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Off-day news: More grades, ‘reasons for optimism,’ Holland on the Hot Seat and AHL/ECHL news

Of disparate Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. Both MLive's Ansar Khan and The Athletic's Craig Custance have filed "midseason player grade" articles, and Custance uses outside sources to determine whether players exceeded their preseason expectations or fell short thereof:

Andreas Athanasiou

Average rating: 73.7

Key quote: “His speed — he’s like Pavel Bure was — he’s coming full speed from every direction. If he doesn’t score, he’s crashing into the boards. You need the rink to contain him.”

Exceeded or fell short? Exceeded. He enters the break hot, playing well with Dylan Larkin, and is up to 0.55 points per game this season. Conservatively projected as a bottom six forward, he is showing signs of fitting in a top six.

Custance continues...

2. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan also filed a mid-season report in which he discusses surprises, disappointments, reasons for optimism and reasons for pessimism:

Three reasons to be optimistic

Dylan Larkin/Andreas Athanasiou clicking – Another big reason for the four-game win streak (before losing to Tampa) was the production by these two young players, who seem to have established chemistry and whose speed gives opposing teams all sorts of problems. Their continued improvement would be great news.

Wild card spot available – Grabbing one of the top three automatic playoff bids in the Atlantic Division looks farfetched. But they’re only six points behind Pittsburgh for the final wild card spot with three teams in between. All those teams have flaws, as do the Red Wings. But there’s a chance.

Team defense – The defensive unit, as a whole, hasn’t been nearly as bad as everyone suspected they would. Haven’t been awesome, but again, not nearly as bad. And as a team, they were real good before Sunday’s loss to Tampa put a damper on things.

Kulfan continues...

3. ESPN's Greg Wyshynski penned a list of general managers "on the hot seat," and Ken Holland made his list:

Ken Holland, Detroit Red Wings

GM since: July 1997

Why his seat is hot: After 25 straight seasons of playoff appearances, the Red Wings missed last season and are on track to miss them again. They also have a perilous salary cap situation, with $62 million committed to next season and young stars Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha coming off their entry-level deals.

Does he deserve it? Were it up to Red Wings fans, he'd be gone already. In reality, Holland has set up the Red Wings to be average at best through a series of underwhelming personnel decisions and his failure to attract high-end talent to the organization via free agency. While it's true that Holland has had the unenviable task of keeping the Red Wings successful through a dramatic transition -- saying goodbye to everyone from Nicklas Lidstrom to Pavel Datsyuk to coach Mike Babcock -- it's also undeniable that his reaction to this transition was to mire the team in a few seasons of salary-cap hell.

Final seat temperature: Like resting your hand on the engine of a Ford F-150 that's been running for five hours. Detroit ownership gave Holland a vote of confidence, but he's on the last year of his contract. The dream for Red Wings fans, as we discussed on the latest ESPN on Ice podcast: Holland gets kicked upstairs, the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman decides the only thing left to accomplish is to return to Detroit and build a Stanley Cup champion. If only ...

4. In the FYI department, Crain's Detroit Business's Kurt Nagl reports that the Red Wings have signed an exclusive ride-sharing agreement with Uber;

5. In AHL news, The Athletic's Katie Strang penned a post-script to the report that Tom McCollum helped Pierre-Cedric Labrie get back to Milwaukee to witness the birth of his son via sharing McCollum's F-150:

The two players met again, in Milwaukee, where the Admirals hosted the Griffins on Jan. 3, three days after Lionel was born. Labrie came over and the two players exchanged words during warmups before the game. There was, of course, still the need for Labrie to return McCollum’s keys. McCollum headed over to the Admirals' locker room after the game, a 4-2 win for the Griffins, and saw the beaming smile of a proud new papa in Labrie. McCollum would later make the drive back home to Grand Rapids separately from the Griffins, following the bus in his truck.

“He’s honestly, whatever I heard from Zengerle about him, it was true,” Labrie said. “You can tell he has a good soul. He’s just a good person who’s happy to help.”

