The Malik Report
Very cool news from the Hockey News’s Rory Boylen: Boylen’s covering Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk’s annual summer hockey camp in his hometown of Ekaterinburg, Russia this week, and if Boylen’s first missive from the camp is any indication, he’ll be providing us more than just a welcome distraction from the imminent Chris Osgood/Kris Draper-paying-future-drama-in-progress* stuff:
For the fourth year, the PD13 Hockey School will be hosted by No. 13 on the Red Wings and run by a collection of instructors with various backgrounds in the sport. You’ll meet them all in this space at some point during the week as we follow the inner-workings at the kids’ camp for players aged eight to 12 that runs Monday to Friday. We’ll also give you an inside peek at Pavel Datsyuk the person, but for now, how in the heck did this North American-designed camp sprout up so far from home?
It all started on a Detroit Red Wings plane trip a few years ago when Datsyuk approached Jay Woodcroft, then a coach with the Wings and currently an assistant with the San Jose Sharks. Datsyuk knew of a hockey camp Jay and his brother, Todd (an L.A. Kings scout), ran in Belarus and wanted to take that approach in his hometown to give something back to the community.
“He wanted to expose the kids in Ekaterinburg to a different style of coaching, to the North American style,” Jay Woodcroft said.
That North American style is all about fun and a positive attitude. It’s not something common in these circles, so it provides a unique experience for the kids. A lot of them are making repeat appearances and the glow in their faces as they arrived, recognized and ran up to greet their North American instructors tells you all you need to know about the impact this experience has had on them. It’s a reaction Datsyuk is proud to have helped create.
This morning we look at three prospects who’ve attended the Red Wings’ summer development camps who happen to find themselves at very different stages of their careers.
2011 2nd-round draft pick and Soo Greyhounds defenseman Ryan Sproul spent the better part of his first three weeks as a Wings prospect at the team’s development camp in Traverse City, and the “wow factor” hasn’t worn off yet for Sproul, who spoke to the Sault Star’s Peter Ruicci on Sunday afternoon:
After going through fitness testing in Detroit July 6, Wings hopefuls were bussed to Traverse City. There, they spent eight days working out both on and off ice. Focused on developing their prospects skills, the Wings placed an emphasis on power skating, stickhandling and rigorous practice sessions. Players scrimmaged only twice.
“Some of the little things we learned were incredible,” Sproul said. “They’ll really help me in the future.”
Former Wings defenceman Jiri Fischer, who went into cardiac arrest during a 2005 NHL game and was subsequently forced to retire from the sport, made an immediate impact on Sproul. Fischer, now 29, is the Wings director of player development.
Via RedWingsFeed on Twitter, which happens to have created a very official list (to the point that it’s Twitter-approved and has a secure “https” address) of the Detroit Red Wings’ players and prospects who take part in “Tweeting,” but Jimmy Howard is not one of them. Someone pretending to be Howard claimed to have a Twitter account this past weekend, but that person is not in fact Howard, as the Red Wings’ goalie told the Portland Press-Herald’s Rachel Lenzi:
Saturday morning, Jimmy Howard’s phone wouldn’t stop chirping. He wondered if he’d gotten traded. He wondered if something happened. But when he finally got in touch with a member of the Detroit Red Wings public relations staff, they only had one question for him: “Are you on Twitter?”
Short answer? No.
In retrospect, there were two very distinct locker rooms at the Red Wings’ summer development camp, and the ways in which they operated were somewhat unexpected. “Team Lidstrom” and “Team Zetterberg’s” players rosters intermingled in the “home” and “away” teams’ locker rooms, but the “home” team’s room, whose ranks included Brian Lashoff, Brent Raedeke, Brendan Smith and Thomas McCollum and the turning-pro Gustav Nyquist and Landon Ferraro, or, in plan-speaking terms, more “veteran” players, was the lighthearted one, where players hopped in the shower and then returned to play that ball-can’t-touch-the-ground soccer that hockey players seem to adore.
The “road” team’s locker room was comprised of more try-outs and 2011 draft picks than the other one, but it adopted a little more serious tone, despite the fact the mostly-serious Travis Ehrhardt helped run the room, mostly because gap-toothed goofball named Mitchell (or Mitch) Callahan ran the room. The Free Press’s George Sipple suggests that Callahan’s blend of a willingness to drop the gloves, an instigator’s on-ice persona and his evolution from essentially a player who fought and did little else for the Kelowna Rockets to a player who became an unconventional leader gives the next generation a singular element of on-ice sandpaper, and Callahan won’t dispute that suggestion…
With the exception of a couple of “slow days” before the NHL Awards and Nicklas Lidstrom’s announcement that he’d return for at least one more season, Red Wings fans haven’t had any sort of, “Okay, our team’s roster is set and our management’s heading to their summer homes, now we wait!” off-season. The Wings’ coaching and playing rosters have remained in flux, and that’s still the case as we head into a “slow” weekend because Wings GM Ken Holland has chosen not to announce any decisions as to Chris Osgood or Kris Draper’s futures with the organization until Monday at the earliest.
