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The Malik Report

Red Wings afternoon news: on assistant coaches, Blashill, roster planning and Alfredsson

Updated 3x at 4:09 PM: Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings-related news, including a picture of Tomas Tatar and Petr Mrazek taking a well-deserved vacation...

In light of Ken Holland's comments to the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson and MLive's Ansar Khan regarding the futures of the Wings and Griffins' head coaches, the respective situations of the Wings' assistant coaches are particularly intriguing.

Last week, the Florida Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filakov reported that the Panthers are interested in Tom Renney and then Bill Peters, coaches who've been made available to other teams to talk contract turkey. 

Today, TSN and Pro Hockey Talk's Joe Yerdon report that the Montreal Canadiens have made assistant coach Gerard Gallant available to the Panthers as well.

It's looking more and more like the Wings will bring a new assistant coach into the mix, but the "strange part" of the equation is that Babcock and Blashill are the ones who don't want to go anywhere for the next year or two (at least).




Regarding the aforementioned Blashill, the Griffins Tweeted notice of a superb Blashill profile, penned by the Grand Rapids Business Journal's Pat Evans. While I found Blashill's long and winding road to coaching at the professional level, you might be more interested in Blashill's comments regarding his coaching philosophies:

Although the Griffins lost to the Texas Stars in their quest to reclaim the Calder Cup, Blashill said it was still a successful season. While the ultimate success is holding the trophy at the end of the season, Blashill said he recognizes that’s not something that can happen every year. Success can be more than winning the championship, he said.

“It’s about how you define success,” he said. “I think we improved as a group of individuals — as a team — and we did get better every day. There were a lot of elements that you could call a success. The truest success is holding the trophy, but we also respect and understand how hard that is.”

Blashill looks at the Red Wings as the model of success in both sports and business. The team has gone to the Stanley Cup playoffs 23 years in a row, with four Stanley Cup championships sprinkled in the streak.

“If you only judge yourself on that, I don’t think you’ll progress and continue to get better,” he said. “Long-term success is one of the hardest things to gain. If you look at Detroit, that longevity of success shows that the focus is on the bottom line, but it’s also about doing it right every single day and getting better every day.”

Evans continues, telling Blashill's story (he grew up as a Red Wings fan in Sault Ste. Marie), but Blashill's "last word" pretty much summarizes the team's line as their pro scouts are meeting to finalize the team's free agency plans today through Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena:

"At this time of year, as a coach, you always worry if you’re going to be good enough when the time comes in October,” he said. “So you work as hard as you can to get the right pieces in place.”

Much of the roster is filled with future Red Wings players, but AHL teams can still sign pieces to fill out the roster. He said with the returning AHL players — at least captain Jeff Hoggan and defenseman Nathan Paestch — and a crop of Red Wings prospects, it’s clear the Griffins could be very good once again.

“The only thing I always caution is, you win with great character and great talent,” he said. “If you don’t have either one of those, you won’t win at a high level. And we can feel like we have great talent coming into place, but we’d better not forget the character it takes to win.”




Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner gets to the heart of the team-building matter (via RedWingsFeed), though he's preoccupied by Babcock's future (and you'll have to pardon me for shaking my head and saying, "If you watched 24/7 or read last night's Holland conversation with Matheson, men who "haven't been in the same room" since the regular season both uttered the "grass isn't greener" line, just as they finished each other's sentences on 24/7. You don't have to worry about a thing, folks):

Early in the week, the Wings will hold their annual pro scouting meetings, where all of their top brass will be together in the same place for the first time in weeks.

Many issues will be discussed and decided upon, such as which unrestricted free agents (Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen?) the team will heavily pursue, which of their own UFAs (Daniel Alfredsson) they'll offer contracts to, and what type of player (a highly skilled forward) they'll target in the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, where the Wings have the 15th overall pick.

Although many of the Wings' on-ice concerns will be mapped out, they'll likely remain in the dark as to their biggest question: the status of head coach Mike Babcock.

Later this week or early next week, it's expected that the Wings will announce that Grand Rapids head coach Jeff Blashill has agreed to a contract extension, which will include a significant bump in pay.

Like Babcock, Blashill is in the final year of his deal, and the Wings want to keep Blashill around for two reasons: He's a terrific coach, and just in case Babcock bolts at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Etc. etc., we've talked about that part.



