The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/16/12 at 05:08 PM ET
the Red Wings’ summer development camp raised a significant chunk of change for Bryan Rufenach’s summer hockey camp while remembering the fallen Wings prospect last Tuesday in Traverse City, and while the Rufenach family was understandably shaken while making a brief appearance at the activities taking pace at Centre Ice Arena, the Grand Traverse Insider’s Greg Gielczyk spoke to Wings camp director Ann Reeves about the event’s significance for both the family and the community:
“There was a commemorative display of Bryan’s hockey pictures presented to the family,” Reeves said. “His picture was in the middle and then various action photos surrounded it. Framed in glass, it was quite a large collage of pictures.”
Reeves was amazed at the fan turnout.
“I was absolutely overwhelmed by the number in attendance,” Reeves commented. “We had beer and wine. We had a dunk tank. It was hilarious. One of the prospects, his name is Mitch Callahan, actually got in the dunk tank and a bunch of the prospects were taking shots dunking him. It was really fun.”
Musical entertainment was provided by the band “Above the Garage,” and a cloth banner was spread across a table for people to sign and write messages to the family.
“It was 16 feet of banner and it was filled with messages and signatures to the family,” Reeves reported. “I was so pleased. The volunteers, everyone who put their time into it, were just thrilled with it.”
Rufenach’s talent was undeniable, especially on the power play, and the Red Wings were very high on the young prospect that scored 13 goals and had 54 assists with Toledo last year. But the Red Wings celebrated his life as well as his hockey skills Tuesday night.
Certainly, Rufenach would have given two thumbs up, a grin and a wink for a job well done. He knew a lot about doing a good job.
Regarding the prospects who took part in last week’s development camp, it’s almost painful to admit that I’ve got to sparingly quote ESPN’s Craig Custance’s insider-only blog entry about the Wings’ future players today, and I can only quote so much of the insider-only entry because his discussions of Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Teemu Pulkkinen, Calle Jarnkrok and Tomas Jurco’s futures are more or less “off limits.” He did speak to Wings assistant GM Jim Nill about the prospects as an ever-increasingly important part of the Wings’ foundation going forward, and that might be the most important part of Custance’s article:
“You have no choice in the new era of the NHL,” said Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill when we chatted this morning. “We saw it this summer. We’re all locking our guys up from four- to ten-year contracts. [There aren’t] a lot of free agents on the market.”
That combination makes this summer and the coming season the most important in recent memory for Red Wings prospects. The last time the organization lost key players to retirement, they replaced them with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Chances are, that’s not happening in the wake of Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement.
“It’s more quantity,” Nill said of Detroit’s pool of prospects. “You have to have a wave of players coming in.”
“Lots of kids have been [in Traverse City for] three or four years,” he said. “It’s encouraging to see how they have improved.”
The coming prospects have a chance to remedy those depth concerns which means the team may be hesitant to gut the system in order to acquire an NHL player via trade, especially one who can’t play defense.
“You might get a call and say you can get a certain player but it might not be a fit,” Nill said. “You might have a chance to add a great forward but it doesn’t make sense if you need to add a defenseman.”
I don’t see the Wings making a trade at this point—it’s entirely possible that they’ll do so during the regular season, but with only 6 NHL-caliber defensemen on the roster, Smith included, the Wings have no leverage whatsoever in terms of paying less than an arm and leg for say, a Jay Bouwmeester (the Flames might want to hold onto him, too) or Keith Yandle (with the Wings looking to add scoring to the mix, it makes no sense to surrender a possible captain-in-the-making in Valtteri Filppula or an incredibly important prospect in Gustav Nyquist to create another crater to fill another one)....
So I’m guessing that the Wings will go into the season having added one or two band-aid defenseman (I’m rooting for Pavel Kubina and Carlo Colaiacovo), probably signed when their asking prices go down in August (leverage is another issue here), and when the 2012-2013 season begins and teams start making decisions about players’ futures given their own prospects’ progress and potential contract headaches to come, I would imagine that the Wings will add more significant pieces of the puck-moving defenseman’s puzzle closer to the middle of the season or the trade deadline.
The Wings seem intent on adding Shane Doan up front to “overbuild” if he does become available, but they won’t overpay for him, and this is just a gut feeling, but I think that, should crazy Mark Gandler accept some sort of sensible deal for his client, Alex Semin did more than enough at the World Championships to warrant an exploratory, “We’ll sign him for a year or two and see whether he’s a fit, and hope to ink him to a longer-term deal”-type contract from the Wings.
Mostly, given the Wings’ tendencies since even prior to the last lockout, I don’t anticipate any restricted free agent offer sheets to go out, nor do I expect a roster that needs to protect its strengths to surrender assets when the team can add a band-aid defenseman or two, should they wish to spend the money to do so, a goal-scoring forward, and to more or less sit on a roster that’s overbuilt up front and a “work in progress” on defense until the new CBA’s been agreed to and the regular season gets underway.
shifting gears in a big way, via RedWingsFeed, I’m not sure why the Score’s Ellen Etchingham wants to review Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Final and this goal in particular…
• PlymouthWhalers.com’s Peter Krupsky reports that the Whalers will hold their annual Whalers Alumni game to raise funds for Gleaners’ Hunger Free Summer campaign on Sunday, August 4th at Compuware Arena.
The Whalers are asking for a donation of 10 canned goods for admission. Tickets for $10 can be also purchased by calling the Compuware Arena box office at (734) 453-8400 or by going online to http://www.plymouthwhalers.com.
