The Malik Report
Among this afternoon's "set-up" articles ahead of Game 3 of the Grand Rapids Griffins-Utica Comets series (7 PM EDT on the AHL Live/WOOD Radio/alternate means):
The AHL posted a "morning skate" entry...
Via RedWingsFeed, Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland about the fact that the Wings pushed the Tampa Bay Lightning to 7 games, which seems improbable now that the Lightning are a win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final...
"That's sports," Holland said. "We thought we had the potential to make some noise in these playoffs, but in the end, we weren't good enough. We've got to find a way to get a little better."
"Getting a little better" depends largely upon Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Luke Glendening, Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith and Petr Mrazek's continued improvement and maturation, as well as bounce-back campaigns from Henrik Zetterberg, Jonathan Ericsson, and yes, even Jimmy Howard.
The offseason -- from the moment the Wings are eliminated through the rush of free agency that begins on July 1 -- is the busiest time of the year for Holland. And this year has been busier than usual as he tried in vain to negotiate a new contract with his coach. Mike Babcock left for Toronto, so Holland is occupied this week talking with Jeff Blashill, who's preoccupied himself trying to win a third playoff series this spring and get the Grand Rapids Griffins into the Calder Cup finals for the second time in three years.
Blashill is expected to be introduced as Detroit's next coach at the end of the Griffins' season.
In a few weeks, Holland will meet with his pro scouts to discuss potential free-agent targets in July. That will be followed by meetings with amateur scouts to prepare for the NHL Entry Draft in Florida.
The period between the draft on June 26th and July 5th-8th is when teams make the vast majority of their roster moves these days, trades included, so if the Wings are to move a Stephen Weiss or Jakub Kindl, that period of time is likely to result in any trades or free agent signings.
Holland also tells Gave that he's not expecting to make a gigantic splash in free agency; this summer's class is incredibly thin, and while the Wings will probably look at Mike Green, Jeff Petry and Christian Ehrhoff on the blueline, the cap rising by only $2 million + the team having to re-sign Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen, Landon Ferraro and possibly Joakim Andersson as restricted free agents = the Wings' cap space will disappear in a hurry. [Edit: That's not to say that they won't have any money to go after a free agent, but $5-7 million in free space if Weiss and Kindl return = one target, not two /end edit].
Instead, the Wings are likely (at least for the present moment) to lean on the players engaging in a "long playoff run" with the Grand Rapids Griffins:
I'm not fond of, "Hey, he's on vacation with his girlfriend!" articles in the Slovak media, but Sport.cas.sk's Marian Korbel's article about Tomas Jurco and his girlfriend's visit to Budapest also includes some roughly-translatable information about his back issues:
The talented forward is still not training for the new season, but he is getting his injured back from the World Championships in the Czech Republic healed. "I have a problem with discs, I'm going for rehabilitation. But slowly we'll start with lighter weights," said Tomas, whose contract ends this summer. "The team still has my rights [as a restricted free agent], so I expect that within a few weeks I'll sign a new one or two-year contract, which will be a one-way deal," added Jurco.
The Red Wings have a traveling interactive exhibit in which alumni sign autographs and the Wings bring out some memorabilia and interactive activities to enjoy at sporting or other events, and today, the Wings announced its summer schedule; as a result, the date of Ted Lindsay's Hockeyfest to benefit the Ted Lindsay foundation for Autism Awareness, which will take place on July 11th:
DETROIT RED WINGS EXPERIENCE ANNOUNCES SUMMER LINEUP
... DRW Experience to be On Site at the Belle Isle Grand Prix This Weekend …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings Experience, presented by Coke Zero, today announced its summer lineup schedule, starting this weekend with the Belle Isle Grand Prix on Friday, May 29 through Sunday, May 31 in Detroit.
