Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: on Holland’s conversation with Krupa, Howard’s pivotal season, etc.

Updated 3x at 6:19 AM: Every "preseason" unfolds like a snowflake (i.e. it's never exactly the same from year to year; maybe a "fallen leaf" would be a better autumn simile?), but it's September 1st, and here's what I know:

The Wings' "Captain's Practices" will be open to the media starting tomorrow (Tuesday; I'm sure the media will cover still-needs-to-be-re-signed defenseman Danny DeKeyser's flight with the Blue Angels, too), and we'll start hearing from more and more players as the non-married and/or no-kids players return to Detroit over the ten to twelve days and the Michigan-based players who play for other teams head to their respective cities of employment.

Sometimes the Wings' players practice on an every-other-day basis for the first week of September; sometimes it's 5 days out of 7. By the second week, they're usually practicing every weekday, and in the lulls between football Saturdays and Tigers games, they begin to make radio appearances.

On Friday, September 12th, the Wings' prospect tournament kicks off in Traverse City (with an intriguing mix of signed players, draft picks and try-outs attempting to defend the Wings' one and only 8-team-tournament championship), while back in Detroit, the Wings will hold "Hockeyfest" at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday September 14th.

On Wednesday, September 17th, the day after the Wings' prospect tournament ends, the Wings' players will either get on the team bus or drive their own cars up to Traverse City, and training camp kicks off on Friday, September 19th, with the Wings holding three hard days' worth of practices, as well as a "Red vs. White" game on Sunday the 20th.

On September 22ndtand 23rd, the Wings will continue to hold Monday-and-Tuesday-morning practices in Traverse City, but those morning skates precede preseason games in Pittsburgh and Chicago, respectively, and the "game day" skaters will have flown to those locales on Red Bird III (the dispersal of players heading back to Detroit on the 23rd is great luxury car speeding ticket fodder for the State Police, too).

The Wings' preseason schedule looks like this (and I snipped this from the Wings' website to show you that 3 of the 8 preseason games are on TV)

The Wings will of course cut down their roster as the preseason progresses, and we'll end up finding out whether Daniel Alfredsson's healthy enough to withstand another season, whether Mitch Callahan, Landon Ferraro or Anthony Mantha can "steal jobs" up front, or whether the quartet of Mattias Backman, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul can unseat Jakub Kindl or Brian Lashoff...

And the fact that the Wings are playing 8 preseason games in 13 nights means that the team's going to sustain some injuries. Hell, you don't get through the first day of training camp before 60 players competing for 20 jobs = somebody gets hurt.

Somewhere along the way, the Grand Rapids Griffins' players will split from the NHL team, hold their own training camp in Grand Rapids, play a pair of preseason games in Windsor and Fort Wayne, Indiana on October 3rd and 4th, and they'll kick off their AHL schedule on October 10th, with the players who end up heading to Toledo slated to start the ECHL season on October 18th.

Long story long, those 60 players will be whittled down to 23 NHL players skating for a Red Wings team that's likely to be nuzzling the salary cap (Capgeek's Wings chart currently lists whether anyone and everyone on the roster has to clear waivers, too), and we can only hope that the injuries are kept to a bare minimum.

At the NHL level, the Red Wings open their 2014-15 regular season schedule with a trio of home games, hosting the Boston Bruins in the home opener on Thursday, October 9th...

The Wings then host the Ducks on Saturday the 11th, and then entertain the Bruins one more time in one of those annoying "NBC Rivalry Night" games before engaging in a home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs on the 17th and 18th.

If that's not enough Original Six action for you, the Wings will be heading to Montreal to play the Canadiens on the 21st, and then they zig-zag back and forth between the Joe (hosting Pittsburgh on the 23rd), Philadelphia (playing the Flyers on the 25th) and Washington (playing the Capitals on the 29th) and then back to the Joe to host the Kings on Halloween, wrapping up a 10-games-in-31-days month (with the Wings' annual West Coast Swing not taking place until...January?).

Oh, and Mike Babcock will either have signed a contract prior to the start of the regular season or he'll worry those of you who don't want to see him leave by "playing out the string" (my bet is that he'll probably re-sign in the spring, just to enjoy the media speculation and a slightly larger paycheck, but that's just me), too.

 

So those of you who are itching for some hockey action will probably do what I will be doing in 22 days--watching a bootleg stream of the Wings' games in Pittsburgh and Chicago--and by then, many of the questions that have been bugging us all summer long will have been answered, with the Wings' total of 18 games played over the course of 40 nights (both preseason and regular season) solving the vast majority of the "We won't know until they play in games" ones.

