The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/20/13 at 02:49 AM ET
Updated at 5:11 AM: Because there have been two entries dedicated to the topic (please check out the Griffins celebration entry, too, because the gents had a good old time with their fans), and because it's the thrust of this overnight report, let's get down to brass tacks, or something like it:
- The proposal for the Red Wings' follow-on rink to Joe Louis Arena was approved by the Downtown Development Authority, an arm of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, on Wednesday. It is an organization that "gets shit done," unlike the rest of Detroit or Wayne County's governmental edifaces;
- The rink will cost north of $400 million and the total development will cost $650 million. With the DDA and DEGC in charge, there shouldn't be many overages;
- The funding split is 56% for the Ilitches, 44% for the public, and the DDA will lease the rink to the Wings (for 35 years), who will pocket the profit (and naming rights...for the Belle Tire?). The usual combination of 30-year bonds, loans and that $12.8 million in diverted taxes already approved by the State of Michigan will fund the project;
- It's part of a larger economic development that will encompass all of the vacant land behind the Fox Theatre, which is good, and a significant chunk of the Cass Corridor north of I-75, which is really cool for those of us old enough to remember that going to the Cass Corridor in the 80's was an invitation to a felony;
- The rink itself will be built an I-75 away from the Hockeytown Cafe and the parking garage adjacent to the Fox Theatre, off of Woodward between I-75 and Temple Street;
- It will seat 18,000, which is a supply-and-demand issue ensuring sell-outs, higher demand for tickets and what will obviously be fans willing to pay higher prices to attend Wings games in a comfortable rink with important amenities like, say, enough bathrooms to ensure that you won't miss half a period if you have to pee;
- The seats have nothing to do with ice quality. That's a matter of cooling and dehumidification technology, and you can ensure that Al Sobotka will want the best stuff that's out there. And he'll bring the springy boards with him;
- The Windsor Star's Dave Waddell reports that HKS Architects of Dallas and Chan Krieger NBBJ of Boston will design the rink, which should yield nods to Olympia and the Joe without giving fans in the upper bowl that Palace-y, "The game seems to be happening a frickin' mile away!" sightlines, nor those seats in section 222A where you have to stand up to watch the game;
- There will be new parking facilities built at the location;
- On an optimistic timeline, ground may be broken on the rink in 2014, and it may be open as early as 2016 or 2017;
- And what Mike Babcock said about the "park" and the office space and the apartments and offices, all of that stuff is part of the plan.
Here's the DDA/DEGC's press release, from WXYZ:
The Detroit Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) among the DDA, Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM) and Wayne County that describes the proposed public and private financing and location for a new sports and entertainment district Downtown.
The district would include a $450 million sports and entertainment center and $200 million in new residential, retail and office development in an approximately 45-block area that generally reaches from Grand Circus Park to Charlotte St. between Woodward Ave. and Grand River Ave.
The multipurpose event center is anticipated to be an approximately 650,000 sq. ft. facility with 18,000 seats that can accommodate Red Wings hockey games, as well as other sports and entertainment events year-round. It will also include premium seating and amenities of a contemporary first-class professional sports and entertainment complex.
The new district anticipates expanding the boundaries of the DDA several blocks north of I-75 and west of Woodward Ave. to accommodate the center, redeveloping several properties, building new parking decks and mixed-use developments.
The new development is anticipated to create approximately 5,500 jobs for the events center alone and approximately 8,300 jobs for the entire residential and commercial mixed-use district. Michigan can anticipate an estimated economic impact of $1.8 billion from the completion of this project.
“We have outlined a deal that will do far more than build new home ice for the Red Wings. When it’s done, it will redefine Detroit’s Downtown. We will have incorporated all three of our major league sports venues into an exciting, walkable sports and entertainment district that will rival anything in the world,” said George W. Jackson, Jr., president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, which managed negotiations on behalf of the DDA. “A project of this scale requires strong commitments from both private and public partners, and that’s exactly what this agreement represents.”
Other projects that could be part of the $200 million additional development named in the MOU include:
- A 140,000 sq. ft. new mixed office and retail development on Woodward at Sproat St.
