The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/04/13 at 02:45 AM ET
In theory, this exhausted blogger (still, go figure) has a light morning.
The Detroit Free Press (via photos) and Michigan Hockey (text, video, photos) looked back at the top moments of the Red Wings' 2013 season, USA Today posited a list of the top unrestricted free agents-to-be, and Valtteri Filppula's picture includes a ridiculously astute comment from Matt Kartozian as to why he's going to earn $5 million somewhere that isn't Detroit:
7. Center Valtteri Filppula (Detroit Red Wings): The Red Wings hope they can re-sign him, although teams around the NHL seem to think he will test the marketplace. He has had one noteworthy statistical season, when he had 23 goals and 66 points in 2011-12. But there is a leaguewide romance with his skill set, especially with a shortage of centers with offensive potential.
There is a ridiculous level of romance with Filppula's skill set, and while USA Today's list notes that the kinds of players the Wings need to go to the front of the net, stay there and hack and whack at rebounds--like Nathan Horton, Bryan Bickell, David Clarkson, Ryane Clowe and even Viktor Stalberg--exist on the pre-cap-complaince buy-out UFA market--there's nobody who can replace Filppula's speed (even if he uses that speed to gain territory in the offensive zone before peeling off and trying to back-pass all the God-damned time).
I get the feeling that the Wings will push hard to re-sign the player that Wings coach Mike Babcock deemed "the devil you know" to 97.1 FM's Jeff Riger.
In the end, however, Filppula's agent will most certainly pull a Jiri Hudler--knowing that the Wings can't and won't pay Filppula $5 million with $11.894 million available to spend on re-signing RFA's Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl, to re-sign UFA-to-be Damie Brunner, and at least make stabs at re-signing UFA's-to-be Drew Miller and Daniel Cleary, and to go after either a goal-scoring forward with size or to address the team's need for another top-four defenseman (possible use of up to 2 cap compliance buy-outs and trades excluded)...
And as such, Filppula will, at best, witness himself signed and traded at the draft. More likely, his rights will be pawned off for a mid-round draft pick.
Oddly enough, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch tossed off an early-week rumor column, and it offers absolutely nothing that's worth mentioning. USA Today's photo gallery is much more pertinent.
As for shaping the game's future in a non-personnel vein, Wings GM Ken Holland will be representing the league at the joint NHL-NHLPA competition committee's meeting today and tomorrow in Toronto, where the sides will talk about grandfathering in mandatory visor usage, implementing hybrid icing, knocking 10% off goalies' thigh rises and shrinking the "landing gear" yet again, and probably some other stuff. Ahem, per the Canadian Press:
[M]andating all NHL players to wear visors is something the league office has supported for years. The NHL Players' Association educates its members on visors but has considered it a matter of individual choice.
That could change based on an internal NHLPA survey taken late this season. The union asked its members to weigh in on making visors mandatory for all players — those entering the league and grandfathering in current ones — or keeping it a choice for everyone. According to the NHLPA, approximately 73 per cent of players wore visors during the 2013 season, up from a Hockey News estimate of 28 per cent in 2001-02.
"My feeling is that I'd like to see them be grandfathered in," said Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who will be one of the NHL's team officials in the meeting. "The players basically wear visors almost at every league other than the NHL. I certainly understand players that have been playing without them and it's their way to make a living. In the middle and later in their careers they don't want to change, but if you grandfather them in, you could slowly through time have all our players wearing visors."
General managers voted in March to approve the implementation of hybrid icing, which was used experimentally in the American Hockey League during the NHL lockout. Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Joni Pitkanen suffered a broken heel bone on an icing touch-up in April, prompting more discussion about changing the long-standing rule.
"To me safety's No. 1," said Holland, a proponent of hybrid icing. "Every so often we have an injury that's strictly related to racing for an icing call that a player has either a career-ending injury or a season-ending injury. Why do we want to have somebody get hurt on a race for an icing?"
Under the hybrid icing rule, players race to an imaginary line across the faceoff dots instead of the goal-line.
Players have expressed mixed sentiments about hybrid icing, given that it is designed to prevent serious injuries but also involves making it a judgment call for linesmen.GMs also recommended shrinking goaltending equipment, specifically leg and knee padding. Holland said the key is making sure “the goalies can do their job and the shooters can do their job” without sacrificing safety.
Hybrid icing saves clock time, too, because when an icing's an obvious call, the refs and linesmen can blow the whistle as soon as the "defending" team's player gets to the faceoff dot, and come the last five minutes of the third period, when those seconds can determine whether that defending team can rally to tie or win games, those extra seconds that bleed off the clock between the faceoff dot and the actual touching of the puck disappear.