With hockey season all but upon us, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa's posited an impeccably-timed, lengthy interview with the Red Wings' GM this morning, and as you might expect...

Holland's not changing his tune one bit regarding his position, willing to both defend the team's inability to sign marquee unrestricted free agents and the team's lateral moves in inking Kyle Quincey as a by-default option and Daniel Cleary for the same reasons he addressed with more and more consternation in those mid-August radio interviews.

His message? Having just inked a four-year contract extension, GM KH knows what he's doing, and ultimately, the Wings believe that the team's philosophy of drafting and developing players is still at the heart of its master managerial plan:

“I’ve been with the Red Wings as a player since 1983, since ’85 as a scout, and I would say that the work we did in the late ’80s and early ’90s really set us up for a decade, and in Nick Lidstrom’s case two decades,” Holland said. “And then the work that we did in the late ’90s and the 2000s — and the work at the draft table, the work of developing players — set us up for the last decade. If you’re going to be successful as an organization in the National Hockey League, in my opinion, you’ve got to draft well — drafting and developing. And free agency and trading is the complementary piece to be a good organization.”

Now I don't usually do this, but I'm going to "peel back the curtain" for a moment.

I tend to write these entries all at once, or as close to all at once as possible. I try to avoid self-censoring and even thinking about what I want to write so that you get my most authentic voice. Knowing that Holland was going to play the, "I've been here for almost forty years and I've put in a tremendous amount of work and I think I know better than you do" line made me mad enough that I have to stop writing for half an hour.

I shaved the sides and back of my head and my non-goatee beard, I took a shower, I got a snack, I thought about what I wanted to say in response. I pondered my experience as a fan for 23 years and someone who's been spending at least four to six hours a day following the Wings online, first informally from about 1999 on, to on an if-I-wasn't-on-a-message-board-I-would've-been-a-blogger basis from 2001 until I started with MLive in December of 2005, and now having made this my profession.

I thought about the line between pretend professional and admittedly biased fan, the fact that I came home from the summer development camp and immediately spent nearly three hours writing my "Open Letter" to react to the Cleary re-signing.

Here' what I came up with:

Having seen the enormous amount of time that Holland and the managerial staff spend in the middle of July, working the phones and exchanging text messages on a sometimes near-constant basis after the free agent fireworks are over, and having seen the coaching staff come to the rink before I do and leave after I do during the summer camp, the prospect tournament and main training camp, and hoping that the Wings eventually decide that bloggers are part of Joe Louis Arena or the follow-on rink's press box...

The Wings' results over the past two seasons open you up to more than a little constructive criticism, man, and while you've got four more Stanley Cups than Red Wings fans do, those who are spending their time, energy, effort and money following the team aren't all ill-informed morons, and continuing to cop this, "I know better than you do so you shouldn't doubt me" message...

I'm one of the more positive Wings bloggers out there, and as far as I'm concerned, the fan-and-coaches-and-management relationship has been incredibly and severely strained due to the team's mixed player personnel messages, litany of injuries and increasingly consistent status as a struggle-to-make-the-playoffs, then one-round-and-out team.

As a fan, I don't know if I trust Ken Holland any more, and the Cleary re-signing just built upon the foundations set by Babcock's decision to play Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi, Jordin Tootoo, Cory Emmerton and Cleary ahead of the Tomas Tatars to start last season, as well as the team's inability to really land anyone but Danny DeKeyser via free agency since the Hossa signing, and especially that disastrous post-Ryan-Suter-strikeout, "Let's sign a bunch of veterans!" mess that yielded Carlo Colaiacovo, Tootoo, Samuelsson, one useful player in Jonas Gustavsson and cap and player personnel headaches galore.

This is professional sports we're talking about. "Try your best" counts for quite a bit when one is playing, coaching or managing sports on an amateur level, but when we're talking about the NHL, "We tried our best" doesn't count.

"We tried our best" doesn't give you an "out" or excuse for not delivering results, either. This is the Detroit Red Wings we're talking about, and, "To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected" applies to the best-paid general manager and the soon-to-be best-paid coach in hockey, too.

Krupa addresses fans' "impatience" and points out that the Ilitch family has been very open in stating that they trust the management team, and then he comes to this:

“We’re trying to do two things at the same time,” Holland said. “We’re trying to be a playoff team that competes with the best teams in the division and conference and at the same time behind the scenes we’re trying to draft and develop the next generation of Red Wings players who are going to help us be a playoff team every year going forward.”