- A 25,000 sq. ft. office and retail development along Woodward
- Several parking structures with a total of 25,000 sq. ft. of retail
- Renovation of the Detroit Life Building at 2210 Park Ave. for 3,645 sq. ft. of retail and 35 residential units
- Renovation of the Blenheim Building at 81 W. Columbia St. for 1,833 sq. ft. of retail and 16 residential units
- Renovation of the building at 1922 Cass for 70,000 sq. ft. of office space
- A new hotel-retail development with a 20,000 sq. ft. ground floor
- Parking lots and other amenities
The primary public funding mechanism for the $450 million center is a continuation of a projected $12.8 million-per-year property tax capture authorized by the State Legislature last December. The DDA is also expected to contribute an average of just over $2 million per year. Olympia Development is expected to contribute $11.5 million per year. All three of those commitments would be used to retire 30-year private activity bonds issued through the Michigan Strategic Fund.
Additional private sources are expected to fund the remainder of the $650 million total investment anticipated for the entire district. Overall, approximately 56 percent of the total development costs of the district would be privately funded and approximately 44 percent would come from public economic development funds requiring no new taxes.
The DDA would own the events center and Olympia Development would manage it under a long-term contract. Before that concession management agreement (CMA) can be finalized, the City of Detroit has to approve the expansion of the DDA boundaries and other matters related to the development. The Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit has to review and amend plans for the area and transfer property it owns. Wayne County, the State of Michigan Strategic Fund and others also have to approve aspects of the development plan before construction can begin.
Jackson added, “Today’s agreement represents one step among many that all the partners have to take together, but it is a very significant step.”
WXYZ posted a report explaining the development--and it's 8 minutes long:
They also flew over the general area in a pair of videos you can watch on your own.
WDIV posted a video as well (they flew over the location, too)...
As did Fox 2:
The Free Press posted a map of the planned development:
As WDIV's Mara MacDonald notes, there are three issues that have yet to be addressed:
There are issues with what is being presented here. Long-time developers question the viability of the project as conceived for several reasons:
1. Financing: Public dollars coming from tax capture monies in a city that is insolvent leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many.
2. Sustainability: How do you build 140,000 square feet of new office space in a town that can't fill what it already has?
3. The retail component here is 25,000 square feet. That’s about the size of a grocery store.
There is a long way to go. If everything was to fall into place on the project, how soon could something of this scope be constructed? Experts say 24 months if it hits no snags.
The Free Press broke down where the money will come from:
The Michigan Strategic Fund will issue 30-year bonds to pay for the new $450-million arena. To pay off those bonds, money will come from three sources:
■ A projected $12.8-million-a-year property tax capture authorized last year by the state legislature.
■ The Detroit Downtown Development Authority will contribute about $2 million a year.
■ The Ilitch family’s Olympia Development is expected to contribute $11.5 million a year.
Additional private sources are expected to fund the remainder of the total $650-million investment for the entire development area that will include residential, retail, commercial and parking space.
Overall, about 56% of the total development costs will come from private sources and 44% will come from public economic development funds requiring no new taxes.
No City of Detroit or Wayne County general fund money will be used.
If you're interested in some further reading, the Free Press's Brian McCollum states the obvious--regardless of whether the Palace of Auburn Hills wants to believe it, they'll have a shiny new competitor for concerts and other events, though the Palace has been recently upgraded, and Palace Sports and Entertainment also owns the DTE Energy Music Theatre;
As you might imagine, there's some chatter about the Pistons moving downtown, which probably won't happen;
The Detroit News's Louis Aguilar captured the usual governmental chatter...
Calling it a “starting point,” plans for a $650 million Red Wings hockey arena and entertainment district were unveiled Wednesday before the city’s development arm.
The plan involving Olympia Development, which officials say would be supported by 56 percent in private money and 44 percent in public funding, features an 18,000-seat arena along Woodard Avenue just north of the Fox Theatre between Interstate 75 and Temple Street as part of the 650,000 square-foot project.
