The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/13/11 at 08:03 PM ET
In the feast-or-famine time for Red Wings news that is the middle of July, ESPN’s Scott Burnside provides a few new insights while revisiting the topic that is Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s decision to hire Jeff Blashill and Bill Peters as his assistant coaches, starting with something we’ve heard before: Babcock was concerned that he started to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher or any of the adults in the Peanuts cartoons, drowning himself out after six years of the same message:
“The challenge was, how was I going to change that? How was I going to keep the good and evolve and improve?” Babcock said. “That’s what I was looking for. This was the biggest decision I’ve had to make in a long time.”
So, when longtime Wings assistant Paul MacLean took the head-coaching job in Ottawa and veteran NHL defenseman and Red Wings assistant Brad McCrimmon took his skills to Russia, Babcock didn’t merely take the path of least resistance by hiring two people he knew or two former NHL guys that were hanging around. Instead, Babcock talked to literally dozens of people; junior hockey people, AHL people, NHL people ... coaches, non-coaches, players, GMs. Who did they like? What did they think was important about the make-up of a coaching staff?
There were also several key questions Babcock needed answered in making these hires: if new ideas are the lifeblood of a coaching staff, where were the new ideas coming from? Did experience matter as much as whether the candidates knew what they were talking about?
Babcock knew Peters after coaching with him in junior in the 1990s, and Peters’ name continued to pop up as Babcock went through the process of vetting potential hires. As for Blashill, Babcock talked to him on the phone and met him in person. Babcock was impressed by how the former Western Michigan coach presented his ideas.
“I thought, there’s a guy that’s going to be a real, real good coach,” Babcock said.
Do the hires ensure the Wings get back to the Stanley Cup finals? Of course not. But in examining the process the Wings went through to make the kinds of decisions that often get overlooked, at least from the outside, it’s not hard to see why the Wings are who they are.
“This might have been the best process I’ve been through in the last 10 years,” Babcock said.
Also more or less in the, “Yeah, we know, but thanks for reminding us” category, we know that Red Wings GM Ken Holland will meet with Chris Osgood in the pair’s off-season locale/vacation spot/summer home, Vernon, British Columbia on Thursday, and as such, the Sporting News’s Craig Custance gives us a pretty good idea of what the Wings might do if Osgood does not return—sign a free agent, and sign a bargain-priced one:
Red Wings backup goalie. A decision on the future of veteran goalie Chris Osgood is expected this week. Osgood’s preference would be to stay in Detroit, but GM Ken Holland may like his other options better, including free agent Ty Conklin. Regardless of who it is, the Red Wings have little interest in spending much on goaltending behind Jimmy Howard, so whoever fills this hole must be willing to work cheap.
In case you forgot what Holland’s though process entails, the Windsor Star’s Jim Parker just posted an article detailing the meeting’s purpose and agenda:
“He’s going to be there and we’re going to meet,” said Holland, who is a native of Vernon, B.C. “We’re going to have a conversation face-to-face. Sometime on Friday or Saturday, after talking to him, I’ll probably have a decision on what we’re doing.”
Osgood returned from his 400th win golf trip to Scotland and Ireland on Tuesday, but he headed to Vernon on Wednesday, and Holland probably followed after becoming a U.S. citizen on Tuesday:
“Osgood landed (Tuesday) and we have been texting back and forth,” Holland said.
Holland’s willingness to allow Osgood to spend time thinking about his future has obviously changed the Wings’ goaltending options outside of #30…
“We explored July 1 (free agency),” Holland said. “I don’t want to make it look like we didn’t. We had some interest in some guys and they chose to go elsewhere.”
“We wake up after the dust settles on July 4 or July 5 and obviously Chris Osgood is still a legitimate candidate,” Holland said.
And now, six months after having what turned out to be major reconstructive surgery on his groin, it’s time for Holland and Osgood to hash things out:
“His initial reaction (after the season) is he wanted to play,” Holland said. Now, he’s gone to Europe and had more time to think. I think the biggest thing is time has gone by when you get to decide what your priorities in life are. I do think it’s a good time now to sit down with him and talk about it.”
Holland has said the team has been in contact with former Red Wing Ty Conklin, who played in St. Louis last season, and that Osgood isn’t a lock for the No. 2 spot.
“It all depends what his thoughts are,” Holland said. “I want to talk to him and see what he’s thinking. That doesn’t mean if he wants the job it’s his job. I want to talk to him. Let’s take one step at a time. Let me talk to him. If he’s not ready to make a decision, that is a decision.”
As for one of the Red Wings’ veterans who chose to return for at least one more season, a certain captain was deemed one of the NHL’s best over-35 players by NHL.com’s John Kreiser...
Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
For the second year in a row, the best news the Wings received after being eliminated from the playoffs is that Lidstrom will return for another season. After missing the postseason All-Star teams in 2009-10, Lidstrom had his best offensive season since 2007-08, scoring 16 times and adding 46 assists for 62 points, second among all defensemen. He won the Norris Trophy for the seventh time in a career that ultimately will end with induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
And Kreiser believes that Todd Bertuzzi merits “second over-35-team” status…
Todd Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings
He’s not the All-Star he was in Vancouver a few years ago, but Bertuzzi has found a home in Detroit as a reliable third-liner who still can contribute offensively—he had 16 goals last season, and his 45 points were the most he’s had since 2005-06. Bertuzzi still has the size and hands to be a contributor, and he’s been a good fit with the Wings in the last two seasons.
And in the tidbit category:
• According to the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema, former Griffins coach Mike Stothers landed a coaching job with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors...
• I adore the fact that EA Sports’ NHL 12 producer Novell Thomas tells Operation Sports that Tomas Holmstrom’s the poster boy for one of the game’s new “signature traits”....
Net Agitators – players who position themselves in front of the net and are consistently screening and distracting the goalie. Example: Tomas Holmstrom
• And I’m going to mention this because it irritates the hell out of me: Via MLive’s Jared Purcell, a certain rumormonger who charges money to read made-up stuff has claimed that the Red Wings are interested in trading for Washington Capitals winger Alex Semin, and this rumor has gotten some traction despite the fact that it makes no sense whatsoever for the Red Wings. Sure, the Capitals are pressed against the salary cap and need to move a body or two, but why would the Red Wings essentially waste the cap space they have remaining to sign a goalie and go out and fill any holes that might pop up during the course of the season at the trade deadline to acquire a mercurial forward whose $6.7 million cap hit supports a winger who posted all of 28 goals and 54 points?
The Wings could hope for more from Jiri Hudler instead and pay him his $2.78 million salary, minus having to trade players or prospects, and receive the same results for less than half the cost. The concept makes no sense, especially given that if the Wings need anything on the wing, they could use some size, speed and physicality, so I don’t know why anyone’s giving it credence, save for the fact that it’s July.
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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.