The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/19/14 at 02:43 AM ET
The Grand Rapids Griffins were eliminated from the Calder Cup playoffs on Sunday, but several Red Wings players and prospects are still playing hockey--at least for the next week.
At the World Championships, Gustav Nyquist's Swedes, Justin Abdelkader and Danny DeKeyser's Americans have quarterfinal spots locked up, Jakub Kindl's Czechs are very likely to make the quarterfinals, and Tomas Tatar's Slovaks...need some help.
Nyquist and Sweden battle Italy today at 1:45 PM EDT, and the other teams play on Tuesday. The quarterfinals will begin on Thursday, and the tournament's Gold Medal game takes place on Sunday, May 25th.
At the Memorial Cup, Anthony Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs will play Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm this evening (at 7 PM EDT, on Sportsnet and the NHL Network).
Mantha's Foreurs will play Edmonton on Tuesday, and Bertuzzi's Storm will play London on Wednesday. The Memorial Cup's championship will take place on Sunday the 25th as well.
In terms of today's Red Wings-related news, Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika's interview with Mike Babcock won't shut up those who insist that Mike Babcock will somehow bolt from the Red Wings this summer, but I loved this quote from the CBC's Elliote Friedman--whose interview with Babcock you can listen to here...
Mike Babcock on Hockey Night in Canada Radio about his future: "When you've been in a place nine years like I have, going into my 10th year, it becomes a mutual thing. You want to be someplace where they want you. If they don't want you, you move on. I'm going to coach in the league for a long time yet, there's going to be opportunities for me. I like what we've done in Detroit; we've rebuilt on the fly...I think we have a chance to be better next year and better in the future. So, I tell people all the time: I've got a good place to hunt, I've got a good place to water ski, my family's happy, my youngest girl is finishing school next year so I'm free that way. But there's no reason to move if you don't have to move or if it doesn't excite you to. I've always been a believer that the grass is greener right here at home as long as you fertilize and water."
Again, if you go to my damn SoundCloud page, you'll hear Babcock make similar statements three more times.
Also from Friedman's "30 Thoughts":
19. Watching 20-year-old John Gibson have his roughest night as a pro in Game 7 against the Kings reminded me of 21-year-old Chris Osgood's giveaway that led to San Jose's monumental upset of Detroit in 1994. "I remember being devastated, disappointed," Osgood said Sunday. "It was a great opportunity as a young goalie. You think you can win the Stanley Cup at a young age like Patrick Roy and Grant Fuhr. I grew up idolizing those guys...You lose Game 7 as a heavy favourite on a deciding goal where you made the mistake."
20. But Osgood, who was very tough mentally, moved past it. "The next day I said, 'I can do this, if this is the worst that happens it's not that bad...If I can get over this, I can handle anything.' When you're 21, you think you can handle everything, but you need people you can talk to. Ken Holland was really good at putting things in perspective...he steered me in the right direction. He told me I wasn't supposed to be here, don't let one mistake define who you are going to be."
21. Osgood added his situation is similar to Gibson's because both had young teammates who were excited to be in the NHL despite the loss. "He didn't look any different to me than he did in other games," he said. "Sometimes it just happens at the worst possible time. I loved [Gibson] when scouting him. He makes it look easy, that's how you know he is good...Use [bad games] to get better."
Maybe you’ve heard the rumor about Mike Babcock leaving the Red Wings to be the assistant and eventual successor to Red Berenson at Michigan?
Well, Babcock hopes you have.
“That’s just me entertaining myself,” Babcock said to Yahoo! Sports writer and former Freepster Nicholas J. Cotsonika. “I don’t know who started those rumors, and now I keep them going. There’s nothing to it — zero to it.”
Going forward, I know that more than a few Red Wings fans went, "What the hell, he worked for the Blue Jackets?" when the Wings hired Tyler Wright to lead their amateur scouting department, and with the draft a little more than a month away (June 27th and 28th in Philadelphia, PA), the Free Press's George Sipple spoke with Wright about his body of work:
Tyler Wright, hired by the Red Wings last summer as director of amateur scouting, ran the draft for the Columbus Blue Jackets the past three years.