“I’d like it completed by tomorrow,” said George Jackson, president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., responding to media questions on the development’s timetable.
Jackson said he hopes to wrap up negotiations by the end of the year so that construction can begin on the project, which he called an “incomplete portrait” at this point but will have an “urban look” with an “urban feel.”
“This is definitely a dynamic process,” Jackson said Wednesday.
More details emerged following a special board meeting of the Downtown Development Authority Wednesday. The News already has reported that the DDA is considering making an annual grant of nearly $13 million for the project.
Under the concept proposed by Ilitch Holdings, the new hockey arena, or multipurpose events center, would anchor a 35-acre downtown district featuring sports, entertainment, stores and housing near the Ilitch family’s company headquarters in the restored Fox Theatre on Woodward Avenue and nearby Comerica Park, the home built for Mike Ilitch’s Detroit Tigers.
“I’m extremely pleased that a framework has been established for the development of a new downtown arena and a commercial, entertainment and residential district that will continue to add momentum to the transformation of our city,” Mayor Dave Bing said in a statement.
As did the Detroit Free Press's John Gallagher...
Construction would typically take about two years after a formal agreement is signed.
Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO, Ilitch Holdings Inc., hailed the agreement.
"Today, this public-private partnership took a significant step forward in laying the groundwork for a major catalyst development which will create approximately 8,300 jobs, stimulate economic activity and have a positive and lasting impact on our community," he said.
The total new development would include several parking structures with 25,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, plus 140,000 square feet of new mixed office and retail development on Woodward.
Jackson said the plans call for a walkable district, not an arena surrounded by parking lots. "We want it to have an urban feel with urban density," Jackson told reporters.
He added, "This project will leverage more than $360 million in private investments, create thousands of new jobs, revitalize a significant area along Woodward Avenue to help connect the Central Business District to Midtown, and concentrate Detroit's major league sports and entertainment venues in a way that is unique among urban centers anywhere in the world. We have a significant amount of work to do to realize that vision, but the DDA has certainly taken an important step today."
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a non-binding document entered into by the DDA, Wayne County and Olympia. The State of Michigan, through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, also participated.
"There has been tremendous progress made throughout Detroit over the last decade," said Christopher Ilitch. "The location of the events center district will not only help to rebuild this neighborhood, but will also serve as a vital connector, bringing together the many efforts completed or underway from the riverfront to midtown and beyond."
Officials said building of the new district would create thousands of new construction jobs.
"Today's MOU represents the culmination of a lot of hard work toward the creation of a sports and entertainment district in Downtown Detroit," said Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.
And the Free Press's Stephen Henderson stated something about the reputation of the owners of that vacant land behind the Fox Theatre that most of us are unable to say:
The Ilitches get pasted a lot nowadays for slowing progress in parts of downtown with their ownership of, but failure to develop, many parcels of land. They’ve torn down some things of historic value. They’ve made parking lots all over the place and profited from the revenue. What for? The decision to finally build a new stadium, just north of the Fisher Freeway and west of Woodward, in the heart of what the Ilitches own, should be leverage enough to move the Ilitches to answer that question, and clean up some of their other holdings.
Truth is, the Ilitches were the Dan Gilbert of the 1990s, the private interests who helped kick-start then-Mayor Dennis Archer’s dream of a revitalized downtown. A lot of what’s happening now in downtown Detroit owes to early decisions they made — in the now-bustling theater district and, of course, with Comerica Park.
The proposed location of the new hockey arena is also huge, in that it should help fill the gap between downtown and Midtown. With Whole Foods opening at Mack and Woodward, and a new stadium at Woodward and the Fisher Freeway, all kinds of adjacent areas could benefit. Brush Park’s on-again, off-again rebirth could find solid footing.
The area around the Masonic Temple (I still call it the Cass Corridor, but I get yelled at by Midtowners when I do) would almost certainly stabilize. The site where the Brewster-Douglass federal housing project high-rises are scheduled to be demolished will also benefit.
