The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/04/14 at 05:05 PM ET
In the "quickie" news vein:
1. The Red Wings signed Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill to a 3-year contract extension today, and if you read Blashill's comments to the Free Press's Helene St. James or the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner, it sounds like Blashill's very happy to remain in Michigan. Per Wallner:
“I’m a Michigan guy,” said Blashill, who lives in East Grand Rapids with his wife and three children, ages 3 to 8. “My family lives in West Michigan between Big Rapids and Traverse City. My wife is from the Detroit area. I love Grand Rapids. I think it is one of the nicest cities in America. I am extremely cognizant that I live in a great place. I work in a great place and work for great people in a great organization. I’m not in any rush to leave a great situation. Actually, I’d say the opposite: I was excited at the opportunity to be able to further my time with the Grand Rapids Griffins.”
Under Blashill, the Griffins won the Calder Cup championship in 2013 – after missing the playoffs the previous three seasons - and advanced to the second round of the playoffs this past season, when Blashill was named AHL coach of the year.
Blashill’s new contract comes as the Red Wings look to begin contract talks with coach Mike Babcock, who is entering the final year of his contract.
It raises the question if Blashill is the heir apparent in Detroit.
"Right now, I signed this new agreement to continue to be the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins and that’s my main focus,” he said. “As you know, I don’t worry about appearances and rumors. What I know are facts. And I know Mike Babcock is coach of the Red Wings and I’m coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins and I’m excited about it.”
2. Regarding the Red Wings' assistant/associate coaches and the possibility that Tom Renney or Bill Peters will end up coaching the Florida Panthers, XN News's Jimmy Murphy more or less summarizes what I've been reading--that neither candidate is a "favorite":
–As reported here last week, the Panthers had interviewed Red Wings assistant coach Bill Peters for their vacant head coach spot. I was then told by a NHL source Saturday that Canadiens assistant coach Gerard Gallant was now a “strong candidate” for the job as well and tweeted that. Within hours The Florida Sun Sentinel reported the same citing a source (was that me?). Then on Monday Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin confirmed that he had granted Gallant permission to interview for the job which he reportedly did later in the day. A team source and NHL source then confirmed to me that Gallant “might” be the frontrunner as of Monday night. Well, numerous sources (one a Panthers source) confirmed to Murph’s Musings Tuesday that Gallant is indeed the frontrunner at this point and soon could be coaching 2013 Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau again as he did for three seasons as head coach of the St. John’s Sea Dogs (2009-10 to 2011-12).
3. Regarding Adam Almquist's decision to tell Jonkopings Posten that he'd rather play for HV71 of the Swedish Eliteserien instead of returning to the NHL, as reported by Expressen's Mattias Ek, MLive's Ansar Khan weighed in on the situation...
Almquist, 23, is a restricted free agent. The Red Wings can retain his NHL rights by tendering him a qualifying offer, but if he rejects it he would be free to play in Europe.
Almquist doesn't appear to have a future with the Red Wings, who are well-stocked with young defensemen (the list includes Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, Ryan Sproul, Mattias Backman and Nick Jensen).
If Almquist re-signs with the Red Wings he would need to clear waivers to be assigned to Grand Rapids.
Almquist ranked third in the AHL with 49 assists (along with four goals) in 73 games. He has 14 goals and 70 assists in 144 career AHL games. He helped the Griffins win the Calder Cup championship in 2013 but appeared in only one playoff game this year due to an injury.
Almquist had one goal in two games with the Red Wings this season.
He is a good skater, moves the puck well and is particularly effective on the power play. But his size (5-11,178) is a concern.
And Winging it in Motown's Slapshotg0al summarized why the Wings are so damn worried about Almquist's ability to deal with the bump and grind at the NHL level:
One of the things I noticed about him this season is he's not always smart about protecting himself. As one of the smallest guys on any given team, he has to be extra mindful of his surroundings and not put himself into position to be obliterated or injured. In the AHL, opponents would intentionally hit him at every opportunity and seek to take advantage of his size, and far too often Adam seemed to lack the sense to avoid some of the contact, or at least mitigate it. There's no way to avoid being hit, but when you know you're going to draw the short straw, you've got to be smart about what situations you put yourself if. That's what makes me most hesitant about Almquist being ready for the NHL right now.
Predatory forecheckers have knocked Almquist out of both of the Griffins' past two playoff runs because he's unable or unwilling to defend himself from late hits, and if he can't or won't simplify his game at the AHL level, his odds of "avoiding" big hits at the NHL level aren't very good.
4. In the "visual learners'" department, TSN's BarDown blog's Liam McGuire posted a pair of artistic renderings involving NHL logos "Simpsonized," and here's AK 47 Studios' take on what the Red Wings' logo should look like if it must include a Simpsons character:
5. In the "ha-HAH" category, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports that Ales Hemsky's reasonable $5.5 million salary demand won't be met by the Ottawa Senators;
6. And in the, "Hm...." category, I'm not sure how you want me to cover the imminent civil suit between Tim Danson and a host of defendants including one Todd Bertuzzi. I need you to let me know to cover this fall's trial--if you want me to cover it at all--so the Globe and Mail's David Shoalts' report that the Vancouver Canucks' owner at the time of the incident, John McCaw Jr., must testify at said civil suit is either interesting or not interesting, depending on your point of view.
Item #7: The Toronto Star and Sportsnet's Damien Cox spoke with Detroit 105.1 FM's Matt Dery today, eventually addressing some Red Wings-related topics. You can listen to the interview here:
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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.