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Red Wings mid-day news: Jim Hiller discusses role; Detroit’s ‘Franchise’ player and Tatar’s stats

Updated at 2 PM: The Red Wings confirmed the "little birdie's" report and hired Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer as assistant coaches today. The Wings' beat writers Tweeted out some Hiller conference call highlights (as and Brewer Tweeted, too)...

And the Free Press's Helene St. James posited a report from said conference call...

"It's coming in and letting people in the organization see the work that I do," Hiller said during a conference call. "It's becoming a member that gives a valuable contribution — that's my goal. There's always challenges when you're a coach. I did play in the NHL, so I kind of understand the mentality of what it's like to be an NHL player and the type of feedback those players want and need."

Brewer last worked for Hockey Canada, as the organization's video coach. He has history with Babcock, having been part of Babcock’s staff at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Hiller, 45, will be focused on "the forwards and offensive stuff," he said, which means working with such luminaries as Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

"I've seen them from afar, and I've certainly seen what they do on the ice during games," Hiller said. "But from hearing from different people in the organization, their work ethic and their leadership in practice and in the weight room, that's what a lot of people don't know. That's pretty exciting for anybody to be around, not just great people but great players."

Hiller has no history with Babcock, save for recent interviews, and none with any current Detroit players. Hiller has a wee bit of history with the organization, having appeared in 21 games as a player in 1992-93. He termed the stint "too brief. That's the first point. But I mean, what a great hockey city. The fans were passionate."

As did the Windsor Star's Bob Duff...

A native of Port Alberni, B.C., Hiller broke in the coaching ranks with Alberni Valley and Chilliwack of the BCJHL.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in junior, always with an eye on the NHL,” Hiller said. “I couldn’t be happier that my first opportunity is with a guy like (wings coach) Mike (Babcock). You couldn’t find a better guy to start with.”

Originally drafted in the 10th round (207th overall) of the 1989 NHL entry draft by the Los Angeles Kings, Hiller appeared in 63 career NHL games with the Red Wings, Kings and New York Rangers from 1992-94, recording 20 points (8-12-20) and 116 penalty minutes. He came to Detroit in the 1993 deal that saw the club acquire defenceman Paul Coffey from L.A. and played in 21 regular-season and two playoff games for the Wings during the 1992-93 season. Hiller played NCAA hockey at Northern Michigan, winning an NCAA title in 1991, and played with European teams in Italy and Germany.

Hiller figures his main task will be working with Detroit’s forwards. Along with the previously hired assistant Tony Granato, all three are on one-year deals and are new to the Detroit organization.

“That’s going to be really interesting,” Hiller said. “Mike’s obviously built a good program there and they’ve got a style of play that works. Nobody’s going to change that, but with guys coming in from the outside, there’s going to be great conversations and I think that’s what Mike is looking for – people to work and add.”



Otherwise...If you missed Paul's post, former NHL ref--and showman--Paul Stewart revealed that he and one Steve Yzerman never got along via a Huffington Post article:

When I wrote my recent "Hecklers, Hooligans and the Striped-Shirted Maitre D" blog, I listed Steve Yzerman among the players I least enjoyed dealing with on the ice. That took many readers by surprise, because Yzerman generally has a strong public reputation as someone who was a great team leader and a key force in the Detroit Red Wings' success.

Listen, as a player, Yzerman was absolutely one of the greats. He also evolved into a player who commanded a lot of respect among fellow players as a team leader on Detroit once the team finally got -- and stayed -- good after years of struggles.

That does not mean, however, that most officials enjoyed dealing with him.

My own problems with Yzerman started as a result of him mistreating my teammates. He was abusive to linesmen, and it made my protective instincts kick in and tell him off in no uncertain terms. The spark was lit after he belittled and verbally abused longtime linesman Mark Pare on an icing call in Detroit. It went way beyond simply yelling about a blown call. He treated Mark and other officials like they didn't even belong on the same ice as he did.

My next run-in with Yzerman came as a result of a disallowed goal in Minnesota. The dialogue won't be repeated on a family-friendly blog but suffice to say he wasn't a big fan of my style nor I of his. He made it personal and then escalated it when he elected to gripe to the media about me.

Yzerman's attitude toward officials was is the epitome of demanding respect rather than commanding it. I let him know in no uncertain terms that I was not going to kowtow, nor would I put up with him trying to bully or belittle my teammates.

(Yzerman always barked at refs, and he wasn't exactly a cheery fellow on the ice, but Stewart loved to be "the show," so I'm not surprised that the pair didn't see eye-to-eye)

ESPN revealed its NHL "Best Franchise Players" today, as chosen by fans, and I'm quite surprised that Yzerman beat out Gordie Howe for the title:

Detroit:  SteveYzerman

Steve Yzerman played all 22 seasons of his NHL career in Detroit.

    This is simple @DetroitRedWings #steveyzerman #thecaptain he brought hocekytown back to life. Gordie is #mrhockey already -- Michael Ellis

Also in the running ...