And if Joe Louis loses the Wings, then that site — badly underutilized because the Joe is a windowless pod along the riverfront — could find more useful life. It could be part of the RiverWalk, or could be reserved for Cobo expansion (with windows, please) in the future.
The tax money that would be used in the proposed stadium seems pretty standard — about 44% of the $650 million cost would be paid for out of a property tax capture made possible by state legislation. None of the cash will come out of operating dollars for broke Detroit and Wayne County.
Still, any expenditure like this raises questions about the efficient use of government money, and that’s made more acute by the state’s own soft economic recovery and the decisions in Lansing to cut back on schools and social services.
It's the way of the world, regrettably. I deal with a disabling anxiety disorder, but because I can type and blather, the State of Michigan won't rule me to be disabled...And yet the State senate is dithering on whether to approve the expansion of Medicaid to the "working poor" (i.e. people like me) because they dislike its tie to Obamacare, even though it'd be a health-managing game-changer for thousands of Michiganders. The Detroit Fire Department can only wipe its butts because people donate toilet paper. Kids are educated with fewer and fewer funds, the concept of "social services" is something ofa misnomer, and while the City of Detroit is bankrupt and Wayne County's a cesspool of corruption, $100 million has gone "missing" from the construction of the Wayne County Jail as overages.
But we can build a new hockey rink?
Yes. And people like me don't resent it, because at this point, in this state, in this country, getting SOMETHING done is downright remarkable, even if it most directly benefits people who have never been turned away by the Salvation Army because they didn't have enough money to help, or have had to deal with the dark parts of the public health system.
So it is what it is.
The Free Press's Jeff Seidel pondered the "spirit of the thing," if you will...
This proposed arena would be a great thing for Detroit.
Hopefully, it would spur more restaurants and bars to pop up across the area and continue the momentum of this encouraging entertainment district.
Hopefully, this would make people come down and hang out and spend money.
Hopefully, this will erase some more blight and replace it with new parking structures and new businesses and new offices.
Private investors would pump about $365 million into the project — or about 56% — assuming, of course, that Mike Ilitch has any cash left in his piggy bank after paying Tigers players Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera.
The rest would come from public sources.
Although it’s far from a done deal. There are several more steps to the process. The Wings haven’t even announced an architect yet.
So for now, the proposed site is mostly gravel lots and abandoned buildings covered with graffiti.
But make no mistake. This announcement was a significant step, and the Wings are closer to a new home.
And in more directly Wings-related talk, the Detroit News's Karl Henkel wondered why the Wings are decreasing capacity from almost 20,000 to 18,000 Wings fans:
“I think all sports are seeing a downtrend in terms of ticket sales,” said Stephen McDaniel, a professor in sports and entertainment marketing at the University of Maryland, in a telephone interview. “If you look at where you can maximize revenues, it’s in places like luxury boxes and not regular seating. If you have fewer seats, it makes the game more of a draw,” McDaniel said. “And when things are more in demand, you can raise prices.”
It is indeed about dollars and cents for the Wings, friends, again, for better or worse, and you and I are going to pay more for the privilege of visiting the Wings' new home:
The Joe, also one of the league’s oldest arenas, has the second largest capacity of any NHL facility and is one of only two that can accommodate 20,000 or more seated fans, standing-room only excluded. The Red Wings have averaged at least one sellout in each of the past two regular seasons, though attendance numbers are flawed throughout sports, judging by the noticeable number of vacant seats seen on television broadcasts during “sellouts,” even at the Joe.
The idea behind new stadiums and arenas is to create more value, and in most cases, that means shrinking the capacity to improve sight lines and game experiences, which in recent years have lost ground to high-definition televisions and smartphones when it comes to sports viewing appeal.
It is also a move to combat the growing secondary ticket market, which allows fans to buy tickets to specific games without dishing out extra cash for season tickets or multi-game packages, both easy ways to put fans in the seats for a 41-game home regular-season schedule.
