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Red Wings morning report: on the long journey

As noted in the early overnight report, Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with both Red Wings TV and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness about the long, long (emphasis on "long") road ahead of even the process that the vast majority of the prospects taking part in the Wings' summer development camp face, and this morning, MLive's Brendan Savage picks up that conversation:

"I've been in the game since 1975, pro hockey," Holland said. "I come and go to these camps. There's a lot of excitement. I know how hard it is to play in the National Hockey League. And how much work and where you've got to get these players. A lot of these players are coming along in a nice progression. We need more progression. Part of it is patience, part of it is maturity, part of it is going to next level and performing at the next level. "

The point of the summer development camp is to both prepare some prospects for the system of play they'll have to master heading into the prospect tournament (where AHL jobs and spots in the pecking order really will be on the line) and main training camp, and to provide as much information as possible to the players regarding the on and off-ice skills that they need to develop to become professional hockey players, and in some instances, to become better professionals.

Holland duly noted that the journey from draft pick to prospect, player worthy of earning a pro contract and then player learning the professional ropes while playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins or Toledo Walleye, and then a cup-of-coffee call-up, and finally, eventually, a player who earns a spot on the Red Wings' roster is a multi-tiered process:

"I look at guy like Tomas Jurco, you look at the development of (Gustav) Nyquist, the development of (Joakim) Andersson. These players have to do the same things," Holland said. "They have to come through junior, college and Europe. They've got to get in the American Hockey League and then start all over again. They do it in the American Hockey League and then they come up and they have to it all over again."

Sometimes the process can take longer than the players – and fans – would prefer. Many fans want to see the Red Wings bring the youngsters up as soon as possible but that's not how it works with the Red Wings, whose lineup isn't exactly easy to crack after 22 straight playoff appearances. Holland points to Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard as a prime example.

"To get Jimmy Howard to the National Hockey League, we went through the same process 10 years ago," Holland said. "He used to be at these tournaments and then he went to Grand Rapids. He was in Grand Rapids four years. He was in Grand Rapids so long a lot of people didn't think he was any good. I think he's one of the seven, eight best goalies in the game" these days.

Holland also pointed out that Jakub Kindl's a prime example as a 2005 draft pick who just became a full-time NHL'er when we chatted on Thursday, so...

Yes, in some instances, the players the Wings have drafted could be on the Wings' roster as early as 3 years from now, but it's much more realistic to expect them to take 5-7 years to fully mature.

In other development camp news, the Free Press's George Sipple penned a profile of one Dean Chelios, who's got one more season to go at Michigan State University before attempting to land a pro contract...

Dean Chelios, one of several camp invitees, was back on the ice after missing last season with a torn left labrum. The injury occurred in one of the first practices last year.

“Someone just lifted my stick and my labrum ripped in four places,” Chelios said. “I had surgery around Halloween and then just slowly recovered the whole year.”

He received a medical redshirt to play in the upcoming season. He said he is fully healed and looking forward to his final season at MSU.

“I feel really good,” he said. “Coming back, it feels good again to play at that fast pace.”

Chelios is trying to view what he went through last season as a positive. He said he had a year to work on his skating and get stronger. Chelios said Rhett Holland, a freshman defenseman, had the same injury, so they worked out together for about three months.

Instead of playing in the final season of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, Chelios will be part of the inaugural Big Ten season. He was looking forward to playing in the outdoor Great Lakes Invitational scheduled last season for Comerica Park. That was rescheduled for this year after the NHL lockout canceled the Winter Classic and the associated Hockeytown Winter Festival.

“It’s like a redo,” Chelios said. “I have a ton of buddies that are in town. They’ll probably come. It’ll be a really neat experience.”

If you're interested in reading one more recap of Friday night's scrimmage, Winging it in Motown's Slapshotg0al provides some superb observations...

