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Griffins posit Grand Rapids-Utica series preview; Blashill discusses Larkin with St. James

The Grand Rapids Griffins begin their Western Conference Final series against the Utica Comets tomorrow at 7 PM (WOOD Radio, AHL Live), and the Griffins' YouTube channel posted a series preview...

And as Dylan Larkin will be making his pro debut with the Griffins on Sunday, the Free Press's

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Prospect playoff news: Walleye stay alive vs. South Carolina; Rockets open Memorial Cup with loss

The Toledo Walleye are a hard team to figure out this spring. They've won two straight games after falling into a 3-0 hole against the South Carolina Stingrays, and now the Walleye are down 3 games to 2 thanks to a 5-4 win on Friday night...

But the Walleye nearly surrendered a 4-1 lead on Friday, and the game after scoring a hat trick, Martin Frk was held off the scoresheet.

The Walleye's website posted a game recap:

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Evening news: Does Babcock’s departure spell tougher times ahead?

If you missed any of the updates to the Babcock farewell presser post, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff adds a few more quotes to the mix...

“Don’t get me wrong - I love it here, but I also think it was time for me,” Babcock acknowledged. “No matter how much I talked to (Detroit general manager) Kenny (Holland) and we went back and forth and he was great, I wanted a different challenge. I went through a long process. I made a decision that was best, I felt, for Mike Babcock and his family. I’m going to a different place with a new opportunity where I’m very, very excited to go.”

It wasn’t an easy decision for him to make, but in the end, it was the appropriate call.

“I went back and forth on it 100 times,” Babcock admitted. “I probably wore Kenny out being a pain in the butt and I know I wore my family out. It was gut wrenching. As much of it is emotional for me right now talking to you, I said it yesterday it was like I was 25. I was jacked up, scared to death. We’ll see. Only time will tell. I believe you put your foot on the gas and go get it and that’s what we’re going to do.”

And it's from this set of quips that we delve into two columns (and an interview) which concern themselves with the concern--for lack of a better term--that Babcock's departure strikes something of a death-knell for the Red Wings' playoff streak, if not an indication that this team can't go any higher than the 1st round regardless of who's coaching it.

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Wallner: Playoff bonuses yield a 12-hour bus ride for the Griffins

For once, I'm going to point you toward the Grand Rapids Griffins' press release regarding their upcoming series with the Utica Comets, which begins on Sunday and Monday in Utica, NY, and let you read about the Wings' prospects-vs-Canucks-prospects series on your own...

And I'll let the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner explain why the hell the Griffins bused to Utica, NY (a 12-hour trip) for two games prior to next Thursday, Friday and Sunday's home games:

The AHL in the postseason gives 52 percent of the gate from games to the participating players. But certain costs, including travel, come out of those expenses. Taking buses is less expensive than flying and potentially leaves more in the pot for the players.

In the Griffins case, they took two sleeper buses. They pay for one and the other they plan to submit for reimbursed by the league, according to Tim Gortsema, the Griffins senior vice present of business operations.

Two years ago the Griffins bused their first trip to Syracuse, which is about 50 miles less than Utica. When they had to return a second time for a Game Six, the Red Wings provided their team plane. It worked. The Griffins won and took home the cup.

Either way, the bus trip to Utica is the longest of the season. The closest comparison would be Des Moines, which is about 500 miles.

The Griffins had nothing planned but travel today. They will practice Saturday ahead of Sunday's series open. They play the following night as well, and then head home taking the Southern route, which is longer but avoids crossing the border and gives the players uninterrupted sleep.

Wallner continues, noting the gulf of time between the Griffins' last playoff home game and their next one, Mark Zengerle's strong playoff showing and Zach Nastasiuk's health....

And Griffins broadcaster Bob Kaser noted that the Griffins arrived in Utica with a new face in the lineup:

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Bonus Swedish: Henrik and Emma Zetterberg expecting; Hakan Andersson talks Swedish prospects

I posted links to two Swedish stories earlier today, and now I've got the time to get to them. Here's a rough translation of Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman's report that Henrik and Emma Zetterberg are going to become parents this summer:

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There goes one assistant coach…

Yesterday, TSN's Bob McKenzie told Winnipeg's TSN 1290 (8 minutes into the interview) that assistant coaches Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer were going to Toronto with Babcock, and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan confirms that Hiller's gone:

There's no compensation for assistant coaches, and Tony Granato's contract is up this summer, so I'm not sure what will happen with him.

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Short strokes on the Griffins and Baby Z

Because I'm swamped with Babcock stuff but don't want to sit on stories:

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Babcock farewell presser stories (in progress post)

Updated 15x at 5:23 PM:

Mike Babcock was emotional to the point of holding back tears during his farewell presser to the Detroit media on Friday. Some stories from the event are already popping up, so here they are, starting with WXYZ's quips and quotes...

"It gives me great pride for what we were able to accomplish in my 10 years here," said Babcock. "My decision was mine totally, it was about a new opportunity and a new challenge."

During the press conference, Babcock became emotional as he thanked the fans for their support.

"I've been here a long fricken time, they're probably getting tired of me," he joked.

Continuing with the CBC...

"It's been real special to say the least," said Babcock, who fought back tears a few times at the start of the media scrum.

Babcock thanked everyone from Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch to general manager Ken Holland, to other executives, players, coaches and staffers for their support and friendship during his tenure in Detroit.

With his contract set to expire, Babcock on Wednesday agreed to become the Leafs' head coach, and he held his introductory news conference with his new team on Thursday in Toronto.

He said it was difficult to leave Detroit, but that he's eager to begin a new stage of his career.

"My decision was about a new opportunity and a new challenge," Babcock said.

And Michigan Hockey posted a 4-minute YouTube clip from the 12-minute presser:

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To be discussed later: Hakan Andersson discusses Swedish prospects, Ehn moves to Karlskoga

In the, "I will get to this soon" category, several Wings fans have informed me that Christoffer Ehn has been transferred to Karlskoga IK of the Swedish Allsvenskan, and that Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson praised Hampus Melen in an interview with Visat Sport's Linus Hugosson. I'll get to both of these topics when I can as the Babcock stuff is taking precidence right now:

Andersson says that Axel Holmstrom needs another season in the SHL to round out his game...

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Mike Babcock farewell presser streams

Mike Babcock will appear at Joe Louis Arena this morning at 11 AM to speak with the Detroit media for one last time, and Sportsnet will air the presser live:

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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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