The Red Wings average about $26 of revenue per fan, according to annual data compiled by Forbes. That’s less revenue per fan than teams in larger markets, such as the Vancouver Canucks ($55) and New York Rangers ($31), but significantly more than the Philadelphia Flyers ($18) and Chicago Blackhawks ($12). But the average ticket cost, a byproduct of ticket demand, ranks 18th among all NHL franchises, according to Team Marketing Report’s 2013 Fan Cost Index. And if the Red Wings can create a higher premium on tickets, it paves the way for greater profits.
“Tickets in many ways are the lifeblood,” McDaniel said. “It ties into so many other revenue streams.”
As for what players and fans can expect, and the Joe's obvious and ever-growing warts, the Detroit News's John Niyo suggests that the simultaneously beloved and detested rink will "not be missed"...
It’s a common refrain by now, but the Joe — the fourth-oldest arena in the 30-team NHL — was outdated almost from the moment it opened in 1979. The steps are too steep. The concourse is too narrow and dimly lit. The restrooms might’ve handled the sparse crowds when the Red Wings first moved in, but these days the bathroom lines are legendary in length.
As modern amenities go, it leaves much to be desired — it’s amazing to think The Palace in Auburn Hills, home of the Pistons, was built less than a decade later — though to be fair, it’s also one of only three NHL arenas that aren’t currently named for a corporate sponsor.
So there’s that. And then there’s the hockey. But that’s about it, which is fine for many hardcore hockey fans, certainly. It’s just bad for business, generally speaking. A new arena surely will help the Wings’ free-agent pitches in the future, and figures to generate several million dollars in additional revenue annually for the team, along with some — but not all, trust me — of the other economic benefits that business leaders were touting Wednesday.
They started playing games at the Joe in late December 1979. But when the Ilitches bought the Red Wings from Bruce Norris in 1982 for the princely sum of $8 million, the franchise was, in the words of longtime team executive Jimmy Devellano, “in the Detroit River.”
It’s going to be impossible to transplant the memories — everyone knows that. But they’ll take 11 Stanley Cup championship banners with them as a reminder. (Four more than they started with in 1979.) And they can take the half-dozen retired numbers that hang from the rafters. (Make it seven, actually, since Nick Lidstrom’s No. 5 will join the others sometime next season.) Heck, maybe Al Sobotka can figure out a way to take those old plywood end boards, too.
Nobody’s panicking just yet. The future remains an “incomplete portrait” at the moment, as Jackson says. But from the Red Wings’ vantage point, it’s hard to believe it’s not brighter.
And, as the Free Press's Helene St. James suggests, the Wings' players do indeed "deserve better":
I don’t see anything but an upside to a new hockey arena. It’s part of a team’s recruiting tool, and the Joe doesn’t cut it. The Wings’ dressing room is very nice, no doubt about that — it was renovated a few years ago, with nice, sizable locker stalls and old black-and-white photos of former players. There’s a training room that’s part of the overall locker room complex, too, complete with weights and stationary bikes.
But if players want to do a more advanced workout than that — and they always do — they’re stuck jumping hurdles or pulling ropes or any other myriad of activities in the hallway outside the locker room, which is dingy and noisy. Consider this: A wall-to-wall rubber floor mat was installed in that hallway this past spring, and that was considered a huge upgrade.
Let’s not forget the scandal of the 2012 playoffs, when certain members of the Nashville Predators played with the Wings’ toy of the time — table tennis — because the tables were out in the hallway just outside the visitors dressing room. It took Todd Bertuzzi to shut that down.
It isn’t just that no prospective free-agent player is going to pull into the Joe’s parking lot, enter the building and think, “Wow, this is impressive.” There’s a competitive edge lost at the business level, too, because of the absence of mid-level suites. Such seating has become a standard in newer arenas, hugely popular with well-to-do fans and with teams, because those suites are big money makers.
Let’s face it: Detroit is in the news all too often for sad and bad reasons. The Wings are the rare repeated success story, the one team in the area that keeps making the playoffs, that keeps attracting luminously talented players, players who choose to stay in the area past retirement.
A shiny new arena will only benefit the Wings, and in turn continue to help the Wings positively impact Detroit.