The Jackets had three first-round picks — No. 14, No. 19 and No. 27 — in the 2013 draft, including picking in front of the Wings, who had the 20th pick.
The Blue Jackets chose Djurgarden center Alexander Wennberg with the 14th pick and took left wing Kerby Rychel, son of former NHL player and current Windsor Spitfires GM Warren Rychel, at No. 19. The Wings draftd forward Anthony Mantha with the next pick.
Wright wouldn’t say where Mantha was on Columbus’ board last season.
Mantha (6-feet-5, 204 pounds) and Rychel (6-1, 202) are participating in the Memorial Cup. Rychel had 16 goals and 23 assists in 27 games for the Spitfires before he was traded to Guelph. He had 18 goals and 33 assists in 31 regular-season games for the Storm. He has added 11 goals and 21 assists in 20 playoff games. Rychel scored twice in a 5-2 win over Edmonton on Saturday in Guelph’s opening game of the Memorial Cup.
Mantha had 57 goals and 63 assists in 57 regular-season games for Val-d’Or. He has added 24 goals and 14 assists in 24 playoff games.
As Sipple notes, per the Blue Jackets' website, Wright's drafts haven't fully panned out, but they've been pretty bloody decent:
In 2011, his picks included Boone Jenner, who posted 29 points in his rookie season, Seth Ambroz, a massive power forward who played for the University of Minnesota, and goaltender Anton Forsberg, who started for Modo Ornskoldsvik this past season;
In 2012, his picks included Ryan Murray, one of the Blue Jackets' best defensemen, Oscar Dansk, another superb goaltender, Josh Anderson, another big forward who posted a 50-point season with the OHL's London Knights, and Joonas Korpisalo, another solid goaltender;
And in 2013, his picks included the aforementioned Kerby Rychel, the Guelph Storm's best player and an 89-point-scorer, Alexander Wennberg, a big Swedish grinder, Oliver Bjorkstrand, a forward who posted 109 points with the WHL's Portland Winterhawks, and Marko Dano, an intriguingly gritty Slovakian.
Hockey's Future ranked the Blue Jackets as having the 8th-best prospect pool in the NHL (the Wings were #3), with 4 of their 5 top prospects being Wright's picks:
8. (8) Columbus Blue Jackets
Strengths: The Blue Jackets have a deep and talented group of forwards, led by first-round picks Alexander Wennberg, Marko Dano, and Kerby Rychel. Columbus also has numerous potential role players among their forward ranks, namely Michael Chaput, Sean Collins, and Lukas Sedlak. Oscar Dansk headlines a relatively talented group of goaltending prospects.
Weaknesses: The Blue Jackets graduated many of their top defensive prospects over the last season, leaving the cupboards relatively bare in terms of top-four talent. Though Columbus has good organizational depth in net, all of their goaltending prospects need more experience before they can be considered NHL caliber.
Top 5 Prospects: 1. Alexander Wennberg, C; 2. Oscar Dansk, G; 3. Kerby Rychel, LW; 4. Marko Dano, C; 5. Cody Goloubef, D.
Hockey's Future also issued end-of-season awards to the rest of the Blue Jackets' top prospects, and again, most of them were Wright picks, including Rychel, Danko, Wennberg, Bjorkstrand and "high risk-reward" prospect Joel Quenneville.
So Wright's made some very sound picks to re-stock the Blue Jackets' goaltending pipeline, to add some significant scoring and to ensure that the Blue Jackets have some sizable grit down the line--and he picked Jenner and Murray, too. That's pretty dang good.
I know he's not Joe McDonnell (who took scout Mark Leach with him), but the best part about Wright coming in and right-hand man Andrew Dickson joining the fold is that they were tasked with keeping the Wings' holdovers in check--and that they and Ken Holland decided to add three more pairs of eyes to the mix to make the scouting staff even better.