Tyler Bertuzzi started the first half of the scrimmage running around, playing undisciplined, and getting his ass handed to him. Bertuzzi has hockey skills, but before his potential can be realized, he's going to have to develop them, and change the way he mentally approaches the game. He's so accustomed to being the tough guy on the ice that it's like he's been more focused on that aspect of his game, than the skill portion. In the first period he didn't play smart or skilled, he was out on the ice trying to agitate, and hit people instead of playing hockey. He ended up getting knocked on his ass several times, pushed around, and he tried to hit Marty Frk in the corner and Frk cleaned his clock. Bertuzzi's helmet and glove went flying, Bertuzzi was a little stunned, went off the ice, and was off for the rest of the period. In the second period Bertuzzi came out and actually played hockey. He was making smart plays, getting the puck, and also took a beating physically. He has a lot of work to do in order to be ready for even the AHL level, but he has the capacity to do it. I think being drafted so recently, much higher than he or anyone else ever expected, and suddenly finding himself at development camp, surrounded by bigger, more skilled (in most cases much more skilled) players, has been very good for young BerTwozzi. He's been consistently outmatched, out-skilled, and sometimes tossed around like a rag doll, but his eyes have been opened to how much work he has to do; it gives him goals to set and reach. The training, education, drills, and team philosophy that Bertuzzi has been exposed to at camp are a good start in helping him grow and shape into a much more complete player. I wouldn't say he was good in the scrimmage, and parts of it he was awful, but keeping the full context of his situation in mind, I'm not concerned about him, and I look forward to seeing what kind of progress he makes in the next year.

And while Darren Helm skating has become something of an every-day occurrence here, the Free Press's Helene St. James pondered what Helm's presence means going forward in terms of his future and the shape of the Wings' roster to come:

[H]ere the Wings go again, wondering whether this time it’ll be different. Helm hadn’t skated for two months before taking the ice this past week during development camp in Traverse City, and after he got off the ice the first day, he said he felt good, that he was taking it slow, and that he hoped to keep progressing. Those replies could be squares on a “Darren Helm Bingo” matrix, because they were heard throughout February, March and April.

It’s aggravating for Helm, 26, to basically have his career on standby just as he had entered his prime, rewarded one year ago with a four-year, $8.5-million contract. And it’s hindering for the Wings, who are handcuffed to an extent regarding their roster because they have no idea whether Helm will be a contributor next season.

If Helm recovers from his injury — which numerous specialists have said is not structural — then the depth chart down the middle is easy enough to pen. It’ll be Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Helm and Joakim Andersson.

If Helm doesn’t recover — and given that there was no tangible improvement from January to April, why believe May to September will be any different? — then the Wings have to approach things differently. Andersson, a restricted free agent who will get re-signed at some point, would move up into the third spot, where he played much of last season. The person more affected is Cory Emmerton. The Wings basically need to keep him in case Helm can’t play. Otherwise, Emmerton would be an easy trim to a roster that, once Andersson and Gustav Nyquist are signed, will swell to 16 forwards.

The Wings will look to shake up the roster under any circumstance, because they want Daniel Cleary back, and will need to move someone, such as underused Jordin Tootoo, to make room. As for Helm, he might be skating, but the Wings can’t bank on having him available.



Otherwise...You may take this quip from the New York Post's Larry Brooks for what you will...

On Jan. 4, the day before the marathon negotiating session commenced that would lead to settlement of the lockout in the wee hours of Jan. 6, the NHLPA dissuaded Kovalchuk, Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin from issuing a joint statement declaring their intent to remain in Russia for at least the remainder of the KHL season regardless of whether or when the NHL reopened.

The Post, which first reported that news, has been told the Players’ Association would have been prepared to support the rights of these players to play indefinitely in a different league under contracts signed during the NHL lockout if the timing had been different and would not have created a significant last-minute obstacle to settlement.

The Free Press's George Sipple offers a lighthearted "news quiz"...

What can Chris Chelios check off his bucket list?

A) He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

B) He worked in another little rip at Gary Bettman. He’s still got it.

C) He used a mop bucket for … sorry, that was on Justin Bieber’s bucket list.

D) He looked great for a 77-year-old in ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue.

