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The Malik Report

Red Wings fans get wish McCrimmon departs; Nill talks about Griffins’ changes; summer camp in TC

Updated 3x at 9:59 PM: I hope that Red Wings fans who’ve been calling for the man’s head enjoyed today’s announcement that Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon has chosen to part ways with the organization. The Free Press’s George Sipple and Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirm…

Brad McCrimmon will not return as a Red Wings assistant coach next season. The Wings said he decided to pursue other career opportunities. TSN of Canada, attributing its information to a source, says McCrimmon and head coach Mike Babcock mutually agreed it was time to make a change.

McCrimmon, a defenseman who played for the Wings from 1990-93 in his 18-year NHL career, had been Babcock’s assistant in Detroit for the past three seasons. He also was an assistant for the Islanders (1997-98), Calgary (2000-03) and Atlanta (2003-07).

As does MLive’s Ansar Khan:

“I’d like to thank Brad for his dedication and tremendous work in serving as an assistant coach for the Red Wings,’’ Detroit general manager Ken Holland said in a statement. “We wish Brad and his family all the best in their future endeavors.’‘

McCrimmon spent three seasons in Detroit under coach Mike Babcock, working mainly with the defensemen. Prior to joining the Red Wings’ staff, he spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Thrashers. He also has served as an assistant coach with the Calgary Flames (2000-2003) and New York Islanders (1997-98).

McCrimmon played 18 seasons as a defenseman in the NHL, with stints in Boston, Philadelphia, Calgary, Detroit, Hartford and Phoenix. He played in 1,222 games, registering 403 points (81 goals, 322 assists) and plus-444 rating.

Both Khan and the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness point out that if you thought the Wings’ bench was getting stagnant, there might be a major shake-up in the offing:

The Wings’ other assistant coach Paul MacLean is also without a contract for next season.

And as I reported earlier today, Iltahleti, YLE and Jokerit Helsinki’s website have confirmed that the Grand Rapids Griffins’ leading scorer, Ilari FIlppula, signed a four-year contract with Jokerit Helsinki today. Kulfan and Khan confirm, with Khan having engaged in an extensive talk with Wings assistant GM Jim Nill about the elder Filppula’s departure…

“He had a good year, put up good points,” Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “He wanted to come over and play in North America. We knew it was a one-year shot.”

Filppula, 29, had 20 goals and a team-leading 64 points in 76 games for the Griffins. But he was an average skater, prompting the Red Wings to look to younger, faster players when needing to recall somebody.

“We discussed it a few times. He was in the mix (for a call-up),” Nill said. “But (Jan) Mursak played well. (Tomas) Tatar played well. (Cory) Emmerton played well. Mike (coach Babcock) felt comfortable with those three.”

Nill stated that the Wings plan on discussing contract turkey with Griffins captain Jamie Tardif, hulking defenseman Sergei Kolosov and even Derek Meech, and Khan confirms that the Wings have to decide whether to sign Andrej Nestrasil and Adam Almqvist before June 1st…

We’ll talk to all of those players,” Nill said. “For some of them, it’ll be their first chance to be unrestricted free agents. They may want to test the waters.”

The Red Wings expect to make qualifying offers to all or most of the Griffins’ restricted free agents: forwards Dick Axelsson, Jordan Owens and Francis Pare, defenseman Logan Pyett and goaltender Jordan Pearce.nNill said Axelsson will remain in Europe next season.

And, uh…Help?

The team’s annual summer prospects camp will shift from Joe Louis Arena to Centre I.C.E. in Traverse City. It will run from July 7-14 and is open to the public. Tatar, Emmerton, Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Landon Ferraro and Riley Sheahan are among the top prospects who will attend. Nill said 2010 draft picks Calle Jarnkrok (51st overall) and Teemu Pulkkinen (111th) might be there as well.

I don’t know how I can afford to go on my own. I don’t have $800 to blow on a week’s worth of hotel stay, gas and food on such short notice.

Update: Ilari told Iltahleti that he learned quite a bit in Grand Rapids, but decided to go back home and play in front of his friends, family and fans. He says he has no regrets whatsoever about playing for Grand Rapids. Ilari also told MTV3 that it was hard to make a team that’s so darn stacked in terms of its top lines, and that the team’s obviously committed to its younger players, so it was difficult for him to make the jump to the NHL. He still hopes to do so eventually.

Jokerit also signed Riku Hahl, so GM Jarmo Kekkalainen says that the team’s reloading to compete for the SM-Liiga championship.

Update #2: Via RedWingsFeed, the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that Bob Boughner, who just left the Blue Jackets to spend more time with his family in Windsor, isn’t interested in the job, and TSN’s Darren Dreger spoke to McCrimmon about his decision:

Another name in the mix: I had a brief conversation with Brad McCrimmon this morning about his coaching future. McCrimmon sounds excited about the possibilities he hopes will surface with five teams still in the hunt for NHL head coaches.

The Red Wings describe the decision to not renew McCrimmon’s contract as “mutual” and have nothing but good things to say about McCrimmon and the three years he spent assisting Mike Babcock.

Dallas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ottawa, and Florida continue to patiently consider their options believed to include, Kirk Muller, Craig MacTavish, Peter DeBoer, Ken Hitchcock, Guy Carbonneau, Mike Haviland, Mike Keenan, Michel Therrien, Cory Clouston, Kevin Dineen (Portland-AHL), Kurt Kleinendorst (Binghamton-AHL), and now Brad McCrimmon among them.

Failing a head coaching opportunity, It’s hard to imagine McCrimmon won’t be sought after for one of the various assistant coaching jobs that are available as well.

