The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/06/13 at 10:42 AM ET
Updated 5x with some Cleary stuff, some Bertuzzi stuff and some Hockey News Q's and A's at 2:02 PM: Oh joy, here we go:
In "fun" news of a different kind...
Meanwhile, up here in Traverse City, I can sure as hell confirm this:
Update #4: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's Cleary write-up...
“I’ll make a decision Sunday,'' Cleary said. “I’m talking to three other teams. It won’t be an easy decision to make.''
“I want to stay in Detroit,'' Cleary said. “I think I’ve made that pretty clear. I’ve been pretty patient. I’ve had other opportunities to leave and just didn’t want to leave.''
He added, “I just want to make the right call for my family. I’ve talked to Kenny (general manager Holland) and we all know what he’s trying to do. We’re all in agreement that I want to come back, they want me back, so we’ll see.''
Holland tried making moves over the summer to shed salary, but to no avail.
“I’ve got a good relationship with Kenny, talked to Babs (coach Mike Babcock) a lot this summer,'' Cleary said. “I’m trying to make it work, trying to get something done. It’s not easy to do, but I understand what Kenny has to do. I guess (trimming salary) has proven a little more difficult than he has anticipated. So I don’t know what I’m going to do.''
Try-out? No try-out:
“If I go to Traverse City it’s not going to be on a tryout like I did eight years ago,'' he said. “Whether it’s signed or something agreed on it’ll be something.''
Participating in training camp is vital, however.
“You don’t want to be behind,'' Cleary said. “You work all summer, train hard, get ready skating-wise. It’s good to be part of camp.''
The Free Press's George Sipple also penned a Cleary story...
"I’ve got a great deal right now that I could take,” Cleary said. “But I don’t know. It’s hard.”
“We all know what he’s trying to do,” Cleary said, referring to Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. “We’re all in agreement that I want to come back. They want me back. You know, so we’ll see.”
Cleary, 34, said talks with other teams have been “pretty serious.” I want to stay in Detroit,” Cleary said. “I think that’s made pretty clear. I’ve been pretty patient and had other opportunities to leave and just didn’t want to leave. I’ve tried to wait as long as I could for Detroit to make the right moves, I guess. That’s all I can say right now.”
“I got an offer July 3rd, and me and Kenny talked,” Cleary said. “I just felt that, you know, whatever. Just wasn’t what I thought I deserved. He agreed.”
And he spoke with Todd Bertuzzi as well:
Bertuzzi said he had three weeks of “problems” after the season.
“I took three more weeks off and then started my rehab back up again and started skating right off the hop and skated all summer,” Bertuzzi said.
Bertuzzi said he now feels as good as he did coming into the season last year.
“I feel strong,” Bertuzzi said. “I’m skating better right now. I haven’t had any issues in the morning or at night. That’s a plus for me.”
A video accompanies Sipple's story (auto-play!):
In other news, the Wings posted a Tweet...
And DetroitRedWings.com's Kevin Wilson penned a recap of last night's Wings prospects' win over Minnesota:
Athanasiou, a forward for the OHL’s Barrie Colts, has oft been revered by the Wings’ brass for his speed, and showed some quick hands and good instincts throughout the game. On his first goal, he came in wide, cut in and chipped it in high and short side. In the second frame, defenseman Xavier Ouellet hit him with a strong slap pass in front of the net that Athanasiou smacked home as he was checked to the ground.
“I thought Athanasiou was outstanding,” said Griffins coach Jeff Blashill, who’s also coaching the Wings’ prospects team. “I thought he did everything right, he was great defensively, he stopped on pucks, he checked well. I was extremely impressed with him.”
Riley Sheahan, Detroit’s first-rounder (21st overall) in 2010 and a key part of the Griffins’ Calder Cup run last season, scored the third goal off a wicked backhander just 31 seconds into the third period. Sheahan was great all night, playing a smart and physical game at both ends of the ice. Sheahan centered a line alongside fellow Griffin, Tomas Jurco, a highly skilled Slovak who showed excellent speed, vision, and play-making abilities.
