The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/06/11 at 10:07 PM ET
Reporting from beautiful Traverse City, Michigan, where the Wings’ summer prospect camp gets underway at 2:30 PM EDT tomorrow…
As the Red Wings’ goaltending situation waits upon Chris Osgood’s return from Scotland to have an in-person interview with GM Ken Holland, the Wings have gotten down to the nitty gritty of determining which assistant coaches will flank Mike Babcock’s shoulders, and Kalamazoo Gazette’s Graham Couch reveals that Western Michigan University coach Jeff Blashill is one of the finalists:
Blashill, who led the Broncos this past winter to their first NCAA tournament in 15 seasons and the CCHA tournament championship game for the first time in a quarter-century, confirmed Wednesday that he’s interviewed for one of the Red Wings’ vacant assistant coaching positions.
“I am interviewing, but they have not made a decision and I have not made a decision yet,” Blashill said Wednesday afternoon. “I do expect to know at some point by the end of the week. ... I think they are narrowing in to make a decision. And, at that point, I will make a decision.”
Blashill, who was named national coach of the year by all three major college hockey publications, received a hefty pay raise in April, with his base salary bumped from $150,000 to $275,000, with the chance to earn $100,000 more in incentives. The lure of the National Hockey League — one of the sport’s preeminent franchises at that — is perhaps more enticing, in what might be an unprecedented meteoric rise in terms of leaping from the United States Hockey League to college hockey to the NHL. Blashill spent two seasons as head coach of the USHL’s Indiana Ice, after stints as an assistant at Miami of Ohio and Ferris State.
“I think when Mike Babcock calls and Ken Holland calls and the Detroit Red Wings call, you certainly listen,” Blashill said. “Yeah, it’s a potential great opportunity. I love Western Michigan. This is a special place in college hockey. I wouldn’t be talking to any other colleges, that’s for sure. But obviously it’s the NHL and the Red Wings are what they are.”
WMU director of athletics Kathy Beauregard said Wednesday afternoon that she understands why the Red Wings would be interested in Blashill and why Blashill would have trouble saying no to them.
“It’s been Jeff’s dream from the day we hired him, he talked about his goal of getting to the NHL,” said Beauregard, who was with Blashill when he informed the team on Tuesday. “Very honestly, the opportunity came much more quickly than I think any of us expected.”
The Michigan College Hockey Examiner’s Jeremy Laura offers more background information about Blashill, and, via RedWingsFeed, TSN’s Darren Dreger issued a not-so-surprising hint at the fact that Mike Babcock’s chosen to go with “younger legs” behind the bench:
Detroit hopes to have its assistant coaches in place by the end of the week. We may be in for a surprise.
The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness confirms that Blashill’s in the running as the Wings attempt to fill the assistant coaches’ positions this week:
“We’re getting close,” Holland said during a phone interview Wednesday. “We’re going to decide on our staff by Friday.”
A source confirmed to The Macomb Daily that Western Michigan University head coach Jeff Blashill is a finalist for one of the two openings to assistant Mike Babcock. Holland would not confirm if Blashill is a finalist but did say, “We have had conversations with him.”
And regarding Osgood, the status quo remains just that. The team isn’t quite sure whether they wish to fish or cut bait as Osgood’s groin never seemed to recover from what turned out to be major reconstructive surgery in January…
“I’m more worried about the unknown,” Holland said. “He’s going to be 39 in November and he had a fairly significant surgery in the last half of the year. I want to see what he thinks,” Holland added.
And the Wings have indeed been talking to both free agent and former Wing Ty Conklin as well as Joey MacDonald, who may or may no longer have a European option available to him as training camps for teams in the KHL (where MLive’s Ansar Khan stated that MacDonald had a $1 million offer on the table) open up at the end of July or early August, so available roster spots disappear quickly…
“Ty played here a few years ago, he played well and we know him,” Holland said. “We’re talking to Joey MacDonald about possibly being in a similar role like last year.”
“Our first thing is to talk to Chris Osgood before we do anything,” Holland said. “We explored the market on July 1 and 2 and I anticipated we’d be second fiddle to a lot of guys because of opportunity. We’ve got a No. 1 goalie in place that’s 27 years old. It sort of played out the way I anticipated.”
