The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/16/13 at 09:12 AM ET
The last day of the Red Wings' summer development camp didn't end when the players left the Centre Ice Arena for the final time this summer. Now that the day's passed us, I can tell you that they took part in a noon yoga class, that they engaged in one final strength and conditioning session with Peter Renzetti, and then the players spent the evening engaging in what may be the most important part of the entire six-day experience:
They engaged in exit interviews with the Wings' brass, receiving summer workout "prescriptions," assessments of their play over the course of the past week and on and off-ice "to-do" lists in terms of where the Wings believe the prospects to be on the developmental curve, and what aspects of their game the team wants them to work on before the prospect tournament begins on September 5th.
Some of the free agent try-outs were extended invites to said tournament; some of the NCAA players were asked to return next summer; and some received hand-shakes, congratulations and best wishes for the next non-Red Wings paths that their careers will take.
Between going through their fitness "numbers" as determined during the first day's physicals, in some cases (Nick Jensen), scheduling doctor's appointments to make sure that injuries are healing, and consulting with the coaches and management, I'm sure that each and every one of the 15 free agents and 38 total players in attendance--whose ranks non-on-ice particpants Kurt Etchegary (a free agent try-out), Mitchell Wheaton (a draft pick) and a partial participant in current Red Wing in Darren Helm--received strong indications as to what they need to do to ensure that their future with the Wings goes well.
Regardless of whether the Wings were speaking to Griffins-to-be like Martin Frk, Alexei Marchenko, Jared Coreau, etc., whether they were talking to first-time-participant draft picks like Anthony Mantha, or whether they were talking to free agents who may or may not have received invites to return in Dane Walters and Ildar Telyakov, who were the cream of the try-out crop, the Wings spent the same amount of time, energy and effort giving the players as much and off-ice instruction as they possibly could with the hopes that each and every participant has a scucessful career...
And the coaches and management poured just as much effort into making sure that their exit interviews "covered all the bases" with each and every one of those 38 players. I would imagine that some of them had a long wait to endure before speaking with the Wings' brass, but the exit interviews are always worth that invested time.
MLive's Brendan Savage spoke with Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer about where the prospects go from here:
"Guys that have been identified as elite prospects – even before the draft, not just by us – they played great here," said Jiri Fischer, the Red Wings director of player of development. "Whoever is going to be invited to the Prospects Tournament, that will be the true test. There will be some guys who will be returning out of the free agents. The college players are not eligible. They're not going to be coming back (in September) because of NCAA rules. But there's going to be several guys. That's going to be decided. We'll definitely give feedback on what we've learned on each and every player. We are pretty straight forward. We don't sugar coat things. We also want to hear from each player what they felt they need to work on and how the camp went."
The "listening" part of the equation is absolutely essential as it ensures that players know their voices will be heard and their opinions will be valued--to the point that some of next year's summer development campers will witness adjustments made based upon their recommendations--and the Wings alter their "prescriptions" accordingly basd upon what the players want to focus upon.
Fischer, who was one of a dozen instructors on hand at the Development Camp, was pleased with how things went. He agreed with general manager Ken Holland, who said the top prospects – guys like forward Martin Frk, defensemen Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet, and this year's top draft pick, forward Anthony Mantha – lived up to expectations while many of the others showed they still have a lot of progress to make.
"That's a great assessment," Fischer said. "It's been a little bit different than the previous camps. We actually added a day off in between, a team building day (Saturday). We did a fun paintball activity just a little bit outside Traverse City.
"We had a bus ride, guys had an opportunity to sit together and chit-chat together on the way there and the way back. The scrimmage was pretty intense considering we had a small number on each team this year. We're certainly looking at everybody here."
For many of the Wings' prospects, the summer camp represented their introduction to how the Wings do things on and off the ice, who the players can speak to if they need guidance, and what the team's expectations for the players entail. For the returnees who aren't turning pro, the focus is on improving in the areas that will help ensure that they're signed to pro contracts; for the players turning pro, it's all about what they need to do over the balance of the summer to best prepare themselves to play against men, and for the free agent try-outs, it's about building a foundation for a successful future regardless of whether that future involves playing for the Wings' organization in some way, shape or form.
I'm about to pack up the car and get on the road, so: The only other item of Red Wings-related note I found comes from iDnes.cz's Michael Beren, who spoke with Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl on Monday. The CTK news agency picked up the story and re-posted its highlights on several websites, and among its highlights:
- Kindl really, really hopes that he can make the Czech Olympic team;
- He's already heading back to Metro Detroit to train with Justin Abdelkader and the MSU gang;
- He got a "lender" Mercedes Benz SUV for the summer;
- He's delighted to know that he'll be a Red Wing for at least four more years, but he says that the bar has been set very high due to both the team's faith in him and the dollar amount in the deal;
- He missed Nicklas Lidstrom's presence, but he admits that Lidstrom's departure yielded a huge opportunity to play regularly, which he took advantage of;
- He's still disappointed with the playoff loss to Chicago but feels that the Wings had a good season overall;
- He's excited about Daniel Alfredsson coming to Detroit;
- He is SUPER RELIEVED that Pavel Datsyuk chose to remain with the Wings;
- And he offers a "meh" regarding Ilya Kovalchuk's decision-making process.
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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.