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The Malik Report

Red Wings afternoon type thing: a conversation with Jim Paek and tidbits

It is indeed August 1st, so the "news cycle" isn't particularly intense save PK Subban Overdrive, but I've found enough at least tangentially-related Red Wings "stuff" to sate my pre-vacation-packing OCD and hopefully share a little more of Jim Paek's story.

I had really hoped that, after 9 years serving as the Grand Rapids Griffins' assistant coach, Jim Paek would finally find himself flanking one of Mike Babcock's shoulders this upcoming season, but Paek chose to pursue a dream in attempting to build a Korean national team ready to qualify for the 2018 Olympic games in Pyeongchang, and I will certainly miss one of the better human beings I've met over my eight years doing hockey blogging for a living.

Today, Paek spoke to the Grand Rapids Business Journal's Pat Evans in an article co-published by Michigan Hockey, and Paek tells Evans that, to borrow a cliche, "one thing led to another":

In late July, it was announced Paek would leave his position as assistant coach for the Grand Rapids Griffins to head back to South Korea and take the helm of the national team and serve as the director of the Korea Ice Hockey Association.

“It was a quick process, through conversations and all of the sudden it was, “Would you like to come over and coach the Korean national team?” Paek said, who last visited Korea in 2002. “It’s been a while since I’ve been back, but I’ve kept tabs and relations with people in the hockey community. It’s always been an interest of mine to help coach and develop the national team and Korea develop their hockey.”

He’s gained great experience developing players through his nine seasons in Grand Rapids, mentoring dozens of Griffins players who moved up through system to star on the Detroit Red Wings. Paek’s been called up several times as well to coach the reserves that make the Red Wings’ playoff roster as well, helping the squad capture the 2008 Stanley Cup.

A lot of time was spent in Grand Rapids and he’s not quick to pick out a favorite player or moment from his tenure.

“When you look back, going through it you might have some ups and downs but as you look back over the nine seasons, every day was a great day,” he said. “Being apart of hockey and the Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins, you couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Paek played for the IHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks before he made the NHL, and he's spent the past nine years in Grand Rapids, but his vagabond NHL career reached its zenith as a part of the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins:

In 1990, the the Penguins made Paek the first Korean-born player to see ice time in the NHL. With the Penguins, he won two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992 as Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr led the way.

“The stuff you learn from Mario, you don’t learn, in a sense, because you can’t do what he does,” Paek said of his time with Lemieux. “You just watch in awe. I remember being on the bench and every time he touched the puck I’d be shaking my head, ‘oh my gosh, I can’t believe he just did that.’”

Evans continues, and I can't emphasize enough that there is no better man for the job.



Otherwise...The Detroit Free Press's Uber-Bracketed "Who's Your Favorite Wing" voting initiative continues today...

The Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy's 2-part Q and A with rock-and-rollers with hockey ties, including Saves the Day's Arun Bali, continues today...

The roster for the Joe Kocur Foundation's charity softball tournament on August 23rd continues to increase in number, as well as "aww factor"...

I would suggest that you not mess with Pavel Datsyuk's fishing buddies...

Winging It in Motown provided "Quick Hits" this morning, and Octopus Thrower's Michael Becker asked a pertinent question--is Justin Abdelkader "top line material," especially when he's not playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk?

Via RedWingsFeed, AWood40 on YouTube picked the right day to highlight Henrik Zetterberg's goals from the 2007-2008 season...

And finally, you'll have to pardon me for being quite happy that it's August 1st:

When I come home from Grand Marais with the little old lady (mom) on August 9th, 5 weeks will separate us from the Red Wings' fall prospect tournament, and six weeks will separate us from training camp, with six weeks and about three days separating us from now and preseason play.

I'll take the rest I can get, because it's only really slowed down this week, and it's been a grind. I need to stare at Lake Superior for a couple days and to just chill, because I'm very bad at chilling out (stupid anxiety disorder).

I will write an overnight report of some kind, but after that, I may skedaddle for Saturday, and may not check in until Monday. I will go low and slow during vacation, and while DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose and the Free Press's Helene St. James (I owe her an apology but that's a different story for a different day) will continue surveying the Eastern Conference, the U.S., Swedish, Finnish and Canadian WJC camps will be taking place in Lake Placid and Montreal, and the Free Press's bracket will continue rolling, the Wings have two more orders of business--re-signing Danny DeKeyser and figuring out what Daniel Alfredsson wants to do--and I hope DeKeyser gets signed to a long-term deal while I'm gone.

Thank you for putting up with me this "season," and here's hoping that things ramp back up slowly when I come home.

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RWBill's avatar

I would think being on the shore of Gitche Gumee Big Sea Water would certainly be chill, even in early August.

Posted by RWBill on 08/01/14 at 03:25 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Paek doesn’t need to get Korea to qualify.  As host, they automatically qualify, no?  Which is one of the perks of hosting, and makes the job all that more attractive because even if you get slaughtered, you’re still guaranteed to coach in the Olympics.

Paek played on those IHL Lumberjack teams with some minor league giants.  Jock Callander.  Dave Michalyuk.  Scott Gruhl.  And a young Kevin Stevens even.  Man, I miss that time and that league.  You just don’t see that caliber of player in the AHL anymore.

Posted by Primis on 08/01/14 at 10:38 PM ET

US131's avatar

@ Primis

iihf [who the ioc ‘lets’ control OLY hockey] does not have a provision so the hosts get an automatic spot.  Previous OLY with NHL players have either been in really strong hockey countries [USA, CAN, RUS] or places that had enuf foundation/momentum to stitch together a team [ITA, JPN].  Jim’s plan, so we’ve been led to believe, is to make a grand showing in wotevah Asian/regional competitions he can enter them into during the ‘15/‘16 season to get them into some sort of position to gain qualification in ‘17 for the games the next year—slim but not remote chance of him being able to pull it off ...

Posted by US131 from Hockeytown West on 08/01/14 at 11:23 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.