In other news: The Dallas News's Mike Heika reports that Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill is going to bring Lindy Ruff back to Dallas for a second interview...But yes, he plans on speaking to Griffins coach Jeff Blashill as well:
The Stars search for a new head coach is moving forward quickly, as former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is expected to be in Frisco Thursday for a second interview with Stars GM Jim Nill, according to an NHL source.
Ruff, 53, coached the Sabres for 15 season and had a 571-432-162 record. He took them to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Stars. He was fired in February when Buffalo was off to a 6-10-1 start
Nill talked to former Rangers coach John Tortorella as part of his trip to the NHL GM meetings in Boston Wednesday and is expected to speak soon with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill. The Griffins won the AHL championship on Tuesday, so Blashill is just now available for interviews. However, Nill served as his boss for most of this season when Nill was assistant GM of the Red Wings (the parent organization for Grand Rapids), so the two know each other well.
(It's a blog entry, not a blog. I don't blog my blog. I write a blog entry, or an article on my blog. No one webs their website)
If you are interested, the Toledo Walleye released their 2013-2014 season schedule on Wednesday afternoon, and let's just say that the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe points out that the ECHL does not believe the old adage that, "Variety is the spice of life":
The opponent the Walleye will face the most times this season is Kalamazoo.The teams will play 13 times with seven at home and six on the road for Toledo.
The teams will have two home-and-home series during the season.
Toledo will play Cincinnati 11 times. The teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season. Six are home games for Toledo, which lost four games to three to the Cyclones in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Walleye will play another North Division foe, Fort Wayne, nine times with six games on the road against the Komets.
The Walleye take on division opponent Evansville eight times.
The ECHL plays a 72-game season, so that's...41 of 72 games played against four opponents.
Free agency talk has died down, save a pair of Tweets which strongly indicate that the Wings won't be re-signing Valtteri Filppula:
As reported on yesterday's TSN Insider Trading segement, and I'm quoting myself here:
[Darren] Dreger says that Pavel Datsyuk re-signing with Detroit indicates that Valtteri Filppula will not re-sign with the Red Wings, and Dreger believes that the 29-year-old Filppula wants as much as $5.5 million for as long as an EIGHT-year contract, or a least a seven-year deal;
And [Pierre] LeBrun says that the Wings may target Stephen Weiss as a Filppula replacement;
LeBrun suggested that the Wings will make a last-ditch effort at re-signing Filppula during the weekend preceding the draft on June 30th, but he and I agree (see: the whole damn thrust of yesterday's overnight report) that the Wings and Filppula won't reach a deal:
On the heals of the Penguins locking up star center Evgeni Malkin a year before he was due to become a free agent, the Detroit Red Wings and Pavel Datsyuk, while the Sharks have agreed to a five-year extension with Logan Couture worth $6 million a year.
A couple of thoughts on each deal: First in Detroit, where I wonder what the Datsyuk signing means for pending UFA center Valtteri Filppula. In a weak UFA class, Filppula can likely fetch north of $5 million on the open market, and I think that coin is too rich for Detroit. Expect the Wings and Zito, also Filppula’s agent, to meet next week at the draft though.
*#$%@& that. The Wings are going to spend over a million bucks to re-sign each of their RFA's--Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist, they may or may not be able to buy out Mikael Samuelsson based upon his health, and they've got $10.6 million in cap space.
I'd rather see the Wings spend that money re-signing Damien Brunner and adding either a big forward who can park his ass in front of the opposing team's net to bang in rebounds or a top-four defenseman who can take some pressure off of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson.