Red Wings fans would argue that it's in fact pretty damn hard to do the second part if you're never willing to award players ice time based upon merit.

“The players we’re drafting and where we pick them in the draft, they need to work their way to the National Hockey League,” Holland said. “If we get them there too fast? What’s going to allow them to be special players or make the league could be taken away from them if they get there too quick.

"My philosophy in player development was really developed through my nine years as a minor league player and then spending another nine years with Scotty Bowman in Detroit and watching him use veteran players. And when you find good veteran players with great character and they’re role models, and even when their skills start to diminish, they still know how to play the game.  And they buy time for your young people to develop so that they’re not under pressure.”

It's also the salary cap era, and by the time that the Wings feel that players are "truly ready" at 24 or 25 years of age, some teams have been employing--as JJ pointed out in the Sunday entry--players of slightly better skill levels for 4 or 5 years. The Wings continue to generally keep players in Grand Rapids until their waiver-exempt status expires, or nearly so, and over the past two seasons, the Wings' coach and management have doggedly insisted that "the kids aren't the answer" until last January.

When the kids became the answer, and they pushed a massively-depleted and an incredibly inconsistent-when-healthy team into the playoffs, Wings fans had hoped that the coaching and managerial staff wouldn't do anything to hold them back going into the 2014-15 season.

Then Quincey and Cleary were re-signed, their re-signings were doggedly defended on top of the team's whiffing on Matt Niskanen, Dan Boyle, Anton Stralman, telling Tom Gilbert to go and take the Candiens' money, and as we found out later, the team deciding to not reacquire Brad Stuart for the sake of going after a Niskanen whose heart was set on Washington, a Boyle who wanted to play in New York and a Stralman who was heavily recruited by former captain Ryan Callahan and who was given more money and term than the Wings were willing to offer by one Steve Yzerman.

Most certainly, one can look at Kevin Hayes signing with the Rangers or Brad Richards taking a million bucks to be the Blackhawks' third-line center and understand that the Wings are riding a fine line in trying to not "rush" their youngsters while neither enjoying the playoff success of the contending teams nor the high picks of the teams that are willing to tank--and the Wings are insistent that they will not dismantle the Big Red Machine because dismantling teams often yields an Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets or Florida Panthers team as much as it does a Chicago or Boston (and the team isn't wrong there)...

But then you read Holland talk about the cap era and how free agents sometimes don't sign with teams for whatever reason, oh well, but the kids are the answer, the kids are the answer, and then he comes back to, "Even when their skills start to diminish, they still know how to play the game.  And they buy time for your young people to develop so that they’re not under pressure" and you think WHAT THE *#$%@& MAN? Make up your mind! Cleary and Quincey were more roadblocks than they were "time-buyers," and it's getting to the point of "put up or shut up" for Abdelkader, Miller and Helm, so is it six of one or a half dozen of the other?

We're two lockouts and ten years removed from the pre-cap era, we're twelve years removed from Scotty Bowman coaching the team and we're eight years into Mike Babcock's tenure instead, and this is what Holland thinks about his team's inability to draw "names" out of the free agent hat:

“There’s probably five or six teams in the league that are at the head of the class that you think they’re in the playoffs, and they’re a top contender,” Holland said. “You know what? We’re not in that group. We were in that group for 15 years. These past couple of years we’ve been so decimated with injures, it’s hard to get a reading where our team is at. So, if you’re a free agent, I don’t think you look at the Detroit Red Wings and say they’re going to win the Stanley Cup.”

Do you? Should Mike Babcock? Or Henrik Zetterberg, or Pavel Datsyuk?

Krupa continues, and issues some important information:

Fewer injuries certainly would help. Holland says he and Babcock, concerned about the trend over the past few seasons, sought to address it in their sessions with individual players at the end of the season, when each man was challenged to return in the best shape of his career. He said he believes the players responded, and he is “cautiously optimistic” there will be fewer injuries.

Holland also ordered what he termed “an internal audit” of soft tissue injuries, conducted by trainer Piet van Zandt and strength coach Peter Renzetti, and aimed at prevention and quicker recovery.

That's essential. If you deal with the *#$%@&-load of injuries that the Wings have over the past two seasons

Krupa's column is far more "fair and balanced" than my take on Holland's words, and it's Krupa who spent 50 minutes with Holland and distilled what were probably twelve or fifteen pages' worth of comments into a superbly-written article, so I strongly suggest that you read what he has to say before coming to any final conclusions.