Labrie tried to pay McCollum, but McCollum spurned the offer. When he awoke Dec. 31, 2017, with a text from Labrie that both mom and baby were doing great — healthy and happy — that was all he needed.

“That was the best,” McCollum said.

Labrie was, and is, an opponent, a rival, but still, a member of the tight-knit hockey community. It’s a fraternity for these players, and McCollum never thought twice about helping.

“There are different battles that go on on the ice, but at the end of the day, I think everybody kind of respects each other, and we sort of look at as we’re one big family,” McCollum said. “We go out there and we’re trying to do the same thing, playing the same game. We have the best understanding of what everybody’s life is like.”

Strang continues...

6. And in the ECHL, from the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe:

Walleye forward Erik Bradford’s journey from Toledo and back again in less than a year included the lowest of the lows and highest of the highs.

Bradford started his second pro season of hockey in Toledo in 2016-17, sparking an ensuing odyssey that challenged the young player's confidence.

When coach Dan Watson signed Bradford before last season, expectations for the offensively skilled forward were high. But a lack of ice time on a team filled with offensively gifted players led Watson to trade Bradford to Utah in November, 2016.

“That was the lowest point in my hockey career,” Bradford said. “I really enjoyed it here, and wanted to be part of this culture of winning. I knew they would be successful here. But I wasn't getting ice time. I applaud Watty for being upfront and honest with me. I was not blindsided when I was ultimately traded.

“I went home for a couple of days and thought about my future. I had to look in the mirror. It gave me extra motivation. I'm so thankful it all worked out.”

While with Utah, Bradford flourished with 61 points (16 goals, 45 assists) in 57 contests. His efforts netted him a spot in the ECHL all-star game last season, where he played under Watson.

“I was able to get my confidence back in Utah,” Bradford said. “The coaches and my teammates there … helped me to achieve my goals. It allowed me to ultimately come back here. I think Watty realized I was that good player. I'm so thankful he was willing to give me a second chance here.”

Continued...

7. In the alumni department, from the Sentinel-Tribune's Daniel Melograna:

Former Detroit Red Wings player Darren McCarty greets fans on the ice before the Grace Speaks charity hockey game at Slater Family Ice Arena on Saturday. The game pitted Red Wings alumni against players on the Grace Speaks team from throughout Ohio and Michigan. The game raised about $5,000 for Grace Speaks, which provides affordable private speech therapy and language stimulation to children with communication delays.

8. And in the charitable news department, the Grand Rapids Griffins are asking fans to lend votes to their campaign to have a LED light system installed in Griff's IceHouse.

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Comments

Avatar

a list of general managers “on the hot seat,

Any time I read that KH is on the hot seat, I have the same question, from who?

Posted by VPalmer on 01/10/18 at 12:02 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

In Ken Daniels’ book, he writes about a time when Bowman was reading Kulfan’s midseason grades for players. Kulfan gave Shanny a B+ and Bowman said “F—- me!” Apparently Bowman disagreed with that assessment.  hahaha.

In the same chapter, he talked about how Bowman tried to teach players…...wait for it….to play both ends of the ice. to be 200 ft. players.

Sound familiar to anyone? raspberry

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/10/18 at 12:13 PM ET

Avatar

Any time I read that KH is on the hot seat, I have the same question, from who?

Hot seat seems to imply that there’s an actual chance that he’d get fired, which is why it’s funny to think he’d be on the hot seat.

At worst, he’s in danger of not having his contract renewed, which is hardly a hot seat situation. And that’s not even particularly likely, as he’s probably not going to be leaving the organization, just getting bumped to some other position.

Sound familiar to anyone?

When I was a kid I tried to score a lot of goals. Does that sound familiar to anyone? Like maybe a certain Wayne Gretzky?

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 01/10/18 at 12:47 PM ET

Avatar

In Constance’s article, it is hard to fathom that Abdelkader was given a higher average rating than Larkin in this preseason poll.

Posted by NEWing on 01/10/18 at 12:57 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

When I was a kid I tried to score a lot of goals. Does that sound familiar to anyone? Like maybe a certain Wayne Gretzky?

