The Malik Report
In the "short strokes" department:
1. I'm no fan of Europe's endless preseason "tournaments" throughout the months of August and early September. Place bragging rights and trophies on the line, no matter how inconsequential, and things get ugly. That was certainly true at the Under-20 Four Nations Cup, where DRW Prospects reported and then I tracked down the "paper trail" to confirm that Julius Vahatalo took a shot to the head vs. Russia and suffered a concussion, placing his availability for the start of TPS Turku's Finnish Liiga season-opener on September 12th in doubt.
Today, the "Champions' League" preseason tournament was underway, and Wings prospect and Skelleftea AIK forward Axel Holmstrom registered an assist in Skelleftea's first goal en route to a 4-0 win over the Krefield Penguine, but then this happened (per Championshockeyleague.net):
By now you and I are more than a little bit familiar with the "Mike Babcock contract" narrative, and there's not much that can be said that we haven't heard before. This morning, however, the Detroit Free Press's George Sipple snagged a surprising admission from Babcock regarding the snowball effect that his end-of-season comments (i.e. his willingness to go "year to year," etc.) had upon the hockey rumor mill machine:
Babcock said he was caught off guard by questions about his future and shouldn’t have been.
“Probably I fueled it a little bit when I shouldn’t have said anything at all,” Babcock said. “I’m going into my 10th year this year. Our record speaks for itself. I’m real proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m about getting better as a coach, and ideally that’s all going to get looked after.”
But given his accomplishments, why wouldn’t he play it out and see what else is available?
“Kenny Holland’s a good man and the Ilitches are good people and they’ve looked after us,” Babcock said.
Babcock continues, telling Sipple that he's not pulling up stakes, but as you know, the, "Toronna Toronna Pittsburgh Toronna!" crap (you're welcome @helmmeroids) won't stop until and unless he signs a contract extension prior to the start of the regular season, and it certainly seems like the out-of-towners will do their best to make his contract status a distraction.
Speaking of rumors...
Detroit-The “launch” of a 45 block, $650 million development plan for the northern edge of downtown will begin Thursday, Sept. 25, according to mysterious invite sent out Friday.
The email invitation was sent out by Olympia Development of Michigan, the driver behind the massive project, and not much detail is provided about what is expected to happen on Sept. 25.
“Imagine a place...” says the one-paragraph invite with an image of a well-dressed man looking upward.
This month is the expected target date for construction to begin for the long-awaited development that will create a new home area for the Detroit Red Wings. The arena would be among the five “new neighborhoods” with hundreds of new apartments, offices and other mixed-use retail that could open by summer 2017, according to the billionaire family that controls much of the land.
Updated 6x at 4:14 PM: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reports that the Red Wings' "Captain's Practice" participants continue to grow this morning...
The #RedWings are on the ice here at Joe Louis Arena joined for the first time by Anthony Mantha and Landon Ferraro.
Danny DeKeyser's dad has attended the last two #RedWings voluntary skates at Joe Louis Arena. Says he's trying to satisfy his "hockey fix".
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff points out that these informal practices include a fair share of Southeastern Michigan and Southwestern Ontario-based guests...
Red Wings overnight report: on Babcockian rumors, Zetterberg, the Wings’ handbag policy & spun yarns
My hope is that Mike Babcock is either media-savvy enough or has hired someone to relentlessly monitor the media who's savvy enough to afford him the chuckle, because every time the man's insisted that his contract status is no big deal, the person to whom he's stated as much goes and makes a VERY BIG DEAL out of it.
And everyone outside of Detroit seems to think that it's a VERY BIG DEAL that he's not signed yet, and the media seems to believe that if Babcock doesn't sign before the regular season (after which time Babcock doesn't want to talk both contract turkey and work 16-to-18-hour days), he simply must explore the "free agent marketplace" because that's what makes sense.
After the local scribes spoke with Babcock on Wednesday, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun penned a column about the "unrestricted free agent-to-be" on both ESPN and TSN; then LeBrun appeared on both TSN 1090 in Toronto and appeared on TSN's That's Hockey 2Nite, stating in both instances that it's his sense that Babcock "doesn't know what he's really going to do," despite that this is what Babcock told LeBrun:
Updated 2x at 5:25 PM: from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
"That part of the back is healed," Zetterberg said Thursday, after an informal practice with several teammates at Joe Louis Arena. "I feel good. I can do everything on the ice and in the weight room. I had a really good summer, workout-wise, so I look forward to seeing what results that will give me.
"It's nice to come in and feel good and not think about (his back) and just go out and play hockey."
He is confident he won't have any more issues with that disc....
"I think they took away all of the loose pieces that they could in that area, so that's healed," Zetterberg said. "I have no issues with it now so it shouldn't be a problem."
more from Zetterberg...
Update: Zetterberg also discussed his excitement about being healthy again ina conversation with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
Take these Tweets from the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons for what you will:
Updated 3x with LeBrun audio at 2:31 PM: The Red Wings' coach was quite emphatic about his desire to remain in Detroit yesterday, but the Sports Talk Radio and "Insider" types seem to believe that no one could possibly find themselves in Babcock's position--as a coach with a Stanley Cup and two Olympic gold medals to his credit--and not test the market as an "unrestricted free agent."
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun (via RedWingsFeed) certainly suggests as much, despite discussing Babcock's no-contract-talk-during-the-season status with Wings GM Ken Holland...
"At the end of the day, that makes the most sense," Holland told ESPN.com Thursday morning. "Our team doesn’t need an everyday Mike Babcock watch all year long. We are going to talk in September and we’ll see where we go."
Updated 7x at 5:51 PM: The Red Wings Captain's Practice is underway at Joe Louis Arena, and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan reports that its participants have changed ever-so-slightly from yesterday's crop:
Same group essentially skating today...plus Tatar.
And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reports that there's another defenseman skating with the team as well:
Two more familiar faces - Tomas Tatar and Brian Lashoff - have joined the #RedWings at today's captain's skate at Joe Louis Arena.
And yes, we're a week and a day away from the start of the Wings' prospect tournament in Traverse City:
This morning's articles from both the MSM and blogs focus upon yesterday's practice topics of note (for the most part): MLive's Ansar Khan dicusses Wings coach Mike Babcock's plan to play Darren Helm on Pavel Datsyuk's wing...
From the Red Wings:
HENRIK ZETTERBERG CONTINUES EFFORTS TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE DETROIT FIRE DEPARTMENT
… Autographed Photos of Red Wings Captain Available for Purchase at Hockeytown Authentics with Proceeds Directly Benefiting the Detroit Public Safety Foundation …
DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg announced today his continued effort to raise funds for the Detroit Fire Department by collecting donations in exchange for autographed photos with proceeds directly benefiting the Detroit Public Safety Foundation.
The first 100 fans to visit Hockeytown Authentics in Troy, Mich., (1845 E. Big Beaver Rd.) and make a $50 donation via cash or check to the Detroit Red Wings Foundation will receive a limited-edition autographed 8” x 10” photo of the Red Wings captain. All funds up to $5,000 will be matched by the Zetterberg Foundation and will be donated directly to the Detroit Public Safety Foundation to help buy much-needed equipment for Detroit firefighters. A combined donation of $10,000 would enable the Detroit Public Safety Foundation to purchase 142 Motorola Impress Batteries for the Detroit Fire Department’s prep radios.
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.