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The overnight report: Handicapping Babcock’s trajectory; Griffins conclude ‘Between the Benches’

Between TSN's interview with Mike Babcock and Ken Holland and the CBC's "Saturday Headlines," we have a pretty decent idea of what Mike Babcock is deciding between--most likely staying with the Wings or going to coach Toronto or Buffalo--though I believe we have to take the coach who says his "head is spinning" at his undecided word.

The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons posited several Red Wings-related observations in his Sunday notebook, and he believes that one of Babcock's utterances to Darren Dreger--the one suggesting that there is no better job than the one he has in Detroit, just different ones--tipped the coach's hand:

My read on Babcock: He looked around. He listened. He saw what was available. And he’ll return to Detroit because there’s no better place for him.

Simmons also wonders whether the Leafs-going-after-Jeff-Blashill talk is all it's cracked up to be:

The Leafs kicked tires on Paul MacLean and Pete DeBoer as interim coaches after firing Randy Carlyle. With Babcock’s free agency about to end and Todd McLellan on his way to Edmonton, do the Leafs turn back in that direction or does Blashill become their target?

If it wasn't Toronto, I wouldn't be worried at all about the Leafs going after a coach with so little NHL experience, but one never knows what the league's supposed flagship franchise (nice flag, eh?) might do.

The Free Press's Steve Schrader believes that Babcock sounds like a man who's played the field and found something better, much like Detroit sports' most recent high-profile defections:

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Paying tribute to a different ‘Gordie and Ted’

Every once in a while, I find a colum that I stare at and stare at, trying to figure out what its message might be, and in the case of this missive from the Detroit News's mostly-retired Jerry Green, I believe his message, aside from telling "us bloggers" that we whipper-snappers are lazy, is that Gordie Howe deserves a bridge named after him as compared to Ted Williams' tunnel in Boston because Ted Williams was a dour grump:

Ted Williams and Gordie Howe played with exquisite skills before the beginning of my professional career in sports journalism.

And they waited around long enough so that I had the wonderful fortune to cover both for the Associated Press and then The Detroit News. Awe is the only word worthwhile to explain what it is like for a young sportswriter to sit down next to Williams or Howe and converse with them interview style.

The nouveau writers today – the bloggers who sit anchored in front of multiple TV sets, the ESPN dudes who invent clichés for our language, the Internet poseurs – they have no concept about old-fashioned digging and reporting.
Gordie Howe is pictured in Detroit in 2008.

In Boston, where I was schooled in journalism more than 60 years ago, there has long been a tunnel commemorating the name of Ted Williams. A tunnel seemed to be the perfect fit for Williams, too. He preferred to be silent and deep, except for the occasional display of bravado.

And now Gordie is destined to join Williams, commemorated for perpetuity with an artery for vehicular traffic.

They were the best of what they did in their eras, contemporaries with radically different personas.

Simmons continues, and he paints a touching picture of Gordie Howe, and a not-so-touching picture of Ted Williams...

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Prospect playoff news: Walleye down 2-0 to South Carolina after Saturday loss

The Toledo Walleye are in playoff trouble. They gave up 3 second-period goals en route to a 4-3 loss to the South Carolina Stingrays on Saturday, and the Walleye now trail their Eastern Conference Final 2 games to zip (with Martin Frk registering 1 assist in 2 games).

The Walleye's website posted a recap and highlight clip...

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Babcock yet again featured on CBC’s Headlines: Toronto, Buffalo only non-Detroit teams in the race?

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman and Damien Cox discussed Mike Babcock's status at the beginning of their "Saturday headlines" feature, and according to Friedman, only the Maple Leafs and Sabres have asked for permission to speak to Babcock, and there's no indication that the number of teams might increase before Wednesday. Both Friedman and Cox suggested that, should Babcock remain in Detroit, the Leafs and others will seriously look at Jeff Blashill as a coaching candidate, as well as Sheldon Keefe from the Soo Greyhounds.

The gents discussed other toipcs, including GM searches and the fate of 2016 draft pick Auston Matthews, but the Babcock stuff's the most interesting to you and me:

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Team USA loses to Russia in World Championship semifinal, will play for bronze Sunday

Todd Richards had Team USA play a typical Blue Jackets game, trying to lurk in the weeds and milk a 1-0 win in the 3rd period...

