The Malik Report
Touching stuff (seriously) from the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
Marshall Starkman still gets choked up when he thinks about the e-mail. After years of E.J. McGuire spit balling it at the podium, Starkman, director for the annual Roger Neilson’s coaches’ clinic at the University of Windsor, finally was certain he had a topic that would intrigue McGuire. But when he contacted McGuire, vice-president of the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau with the news, McGuire’s response left Starkman in shock. McGuire wrote to Starkman that he wouldn’t be attending this year’s clinic, that he’d be helping Roger oversee it from above. A couple of weeks later in early April, McGuire died, a victim of cancer, the same disease that claimed Neilson’s life in 2003.
“At first, I was confused, I didn’t really understand E.J.‘s e-mail,” Starkman admitted. “After I read it again a few times, it hit home.” McGuire had spoken at 23 consecutive clinics and this year, the clinic is honouring his memory with tributes throughout the weekend, as well as a Sunday auction of hockey memorabilia to contribute to a trust fund established for McGuire’s children.
Last week, Hockey’s Future’s John Henkelman posted assessments of the Red Wings’ AHL-playing prospects, and today, the resident guru of all things prospect-related, RedWingsCentral’s Matthew Wuest, offers a new slate of rankings of the top 20 Wings prospects both playing in the AHL and elsewhere. Let’s stick with Wuest’s teaser about Brendan Smith, who both Wuest and Grand Rapids Griffins GM Bob McNamara believe could use a little more AHL seasoning, and then let’s gab a bit about his rankings in the comments section:
“He’s going to be a significant player in the NHL, he’s going to be a guy who could possibly end up running the Red Wings’ power play at some point, but he probably needs a little bit more seasoning,” said Griffins general manager Bob McNamara. “I don’t know that he would be a regular (yet). He’ll probably be a call-up guy, but his time is not long in the American League.”
Smith stayed ahead of four quality forwards in the end-of-season ranking, edging out Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Jan Mursak and Calle Jarnkrok.
The top 10 is extremely forward-heavy, with Riley Sheahan, Teemu Pulkkinen, Cory Emmerton and Joakim Andersson earning spots six through nine. Goaltender Petr Mrazek, making his debut in the top 10, joins Smith as the only non-forward in the group.
Continued, and as usual, it’s worth your time!
Updated with mid-day tidbits and very cool video at 1:40 PM: The Detroit Red Wings have more than some difficult roster decisions to make in deciding whether to bring back Chris Osgood and/or Kris Draper for possible farewell seasons, and Wings GM Ken Holland readily admits to MLive’s Ansar Khan that Detroit’s organizational powwow on June 15th and 16th will indeed involve a potential shift in philosophy:
“I believe they got some hockey left in them, both want to play,” general manager Ken Holland said Thursday. “But we have an obligation to go through a process to make sure we’re putting the best team on the ice, also to bring some young people along. They’re tough decisions. We don’t want to race into a decision. We got until the end of June.”
Holland said no decision will be made on either player until after the team’s pro scouting meetings, at the earliest. The front office and scouts will meet Tuesday and Wednesday to analyze the roster and discuss potential trade and free-agent targets.
In hockey terms, when Jim Rome asked Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom whether he’d made a decision as to whether he’ll continue his playing career on Thursday, Rome made the mistake of attempting to skate around the back of the net to beat Lidstrom to the left goalpost, and Lidstrom made a patented move, sliding his left leg against the goalpost while jabbing the puck off Rome’s stick while he was still behind the net.
In other words, he stated that he hadn’t made his decision, that he has until July 1st to do so (though it’s assumed that he’ll inform Ken Holland prior to Lidstrom’s trip to the NHL Awards on June 22nd), and he offered a few comments that further exasperated* Wings fans like me, who are worried to no end about the captain’s decision, as noted by the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
When I think about the fact that the Winnipeg team has yet to choose a name for itself, and has been more than willing to sell season tickets, bring in the team’s presumptive captain and trot around the NHL’s deputy commissioner without doing so much as offering a hint as to whether the beloved Jets name will return, I’ve got to admit that the whole concept is a very Manitoban one. Never rushing, the team’s building its identity from the front office on out, restructuring, and in many cases, making fresh starts and clean breaks from the Atlanta Thrashers’ franchise. I think that the team will probably be quite happy to absorb most of the Thrashers’ up-and-coming players, but at the same time, it seems pretty likely that a free agent or two will join the team’s ranks without donning a team jersey as this team’s displaying a Nicklas Lidstrom-like level of refusal to be rushed.
