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The Malik Report

Red Wings’ comments at Detroit Economic Club luncheon cast a different light on playoff plight

I don't normally post a lot of Wings stuff in the evening as traffic is down and other hockey games are rolling along, but I was really intrigued to hear what the Red Wings' players, coach and management had to say at the Detroit Economic Club's luncheon, and while Mike Babcock's 14-minute interview on The Fan 590 steals the show in terms of coach-speak...

So the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa already delivered quite the, "This is like the early years, except with Datsyuk and Zetterberg" comment from Chris Ilitch earlier; later in the afternoon, DetroitRedWIngs.com's Andrea Nelson took note of Ken Holland's summation of Wings' playoff push...

“It’s hard to win a game, it’s hard to win six out of 10, it’s hard to make the playoffs,” said general manager Ken Holland. “One seeds or two seeds are going to get knocked out the first round of the playoffs. It happened last year, it’s going to happen again this year, so we’re hoping to play our way in and we’re hoping to make a little noise like we did last year.”

The event marked the ninth annual year that the Red Wings organization has met with the DEC, a non-partisan, non-profit organization formed in 1934 that is committed to the discussion and debate of important business, government and social issues in the region.

While members of the Wings’ roster mingled at tables among the nearly 800 guests, Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, addressed the crowd about the club’s immediate future.

“Certainly the last couple of weeks have been like a playoff and with seven games remaining, starting against Boston tomorrow, it’s a seven-game series to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 23rd consecutive year,” said Ilitch.

She also noted that Holland wanted to make sure that "the kids" didn't get all the credit for the Wings' run of late...

“I thought the leadership of Kronner and Jimmy Howard and some of the vets along with obviously playing with a lot of young kids, everybody’s stepped up and pitched in and played some good hockey and we have a good opportunity over the next seven games to make our way into the playoffs,” said Holland.

But it wasn’t all about business. As the question and answer session expanded to include all of the Wings players, guests enjoyed a few laughs as they heard about the team’s March Madness favorites, which player is most likely to be caught on his cell phone and who usually wins the fantasy football pool.

“Pavel has won my pool before, he always says, ‘Why, why do I pay this money?’ and he ends up winning,” forward Daniel Cleary said, drawing several laughs throughout the crowd. “I think it’s an important thing for teams to do, to have that camaraderie on your team, get the guys together with a little bit of banter.”

MLive's David Muller took note of some of the non-sequiturs...

The Red Wings’ move to the Eastern Conference this year means defenseman Brendan Smith plays against his brother Reilly, who plays right wing for the Boston Bruins. With the Bruins coming to town Wednesday, an audience member asked elder brother Brendan if he had the chance, would he take out his little bro?

“It depends. He hit me pretty hard this year, and I think I was coughing up blood, so I’ll get him back for that.” Smith said to laughter. He said when the siblings face each other it reminds him of playing casual pond hockey growing up. And he said if he has a chance, he probably will take a shot at him.

But the bottom line is the bottom line (and I strongly encourage you to read the rest of Krupa, Nelson and Muller's articles as getting hockey players out of their element = a reprieve from the cliche meter):

One audience member asked team coach Mike Babcock about how the "young guns" were able to fill in so well amid the injuries.

“I don't know if they're filling in, that's an undersell, big time” Babcock said. He added. “To me, they're not filling in. They're NHL players that got an opportunity and they're going to keep that opportunity because they're hungry, and they're too good.”

Then, fittingly, Babcock gave a business-world comparison for his group’s apparent determination and drive.

“That’s what separates you in the business world and that’s what separates you everywhere else,” he said. “And we have a determined group.”

And if you missed it, here's Babcock's 14-minute interview with The Fan 590's Bob McCown and Elliotte Friedman:

Quickie update: This comment wasn't made at the DEC luncheon, but Daniel Alfredsson's quip to Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji, made about Gustav Nyquist's status as the NHL's Second Star for March, is worth noting in the "out of context" department:

"He made a pretty good entrance in his first game (of the season, Nov. 21 vs. Carolina)," veteran Daniel Alfredsson said. "I think he scored two goals. I think he's really confident and really knows how to play all areas of the ice and not just scoring goals. He's been great at that but I like his work ethic, his attention to details, and just being a young guy who is leading by example for everybody."

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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.