“Last year, Riley and Tomas were very good players and good pieces to the puzzle in Grand Rapids, but didn't necessarily have to be the go-to players,” Blashill said. “I think this is a great chance for both Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco to be those go-to guys for us and I thought they were both outstanding tonight.”
Both Sheahan and Jurco are expected to challenge for spots with the Wings this year, but will likely begin the year in Grand Rapids.
“I was pretty happy with the way the team played,” goalie Jake Paterson said. “It’s unfortunate we didn't get the shutout, but we’re happy to get the win.”’
While Sheahan’s goal was critical for the Wings, more importantly was his willingness to punish the opposition. The 21 year-old had several big hits early in the game that set the tone for the team and provided energy for the forward lines.
“I think all these guys have to realize that in order to make the next step they have to be physical,” Sheahan said. “It doesn’t matter how big and strong you are, you just have to finish your checks and be hard on the puck. I am just trying to play hard and lead by example.”
The former Notre Dame standout had a solid first year in Grand Rapids scoring 16 goals and 36 points in 72 games while also playing a regular shift during the teams Calder Cup run. Despite his successful transition to the pro ranks, Sheahan believes his physical play needs improvement coming into the 2013 season.
“Playing physical is something I missed last year,” he said. “I worked in the off season to get stronger so I could have a greater impact this season.”
With a year of AHL game experience, Sheahan is feeling more confident about stepping up his physical play and that might just be his ticket to the NHL someday.
“It’s something as a coach we didn’t emphasize to him early and throughout the season,” Blashill said. “I think Riley is a very good defensive player and he has very good offensive ability, but if you can be physical then you can have an impact every single night whether you are scoring or not. It’s an important part of his development and it’s something we are going to have to emphasize.”
She spoke with Andreas Athansaiou as well, but I can't quote her entire article...
If you're interested, Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus penned a fine story about Carolina Hurricanes forward Nathan Gerbe, who's skating with his "hometown" Wings...
For Nathan Gerbe, being home in Oxford, Mich. even for a brief period of the summer isn’t exactly common. The 26-year-old Gerbe spent time in Ann Arbor playing for the U.S. NTDP, but that was the last time he was permanently in Michigan. From then on, Gerbe made headlines at Boston College before beginning his NHL career with the Buffalo Sabres organization. His next stop will be in Raleigh; Gerbe signed with the Carolina Hurricanes this summer.
However, skating with the Detroit Red Wings during their informal skates last week at Joe Louis Arena allowed the 5-foot-5, 178-pound winger some rare time at home.
“I haven’t really been here in the last 10 or so years,” Gerbe said. “I’m always gone, but my family is still in Oxford, I visit them all the time and stay with them.”
Even during summers, Gerbe spends the bulk of his time training in Darien, Conn. with Prentiss Hockey Performance. Led by trainer Ben Prentiss, PHP trains an impressive group of NHL talent that includes the likes of last year’s Art Ross Trophy winner Martin St. Louis, Max Pacioretty, Matt Moulson and Torey Krug.
“It’s been a lot of fun working with Ben Prentiss and their unbelievable group there,” Gerbe said. “He’s an awesome trainer.”
Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner posits a story about Pavel Datsyuk's first day back in Detroit (yesterday)...
Datsyuk wasn't his usual playful self when addressing reporters after Thursday's workout. He was more cryptic. When asked about the three-year contract extension he signed over the summer, Datsyuk said, “Obviously, I go back home and stay with friends and family a lot, now come back. Come back to work here. The summer is too short, but now it’s forget about summer. Lots of work. The beginning.”
He also said that he’s looking forward to the season, but was reluctant to assess his team.
“We’ll see after season starts,” Datsyuk said. “Yeah, it’s a different team, a more younger team and some more older. It’s a similar team with few guys change.”
When asked about his apartment being broken into back in Russia, Datsyuk would only say, “Don’t worry about it. Sports news. Don’t worry about it.”
