The Malik Report
Among Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman's "30 Thoughts":
13. We are less than 48 hours from the conclusion of Babwatch. What have we learned so far? The market for Babcock wasn’t as wide-ranging as we thought.
Edmonton’s decision to go hard after McLellan altered things. But the more we look back at everything that’s happened, the more I wonder about the toll this process is taking on the Red Wings.
Just about every conversation about his future includes some reference to, “It is so strange to see Detroit involved in this.” The Ilitches and Ken Holland have a certain way they prefer to do business — as quietly and as dignified as possible. This has been very different, and I can’t imagine they are comfortable with it. Is there any way this damages the relationship?
This is probably going to sound campy, but somebody needs to say it out loud:
Of all the comments I've read about Mike Babcock's coaching search--especially those written in context of acceptance that the Red Wings won't be making massive personnel changes this summer due to a crappy free agent class and Ken Holland's reluctance to make trades--Wings fans seem to be resigned to the concept of slow, steady prospect development as long as Babcock either leaves or comes back somewhat changed by his daliances with other teams.
There's a strong sense that Babcock's message has gotten stale--with the fans--and that whatever Babcock's learned during his interviews with the Sabres, Maple Leafs, Blues and Sharks must be applied to help improve the Wings and perhaps help improve the media relations of someone who's really, really starting to grate on the fans' nerves because his confrontational, information-war act has gotten tiresome.
The vulnerability and out-and-out honesty of someone who's generally paid to skirt the truth has been tremendously refreshing, but fans are more than willing to put up with same old Babs in the press if the man applies some changes to the team's game plan systems and player personnel decisions.
What do you think Babcock would "need to change" to come back from his job search as a better-prepared and plain old better Red Wings coach?
Updated 11x at 1:53 PM: Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Denny Kapp has something of a scoop this morning:
The Score's Justin Cuthbert offers this set of quips from the interview...
It's a tale of two prospects this morning:
At the NHL-ready end of the spectrum, MLive's Brendan Savage penned an article about Landon Ferraro's late-season and playoff games with the Wings and the possibility that he might make the roster next year...
The 6-foot, 186-pound Ferraro returned to Grand Rapids and enjoyed the best season of his four-year pro career with 27 goals, 42 points and a plus-14 rating in 70 games. That left him third on the Griffins' scoring chart and his 27 goals trailed only Teemu Pulkkinen, whose 34 led the AHL.
Ferraro credited the Red Wings' system with helping him enjoy the best season of his budding career.
"It's been four years of playing in it and it's six I've been a part of it," said Ferraro, who was taken with the 32nd pick in the draft after scoring 32 goals for the WHL's Red Deer Rebels in 2008-09. "You learn a lot and they give you everything to succeed and for me, I needed another year in Grand Rapids and I couldn't be happier. Last year, I came up and when I got called up I wasn't very confident. Just tried to do my best and this year I came in with a lot of confidence and was able to kind of make a spot for myself."
And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner discussed Tyler Bertuzzi's sudden arrival on the scene as a key contributor for the Grand Rapids Griffins:
Regardless of whether Mike Babcock or someone else is coaching the Red Wings, the team has decisions to make regarding its restricted and unrestricted free agents (per General Fanager, Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson, Teemu Pulkkinen, Landon Ferraro and Tomas Jurco fit into the former category, and Daniel Cleary, Jonas Gustavsson, Erik Cole and Marek Zidlicky fit into the latter), as well as the players that the team might want to promote from Grand Rapids on a full-time basis next season.
Ken Holland made a point to say that the Wings' defensive prospects in Grand Rapids--Nick Jensen, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul--are all waiver-exempt for another season, unlike the Pulkkinens, Ferraros or Callahans, and as such, that would have some weight in terms of his off-season decision-making.
