The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/14/11 at 03:53 PM ET
Updated 2x with Ilitch Holdings news at 3:09 PM: The Ottawa Senators officially introduced former Red Wings assistant coach Paul MacLean as their new coach this morning, first issuing Ye Olde Presse Release prior to MacLean’s presser…
“Paul brings a weath of experience as both a coach and teacher of the game,” said Senators general manager Bryan Murray. “He has been a winner during his coaching career and comes to Ottawa from an organization that has a history of both success on the ice and in developing players. He is a competitive person and we expect that our teams will display that same trait night-in and night-out.”
Prior to joining Detroit, MacLean was hired in 2002 by Murray, who was then the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim’s general manager. MacLean spent two seasons as an assistant to Babcock, the Mighty Ducks’ head coach at that time. In his first season in Anaheim, the club made its first Stanley Cup final appearance and posted a 69-62-19-14 record (.521) during MacLean’s two seasons behind the bench. In his last eight seasons of coaching, MacLean has been part of a team that has reached the Stanley Cup final on three occasions.
“Paul represents a big part of the change we needed to bring to our hockey club,” said Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. “The fact is we are a very different looking hockey team compared to a year ago. Bryan and I agreed it was important for him to bring in someone who is a solid communicator, can easily build a strong rapport with our players and has a proven track record of winning NHL games and Stanley Cups. Paul represents all of this, and I’m pleased to welcome him to Ottawa and the Senators organization.”
And MacLean emphasized the need for his Senators to get on the same page as their coach while speaking at his presser, as noted by the Canadian Press…
“I think it’s important in the NHL today that the coach and players communicate,” MacLean told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa. “Communication with the players is important in empowering them and having them invest in what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s not me against them, it’s us — the Ottawa Senators — against the rest of the league.”
The Senators fired Cory Clouston and two assistants in April after the team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. [Cory] Clouston was criticized throughout his tenure with the Senators for being too hard on his players and too rigid in his systems.
“After a poor season, the need for change was obvious,” general manager Bryan Murray said. “I felt Paul fit the profile [of what the Senators need behind the bench]. He’d been a player, been a head coach, been an assistant coach in the National Hockey League. He’s been a winner everywhere he’s been. I think he brings energy, experience, expertise and people skills, most importantly.”
MacLean spent the past five years as an assistant in Detroit, helping the team win the Stanley Cup in 2008. He and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock also worked together for two years in Anaheim, taking the Ducks to the Stanley Cup final in 2003 when Murray was the team’s GM.
“I believe the National Hockey League is a fast and physical league and the game needs to be played that way,” MacLean said. “You have to be able to skate the whole rink, so we’re going to skate the rink, play good defence, but we’re going to attack the net and make sure we’re putting pressure on the opposition.”
That’s the theory, as he told the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch...
“It’s a very exciting day for myself and my family,” said MacLean, who played junior in Hull. “I’m really looking forward to this. The NHL is a fast and a physical league. We’re going to be quick team. We’re going to use the whole [rink].”
Trying to get a coach in place that can lead the Senators back to respectability after coach Cory Clouston’s reign came to an end in April, GM Bryan Murray introduced the 53-year-old MacLean to the media.
After speaking to six candidates, Murray decided MacLean was the right man for the job. The two have a long history together. MacLean was also an assistant on Babcock’s staff while Murray was GM in Anaheim in 2003.
“After a poor season the need for change was obvious,” said Murray. “I felt Paul fit the profile. He’s been a player, a head coach and an assistant coach. He’s been a winner everywhere he has been.”
MacLean said he is excited by the opportunity. He has a big job trying to get the club back to the playoffs while getting top centre Jason Spezza and defenceman Erik Karlsson to be consistent contributors.
And the Ottawa Citizen’s Allen Panzeri:
“I felt Paul fit the profile,” said Murray. “He’s been a player, he’s been a coach, and he’s been an assistant coach in the NHL. He’s been a winner everywhere he’s been.”
MacLean promised a style very similar to that employed by his former team.
“This is a very exciting day for me and my family,” said MacLean. “I going to come here every day to work hard and be just a little bit better.”
