The Malik Report
Of brief Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
1. The Fan 590's Greg Brady posited the following Tweet this morning, per Sportnset's David Singh:
3. The Detroit Free Press is engaging in a voting contest of a different kind, asking fans to weigh in as to which coach is the best in Michigan sports history. Mike Babcock and Scotty Bowman are among the quarterfinalists;
4. And Petr Mrazek was named the Detroit Sports Broadcasters' Rookie of the Year today.
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
The Detroit Red Wings made the playoff for the 24th consecutive season and lost in a seven-game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.
Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Red Wings team that will have a new coach and is facing some challenges based on their current roster construction.
The Red Wings lost in seven games against a Tampa Bay Lightning team that is in the Stanley Cup Final, so there should be some consideration that losing to a team of that quality in such a manner isn't the end of the world.
At the same time, this is a team that, as a perennial playoff club, is reloading on the fly and trying to remain competitive because their best players - forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, along with defenceman Niklas Kronwall - are all at least 34-years-old, and Detroit is trying to prod their next group of core players - led by Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist and Riley Sheahan - into having the stuff for another legitimate playoff run while Datsyuk and Zetterberg can still be difference makers.
Maybe that day has already passed and the new coach - expectations are that it will be Grand Rapids bench boss Jeff Blashill - will have to put greater focus on the future, continuing with Detroit's enviable model of sustainability.
It is an accomplishment to always be in the running, but the Red Wings haven't reached a Conference Final since losing in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final. Even if this year's Red Wings may not have been that far off, the window for their stars is closing and it's going to be up to the up-and-coming Wings to keep it propped open.
This article from the Plymouth Observer's Tim Smith spoke with USA Hockey senior director of operations Scott Monaghan about the goings-on at the soon-to-be-former Compuware Arena, and it sounds like USA hockey isn't going to fool around in terms of taking advantage of the facility to showcase the NHL prospect-producing machine that is the U.S. National Team Development Program:
Monaghan, senior director of operations with USA Hockey, is more than confident that those people — and many more — are going to love the new kind of junior hockey that will be rolling into the Beck Road arena beginning in September.
"I encourage people to come out and check it out," said Monaghan, during a recent interview in Mike Vellucci's old office. "I think they'll find it's really, really good hockey to watch."And watching these kids grow as a group over two years is one of the most-unique things."
With Compuware Arena officially to become USA Hockey Arena soon, not to mention a sprawling makeover (a 20,000 square-foot addition is in the works), he is confident many of those fans will flock to see one of two high-end National Team Development Program squads (Under-17 and Under-18).Those teams will play a schedule of games including the United States Hockey League (a major junior circuit) and NCAA.
I don't know if this gives you any comfort, but ESPN's Craig Custance asked Tampa Bay Lightning players which playoff opponent was their most difficult during media day, and 5 of the 8 Lighting players he surveyed (for an Insider-only entry) said the following:
2. Detroit Red Wings | Five votes: The Red Wings pushed Tampa Bay to the limit in the first round, and the Lightning haven’t forgotten. There remains a high level of respect for the Detroit team that nearly ended this Lightning run before it began.
“The Detroit series was the most physical, and the space out there was very limited,” said Lightning defenseman Garrison. “I was just coming back from an injury, and that might have had something to do with it. Things were happening quick; guys were all over the place; and you’re fighting for every inch out there. That team had experience, and you could tell when you played against them.”
Another angle that made Detroit a challenge, according to Carle, was the similarities between the two teams. Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman has built a team in Florida that most definitely has DNA from the organization he left in Detroit.
“The Detroit series was probably hardest for us,” Carle said. “Detroit played a similar game to us. It was almost like playing a mirror image of ourselves, which made it tough. … It was a battle, the whole series, the way they skated and moved the puck.”
By now this is pretty much the expected timeline--between the Red Wings brass's engagement in the NHL's draft combine this week and Jeff Blashill's exit meetings with Grand Rapids Griffins players stretching into Monday, it appears that Blashill will be named the Detroit Red Wings' coach next Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday--but the Free Press's Helene St. James is confirming said timeline:
General manager Ken Holland is busy this week at the NHL scouting combine in Buffalo, with Thursday set aside to attend an NHL competition meeting in New York with a handful of fellow general managers, Players Association representatives, and commissioner Gary Betttman. Then it's back to Buffalo Friday for more interviews with NHL draft hopefuls.
The Wings have been coach-less since Mike Babcock decided to take the Toronto Maple Leafs job two weeks ago. The heir apparent all along has been former Wings assistant Jeff Blashill, but the Wings weren't going to make that official while Blashill was still busy coaching the AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.
