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The Malik Report

Red Wings mid-day news: on training camp, the Griffins, the road ahead and a patient Jimmy Howard

Updated 3x at 12 PM: Amongst this morning's Red Wings-related news:

If there's anyone who needed to hear that the Red Wings are officially committed to holding their summer prospect development camp, their prospect tournament and the big club's main camp in Traverse City, it was the venue that lost at least half of its operating income when the lockout canceled last year's prospect tournament and training camp. Centre Ice Arena's Anne Reaves spoke to the Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook about the news (and estimates suggested that Centre Ice lost somewhere between $1.5 and $2 million and that the Traverse City area may have lost out on $4 million in ancillary spending):

"It was one of the most frustrating situations to not know the outcome and then to watch everything fall to the wayside," Reeves said. "Our challenge is to kick the moss off the rock and get it rolling downhill again. We've got to build that momentum. It's a challenge, but I'm confident we'll be able to get our crowds back. There's no question."

This will mark the 15th season for the Prospects Tournament in Traverse City. It's produced over 350 prospects who have gone on to play in the NHL. The eight teams scheduled to participate include the Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues. Tournament tickets are $10 each day and include four games. There will be no games Sept. 7 to give players a day off.

At least some of the Prospects Tournament games will be televised live. The MSG Network will be broadcasting all Rangers games, and that feed will be picked up by the NHL Network. Reeves said the Red Wings have also contacted Fox Sports Detroit about carrying Detroit's games and possibly others.

The Wings camp kicks off with the team's golf tournament on Sept. 11 at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, then continues with three days of on-ice workouts, practices and scrimmages — including the Red & White game Sept 15 — before two partial days of practice. The players will split up into two squads, and each will head to either Pittsburgh on Sept. 16 or Chicago on Sept. 17, working out in Traverse City the other day. A morning skate is scheduled Sept. 18 to conclude camp. Training camp tickets range from $10 to $30.

"The volunteers are so excited," Reeves said. "Having a year off is a good thing, because it kind of reinvigorates everybody to get back at it."

In terms of the employer of the vast majority of the Red Wings' prospects, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner notes that the Grand Rapids Griffins can clinch a playoff spot tonight...

The Griffins, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2008-09, can change that tonight with a win at home against Milwaukee. A win would ensure at least a tie for one of the eight Western Conference playoff berths, but the Griffins, with five games remaining in the regular season, have bigger plans.

At 40-24-3-4, the Griffins can clinch an outright playoff berth and a tie for the Midwest Division title with a regulation win against Milwaukee, plus a Rockford win in regulation against Chicago.

Grand Rapids hasn’t won a division title since 2005-06, when it also had the best record in the Western Conference at 55-20-1-4.

The Griffins are third in the Western Conference with 87 points, two points behind Toronto and four behind Texas.

Milwaukee (36-27-4-3) comes onto Van Andel Arena fighting for a playoff spot. The Admirals are tied with three teams for the eighth and final playoff spot.

(The Griffins will also host the Peoria Rivermen tomorrow night, marking Calle Jarnkrok's last game with the team--for this season, anyway)

And the Griffins' video crew posted a clever little compliation of scraps and big hits from recent games, all shown with the "Mortal Kombat" theme playing over them:

Looking back at last night's loss, ESPN offers some shudder-worthy stats...

Sharks 3, Red Wings 2 (SO)
* Patrick Marleau (SJ): 1st goal in last 8 games
* Sharks: 5-1-0 in last 6 games in Detroit
* Sharks: 2-0-1 vs Red Wings this season
* Red Wings: 1-3-2 in last 6 home games
FROM ELIAS: Patrick Marleau has scored a goal in each of his three games at Joe Louis Arena over the last two seasons. He scored only one goal in 25 regular-season games at Joe Louis Arena over his first 13 seasons in the league (1997–98 through 2010–11).

In terms of the present moment and tonight's game, 97.1 the Ticket's Pat Caputo offers three keys to the Wings making a successful playoff push...

1. Goalie Jimmy Howard must get hot. He reportedly is about to sign a six-year contract. He has to play up to the confidence the organization is showing in him sooner instead of later.

2. Johan Franzen must start scoring goals. He has just seven on the season. He is, ah, due.

3. The Red Wings must continue to play sound defensively in their own zone, which has actually been a strength.

Looking forward and backward in more ways than one, via RedWingsFeed, InGoal Magazine re-posted its cover story from last April's issue, in which one soon-to-be-re-signed Jimmy Howard discussed his long journey toward full-time NHL employment...

A highly regarded prospect out of the University of Maine after setting NCAA records for save percentage (.957) and goals-against average (1.19) as a sophomore, Howard left school after three years only to spend the next four in the American Hockey League, getting to play just nine games in the NHL while honing his craft with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He finally took over the Red Wings crease in 2009-10 and hasn’t looked back, posting a .917 save percentage over his first three-plus seasons, and taking a serious run at the NHL single-season wins record last year before being derailed by a broken index finger in early February.

He admitted then, during an interview for an InGoal Magazine cover story, it wasn’t always easy to wait for his turn.

“Its hard not to be frustrated,” Howard, who was picked 64th by the Red Wings in the 2003 NHL Draft, told InGoal Magazine. “When you are down there playing every single day, playing three games in three nights and four-in-five and you are seeing guys around the AHL getting called up ahead of you and getting chances, you are sitting there thinking ‘when is mine going to come?’ You think you are just as good, if not better, than the person that just got called up. But somehow you have to put it aside and just continue to work on your game to improve night in, night out and show them they are capable of doing the job out there.”