And he spoke to the Sporting News’s Craig Custance about his future as well:

The changes are starting in Detroit. The Red Wings and assistant coach Brad McCrimmon have mutually decided to part ways after three seasons. McCrimmon was brought in to replace Todd McLellan after McLellan left for San Jose, and his contract was up after this season.

“I’ve been here for three years. The Ilitch family, Kenny Holland, the whole organization has been great – great players, good staff,” McCrimmon told Sporting News. “It’s been very enjoyable but there are things out there right now that I have interest in.”

In a recent poll of NHL players, McCrimmon was named as one of the assistant coaches NHL players believe should get a shot at a head coaching job in the NHL. There are currently five openings in the league right now – New Jersey, Ottawa, Florida, Minnesota and Dallas. The well-respected McCrimmon should get consideration for openings in those cities.

Before coaching in Detroit, McCrimmon was the associate head coach with the Atlanta Thrashers where he was offered the head job on an interim basis following the firing of Bob Hartley.

ESPN’s Scott Burnside took note of McCrimmon’s departure, too:

Although some of Detroit’s special teams and defensive numbers haven’t been all that great the past couple of regular seasons—injuries being a significant factor in that—assistants Paul MacLean and Brad McCrimmon have a wealth of NHL coaching experience at the assistant level,

won a Cup with the Wings in 2008 and

went to the finals in 2009.

Update #2: Via the Free Press’s George Sipple:

“There’s different opportunities out there that I’m interested in,” McCrimmon said in a phone interview today. “Obviously, being able to come back and work for the Ilitches and Ken Holland was a great privilege. Having the ability to be associated with the great players that are here and staff and the pursuit of the Stanley Cup every year, which is the goal here. Glad to have that opportunity.”

McCrimmon, 52, could be a candidate for an NHL head coaching job. There are openings in Atlanta, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ottawa.

McCrimmon’s contract expired at the end of the 2010-11 season.
McCrimmon spent 18 seasons as a defenseman in the NHL, including 1990-93 with the Wings. In addition to his three seasons as an assistant coach with the Wings, he was an assistant with Atlanta (2003-07), Calgary (2000-03) and the New York Islanders (1997-98).

“I was here for three years, and if my memory serves me correctly, it was the start of the 20-year playoff run,” he said of his playing days in Detroit.

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OlderThanChelios's avatar

McCrimmon sounds excited about the possibilities he hopes will surface with five teams still in the hunt for NHL head coaches.

McCrimmon is smoking the same weed Ericsson’s father is if he thinks any NHL team would hire him as a head coach. He failed miserably as an assistant, fer cripes sake. Everyone, and I bet that secretly includes the Wings’ brass, is thrilled that he’s leaving.

My only regret is the fans weren’t given the opportunity to tar and feather this loser and ride him out of town on a rail.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/19/11 at 08:24 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

I don’t know how I can afford to go on my own. I don’t have $800 to blow on a week’s worth of hotel stay, gas and food on such short notice.

Yikes.  Are you still planning on doing the training camp too?  Throw up a link, let people donate, and if you don’t get enough for the prospect camp, use it for training camp.

Am I reading too much into your wording about McCrimmon? To me it sounds like you don’t want him to go.  Frankly, I’m hopeful for improved special teams next season, and tweaking the coaching staff may just be a good way to get it.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 05/19/11 at 08:25 PM ET

MNWing's avatar

McCrimmon didn’t coach in 07-08 when wings won the cup, he took mclellands job in the summer of 08….

Posted by MNWing on 05/19/11 at 08:54 PM ET

Crater's avatar

We should snatch up Mike Milbury before any of those other teams get wise of his expertise in this league.

Posted by Crater from SoCal on 05/19/11 at 09:20 PM ET

monkey's avatar

Does this mean we’re going to get a coach for the defense that will coach defense?

Posted by monkey from Prague on 05/19/11 at 10:29 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

See ya Brad. Don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.

Hopefully the 1st of a good summer of reloadin.

Posted by cigar_nurse from On The mend for next season Greenville Pylons on 05/19/11 at 10:59 PM ET



Want to warn you that prospect camp is in the middle of the Cherry Festival (July 2-9) this year. You’d be lucky to find a room, and if you do….well, expect premium rates.

Not trying to discourage you from coming, but just warning you to plan well in advance and be prepared for the cost of things during The Festival.

Posted by wingsluver4ever from TC on 05/19/11 at 11:45 PM ET

Denver Wings's avatar

Dude, Riku Hahl is still alive?!?

Posted by Denver Wings on 05/19/11 at 11:57 PM ET


I don’t believe in mutual breakups. There’s a Seinfeld episode about that.

Posted by Hockeysteve54 on 05/20/11 at 12:19 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

He was fired. 
It was done in a very nice way, with lots of smoke and mirrors. 
The Wings have not progressed at all with him as assistant.
Good move by Babcock.

Posted by w2j2 on 05/20/11 at 01:00 AM ET

Andy from FightNight's avatar

A) Great move to fire him (I agree with w2j2, he was fired).

B) George, we all read your stuff for free and well all appreciate it a lot, so don’t be shy about throwing up a donation link. I know that I’m definitely more than willing to donate a little to help you get there, cause I remember your coverage of last year’s prospect camp and it was amazing and I am sure a lot of your readers feel the same way.

Posted by Andy from FightNight on 05/20/11 at 02:10 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I think it was a mutual parting. I’m…I dunno, my feelings are mixed. McCrimmon was sort of scapegoated from the start, so he never really had a chance in terms of popular opinion because nobody could really replace McLellan, but I do think that a shake-up was needed behind the bench.

Things have gotten a little stale of late and as Babcock is going to be the Red Wings’ coach for as long as he wants to coach the Red Wings, it was just time to get a fresh voice in on the proceedings.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/20/11 at 04:39 AM ET

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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.