The Griffins were eliminated from the Western Conference Final Tuesday night, losing in six games to Utica. That's freed up Blashill, so now it's just a matter of time before there's a press conference. Given that Wings management usually talks to Griffins players before they scatter for the summer, Tuesday would seem to be the earliest an announcement will come.
added 5:38pm, from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Red Wings will announce Blashill's hiring during a press conference next week at Joe Louis Arena, a source said.
Blashill, 41, will become the second-youngest head coach in the NHL, behind recently hired John Hynes of the New Jersey Devils, who is 40.
Blashill likely will receive a three-year contract, since general manager Ken Holland has three years remaining on his deal.
Jeff Blashill, whose American League season in Grand Rapids ended Tuesday in a playoff series defeat, is expected to be named the Red Wings' new coach in a news conference next week, according to several sources who asked to remain anonymous because an announcement has not been made yet.
Update #3: Make it 3 sources, per Fox 17...
Sources have confirmed the weeks-old rumors to FOX 17 that the Grand Rapids Griffins head coach will be announced as the new leader of the Wings sometime next week. The 41-year-old will become the second-youngest head coach in the National Hockey League.
And four per this report from WOOD TV8:
The Grand Rapids Griffins, like any AHL team, are going to experience massive changes this summer as some of their veterans move on or retire, some players choose to pursue opportunities with other North American or European pro teams, and some prospects are going to move up to the Red Wings.
In the Griffins' case, it appears that Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde will take the reins from Jeff Blashill as well, and that likely means some coaching turnover, but the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner chose to ask 5 questions regarding the Griffins that will transcend any behind-the-bench moves.
His third and fourth questions are the most Wings-related:
The Grand Rapids Griffins' season ended on Tuesday night; their 2-0 loss to the Utica Comets eliminated the Griffins from the AHL's Western Conference Final.
While Jeff Blashill declined to address his status save telling Peter J. Wallner that the Griffins will be holding exit meetings on Monday, and the Red Wings executives' status as attending the NHL's draft combine in Buffalo this week = no announcement of any form until next week at this time at the earliest, the rumor mill is in full swing regarding what is presently the worst-kept secret in Detroit sports.
The Griffins went on a helluva run, but the Comets' goaltending and checking were too much in the end, and as a result, the Griffins' website recaps a disappointing end to a strong 2014-15 season and playoff campaign:
So Jeff Blashill isn't going to be named the coach of the Red Wings for at least a week. Assuming an earlier date given the Griffins' end-of-season meetings and exit interviews and the Wings brass's presence at the NHL's draft combine = it's a little too early to talk about the coaching situation as set in stone, Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave does bring up an intriguing point in asking which players will accompany Blashill to Detroit.
Teemu Pulkkinen will have to clear waivers this fall, so he's a lock as the Wings have no intentions of waiving or trading the first "natural goal-scorer" to be ready for NHL duty in half-a-decade, especially after a spring where Pulkkinen led the AHL in goal-scoring (thus far) and where he was double-shifted because coach Blashill said Pulkkinen had the conditioning to thrive with extra ice time.
Pulkkinen did tell Gave that he knows he has to work on parts of his game, however...
Updated with comments from Blashill at 10:53 PM:
I hate to make an entry out of this, but in case you were expecting the Grand Rapids Griffins to make some sort of immediate announcement regarding Jeff Blashill's future, that's not going to take place.
The long story short is simple: the Griffins have to bus back from Utica, NY, and when they do, they're going to need to hold exit meeetings and find out which players plan on returning and which players plan on to test their luck in Europe or other NHL organizations ASAP; the Red Wings' front office is also quite busy attending the Draft Combine in Buffalo for the balance of this week, so there's just no time to do a proper press conference.
The Wings will most likely announce both Jeff Blashill's status as the Wings' coach and Derek Lalonde being named the Grand Rapids Griffins' coach sometime next week.
The Grand Rapids Griffins were defeated 2-0 by the Utica Comets on Tuesday night, and they were eliminated from the AHL's Western Conference Final in 6 games.
The Griffins were plain old checked into dust by the Comets' trapping ways, and the few times they were able to fire pucks on Jacob Markstrom, the 6'6" behemoth was too much to beat.
It's an inauspicious exit for a special Griffins team that was playing without its #1 center in Tomas Nosek and dealing with a...liberal interpretation of hacks, whacks and other methods of interfering and slashing...But you've got ot out-score your opponents, plain and simple, and the Griffins weren't able to do that 4 games out of 6.
About The Malik Report
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.