In the case of Marek Zidlicky (and I believe we've had this conversation before), a point-per-game start with the team tailed off into a point-free playoff performance ended prematurely by a concussion, and while the Free Press's George Sipple notes that Zidlicky was receptive to returning, I'm not sure if the 38-year-old with cement skates is the "right fit"::
Updated 3x at 11:16 PM: From MLive's Ansar Khan:
Mike Babcock is done talking to other teams. He'll speak with Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland one more time on Tuesday and said he likely will make a decision about his future on Wednesday.
"Just going to re-visit everything one more time (with Holland)," Babcock told M-Live on Monday, a day after he and Holland returned from the World Championships in the Czech Republic. "I've talked to all the teams I'm talking to."
Babcock said he went through this process, which began about 10 days ago when the Red Wings granted his request to speak with other clubs, to see what is out there and what it is the best situation for him.
"I learned a lot. I talked to lots of good people," Babcock said. "I kept Kenny abreast the whole time. We'll talk one more time (Tuesday) and then I'll sit down with my family one more time (Tuesday) night and make a decision."
Khan continues, and at least this will be over soon.
Update #2: Also: this is a little...strange...Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman believes that Babcock's going to San Jose tomorrow? A decision must be near, because information's starting to get contradictory from the impeccable sources:
Have fun with this one, from the Buffalo News's John Vogl:
The Sabres feel they’ve done everything they can to lure Mike Babcock to Buffalo. They hope it’s enough.
Buffalo is in position to land the future Hockey Hall of Famer, but his family still has the final say.
Babcock reportedly remains set to announce his coaching future by Wednesday, and a league source said Monday the Sabres had the best chance of making him leave Detroit. But since Day One, Babcock has said his family is in charge. They’re comfortable in Michigan, so the final hours of his coaching countdown could be swayed by in-house chats, the source said.
First, the 52-year-old was scheduled to meet with one more suitor and his longtime boss.
Babcock initiated an interview with San Jose, according to CSN Bay Area, and was set to talk with the Sharks about their opening. Coincidentally, the job became available because San Jose parted ways with Babcock’s former assistant, Todd McLellan.
Babcock is scheduled to talk with Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland on Tuesday, the coach told the Detroit Free Press. The duo flew home from Europe together following Sunday’s world championships, so it stands to reason there’s little new ground to cover. It could be a chat to finalize a contract extension or a bon voyage.
I don't tend to prefer posting links to stories as opposed to stories with some sort of "hook" of text, but in this case, I'm going for links because these are going to be controversial:
- As it turns out, USA Today's Brent Schrotenboer reports that Gordie Howe did in fact receive what we in the U.S. would call stem cells derived from embryos in addition to adult stem cells during his transplant at Novastem's facility in Mexico, and this of course is quite controversial, especially as Novastem has insisted all along that the stem cells Gordie received were "adult" cells;
- And Schrotenboer reports that the stem cell treatment that Novastem uses was pioneered in Russia and the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, which may or may not be ironic.
You can read these on your own and adjust your judgment of the morality of the stem cell treatments as you wish, but as this is not a political blog and more than a couple of you have asked that we do not enter into the embryonic stem cell debate, I'd prefer to leave the content be and simply report that it's out there--and that "the story" has changed--should you wish to read it.
Just when you thought there couldn't be enough Mike Babcock news, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun provides us with even more from Prague:
Babcock, via text message Sunday after landing in Detroit, reiterated his desire to decide his future by Wednesday. Other than that, Babcock declined to get into any other details.
What we do know via other sources at this point is that he spoke with the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs before heading over to Prague and is scheduled to chat with the San Jose Sharks over the next few days.
Ansar Khan of MLive.com also reported Sunday that the St. Louis Blues had asked permission to talk to Babcock and that perhaps that conversation had already taken place in Prague. Which is interesting given that the Blues still haven’t made any announcement regarding current coach Ken Hitchcock.
Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Matt Dery spoke with Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman regarding Mike Babcock's future in a particularly intriguing interview--in which Friedman suggested that it might be the Wings who provide Babcock the best chance of winning on a consistent basis...
And Dery gave his take on the situation, too--for 22 minutes:
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