The Malik Report
Updated at 1:42 PM: Earlier this morning, WDFN's Matt Shepard spoke with both Red Wings GM Ken Holland and defenseman Niklas Kronwall regarding Mike Babcock's departure, Jeff Blashill's probable status as the Wings' next head coach and where the Wings go from here:
Per the Associated Press, Slava Fetisov's becoming quite the curmudgeon:
Former Detroit Red Wings star Slava Fetisov has called for Russia to reintroduce Soviet-style restrictions to prevent promising young hockey players from moving to the NHL.
Fetisov, who is now a senator in Russia, tells Russia's R-Sport news agency that federal law should be used to stop Russian players from moving to North America before they turn 28.
The aim is to keep ''our most talented guys, the ones who the people come to see.''
Fetisov was one of the first players to benefit from the relaxation of Soviet-era rules which prevented any hockey players from leaving. He moved to the NHL in 1989 with the New Jersey Devils when he was 31, and went on to win two Stanley Cups with the Red Wings.
Among this morning's stories of pre-Mike-Babcock's-11-AM-presser-which-WJBK-WDIV-WXYZ-and-other-people-will-stream-live note:
We get to call the fact that Jeff Blashill is going to be the Wings' next coach the newest, "Worst-kept sports secret in town," but Ken Holland appears insistent upon not naming him as such until the Grand Rapids Griffins--who begin their 3rd-round playoff series against the Utica Comets on Sunday--have concluded their post-season activities.
"I really want to keep our focus on this playoff series versus Utica," Blashill texted The Detroit News on Thursday evening. "I look forward to speaking with Ken next week but right now my singular focus is game one Sunday."
As noted by Grand Rapids' WZZM 13, Blashill had to say something very similar to the media after Thursday's Griffins practice:
I'm getting more than a little tired of talking about Mike Babcock, but I'm sticking this story by the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson in TMR instead of Kukla's Korner because one very specific person spoke with Matheson regarding both Toronto and Detroit's likely wishes in the Babcock-to-Toronto scenario--William Scott Bowman, a senior advisor to hockey operations with the Chicago Blackhawks:
"I wasn’t surprised Mike left Detroit,” said Bowman, a former Red Wings head coach. “The offers were high in Buffalo (and Toronto). I don’t know if Detroit wanted to go that high."
"They knew it would be tough to keep him because it had gone on for so long,” Bowman said about the fact Babcock hadn’t signed an extension last summer or in January, when one was offered. There’s the lure of Toronto and Canada; it’s the biggest market, the wealthiest team.”
The Maple Leafs don’t have anywhere near the young talent Detroit had. There’s no Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg at centre, which makes a coach’s job easier than most.
“Detroit probably expected something to happen (with Babcock) because they retained Jeff Blashill,” Bowman said about the Red Wings’ farm team coach. “I think he’ll be the leading candidate to coach there now. They didn’t want to lose him last year and said they were counting on him (replacing Babcock) if he was willing to wait.”
The Red Wings gave Blashill a healthy salary to stay another year in the American Hockey League and know another team wouldn’t get permission to talk to him about an NHL job.
“With Toronto, there’s (team president Brendan) Shanahan there. They didn’t hire a high-profile general manager and I presume they won’t. So Mike will have a say (in personnel matters), maybe a big one in who to keep and who to trade,” Bowman said. “He had a pretty good say in Detroit, too, but when you have a pretty good manager like Kenny Holland, he’s making lots of moves you don’t know about. This is tough on Buffalo … there’s good (unemployed coaches) out there, but they didn’t get the lottery (No. 1 pick) and the poor guy going in now knows he’s second choice. Not that it matters, I guess, because they’ll be back coaching. It’s not (the Sabres’) fault, but it sort of looks bad on them.”
Red Wings GM Ken Holland made the sports talk radio rounds in a big way, discussing the end of his working relationship with Mike Babcock, the process by which Babcock chose to part ways with the Wings and possibly the future, suggesting that at least Jeff Blashill is a leading candidate to be the next coach--though no final decisions, "Will be made until after the Grand Rapids Griffins' season is finished," to use his words--and he appeared on both Winnipeg's TSN 1290's Hustler and Lawless show to discuss said topics...
And Holland appeared on The Fan 590's Prime Time Sports show for about 20 minutes, just after 6 PM EDT, also discussing said topics with Bob McCown.
Below, you will also find Babcock's interview with McCown from earlier in the day. Babcock insisted that Jeff Blashill will be the Wings' next coach (for what it's worth, TSN's Bob McKenzie also reported that Wings assistant coaches Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer will be leaving for Toronto).
Take this for what you will, from Sportsnet's Jeff Marek and Mike Babcock's chat with The Fan 590's Bob McCown:
Babcock was talking about personnel who left the Wings as proof of a quality program and he mentioned Blashill, "Who's gonna be the coach."
Nicklas Lidstrom actually did this a year ago, but it makes for interesting reading, per the Free Press's Steve Schrader:
It sounds like a plot on "The Big Bang Theory."
Two really smart science-type guys decided to study whether you can apply intelligence and learn to make up for physical limitations to excel in sports.
So Swedish researchers Jan Lennartsson and Carl Lindberg went to the man who seemed to be the smartest hockey player on the planet, former Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom.
Not that Lidstrom wasn't physically talented, but he always seemed to know what was going to happen before it did.
And it turned out he agreed with their theories, that he learned how to analyze situations and put himself in the best position to succeed, often not going by the book.
Lidstrom was so much help to the research, he was listed as a co-author on the paper that backed up the research, "Game Intelligence in Team Sports," published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
Updated 6x at 6:01 PM: TSN's Aaron Ward called it:
Here's the press release:
RED WINGS AGREE TO TERMS WITH DYLAN LARKIN ON ENTRY-LEVEL CONTRACT
… Former First Round Pick Will Join Griffins for AHL’s Conference Finals …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today announced that they have agreed to terms with center Dylan Larkin on a three-year entry-level contract. In accordance with club policy, additional details will not be disclosed.
Ken Holland appeared on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Matt Dery show, discussing Mike Babcock's departure, and Holland revealed more of the timeline and the process by which he tried to keep up with the offers other teams made than he has in any previous interview. He also discussed Jeff Blashill's future, and it certainly sounds like Blashill will be #1 on Holland's list of Babcock replacements:
This is a pleasant surprise:
ATO = Amateur Try-Out. Larkin will be able to play for the Griffins despite not being on their AHL playoff roster.
Update #4: Here's St. James in text form:
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.