    Gordie, a.k.a. Mr. Hockey, cast a shadow over the game so large that it practically blots out the sun! Ice rinks and hockey gear were named after him, and what hockey fan doesn't know what a Gordie Howe hat trick is? Not to mention the hall of fame numbers and accomplishments (i.e. six scoring championships and six MVPs) he produced on the ice.    -- Tim Riss

And ESPN's Craig Custance discussed (link to video) some of the surprises regarding the picks:

This is interesting:

According to the Washington Post's Prashanth Iyer, "fancy stats" suggest that Tatar was all but a steal at $2.75 million a year for 3 seasons...

Last season, Tomas Tatar took the next step in his development, dazzling Red Wings’ fans with his lightning quick hands and delighting them with his exuberance. On Monday afternoon, Detroit signed the restricted free agent to a three-year deal with an AAV of $2.75 million. While the Wings may have struck out recently with some of the contracts doled out, the Tatar deal is a clear win.

In this graph of zone start adjusted Corsi For%, Tatar compares very favorably to the other players. In fact, not only does Tatar top this chart, he also led the Red Wings in Corsi For% among players who played 62 games or more.

When he is on the ice, the Wings seem to dominate the flow of play. Part of this dominance can be attributed to Tatar’s ability to generate a high volume of shot attempts to keep the opposition under pressure.  Tatar generated 14.9 individual Corsi events per 60 this past season, which ranked third on the Wings behind only Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist (minimum of 500 minutes played). Essentially, the Wings have managed to lock up a player that generated more total even-strength shot attempts per 60 minutes than Pavel Datsyuk, and a higher non-adjusted Corsi For% than Sidney Crosby, all for just $2.75 million a season for the next three years.

And Iver continues at length.

Quick note: I looked around and there's no Wings-related international news unless you want to read Aftonbladet's Jimmie Larsson tell you that Mikael Samuelsson and new Djurgardens IF teammate Joakim Eriksson are pals.



Update: Via RedWingsFeed, here's MLive's Brendan Savage's interview with Hiller:

He's not personally acquainted with any of the Red Wings although he knows all about Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk as well as the youngsters who helped Detroit extend its playoff streak to 23 seasons despite a rash of injuries.

"As coaches we never really step away from the game, especially when you're talking about the NHL," Hiller said. "Everybody has an eye on that. I've watched that team a lot this year and in past years and saw the great job they did when they went through all the injuries. The young players, specifically, have come up through the system and really contributed this year. That, I think, was the thing I was most impressed with in the season. The contributions they got from the young players. Those guys are solid players."


As a head coach in juniors, he had a 282-245-49 record with Tri-City and the Chilliwack Bruins of the WHL. He led Tri-City to the 2010 WHL Finals and holds franchise records for winning percentage (.619), playoff games (57), playoff victories (29) and playoff series wins (6).

"There's always challenges when you're a coach," Hiller said. "For me, the one thing is it's quite some time ago but I did play in the NHL so I kind of understand the mentality of what it's like to be an NHL player and what type of feedback those players want and need."

Hiller isn't concerned that his second stint in Detroit could also be a short one since he got a one-year deal and Babcock is entering the final year of his contract with the Red Wings.

"I'm not worried at all," Hiller said. "For me, it's a tremendous opportunity to get in on Day 1 and show everyone the value I can bring to the table. That's just what you do. It's no different than a player, you have to show up and work. It's coming in and letting people in the organization see the work that I do and become a member that's really a valuable contribution. That's my goal from Day 1, for everybody in the organization to see somebody they value."


Update #1.5: Via Paul, Derek Meech has signed an AHL deal with the (Austin) Texas Stars. Better than Belarus!

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TreKronor's avatar

I did play in the NHL, so I kind of understand the mentality of what it’s like to be an NHL player and the type of feedback those players want and need.

Looks like Hiller will be the “players’ coach”.

Posted by TreKronor on 07/30/14 at 02:29 PM ET

DocF's avatar

I am 71 years old and I was just 4 when Gordy Howe came up with My Beloved Red Wings.  Most of the fans of this generation do not remember him as I do.  The do know Stevie Y and that is why the vote is skewed.

Actually, I would rank Steve as the fourth greatest Red Wing and third greatest skater.  Howe, Red Kelly, Terry Sawchuk and then Steve Yzerman.  But no one was able to turn on fans the way that Setvie Y. could.


Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 07/30/14 at 03:49 PM ET

Chet's avatar

the Custance vid is nonstop autoplay with ads.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 07/30/14 at 05:20 PM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

the Custance vid is nonstop autoplay with ads.

click the pause button


Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 07/30/14 at 05:48 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Removed the vid sh78, just inserted a link to watch.

No matter what I did, the vid would not come out of autoplay even though there is an option for it.


Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 07/30/14 at 05:57 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

In other off season news, Stewie Griffin does his best Milan Lucic impersonation.
Stewie Griffin

Posted by RWBill on 07/30/14 at 07:08 PM ET

thethirdcoast's avatar

I’m sorry but Stewart automatically loses the debate with Stevie Y.

A ref’s job is to call a fair game down the middle and keep the players safe on the ice.

Any ref in any sport insistent on making themselves the center of attention rather than doing their best job is incompetent at best and a danger to the players at worst.

Posted by thethirdcoast from Rochester, NY on 07/31/14 at 03:32 AM ET

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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.