The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/30/14 at 02:43 PM ET
This afternoon's crop of Red Wings-related news is scattershot in nature.
The Red Wings are apparently bringing their bouncy castle to the Belle Isle Grand Prix this weekend, and you're interested, the Red Wings posted a video of their "season ticket-holder Happy Hours" they're holding at Cheli's Chili as well, but Larry Murphy riding in an Indy Car is much more entertaining:
The Red Wings are also holding their season's-end equipment and memorabilia sale at Hockeytown Authentics on Saturday, and if you want to take part in the Play On street hockey tournament in Toronto this weekend, you might end up playing against a Red Wings prospect:
Otherwise, ESPN's Craig Custance weighed in on Anthony Mantha's immediate hockey future while answering an Insider-only mailbag question:
Any thoughts on Anthony Mantha? Goal-per-game pace for most of the year in juniors seems pretty unreal. Do you think he makes the Wings roster this coming season? Will he break the 20-goal mark his first year?
Craig Custance: The Red Wings love this kid. Their early playoff exit allowed them to get a good look in person at Mantha, and coach Mike Babcock is convinced he’s the real deal. That said, when have the Red Wings ever rushed a kid from junior hockey to the NHL?
My expectation is that Mantha will follow the path of all the other talented Detroit prospects. It’s probably safe to assume he’ll compete in the Traverse City prospect tournament in September, which is a good measuring stick to see how he stacks up against his peers. He’ll get a look in training camp, then be sent to Grand Rapids for more seasoning under Jeff Blashill.
How long he’s down there is up to him. One factor to keep in mind is that I expect Detroit to be active in the trade market. If GM Ken Holland ships out a couple of the good young forwards in the organization for an upgrade on defense, that could open the possibility of a faster timeline to Detroit for Mantha.
And regarding that whole moving forwards thing...
I'm a huge Sabres fan. If you were them, would you keep all three second-round picks or try to package them for a quality prospect in the first round? Quality over quantity?
Craig Custance: I can tell you with an absolute certainty that the Sabres want to get at least one more first-round pick in this year’s draft. How they go about doing it is another story. I’d consider packaging the second-round picks into a first rounder, but it would depend on where in the first round we’re talking. I know some teams have conversion tables, which weigh what each pick is worth and whether it makes sense to swap later picks for earlier picks.
The more likely path would be GM Tim Murray continuing his rebuild of the team by trading one of his current roster players to get another first-round pick. One player to watch is defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who is a steal at $4 million per season. This free-agent class isn’t particularly deep on defense (or anywhere), so he’ll be a target for GMs looking to upgrade their top four. Teams calling will have to make it worth Buffalo’s risk of being hit with a cap recapture penalty, but the risk of a penalty won’t stop the Sabres from trading him if the price is right.
With no second-round pick, there's no way in hell that I see the Wings trading their 15th overall draft pick, but we may see some of the extra forward or defensive prospects move if the trade talk surrounding the draft combine (barf-inducing fitness test day is tomorrow!) and draft itself is remotely accurate in terms of the intensity and frequency of GM-to-GM talk.
In the fan interaction category, you will not be surprised to find that MLive's Brendan Savage reports that Wings fans would prefer to see the team either retain Jonas Gustavsson as their back-up or promote Petr Mrazek on a full-time basis as opposed to looking outside the organization for a goaltender, and, via SI's Extra Mustard's Nicole Conlan, you'll have to color me suspicious regarding this report from Forbes' Robert Passikoff:
Hockey fans are on the edge of their seats watching NHL teams gliding through first two rounds and into the conference finals and playoffs of the 2014 Stanley Cup – commissioned in 1892, named for Lord Stanley of Preston, the then-Governor General of Canada – the championship trophy awarded annually to the National Hockey League winner at the conclusion of the finals. And just before the conclusion of hockey’s greatest competition, Brand Keys has released the results of their Sports Fan Loyalty Index for the most loyal fans in the NHL.
Sure, winning is good, and winning a championship trophy is even better, but doing that alone doesn’t automatically skate a team to the top of the loyalty list. Winning gives fans bragging rights but there are other engagement values that have to be taken into account. And from a marketing perspective, loyalty – because it’s a leading-indicator of positive consumer behavior correlating, highly with viewership, licensed merchandise sales and, to a more-or-lesser, degree, attendance – represents the ultimate trophy a sports marketer can win.
These assessments come from 150 self-classified fans in each of the teams’ own DMAs, and the current 2014 NHL top-5 and bottom-5 brand loyalty rankings are as follows, with last season’s ranking in parentheses:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (#2)
2. New York Rangers (#1)
3. Boston Bruins (#2)
4. San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues (#3 and #6)
5. Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and
Philadelphia Flyers (#4, #5, and #5)
And finally, Pavel Datsyuk revealed his whereabouts on Twitter...