I have to end upon what Holland sees as the team's future, however, and if you're one of those, "I think the Wings are treading water until the follow-on opens for the 2017-2018 season" people, you're not going to feel any better after reading this:

"Three years from now, there will be a brand new rink,” Holland said. “Our ownership has always been committed to doing to the cap. I have the green light from our ownership to spend to the cap.

“I think it’s a great time for the league. I think it’s a great time for the Detroit Red Wings. I’m excited about the 2014-15 season. There’s lot of great stuff going on here and in Grand Rapids.”

I'm excited about it, too, because the players' performances will--hopefully--ultimately determine who plays where, the two new assistant coaches should help the Wings' special teams, and the Wings have a theoretical roster that's primed to surprise anyone and everyone who believes that the playoff streak stops at 23 years (or 24 years and one round).

But I can also tell you that I can't remember feeling like I've "aged" during a summer like I have during this past one since perhaps the second lockout's lack-of-season uncertainty, and as a Wings fan, I can't say that I've ever felt this distrustful of the coaching or management staff ever.

This isn't just "put up or shut up" time. It's "put up AND please, for the love of Gord, SHUT UP" time. I'm so incredibly tired of the talk--and its disconnect from managerial action--that we've been hearing since locker room clean-out day on April 29th, and I have a very bad feeling that I'm going to be making the drive back from two full weeks in Traverse City some 24 days from now upset in and disappointed by some veterans-win-by-default player personnel decisions.

I'm not optimistic about the, "Drafting and developing are the answer" talk meshing with the, to paraphrase Mr. Holland, "Someone like Cleary will buy kids time" decisions.

This kind of talk instead makes me think about the front office "brain drain" and wonder whether there are enough management personnel in place with the experience to give the decision-making GM sound advice instead of nodding along, and this kind of talk makes me wonder whether things would've been different if Jim Nill, Steve Yzerman, Tom Renney Paul MacLean or Todd McLellan were around.

And that kind of thinking's no way to start a season, because last year did teach us that, eventually, the coach and GM will probably realize that "the best players" should play.

I think. And I hope.

 

 

Rather appropriately, while the Free Press's Helene St. James enjoys her vacation, she's left us with a "focal point" who's nearly as controversial among fans as his general manager.

Jimmy Howard and Justin Verlander have several things in common: they're both the designated starters for their respective teams at their positions, they were both signed to big-money deals by their teams two years ago, and since they were signed to said deals, fans would argue that they've lost their form.

In 30-year-old Jimmy Howard's case, the Red Wings' starting goaltender is in year 2 of a 5-year [edit: six-year, jeebus] $31.75 million contract that has a cap hit of $5.291 million and, per Capgeek, will both pay him $6 million this upcoming season and contains a no-move clause for this upcoming season and then a no-trade clause for two more seasons.

Howard was, like so many of his teammates, besieged by groin and knee injuries this past season, and as a result, he played in 51 regular-season games, amassing a 21-19-and-11 record--that's right, with 11 OT or shootout losses--and posting a 2.66 goals-against average, a .910 save percentage and pitching two shutouts. In the playoffs, he played in 3 of the Wings' five games against Boston, going 1-and-2 with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.

Howard's going into his sixth full season with the team, and with Jonas Gustavsson having posted a better 13-14 record and Petr Mrazek exhausting his waiver-exempt status after this upcoming season (with an NHL-only salary for the 15-16 season), Howard doubtlessly faces a pivotal season.

Howard, like Brendan Smith, spent a lot of time insisting that he was doing his job decently enough when he lost, and I would argue that he probably came back from his injuries too early, yielding goaltending performances where he was overcompensating for groin or knee issues to the point that he was more than a little "off his form."

Here's St. James' survey of Howard's past season and take on the expectations he faces:

Looking back: Howard, 30, delivered three straight 35-or-more-win seasons after taking over as the No. 1 guy in 2009. He won 21 games in 2013 when he played in 42 of the lockout-shortened 48-game season, at times carrying the team. Last season was a mess. He was struggling to the point the front office deemed a mental break necessary, only then Howard got injured in practice and ended up missing eight games. He won four of his last five starts of the regular season and seemed to have regained some footing by the playoffs. He missed the last two games of the Bruins series with a bug.

A mess is a good description, and December's guffaw vs. Nashville and then inconsistent Winter Classic performance helped set up the Wings' difficult winter/spring campaign.

Looking ahead: Perhaps no player on the team has more acutely felt the departure of Nicklas Lidstrom than Howard. As the defense has gone from among the NHL’s best (with Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski and Brad Stuart) to bland, Howard has sagged. The team has been on him this summer about the importance of coming to camp in top form physically and mentally, because given the lack of improvement to the defense over the summer (no changes from last year, basically), the Wings need Howard to be better.

