The Malik Report
from Keith Gave of FoxSports Detroit,
Now imagine if General Manager Ken Holland were a free agent this offseason. It could have happened.
"And it might have been even bigger than what we saw this last week," said Senior Vice President Jim Devellano. "I think it would have been if Ken Holland had refused to sign (an extension) last summer."
Babcock hit the jackpot when several teams had coaching vacancies, including the richest of them all, Toronto. He eventually parlayed a magnificent offer from the Buffalo Sabres into an eight-year, $50 million deal with the Maple Leafs. Those same Leafs, by the way, are still shopping for a general manager. Boston, New Jersey, Edmonton also named new managers, while others offered the ever-worrisome vote of confidence to their GMs.
But it never came to that because Holland, who had one year left on his deal with Detroit, signed a new four-year deal last summer. Negotiations with a man universally acknowledged as the best general manager in the NHL lasted 10 minutes, Devellano said.
Holland wasn't even tempted to test the free-agent market after more than three decades with the Wings. Ask him why and he pauses, not wanting to offend his interrogator for asking such a stupid question.
On the heels of his successful pro debut, Dylan Larkin joined Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Matt Dery on Monday, discussing his comfort level with AHL hockey, his decision to turn pro and Ken Holland's advice for him, his peers on the Griffins and more during a ten-minute interview:
If you missed it, Larkin scored 2 goals in the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-2 win over the Utica Comets last night:
The Free Press's Jeff Seidel asked Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill an intriguing question--and a slightly obtuse one given that Blashill spent a year as an assistant coach in Detroit--but it's worth asking (via RedWingsFeed):
Blashill is just 41 years old, which would create an interesting dynamic considering that Pavel Datsyuk is 36 and Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall both are 34. So I flat out asked him: "How do you think you will handle older players?"
He paused, sitting in his office at Van Andel Arena.
"I don't like talking about stuff that is hypothetical," he said. "But the one thing I would say is, the best thing about the Red Wings' job is you have what I would call three of the best winners in hockey, in your captains there, in Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall. There are three of the best winners, not just hockey players, winners."
Four years ago, Blashill saw them in action when he spent a season as an assistant under Mike Babcock.
"I got to see that firsthand, how hard they work every day, how they lead every day, their attention to detail, their calmness in pressure situations," Blashill said. "I think, when you have guys that are of that quality character and that great of leaders, to be honest with you, those guys are easy to coach. It's no different from here."
Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans aren't spring chickens, but they've been the Griffins' leadership group under Blashill, and the coach seems to deal with them quite well.
Seidel continues, discussing Blashill's relative youth and his work with Brian Lashoff, who insists that the "nicer guy" coach is no pushover:
"When he has something to say, he doesn't hold back," Lashoff said. "You know where you stand with him. I think that's a big thing with players."
ESPN's Craig Custance penned an intriguing Insider-only entry discussing how teams learn from playoff losses, speaking with Ken Hitchcock about the way that the Wings bounced back from the famous Langenbrunner-on-Osgood-from-center-ice goal in 1998 and Ryan Getzlaf about the Ducks' learning curve...
Detroit, a team that looked tired in the overtime loss, shut out the Stars 2-0 in Game 6. Osgood, after letting in that memorable goal, was perfect. Dallas’ season was over. The Red Wings went on to win another championship.
“I’d never seen a team play with that type of ferociousness in their competition, in their game – shift-by-shift, man-by-man,” Hitchcock said when we chatted on Monday. “That game in 1998 set us up for three years. We thought we were at a level, there was a whole other level out there that no one had experienced other than a few guys who had played for Montreal. We had never seen it before.”
And the article includes quite the quote from Kirk Maltby:
[It] can’t just be some of the players -- it has to be all of the players competing with that sense of detail in every moment.
“How many times have you seen in the playoffs where guys that try to get out of the way of the puck in a regular season game are blocking a puck in the playoffs?” said former Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby, winner of four Stanley Cups. “They’re taking a hit, making a hit. It’s just like making an Olympic team -- you might be a 50-goal scorer on your team but you take a different role on a national team. It’s about adjustments and learning and buying in to achieve.”
