The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/17/14 at 01:59 AM ET
I try to be as honest as humanly possible with my readers, so I'm going to start this entry with the slightly-less-directly-Red-Wings-related story for honesty's sake.
I happened to enjoy the commute to the Red Wings' summer development camp a wee bit better when it was held at Joe Louis Arena, and my attendance at said camp really opened my eyes to the reason I'm so baffled about the slowness of the follow-on rink's construction.
While I happen to believe that the Joe has the best sightlines of any rink, it's an uncomfortable place to watch a game and it's certainly a spartan place to work in (perhaps you have heard of the true stories of the press box occasionally springing leaks after heavy rain, sometimes disturbingly close to broadcasters), and if you witnessed the amount of maintenance put into the 37-year-old rink when completely empty, to simply keep its state up to "dilapidated" standards, it would shock you.
If you run into the occasional broken seat during a concert or hockey game, it's because it was missed among a good hundred-plus broken seats repaired after every event (to the point that the most common sound in the bowl involves hammering those seats back together). If you head into the restroom and think it's bloody runky, you might be surprised to know that the bathrooms are "fixed" on a regular basis. If you think that the stairs are particularly slippery on a particular day, it's probably because paint coat #1,837 has been applied after a patch-job to keep those damn things from crumbling.
And none of those repairs illustrate the massive amounts of work done between ground level and the fifth floor to keep the building from falling apart.
The Joe has not aged well during its 37 years of existence because was so very hastily and very shoddily constructed, and Al Sobotka and company fight a daily battle all year long to just hold up the Joe's lovable-but-runky-and-funky standard (spotty cellular service included).
When people wonder why it's going to be demolished--and it pains me to say this--after the follow-on rink, I hate to say it, but the damn thing might cave in without constant maintenance, and according to the Free Press's Joe Guillien, a less-maintained part of the Joe's "infrastructure" is in fact doing just that:
The City of Detroit and the Red Wings plan to spend more than $3 million on repairs for the Joe Louis Arena parking garage even though the garage might be torn down in a few years.
Detroit will spend about $2 million to repair structural damage found during a recent inspection, Gary Brown, the city’s chief of operations, told the city council on July 29. The Red Wings organization agreed in March to fix 600 parking spaces at an estimated cost of $1.25 million.
Like the arena, the parking garage, Brown told City Council, would be demolished when the Red Wings move to the team’s new arena north of downtown in three years. Brown later backed away from that comment in an e-mail to the Free Press and said the city hasn’t decided on the garage’s future.
“I know I need $2 million before the hockey season starts just for Joe Louis Arena, and that garage will only be in existence for the next three years,” Brown told the council. “The roof is sagging and you can’t park cars on the roof or the floor below the roof.”
A spokesman for Ilitch Holdings said Olympia is working with the city to repair the 600 spaces.
Gullien continues and discusses the parking garage's fate as it pertains to the city's ongoing bankruptcy and desire to generate revenue from the facility.
Given that the Joe will probably end up as part of an expanded Cobo Hall, it would behoove the city to continue using the 2,600-car garage.
I've heard the rumors of the city using the area as a real estate development, but you and I know that the Joe abuts the end of the Lodge Freeway and a very industrial landscape to the west (minus the Riverfront Condos and WCCC at least), so it's not an ideal location to build high-end condos (unless you enjoy an east view of the loading docks and the Cobo roof). Cobo's been massively expanded but still tends to run out of room, so it makes far more sense to expand the exhibition center instead.
It's a shitty spot to build retail stuff upon and it might serve a purpose as some sort of community location to anchor the western end of the riverfront, but a Cobo expansion provides the biggest opportunity for the City of Detroit to use the Joe's footprint and the parking garage to make money.
Shifting gears in a big way, the Free Press's Helene St. James utilized Drew Miller's presence at the Wings' youth hockey camp last week to engage in a conversation with the 30-year-old grinder.
Miller finished last year with 7 goals, 8 assists and at -11 in 82 games played, and St. James reports that Miller very smartly understands that the push from below in the form of offensively-talented prospects like Anthony Mantha and Teemu Pulkkinen = Miller's got to crank up the offense if he is to keep his job:
“I want to definitely improve on my points from last year,” he said. “I had a lot more chances to score last year ... just didn’t put the pucks in the net. That’s something I’ve worked on this summer, shooting pucks, a quicker release.”
One potential newcomer is 2013 first-round pick Mantha, the 6-foot-4 winger who has spent the past two seasons tearing up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He’ll get a chance during camp to demonstrate he can handle skipping straight to the top level of pro hockey.
“I know he’s a big body and can put the puck in the net,” Miller said. “It’s going to be a transition — I mean, coming from juniors or college to pro hockey, it’s not just the game of hockey, it’s a lifestyle. You’ve got to learn to adapt and become a pro.”