Howard learned from Chris Osgood how to rebound quickly, and the playoffs hinted that Howard had recovered from his malaise. To the team’s benefit, Howard will have two people breathing down his neck: From up close, Jonas Gustavsson, who showed last season he could be a go-to guy (when he wasn’t hurt), and from afar, Petr Mrazek, who wants to make the jump from Grand Rapids to Detroit sooner rather than later.

He'll also have to understand that the Wings have re-signed Tom McCollum, that Jake Paterson's turning pro, Jared Coreau's going to try to re-start his pro career and that Chase Perry has been drafted, and that none of those players have any intent of watching Howard play out his contract or career as the team's starter.

Again, per Capgeek, Howard can't be moved this year, but his performance over the course of this upcoming season, as well as his health, will determine whether he's asked to submit a list of ten teams to which he doesn't want to be traded next summer.

 

 

Otherwise: If you're looking for a strong "fall read," Frank Block's written a biography of former Wings great Metro Prystai, and his book, The Metro Prystai Story, is available online at Gumroad.com for a "pay what you want" price.

Andrew Forbes penned a review of the book, and it's a superb listen:

The Man, The Player

Block opens with arguably one of Prystai’s brightest moments – the 1952 Stanley Cup win with Detroit. In the clinching game, Prystai became a Red Wings’ legend and hockey hero scoring two goals and adding an assist to help Detroit shut the door on what was an incredible 8-0 playoff run to ultimately win the Cup.

But the book doesn’t just focus on his career as an NHL player. While it does discuss – and provide ample background – on his time with the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, Block looks further into the story of Metro Prystai – the kid, the man, and the player.

Using anecdotes from throughout Prystai’s life, Block chronicles the former NHLers road to the show. From growing up in the Canadian prairies to playing high school hockey and onto his journey from Moose Jaw to Chicago, Block interviews family, friends, and former teammates to help readers relive Prystai’s incredible life.
The Capone Effect

Now, as Block outlines in the book, Prystai’s road to the NHL wasn’t travelled without obstacles. In fact, like the storyline from a movie, Prystai encountered the Capone family during his time in Chicago.

While the run in wasn’t with Al Capone, Metro’s encounter did involve Matty Capone – the brother of the infamous gangster. For Prystai, it was a test of character – a path leading to crime or one that would lead him into the game of hockey.

Forbes continues, and from what I was able to read/listen to before the summer went sideways, I strongly recommend it...

 

 

In the Q and A department, foreign-language version: Tomas Tatar's conducted a long interview with his official website, and Valerian Lukacko has published two parts of the interview--which the website's promised to publish in English next Sunday, September 7th--in which Tatar discussed his desire to give back to youth hockey in Slovakia and his praise for his Slovak fans.

On Sunday evening, the Lukacko posted another snippet from said interview, and it's...Frustrating to translate. He and Tatar discuss Tatar's experience with the Slovakian national team, and what I can give you is only an incredibly, incredibly rough take on what Tatar has to say given that I am not familiar with Slovak and that it's a demon to translate:

In this section we briefly return to the 2009 World Junior tournament, where Slovakia managed to sensationally take fourth place. Tomas Tatar directly contributed to the championship as he was the most effective player overall. "After a spectacular junior championship it came as a bolt from the blue. All of Slovakia stood behind us," he said in an interview with his official website, TomasTatarOfficial.com.

Was the championship the first major watershed moment of your career?

"I went into the team and the main part was very accomplished at the championship. The further we went, the more scouts began to look at the individual players. All of us really came out at the tournament and most of the guys that were there are now playing hockey professionally."

I remember that in the last pre-tournament game you lost 7-0 to Canada, and everyone suggested that the Slovak team would only be able to fight against relegation. What changed?

"It's hard to say, maybe the stars aligned correctly. If we had to play the tournament again, and end up the same way as the quarterfinals through the game against the United States, it could be considered a miracle; they were better than us. We had an impact in the final against Sweden when we led by two goals, but we finally broke down. I can't even imagine what the euphoria would've been if we did it against Sweden."

Overall, what does it mean to you when you get the opportunity to wear the Slovak jersey?

"It's an honor, and a great honor. I think that every hockey player wants to represent [their country]. It's a bit of a pity, however, that the terms of the championships don't allow everyone to participate. There's also an agreement between the NHL and IIHF regarding hte release of players, and it's a shame. Sometimes it's difficult to explain to people how it works. If you have any injury and the doctor knows about it, they can't release you to the team. Hockey players want to play for any team, and to compete, but in the case of nagging injuries they won't let you. If I could, I would like to play for Slovakia at every possible championship."