Chief scout Jeff Finley, David Kolb, Ari Vouri, Vladimir Havluj, a certain Hakan Andersson, Evgeni Erfilov and Marty Stein have all been with the team for an extended period of time.
The new additions, Sam Lites, Mario Marois and Kelly Harper were brought in to scout NCAA hockey, the QMJHL and Toronto-area hockey leagues and junior teams with more intensity. With the Wings tapping into NCAA prospects and the QMJHL more regularly, they felt it was necessary to have more personnel watching said leagues, and Harper partially replaced McDonnell in terms of covering his geographical area.
Just as importantly, Ken Holland, Ryan Martin, Kris Draper, Jiri Fischer, Jim Bedard, Chris Chelios, Jimmy Devellano and of course people like Babcock do their fair share of scouting (Martin was the one who discovered Mantha), and while Wright's now the man who will make the final decisions at the draft, the Wings' scouting and player development systems are well-established and very strong.
Losing Jim Nill and Joe McDonnell was hard, very hard, and we still don't know how losing both the man who smoothed everything out and the team's long-time draft-master will pan out. I know that Holland talked about losing McDonnell and Leach like he got caught with his pants down last summer--it was the one thing about Nill's departure that pissed him off, though he had to admit that the pair's contracts were up.
But the Wings were preparing for the eventuality of Nill's departure, and Tyler Wright's done more than get in Holland's good graces by golfing with the GM in their shared offseason home of Vernon, British Columbia. Wright started scouting for Columbus in 2007, and in case you've forgotten, Wright also played in 613 NHL games for Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Anaheim, and he was a scrappy little bugger.
He'll be fine, and the Wings' prospect pool will be fine, too.
Otherwise...DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose looked at Kyle Quincey's 2013-2014 season "By the Numbers"...
31: Led all Red Wings’ defensemen and ranked No. 22 among Eastern Conference D-men in total takeaways. The total represents his single-season high since 2009-10 when he finished second among Colorado Avalanche blue-liners with 47 swipes.
109: He finished third in blocks, trailing only defensemen Niklas Kronwall (154) and rookie Danny DeKeyser (116) in the category. It was Quincey’s highest number of blocked shots since he posted a career-high (143) in 2009-10, his first season with the Avalanche.
88: Led the team in penalty minutes, which was also his single-season career high for time spent in the sin bin. He had team-high 33 minor infractions, the most for tripping and interference with six each. Also earned a fighting major with San Jose’s Tyler Kennedy (Jan. 9) and a game-misconduct for boarding Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf (Dec. 17).
He's going to get $4 million from somebody, but it's not Detroit. As the Detroit News's David Guralnick reminded us, he'll be cool with it.
I hate to say it, but I've got to admit it: when did he lose me as a fan? During all those times when he'd be flat on his stomach, trying to jab at players skating in on a breakaway for a goal? Because of the giveaways? Or the stupid penalties?
Nope. It was during 24/7. The only really revelatory moment regarding the players for me involved Quincey (Babcock was all sorts of fascinating, as was Holland, but the players were shoved to the side), and it involved Quincey insisting that his 5-minute major for mashing Ryan Getzlaf (who I despise) into the boards, numbers-and-face first, resulting in only some stitches, and Quincey insisted that it was a 2-minute penalty at best.
I thought, "Man, all of that and you don't suck it up, take the 5 and ask DeKeyser what the Olympia Club's serving that night?" (that's where the Wings get their meals if they eat at the rink, the Olympia Club's kitchen). "Shut up. Take your major. Hope you don't get suspended. And be glad you didn't break Getzlaf's face. You nearly broke his face. Shut up and order a steak."
But that's just me.
Taking a very hard right, you might have noticed that the preliminary plans for the Red Wings' follow-on rink do not include a very, very, very necessary parking garage (think about those few October weekends when there's a show at the Fox, a show at the Filmore, a Tigers game and a Lions game, and a Red Wings game, and how hard it is to get parking for the frickin' Joe).