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 01/10/18 at 12:47 PM ET

Logic fail. Sorry, Charlie. :(

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/10/18 at 01:00 PM ET

Avatar

Kenny’s seat is hot because his seat is actually a lazyboy, and he hasn’t got up to do anything in about 8 years. His muscles have totally atrophied. The only thing he knows how to do is spend the most amount of money, to ice the oldest team in the NHL, full of unmoveable contracts and a bunch of AHL-level talent. Yeah that’s a hot seat alright Kenny. How about you get lost already.

Posted by fatsavage on 01/10/18 at 01:27 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

In the same chapter, he talked about how Bowman tried to teach players…...wait for it….to play both ends of the ice. to be 200 ft. players.

Sound familiar to anyone?

I feel like I shouldn’t need to point this out, but Blash is no Scotty Bowman.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 01/10/18 at 01:43 PM ET

Avatar

wait for it….to play both ends of the ice. to be 200 ft. players.
Sound familiar to anyone?
Posted by ilovehomers on 01/10/18 at 12:13 PM ET

Well, F%#@ me!

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 01/10/18 at 01:54 PM ET

Avatar

I feel like I shouldn’t need to point this out, but Blash is no Scotty Bowman.
Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 01/10/18 at 01:43 PM ET

So there’s no reason to emulate success. good lesson. I will remind my employees not to do what successful people do. That should make us a lot of money and keep the business sustainable.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 01/10/18 at 01:56 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 01/10/18 at 01:56 PM ET

Yea, there’s a real one-to-one comparison. By the same logic, you should tell a 5 year old to be like Michael Jordan and then complain when he can’t dunk from the freethrow line.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 01/10/18 at 02:00 PM ET

Avatar

Logic fail. Sorry, Charlie.

What? I tried, just like Jeff Blashill did. And I failed miserably, just like Jeff Blashill is.

So there’s no reason to emulate success.

How about praising him when he attains said success, rather than just because he’s trying to be good?

News flash: everyone tries to be good at what they do.

Trying to be good shouldn’t earn one any kind of comparison to the greatest to ever perform the job.

I mean, I guess it’s the same logic that has people wanting Detroit to keep Mrazek because he might one day be an consistent enough to be an average goalie in the NHL, or the same logic that heaps praise on the likes of Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan because they try.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 01/10/18 at 02:06 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

So what exactly is the argument here? That because Scotty Bowman was the greatest of all time, and he preached that players should play a complete game, that only coaches of his stature should teach a 200 ft game?

Or am I missing something? lol.

Scotty has a trademark on this, so we shouldn’t teach it?

Or maybe it’s an organizational philosophy?

Are we not allowed to say “Defense wins championships” any more?

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/10/18 at 02:49 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

If the argument is that Blashill is a bad coach, then sure, I can agree with that in a lot of ways. But that doesn’t mean that we should let Mantha cherry pick at the opposition’s blue line.

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/10/18 at 02:50 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Holland gets kicked upstairs, the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman decides the only thing left to accomplish is to return to Detroit and build a Stanley Cup champion. If only ...

Is there anything even a little bit substantive that would support this as a possibility? Under this hypothetical, Stevie is leaving a Cup defender. That makes no sense. Further, the big story from, what was it, about a year ago, reported that sources in the organization said there were huge differences between Chris Ilitch and Steve Yzerman that made it highly unlikely Stevie would ever work for him. And now Mike has passed along.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/10/18 at 03:32 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Following up Nathan’s comment (and thank you for bringing it up).

“Steve Yzerman will not come back,” the former employee continued. “Chris has full control. The rest of the family is either too screwed up or just completely uninvolved, and are basically just collecting their checks. So Chris is it for the family and I don’t think you can be in that position and not work directly with Chris because Chris is very hands-on. And Steve Yzerman won’t work for Chris Ilitch.”

https://deadspin.com/the-dynasty-that-ate-itself-1794385282

 

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/10/18 at 03:39 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/10/18 at 03:39 PM ET

Without giving reasons why, it’s still basically 50/50 as to whether it’s real or not.  Not sure I necessarily buy it without more.  And I’m no Chris Illitch fan.