Pleiness points out that it is possible, given the Wings’ cap space, that the team could bring back Osgood and MacDonald if he’s willing to reprise his role as the Wings’ #3 goaltender and mentor for Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce, but Holland doesn’t seem too sold on the idea:
“I don’t know necessarily spending money means the team is good,” Holland said. “Look at the great job Nashville has done and they’re at the bottom end of the payroll. We’re happy with the guys we got.”
At this point, barring a trade for a forward, it sounds like the Wings will sort out their back-up situations at both the NHL and AHL levels (the Wings might be interested in letting McCollum and Pearce battle it out for the Griffins’ starting position, but they might want to add a veteran back-up who can be pressed into NHL duty if necessary, too), inform Osgood and Kris Draper of the team’s plans going forward and call it a summer, saving up their cap space for the trade deadline and, assuming that Draper won’t return, giving Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton the opportunity to make the roster as the team’s 13th and 14th forwards…
Or, in other words, barring some sort of move to reinforce the forward lines, once the team’s named its assistant coaches, picked a back-up goaltender and informed Osgood and Draper of the team’s plans, the Wings will simply build the Grand Rapids Griffins’ roster and let their roster players do the talking during training camp and the exhibition season.
The Wings would have a good $5 or $6 million in cap space, depending on how much they spend on a back-up, to fiddle with at the trade deadline instead, and as Holland tells Pleiness, that’s a product of the fact that a mediocre crop of free agents commanded astronomical wages:
“Every year is different,” Holland said. “Spending money doesn’t correspond to wins and losses. We got the guys we liked. We explored the market on July 1. It’s pretty obvious that average to above average players really commanded the market and commanded the dollars,” Holland continued. “We’ve got a salary structure and we’ve got people that want to be here and have bought into our program. I think we’re in a good spot going down the rest of the summer and into training camp.”
Speaking of free agents, Capgeek.com has yet to confirm whether the Wings have re-signed Pearce, but it’s registered Logan Pyett and Garnet Exelby’s contracts. Pyett’s one-year deal includes salaries of $75,000 at the AHL level and $525,000 at the NHL level, and Exelby will earn $105,000 at the AHL level and $600,000 at the NHL level.
Regarding Osgood specifically, three local columnists believe that Osgood is either at the end of the line or should resign himself to his NHL career reaching its conclusion.
The Detroit News’s Terry Foster simply argues that Osgood’s health and performance have gone hand in hand, and haven’t met the Wings’ expectations in either instance…
This is painful to write because the guy has been great for the Red Wings and for Detroit. But the Wings need to cut ties with Chris Osgood. Father time has caught up with the 38-year-old goalie, and it’s time to stop chasing the past.
Osgood can’t stay healthy. His groin injury limited him to 11 regular-season games last season, and he never made it back for the playoffs.
His goals-against average in that limited time last year was 2.77, but it was above 3.00 in the two seasons previous to that — too high for an NHL goalie. His save percentage was .887 in 2008-09 and .888 in 2009-10. Those are not Red Wing-like numbers. That’s what the backup goalie for the New York Islanders might do.
It’s time to move on. And it appears that is what Wings general manager Ken Holland is prepared to do. If he can swing a deal or sign somebody better than Osgood, he will. But he kept the door open for Osgood by saying the market for backup goalies is slim. Osgood, of course, would return if the Wings want him. If they don’t he is prepared to retire.
Independent journalist Greg Eno also believes that Osgood’s ready to move on, whether he’s willing to admit it or not…
Osgood is coming off two less-than-stellar seasons that have been pocked with injury, most recently to the groin—a goalie’s worst enemy.
Osgood is another who isn’t making things easy for Holland. Ozzie hasn’t offered to be jettisoned, nor will he make such an overture. At least, it’s doubtful that he will. But Osgood’s reticence hasn’t stopped Holland from carrying on with his duties as GM. The Red Wings have some money to spend on a new/old goalie. They told Osgood (and Draper) that a new contract wouldn’t be offered until after July 1, the date that free agents can begin to be signed. That is, if a contract would be offered at all.
Last winter, as he was recuperating from his groin injury—an injury he never did return from—Osgood sat in with Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond during a telecast from Florida. Osgood was asked if he felt like he had some hockey left in the tank.
