The Malik Report
Just when you thought there couldn't be enough Mike Babcock news, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun provides us with even more from Prague:
Babcock, via text message Sunday after landing in Detroit, reiterated his desire to decide his future by Wednesday. Other than that, Babcock declined to get into any other details.
What we do know via other sources at this point is that he spoke with the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs before heading over to Prague and is scheduled to chat with the San Jose Sharks over the next few days.
Ansar Khan of MLive.com also reported Sunday that the St. Louis Blues had asked permission to talk to Babcock and that perhaps that conversation had already taken place in Prague. Which is interesting given that the Blues still haven’t made any announcement regarding current coach Ken Hitchcock.
Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Matt Dery spoke with Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman regarding Mike Babcock's future in a particularly intriguing interview--in which Friedman suggested that it might be the Wings who provide Babcock the best chance of winning on a consistent basis...
And Dery gave his take on the situation, too--for 22 minutes:
The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill about his status, and Blashill was his typically down-to-earth self in discussing his present and future:
"My ultimate goal is to be head coach in the NHL someday," he said. "But the most important thing is that what you are doing currently, you do the best you can. Opportunities come as they come."
In other words, Blashill, 41, is keeping his focus on the Griffins, who have advanced to the Western Conference finals. Two years ago, Blashill finished his rookie season with the Griffins with a Calder Cup championship. Many of the players who were on that team -- Petr Mrazek, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Landon Ferraro, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening and Danny DeKeyser -- are now in Detroit. Next season, Teemu Pulkkinen will join the list.
That title played into the contract Blashill got last year, when he signed a three-year deal. The Wings had underlying motive, too -- it was a way of tying Blashill to the Wings in case Babcock leaves.
"I know that I work for an organization that values me, and the contract last year was proof of that," Blashill said. "In reverse, I value working for them. I know how lucky I am to work for organization with the long-term success they've had. I've been fortunate to coach a group of real good prospects. It's been a great experience, and I will continue to enjoy it here."
Update: MLive's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Blashill regarding the Griffins' next task at hand:
Two interviews worth listening to popped up on Monday morning, via TSN 1050:
First, Darren Dreger appeared on the Mike Richards in the Morning show, calling in from Prague to discuss Mike Babcock's situation in light of the interview Dreger conducted on Friday...
And ESPN's Craig Custance appeared on the Macko and Cauz show after the Flyers announced the hiring of Dave Hakstol, discussing Babcock's situation in light of said move:
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeff Gordon offers a Blues-based take on Mike Babcock's situation:
[P]aying Babcock big money would take some doing in St. Louis, where the Blues lose millions when the team spends to the NHL salary cap. And the Blues would have to keep spending to the cap to have any shot at Babcock.
On the other hand, the Blues offer the best plug-and-play opportunity to win right away. Babcock and Armstrong have worked together before, so there would be a mutual comfort level.
The Maple Leafs and Sabres will take some time to build up. The Sharks have an older nucleus of players who can block trades -- and an owner, Hasson Plattner, who appears eager to contain costs.
Edmonton seemed like a possible fit, but the Oilers targeted former Sharks coach Todd McLellan instead. Philadelphia seemed like a possible destination, but Flyers GM Ron Hextall opted to hire North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol instead.
He has indicated that money isn't as important as the opportunity to win. Word is his wife Maureen is very happy in Michigan. The Red Wings do have lots of good young players graduating into bigger roles.
On the other hand, perhaps Babcock sees Blashill as the logical choice to continue the Red Wings transition. So if Armstrong could give Babcock significant power on personnel matters in a reconfigured hockey operation ....
As noted earlier, the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Rockford IceHogs 5-3 on Sunday, and in doing so, they won the teams' second-round series in 5 games, advancing to the AHL's Western Conference Final as a result.