I'd like to revisit something I posted from yesterday regarding the whole "rough translation" concept. I'm familiar enough with online-translated Russian (11 years now) to do a decent job of getting to the gist of it, and when I read Pavel Datsyuk's conversation with Sportbox.ru's Oleysa Ursov, regarding his desire to finish his career with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg.

I went with as close to what came out of the translator as possible.

The translation read as follows:

You played in the form of "Motorist". Someday realize the dream of fans and play for the team?

"It is hard to talk about it now. My dream is to play for the "Motorist" remains, but already there is a look at how the rest of my hockey career."

("Avtomobilist" translates to "Motorist")

I decided to go with as close to Russian as possible, posting:

"My dream to play for Avtomobilist remains, but already, that's looking at the rest of my hockey career."

The Score's Katie Flynn also read the translation, and she posted this:

"It is hard to talk about it now. My dream is to play for the [KHL team] remains, but [I have to] look at how the rest of my hockey career [goes]."

Obviously, unless you're doing this word-for-word and are familiar with idiomatic expressions, you're not going to get it 100% right, but I thought that full disclosure required me to show you both translations--and to suggest that neither one is "wrong."

 

 

In the Q and A department, English-language version: the Wings don't tend to save these pages in their archives, so get your hands on the team's Q and A with Justin Abdelkader while you can:

Q: If you weren’t playing hockey, what would you be doing?
A: Maybe coaching?

Q: What was your favorite childhood game?
A: Monopoly.

Q: What is your favorite potato chip flavor?
A: Barbecue.

Q: If you could meet any historical person, who would you meet?
A: George Washington.

Q: If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be?
A: President Obama.

*Sets disparaging remark about our controversial president timer*

 

 

Statistically speaking, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose looks at Drew Miller's 2013-14 campaign "By the Numbers":

3:00: The average shorthanded ice time logged last season, which was second only to defenseman Niklas Kronwall (3:03). Miller’s 246-plus shorthanded minutes were a team high last season.

122: Posted a career-high in hits, finishing second on the team only to forward Justin Abdelkader (172). Miller’s previous high in hits was 97 during the 2009-10 season when he finished No. 8 on the Wings.

63: For the fourth straight season led all Red Wings’ forward in the number of blocked shots. His career high was 66 in 80 games during 2011-12. He had season-high three blocks in three different games – at Phoenix (Oct. 19), at Dallas (Jan. 4), and at Montreal (Apr. 5).

Roose posits three more stats, and Miller needs to keep it up while cranking up the o-fence to keep his job; he knows it.

 

 

In prospect news, per DRW Prospects on Twitter:

Christoffer Ehn scored the 2-0 goal as Sweden took "third" in the Under-20 Four Nations tournament, defeating Russia 2-1, and Axel Holmstrom centered the first line, with Ehn playing as the #2 center.

Finland won the round-robin tournament by defeating the Czech Republic 7-1, minus Julius Vahatalo, who suffered a concussion against Russia on Friday.

And in preseason action...

The last time I can find Atlant Mytishchi's Alexander Kadeykin playing on a website is in a 4-2 loss to CSKA on Saturday, but Atlant's Twitter account states that Atlant lost 4-3 to Vityaz Podolsk at the Mayor of Moscow Cup, and Vityaz's website states that Kadeykin had an assist on the goal which closed Vityaz's lead from 4-2 to 4-3.

Long story long, DRW Prospects does a lot of work to find these scores...Or at least I have to do a lot of work to find his sources...

And Mattias Janmark had no points in the Frolunda Indians' 3-1 win over Lugano at the Gotenborg Hockey Weekend.

 

 

On Twitter...

 

 

And finally, eleven days. In eleven days I'll be heading up to Traverse City for the five-day prospect tournament and five days' worth of training camp fun, and it's going to be intense. Tomorrow the shirts and pants go to the dry cleaner's, the pre-trip grocery shopping trip's this weekend, I'm going to try to squeeze some appointments in and then it's fill up the car and go. The tip jar's out for the $5's, $10's and $20's as I'm at goal, but it's only out for gas money at this point:

I've attended two of the past three Traverse City-based training camps/prospect tournaments and the past three summer development camps at your leisure. If you're willing to lend a hand, I would greatly, greatly appreciate it.

Any and every donation helps pay the way up there (I break even) and I'm strongly considering printing some t-shirts and/or ensuring that every entry has a "sponsored by/brought to you by" note (and as always, the coverage is based upon your suggestions and questions, so it's an interactive experience).