Posted by Primis on 01/10/18 at 05:47 PM ET

Avatar

Maybe if Yzerman wins the Cup this year he won’t care about trying to defend it…and will instead come to Detroit and start a 5-10 year rebuild.

Yeah super exciting for him. Kinda like buying a new house, renovating it, finally enjoying it, and then deciding to walk away and live in a van down by the river.

Never, ever happen!

Posted by fatsavage on 01/10/18 at 10:26 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Posted by Primis on 01/10/18 at 05:47 PM ET

Yeah, unnamed former employee is not a great source.

Idk, maybe he would come here. Still has a house here (we can trust wikipedia, right?) maybe he’d like the challenge.

None of us know much of anything, so best not to speak as if we do or in absolutes.

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/10/18 at 11:18 PM ET

Colin's avatar

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/10/18 at 03:32 PM ET

His family is still here in Michigan, and Florida is a terrible place full of old people, bath salts, crocodiles, and hurricanes. He also wanted this job once upon a time, and the fans love him so much he’d barely have to answer to anyone about anything for at least a few years.

It would take a brinks truck but just like the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas boosted the franchise value and prompted the obnoxious signing of Gruden for 10 years, I could see us backing a Brinks truck up to Yzerman’s still-in-Michigan residence to land him.

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 01/11/18 at 12:43 PM ET

Colin's avatar

Posted by NEWing on 01/10/18 at 12:57 PM ET

It probably has a lot to do with Larkin’s bad previous season and that people are high on Abdelkader for his intangibles.

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 01/11/18 at 12:45 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

So what exactly is the argument here? That because Scotty Bowman was the greatest of all time, and he preached that players should play a complete game, that only coaches of his stature should teach a 200 ft game?

You are such a fan of pointing out logical fallicies by other people, I won’t spare you the joy of recognizing your own..

Scotty has a trademark on this, so we shouldn’t teach it?

I didn’t say it wasn’t a good or a winning philosophy. I’m actually curious where you got that impression that I ever even implied that. What I SAID was that Blash is NOT Scotty Bowman, and appears unable to get his players to buy in. Scotty Bowman put Sergei Fedorov (hall of famer) on the damn blue line. 

Are we not allowed to say “Defense wins championships” any more?

No, you are not. Or you could read what I wrote. It’s not an either/or propostiton.

 

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 01/11/18 at 07:34 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

It’s called hyperbole, lol.

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/11/18 at 07:53 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

And in any case, the players cant buy into this philosophy need more than a better coach…

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/11/18 at 08:02 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

It’s called hyperbole, lol.

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/11/18 at 07:53 PM ET

No it isn’t, when you parachute in at the end of a discussion and pretend like it was all a f’rinstance.

You’re pretty free with the forensic terms, until they apply to you.

I also get agitated when ppl misuse an apostrophe. So it goes.

 

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 01/11/18 at 08:05 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Ok, no need to be mad. Check the topic at hand.

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/11/18 at 08:15 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

Ok, no need to be mad. Check the topic at hand.

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/11/18 at 08:15 PM ET

Again! I’m not mad, ILH! You’re just a checklist of logical fallacies, aren’t you?

I don’t even think we disagree, in general.

either way I’m out.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 01/11/18 at 08:46 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

This a hockey blog, not an English class.

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/11/18 at 09:07 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

Yup. But we’re forced to use language to get our points across. And I’ve never seen anyone cite “straw man” etc as much as you, like, anywhere, ever.

Give this a read before you start calling everyone else out.

http://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/engl1311/fallacies.htm

I know I said I was done, but now I’m done.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 01/11/18 at 10:10 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

When you’d like to talk hockey, please come back. I guess since you are trying to teach me english, you can’t do so hot in a hockey discussion…

Posted by ilovehomers on 01/11/18 at 10:14 PM ET

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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.