The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/17/14 at 05:28 PM ET
After August 15th, "It's quiet" takes on a very different meaning. On Monday, MSU's Pro Camp kicks off in East Lansing, when my appointment-filled week takes me to Sterling Heights on Thursday, I'm going to stop by the Troy Sports Center to see whether the Wings who are already "in town" are skating there (I'll probably stop by Hockeytown Authentics to see what summer development camp gear's on sale, too), and next weekend's Joe Kocur Foundation softball games are a high point of the summer--and a training-camp-is-close-reminder--for many, many Wings fans.
Two weeks from Tuesday, the Wings will begin their "informal" practices at Joe Louis Arena, and we're four full weeks removed from the start of the Wings' prospect tournament, and five removed from training camp (a training camp that precedes the exhibition season by exactly three days). It's not going to remain "quiet" or "slow" for much longer, and
Today it remains "slow," however, and this afternoon's Wings news mostly consists of a slightly late-to-the-party critique of the Red Wings' recently re-signed GM from the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo. After scratching his head at the Wings' most recent trade (David Legwand) and Holland's most money-heavy free agent signing (Stephen Weiss), he offers the followng commentary:
The Red Wings still have this uncanny knack for drafting and developing young players. Forwards Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, and defenseman Danny DeKeyser, are particularly promising. If they didn’t develop last season, doom and gloom would have ensued. Instead, you can see the Red Wings making the playoffs again this season, or even making a deep playoff run, if Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and goalie Jimmy Howard return to form.
The Red Wings were unusually injury-riddled last season. It was arguably the best coaching job of Mike Babcock’s career. He’s won a Stanley Cup. He’s taken both the Ducks and the Red Wings to the finals. He led Canada to two gold medals under enormous pressure in the Olympics. He is also in the final year of his contract, and Holland has suggested the Red Wings will re-sign him despite rumblings Babcock’s ultimate destination is Toronto.
But like Holland, perhaps Babcock has been the victim of his own success. It’s not like people necessarily want him out, but there is speculation he’s too demanding of the players and it has cost the Red Wings in free agency. Or that his influence on the roster is more hurtful than helpful.
The one comparison I don’t agree with is the one I’m hearing increasingly comparing Holland to Joe Dumars. The Red Wings have been far more successful than the Pistons in recent years. They have made the playoffs. Holland hasn’t made the coaching position a revolving door of scapegoats. He has survived the retirement of two of the greatest players in franchise history, Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom.
But the Red Wings haven’t necessarily thrived, either. They have been merely good under Holland lately when great is the expectation for the Red Wings.
Caputo continues at extended length.
Alexander Kadeykin was Atlant Mytishchi's first-line center last season, but he's listed as a "substitute" (i.e. a 13th or 14th forward--KHL teams ice 20 skaters, not 18) in Atlant's 2-0 loss to Salavat Yulaev because Jakub Vrana, Andreas Engkvist, Matt Gilroy and Slava Kozlov have all joined the team this past summer.
I guess this was bound to happen...
And finally, Octopus Thrower's John Curran argues that Tomas Tatar is the "heart and soul" of the Red Wings...
[W]hat makes Tatar so popular and valuable to the Detroit Red Wings?
Putting all statistics aside, the thing that impresses me and many others about Tomas Tatar is the amount of heart and energy that he plays with. Listed at 5’10″ and 186 pounds, Tatar plays a larger game than his physical size would indicate. If you didn’t know anything about Tatar or the Red Wings it wouldn’t take you long to notice that number 21 was one of the hardest working/skating players when he was out on the ice. In any sport there are always players that you can question their work ethic and/or grit but Tomas Tatar is not one of those players.
There were times however when Tatar’s desire to make something happen out of nothing would occasionally get him in trouble by making an unnecessary move leading to an expected and forgivable rookie mistake. Being the class-act that he is, Tomas was always quick to apologize for his errors, often in a joking manner and often at his own expense on one his social media accounts. Tatar’s social media presence was a delightful and many times comical insight into his and the Red Wings’ mindset during the turbulent 2013-2014 season.
When you look at Tatar’s stats it becomes clear why he was so important to the Red Wings last season. In 73 regular season games played Tatar tallied 19 goals, 20 assist and 39 points. His 19 goals ranked him second on the team and his 20 assists and 39 points finished him sixth place in both categories. As any Detroit fan knows, goal scoring was extremely hard for the Red Wings to come by during the 2013-2014 season and Tatar’s modest 19 goals were some of the most important and most memorable.
If you break down the 19 goals scored by Tatar during the regular season you would see that the Red Wings had a record of 11-8 when #21 lit the lamp in regulation, 8 of his 19 goals were equalizers (4 of which were against Original 6 rivals), and 3 of the goals were go-ahead goals. So while 19 goals may not seem like a lot, you can see just how important Tatar’s 19 goals were for the Red Wings to continue their 23 year playoff streak.
And I'll certainly suggest that he's the team's funny bone, if not its energetic and comedic off-ice successor to Jiri Hudler--while playing a slightly speedier and more directly-to-the-net version of Hudler's game on the ice.
Tatar's appearance on the Slovak radio station "Fun Radio" was described with quite the headline on CAS.sk (and this is roughly translated, but I'm guessing that the words are correct) "Tomas Tatar as a frog: First weather forecast, then playing with tits!"...
A pair of amusing YouTube videos...
And, well, this (*uploads a file titled "buttjiggle" to the KK image server*):
On the ice, on the bench and in the locker room, Tatar loves the fact that he's playing for the team he cheered for growing up, he's enthusiastic, hardworking, committed to improving his skills and strength, and he's talented, dynamic and charismatic. Away from the rink, he's clearly someone who has a lot of fun while remaining "professional," though sometimes we see the ham lurking under the veil.
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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.