And I'm just guessing that Joe Louis Arena won't be named Michigan's best sports venue by Freep readers.


Late-breaking update type stuff:

Amongst the Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook's observations regarding prospects...

STUDYING UP: The training camp isn't all shooting pucks and lifting weights this year. The team is adding elements to the camp each year in order to educate players, offering instruction on public relations, team-building exercises and nutrition in addition to conditioning and one-ice skill development.

"It starts the process of what it takes to be a player in the National Hockey League," Holland said. "The evaluation part really comes in September in the Prospects Tournament. It's more education this week."

New this year was a cooking class on the camp's first day, which taught the prospects how to cook healthy meals — such as chicken and fish — on their own.

But the camp's on-ice instruction is just as intense.

"We have eight coaches on the ice right now," Fisher said. "We have 13 players. There shouldn't be any excuse about having enough information."

Saturday's "day off" included a trip to Camp Grayling, where the team ran the obstacle courses on the military base.

ICE CHIPS: One player who has stood out — literally — all week has been Russian defenseman Ildar Telyakov. The blueliner, a client of former Red Wing center Igor Larionov, stands 6-foot-8 1/2. ... Swedish forward Hampus Melen, a 2013 seventh-round draft pick, missed the camp due to illness. ... Dane Walters, a teammate of defenseman Danny DeKeyser at Western Michigan University, scored Team Yzerman's only goal in Friday's scrimmage.

And he penned a story about Chris Chelios and Tomas Holmstrom's new roles as on-ice coaches:

"I've been watching lots of hockey lately, because I don't play," Holmstrom said.

Holmstrom, who was an assistant coach on his son Isak's Honeybaked Squirt A team to this year's MAHA state championship, noticed a big difference right away in coaching young men rather than boys.

"It's a big difference," Holmstrom said. "Now you can yell at them."

One thing he hasn't been able to convey to children playing hockey is to replicate his playing style of camping out in front of the net and making life difficult for the opposing goaltender — usually while taking a beating from defensemen, pucks and the occasional goal stick to the back of the legs from a frustratingly-screened netminder.

"You tell kids to stand in front of the net, and they don't stand in front of the net," Holmstrom said. "When the puck comes, they move. The puck retrievals around the net, moving the D around. It's more than just standing still and doing a screen. It's much more than that. I never thought twice about it. That's the big difference. I see kids in drills, they don't stand in front of the net. They stay to the side of the net. You can't do that. Even in practice, that's where you learn. You have to stay in front in practice, too."

Update #2: Fox 32 posted a video feature on the Ferris State players who took part in Friday's scrimmage.

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WingedRider's avatar

He’s been consistently outmatched, out-skilled, and sometimes tossed around like a rag doll, but his eyes have been opened to how much work he has to do; it gives him goals to set and reach.

Tyler Bertuzzi.

It sounds like a wake up call for Tyler but you saying is quite different.  Hope those words come out his mouth sooner than later.

The Wings wanting Cleary back is something I will have to live with but please not 3 years

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 07/14/13 at 08:39 AM ET


Im definitely not digging this roster crunch.  I’m not going to be happy about whoever we lose

Me neither, but I can deal with it as long as they don’t have to lose more to bring back Cleary.

Posted by Garth on 07/14/13 at 06:42 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

No, he’s not going to be Byfuglien. He’s been playing against 16-to-20-year-olds and he’s been 6’5” and 230 since he was drafted at 18. He’s also taken a ton of undisciplined penalties and he was benched by his coach—despite being the team’s captain—because he was suspended one too many times. He’s not going to be able to fight in college and that’s going to be very, very hard for him.

So we’ve got to wait and see what he can do at a higher level here. I say that mostly because in terms of his personality, when I met him, anyway, he was very much so a boy in a man’s body, and at least Frk knows when to stop goofing around. McKee’s relied on his sheer physical strength for such a long time that I really want to see what he can do when he has to discipline himself in a league that actually penalizes the kinds of stuff he got away with in the rough-and-tumble USHL.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/14/13 at 08:07 PM 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.


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