In the interim, there’s something to keep in mind, and it was something that rattled around in my brain during prospect camp but never managed to find its way out: regardless of whether you want to see Osgood and Draper continue to play or hang ‘em up, the fact that the players and Wings’ management made a mutual decision to wait until after July 1st to determine their respective courses of action is nothing less than extraordinary.
If you check out tonight’s FSD/FSD+ dual telecast of the Tigers-White Sox game, it’s entirely possible that you’ll see the Red Wings’ prospects taking in the game from Mike Ilitch’s suite at Comerica Park.
The prospect tournament has ended and, for better or worse, we’re all on Chris Osgood watch until at least Monday—and longer in Kris Draper’s case—as GM Ken Holland’s chosen to not make during-the-weekend announcements regarding his powwow with Osgood in Vernon, British Columbia or any conversations with Draper.
The Detroit Red Wings’ wrapped up their summer development camp on Thursday, and were very happy with their decision to both shift its venue to Traverse City and open it up to the public. There’s good news and bad news in that department for fans like you and me—the good news is that the Wings plan on returning to Centre Ice Arena next year at this time, so no one who wishes to see the prospects will have to scramble to find lodging on short notice. The bad news is that the early-July camp will continue to coincide with Traverse City’s Cherry Festival, so if you do want to get up here, you’re going to have to plan ahead (and here’s hoping that the Wings release the dates for their summer development camp earlier in the year next time around).
According to the Free Press’s George Sipple, Wings assistant GM Jim Nill is all but ready to officially declare that the team’s eight-day camp’s status as a de-facto road trip for new and returning prospects provided the perfect environment in which to introduce them to and reinforce the fundamentals of training and playing like Red Wings:
Hockey players remain creatures of habit from beginning to end, and over the past four years of covering the Red Wings’ summer development camp, I’ve learned to expect a scene one might find after a pick-up hockey game—aside from a little speech given to the prospects by the team’s management (which I accidentally kinda barged in on), the players just get undressed, toss their still-wet gear into their hockey bags, shower, maybe grab a snack and get the hell out of dodge. There’s no moment for reflection, there’s no reality check, it’s just “move on to the next thing.”
After eight days of incredibly difficult off-ice workouts and on-ice skill-development, skating and Red Wings-system-specific drills, the finely-tuned athletes piled on the bus back to Detroit, where they’re probably engulfed another team meal or two and have completed their exit interviews, and they’ve got a little time to kill before concluding their activities by taking in Friday’s Tigers-White Sox game from Mike Ilitch’s suite.
Then they’ll begin their summ…Well, okay, the real reason the players are just “moving onto the next thing” is pretty simple: even at the Major Junior and college levels of hockey, never mind the ECHL, AHL or European pro leagues, hockey is what it is in the NHL—a 12-months-out-of-the-year job.
Not exactly stunning news from MLive’s Ansar Khan: Red Wings GM Ken Holland hasn’t yet met with Chris Osgood in the pair’s off-season haunt, Vernon, British Columbia, and he’s going to take the weekend to listen to Osgood and then decide what the team does in terms of both its back-up goaltender’s situation—and Kris Draper’s future might take even longer to be determined:
“I anticipate early next week I’ll know what I’m going to do in goal,’’ Holland said.
The Red Wings pursued several goalies through free agency, including Tomas Vokoun, who signed with Washington, Jose Theodore (Florida) and Mike Smith (Phoenix). But all wanted starting roles and weren’t interested in backing up Jimmy Howard and playing only 20-25 games. Holland has talked with the agent for former Red Wing Ty Conklin, who remains an option. Marty Turco and Ray Emery are among the few other free-agent goalies still unsigned. Holland said he also was offered a goalie through a trade.
“I have been in contact with agents of other goalies,’’ Holland said. “They know where I’m at, but right now the goalie market is pretty settled. We have time on our hands. If some team decides to get in the mix with one of those goalies then that could accelerate the process.’‘
No point in waiting for the gravy-here are the interviews with Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill, etc.
I dropped some hints regarding some massive interviews in my mid-day report from the final day of the Red Wings’ summer prospect camp, but halfway into a much-needed afternoon nap I figured that there’s no point whatsoever in asking you to wait for the “evening report” to hear my conversations with Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill, 2011 first-round pick Tomas Jurco, Grand Rapids Griffins forwards-to-be Landon Ferraro and Mitchell Callahan and Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer:
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.