The Malik Report
There's a point when you watch a highly-heralded prospect who you think is using a stick that's 3-5 inches too long continue to look over his head in the AHL playoffs, you continue to watch the player's fundamentals, their comparative "greenness" compared to an OHL graduate that's under the weather but playing above his weight in more ways than one, and you say, "OH! That player could have gone to the ECHL and gained some confidence, but for a lack of a better term, the decision was to let this kid suffer a bit and realize how much game shape he'd lost" (a la Darren Helm coming off his back issues) "and how far he has to go to play up to the level of his competition as more than a goal-scorer," and you're understanding why Anthony Mantha has Keith Gave's scouts suggesting that a highly-heralded prospect is already on the road to "washed up" when that's the furthest thing from the truth.
That's a very long-winded way of saying that yes, I'm paying attention to the Grand Rapids Griffins with significant attention to detail over the next couple days, and it's a very long-winded way of saying that nothing is the way it seems in hockey until you put in the observation time to attack the issues that are concerning and confusing you.
The Grand Rapids Griffins rallied to tie their best-of-5 series at 2 games apiece on Saturday, defeating the Toronto Marlies 5-4, but the score was somewhat disproportionate to the game's narrative.
Grand Rapids surrendered an off-the-crossbar-and-in goal only 46 seconds into the game, but the Griffins rallied to build a 5-2 lead; in the final 1:04, however, the Griffins gave up two late goals after the Marlies pulled goaltender Chrisopher Gibson, yielding a razor-thin margin of victory in a game that was plain...plain weird.
Grand Rapids will play the 5th and decisive game of the 1st-round series at 5 PM on Sunday, and the Griffins were kind enough to allow me to take in Saturday's affair, so I'll be traveling back across the state (I live just far enough from the rink that it's cheaper to drive home for the night than it is to stay in Grand Rapids) to take in that game; in the interim, the Griffins' website has posited a game recap...
Updated at 3:16 PM: The Red Wings who are taking part in the World Championship (click for the schedule) and not taking part are "in the news" this afternoon:
Russian national team has made Pavel Datsyuk's status as too injured to play in the World Championship official;
Dylan Larkin and Team USA are battling Norway today, and while the game starts at 2 PM EDT, the game will air on a tape-delayed basis on NBCSN at 7 PM;
Yesterday, MLive's Brendan Savage spoke with Tatar and Jurco regarding their decisions to play at a World Championship that's very, very close to home as it's being held in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic:
The most noteworthy Wings prospect who played hockey on Friday didn't do so in North America: Dylan Larkin registered an assist and a +3 in 14:21 of ice time helming Team USA's second line as the Americans defeated Finland 5-1 at the World Championships.
Back over on this side of the Atlantic, in the ECHL, Martin Frk took 4 shots and Richard Nedomlel finished at +1 in the Toledo Walleye's second-round-opening 4-1 win over the Fort Wayne Komets.
The Walleye's website posted a recap...
The beat writers truly emptied their notebooks in covering the Red Wings' locker room clean-out day, so I've got a mismatched hodgepodge's worth of Babcock stuff--including ten points regarding Washington's Farewell Address, I mean Babcock's end-of-season remarks, some wise words from Kevin McGran regarding Babcock making the interviewer feel like they've lost their pantaloons when he feels like brushing off a question, and of course some sound advice(?) from Don Cherry, but other than that, all we're left with is the Free Press's Drew Sharp, who suggests the obvious in stating that, "It's all on Babcock" if he chooses to depart:
Babcock maintained he doesn't know what he will do next. But he knows he's got it good in Detroit. And while it's somewhat frustrated him that there's a perception out there that he's happily counting down the hours until he can finally leave the city, Babcock can only blame himself if the next 10 days place him in an uncomfortable position.
He wanted to be a free agent. But that doesn't mean he's free from rampant speculation.
To be fair to Drew, I don't think he was covering the Wings the week that Detroit had home-and-home tilts with Toronto and Bob McCown got into Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch's estate planning, so I'm not sure if he's aware that there's been rampant speculation regarding Babcock's future for over a year now...
