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The Malik Report

Red Wings afternoon quickies: Walleye affiliation renewed; Cleary to bobble

Of very brief Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

• According to DetroitRedWings.com’s Rick Bouwness, the Wings will continue sending prospects to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye…

The Detroit Red Wings today announced that the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) will remain the club’s official AA-level affiliate for the 2011-12 hockey season. The Walleye have served in this capacity since the team’s inaugural 2009-10 campaign.

“We’re very excited to have the Walleye back as part of our organization for the upcoming season,” says Red Wings Assistant General Manager Jim Nill. “Toledo’s been a great partner for us over the years and they’ve proven to be a strong ECHL franchise since reentering the league. We look forward to watching our prospects continue to develop in a city with a strong minor league hockey tradition.”

Which the Walleye have confirmed:

The Toledo Walleye are pleased to announce that they have reached an affiliation agreement with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League for the 2011-12 season.

Under terms of the agreement, Detroit will assign contracted players to the Walleye.

With an emphasis on player development, the Walleye will serve as the Red Wings ECHL affiliate. The Walleye will also work and develop prospects with Detroit’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

“We’re very excited to have the Walleye back as part of our organization for the upcoming season,” says Red Wings Assistant General Manager Jim Nill. “Toledo’s been a great partner for us over the years and they’ve proven to be a strong ECHL franchise since re-entering the league. We look forward to watching our prospects continue to develop in a city with a strong minor league hockey tradition.”

Walleye Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel Nick Vitucci said, “I am thrilled to once again have the opportunity to work with and developing future Detroit Red Wings players. Toledo and Detroit have had a long history together and we are very excited to continue this through the 2011-12 season.”

Walleye President/General Manager Joe Napoli added, “The Detroit organization is well respected within the hockey community and they are first class in every aspect. They visit Toledo often, which in turn, helps Nick Vitucci recruit talented players, and they send the Walleye quality players as well. We are very pleased with the partnership and look forward to another great year.”

And the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema believes that this is a sign of things to come for the Wings and the Grand Rapids Griffins:

The Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League are the Red Wings’ primary minor-league affiliate. Their agreement is set to expire after this season, but both sides have indicated that the relationship will continue in the future.

• In very different news, per Bouwness again...

In an exhibition of unabashed domination, veteran Red Wings forward Danny Cleary emerged victorious from the latest round of voting in the team’s ongoing Operation: Bobblehead campaign. The 32-year-old winger will now have his likeness emblazoned upon a 6½ inch polyresin figurine set to be given away to the first 7,500 fans in attendance at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday, January 12 when Detroit plays host to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Cleary received over 90% of the votes submitted at DetroitRedWings.com and took home half of the ballots cast via Facebook this past week after aggressively promoting his bobblehead candidacy throughout a variety of media outlets in Michigan and abroad. The Carbonear, Newfoundland native joins teammates Pavel Datsyuk (Oct. 13), Henrik Zetterberg (Nov. 3), Johan Franzen (Dec. 8) and Nicklas Lidstrom (Apr. 5) as players to be featured in the Red Wings’ season-long Bobblehead Thursday promotion.

With five of the six Red Wings bobblehead spots now set, citizens of Hockeytown are invited to have their voices heard and select which remaining member of the team will round out the promotional giveaway lineup in 2011-12. Fans can visit DetroitRedWings.com and Facebook.com/DetroitRedWings from now through midday Monday to vote for who they’d like to see featured on the fifth Bobblehead Thursday of the season, which will take place on February 23, 2012 when the Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks pay a visit to JLA. The top three vote-getters in this week’s round of balloting will advance to the Operation: Bobblehead Finals, which will be held during the final week of August. More information on this campaign can be obtained by visiting DetroitRedWings.com.

Red Wings’ 2011-12 Bobblehead Giveaway Schedule
Thursday, October 13 vs. Vancouver – PAVEL DATSYUK
Thursday, November 3 vs. Calgary – HENRIK ZETTERBERG
Thursday, December 8 vs. Phoenix – JOHAN FRANZEN
Thursday, January 12 vs. Phoenix – DANNY CLEARY
Thursday, February 23 vs. Vancouver – Winner of Fan Vote #4
Thursday, April 5 vs. New Jersey – NICKLAS LIDSTROM
(NOTE: all games begin at 7:30 p.m.)

And Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime discusses said news on the Hockeytown Blog. The next round of voting is underway...

• The Wings are also reminding fans about Hockeyfest…

• And the day after Hockeyfest, the Plymouth Patch’s Nicole Krawcke reports that the Wings will be loaning out the rink for a charitable endeavor:

Chill at the Joe is what Theresa Bizoe, First Step’s assistant director, calls the best family deal in town.

For just $20 per person, families get all you can eat at the concession stands, can explore Joe Louis Arena — including the Red Wings’ locker room and skate on the ice.

“It’s the best family entertainment deal in metro-Detroit just because everything is included,” Bizoe said. “Food, games, crafts… just a whole variety of things and you can also tour the locker room.”

The day will also include spin art, an inflated bounce house, crafts, games and entertainment. New this year is a hockey game set to take place between Red Wings alumni and various members of Wayne County’s police departments.

“We’re asking each police department to provide an officer that plays hockey to play the Detroit Red Wings alumni,” Bizoe said. “We’ll have about an hour of a hockey game during the event.”

• Erm…from MegaLidas on YouTube, here’s Henrik Zetterberg talking about the 2012 World Championship and the Wings, in Swedish:

• And NHL.com’s EJ Hradek gets this answer to a mailbag question right:

How many years does the best 171st draft pick ever, Pavel Datsyuk, have left in him?—@Deathbeast69

It is always tricky to speculate about how long someone is going to be able to compete in the NHL or any professional sport. Datsyuk, who turned 33 last month, seems like one of those guys who’ll be able to play late into his 30s, barring any significant injuries.