 

My "merchant ID" is my non-work email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, and I'm incredibly grateful for your readership and support. Thank you.

I remember this feeling...Mental exhaustion after spending three hours on an overnight report dealing with a lot of "stuff." Yep, it's September.

 

Update: Mikael Samuelsson's return to Djurgardens IF is apparently cover-worthy news in Sweden:

Update #2: Late-night Swedish. Christoffer Ehn spoke with Hockeysverige's Jacob Nystrom about the Swedes' Under-20 Four Nations Tournament win over Russia...

Frolunda's Christoffer Ehn was at the center when Sweden defeated Russia 2-1 in the final game of the 4-nations tournament in Jonkoping. With a shot to the top corner, he made sure to score the all-important 2-0 goal, which proved to be decisive.

"We had a pretty clear 2-on-1 and I was looking to drop it over, but get as much time as I can and aim and today it went in," said the match hero when he takes a break after the game.

After the failure in many ways that was the game against Finland Saturday, Sweden had the chance to take revenge in the final game of the weekend. Fittingly, Sweden showed up at their best, and so did Russia. It was full speed throughout the game and sometimes a tough game with constant petulance after the whistles.

"It was a grumpy game. The Russians wanted to play physical and try to get us off-balance so you have to kee pyour head up and be part of everything they want to climb on," Ehn continues.

And Mattias Janmark received good reviews from Frolunda Indians coach Roger Ronnberg after the Indians' 3-1 win over Lugano, per the now-famous Gotenburgs Posten's Johan Rylander (he "broke" the news that Henrik Zetterberg was going to need surgery at the Olympics):

By the way, it was really fun to see Mattias Janmark play this afternoon. The signing from AIK has fit in well along with Robin Figren (a fantastic solo goal) and Anton Blidh (as usual a tank toward the finish).

How much better-trained is Mattias Janmark now than he was when he came here in the spring?

"It's probably quite a big difference, I think. He came from a tough season, had been injured and was transferred to Michigan. He didn't play so much there--but ate well. He's in shape now, says Roger Ronnberg diplomatically.

Janmark himself agrees.

"I way maybe a couple of kilos less, but it's rather that I've transformed it into weight. There's more muscle now," says Mattias--who engaged in an extra week of training this summer, when the rest of the guys were on vacation.

The results are beginning to appear.

Update #3: MLive's Ansar Khan opens up ye olde mailbag. This question's actually quite good:

Q: Datsyuk and Zetterberg only have a few years of being elite left and they need to win while the window is there within the next 2-3 years. Detroit also has more prospects than they can possibly play in the next few years when they run out of options. There is no possible way for Detroit to graduate all of those top 10-15 prospects before they're forced to waive them. Outside of guys like Mrazek, (Ryan) Sproul and Mantha, I think the rest of the talented and highly touted young guys, including (Tomas) Jurco, (Tomas) Tatar and (Brendan) Smith, should be used as trade bait. Stars don't grow on trees and Detroit needs more top-end talent that's in their prime now on offense and defense to give themselves a chance to win. If these trades don't happen, I fear that Detroit will lose many of their prospects while not helping their main roster. How aggressive is (general manager Ken) Holland pursuing a package deal for a star in a trade? – Greg

A: It's hard to say how aggressive Holland has been in trade talks, but he certainly worked the phones, realizing the declining depth of the free-agent market.

I'm not sure if you'd consider Tyler Myers or Mike Green "stars," but they were among the right-handed shooting defensemen Holland pursued. As for high-end players who were traded in the past 14 months (Bobby Ryan, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Ryan Kesler and trade deadline rentals Thomas Vanek and Marian Gaborik), some the Red Wings weren't interested in pursuing (Ryan, Spezza, Gaborik) and others, like Kesler, they inquired about but either didn't have the assets or were reluctant to part with what it would take.

Sure, they should acquire an impact player through a trade, someone who can sort of take on the mantle from Datsyuk and Zetterberg, but it boils down to what's available and what they're willing to relinquish.

Mantha is untouchable. I think Mrazek is, too, since he's the goaltender of the future. It makes no sense to move a big, right-handed shooting defenseman like Sproul.

As for current roster players, I believe Gustav Nyquist is close to untouchable due to his skill and scoring ability.

And they're not going to deal their 2015 first-round pick in the Connor McDavid draft (you never know how those lottery balls will fall if you miss the playoffs).

Should they package someone like Tatar, Jurco or Smith with a prospect or two for a star player? Again, it depends on the return.

Khan continues...