As for the Red Wings’ coaching search, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan tosses one more name into the mix in a man who Senators owner Eugene Melnyk would love to see join MacLean in Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors coach Dave Cameron…
Potential candidates to replace MacLean and McCrimmon include Bob Boughner, Pete DeBoer, Dave Cameron and Todd Richards
The Wings are holding organizational meetings today and Wednesday, going over their roster and identifying potential free agent and trade targets
Regarding Brad McCrimmon’s team, via RedWingsFeed and Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov, Sovetsky Sport is suggesting that Lokomotiv Yaroslav’s interested in signing Ruslan Salei, but I find it hard to believe that a man whose family chose to remain in California would pack their bags for a town about 150 miles northeast of Moscow;
Back in Detroit, we know that the Wings have more than just MacLean and McCrimmon to replace as the team sits down for its organizational meetings today and tomorrow, and Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner believes that one more coaching candidate, Gerard Gallant, merits consideration in Saint John Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant (who both won the QMJHL title and Memorial Cup with Saint John this past season):
For those fans that are envisioning Draper behind the Wings bench as Mike Babcock’s assistant, don’t count on it. If Draper does retire, it’s highly unlikely that the Wings would put an inexperienced Draper in a coaching position. Draper will remain within the organization, probably as a scout, until he gets a feel for what he really wants to do. Wings GM Ken Holland has made it clear that it’s Babcock’s call. Holland will have to sign off on his choices, but that’s a mere formality. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on DeBoer and Richards, followed by Boughner and Gallant.
Tuesday will also begin two days of meetings where Detroit’s hierarchy will pepper their pro coaching staff. At the conclusion of these meeting, the Wings game plan should come together. The Red Wings will have their list of targeted unrestricted free agents (UFA), candid assessments of players they may be interested in trading for (Zach Bogosian?), how much they’re willing to pay their own UFA, and what they’re looking for in the upcoming draft.
Expect the Wings to go after UFA and Michigan native James Wisniewski. He’s a right-handed shot (which Detroit desperately needs), only 27 years-old, has a mean streak, offensive skill (51 points last season) and he should be affordable. With Wisniewski on the roster, or whomever else they sign as Rafalski’s replacement, the Wings should sign Niklas Kronwall to a contract extension. Kronwall will be an UFA at the end of next season. Take some of Rafalski’s money and tie up Kronwall long term—now.
Once Rafalski retired, the Wings shifted their focus to the UFA market. Before that, it appeared the Wings would entertain trade offers to bolster their blue-line corps. That is no longer the case (bye-bye Bogosian). Detroit has cash to spend and they’ll spend it.
Jonathan Ericsson will be welcomed back only at the right price. Chances are he’ll find a bigger pay day outside of Detroit. The only monkey wrench that could derail Detroit’s current offseason plans is if captain Lidstrom calls it a career.
Lidstrom’s retirement would catapult Detroit into what Holland refers to as “full rebuild” mode. Anything would be possible if the Red Wings pull the rebuild switch (hello Bogosian?), but don’t count on Nick saying goodbye. It would be a real stunner if the Stoic Swede skated away into the sunset.
MLive’s Ansar Khan believes that the Wings’ ideal and possibly only candidate to replace Rafalski is Wisniewski, who Khan believes would fill several voids…
Wisniewski appears to be the most logical choice, for a variety of reasons:
—He can move the puck, produce offensively and play the point on the power play.
—He plays with an edge despite his modest size (5-foot-11, 208 pounds).
—He’s young (27), with his best years ahead of him.
—He shoots right-handed.
—He was born in Canton and played junior hockey with the Plymouth Whalers.
The Red Wings have holes to fill on defense, even if Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson return. Many in the organization expect Lidstrom to be back. He might reveal his decision this week. The club has increased its offer to Ericsson to slightly more than $2 million per season, but he might seek a better deal elsewhere.
Wisniewski made $3.25 million last season, when he posted career highs in goals (10), assists (41) and points (51), splitting the season between the New York Islanders and Montreal. He tallied 29 points on the power play. Only Lidstrom had more power-play points (39) among this year’s unrestricted free-agent defensemen.
What will it take to sign him? Perhaps a four- or five-year deal in the range of $4.5 million a season.
Khan notes that it’s entirely possible that Vancouver Canucks defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Sami Salo might reach the market, as will Joni Pitkanen, Eric Brewer and Ed Jovanovski, but his performance against the Wings, as Khan suggests, drops Jovanovski’s value down, and after that, you’re looking at second-tier players like Bryan McCabe and Ian White. Again, I’m ruling Andrei Markov out of the equation altogether as both the English, French and Russian-language press corps suggest that he’ll re-sign with Montreal after suffering consecutive tears to his ACL, and I just don’t see the Wings even attempting to give someone whose knee has blown out and then essentially exploded after being surgically repaired any money whatsoever.
In the “also of Red Wings-related note” category, WDIV continued to report that a former Red Wing might run against democratic senator Debbie Stabenow despite the fact that WDIV’s Rod Meloni ruled the report which came from the Detroit News to be nothing more than fluff;
• Technically speaking, blah blah blah, Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy says that the Wings-Pens series in 2009 wasn’t as good as this year’s seven-game bout, blah blah blah, the Score’s Rick Moldovanyi gushes about the Fleury save, amongst other “Game Seven Moments”;
• In charitable news, part 1: the Belleville Intelligencer’s Paul Svoboda reports that a charity golf outing in Belleville, ON this July will honor the memories of Bob Probert and Buffalo Sabres legend Rick Martin...
