The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/14/13 at 04:47 AM ET
Beware, Wings fans, auto-play clips lurk within!
The Grand Rapids Griffins can capture their first Calder Cup title tonight when they battle the Syracuse Crunch in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Final this evening (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio), and they'll do so in front of an AHL-attendance-record-setting, sold-out Van Andel Arena audience (the Griffins have stated that tickets are only available on the secondary market; and if you wonder what the AHL does with Calder Cup jerseys, pucks and even player nameplates, it swipes 'em and puts them up for auction!).
The Griffins preached patience, poise and wariness of the Crunch's hard-hitting offensive aplomb on Thursday, off-setting Ken Holland's suggestions that the rebuilding-on-the-fly Wings may see 10 of the Grifins' playoff-performing prospects graduate to the NHL at some point, and we do know that the Griffins will probably face some adversity as Richard Panik's hit on Adam Almquist, clean or not, gave Almquist a concussion, so the team probably won't have the services of one of their best puck-movers at their disposal.
Almquist spoke to Fox 17 about his injury, which is likely to result in
Jeff Brett Skinner returning to the Griffins' lineup, in a video discussing the Griffins' Thurdsay practice...
(Even if these clips don't auto-play, you need hit "pause" after the clip or it will roll on to the next clip on its playlist)
Fox 17's Steve Amorose offered a profile of Danny DeKeyser...
(Don't tell anyone that the AHL seems to be ignoring that DeKeyser's wearing Bauer gloves and a Bauer helmet, or that Gustav Nyquist's wearing Warrior gloves, which are no-no's in a CCM-Reebok-sponsored league)
And Fox 17's Mitch Fick offers a profile of East Grand Rapids native Luke Glendening, whose playoff performance seems to have earned him an NHL contract with the Wings at some point in the near future given that Mike Babcock thinks Glendening's an NHL player:
The Griffins also made radio appearances on ESPN 96.1 FM's Sean Baligian's "It Is What it Is" show, with coach Jeff Blashill...
Another possible Wings signee in defenseman Chad Billins...
And captain Jeff Hoggan speaking with Baligian:
The Free Press's Helene St. James also noted that the Wings have invested a significant sum in Jimmy Howard, but at the same time, they've ensured that Petr Mrazek's receiving the best possible mentoring that the team can provide him with--in Chris Osgood:
One of Mrazek’s best attributes, Osgood said Thursday as he drove around Grand Rapids, is that “he thrives on pressure. He enjoys it when the team is up by a goal with 10 minutes to go. Then he just becomes unbeatable. He believes he’s going to win every game. You have to have that as a goalie.”...
Osgood has worked primarily with Mrazek, a fifth-round pick from 2010 who has turned into a blue-chip prospect. Much like Osgood and former Wing Dominik Hasek, Mrazek is imperturbable.
“Demeanor wise,” Osgood said, “he knows up 3-0, and he’s not even talking about it. That’s kind of like myself, and how Dom was.”
Mrazek, 21, made a very favorable first impression with the Wings when he delivered a 5-1 victory in his debut back in February. Part of what Osgood has tried to teach Mrazek is puck-handling, something at which Osgood excelled.
“He’s got all the attributes, he just needs to add a few things and grow before he’ll be in Detroit,” Osgood said. “I work with him on foot speed, on getting him to come out of the blue paint and challenge more. But he’s good. And he corrects himself. You don’t have to tell him over and over.”
St. James also asked Osgood about his experiences in Oklahoma City when the Griffins and OKC Barons had to take shelter from a tornado, and she got quite the quip from him about his transition from goaltender to goalie mentor, but I can't quote her entire article.
And as I've found out on Twitter, AHL fans don't take lightly to criticism of their favorite players, but I can tell you for a fact that the Wings' biggest issue with Mrazek involves his tendency to back into his crease and on to the goal line, which definitely results in more spectacular saves, but also results in more goals against (though Mrazek possesses both superb stats and statistics which reflect the Griffins' over-reliance on a goaltender facing a heavy workload on a night-to-night basis--he's faced 28 shots a game and a total of 590 pucks over 21 playoff games, and) and more wear and tear on his body.
When you're 21, making that extra, "Make the splits and then reach up to snag a puck headed for the top shelf with your blocker, pump out a rebound and then snag another top-shelf shot with your glove" set of saves, but over the course of time, over-relying on Dominik Hasek-style saves can yield Dominik Hasek-style wear and tear on one's hips and groin, so there's a method to the Wings' madness in trying to tame Mrazek's battling style to some extent.
In other news...
This is very big news to gearheads like myself:
Pro tip: If you're seriously serious about having access to the best stuff--the vast majority of what the end-of-season equipment sale offers is access to the Wings' playoff-worn jerseys (they are expensive but gorgeous) and their big equipment bags (ditto), as well as heavily, heavily discounted merchandise (think books, autographs, pictures, t-shirts, that sort of stuff), but there's a good amount of sticks, some skates, some gloves, some helmets, a few unworn visors and occasionally some goalie gear.
