The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/09/14 at 09:57 AM ET
Amongst this morning's crop of Red Wings stories from a very tired and sore blogger:
This is the song that never ends, well, erm, songs (I will post the interview when it's up...more or less...
The thrust of the balance of this morning's entry involves more "outside takes" on the final day of the Wings' summer development camp. MLive's Brendan Savage took note of Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill's end-of-camp remarks...
"I don't want to single out one player or another but the overall work ethic and attention to detail was very good," said Jeff Blashill, the Grand Rapids Griffins head coach who conducted the development camp. "If you don't have that, you're never going to be a star in the NHL or at least help the team win.
"The one thing that I just talked to the players about was if they're going to take one thing away from this camp, take away the level of work ethic and the daily level of attention to detail that the Detroit Red Wings organization demands. From our best players – or at least the guys coming in who were highly heralded – if it's Anthony Mantha, if it's Dylan Larkin, those guys showed the type of work ethic and attention to detail that you have to have and I think that filtered through the rest of the camp."
And this was an interesting wrinkle:
Rather than conducting exit interviews, Blashill said general manager Ken Holland, special assistant to the G.M. Kris Draper and director of player development Jiri Fisher spent the past couple of days meeting with the players.
They told the players what is expected of them and what kind of opportunity they'll be given in September. Blashill said he conducted "informal" interviews with the players throughout the camp.
Blashill also said the decisions that will be made based on the development camp won't be who gets an invitation to the prospects tournament in July – the Red Wings already know who they want to play on their team – but rather which players will skate together when Detroit defends its championship.
You can listen to Blashill's scrum here (and yes, in the pictures that have been posted, I'm the one whose sound recorder is closest to players' faces. I get a little paranoid about getting the best audio, so I go with a 14-to-18-inch rule):
The Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook, who's a mensch-and-a-half, took note of the fact that the stars of yesterday's scrimmage, James De Haas and Mike McKee, have paid their own way to Traverse City to retain their NCAA eligibility.
De Haas, who's going into his sophomore season at Clarkson, and McKee, who's going into his sophomore season at Western Michigan University, were incredibly accommodating and refreshingly blunt regarding their situations:
“They can’t pay for anything, so that kind of stinks,” McKee said. “But we come up here, we spend our own money and it’s not a problem for us. It’s a great camp. We love it. We learned a lot.”
Players that are property of NHL teams through the draft can participate in these types of camps, but the team isn’t allowed to pay for travel or hotel rooms or they’d jeopardize the players’ amateur status with the NCAA.
“Hopefully one day we’ll have million-dollar contracts and a couple hundred bucks for a flight will not seem like too much,” DeHaas joked.
De Haas and McKee aren't that physically different--De Haas is a top-heavy 6'3" and 205 pounds, while McKee is just a massive amount of man at 6'5" and at least 250 pounds--but De Haas is a puck-rushing defenseman who isn't particularly physical, and McKee came into camp after a difficult season at Western Michigan, shuffling from forward to defense, and two years ago, all he was was mean.
Watching McKee keep up with De Haas in terms of skating, shooting, passing, playmaking and at least partially skating was COMPLETELY unexpected, and it was just a delight to find that the chewing tobacco-spitting gangly kid that didn't know how to not kill people in a summer development camp has grown up into a level-headed, intelligent, mature and self-deprecatingly-funny young man with far more skill than I could've possibly imagined he'd possess at this time.
The pair won't be back for the prospect tournament as they'll be in class on September 11th, so they told Cook that it was essential to maximize their short summertime window with the team..
“We only get this week,” DeHaas said. “Some of the other guys get the (prospects) tournament and the main camp. For sure, I think it’s huge for the college guys to have a good week here.
And McKee readily admitted that he was going at about 90% in terms of his physical play because a summer development camp =/= kill your teammate camp:
“You’re not out there to run anybody or hurt anybody,” McKee said. “You’re competing hard and guys are battling, but you’re not out there to hurt anybody. So you let up. I wouldn’t say a lot or just a little bit, but you’re just playing.”
Cook continues, and if you want to listen to their double-barreled interview, you can do so here:
It was a pleasure to work alongside Kyle McIlmurray and Michelle, a.k.a. Slapshotgoal, from Winging it in Motown, and ditto for Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish, Hooked on Hockey Magazine's Kevin Sporka, The Hockey Writers' Zachary Landers and Michigan Hockey's Tom Mitsos and Nick Barnowski. They will be posting "emptying the notebook" articles regarding the camp over the next week or two.
Slapshotgoal penned a camp wrap-up article....