The Detroit Free Press allowed architect Dan Austin to weigh in on the $250 of "economic development" that's been proposed, and Austin suggests that the Ilitches spend some of that money renovating the Hotel Eddystone and Hotel Park Avenue:
Amid all the still-to-come details about the new hockey arena are more vague details about a new entertainment district that will spring up next door. Now, Detroit’s been promised entertainment districts with stadiums in the past. Assuming this one succeeds where others have come up short, you’re going to need a place for tourists, visiting hockey teams and tipsy Red Wings fans to stay. You could build some generic cheap hotel, or you can dust off and spruce up something truly special — historic landmarks that could be destinations unto themselves. Arenas like the one in Columbus, Ohio, have incorporated residential into them. What hockey fan wouldn’t want to stay — maybe even live — next to their team’s arena?
Built in the 1920s, the Hotel Eddystone and Hotel Park Avenue are architectural tanks. Underneath all that tasteful limestone and irreplaceable architectural detail lie fortresses of steel. If you’re an abandoned building in Detroit, you don’t live to be 90 years old if you’re made of cheap materials and poor craftsmanship. For years, demolition has been the only feasible choice for many abandoned properties in the city. Nobody wanted them. Nobody wanted the land on which they sat. Nobody wanted to look at them.
But downtown and Midtown are both seeing occupancy rates of about 98%, according to Midtown Inc., many of them in beautiful, historic buildings. The rebirth of once-grand hotels like the Book-Cadillac gets national press coverage. Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert is snatching up historic buildings downtown left and right. In fact, Detroit is seeing a slew of its sleeping architectural giants being awakened: the Broderick Tower, the David Whitney Building, the Fort Shelby Hotel, the Federal Reserve, heck, they’re even renovating some of the city’s closed schools.
Historic abandoned buildings in Detroit are no longer liabilities — they can be assets.
Moreover, the Ilitches should be familiar with the positive press and goodwill that comes from saving a historic landmark. It’s been 26 years since they spent $12 million to restore the Fox Theatre and people are still praising them for it. This town loves a good comeback story. Conversely, when the family had the historic Madison-Lenox Hotel razed for a parking lot, there was outrage.
Saving the Park Avenue and the Eddystone is not impossible — they are on the National Register of Historic Places, which qualifies them for tax credits that would save millions on the rehab.
I haven't said much about the desolation that lies behind the Fox Theatre yet. I've tried to stay away from it, because talking about it can be dangerous. But it's more than time to clean that shit up. Ilitch's desolation isn't on a Matty Moroun scale, but it's bad, and it's time to do something with that area. It's just needless to keep all those buildings up for no reason.
One more hard left--maybe make it a right.
Finally, an admission: I've been grinding it out since returning from a sinus-and-stomach bug to cover the Wings-Bruins series, and three weeks later, I still don't feel very well. I'm doing my best to post content, but there's a part of me that's incredibly grateful that no Wings or prospects will be playing hockey after this upcoming Sunday.
This week's about the Griffins' final remarks after Sunday night's ouster, the Memorial Cup and the Worlds, and it's going to be very busy, so...
I'm going to try to survive this week, and then I need to take a couple-day break, because June's going to be...Busy. The Wings will make their final decisions on free agents in the first couple of weeks (Daniel Alfredsson will probably inform the Wings of his plans, and Jonas Gustavsson's future's in doubt), we'll find out what will happen in terms of both the Griffins and some of the Wings' prospects, and the lead-up to the draft on the 27th and 28th and free agency will include compliance buy-outs, all sorts of Babcock-and-UFA chatter, and then it's meeting 7 new members of the Wings' family over 2 days, preparing for free agency on the 1st and hauling ass to Traverse City on July 2nd or 3rd.
Did I mention that the prospect camp starts on July 4th this time? Or that I need to do fundraising sooner than later? D'oh!
Anyway, I don't expect things to slow down all that much between now and mid-July save the last week in May, so that's when I hope to take a little break. I hope I've at least kept you from going through too much hockey withdrawl for the last month, and I hope to continue that mission throughout the summer.
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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.