And regrettably, in the 3rd period, a Dylan Larkin wide shot was picked up by Sergei Mozyakin, Mozyakin charged by Torey Krug, who did a fly-by, and Mozyakin skated in and fired a shot that was tipped by Matt Hendricks over his own goalie, Connor Hellebuyck, with only 12:43 remaining in regulation:

The Russians soon made it 2-0 via an Alex Ovechkin goal, Shipachyov made it 3-0 late, and Malkin scored an empty-netter to make it 4-0.

As a result, the young Americans will play the host Czechs for bronze on Sunday at 10:15 AM (probably on NBCSN and/or NBC Sports Live Extra), but there's no shame in losing to a stacked Russian team thanks to a few key mistakes, nor is there any shame in getting "Bobrovski'd," which Hellebuyck, Larkin and the Americans got on Saturday.

In terms of how Larkin looked in this game (he took 4 shots and finished at -1 in 15:22 of ice time), and how he's looked overall:

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St. James speaks with Griffins coach Jeff Blashill regarding Tyler Bertuzzi

Tyler Bertuzzi has been absolutely dynamite for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL playoffs, and given that he's spent the last season being the Guelph Storm's go-to player (especially after Guelph traded Stephen Pierog) on offense, it's not surprising that he's picked up where he left off in an extremely competitive Major Junior league scoring-wise (he has 5 goals and 3 assists in 7 games playing on the Griffins' top line with Tomas Nosek and Kevin Porter or Andy Miele and Mark Zengerle), nor is it surprising that the net-front pest is driving opponents absolutely nuts.

What is surprising is the fact that Bertuzzi has been battling some sort of viral infection for the past month; he missed the first two games of the Griffins-Marlies series as a result, and as of last Saturday, he was still shaking off a "flu bug" that required Bertuzzi to, in his words, basically sleep between games and practices to play like any semblance of his usual self.

Play he did, and play well, he did, so the Free Press's Helene St. James checked in with Griffins coach Jeff Blashill regarding Bertuzzi's progress, and she received a glowing review:

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Red Wings remind us about ‘‘the Yzerman OT goal’

Possibly the best overtime moment in recent Red Wings history (Igor Larionov's double OT winner exempted):

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Some thoughts about the Matthew Wuest Memorial Trophy

When someone mentions Matthew Wuest, the first thing I do is smile, because I know that, as is the case for many of us hockey internet pioneers, we didn't like each other.

Wuest and I were engaged in following the Red Wings on a near-professional level (he building a website, me sticking to hockey bulletin boards) long before most of you knew that there was a thriving Red Wings community online, and he was better at what he did than I was at what I do, a trained journalist to an English major, so he reached out to the Wings' scouts when he built RedWingsCentral in the very late 90's, and he built an amazing legacy.

I think that it's incredibly appropriate that the Wings chose to name the Prospect Tournament title after Wuest, who you know for Capgeek as well as RedWingsCentral, I'm pretty dang sure that his partner in coverage, Sarah Lindenau, ought to have the MVP trophy named after her mother, too, but that's a campaign for another day.

In any case, Wuest was the best at what he did because he wasn't afraid to ask, and Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin told the Free Press's Helene St. James that he learned of Wuest right away...

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Knowing that you don’t know is the first part of making a decision

As the news stories come in from Philly and Buffalo as well as around the NHL attempting to handicap exactly what Mike Babcock and Ken Holland meant as they spoke to TSN's Darren Dreger--for, as it turns out, 24 minutes (and I pretty much transcribed the damn thing)--I've been amused as all hell get out with this, "It's a suspension-worthy hit!"-style assertions as to what Babcock is or is not thinking.

I've been equally amused by the fact that people didn't think the man's ego was big enough to speak about himself in the third person, but when you spend time with Mike Babcock (and I respect the man to no end), well I'd like to welcome you to the weird world of not being able to ask certain questions, not being able to walk in certain places and generally dealing with a man who can manage a locker room of millionaires because he has a higher opinion of himself than they do.

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Prospect playoff news: Walleye drop Conference Final opener

The Toledo Walleye did two things they're unaccustomed to as the Eastern Conference Final opened on Friday night: they held the South Carolina Stingrays to under 30 shots, and they also lost, dropping a 2-1 decision (in which Martin Frk finished at -1 with 3 shots) in the series opener.

The Walleye's website posted a recap and highlight clip:

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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.



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