Unsurprisingly, Ozzie said yes, he had.
“I’m not ready to join the Red Wings Old-Timers yet,” Osgood cracked.
But he also spoke of life post-playing, and how he’d like to somehow assist the current and future Red Wings goalies, whether as an official coach or a training camp instructor. The preference, of course, was to keep playing.
And Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Renger also argues that Osgood may not be willing to accept it, but his priorities are changing, as has his off-ice personality…
During his last few months with the Red Wings, Osgood would go from telling you that he was finally healthy and looking forward to playing next year to talking about his responsibilities as a parent. A tone of resignation filled his voice as he spoke. Ozzie no longer was the fun-loving practical joker who endeared him to teammates, fans and the media. He was much more reflective and somber as he weighed in about his future.
Chris Osgood is a hockey player. Always has been and always will be. But, just as relatively young men before him, his career ends at the ripe old age of 38.
There will be an official announcement within the next week or so, but Ozzie’s playing days are over, unless, every unrestricted-free-agent goalie is signed, leaving the Wings with Osgood as their most appealing option. Chances of that happening are extremely remote.
And as such, Regner believes that Ken Holland should sit down with the player he watched as a junior hockey player with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, drafted, mentored to some extent and calls a dear friend, and when the peers and pals speak, Holland should do so as a general manager whose concerns involve placing his team’s needs ahead of personal relationships, no matter how dear they may be:
Holland may come across as a mild-mannered, fun-loving individual who has a unique talent for assembling a pro hockey team. Make no mistake: Holland is a calculating and shrewd executive who will base all his decisions on what’s best for his hockey club. Bringing in [Dominik] Hasek was a no brainer hockey wise, but it was tough on a personal level. Because once Holland turns the page on a player, it’s over, except in Osgood’s case.
Certainly, the Wings have brought back players over the years. Heck, in all likelihood, Ty Conklin, is about to become Jimmy Howard’s backup. However, Ozzie is the only player Holland has ever referred to as “a son.”
That’s why when Holland and Osgood meet, it will be all business. And once the meeting is over, a couple of buddies may raise a glass or two to toast a tremendous career and friendship.
In charitably-related news, the Detroit News reports that two Red Wings legends will be honored for their charity work in Metro Detroit...
Celebrities from three different sports, whose careers and lives span generations of achievement from Detroit to East Lansing, highlight the 24th annual Fr. Vincent Welch Memorial Dinner, which is set for 6 p.m. on July 19 at the American Polish Alliance Center in Troy.
Mike Henneman, the ex-Tigers reliever, will be joined by former Michigan State and Pistons basketball star Gregory Kelser, as well as two names hewn from the Red Wings’ history books and broadcast seats: Marcel Pronovost and Budd Lynch.
The four men will be co-recipients of the Hank Aguirre Memorial Award, which is presented each year to Detroit and Michigan sports luminaries whose community achievements and service have extended well beyond their years as athletes and sports dignitaries.
Crowds of 400 have been the norm at a dinner whose proceeds finance scholarships to students at the University of Detroit-Mercy, as well as Loyola High in Detroit. Tickets are $140 ($1,150 for a table of 10) and can be obtained by calling (313) 993-1700, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
• According to “Angels for a Cause,” the details of Mike Modano’s charity baseball game this weekend have been clarified and the lineups have been announced. The game takes place on July 9th in Frisco, Texas and will benefit two Dallas-area charities;
In kind-of-sort-of news from across the pond, Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov both reported on Twitter (again, thanks, RedWingsFeed), and he also provided a translated transcript of Evgeni Malkin’s interview with Sports.ru, in which the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar stated the following:
What NHL team did you support as a child?
I think my favorite team, just like a lot of others’, was Detroit. I watched their games against Colorado, and it left an impression. I had two favorite teams: Colorado and Detroit. Detroit, first of all, because of the Russians. It was nice to watch Fedorov, Fetisov.
Which NHL club plays interesting hockey apart from Pittsburgh, of course?
Detroit, they have a lot of Europeans: Swedes, Pasha [Datsyuk] are there. They play a fluid game, very dynamic. It’s difficult to play against Detroit because they have quick players who move the puck very quickly. But it’s enjoyable to watch this kind of hockey.
