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St. James: Red Wings’ message to players is all about self-improvement

Regardless of what moves the Wings make or do not make this offseason, the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Red Wings GM Ken Holland made a very simple statement to each and every one of the players he's engaged in exit meetings with thus far, making sure to let them know that the majority of the Wings' growth in terms of on-ice performance is expected to come from the preparation the Wings' players work upon off the ice this summer:

"Come to camp and push," Holland told the Free Press. "We need you to be in the gym. The message is we need our older players to maintain where they are at, and we need the push of the young people, not only on our team, but those in Grand Rapids. The core of our team still has good hockey left in them, but in order for us to be better, the players in their young 20s have to take another step."


"My message to our players is, we had a good year, we got 100 points, but we've got to get better. We were up 3-2 against Tampa Bay. We were close, but close only counts in horseshoes. We need to improve as a team, and the way we're going to improve is with our young guys getting better. We need them to have the best offseason of their careers, come to camp ready to push for minutes, and take another step forward. Then we'll start to look at trades and free agency, but it starts with our own players."

St. James continues, and clarifies Teemu Pulkkinen's future...

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Ken Holland On Dylan Larkin

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

"I've told Dylan we have no role in his decision," Holland said. "I think whatever decision he makes is a great decision. Going back to Michigan for another year, playing with your age group is a positive. If he turns pro, no doubt he can play at the AHL level.

"Can he play at the NHL level? You don't know that until he gets to camp. He's still pretty young. The Detroit Red Wings will support his decision."

Many of the Red Wings' collegiate players stayed in school for three years (Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Danny DeKeyser and Jimmy Howard); undrafted Luke Glendening stayed four years.

"It's competition (in training camp); if you don't win that competition you go to Grand Rapids," Holland said. "I don't believe in guaranteeing roster spots. My philosophy in player development is you got to compete for a roster spot.

"We're not swaying him one way or the other. I like players to be mature and have had a lot of experiences before they hit the NHL because the NHL is a tough league."...

Holland said nothing should be read into Babcock's decision to go to the event; it doesn't necessarily mean he's leaning toward returning to the Red Wings. Babcock is under contract until June 30 and has attended this tournament in the past.

more on Larkin...

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Dreger changes his tune on Babcock

TSN's Darren Dreger made a surprising comment on TSN 1050's "Drive" yesterday: while discussing the latest coaching scuttlebutt (Toronto has contacted Guy Boucher and Edmonton's spoken with Todd McLellan), Dreger suggested that it would be very, very strange for Mike Babcock to be attending the World Championships with Ken Holland, as an employee of the Detroit Red Wings, if he wasn't staying in Detroit, and as such, Dreger suggested for the first time that Babcock might be staying in Detroit.

I still believe that Babcock wasn't kidding when he said that he's not sure what he's doing, and as he stated to that scrum I was involved in on Sunday, he is in fact scouting the Griffins and will be watching Dylan Larkin and Team USA because, "It's my job," and is his job until July 1st, but it's at least somewhat interesting to hear an "expert" change their tune ever-so-slightly.

Update: FYI:

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Team USA lays an egg vs. Belarus

Dylan Larkin and Team USA experienced quite the setback on Thursday, losing 5-2 to Belarus. Larkin finished at -2 with no shots in 14:39 of ice time.

Update: Here's a highlight cilp from the IIHF. Dylan Larkin's backchecking on the 5-2 goal left something to be desired:

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Gave: Don’t expect a blockbuster free agent signing this summer

Yesterday, Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave discussed the Wings' likely revisiting of the Dion Phaneuf trade's discussions, and today, he discusses the Wings' free agent plans--or the lack thereof after possibly going after Mike Green:

[L]ast year, when the Wings were intent on upgrading after being manhandled by Boston in the first round of the playoffs, was particularly distressing when players they targeted chose to play for other teams.

"We weren't able to make a deal," Wings senior vice president Jim Devellano said. "It happened, and it was surprising. I remember sitting there with Mike Babcock and saying, 'holy (expletive)!' We were worried about making the playoffs this year. We really were."

In the absence of signing free agents, more youngsters were pressed into more prime-time roles. The result: The Wings went more than three-quarters of their season before losing consecutive games in regulation. They finished with 100 points and made the playoffs for the 24th straight year.

So what do they do now? Not a lot, except for hoping their youngsters continue to develop. They don't have any gaping holes on their roster, and they certainly won't rely on a thin free-agent market that likely will result in a few players being vastly overpaid.