This sounds campy, but the Red Wings' "next generation" players have received over the last two years have learned a ton about the kinds of efforts they need to bring to the table through the Wings' losses to Boston and Tampa Bay, and as much as it's stank watching Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan, DeKeyser and now Mrazek come up short against their opponents, this past year's first round in particular was chock full of learning about the levels at which everyone has to play, produce and "buy in" to stepping up to win four games out of seven each round.
Of brief Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
- According to MLive's Scott Atkinson, the Gabe Polsky documentary Red Army will air at the Flint Institute of Arts on May 29, 30 and 31st;
- Better Made announced that it raised $13,000 for the Ted Lindsay Foundation for Autism Awareness in April;
- And MLive's Brendan Savage penned an emptying-the-notebook article about Jonas Gustavsson, who still believes that he'll find gainful employment elsewhere after struggling through three injury-plagued seasons with the Wings:
Sometimes box scores paint wildly inaccurate pictures of hockey games, but in the case of the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-2, Western Conference Final-tying win over Utica, the box score actually does a fine job of telling the game's story.
The Griffins got two late-1st-period goals from Dylan Larkin, they earned a pair of power-play markers in a 2nd period where they were playing rope-a-dope hockey, and in the 3rd period, they held on for dear life. Grand Rapids was out-shot 26-8 over the last 40 minutes of play, and they surrendered a pair of 3rd-period goals as a result, but Grand Rapids held on for the 4-2 victory.
The Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Utica Comets 4-2 on Monday, building a 4-0 lead and hanging on for the 3rd period as they were out-shot 32-18 overall and had 8 shots after the 1st, but Tom McCollum was very strong in the net, and despite giving up 2 late PPGs, Grand Rapids has tied the series at 1-1 going into 3 home games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday).
Dylan Larkin also happened to score his first two pro goals in the game:
Here's an open thread to suit your needs and hopefully include some "alternate means" of watching the game.
The Free Press's George Sipple has penned another "emptying the notebook" article, this time discussing Petr Mrazek's outlook going into an offseason in which his summer preparation better prepare him to battle for the starter's job in an open competition with Jimmy Howard for said spot:
"Only one goalie can play," Mrazek said recently. "I'm going to do my best to play as much as I want to and do the best job."
Mrazek was 16-9-2 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 29 games for the Red Wings during the regular season. He also had two shutouts in the playoffs with a 2.11 GAA and a .925 save percentage in the seven-game, first-round loss to the Lightning.
Mrazek, 23, will compete next season with Jimmy Howard.
Howard, 31, was 23-13-11 with a 2.44 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 53 games.
Mrazek said he wouldn't prepare differently this summer than he did previously despite knowing that he would make the team next season. He said he learned a lot from the opportunities he received this season.
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Dylan Larkin regarding his pro debut with the Grand Rapids Griffins last night, and this afternoon, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples checks in with Larkin to discuss both is pro debut and Larkin's reasoning behind his decision to leave the University of Michigan and turn pro after his freshman year:
“Yeah, it was pretty cool,” Larkin said of the moment he officially signed his name on his new contract. “I kind of felt relieved to finally make a decision, and go along with it. Obviously it was one of the days that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
The decision to leave school wasn’t any easy one for the 18-year-old.
“Yeah, it was probably one of the more difficult decisions of my life,” Larkin said. “It was tough. I’m going to miss it. I think it will all work out, and I’ll always be a Wolverine. Hopefully one day I can go back and finish school.”
Larkin said that his experience at Worlds – his opportunity to compare himself with NHL-caliber talent – wasn’t a solidifying factor in his decision, saying it was decision made over the few days leading up to the contract signing between him and his family.
“Probably a day or two before, you know, I didn’t really know, I was still thinking about it and weighing the options and talked to my teammates at Michigan and I just kind of made the decision.”
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