The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/17/11 at 07:50 PM ET
The Red Wings’ website posted its “farewell” video for the 2010-2011 season today, emphasizing the Wings’ comments from their locker room clean-out on Saturday:
And I can tell you the saddest part of that video involves the ice. After the Wings are done using the ice sheet, the two Zambonis come onto the ice and scrape it up, dumping about two Zamboni-sized piles of shavings and paint across from the loading dock at Joe Louis Arena’s riverfront entrance, some of the ice “steaming” into water vapor as it melts. It’s near-tragic to watch.
• The Wings’ Facebook page has posted a slate of player-attributable quotes as well;
• The CBC’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned a few Red Wings-related points in his 30 Thoughts, and the first one involves the Calgary Flames’ decision to remove the “interim” tag from general manager Craig Button’s new title…
1) The timing sure makes it look like Calgary waited to ask Alberta-born Jim Nill if he’d be interested in the GM job. Nill’s contract in Detroit, however, has a no-compete which does not allow other teams to talk to him. Anyway, the Flames sure played better under Jay Feaster, which makes him the right choice.
The Wings simply don’t have to grant other teams’ requests to speak to Nill, based on what Nill wants to do and what Mike Ilitch and Jimmy Devellano want to do, and Nill will at least stick around for a few more years. Yes, he eventually wants to be a general manager, but he also loves what he does—Nill is the “bridge” between the Red Wings’ professional and amateur scouting departments, engaging in the decision-making process that Ken Holland and capologist Ryan Martin utilize to determine which players they’d like to re-sign, sign on the free agent market or trade for, but he also “runs the draft” while heavily consulting the Wings’ amateur scouts, Hakan Andersson included. Nill (and Holland) tends to spend a good part of his year traveling around the world to scout possible draft picks, too, and he’s very, very involved in the process of building the Grand Rapids Griffins and ensuring that the players the Wings have drafted or signed in hopes of becoming the team’s “next wave” are getting the proper amount of attention, skill development, mentoring and fitness lessons from Griffins coach Curt Fraser, assistant coach Jim Paek and player mentors Jiri Fischer, Chris Chelios, Jim Bedard and now people like Kirk Maltby and Aaron Downey.
Nill has his fingerprints on everything that the team does and while his title says “assistant,” his paycheck doesn’t, and he’s really Ken Holland’s right-hand man. He’s happy to be doing what he does.
19) The Red Wings like to be patient with their prospects, but it’s going to be very hard for them not to rush Brendan Smith. He’s 22 and ready after one year in Grand Rapids.
That’s partially due to his talent and partially do to the fact that, for lack of a better term, Smith may very well be better served working in as the team’s seventh defenseman with the carrot of NHL playing time being dangled directly in front of him. He’s all about focus and sometimes you focus better when the goal’s an injury away.
• The Hockey News’s Rory Boylen posited two Wings-related points today, including one comment about the delicate art of line-matching…
The top coaches in the NHL will figure out a way to counter your attack if it becomes too predictable and start putting you at a disadvantage. The coach used the Detroit Red Wings as an example of a team that can nullify line-matching tactics by piecing together different line combinations. In the latter half of the last decade, whenever a team would play the line-matching game against Detroit’s top line of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom, the Red Wings would simply reorganize their lineup.
Instead of placing those three together and have them face the top shutdown players, Detroit would put Datsyuk or Zetterberg as a center between two other wingers, which would create two lines the opposition would want their shutdown players to stop. By constantly juggling the lines this way against a team committed to line matching, you’re always keeping them guessing and, as a result, putting them at a disadvantage, even on home ice.
“Teams can lose by over-thinking,” [an anonymous] coach said.
I just plain old like this story, because everybody should have a whackin’ stick:
I was talking to a veteran scout who has been in the business for longer than I’ve been on this planet the other day and he shared a great story with me. Let’s file this one under “things that would never happen in the NHL today.”
‘Black Jack’ Stewart was known as one of the most physical and intimidating players of his time. King Clancy once called him “the roughest son of a gun you’d ever want to meet,” but qualified it by saying Stewart was by no means a dirty player.
As the story goes, after practice the Wings’ Red Kelly was heading back to his stall from the showers and found a couple of sticks in his way. When he was picking them up and moving them, one in particular grabbed his attention. Kelly was amazed at how heavy the piece of lumber was and couldn’t understand how anyone could shoot with it. So when he found out it was Stewart’s stick, Kelly asked: “Black Jack, how the heck do you shoot with this thing?”
To which Stewart replied: “That stick’s not for shootin’. That stick’s for breakin’ arms.”
I’ll bet you that he was talking to New Jersey Devils scout and Windsor native Marcel Pronovost, a long-time Wing who you’ll find sitting in the corner of rinks around many hockey games in Southeastern Michigan and Southwestern Ontario.
• In the charitable department, and as FYI’s, the Saginaw News’s Lindsay Knake reports that Red Wings team physician Dr. Anthony Colucci will take part in a seminar at Saginaw Valley State University on May 25th, discussing the options available to care providers when a child or teenager has a sudden cardiac arrest at school or an athletic event. The Michigan CardioVascular Institute Foundation is involved, and Jiri Fischer holds a charity game with the MCVI every year at a Saginaw Spirit game, so they’re talking about ventricular or atrial fibrillation here;
• On October 1, 2011, Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital will hold a 24-hour road hockey marathon game to help raise funds for the Ontario Cancer Institute, and Wings VP Jimmy Devellano has lent his name to the list of celebrities endorsing the event;
• And Nick on Sports’ Nick Barnowski conducted an interview with Everett Silvertips forward and Wings prospect Landon Ferraro recently. It’s a good listen.
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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.