Regarding the Wings' restricted and unrestricted free agents-to-be (Capgeek's Wings organization chart is your friend), and revisiting the overnight report's content yet again, WDIV's Dave Bartkowiak Jr. wonders whether the Wings should retain the services of the player DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted was the team's co-leading-scorer this past season.

Now if you or I were to look at Capgeek's lists of unrestricted free agent-to-be defensemen, forwards or goalies, I'm not particularly interested in the Wings investing in the latter two categories--I would much rather see the Wings stick with "the kids" up front and either retain Jonas Gustavsson in goal or promote Petr Mrazek on a full-time basis--and if I may be frank, aside from adding a top-four defenseman via free agency or trade (I thought it was interesting that Helene St. James dropped Alex Edler's name again), I really don't want the Wings to get in the way of allowing Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, Mattias Backman, Nick Jensen, Alexey Marchenko and/or Adam Almquist to steal Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff's jobs in short order...

But I am interested in the concept of the team retaining its co-leading-scorer, even if keeping him around makes Mitchell Callahan and Landon Ferraro's roads to the NHL a bit tougher.

The coach and the players told the press that having 42-year-old Daniel Alfredsson in the lineup yielded all but a playing coach on the bench, in the locker room and especially on the ice, and while Alfredsson dealt with recurring injuries (which Mike Babcock hopes Alfredsson can overcome if he is to return) and some up-and-down play (he was either fantastic or borderline invisible at times, and that was perhaps to be expected given the injuries and adjusting to playing with a new team for the first time in nineteen years).A

Anyway, WDIV's Bartkowiak offers the following take:

If he is healthy, he's shown he is still good enough to play against most of the NHL's top lines. He brings solid two-way play and has a smart hockey sense around the net. He enjoyed being the setup man for Detroit's budding offensive talents. His 31 assists put him at 3rd overall on the Red Wings behind Niklas Kronwall (41 assists) and Henrik Zetterberg (32) and he was tied with Kronwall for overall points -- 49.

Age didn't appear to be much of a factor in Alfredsson's game this year until the injuries creeped up on him. Of course, he's not the same guy who put up 103 points in 77 games with Ottawa in 2005-06, but his role is different now, too. Looking back, there were a lot of games this season in which its easy to argue Alfredsson was the best forward in the Red Wings' lineup. They turned to him for timely goals and helpers, and he delivered. If he were 100 percent healthy in that Boston series, maybe the series lasts longer than 5 games.

Alfredsson is one of seven unrestricted free agents who the Red Wings have to decide their future with -- the others are Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, David Legwand, Mikael Samuelsson, defenseman Kyle Quincey and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. Of that list, Alfredsson probably has the best chance of returning for another year in a Winged Wheel sweater (Still waiting to see if Gustavsson goes and Petr Mrazek backs up Jimmy Howard).

If Alfredsson comes back, maybe it won't be for $5.5 million. However, it's difficult to argue he hasn't earned it. He managed to score 49 points on a team that had just five players score more than 40 points.

I don't know if the Wings will pay him $5.5 million again, but he's certainly worth $4 million a season.

Bartkowiak's bottom line reads as follows...

I say keep him if he wants to be here -- he hasn't showed interest in another team. The Red Wings will have space to work with up front -- both monetarily and in the lineup. He plays well with the other Detroit veterans such as Zetterberg, Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk and he brings world-class experience to a team that likely will be even younger than it was this past season.

Moreover, I don't see much else out there in the UFA market. Forwards Paul Stastny, Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri all are on that list. I'm intrigued by 28-year-old Stastny, but I'd probably move to keep Alfredsson before signing any of those other veterans.

Plus, I'd expect the Red Wings to go after a defenseman in free agency.

And I'd argue that, at this point, the Wings have enough youngsters either having earned spots in Detroit (Jurco, Sheahan, Tatar and Nyquist, and yes, Glendening, too) or are going to be challenging for jobs (Callahan, Ferraro, Mantha, Pulkkinen) that the number of players who aren't going anywhere (Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen, Abdelkader, Helm, Miller and Weiss) that there are enough people in the lineup whose jobs youngsters would have to "steal" already).

I hope that the video Bartkowiak embedded works, too:



And finally, Habs fans on HFBoards are trying to swipe Mantha and DeKeyser. For Alex Galchenyuk, alone. Discuss as you wish....



Update: The Free Press's Brian Manzullo would like you to play a game...


Update #2: Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos spoke with Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Matt Dery today, discussing the Stanley Cup playoffs and, at the 10-minute mark, Babcock's future...