The season ticket-holders get access to a pre-sale before the general public has access to the goods, and as you might imagine, people who have enough money to buy a 10-game or full-season package have enough to drop on some of the better stuff I've seen (see: Jimmy Howard glove and blocker, unused; a pair of very gently-used Henrik Zetterberg gloves; new Niklas Kronwall skates that a very nice young lady who shares Kronwall's size-six feet uses to skate; your pick of Pavel Datsyuk's "Pasha," "Pasha 2" and even "Lidstrom"-patterned Reebok sticks), so if you know a season ticket-holder who's not heading to the sale, ask if you can snag their admission slip.
If not, good gear will remain (Johan Franzen and Drew Miller, for example, go through an inordinate amount of sticks, and the non-game-used merchandise is actually really neat stuff, photo books, copies of the Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay books, unused game pucks for $5 instead of $10 or $15, nice t-shirts, etc.), but if you're in the mood to invest in stuff to collect or even gear to use (I have a friend who now uses Brian Rafalski's pattern), try to jump in line, if you will.
Regarding Datsyuk, the Wings will definitely try to extend his contract this summer, and Sportsnet's Jeff Simmons wondered whether Datsyuk or other stars with expiring contracts a year from now might earn Evgeni Malkin-like bucks:
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Contract status: One year remaining at cap hit of $6.7 million
Even though Pavel Daystuk can still play at a high level, not too many teams will be lining up to ship out $8 million to a 34-year-old player – especially a savvy front office like Detroit.
The Red Wings are surely looking to get younger at this point and it’ll be interesting to see how much money they’ll have to throw around with key forwards Damien Brunner and Valteri Filpulla scheduled to hit the market this summer.
Datsyuk is entering the final year of his deal and, while he can still fly and dangle with the best of ‘em, his best years are likely behind him.
In his prime, you could have easily made the case that Datsyuk is as worthy as anyone to be amongst the highest-paid players in the game, but that time has passed.
Datsyuk still scored at over a point-per-game pace in the shortened season and added another nine points in the playoffs, but it doesn’t seem realistic to assume Datsyuk will stay in the same tax bracket as Ovie and Malkin.
Hi, my name is George Malik, and in addition to believing that Pierre McGuire kind of sucks, I'm going to take Pavel Datsyuk at his, "I want to stay for many years to come" word and assume that an $8 million contract for a 34-year-old isn't stupid as he's not exactly slowing down.
Maybe Simmons forgot that Datsyuk registered 49 points during the 2013 regular season (over the course of 47 games played), leading the Wings in scoring, and while he had a rough go against Chicago, he still registered 9 points in playoff 14 games, tying him with Damien Brunner for 3rd in post-season scoring.
In the Twitter department:
If you're interested in draft-related stuff, Hockey's Future's posted team draft previews and NHL combine profiles recently;
NHL.com's draft page is up and rolling along with player profiles;
And theSports Forecaster's posted top-five goalie rankings, top-fie defensemen rankings, a slate of "sleepers" and the players the Wings are drafting 10 spots too low (18th overall) to snag in the five most NHL-ready prospects.
And finally, the Utica Observer-Dispatch's Don Laible shared some of former Red Wings team physician John Finley's most memorable moments during his 47-year tenure with the team (most of the stories are gleaned from his book, Hockeytown Doc--and hey, by the way we've got an affiliation with Amazon that helps Paul and I run this dang website and stuff), and today, Laible offers more tales from the medical front:
In the 1980's Gordie and Colleen Howe joined Dr. and Genevieve Finley in Central New York for some rest and relaxation . While in Skaneateles, plenty of golf was played,too. In speaking with Dr. Finley, you can throw any Red Wing greats name out and there are stories to follow - aside from Howe, there were Alex Delvecchio, Ted Lindsay, Bill Gadsby, Frank Mahovlich, right on up to the early 2000's. Through his years of dedication to the club, Dr.Finley collected four Stanley Cup championship rings. Of the four , Dr. Finley tells of wearing the '02 ring most. " It is a little smaller than the players rings. What the players get are so much bigger in size. I usually wear them at nice events ", says Dr. Finley.
When I bring up former Wings captain and hall of famer ( class of 2009 ) Steve Yzerman , Dr. Finley cuts to the chase on the on-ice performances he witnessed. " Steve was a phenominal player who did everything beautifully ".
With the influx of Russian players in the Wings organization in the late '80's and '90's, when tending to injuries players spoke to Dr. Finley in highly broken English. Sergei Fedorov was a favorite of the doctor. Dr. Finley tells a great story involving Fedorov and Yzerman. As a game was in progress and Fedorov was in the Joe Louis Arena's medical room being treated by Dr. Finley for possible bone dislocations, Captain Yzerman left the team's bench. He walked into the room and demanded his teammate return to the ice where he was needed. Stevie Y was that much of a warrior, as was Sergei - who did just as his captain requested. Talk about grit!
Let me leave you with this - Google photographs of former Toronto Maple Leaf Borje Salming. See the result of when Red Wing Gerard Gallant was pushed from behind, and his skate came down on Salming's face. Try to believe what you see. Borje took nearly 300 stitches to his face during the on-ice accident at Joe Louis Arena. Dr. Finley required three hours in the operating room to close and repair the gruesome wound.
Update: The Detroit News's Mike Martindale offers more from the Howe family's court case against former business manager Del Reddy. Again, it ain't pretty.
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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.