The Windsor Star's Dave Waddell attended Marcel Pronovost's funeral on Friday, and the former Wings defenseman's status as a legendary defenseman and an even better human being yielded a well-attended but somber event:
Pronovost won five Stanley Cups as a player with Detroit (four) and Toronto (one) and another three as part of the Devils’ scouting staff. The 53 years between his first cup in Detroit (1950) and the Devils last championship (2003) is an NHL record.
The 84-year-old retired defenceman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978 and is a member of four other halls of fame, including the one in his adopted hometown of Windsor.
Yet as family, friends and his peers bid him farewell, it was Pronovost the man they spoke of not his prowess with a puck.
NHL senior vice-president of hockey operations and former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Jim Gregory noted the striking similarities between Pronovost and Montreal legend Jean Beliveau in the classy way they were ambassadors for the game.
“(Retired NHL linesman) Mark Pare (of LaSalle) said to me what stood out was how professional Marcel was,” Gregory said. “That was always the feeling he left with everyone.”
This isn't collusion or tampering. It's in the neighborhood, per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi:
Mike Babcock is the only coach to lead teams to hockey's version of the triple crown - titles in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Olympics, and world championships. And, so, yes, with Babcock's Detroit Red Wings knocked out of the playoffs Wednesday, numerous teams are pursuing a man generally regarded as the league's best coach.
Does Ed Snider have a blank check ready?
Snider, chairman of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, said that he didn't want to discuss Babcock or the coaching search, but that he was comfortable with whomever general manager Ron Hextall recommended.
"This is Ron Hextall's bailiwick, not mine," Snider said in a phone interview Friday from his California home. "He's the guy who is going to make the decision. If Ron Hextall decided he wanted to hire a certain person and I told him he couldn't, then I shouldn't have Ron Hextall as my GM, right? "I don't ever veto a GM's choice," he added. "It's my job to be informed and I ask a lot of questions, but don't bring me into the coach's decision."
Any Flyers fan will tell you that "the coach's decisoins" in Philly are subject to owner's approval, which is why I don't think Babcock would ever go to Philly. Anyway...
Updated 21 dang times at 6:30 PM: Okay, I did my best to summarize what Mike Babcock had to say and the various Tweets of those who attended the Wings' locker room clean-out day, and now here comes the cavalcade of clean-out-day articles.
Here's the first wave:
The Edmonton Journal leads us off with a Canadian Press-authored summary of the Babcock-Holland exchange...
Holland said he and Babcock, whom he described as “an unrestricted free agent in the prime of his career,” talked briefly Friday morning and will meet again to talk about a new deal early next week.
"I want Mike to stay, I’ve expressed that to him,” Holland told reporters at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. “Money is no object."
Updated with video @ 1:54 PM: Babcock on Periscope TV tells the media that he hasn't decided anything about his future, that he's going to speak to Ken Holland over the next 10 days and may go to Grand Rapids on Sunday to talk about it; he talked about his wife about it yesterday; there's been no grandioise plan, he's been trying to get into the playoffs and execute well in the playoffs, and this will be the next thing.
There's no odds on anything, there hasn't been enough thinking about it. They lost, he felt terrible about it, as bad as he felt as a Red Wings coach after the loss and yesterday, Z Pav and Kronwall are the best leadership group he's been around in pro sport, and their window isn't as long as the kids, the Wings had 15 kids under 28 at one point and the Wings need the push for their kids, when he first got here Z, Pav and Kronwall were making the older kids better and gave the Wings a three-year run in 7, 8 and 9, the Wings need to have another run. They're not a million miles away, when they played in Games 3-7, you feel like you're a Cup contender, but when you lose in the 1st round for 3 years, you feel depressed, it's depressing.
The Red Wings gathered at Joe Louis Arena to officially wrap up their regular-season activities with a team picture and a final media availability, and I'm just going to post "rolling updates" here:
Roose also reported...this...
Toronto media at The Joe today. Humm. An unusual sight for locker clean-out day. <sarcasm>
The Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno's probably in attendance, and he's already written a Babcock article...
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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.