Speaking of free agents, if you're interested, the Windsor Star re-posted synopses of the higher-profile players penned by the Montreal Gazette's Pat Hickey;
And my Slovak is terrible, but Tomas Tatar gave an interview to SME.sk's Ondrej Gajdos, and here are the highlights:
1. He was actually happy to see his best hockey buddy, Richard Panik, play so well against the Griffins, and he hopes that the pair will battle in the NHL next season;
2. He suggested that the World Championship he won with Slovakia and the Calder Cup are simply not comparable but both wonderful achievements;
3. He was indeed pissed off that the Wings demoted him to the Griffins, but he got the best AHL farewell he could have hoped for, and now he'll do his best to be prepared to battle for an NHL job during training camp;
4. As far as he's concerned, winning the Jack A. Butterfield trophy as the AHL's playoff MVP simply illustrates his ability to help his teammates, as well as the fact that Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist were of great help to him. He feels that it's a team award;
5. He wasn't thrilled when Panik leveled Tomas Jurco on several occasions, but it happens;
6. Flying Red Bird III was hugely helpful to him and the team;
7. While he partied heartily, he's heading home to Slovakia on Friday. He's crossing his fingers that he can bring the Calder Cup to his hometown, Dubinca, at some point this summer;
8. And he's rooting for the Slovaks in the Stanley Cup Final. He knows Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara, but he'd love to see Michal Handzus win his first Cup.
You know the drill here:
I would like to attend the Red Wings' summer development camp from July 9-17 in Traverse City, MI, but I am a blogger. My paycheck is not very big, and due to health crap, this is the only job I've got. As such, I do not have the funds to pay for gas to get me to Traverse City or 11 days of a hotel stay.
During previous years, I've asked you to lend a hand and you've come though in a big way. I need to ask, if it is at all possible, that you might consider tossing a few bucks into the Paypal tip jar. I've generally found that the smallest donations, $5, $10, stuff like that, end up paying for gas and a huge chunk of my stay, and anything more is a bonus.
So if you want to donate, that's awesome, if you don't want to donate, that's cool, and one way or another, I hope to get up there and provide you with in-person, every-day coverage.
My "ID" is my personal email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and you'll need to use that as the person you're sending $ to.
And Paul is hoping to return today, but regardless of whether he's around or not, I'm going to be gone from about 2-4 PM.
Update: IIHF.com's Ryan O'Leary took due note of the Grand Rapids Griffins' European flavor:
And though it’s called the American Hockey League, a cavalcade of international talent delivered the Calder Cup to the Western Michigan town.
Tomas Tatar potted two goals in the decisive Game 6, earning 16 total throughout the playoffs en route to winning the Jack A. Butterfield trophy as the Calder Cup Playoff MVP. The Red Wings drafted the Ilava, Slovakia, native in 2009. He’s appeared in 27 NHL games in that time and is not only seen as an important part of the Red Wings future, but also that of the Slovak national team. Tatar had five points in ten games at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship for Slovakia as they earned a surprising silver medal.
Meanwhile, Tatar’s Czech teammate Petr Mrazek recorded four shutouts and a 2.31 GAA in 24 playoff games – a major reason the Griffins reign supreme over the AHL. Mrazek, a fifth-round selection in 2010, was named the top goalkeeper at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship in Calgary and Edmonton, Canada. Mrazek and Tatar are just two of the numerous Griffins that saw some action in with the big club this season as the Red Wings battled a never-ending rash of injuries during the truncated NHL campaign.
Chief among those that provided dividends for the Red Wings were the Swedish tandem of Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson, who played a combined 60 games in Detroit, contributing 16 points. The pair played in all 14 of the Red Wings playoff games before returning to action for Grand Rapids for the playoffs in order to gain further experience.
Nyquist’s 2013 season will be best remembered for his overtime game-winner against the Anaheim Ducks in game two of the Stanley Cup’s first round.
The Griffins also sport one of the most talented YouTube sensations worldwide – winger Tomas Jurco – another fundamental piece of Slovakia’s future on the international stage. Jurco’s stickhandling and trick shot videos might be viral gold, but the Slovak is no stranger to producing in game situations, amassing eight goals and six assists during post-season play.
Another Griffin on the precipice of international stardom is Jan Mursak. Mursak is a very likely candidate to play for Slovenia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics alongside the likes of the Los Angeles Kings star Anze Kopitar. Mursak ranked second behind Tatar on the Griffins in both goals (11) and points (17) in 23 playoff games – he’s scheduled to join Amur Khabarovsk (KHL) for the 2013/2014 season.
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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.