(looks like the gents on ModSquadHockey have it right--we're going to see Reebok slowly fade from the equation as Adidas, which now owns Reebok and Reebok-CCM, will outfit NHL players in Adidas jerseys, Adidas apparrel and CCM equipment)
Datsyuk gave a video interview to Sportbox.ru, and I was bummed out to find that the video wasn't available outside of Russia, but Sportbox's Dmitry Sakharuk posited a text interview with Datsyuk as well. What follows is incredibly roughly translated:
Detroit and Russian national team forward Pavel Datsyuk gave an exclusive interview to Sportbox.ru's Dmitry Sakharuk, discussing the problems facing Russian hockey, and he stated that he has no right to complain about Sergei Mozyakin, who didn't play for the team during the World Championship.
We're talking with you at the Adidas ClimaLab, which tests innovative types of clothing. What would you like to improve about hockey equipment?
"I'm glad to be welcomed into this wonderful place," said Datsyuk. "I don't believe that it's necessary to reinvent the wheels. Everything's been creative. I'd just like to see the company pay more attention to hockey. Under gear we wear ordinary sports apparel. I'd like to make it as good as soccer equipment and adapt it to the peculiarities of our bodies. When it's necessary to keep you warm, when it's necessary to cool you down."
I understand that after the defeat against the Finns in the Olympic Games, you didn't want to give interviews, saying that you were going to draw your own conclusions. Have you made them?
"Let the experts make the general conclusions. For myself, yes, I made my decisions. But they are my thoughts, and I want to keep them. Let's just say one thing, the team shouldn't feel guilty. Believe me, the players in Sochi gave 100%. We didn't hold back and worked from the beginning to the end of the tournament."
How did you feel as the captain?
"Comfortably. After all, we had a great team. Everyone understood what the tasks set before them were, and what they had to do. In anticipating your question, I'd say that I never had to talk to someone about what a captain should do. There was no need."
The coaches couldn't decide who the Russian team's #1 goaltender was until the last moment. Did this stress out the players?
"No way. We weren't concerned about those issues. On the other hand, why would it annoy us, or why should we be nervous? The net's behind the goaltender, and not the other way around. And as soon as someone can say that they trust that, it's not the other way around."
The experts believe that there's a systemic failure in our hockey here. Do you agree?
"Absolutely. This is primarily seen in children's hockey. How would you say it, we have children's hockey."
Have you talked with former Russian head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov after the Olympics?
"Why are you asking me only questions about the Olympics? No other themes for you, or what?"
Well, for example, the last World Championship in Minsk. Did you call up the national team coach Oleg Znarok before the tournment?
"Well once again I'd like to say thank you to the coaching staff for their sympathy regarding my situation I couldn't help the team as I would've liked to. Maybe it's for the best--they won!"
Did you watch the Russian national team's games?
"No, I read the news in newspapers and heard friends' stories. It was said that we looked very powerful in Minsk, solid and healthy. Apparently it was so."
Did you understand Sergei Mozyakin's decision to not play in the World Championship?
"Well you don't pay me [to write], so I'm working off of your judgment. I didn't go to the World Championship, and I can't condemn or say anything about someone who won a huge number of awards this past season. I don't know the details, so can only speak incorrectly regarding the situation."
Many fans are skeptical of the victory at the World Championship, saying that the level of opponents was weak. Do you agree with them?
"I have a different opinion. I'm pleased that the Russian team won. There aren't weak teams any more."
As a whole, can you appreciate the past season?
"I kind of crumpled and got injured. Throughout the season I struggled with injuries and wasn't ever able to fully recover. Now I'm just trying to heal all my ailments."
In the NHL playoffs, you lost to Boston. Was the opponent stronger in every respect?
"I wouldn't say so. Though they confidently won the series against us, and deservedly won. There was so much talk about how the team had been making its way into the playoffs for over 20 years, and that it's a sign of permanence. And in my opinion, those who think that way are thinking incorrectly. It's time to change the stereotype. The team needs to be challenged to not just get into the playoffs, but to get into the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup."
And finally, I'd like to talk to you about some things generally. You were planning on organizing a joint youth camp with Ilya Bryzgalov. Is that idea still alive?
"Of course, and I hope that it'll take place on July 15th in Moscow."
Fans have come up with terms like, "Datsyukianstvo." The love of Pavel Datsyuk. Did you know about that?
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't know. But I take it calmly. I'm glad that I can please fans. After all, they're why I'm playing. But I don't want to be uplifted. I'm a player, like everybody else."
Are you planning to go back to Russia after your career is over?
"I would like very much to play a season in Russia after my career in the NHL is over, but that's only a plan. Perhaps I'll stay forever and live in Russia."
You recently had a daughter, as named?
"Vasilia. It was a collective family decision. There were plenty reasons for support. But mom decided that this name was best. I would put that event in first place this year. Now it's the task to bring up a good woman."
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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.