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The Malik Report

‘Two Things’: On Zetterberg’s TSN Play of the Year showdown and Chris Chelios-themed beer

This entry is more than a litte offbeat, so:

1. You might want to vote for Henrik Zetterberg in TSN's "Play of the Year Showdown," where he's in tough against Carey Price...

2. And the Globe and Mail's Beppi Crosariol reports that the NHL Alumni Association has collaborated with Chris Chelios on a "pale ale" that is only available in Canada:

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Griffins coach Jeff Blashill continues to toe the ‘no comment’ line

Updated at 1:52 PM: Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill either met Ken Holland yesterday or will speak with Holland today regarding the Wings' vacant coaching job, but he insists to the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner that a "no comment" line is best for himself and the Griffins as they remain locked in a Western Conference Final battle with the Utica Comets:

Blashill, who has the Griffins in the Western Conference finals against Utica, was to meet with general manager Ken Holland either Tuesday or Wednesday, according to sources. But even if he is targeted as the next coach – and all signs point that way - no formal announcement is expected until after the Calder Cup Playoffs, or mid-June.

"I owe it to our players to make sure my sole focus is on trying to win this series," Blashill said after practice Wednesday, adding that he will not comment on it further during the series.

The third-year coach said it is not difficult to separate between his job interest and the playoff pursuit.

"No, it's not difficult for me and that's why I choose not to comment right now because it's real easy for me to focus on the task at hand," he said.

Wallner continues, and the Griffins play home games against Utica on Thursday and Friday at 7 PM and Sunday at 5 PM.

Update: Wallner also posited a set of Griffins notes:

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Prospect playoff news: Walleye force Game 7 against South Carolina via OT win; Kelowna eliminated

Red Wings fans might not know too much about the Toledo Walleye or the Wings now-singularly-affiliated NHL team, but coach Derek Lalonde and his charges are pulling off quite the playoff feat.

The Walleye fell into a 3-game deficit against the South Carolina Stingrays in their Eastern Conference Final, but they've rattled off 3 straight wins since going down 0-and-3; on Tuesday, the Walleye rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat South Carolina 5-4 in overtime, and as such, the teams will play a 7th and deciding game in Toledo on Wednesday.

Going from the ECHL's worst team a year ago to a team that's a win away from advancing to the Kelly Cup Final is a story in itself; rallying as they have against South Carolina is another damn good one.

Martin Frk didn't register a point and Richard Nedomlel finished at -2, but the Walleye prevailed, as their website's recap notes:

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St. James: Holland still to speak with Blashill this week, may be Wings’ only coaching candidate

According to the Free Press's Helene St. James, Ken Holland will indeed speak with Jeff Blashill this week regarding the open coaching job behind the Red Wings' bench, and Holland isn't sure whether he needs to interview anyone else:

Blashill is the leading - and, at the moment, only - candidate to replace Mike Babcock, who left last week to become head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I've had some people reach out to me," Holland told the Free Press today, "but as of right now, I haven't expanded the list."

Other names on the market include Dan Bylsma (who is from Grand Haven) and Peter DeBoer (who used to coach the Plymouth Whalers), but Blashill was given a hefty raise last year with the implicit understanding that he would be next in line if Babcock, as he did, opted to leave this summer.

Holland said he wants to talk to Blashill about the Detroit job, but no formal hiring announcement will be made while the Griffins remain in the playoffs. The Griffins play three straight home games before the series would head back to Utica if needed.

Continued, and I can't think of a better-qualified candidate to coach the Wings' kids and veterans alike than the guy Holland will speak with.

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Mike Babcock Is Gone But Ken Holland Is Still Here

from Keith Gave of FoxSports Detroit,

Now imagine if General Manager Ken Holland were a free agent this offseason. It could have happened.

"And it might have been even bigger than what we saw this last week," said Senior Vice President Jim Devellano. "I think it would have been if Ken Holland had refused to sign (an extension) last summer."

Babcock hit the jackpot when several teams had coaching vacancies, including the richest of them all, Toronto. He eventually parlayed a magnificent offer from the Buffalo Sabres into an eight-year, $50 million deal with the Maple Leafs. Those same Leafs, by the way, are still shopping for a general manager. Boston, New Jersey, Edmonton also named new managers, while others offered the ever-worrisome vote of confidence to their GMs.

But it never came to that because Holland, who had one year left on his deal with Detroit, signed a new four-year deal last summer. Negotiations with a man universally acknowledged as the best general manager in the NHL lasted 10 minutes, Devellano said.