Bob Probert and Rick Martin are gone but they will not be forgotten by organizers and supporters of the Medigas Celebrity Classic golf tournament. The former NHL stars, who died within a year of each other, had played the Medigas event and probably would’ve returned to Belleville for this year’s tournament July 8-9.
Probert, regarded as one of the toughest players to ever skate in the NHL, died last year — July 5, 2010 — at the age of 45. Martin, a member of the famed French Connection forward line with the Buffalo Sabres in the 1970s, died March 13. He was 59.
Last year, Medigas Classic organizers paid tribute to Probert with special donations in his name.
“At the end of the live auction, we asked for contributions to help keep Bob Probert’s memory alive,” said Medigas Classic committee member Bonnie Delaney. “The $2,500 raised was matched by the committee for a total of $5,000. In Bob’s memory, $2,500 went to the local Heart and Stroke Foundation — the Probert family’s charity of choice in Windsor. Then, because Bob came to the tournament to support special needs children, we donated the other $2,500 to YMCA Challenger Baseball.”
A framed photograph of Probert in his Detroit Red Wings uniform along with the tournament bib his caddy would’ve worn at last year’s event — signed by the 2010 celebrity golfers — will soon hang in a special place of honour at the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame display at Yardmen Arena, said Medigas Classic committee member Randy McFarland. This year, said McFarland, a special tribute will honour the memory of Martin, highly regarded in the professional hockey community for his longtime support of charitable causes in the U.S. and Canada.
“Everybody will leave with something,” said McFarland.
• And the Red Wings’ website, via RedWIngsFeed, took a look back at the team’s charitable endeavors during the 2010-2011 season:
Update: NHL.com’s Mike G. Morreale notes that Bryan Murray spoke to Babcock and the Wings’ management prior to departing for Ottawa, and that MacLean does plan on lifting a few pages out of the Wings’ playbook:
“One of the good things about working with Babs (Babcock) was that I was in on every opportunity and everything that was done day-to-day,” [Maclean] said. “I was in there and was a part of putting it all together so I’m not stealing anything from (Babcock), since I was in there and a part of it.”
Murray had numerous conversations with Detroit’s managerial team prior to making his decision, including several talks with Babcock.
“I talked to Detroit people a lot and talked to Mike Babcock a number of times,” Murray said. “Mike is a very willing guy to share information. Paul is a strong presence and strong personality. He’s a very willing talker, and he’ll share his thoughts with all the players. When you put it all together, he has great information on the NHL and thought he was certainly the right choice.”
MacLean wants his hockey team to skate hard, be strong defensively and play physical.
“The way we play is probably going to be a little similar (to Detroit),” MacLean said. “You have to play 200 feet. The game is not played in 100-foot increments … you have to be able to skate the whole rink, so we’ll skate the whole rink and play good defense. But we’re going to come out and attack the net and make sure we’re putting pressure on the opposition and making sure they’d have to make good plays in order to have an opportunity to beat us.”
Update #2: Well then, per PR Newswire:
Atanas Ilitch, president of Olympia Development, announced today that he will step down from his current position with the organization to focus on private outside business ventures. He will assist in the recruitment of his successor and stay on in his current role until that person is named.
“The team we have at Olympia Development is highly capable which makes me very comfortable in making this move at this time. My personal business interests continue to require more of my day-to-day time and attention,” explained Ilitch. “In my opinion this is a win-win and I look forward to recruiting a highly capable and experienced individual to lead Olympia Development into the future.”
Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., said: “I greatly appreciate the leadership that Atanas has provided at Olympia Development over the last six years, and the tremendous vision and leadership he has shown in our community. My brother is one of the most passionate and creative persons I know and he is absolutely committed to making our community a better place for all.”
Atanas Ilitch became president of Olympia Development in 2005. He has held other positions in the Ilitch companies over the years, including president of Olympia Entertainment from 1993 – 2000.
The search will begin immediately for a new president for Olympia Development and an announcement will be made when that process is complete.
Any interested candidates may forward a cover letter, resume and salary history to IHIHR@IlitchHoldings.com.
About Olympia Development of Michigan
Olympia Development, a development company owned by Detroit entrepreneurs Michael and Marian Ilitch, has a 25-year history of investing in and developing some of Detroit’s most recognized and visited venues. Key projects have included the iconic Fox Theatre, Hockeytown Cafe and the nationally acclaimed Comerica Park. Other Ilitch companies in the food, sports and entertainment industries include: Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Entertainment, Little Caesars Pizza Kits Fundraising Program, Champion Foods and Uptown Entertainment. Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers. Marian Ilitch owns the MotorCity Casino Hotel.
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