Any donation brought to the game will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Charter One Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Epoch Restaurant Group, American Specialty Oil Company and Joshua (Jim) and Eunice Stone Foundation providing six meals per dollar for children who are at risk of hunger and malnutrition while school is out.
Included in the admission is an autograph session with the alumni, which will run from 2:00-3:30 pm.
Plymouth alumni scheduled to skate in the game include NHL players Chad LaRose (Carolina), Tyler Seguin (Boston), James Neal (Pittsburgh), Jared Boll (Columbus), and Matt Hackett (Minnesota) as well as retired Washington Capitals’ forward Pat Peake – the only Whaler to have his jersey retired by the franchise.
Other Plymouth alumni tentatively scheduled to play in the game include former captains Chris Terry (2005-09), John Vigilante (2002-06), AJ Jenks (2006-10) and Mike Morrone (1994-97); Tyler G. Brown (2007-11), Ryan Hayes (2007-10), Robbie Czarnik (2009-11), Jamie Devane (2008-12), Damian Surma (1998-02), Joe Byrne (1996-98), Mark Cadotte (1995-97), Scott Fletcher (2008-09), Dan Pawlaczyk (1993-97), Jason Lawmaster (1996-98), J.D. Eaton (1990-93), Jeff Gardiner (1990-92), James Sheehan (1990-92), Ryan Stephenson (2004-06) and Larry Sterling (2000-01).
• This story from the Free Press’s Brian Manzullo scares me:
Here’s one more thing Detroit does well: Sports talk radio.
The editors at TALKERS magazine put together their first annual Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk, which ranks the top 100 sports talk radio hosts in America by importance.
WXYT-FM (97.1 The Ticket) made three appearances in the top 20.
Mike Valenti and Terry Foster rank No. 5, just ahead of Mike & Mike In The Morning on ESPN Radio. Doug Karsch and Scott Anderson, also of WXYT-FM, rank No. 9. Mike Stone and Bill McAllister rank No. 20.
I can’t think of a more hockey-unfriendly sports station than 97.1 the Ticket—outside of its Wings broadcasts. Jeff Riger, Pat Caputo and Mike Stone are passionate hockey fans, but if you believe Mike Valenti and Terry Foster’s suggestions, no sport is less relevant or less worthy of discussion in Detroit than the Red Wings, and that kind of rhetoric is regrettably one of the reasons why hockey’s under-covered on the radio and on TV in Metro Detroit outside of 97.1’s Wings broadcasts, WDFN’s best efforts and WXYZ’s hockey-friendly sports segments. The “diggers” do their very best, too—again, the more time I spend with them, the more respect I have for the hard, hard jobs they have, and they worked their tails off at the summer development camp—but they can’t help the fact that their newspapers/website’s editors shove Wings coverage to the middle or back pages of the sports section.
That being said, the downright strangely low level of hockey coverage in a city which really is a town rabidly obsessed with its much-beloved hockey team is the reason that bloggers like me have a job. So take that for what you will.
• In the multimedia department, part 1: From Paul, former Red Wing Mike Knuble weighed in on Red Wings-related topics and his future plans while appearing on Grand Rapids’ WOOD-TV this morning…
• In the multimedia department, part 2, via Paul again: I adore Dominik Hasek, insanity included, but I just don’t believe he’s going to make a successful NHL comeback as a 47-year-old back-up. If Alex Auld and Marty Turco can’t get jobs, Hasek won’t be able to do so:
• And finally, I’m sorry for my lack of presence online and/or Twitter today. I’m trying to lay low and recover from last week’s events as I didn’t really calm down and start to rest until Sunday morning. I’m still very wonked from a week’s worth of 20-hour days.
After a season filled with eye opening performances, Petr Mrazek is confident he’s ready to earn a spot with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. The 20 year-old netminder signed a three-year entry level contract with Detroit in October that will take effect this fall.
“I can’t wait to turn pro,” he said. “It will be a transition but I am ready. I’ve been working hard for this for a few years now and it is exciting that the time is finally here.”
Mrazek spent the last three seasons playing for the Ottawa 67′s of the OHL. Last season he played 50 games and posted a stellar numbers including a 2.84 goals against and a sparkling .917 save percentage. Mrazek is a competitive goalie who is accustomed to facing a lot of shots, but in Ottawa he routinely faced 40 shots or more and still managed to give his team a chance to win.
“Those three years in Ottawa were the best,” he said. ” I got the chance to play there every game. I know now I can step up and play pro hockey. It was awesome.”
The highlight of the Ostrava, Czech Republic native’s year was finally getting an opportunity to represent his country at the 2012 World Junior Championships in January. Mrazek had been left off two previous teams due to a contractual dispute with his former team, HC Viktovice.
The 6-foot-1, 184 pound goalie had several show stopping performances at the WJC including a 52-save 5-2 victory over the Americans, but unfortunately his heroics weren’t enough. The Czech Republic team eventually lost to the Russians in the quarter-finals eliminating them from gold medal contention. Mrazek’s, who was named the tournament’s top goaltender, became the talk of the tournament for his acrobatic saves and his exuberant on-ice celebrations.
“I didn’t know I could be that crazy because I never do that,” he said of his celebrations. “I was really fired up and the crowd was chanting my name so I wanted to do something for them. That happened once and I don’t think that can happen again.”
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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.