And again, here's Ken Holland speaking to Dery last Thursday:


Update #3: Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish talked about Tyler Bertuzzi's performance at the Memorial Cup, too.

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motorcityhoff's avatar

As much as I love Helm and Abdelkader, I wouldn’t call either of them untouchable or irreplaceable.

Posted by motorcityhoff on 06/02/14 at 04:07 PM ET


Alfredsson is a very good asset if properly used, but he was not properly used and I do not expect that to change next year so I will pass. 5 on 5 he should be playing with Dats or with other skilled players and on a PP his one timer should be used from the faceoff circle, not from the blue line.

Posted by VPalmer on 06/02/14 at 04:50 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

As much as I love Helm and Abdelkader, I wouldn’t call either of them untouchable or irreplaceable.
Both aren’t irreplaceable, but you’d have to have players that bring their attributes ready or in return, so unsure it makes sense.  Even though both have their downfalls, it would be hard to give up helm’s speed because we have so little without it, and certainly Abby’s size because we’re a lot less heavy to play against without him.

I would only bring back Alfie if he’s ok with playing about 70-80% of the season even if healthy.  He’s just too old to play top 6 minutes, the day in day out wear would again make him usable in the spring of 2015. I think net of injuries to others, he would’ve sat a lot in January and been a lot healthier for it.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 06/02/14 at 05:22 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

I liked what Alfie brought to the Wings.  He sure didn’t look like an over 40 player. The odd mid 30 players had some problems.

Helm has a lot more value than Aby but I am a Helm fan, so I am biased.  Aby sure didn’t help his case with me as a brain fart showing in the IIHF Worlds. Not one but 2 dumb hits and wearing the C.

Will see if he matures a bit more this year.  I think both will be with the Wings this year.

I agree that adding a Top 2 but realistically a Top 4 D Man is all that might happen.

Not a Dan Boyle fan, Niskanen will be too expensive, Edler on a bad Nucks team is a tough read, ...  I would rather see Holland trade for a top D and avoid the UFA pool but he is a better GM than me and many other GMs.

Should be a fun year and I am looking forward to watching the mix of young and old Wings, minus all the UFAs with the exception of Monster , maybe, LOL

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 06/02/14 at 07:11 PM ET


Niskanen will be too expensive

I don’t get this thinking.  Everyone is going to be “too expensive”, so why not spend the money on a solid guy instead of a “maybe”.  If you end up with money left over and a worse defense then what was the point in signing anyone?

Posted by Garth on 06/02/14 at 11:08 PM ET


I don’t think Abdelkader brings enough of anything that he should be hard to replace. He doesn’t score goals and isn’t hard enough on opposing team’s players. He’s not really gritty, he doesn’t have a great shot. He can’t carry the puck, he’s not great at retrieving and passing it… for two years I’ve thought he could go any time. And I don’t feel any differently now.

Posted by teldar on 06/03/14 at 06:30 AM ET


Niskanen will be too expensive

I don’t get this thinking.  Everyone is going to be “too expensive”, so why not spend the money on a solid guy instead of a “maybe”.  If you end up with money left over and a worse defense then what was the point in signing anyone?

Posted by Garth on 06/02/14 at 11:08 PM ET

+1 on this one. Some Red Wings fans here sound like soccer moms cutting coupons, always looking for a door buster deal. Niskanen would be expensive, yes, but if that is his going value this year and we need a guy like him, put up the money. I’m tired of hearing about over-paid or too expensive. He is going to get 7mil a year because he is 27 years old and he is good.
And I also don’t agree with the way Wings talk about salary structure, no one can make more than Pav or Z or Kronner. Are they talking about actual salary or cap hit. Pav is set to make 10mil next year in actual salary, Z is 7.5mil and Kornner is at 6mil. I would think those guys are not going to run to Kenny and cry that they feel disrespected that some new guy is making more than them. At least I hope not.

Posted by George0211 on 06/03/14 at 07:50 AM ET


I also find it funny that a lot of guys who are saying that Niskanen isn’t worth 7-7.5M are, in the same breath, advocating for giving Boyle 2x6M.  Niskanen is entering his prime and Boyle is way past it.  If they were to give Niskanen a maximum length contract he’d still be three years younger when his contract ends than Boyle is right now.

Detroit has already employed too many stopgap solutions, it would be nice to see them actually invest in the future.

Posted by Garth on 06/03/14 at 11:17 AM 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.