This is going to be a special year for Datsyuk, with the Winter Olympic Games being in Sochi, Russia. He’s excited about playing for Team Russia and acknowledged that the pressure to win the gold medal is intense back home. But he also loves playing for the Red Wings and especially enjoys being paired with his good friend Zetterberg, although he thinks it will be short-lived.
“It’s going to be fun, but every year he (Babcock) say we play together,” Datsyuk said. “In the beginning, we play together a little, and they break us.”
And finally, I'm going with a, "Come on now" on the first part and a, "Good point" on the second of two questions answered by the Hockey News's Adam Proteau:
Is Mike Babcock the best coach in the NHL? I can't wait for HBO 24/7.
Joe Willson, Coral Springs, Fla.
As far as I’m concerned – and this isn’t a cop-out – there is no single NHL bench boss who stands out above the rest. That’s not to slag Babcock or anyone else. It’s a recognition that (a) a coach often is only as good as the players he’s been given; (b) expectations of success differ for each coach; and (c) Scotty Bowman retired in 2002.
For proof, look at last season’s winner of the Jack Adams Award. I’m not suggesting Sens coach Paul MacLean was undeserving; indeed, he was my first choice. But you definitely could have made a case for any number of other candidates, including Babcock, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville, Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau and Montreal’s Michel Therrien. All of those men faced different challenges and delivered positive results.
And really, while Babcock – who will pass Pat Burns for all-time playoff wins by a coach if the Wings make it to the second round of the post-season – has yet to win the award, I think that says all that needs to be said about the imperfections of the coaching recognition system.
With Daniel Alfredsson leaving Ottawa after a long-term career with the team it got me thinking of how rare it is for players to play with one team their whole career. Besides team success, what makes Detroit able to keep so many players for their whole career and snatch away other players from playing their entire career with the same team?
Joseph Ierfino, Newmarket, Ont.
No offense, but you can’t ask a question like that and then say “besides team success” because team success absolutely is the chief driver of players gravitating to the Wings. Yes, the organization treats them very well on and off the ice, but a number of NHL teams do the same. Players want to put themselves in the best position to win a Stanley Cup and when you look at win records and playoff games played for the past two decades, it’s clear which team provides the best opportunity to do so.
That said, there are natural advantages the Wings can lean on in recruiting. Detroit is a hockey market, but doesn’t have the same media contingent that, say, a Canadian market does. It’s easier to fade into the background in Michigan and that matters to a fair percentage of publicity-averse NHLers. And their ownership always is willing to spend to the salary cap ceiling, which is part of the reason Alfredsson came to the organization.
That's very, very true. Our suburban sprawl is gigantic and there are over 4 million people in the region.
But you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking Wings management has some secret mind-bending influence on players. They don’t. It has everything to do with Ws and Ls – and Detroit has far more of one of those letters than the other.
What, they don't? I for one am STUNNED!
Update #5: Here's DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose on Cleary:
“I want to stay in Detroit. I think I’ve made that pretty clear. I’ve been pretty patient,” said Cleary, who produced 160 goals in 869 games with the Wings. “I’ve had other opportunities to leave and just didn’t want to leave. I’ve just tried to wait as long as I could for Detroit to make the right moves, I guess. That’s all I can say right now.”
Cleary turned down a reported three-year contract offered by Detroit prior to the start of free agency on July 5. The Red Wings were active in the off-season, signing winger Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss, thus expanding the team’s roster to 16 forwards. The Wings are slightly over the $64.3 million salary cap and don’t have an open roster spot to add another player.
“We’ve been talking since July 5,” Cleary said. “We’ll see this weekend. I’ll make a decision Sunday. I’m talking to three other teams. It won’t be an easy decision to make. We’ll see how it goes.”
Asked if he’s optimistic that contract talks with those teams will have him in an NHL camp next week, Cleary said, “Pretty serious, enough to make me think. So that’s the hard part.
“I’ve got options. I just want to make the right call for my family. I’ve talked to Kenny and we all know what he’s trying to do. We’re all in agreement that I want to come back, they want me back, so we’ll see.”
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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.