According to a 10-image photo gallery posted on the Wings’ website, the Wings’ participants in their summer development camp took part in fitness testing, picked out their workout gear and boarded a bus for Traverse City, where they will, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan notes, take part in an eight-day camp starting tomorrow, Thursday July 7th:
If you’re heading up to Traverse City for the Cherry Festival this week, make sure to stop by Centre ICE Arena.
The Red Wings will be holding their annual prospect development camp at the rink this week.
The camp has usually been at Joe Louis Arena. But the set up at Centre ICE is such, that this kind of camp is perfectly suited for the Traverse City facility.
Also, you never know about the ice at Joe Louis this time of year.
Recent draft pick Tomas Jurco, along with Brendan Smith and Thomas McCollum and Calle Jarnkrok are among the draft picks who’ll be participating.
As previously posted, here are the details thereof:
RED WINGS TO HOLD ANNUAL DEVELOPMENT CAMP AT CENTRE ICE ARENA IN TRAVERSE CITY
… NHL Prospects Set to Hit the Ice in Northern Michigan from July 7-14 …
Detroit, MI… The Detroit Red Wings will hold their annual summer prospect development camp from July 7-14 at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City , Mich . Fans wishing to attend the proceedings may attend the first day free of charge, with tickets for the remainder of camp available for $5 (per day) apiece at the rink only. This year’s development camp will feature seven of Detroit’s nine selections from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, including highly-touted offensive dynamo Tomas Jurco (RW, Saint John, QMJHL) as well as his fellow second-round picks Xavier Ouellet (D, Montreal, QMJHL) and Ryan Sproul (D, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL). Previous camp attendees set to appear at this invaluable week-long training session include renowned prospects Brendan Smith (D, Grand Rapids , AHL) and Landon Ferraro (C, Everett, WHL). The full schedule for this year’s prospect development camp can be found below:
Thursday, July 7 (Admission: FREE)
2:30 – 3:30 p.m., On-Ice Workout (Group 1)
2:30 – 3:30 p.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 2)
3:45 – 4:45 p.m., On-Ice Workout (Group 2)
3:45 – 4:45 p.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 1)
Friday, July 8 – Wednesday, July 13
( Split Squad)
8:30 – 10:30 a.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 1)
8:30 – 10:30 a.m., On-Ice Skill Development/Power Skating/Practice (Group 2)
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., Off-Ice Workout (Group 2)
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., On-Ice Skill Development/Power Skating/Practice (Group 1)
Thursday, July 14
8:30 – 10:00 a.m., Scrimmage/Skills Competition
Here’s the list of prospects who will attend the camp, and I’m assuming that try-outs will be revealed on Thursday:
2011 RED WINGS DEVELOPMENT CAMP ROSTER
POS NAME HT WT BIRTHDATE HOMETOWN 2010-11 TEAM ACQUIRED
D Almqvist, Adam 5-11 175 2/27/1991 Jonkoping, Sweden HV71 Jonkoping (SEL) R7 (210), 2009
F Aubry, Louis-Marc 6-4 202 11/11/1991 Trois-Rivières, Quebec Montreal (QMJHL) R3 (81), 2010
F Callahan, Mitchell 5-11 175 8/17/1991 Whittier, California Kelowna (WHL) R6 (180), 2009
F Cayer, Julien 6-4 186 7/6/1989 Longueuil, Quebec Clarkson (NCAA) R5 (151), 2008
F Coetzee, Willie 5-10 185 11/7/1990 Maple Ridge, British Columbia Toledo (ECHL) Signed as FA (2010)
D Ehrhardt, Travis 5-11 204 4/12/1989 Calgary, Alberta Grand Rapids (AHL) Signed as FA (2009)
F Ferraro, Landon 6-0 170 8/8/1991 Vancouver, British Columbia Everett (WHL) R2 (32), 2009