The elite Detroit star could probably get by for a good while on just his smarts and hockey sense. Like I say, you never know what’s going to happen with a player, but I hope he’ll be around for many years to come. The guy is among my very favorites to watch.

I’ve got a family emergency to take care of so I’m crafting this rather randomly before heading out the door. I will see you when I see you.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


Forlorn in VA's avatar

Hope all turns out well with your family, George.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 08/16/11 at 05:53 PM ET

perfection's avatar

for sure George, hope all is ok.

regarding the bobble… i can’t believe Homer isn’t getting one so far. I mean his head has been bobbling in front of the opposing net for over decade. i really really want a Holmstrom bobble head. Please for the love of god EVERYBODY go vote for Homer. Apparently he has one chance left and right now Abdlekader (who’s great and all… but please, he’s the new kid) and Bertuzzi (similar sentiment… he’s only been around for a couple seasons. Homer is a LIFER damnit!!)

Vote Holmstrom at detroitredwings.com… just do it

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 08/16/11 at 06:26 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

The Detroit Red Wings today announced that the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) will remain the club’s official AA-level affiliate for the 2011-12 hockey season.

Is there a class desination in the minor leagues (I’ve never seen it before) or is this just something you wrote to make it more understandable as to where the ECHL is ranked in the minor leagues?

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 08/16/11 at 06:45 PM ET

Wings_Fan_In_KC's avatar

Yikes.  Hope everything turns out OK, George.

Posted by Wings_Fan_In_KC from ...somewhere southwest of The Motor City... on 08/16/11 at 07:19 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, hope everything is OK.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 08/16/11 at 07:33 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The ECHL is essentially the equivalent of AA hockey if you were to use the baseball analogy, with the AHL being the AAA minor league, um, league and lesser lights like the Central Hockey League or whatever the league that was calling itself the IHL is now known as.

And mom’s OK. She had a fainting spell at work—first one in a year—and was taken to the hospital as a matter of course. No damage this time so hopefully she’ll be allowed to go home and rest. Thanks for the kind wishes, everybody…I hate to say it, but given her fainting issues I guess I ought to assume I’ll be visiting Saint Joe’s in Ann Arbor once a year from now on :(

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/16/11 at 08:27 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, glad your Mom is OK.  Hope she recovers quickly.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 08/16/11 at 09:24 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

...if you were to use the baseball analogy,

yeah, I thought it was just an analogy, but the way you phrased it made me think there was some new classification system in use now. Thanx for getting back to me.

And mom’s OK.

That’s good to hear.

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 08/16/11 at 09:43 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Central League claims “AA” hockey and in the past it was debatable.  Not so much anymore since they moved to be more developmental, though now with the IHL 2.0 refugee teams in tow they seem to be once again moving away form development. 

The AA level eight now is the mess AAA used to be when the original IHL and AHL were dueling it out in the 1990’s: The CHL is the IHL trying to just get the best name, spend money, cheat caps, affiliations are an afterthought, more vets, etc… and the ECHL is built on affiliations and young player development much like the AHL was.

The Southern Pro Hockey League (SPHL) is arguably on par with the demised IHL 2.0 (which was basically a reboot of the “AA” United Hockey League which imploded in scandal) which claimed “AA” hockey—except the SPHL is not shy about calling itself “A” hockey (even thought they draw crowds to rival AA and even some AAA markets).  The SPHL is a bit Wild West-y though with goons, brawls, and lots of antics, and development is nowhere in their thoughts.  The model seems to work for them though.

The northeastern-based Federal Hockey League claims “A” level, as did the recently-demised midwestern AAHL, but the truth is both of those are more sub-A level or semi-pro.

George… nobody’s ever been able to answer this but WTF exactly is with the relationship between Detroit and Toledo?  Detroit barely sends Toledo any players (let alone any worthwhile, largely because they let guys stay in junior or college that extra year or two instead) and Vitucci’s org on the Maumee doesn’t exactly have a great track record developing youngsters for DET and GR either (the suspect players tend to get sent there, and flounder).  To boot, Toledo is non-competitive in a 4-team division that usually has at least two elite teams (and sometimes 3 playoff teams).

On top of all that, I’m very unimpressed with the coaching in Toledo which seems to go quite against the system DET and GR use..

I just don’t get why Detroit insists on continuing with Toledo.  Toledoans aren’t hockey-stupid and the DET affiliation doesn’t carry that much weight if the team sucks… the good NHL-contracted players Toledo’s had so far have basically been from Chicago/Rockford.

Does it really just come down to geographical proximity, and screw the rest?

Posted by Primis on 08/17/11 at 02:02 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Right now I think we’d go with the ECHL being the top of the “AA Hockey” heap and other leagues pretty close depending on who you talk to.

The Walleye are actually pretty well-received, but the affiliation agreement is small for the Wings—three to five players, I believe—because the Walleye chose to split their affiliation between the Red Wings and Blackhawks. Both teams can send anywhere from 2-5 or 6 players to the Walleye, with the club attempting to draft, develop or sign at least half their roster from either the ranks of the ECHL or players who can’t quite crack the AHL. 

It’s a nice sort of overflow valve if there are prospects that are struggling with the Griffins or the team’s particularly deep at a position (see: last year and this year, given that the Griffins have at least eight AHL-ready defensemen), but there’s no dedicated developmental model that involves specifically sending players to Toledo on a dedicated basis as marquee talent that isn’t quite ready for prime time.

The Wings and the Griffins play the same style, they’ve got very similar coaches and now Jim Nill’s the Griffins’ GM, so the Wings would rather essentially send prospects to the Junior Wings unless they run into some speedbumps.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/17/11 at 02:26 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.