It’s a lesson to any young goalie that has been cut from a team they thought they should have made, or stuck watching from the bench when they are convinced they should be playing more. It’s a lesson promising Red Wings’ puck-stopping prospect Petr Mrazek may now have to heed closely with Howard locked in for six more seasons. It’s a lesson Howard himself knows now was important.

“Hindsight is 20/20,” Howard chuckles. “When you are there, you constantly want to be here, but I realize now where [Wings GM Ken
Holland] was coming from and it definitely helped being down there learning how to become a professional.”

And finally, I'd like to thank SI's Allan Muir for plugging my blog entry this morning...And plugging my blog of late. It's greatly appreciated.

Update: No comment on Corey Masisak's NHL.com story as I'm sure you're not going to like it:

After detailing the top players at each position and the top coaches in the NHL, it is time to shift the focus upstairs. The role of general manager has changed a great deal in the modern NHL. There are more duties than just putting the roster together and hiring a coach.

Teams rely on front-office staffs instead of one person more than ever, and sometimes the general manager isn't really the "guy in charge" who makes final roster decisions. That said, we're going to focus on the GMs -- their ability to build rosters, hire coaches and draft players, and everything else that goes into winning a championship.

Five of the eight GMs on this list have won the Stanley Cup in his current position, and a sixth won as an assistant GM. The other two have proven to be able to build consistent winners with small budgets.

...

1. Ken Holland (5 first-place votes) -- 74 points

Quite simply, Holland is one of the most successful general managers in League history and has enjoyed consistent success in an era when parity reigns like no other before it. The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in his final season as an assistant GM in 1996-97 and in his first in charge the following year. That remains the last time an NHL team has repeated.

Since then, Holland has built the Red Wings into a machine, winning the Cup again in 2002 and 2008 and reaching the Final in 2009. He's rebuilt the roster, first after Steve Yzerman retired, now without Nicklas Lidstrom. The Red Wings have been the NHL's model franchise for at least the past decade, and Holland has been a huge part of that.

"The Detroit Red Wings have not missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 21 seasons," NHL.com managing editor Shawn Roarke said. "Ken Holland has steered that streak since taking over as Detroit GM in 1997. Under his watch as the ultimate shot-caller, the club has won three Stanley Cups and four Presidents' Trophies. During his tenure, no team has won more games. The job of a GM is to put together an organization that can win and, by every metric, Holland has done that in Detroit. And he has done it by layering the franchise with talent at every level -- players, scouts, coaches and front office, building a model that is virtually self-sustaining at this point."

Update #2: From ESPN's Craig Custance's Insider blog mailbag:

Let's just pretend for a second the NHL players will be in the Olympics. Who do you think gets the start in net for Team USA? Good candidates with Jimmy Howard, Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick and Cory Schneider.
Greg Clarkin, Amherst, Mass.

For future reference, this is a guaranteed way to get in the mailbag. Ask me Team USA Olympic hypotheticals and you're in.

This is the position of strength the Americans have over every other country in the world. There's going to be a goalie who doesn't make Team USA who probably would be in position to start for Team Canada. Right now, it's a tough call. If you're forcing me to pick at this moment, I'm going Quick, Miller and Schneider. But I think this postseason is going to go a long way in determining who gets a shot. Schneider has the best opportunity to improve his standing. He's on a good team, capable of making a long run and if he wins a Stanley Cup, he emerges as the Team USA favorite heading into next season. The only way the Red Wings win a round or two is if Jimmy Howard is brilliant, which he's capable of being. If that happens, he's definitely in the mix. This is a big spring for the Team USA goalie battle, which has to be frustrating for Miller, stuck in Buffalo.

Update #3: One of NHL.com's Dan Rosen's "12 pressing questions" involves the Red Wings:

Can the Red Wings hold on to keep the streak?

The Detroit Red Wings are in control of their own destiny of reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 22nd straight season, but it's never been as close as it is now. They have 44 points, two more than the ninth-place Phoenix Coyotes. Both teams have eight games remaining.

However, the Dallas Stars are also in Detroit's rearview mirror with 41 points and nine games remaining. Despite giving up Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr before the trade deadline, the Stars have won three in a row to stay in the race.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are also hanging around with 41 points and eight games remaining.

Detroit could have used that second point Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, but it lost in a shootout. Worse yet for the Red Wings, they begin a four-game road trip Friday in Chicago. They also travel to Nashville, Calgary and Vancouver before returning to Joe Louis Arena for three in a row against the Coyotes, Kings and Predators.

The Wings very literally have a rough road ahead.

Update #3.5: Sport-Express's Slava Malamud attended Thursday's game, and while he didn't have much to say about Pavel Datsyuk other than trade chatter, he's going to post an interview with Datsyuk sooner than later.

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Comments

Chet's avatar

Franzen has fewer goals than Abdelkader now. If it was me and I was a streaky prima donna type, that’d wake me up. Let’s see…

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/12/13 at 11:54 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

I know the cap hit is low on our beloved Mule but the length is insane. As far as buyouts are concerned I’m wondering if that will play a part.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 04/12/13 at 12:19 PM ET

The Meal's avatar

Regarding update #1, I like it plenty!

Posted by The Meal on 04/12/13 at 01:37 PM ET

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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.