As has been the case for the entire camp, McKee and deHaas were the best defensemen on the ice. Anthony Mantha, who is clearly fatigued from the Memorial Cup, was good for most of the camp, but the final scrimmage was his time to shine. It's become clear to me that he's a much better player when he has the puck. He skates better, is more engaged, and dominant with the puck, without it he does a lot of stalking around the outside and waiting to get the puck, he's not a bad player without the puck by any means, but there's a very noticeable difference between when he has the puck and when he doesn't. I still don't think he's going to steal anyone's job in training camp this year, but we may see him a few games in the Winged Wheel. There's a lot of skill and talent there, but he's still young and just turning pro. Jared Coreau was great and is clearly putting the disastrous rookie season behind him.
As I was live tweeting highlights from the game, my phone decided to "assist" me via auto correct, so that I could focus on the game more. Andreas Athanasiou deked a few too many times in the shootout and didn't get the shot of. Josh Howard requested demanded the following tweet be shared so everyone could point and laugh. It may be my most fitting typo so far.
(That's pretty much what I thought, too)
Michelle continues at extended length, and she hammers home an excellent point:
We'll have more on specific players coming over the next couple of weeks, but overall the Wings draftees performed well and I've seen growth and improvement in all of them since last camp. The Wings/Griffins/Walleye may also have found a few free agent gems from the camp invitees. This was the best crop of invitees I've seen at camp so far and there were some scouts in the building for the last few days of camp.
I know that some of you were upset that players like Martin Frk, Marek Tvrdon and Mitchell Wheaton weren't invited to the camp or couldn't make it,but the rationale I received from director of player development Jiri Fischer and Blashill was this:
The Wings really felt that they needed to try to find as many "bonus draft picks" as humanly possible, and that involved going the extra mile to invite as many free agents as possible, especially given that the NCAA participants won't be back for the fall development camp (where you can assume that Frk, Tvrdon, Wheaton etc. will all be playing).
I can certainly tell you that of all the invites, 6'5" Merrimack sophomore Hampus Gustafsson looked like someone to keep an eye on as a possible late-blooming power forward, Lake Superior State sophomore and forward Alex Globke scored goals in the scrimmages, Miami of Ohio sophomore and defenseman Trevor Hamilton had his second strong development camp, the undrafted Saginaw Spirit forward Blake Clarke looked like a superbly-talented offensive winger that bafflingly wasn't drafted, and tiny-but-stout Victoria Royals defenseman Joe Hicketts played a much bigger and "heavier" than his 5'8," 186-pound fram.
There's also a heavy emphasis on the camp allowing the Wings and the Griffins and the Walleye to sign players to AHL-only or two-way AHL-ECHL contracts.
The Walleye are no longer doubly-affiliated with the Blackhawks and Red Wings, so coach Derek Lalonde and assistant Dan Watson were involved in all of the on-ice drills, and they'll have room for (I believe) 5 signed Wings skaters and probably both of Jared Coreau and Jake Paterson.
Add in a player or two who's on a, "Prove you're a strong player and we'll give you an AHL and/or ECHL deal, you can shop yourself around if you want, but if you do well, we'll sign you to an NHL deal" contract, and that allows Grand Rapids and Toledo to both bolster their roster while hopefully developing another diamond-in-the-rough for their NHL affiliate.
Hooked on Hockey's Kevin Sporka penned an interview with Dominic Turgeon...
HOHM: “Talk about your feelings coming into this camp for the first time. Nervous, excited?”
Turgeon: “Maybe a little nervous, but also very excited. I’ve heard so many good things about this camp. It’s an unbelievable place to have this camp too (Traverse City), and it’s a really good place to bond with the guys, and get to know the guys in this organization.”
HOHM: “Talk about the pace of these drills that [Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill] runs.”
Turgeon: “It’s a very high-tempo practice, so that’s very good for everyone’s game I feel like. It’s definitely good to have a skate like this, especially since it’s the summer right now. So I feel like it’s really good for my game.”
If you missed it, the NHL on Sirus/XM Radio was kind enough to share Jiri Fischer's interview with Scott Laughlin from yesterday evening...
As I was writing this entry, WDFN posted Fox Sports Detroit's Regner's interview with Matt Sheppard. The gents chatted for almost 13 minutes...
And finally, part 1: I would love to share the Alpena News's interview with Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard, but all but the first paragraph of James Andersen's article lurks behind a paywall...
In an 18-year career as the goalie coach for the Detroit Red Wings, Jim Bedard has coached some of the best goaltenders in the world, but this week he'll pass on his knowledge to a different group of students.
And finally, part 2: I'm not a fan of Ryan Lambert bashing people who are Tweeting about prospect camps on Twitter, or the "Cheerleading for the Red Wings," so proceed to the idiot brigade's editor-in-chief's work at your peril;
And finally, part FYI:
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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.