The Malik Report
This week's Red Wings stories have come in disparate clumps, yielding it just about impossible to create some sort of narrative thread for an overnight report.
That's the case this morning, so please bear with with me.
I guess it's Larkin-Mantha-mania time, because ESPN's Craig Custance spoke with Red Wings prospect Dylan Larkin at the World Championships, where he's playing for Team USA...
And of course Detroit News's Gregg Krupa makes mention of Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi and Larkin as the Wings' most consequential prospects of the present moment:
It's a good news-bad-news situation for the Toledo Walleye: the Grand Rapids Griffins reassigned Marty Frk to the Walleye, and in Toledo's 3rd game of their 2nd-round series against the Fort Wayne Komets, Frk produced 2 goals on 5 shots.
The bad news is that Frk scored the Walleye's only goals as Jeff Lerg was shelled with 42 shots, and he stopped 39, but that wasn't enough to prevent the Walleye from dropping a 3-2 OT decision to the Komets.
As a result, the Walleye are up 2 games to 1 in their series, and here's the Walleye's website's recap:
Of Griffins-related note this evening:
1. This is a real thing, from the Griffins' website:
CITY OF ROCKFORD, MICH., CHANGES NAME TO GRIFFINVILLE
GRIFFINVILLE, Mich. – The city council of Rockford, Mich., on Tuesday unanimously voted to change the name of its town to Griffinville for the next two weeks, while the Grand Rapids Griffins take on the Rockford (Ill.) IceHogs during the American Hockey League’s Western Conference Semifinals.
Games 1 and 2 of the series are slated for Van Andel Arena this Wednesday, May 6 and Friday, May 8. If necessary, Games 6 and 7 would take place in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 20.
This represents the second name change in the history of the city, which is located 14 miles north of Grand Rapids on the Rogue River. Founded as the village of Laphamville in 1856, the city ironically earned its previous moniker in 1865 on the suggestion of a newly arrived resident from Rockford, Ill., after the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Company had urged the village’s residents to adopt a shorter name.
Have fun with this one: NJ.com's Randy Miller spoke with Pierre McGuire regarding the concept that the Philadelphia Flyers might be able to out-bid Mike Ilitch and the Red Wings for Mike Babcock's services, and here's what McGuire said:
"No, no, no! Mike's a winner," McGuire told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday. "Mike's about going to a place that gives him the best opportunity to win, the types of players that they have, the players that they've drafted. Sure, money's going to play a role, but I don't see that being what it's all about. Mike's all about winning."
Babcock is Flyers GM Ron Hextall's first choice to replace recently fired Craig Berube, someone with knowledge of management's plans told NJ Advance Media. The Flyers missed the playoffs this season for the second time since 2012-13, but McGuire sees Philadelphia as a strong option for Babcock.
"It's a very desirable location for people to coach in the league because the commitment of ownership to win," he said. "You've also got some star players there that are still young enough and evolving."
It's also not such a desirable place to coach because Ed Snider tends to butt into his GM and coach's player personnel decisions...
McGuire's gut feeling on how this Babcock saga will shake out?
"The relationship's that's been built over time (in Detroit) with Mike and Kenny Holland and the Ilitch family [Red Wings owners] is strong," McGuire said. "I don't know what Mike will do. It depends on what he sees as a good fit for himself."
from Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily,
Johan Franzen wants to continue his NHL career.
The big question is whether he’s healthy enough to do so.
Franzen has suffered multiple concussions, the last coming on Jan. 6 this season and it put an end to his season.
“This time was a little bit scarier,” Franzen said. “For two months you’re not able to pick up your kids or play with your kids for more than two minutes. It makes you think a little bit, but you know I’m slowly getting better, so that puts my mind to rest.
“I feel a lot better,” Franzen continued. “I was in a really dark place maybe not the first month because you think it’s going to get better. But then when it doesn’t get better, you start wondering.”
Wings general manager Ken Holland also doesn’t know what the future holds for Franzen.
“I don’t think anybody knows,” Holland said. “When you’re dealing with people that have concussions and he’s a bit of a history. That’s a decision that’ll be determined between Mule and Dr. (Jeffrey) Kutcher.”
Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco took part in Slovakia's 3-1 win over Slovenia at the World Junior Championships today, with Tatar taking 2 shots in 19:43 and Jurco taking 2 shots in 16:11, and you look at the score and go, "Oh, it must have been a cruise control game for Slovakia," but in fact, the Slovaks had to rally from a 1-0 deficit in the 3rd period to win thanks to 3 late goals (including an empty-netter).
Tomorrow, Slovakia will be playing Norway at 2:15 PM. The game will not air on TV in the U.S., but you can find it by...alternate means.
I think the best news from Tuesday's game is that Jurco and Tatar are generally playing on the same line, and Tatar's earning key ice time in all situations, playing on the PP, the PK and skating when the Slovenes pulled goalie Robert Kristan to help "kill" the Slovenian 6-on-5. They're getting their minutes, and that's a good sign.
Prospect talk remains the theme of the week: the Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke with Dylan Larkin about possibly turning pro after the World Championships, where he's playing very solidly for Team USA...
Babcock and Detroit GM Ken Holland are en route to the Czech Republic to check out their future star in person and while many expect Larkin to return to Michigan, where he’d likely be the No. 1 centre and a Hobey Baker Award contender, he’s not ready to make that commitment at this time.
“Not 100 per cent,” Larkin said. “I’m still in between and weighing the options.”
He admits that his performance in the world tourney will have a significant impact on his ultimate choice of direction.
“Yeah it does,” Larkin said. “I wanted to wait until after the tournament to make a decision.”
Duff continues at length, concluding with this...
“I really feel like there’s not a wrong choice or a bad option,” Larkin said. “Either way I’m still going to be playing hockey and doing what I love. Well see what’s best for me.”
And in light of Jimmy Devellano's comments about Anthony Mantha and Mantha's comments about his struggles, the Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Wings GM Ken Holland about his take on Mantha's difficult rookie pro season:
from Steve Schrader of the Detroit Free Press,
Ken Holland and Mike Babcock are always jetting off somewhere, either to Grand Rapids to see the Griffins play — well, that one was by I-96 — or now to the Czech Republic for the world championships, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
And reading the tea leaves, Dreger says these road trips are a good sign for Babcock's contract talks as coach of the Detroit Red Wings.
"It's interesting, isn't it?" Dreger told an Edmonton radio station. "You know, they had conversation on the weekend … I was told by Babcock it was good conversation but there's more to come. No timeline on when he intends on making a decision or what have you, but the more that these guys spend time together … "
Dreger continued: "You know, Babcock's not going to the world championships because he purely wants to scout and all of that. And if he were going, wouldn't he go alone? He's going as a representative of the Detroit Red Wings. So he's still invested and, frankly, he's still under contract. But if this relationship was straining because of an ongoing negotiation, I would think that Babcock would want to lay low, stay back in North America. …
Update: Here's the audio, and you can read the Buffalo News's Bucky Gleason's Mike Babcock plea on your own:
I wouldn't post this as a normal entry, but...Man alive, the Wings' "Coffee Talk" feature with Kyle Quincey yields insights into a very "Bohemian" dude's lifestyle:
As I said yesterday (audio included), Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha addressed his struggles during his rookie professional season, and the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner penned an article regarding Mantha's comments...
"Personally, I think I underachieved a little bit," he said. "Obviously, I would have liked, say 50, 60, 70 points. That was my goal at the start of the season. Obviously, I didn't achieve that, but it's not over. I could have a great impact in the playoffs. Who knows? Only one goal could make a difference between winning a series or not. A block shot, one-on-one battles. It's not over and I want to show them I can still play great hockey."
It is physical play and full attention to detail each shift that the 6-foot-4, 214-pound Mantha will need to work on in the off season.
"I need to work on my strength, for sure," he said. "I need to work on a lot of aspects of my play, like getting quicker on my skates ... I got better as the year went along but I need to keep growing for the summer."
And again, Ken Holland and Mike Babcock addressed Mantha's shortcomings as well:
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.