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Walleye coach Dan Watson making difficult roster decisions

The Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe reports that the Toledo Walleye are facing the same kind of roster decisions that every team has to make at this time of year:

With the Walleye season opener Friday, coach Dan Watson faces some tough roster decisions. Toledo opened up its second week of training camp with 23 players Monday. The ECHL’s active roster maximum is 21 players for the first 30 days of the regular season.

“It’s chaotic,” said Watson, who starts his first season as head coach with 13 players that competed for him when he was an assistant with the organization. “It’s the worst time of the year to be a head coach because you have to have tough conversations.

“But it’s a really good problem to have because I know there are other teams out there that would love to be sitting in this chair having to make these decisions.”

The 21 players who make the team will board a bus Wednesday night for an 11-hour trip for the team’s season opener Friday at Atlanta.

“At the end of the day, when we jump on the bus on Wednesday night we will be very confident that we have the best,” Watson said. “You try to be loyal and as honest as possible. But some players might not be up to par.”

Monroe continues, discussing the Walleye's particularly road-heavy early schedule...

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The overnight report: A conversation with Zetterberg, interviews with Larkin and a Kronwall update

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa spoke with Henrik Zetterberg at extended length, addressing Zetterberg's desire to continue playing at a high level while young players slowly but surely fill the void left by Pavel Datsyuk's departure.

According to Zetterberg, the game the Wings and NHL'ers of a certain vintage find te game to be a little less free-form than it used to be, but Wings coach Jeff Blashill's encouraging creativity among the Wings' players this season:

“Well, we still have fun when playing this game,” he said. “But, you know, I think it’s changed. I think with all the technology you have around the game now, with all the analytics and stats and stuff like that, it’s more of a system game than it was before.

“But you’ve still got to find opportunity to be creative. And I think that’s got a lot to do with the coach. I think you’ve got to have a solid defensive system. But once you have the puck you should be able to do stuff on your own and create stuff. I think some teams probably don’t have that.”

Coach Jeff Blashill, he said, has made it clear he believes the Red Wings have the foundation.

“Here, this year, that’s what Blash is telling us: We have a solid foundation, and once we have the puck we can be creative,” Zetterberg said.

Krupa continues, and the News posted a clip of Zetterberg's conversation with Krupa:

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TMR evening line: ‘It’s a hard business’

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan asked Wings coach Jeff Blashill to weigh in regarding Teemu Pulkkinen's situation, and Blashill was blunt:

“You come back off shoulder surgery and your tryout is three games, it’s not fair,” Blashill said. “It’s a hard business, but with that said, I have lots of belief in him.”

Kulfan continues...

Update: Make it a pair of evening lines, via the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:

“We think Nik Kronwall is going to play here in a week or two, so we’re not putting him on long-term IR,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “We want to carry eight defensemen, so we’re only carrying 13 forwards and two goaltenders.

“When the roster is named tomorrow, we’re going to have the 13 forwards that we think – we being (assistant GM) Ryan Martin and myself and coach (Jeff) Blashill, and from talking to (special assistant to the GM) Kris Draper and the assistant coaches – that we think are going to give us the best chance to win games starting Thursday in Tampa.”


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Prospect news: Kadeikin returns to Lokomotiv’s lineup (sort of)

Of prospect-related note:

In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin sat on the bench as the 13th forward in Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's 3-2 OT win over Slovan Bratislava, but he's at least back with the team after suffering an undisclosed injury several weeks ago;

And in the OHL, Givani Smith finished at -1 with a shot and a penalty in the Guelph Storm's 8-4 loss to Kitchener.

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Wallner: Grand Rapids Griffins excited about Tyler Bertuzzi’s potential

In Grand Rapids, Griffins coach Todd Nelson spoke with the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner regarding Tyler Bertuzzi's impressive prospect tournament and preseason performances with the Wings:

"The biggest thing in him has been maturity," Nelson said Monday after the Griffins held the first of four practices ahead of Friday's home opener against Chicago. "It started in the rookie tournament where he was a leader there and his play carried over into the locker room.

"He carried that in camp. He looked like he had been there before. He had a great camp. Jeff Blashill played him a lot in the exhibitions, which is saying something right there."

Besides a power-play goal for the Red Wings, Bertuzzi also impressed in the Prospect Tournament, scoring twice in the title game.

Bertuzzi knew what the numbers were with the Red Wings, but he was pleased with what he showed.

"You look at four years ago, when I was in development camp," he said. "Each camp you learn a little bit more and I thought I had a good preseason camp last year, so I was confident going into this year. I knew that I was likely coming here and so now I want to play as good as I can and help this team win."

Wallner continues...

Update: WOOD TV8 filed a report about the Griffins' preparations for Friday's season-opener as well:

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Articles from practice: On AA and Mantha’s statuses, Pulkkinen on waivers and lineup notes

The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill regarding the team's desire to keep Anthony Mantha or Andreas Athanasiou on the team for the start of the 2016-17 season, even though neither player practiced on one of the lines that appears to be in the mix for Thursday's opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning:

Since it doesn't make sense to have a top prospect sitting rather than playing, Blashill said the situation would be monitored closely by general manager Ken Holland. “If they are playing lots up here, there will be no issues,” Blashill said. “If they are not playing lots up here, then we will make sure they get down there and play.

“Whichever guy stays, whether he is in the lineup in game one or not, he’ll either get an opportunity soon or we’ll get him down and get him playing.”

The Wings are hoping Pulkkinen clears. He had a disappointing camp (it didn't help he was coming off off-season shoulder surgery) but has a blistering right-handed shot.

“We’ve got a number of good players and right now, in Teemu’s case – from our standpoint, we hope he doesn’t get claimed,” Blashill said. “ It will give him a chance to get down and play. He hasn't played much over the last year, so I don’t think his game is where it will be once he gets playing again.

“If he is able to clear and go down to Grand Rapids, I think it’s a great thing for him. He’s excited about getting a chance to get playing.”

St. James continues, and she posted a video of Blashill's remarks:

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Griffins donate $15K to Ken-O-Sha Park Elementary School media room makeover

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:

The Grand Rapids Griffins and Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan on Monday unveiled their $15,000 media room makeover for Ken-O-Sha Park Elementary School, which was chosen in May from 21 elementary and middle schools throughout Kent County as the winner of their second annual Media Room Makeover Contest.

Located in a 52-year-old building at 1353 Van Auken St. SE in Grand Rapids, Ken-O-Sha Park provides an inclusive environment for 165 students enrolled in preschool through fifth grade. The school also houses the Grand Rapids Oral Deaf Program and Physically Impaired Program, which provides special education services to children from other school districts within Kent County.

Through this makeover, Ken-O-Sha Park’s media room received new bookshelves, a reading nook, furniture, carpet, blinds, paint, and window and wall decorations, along with asbestos abatement. Students will also enjoy using new Chromebooks.


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Well, it’s something positive: Athanasiou or Mantha will make the team

Neither player practiced in the Wings' probable opening night lines during today's practice, but there's some small comfort in reading this from the Free Press's Helene St. James:

And in theory, per MLive's Ansar Khan:

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Dylan Larkin sits down with WXYZ’s Brad Galli

Via RedWingsFeed, Dylan Larkin sat down with WXYZ's Brad Galli for a 3-minute interview, discussing the lessons he learned during his rookie campaign and the adjustments he will be making as a sophomore NHL'er:

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Practice Tweets: Wings skate in mid-afternoon practice with probable opening night lineup

The Red Wings returned to practice at Joe Louis Arena on Monday, preparing for Thursday's season-opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning:

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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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