D *Fournier, Gleason 6-0 184 9/8/1991 St-Fabien, Quebec Rimouski (QMJHL) R3 (90), 2009
F Hudon, Philippe 6-0 197 4/15/1993 Montreal, Quebec Choate-Rosemary (CTHS) R5 (145), 2011
F *Järnkrok, Calle 5-11 165 9/25/1991 Gävle, Sweden Brynäs IF (SEL) R2 (51), 2010
D Jensen, Nick 6-1 195 9/21/1990 Roger, Minnesota St. Cloud State (NCAA) R5 (150), 2009
F Jurco, Tomas 6-1 191 12/28/1992 Kosice, Slovakia Saint John (QMJHL) R2 (35), 2011
D Lashoff, Brian 6-3 208 7/16/1990 Albany, New York Grand Rapids (AHL) Signed as FA (2008)
F Macek, Brooks 5-11 175 5/15/1992 Winnipeg, Manitoba Calgary (WHL) R6 (171), 2010
G McCollum, Thomas 6-2 210 12/7/1989 Amherst, New York Toledo (ECHL) R1 (30), 2008
G Mrazek, Petr 6-0 170 2/14/1992 Vitkovice, Czech Republic Ottawa (OHL) R5 (141), 2010
D Nedomlel, Richard 6-4 204 7/1/1993 Prague, Czech Republic Swift Current (WHL) R6 (175), 2011
D Nicastro, Max 6-2 210 3/2/1990 Thousand Oaks, California Boston University (NCAA) R3 (91), 2008
F Nyquist, Gustav 5-11 185 9/1/1989 Halmstad, Sweden University of Maine (NCAA) R4 (121), 2008
F Oslund, Nick 6-3 210 11/15/1987 Savage, Minnesota St. Cloud State (NCAA) R7 (191), 2006
D Ouellet, Xavier 6-0 179 7/29/1993 Bayonne, France Montreal (QMJHL) R2 (48), 2011
D Parkes, Trevor 6-2 185 5/13/1991 Fort Erie, Ontario Montreal (QMJHL) Signed as FA (2010)
D Piche, Sébastien 6-0 198 2/4/1988 La Sarre, Quebec Toledo (ECHL) Signed as FA (2009)
F Pulkkinen, Teemu 5-10 171 1/2/1992 Vantaa, Finland Jokerit Helsinki (FEL) R4 (111), 2010
F Quine, Alan 5-11 184 2/25/1993 Belleville, Ontario Peterborough (OHL) R3 (85), 2011
F Raedeke, Brent 6-0 200 5/29/1990 Regina, Saskatchewan Grand Rapids (AHL) Signed as FA (2008)
D Rufenach, Bryan 6-0 192 4/15/1989 Cameron, Ontario Clarkson (NCAA) R7 (208), 2007
D Smith, Brendan 6-2 195 2/8/1989 Mimico, Ontario Grand Rapids (AHL) R1 (27), 2007
D Sproul, Ryan 6-3 185 1/13/1993 Mississauga, Ontario Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) R2 (55), 2011
F Tvrdon, Mark 6-2 210 1/31/1993 Nitra, Saskatchewan Vancouver (WHL) R4 (115), 2011
*Participating in Off-Ice Workouts Only
The camp hasn’t been open to the public since 2005, so this is a pretty big deal.
I’m writing this from my hotel room in Traverse City, and I’m sporting a driver’s tan on my left arm, a 230-mile-trip’s worth of allergic sniffles and am happy to say that I’ll be up here for the entire camp thanks to your donations.
I guess this is where I have to ask a question, and that question is an honest one: especially given that the Wings’ website will be here, that other press outlets will be here and that, quite frankly, there are six very hard days ahead in the workouts that start at 8:30 and don’t end till 5, which will mean that in addition to grinding out blog updates, I’ll be at the rink for nine hours a day and attempting to produce content at the same time…
Is there a happy medium that I could be allowed to find between the kind of novellas that I’ve written in the past—which are exhausting, quite frankly—and a somewhat more sane level of coverage? I’m not here to sight-see, I’ll be living on caffeine, self-made sandwiches and fast food, and I’ll try to grind out as much coverage as I can, but I’d like to try to get more than four hours of sleep a night and not be completely wiped by the end of camp. I know that’s a hard thing to ask given that you’re paying for what I can give ya, but I figured I ought to ask.
If it is write, write, and write that’s why I’m here, but I’d just like…To do my best to actually enjoy it a bit this time around. I hope that’s okay.
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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.