If anything, they’re all but repeating their ownership’s decision to slowly and steadily court a franchise while keeping their cards in their vest pockets, and in a way, it’s impressive as hell to watch the team be embraced while its management takes shape and asks its fans to simply wait to know the face of its object of affection.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was in Winnipeg on Thursday, and he told the Winnipeg Free Press’s Ed Tait that True North Sports and Entertainment isn’t anywhere near making a decision as to the mail order bride’s countenance…
Bold-but-tenative prediction from Ottawa: Red Wings assistant coach Paul MacLean likely to join Sens
Oh, Ottawa. I really hope that if current Red Wings assistant coach Paul MacLean’s skin is as thick as his moustache, because if Senators GM Bryan Murray, who did give the nod to MacLean as Mike Babcock’s hand-picked assistant coach way back in the day when Babcock helmed the Mighty Ducks, he’s got quite the press corps to deal with. The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan frames his suggestion that MacLean will probably get the nod as the Sens’ coach with a bold proclamation’s worth of bluster, before hedging his bets like nobody’s business:
Paul MacLean is going to be the next coach of the Senators.
Now, I’m not 100% sure of this. I would not bet my truck. But of the candidates uncovered by the Sun in recent weeks, MacLean seems to be the most logical choice.
Of course, that is if the decision really is with GM Bryan Murray and not owner Eugene Melnyk. Let’s believe it is, if only because the boss says so.
Brennan proceeds to survey the six likely finalists for the position, offering this take on MacLean
Updated 4x at 2:30 PM with more of Lidstrom’s comments: Per the Red Wings’ Twitter account:
Nick Lidstrom will join ‘The Jungle’ with Jim Rome at 1:00 P.M. (40 minutes) You can listen to the interview here: http://bit.ly/lsNaHf
That link goes to Jim Rome’s website and a pay-to-listen media player, but WDFN AM 1130 simulcasts the Jim Rome show, and you can listen to it via their Flash player. I doubt that Nick will say anything about his future, but it’s worth a listen.
Update: Nick’s asked if he’s decided yet and he says no, he’s spoken to Ken Holland and that he could wait till July 1st to make up his mind, and he’s going to take his time and consider what he wants to do, he’s still healthy but he’s got to figure out whether he’s committed to off-season training and for him it’s about finding the motivation to take part in off-season training and prepare for another year. It’s a little bit harder as you get older because you have to train harder to stay at the level you want to be at and he has to train harder to be at the level he wants to be at.
By most teams’ standards, the changes the Red Wings are likely to undergo in terms of personnel are pretty much a yearly event. Losing Brian Rafalski to retirement, possibly facing the departure of Jonathan Ericsson via free agency, saying goodbye to Brad McCrimmon and probably Paul MacLean behind the bench, and turning the page on Mike Modano (who may continue playing elsewhere), Ruslan Salei, and possibly Chris Osgood and Kris Draper, all while waiting on Nicklas Lidstrom’s decision…
Well, okay, these changes are pretty darn significant by any standard, but given Detroit’s belief that roster continuity and folding in young players slowly but surely to stay cap compliant and reload instead of rebuilding, having to replace one or two (hopefully not three) significant players on the foundation of the team, the blueline, swapping out one or two assistant coaches and possibly saying goodbye to two players who’ve won three and four Stanley Cups in Detroit, respectively, in Osgood and Kris Draper…
If you weren’t already aware of the KHL’s status as a de-facto political entity—its president, SKA St. Petersburg GM Alexander Medvedev, happens to be the deputy chairman of the board of Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas provider, and Gazprom Export, the KHL’s biggest sponsor, is controlled by the Russian government. Add into the fact that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, is from St. Petersburg and brought many of his pals from the St. Petersburg KGB along to Moscow, including former chairman of Gapzrom’s board and current president Dmitry Medvedev, and that Putin happens to be a big hockey fan, and sprinkle in the fact that the old Soviet sport bureau chiefs still play a big role in the Russian oligarchs’ big boys’ toys that are KHL franchises, and you’ve got a political entity that happens to exist as a sports league.
If that’s too convoluted for you, per Sports.ru’s Artem Zyryanov, Putin spoke to his official blog, “Epicenter,” about the KHL, stating that the league was his creation, and was and is designed to be a counterweight to and direct competitor of the NHL. What follows is a rough translation of four points from a 20-questions style interview:
I don’t know what to think about this, per the Free Press’s Helene St. James: former Red Wings forward Mike Modano is still leaning toward retiring, but he’s a little more insistent than he was a month ago about wishing to continue playing:
“I don’t think I’ve completely shut the door on that,” he said Wednesday. “I’ll think about it the first two weeks of July, see if anybody calls. If not, then I’ll say that’s it. But it depends where and with whom—what the opportunity is.”
Modano, who turned 41 on Tuesday, spent the past season with the Red Wings. The Wings wooed him last summer, seeing him as an especially valuable player come playoff time, but that picture dimmed when Westland’s Modano suffered a lacerated right wrist in late November. By the time he recovered from surgery and returned it was late February, and he struggled to make an impact. He was a healthy scratch during a home game against Minnesota—leaving him one game short of 1,500 by the end of the regular season—and then he was a healthy scratch most of the playoffs.
After the playoffs, Modano said his initial thoughts “were just to get away from the game, be done with it.” But now that he has had time to put things in perspective, “you think about how you want one more shot at it, one more chance, how you want to go through that experience again. It would be fulfilling.”
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.