Miller divulged that the No. 1 question he was asked by the young girls and boys was “who do you like better” between Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
His answer: “I said they’re both very good hockey players.”
Otherwise: the Free Press's sports staff reports that you can see Miller, many of his former Michigan State University Spartan alums and Jakub Kindl at the MSU's annual "Pro Camp" at Munn Arena in Lansing...
.Justin Abdelkader of the Red Wings and Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins will be among 20 former Michigan State players taking part in MSU’s annual pro camp. The camp is [Monday] through Friday at Munn Ice Arena, with players skating from 10 a.m. to noon daily. The camp is free and open to spectators. Assistant coach Tom Newton runs the camp, which is designed to help players prepare for their upcoming pro training.
And if you wanted to know what happened at the Plymouth Whalers' alumni game, the first of a pair of charitable exhibition games, here you go:
The Blues beat the Whites, 8-7, in the Plymouth Whalers’ annual alumni game at Compuware Arena. David Legwand (Ottawa Senators), Brett Bellemore (Carolina Hurricanes) and Stefan Noesen (Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate) scored for the Blues. Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars) scored two goals for the Whites. Matt Hackett (Buffalo Sabres) also appeared but did not play becuase of an injury. Proceeds from the game, billed as “Whalers Alumni Give a Miracle on Ice,” will go to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Beaumont Children’s Hospital. A $10 donation was required for admission.
Here's the Spartans' athletic site's press release regarding the pro camp:
A total of 20 former Spartan hockey players, including 11 who played in the National Hockey League last season, will be back in Munn Ice Arena this coming week for the annual MSU Hockey Pro Camp. The camp runs Monday, Aug. 18 - Friday, Aug. 22 with the players skating from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. each day. The camp is free and open to spectators.
The camp, which is run by MSU assistant coach Tom Newton, helps the players prepare for their upcoming training camps with their respective professional teams. MSU had players in the NHL, American Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League, Central Hockey League and in various European leagues last season.
Spartans Scheduled to Appear
The Spartans' hockey Twitter account tends to provide a solid amount of real-time updates, as does their Facebook page (grumbles about having to follow them, something something U of M something something)
If you haven't subscribed to AWood40's YouTube channel, you should do so. His latest masterpiece involves FORTY-FOUR minutes of Pavel Datsyuk goals (Nike "lobster thumb" gloves included)...
*Sits in front of computer, tries to stop watching to finish the damn entry*
And finally, the Free Press's Steve Schrader earns some bonus points for this pun-intended "Stevie" Award (if you missed the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' remark about Brendan Shanahan earning $2.5 million a season, you might have just found out why Holland's new contract goes into effect this year and not next year--somebody's got to be the highest-paid executive in the league):
The "He Drove a Hard Bargain" award
To Ken Holland, who redeemed himself, if indeed that was necessary. The Red Wings general manager has been hearing a little criticism — something that hardly ever comes his way — for his inability to sign any memorable free agents the past couple of years or even get coach Mike Babcock’s name on a contract extension. But just to show he’s still got it, Kenny signed himself to a new four-year deal.
I'm sure that the deal was negotiated between rounds of golf at Holland's favorite summer hangout spot, Vernon, BC's Predator Ridge golf course.
Quick update: Speak of the devil. The Vernon Morning Star's Kevin Mitchell issues "quotes without quotes":
Ken Holland turns 59 in November, hardly senior citizen status in the NHL world of management employees. Born and raised in Vernon, Holland told me last summer he could see himself working as a Scotty Bowman-type consultant well into his 70s.
Holland just locked in another four years with the Detroit Red Wings. He is entering his 18th season as GM in Hockeytown.
Since he took over in July 1997, Holland-built teams have won more regular-season games (746) and post-season games (115) than any other NHL organization. The Red Wings won Stanley Cups in 1998, 2002 and 2008 — and another in 1997 while he was an assistant GM.
Detroit fought through injuries in 2013-14 to make the playoffs for the 23rd consecutive season, but the Red Wings lost in the first round to Boston. Holland was also an executive with the Canadian teams that won Olympic men’s gold in 2010 in Vancouver and in 2014 in Sochi.
He and his family are very tight with Mike and Marian Ilitch, and their family, the owners of the Wings and Major League Baseball’s Tigers.
Holland, who has a beautiful place on Kalamalka Lake, obviously feels comfortable working for the Ilitich family and he’s going to keep a good thing going for as long as possible. His extension also carries positive weight for locals like Tyler Wright, Marty Stein and Jeff Finley, all of whom work under Ken.
Perhaps most important on Holland’s agenda in the coming weeks are signing head coach Mike Babcock to a new deal and signing promising d-man Dan DeKeyser.
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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.