They'll shop, of course. But they may not buy.


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Griffins coach Jeff Blashill delivers superb interview on WDFN’s Matt Sheppard show

Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill spoke with WDFN's Matt Sheppard this morning, speaking for nearly 11 minutes and discussing the AHL playoffs (the Griffins defeated Rockford 5-3 last night), the play of Kevin Porter and Andy Miele, his lack of concern about Mike Babcock's situation as it affects his future employment (Blashill is a consummate "in the moment" person), the quartet of Nick Jensen, Ryan Sproul, Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet, the Red Wings' "needs" as the Griffins may fulfill them (including Landon Ferraro and Petr Mrazek) and the development of Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Nosek and Anthony Mantha.

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Prospect news: Griffins win series-opener vs. IceHogs; Pulkkinen, ‘A.A.’ still learning

The Grand Rapids Griffins had a most interesting evening at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday, building a 3-1 lead against the Rockford IceHogs, surrendering said lead, and pulling away to win thanks to a Teemu Pulkkinen goal scored with 2:46 left in regulation--Pulkkinen's 3rd goal of the night--and as a result, the Griffins took the teams' second-round playoff opener by an eventual 5-3 score.

The Griffins' website posited a recap...

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Tatar registers assist but in-tumult Slovaks lose to Norway

I hate to make an entry out of this because it's so "thin," but this is really a "spit take" and then some:

Toma Tatar registered an assist, took 4 shots and played 15:51 (and Tomas Jurco took 1 shot in 13:04) in Slovakia's 3-2 loss to frickin Norway at the World Championships on Wednesday, and Slovakia built a 2-0 lead before Norway rallied.

But the Slovaks--whose coach, Vladimir Vujtek, decided to take the captain's "C" off Tomas Kopecky's sweater, bench Kopecky, and give the "C" to Marian Gaborik--were unable to close the scoring gulf, and a late 5-minute penalty to Andrej Meszaros for butt-ending stifled the Slovaks' attempts to rally.

Update: Here's a highlight clip from the IIHF:

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Griffins add Turgeon via Amateur Try-Out

Dominic Turgeon's Portland Winterhawks were eliminated from the WHL's Western Conference semifinal on Sunday, and as such, Turgeon's joined the Griffins on an amateur try-out:

The Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday signed center Dominic Turgeon to an amateur tryout.

Detroit’s third-round draft pick (63rd overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Turgeon picked up 43 points (18-25—43), 36 penalty minutes and a plus-14 rating in 67 regular season games with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks this season. In nine playoff games with Portland, the Pointe-Claire, Quebec, native potted eight goals and one assist in 17 games, before his team was knocked out by the Kelowna Rockets in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. In all, Turgeon owns 82 points (31-51—82), 69 PIM and a plus-30 rating in 187 career games with Portland.

The AHL Western Conference Semifinal series between the Griffins and Rockford IceHogs will kick off at Van Andel Arena with Game 1 tonight and Game 2 on Friday. Both games will begin at 7 p.m.

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Gave: Expect Wings to aggressively pursue acquiring Phaneuf this summer

Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave insists that the Red Wings will attempt to acquire Dion Phaneuf once again this summer, likely hoping to swap out Stephen Weiss, a Brendan Smith-type defenseman and a "lesser prospect" to bring the 30-year-old to Detroit:

How close were the Wings to this deal in March? Dave Nonis, since relieved of his duties as Toronto's GM, said he could have made the deal for Phaneuf at the deadline. And the Wings know they were probably Toronto's only dance partner on this deal.

That Nonis is gone now doesn't mean the Wings would have to start at ground zero in talks with a new, yet-to-be-hired GM. This is one of those deals that went above his pay grade, involving Leafs President Brendan Shanahan, the former Wings star who remains steadfast in his desire to find a new home for his captain. Shanahan can make this deal in the absence of a GM.

One potential sticking point: Phaneuf has a no-trade clause in his contract. But a league source said Phaneuf would agree to a deal involving Detroit. "He wants to get out of that nut house in Toronto," the source said.

Whether Phaneuf would be a good fit in Detroit is another matter open for debate. One of the strengths of the organization has been the chemistry in the dressing room, thanks in large part to the outstanding leadership trio of Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk, which coach Mike Babcock describes as "the best I've ever been around."


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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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