called up by the Red Wings in February, Howard volunteered to take care of the rookie. Their relationship only furthered Mrazek's development.
"I was living in his house for a few days last year. He is a great guy," Mrazek said. "We have fun together. That's important for both goalies. When I was in Detroit last year, I was on the bench and he was playing games. I was watching him, how he is off the ice, on the ice. In practice he works extremely hard. So that opened my eyes and showed me how to work."
Helm, 26, played once during last season's 48-game NHL schedule, undone by a sore back. Now, with Detroit Red Wings training camp days from starting, Helm isn't skating, and he isn't cleared to take part in any scrimmages.
"It is almost kind of comical the way these things keep happening," Helm said today, after working out at Joe Louis Arena while his teammates took part in an informal skate. Helm tweaked his groin while skating Friday. "I came off, I wasn't too happy. But it wasn't my back, so I'm not too upset about it. I don't think this is going to be too long."
Helm will go on the ice when he feels good again. One positive is that he does feel like, he said, he has made progress with his back over the summer. "It's disappointing that my groin had to have a little effect here, but just move forward. There's nothing I can do about it."
Update #8: Here's more on Helm from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
Helm didn’t take part in the Wings’ informal skate at Joe Louis Arena Monday morning after suffering a groin injury on Friday.
“I came off and I wasn’t too happy,” Helm said. “It wasn’t my back so I wasn’t too upset. I don’t think this is going to keep me off the ice that long.”
Helm said that an ultrasound was performed on Saturday and a slight groin strain was detected.
“They didn’t say it was a bad one,” Helm said. “It’s day to day and we’ll see how I feel. (My) target date is when I feel better. As of right now I would not be able to skate or play.”
“I don’t know what the plan is,” Helm said. “The plan is to see how I feel Thursday. It’s not the way I wanted to start camp,” Helm continued. “I’ve been working pretty hard to get back and be able to participate in camp. Now if it’s not the back it’s another thing. I’ve just got to get healthy and see what I can do.”
Helm had back issues began before training camp began last season.
“My back is going to be fine,” Helm said. “I did enjoy working out, that’s when my back has felt better when I was doing more. I’ve got to do a little less right now, but I don’t think it’s going to affect my back. This summer, the last two or three months, I feel like I’ve made really good progress with my back,” Helm continued. “It’s kind of upsetting that my groin had to have a little effect here. I just need to move forward. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
Update #9: The Free Press's Helene St. James offers news about Cleary...
"It's not an easy decision to make," Cleary said. "But I've got to come up with something today, figure out what I'm going to do. Got some options."
Cleary isn't keen on going to Traverse City with the Wings on a tryout, though that would change if he can get a handshake agreement from general manager Ken Holland that a deal will be forthcoming.
"I've got options with guaranteed contracts from other teams," he said, "so that's what I'm trying to make a decision on."
Coach Mike Babcock is pushing hard for Cleary to come back, not the least because Cleary, 34, was the team's second-leading scorer in the playoffs and their leading scorer in the Chicago series.
Cleary said he had no regrets about not taking the deal the Wings offered in June, before they signed Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss. Cleary is likely to get a three-year deal, somewhere in the $2.5-million-per-season range. He's still hoping that materializes here.
"There's nothing," Cleary said, "like being a Red Wing."
Ditto for MLive's Ansar Khan...
“I’ve got options, guaranteed contracts to go with other teams, so that’s what I’ve got to make a decision on,'' he said.
Asked about the chances he'll re-sign with the Red Wings, Cleary said, “I don’t know. You know I’d love to. There’s nothing like being a Red Wing.''
He added, “I talked to Kenny (general manager Holland) last night, talked to (coach Mike Babcock). Everyone knows the situation and I do, too. We all want the same thing; it’s just going to be hard to do.''
The Red Wings have 25 players, two over the roster limit, and are $637,000 over the salary cap. They would need to to some trimming to sign Cleary.
Cleary said he doesn't regret turning down the Red Wings' offer (for three years) on July 3.
“The offers I have today are a lot better, so I don’t regret it at all,'' he said.
And the Macomb Daily's Pleiness:
One thing is for sure and that’s Cleary won’t be heading to Traverse City without a deal in place or a guarantee of one once training camp is over.
“I want to go,” Cleary said. “I want to be a part of it. It’s hard for me to talk about the situation in terms of these other teams. I’m calling Kenny today so we’ll see.
“You know I’d love to (be here),” Cleary added. “There’s nothing like being a Red Wing. It’s hard to put a deadline on it. I’ve got a situation I need to make a decision on that’s for sure.”
The 34-year-old forward was offered a deal by the Wings on July 3 that wasn’t what he felt he deserved.
“It wasn’t felt I felt I deserved,” Cleary said. “The offers I have today are a lot better so I don’t regret it at all.”
Khan spoke with Helm, too:
“It is almost kind of comical the way these things keep happening,'' Helm said. “I came off (the ice) and I wasn’t too happy. It wasn’t my back, so I wasn’t too upset. I don’t think this is going to keep me off the ice that long.''
Helm said an ultrasound Saturday on the groin showed no significant damage. The team is heading up to Traverse City on Tuesday. Players will undergo physicals on Wednesday and hit the ice on Thursday.
“The plan is to see how I feel Thursday,'' Helm said. “If I feel good I’ll go on (the ice), if I don’t I won’t.''
He added, “It’s not the way I wanted to start camp. I’ve been working pretty hard to get back and be able to participate in camp. Now if it’s not the back it’s another thing. I’ve just got to get healthy and see what I can do.''
Helm worked out off ice and is encouraged by the progress he's made with his back.
“My back is going to be fine,'' Helm said. “I did enjoy working out, that’s when my back has felt better when I was doing more. I’ve got to do a little less right now. I don’t think (the groin) is going to affect my back.''
Update #10: Here's the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's report--with new stuff!
Tootoo arrives: Forward Jordin Tootoo, one of the forwards battling to remain on the roster, said this season’s fight for jobs isn’t anything new for him.
“Every year is a tryout camp for me, that’s how I take it mentally,” said Tootoo, whose ability and willigness to fight could come in handy in the generally more rugged Eastern Conference. “I just to have to prepare myself every day to be the best I can. Hundreds of other guys would like to be in your spot.”
Ready to roll: After a brisk Monday morning skate, many Red Wings participated in a golf tournament put on by former Red Wing Ted Lindsay.
They’ll take off for Traverse City on Tuesday, then undergo physicals Wednesday — along with participating in a golf tournament for Traverse City charities. The first day on the ice will be Thursday.
Update #11: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose updated Helm's status, too:
“My back is going to be fine,” Helm said Monday. “I did enjoy working out, that’s when my back has felt better when I was doing more. I’ve got to do a little less right now. I don’t think it’s going to affect my back.”
Helm had an ultrasound performed on Saturday. No structural damage was detected.
“It was a strain,” Helm said. “They didn’t say it was a bad one. It’s day to day and we’ll see how I feel.”
Helm did not participate in the Wings’ final informal skate on Monday, and he’s not sure what the plan will be when the team hits the ice on Thursday in Traverse City.
“I don’t know what the plan is. The plan is to see how I feel Thursday,” he said. “It’s not the way I wanted to start camp. I’ve been working pretty hard to get back and be able to participate in camp. Now if it’s not the back it’s another thing. I’ve just got to get healthy and see what I can do.”
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