Holland wasn't even tempted to test the free-agent market after more than three decades with the Wings. Ask him why and he pauses, not wanting to offend his interrogator for asking such a stupid question.

read on

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Dylan Larkin discusses his pro debut on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM

On the heels of his successful pro debut, Dylan Larkin joined Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Matt Dery on Monday, discussing his comfort level with AHL hockey, his decision to turn pro and Ken Holland's advice for him, his peers on the Griffins and more during a ten-minute interview:

If you missed it, Larkin scored 2 goals in the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-2 win over the Utica Comets last night:

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Free Press’s Seidel: young coach, developmental league, older players no conflict for Jeff Blashill

The Free Press's Jeff Seidel asked Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill an intriguing question--and a slightly obtuse one given that Blashill spent a year as an assistant coach in Detroit--but it's worth asking (via RedWingsFeed):

Blashill is just 41 years old, which would create an interesting dynamic considering that Pavel Datsyuk is 36 and Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall both are 34. So I flat out asked him: "How do you think you will handle older players?"

He paused, sitting in his office at Van Andel Arena.

"I don't like talking about stuff that is hypothetical," he said. "But the one thing I would say is, the best thing about the Red Wings' job is you have what I would call three of the best winners in hockey, in your captains there, in Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall. There are three of the best winners, not just hockey players, winners."

Four years ago, Blashill saw them in action when he spent a season as an assistant under Mike Babcock.

"I got to see that firsthand, how hard they work every day, how they lead every day, their attention to detail, their calmness in pressure situations," Blashill said. "I think, when you have guys that are of that quality character and that great of leaders, to be honest with you, those guys are easy to coach. It's no different from here."

Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans aren't spring chickens, but they've been the Griffins' leadership group under Blashill, and the coach seems to deal with them quite well.

Seidel continues, discussing Blashill's relative youth and his work with Brian Lashoff, who insists that the "nicer guy" coach is no pushover:

"When he has something to say, he doesn't hold back," Lashoff said. "You know where you stand with him. I think that's a big thing with players."

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On losing as building a foundation for playoff success

ESPN's Craig Custance penned an intriguing Insider-only entry discussing how teams learn from playoff losses, speaking with Ken Hitchcock about the way that the Wings bounced back from the famous Langenbrunner-on-Osgood-from-center-ice goal in 1998 and Ryan Getzlaf about the Ducks' learning curve...

Detroit, a team that looked tired in the overtime loss, shut out the Stars 2-0 in Game 6. Osgood, after letting in that memorable goal, was perfect. Dallas’ season was over. The Red Wings went on to win another championship.

“I’d never seen a team play with that type of ferociousness in their competition, in their game – shift-by-shift, man-by-man,” Hitchcock said when we chatted on Monday. “That game in 1998 set us up for three years. We thought we were at a level, there was a whole other level out there that no one had experienced other than a few guys who had played for Montreal. We had never seen it before.”

And the article includes quite the quote from Kirk Maltby:

[It] can’t just be some of the players -- it has to be all of the players competing with that sense of detail in every moment.

“How many times have you seen in the playoffs where guys that try to get out of the way of the puck in a regular season game are blocking a puck in the playoffs?” said former Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby, winner of four Stanley Cups. “They’re taking a hit, making a hit. It’s just like making an Olympic team -- you might be a 50-goal scorer on your team but you take a different role on a national team. It’s about adjustments and learning and buying in to achieve.”

This sounds campy, but the Red Wings' "next generation" players have received over the last two years have learned a ton about the kinds of efforts they need to bring to the table through the Wings' losses to Boston and Tampa Bay, and as much as it's stank watching Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan, DeKeyser and now Mrazek come up short against their opponents, this past year's first round in particular was chock full of learning about the levels at which everyone has to play, produce and "buy in" to stepping up to win four games out of seven each round.

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‘Three things’: about a film screening, chips for charity and Gustavsson

Of brief Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

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Prospect playoff news: Larkin’s goal-scoring, McCollum’s goaltending deliver in Griffins win

Sometimes box scores paint wildly inaccurate pictures of hockey games, but in the case of the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-2, Western Conference Final-tying win over Utica, the box score actually does a fine job of telling the game's story.

The Griffins got two late-1st-period goals from Dylan Larkin, they earned a pair of power-play markers in a 2nd period where they were playing rope-a-dope hockey, and in the 3rd period, they held on for dear life. Grand Rapids was out-shot 26-8 over the last 40 minutes of play, and they surrendered a pair of 3rd-period goals as a result, but Grand Rapids held on for the 4-2 victory.

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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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