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Comments

Avatar

I’ve been saying it for years: the automatic jobs given to the drapers, maltbys, chelioses, osgoods etc, all of them with no experience or shown ability, have held this franchise back. there doesnt seem ti be strond dissenting voices besides babs. even mark howe needs to be looked at critically. the pro scouting has been atrocious. so you hire these guys with no experience and your experienced veterans leave you are in trouble

Posted by jkm2011 on 09/01/14 at 08:30 AM ET

Gumby's avatar

the automatic jobs given to the drapers, maltbys, chelioses, osgoods etc, all of them with no experience or shown ability, have held this franchise back.

Posted by jkm2011 on 09/01/14 at 08:30 AM ET

I completely disagree with you on your observations of these four guys and what they offer to the team. First off, Osgood doesn’t work for the Wings, he’s a television analyst for Fox Sports Detroit.  Maltby is a scout for the team covering the western United States (where the talent pool is not the largest, yet the geographical coverage is), Draper is Ken Holland’s assistant (much in the same way that Steve Yzerman was), and Chris Chelios (like Jiri Fischer)  is working with the new draftees on developing into a pro hockey player.  They certainly are not holding this franchise back.

Posted by Gumby from the city with more ruins than Rome on 09/01/14 at 09:34 AM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

jkm2011 ...


What shortcomings do you see in our pro scouting (re: the Mark Howe comment) ??

Do you feel we are unprepared for other teams 3C or 2nd pairing or PP?

Or are you referring to something different from scouting for upcoming games?

Posted by alwaysaurie on 09/01/14 at 11:00 AM ET

igrover's avatar

I’m seriously beginning to wonder about pro athletes engaging in physical activity year round.  Maybe the body does need more time off to recover, and these guys need to drop it down to a much lower level in the off season.  Remember in the old days when pro athletes spent the off season selling appliances at Sears.  And training camp was an opportunity to get into shape.

Or there needs to be a greater emphasis on stretching and maybe yoga and pilates or heck maybe Tai Chi or something to give the body some respite.

It appears to me its one or the other - either the players need to dial it down in the offseason for the body to recover or they need to discover new workout routines.

Posted by igrover on 09/01/14 at 11:38 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

In 30-year-old Jimmy Howard’s case, the Red Wings’ starting goaltender is in year 2 of a 5-year, $31.75 million contract that has a cap hit of $5.291 million and, per Capgeek…

Well, George, I sure wish Howard was in year two of a 5-year contract. Unfortunately, he’s in year two of a 6-year contract, one that runs until the end of the 2018-2019 season.

That’s an absolute albatros of a contract because Mrazek is going to be ready for full-time duty long before that contract runs out. It’s just one more major screw-up by the “brilliant” Ken Holland.

On a more positive note, it’s amazing to see how well Mitch Callahan’s face has healed up since that gruesome injury last season. Too bad his 555k cap hit will be buried in GR (or on some other team’s roster) while the Wings are burdened with yet another albatros of a contract in the $2.5M they’ll be paying “Crappy-Knees” Cleary.

Q: If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be?
A: President Obama.

Okay, I’ll bite. Abi couldn’t do any worse. smile

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 09/01/14 at 11:52 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Urgh. Six years.

Regarding the players that the Wings have employed, I’ve heard nothing but good about Mark Howe’s management of the pro scouts, Maltby’s learning curve, Kris Draper makes a wonderful, “I will smooth things over” foil to the too-blunt Holland, essentially replacing Jim Nill in the manners department while having helped the Wings draft players like Tyler Bertuzzi, I would argue that Howard was far more level-headed with his mentor on the goaltending staff instead of in the broadcast booth, and the young defensemen say that learning from Chelios is a huge bonus.

Regarding the Wings’ workouts, they do tend to take a month to recharge—which is good—and I’ve gotten the hint from Peter Renzetti that the Wings are much more focused upon doing weight training well than pumping max weight, to the point that prospects are surprised at how difficult Renzetti’s circuit training is despite the fact that they’re not lifting as much weight as they do on their own. FTR.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/02/14 at 04:39 AM ET

Avatar

I think it is ridiculous to say that having someone of Chelios’s experience on Detroit’s staff is detrimental. He was born to be a coach. He works his tail off and will expect no less from the players he coaches. I’ll bet within a couple years he’s the head coach of a team somewhere, perhaps even Blashill’s replacement in Grand Rapids. The Wings have done well to make sure they keep quality people in the organization. These people are all strong enough to voice their opinions when necessary.

Posted by evileye on 09/02/14 at 03:33 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.