The Free Press's Drew Sharp hasn't been paying attention to the whole, "Blues and Sharks are also interested" news, but in discussing Mike Babcock's courtship with the Sabres and Maple Leafs, he may speak for those of you who watched or read about Babcock and Ken Holland's interview on TSN this past Friday, wondering why exactly Babcock has chosen to "play the field" when the field has turned out to be such a limited market for the services of--to take Sharp's tone--the supposedly hottest coach on the planet:
If there truly wasn't a better job than what he has, what is the point in dangling your gold medals out there to see what you can attract unless this coach fishing expedition was nothing more than an exercise in personal vanity? If there was absolute confidence that the Wings' next transformative star (à la Pavel Datsyuk) already was in the organization and perhaps a year or two away from blossoming, then wouldn't Babcock have agreed to the second generous contract extension in six months Holland offered in January if this were truly "the better job"?
It's believed that only Toronto and Buffalo submitted the necessary compensation paperwork to the league. The Wings demanded a third-round pick within the next three years for any team that signs Babcock. The Wings remain a better option than the Leafs and Sabres, but that doesn't mean they're any closer to seriously contending for a Stanley Cup in the immediate future.
And wasn't that Babcock's self-imposed bottom line in this process?
It's still stunning that Pittsburgh showed no interest in Babcock, considering Sidney Crosby's vast organizational influence and that the Penguins have the impactful stars Babcock seeks in Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who are under 30. Boston apparently balked as well after missing the playoffs.
And then Montreal didn't hesitate endorsing head coach Michel Therrien's return soon after Tampa Bay eliminated the Habs in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The hottest-looking girls weren't interested.
Sharp continues, and the situation's changed, of course, but St. Louis still has a head coach and has become something of a perennial playoff underachiever, while San Jose's deeper into a "rebuild" than the Wings wish to venture, so Sharp does have a point, even if it's a misplaced one.
Update: And you can take this tidbit from CSN California's Kevin Kurz, regarding the Sharks' pursuit of Babcock, for what you will:
According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Sharks are “scheduled to speak” with Babcock at some point this week, and the expectation is that Babcock “wants to decide his future by Wednesday.”
A source informed CSNCalifornia.com that Babcock, 52, initiated the upcoming discussions with the Sharks, and the Sharks were obviously receptive to the offer.
At this point, it *appears* that Babcock's just shopping around to shop around, but who knows?
The Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Rockford IceHogs 5-3 on Sunday afternoon/evening, advancing to the AHL's Western Conference Final in 5 games.
The Griffins will play the winner of the Utica Comets (VAN)-Oklahoma City Barons (EDM) series (Utica up 3-2 with Game 6 tomorrow), and Grand Rapids has advanced to the Western Conference Final for the second time in 3 seasons.
They defeated Rockford in goals by Teemu Pulkkinen, Andy Miele, Marek Tvrdon, Tyler Bertuzzi and Jeff Hoggan, and Miele had 2 assists as well, and Tom McCollum stopped 23 shots, facing 17 in the 3rd period, when Rockford repeatedly pulled their goalie and "made it interesting."
Here are .gifs of the Griffins' goals (goals 1-4, anyway; Hoggan scored into an empty net):
The Grand Rapids Griffins take on the Rockford IceHogs at 5 PM EDT today, and the Griffins can eliminate the IceHogs if they win this afternoon as they possess a 3-games-to-1 series lead; if the Griffins don't win, it's back to Van Andel Arena for Games 6 (on Tuesday) and possibly Game 7 (on Wednesday).
Here's an open thread to suit your commenting needs or the lack thereof.
Update at 7:56 PM:
Updated 3x at 5:45 PM: You may take this for what you will:
Update: Here's Gave in article form ([edit: and Gave claims that the Wings won't necessarily match other teams' monetary offers, either /end edit]):
San Jose and St. Louis have joined Buffalo and Toronto in asking permission to speak with Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who has said he expects to have a decision about his future by Wednesday.
Babcock planned to return after today's gold medal game between Canada and Russia in the World Hockey Championships in Prague. An NHL source said he believes Babcock will meet with San Jose General Manager Doug Wilson on his return, probably on Monday. Babcock previously met with Toronto and Buffalo, and it's likely he met with St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong, who also attended the Worlds in the Czech Republic.
Neither Philadelphia nor Edmonton -- both widely speculated to be among the contenders for Babcock's services -- have sought permission from the Wings, the source said.
Detroit has asked for a third-round draft pick in the next three years from any club that signs Babcock away from Detroit.
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