Regarding goalie equipment, even as a goaltender, I think that thigh rises are starting to reach Garth Snow and Patrick Roy-like, "They're up to my hips!" proportions, even under goalie equipment cop Kay Whitmore's revised goaltending gear guidelines, and I'd argue that mandating a "break" on the "outer roll" of goalie pads to force those thigh rises to flex would yield more goals.
Even Jimmy Howard's thigh rises have gotten higher, stiffer and more built-up over the past two years, and there's no taper to them, either, so they've essentially replaced the "thigh boards" that eliminated the 5-hole in the early 2000's. Some sort of tapering might help them serve as less of a blocking surface as well.
Otherwise, aside from encouraging you to vote for Pavel Datsyuk in the TSN Play of the Year competition, noting Datsyuk's Tweet from Sunday...
I'll note that:
1. Darren McCarty appeared at a ValuLand in Dearborn on Monday;
2. The Free Press duly noted that the Grand Rapids Griffins are in fantastic shape heading into Game 6 of their AHL Western Conference Final series with the Oklahoma City Barons, who the Griffins lead 3-2 with Game 6 taking place tonight in Grand Rapids and even the Syracuse Crunch's press corps has taken note of the fact that, should the Griffins advance to the Calder Cup Final, Danny DeKeyser may be ready to help Grand Rapids' cause at some point;
3. And it's worth re-posting Ken Holland's interview with WBBL's Bill Simonson, because it certainly sounds like Brian Lashoff will be on the roster alongside Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Danny DeKeyser:
But other than that, we're pretty much done save mentioning that the Buffalo Sabres are confirming that they're taking part in the Wings' prospect tournament in the fall, and that I have to gauge your input as to whether you're willing to lend me a hand in getting up to next month's summer development camp, right?
Not quite.Wings coach Mike Babcock's degree from McGill Univerity would have made him a PE teacher, though his focus on psychology suggests that he wanted to do more with his degree than teach gym.
Babcock reminds me of one of my teachers in high school, minus the alpha male supreme part, anyway, and that teacher would absolutely lay waste to Divine Child High's top students' GPA's because they couldn't discern the very, very slight change in the man's voice from, "I'm just talking" to, "Here is the entirety of what's going to be on Death by Scantron. Pay attention." I could, and I listen to Babcock's end-of-season comments, which are essentially something of an "Off-Season Game Plan," two or three times.
Then I watch it to get his body language. Then I leave it alone for a couple of days and watch it again.
The day before Babcock made ten minutes' worth of comments to the asembled media during locker room clean-out day, WJR's Mitch Albom spoke to Babcock for 10 minutes, and Babcock reveals some points of emphasis--including some remarkable praise for the input Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall had upon his coaching--and it's just fascinating to listen to in no small part because Babcock's comments are far more off-the-cuff and less polished than the final lecture he delivered last Friday.
Paul alerted me to this on Monday evening, mostly because WJR doesn't update its Mitch Albom Show podcast page with day X's interviews until 3 or 4 days after the guests appear. The interview is worth several listens:
It's a bit of a relief to hear that Babcock thought the officiating was shitty, too, and Babcock is much, much more blunt about his desire for the Wings to add some size and strength to his roster going forward, even if it only comes from giving Danny DeKeyser, Joakim Andersson and Justin Abdelkader the opportunity to earn more prominent roles.
There's more in there and it's worth listening to several times, even with the lead-in-tune yielding hit or miss material.
In the prospect department, Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill spoke to ESPN 96.1 FM's Sean Baligian on Monday, discussing the Griffins' opportunity to advance to the Calder Cup Final this evening:
I know that many of you hear Blashill or watch him on a Griffins post-game interview on their YouTube channel and immediately react by saying, "BRING HIM BACK UP HERE!" but when I listen to the man, I hear a, "Pete and Repeat" carbon copy of Babcock. I can understand why the Wings chose to bring in Tom Renney as an associate coach--having another Babcockian grind-grind-grind, push-push-push, no-nonsense personality must have ground upon the players, and Renney's kinder, gentler approach gives the troops something of a buffer.
And yes, it's time to ask whether there's an appetite to lend a hand in sending me up to the summer development camp in Traverse City. The camp takes place from July 9-17 in Traverse City, and I'm not sure whether you'd like me to go, whether you're OK with Paypal or whether you think I should try to start a Kickstarter petition, or whether you're cool with my desire to stay at the old reliable Howard Johnson of Traverse City, which has served me very well in the past.
Due to the computer fun and off-and-on blogging, I've got $22 in my bank account and the debit card currently has an honest-to-goodness balance of zero dollars, so I'd be starting from scratch here. Let me know what you think.
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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.