The DRW Experience features interactive games designed to give Red Wings fans an opportunity to test their hockey skills. Red Wings alumni will also be on hand at select dates to sign autographs. Additionally, members of the Flagstar Bank Red Patrol will distribute various giveaway items to event attendees, and fans will have an opportunity to participate in enter-to-win raffles for a chance at Red Wings prizes and autographed memorabilia.
I'm in Griffins playoff mode, so this may not interest you as Red Wings-related news, but it's important to the Griffins:
The video quality from the Utica Comets isn't the best, but We All Bleed Redd caught the hit in which Utica Comets forward Brandon DeFazio injured Grand Rapids Griffins forward Tomas Nosek, who left Game 2 and will miss Games 3 and 4 of the Comets-Griffins series...
The Toledo Walleye fell short of their Kelly Cup dreams as their season ended on Wednesday night, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.
The Walleye dropped a 1-0, TRIPLE overtime decision to the South Carolina Stingrays in Game 7 of the ECHL's Eastern Conference Final--via a goal against that was offsides by five feet--but the fact that Toledo rallied from a 3-games-to-none deficit to force a 7th game is nothing less than a remarkable achievement.
Toledo played in its longest game ever, and after the game, the Walleye reflected upon its 105:35-long game and season, a year removed from finishing as the ECHL's worst team
The Walleye's website posted a recap:
The Grand Rapids Griffins stories just kept coming this evening, so there was no point in storing them up for an overnight report. Regrettably, this morning's news offers somewhat slim pickings, so this is a bit of a lean entry.
First, Gustav Nyquist's 28 seconds' worth of puck possession is one of a pair of final entries in the TSN Play of the Year quarterfinal, going up against a Jordan Eberle goal, and if you don't vote for this goal, salty ham will follow your descendents like salty...cured pork...
Because this goal is just inferior:
Updated at 10:18 PM: It's a Grand Rapids Griffins evening on TMR, and just before NHL game time, WOOD TV8's Larry Figurski has posited an article in which Griffins coach Jeff Blashill, captain Jeff Hoggan and players Tom McCollum and Nick Jensen weigh in on the early returns for one Dylan Larkin, a Red Wings prospect who'd endured a helluva whirlwind in traveling from Ann Arbor to Prague, back to Metro Detroit, and now New York and Grand Rapids as his professional career's taken flight:
“The guys have been pretty good and welcoming and made me feel pretty comfortable right way,” Larkin said after his first home practice on Wednesday. “That’s probably been the biggest help. The coaches have done a great job teaching me the system and how we play.”
It was just eight days ago that the Michigan Wolverine and Big Ten ‘Freshman of the Year’ decided to turn pro.
“I drove home, signed the contract, faxed it in, started packing, had dinner and then left for Grand Rapids,” Larkin said. “So it’s been pretty crazy.”
Though he’s only 18 years old, Larkin spent the previous several weeks overseas playing for Team USA with and against a host of NHL players at the Hockey World Championships in the Czech Republic.
“I learned a lot from all the pros overseas and how to handle yourself and how to be a pro,” Larkin said. “That was a great experience for me.”
Figurski continues, interviewing the aforementioned narrators, and there also happens to be a video attached to the story:
I've met some strong leaders in my time as a hockey blogger and reporter of sorts, and one of the most intense, dedicated and determined leaders I've encountered hasn't played an NHL game in 5 years.
Grand Rapids Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan is the perfect hard-edged, hard-nosed veteran to lead a rotating corps of future Red Wings and future minor pros brought together for the same cause, and this evening, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner tells the story of how Hoggan became such an integral part of the Griffins' game-winning-and-player-developmental machine:
How important has Jeff Hoggan been in the Griffins' emergence as a top AHL franchise the past three seasons? When coach Jeff Blashill was asked if the Griffins would have won the Calder Cup Trophy in 2013 or reached the conference finals this season without Hoggan, he shot back:
"Not a chance."
Hoggan is the intermediary. He can walk the line when necessary - take the coach's message and relay it in player-speak and still be respected by both. Hoggan is still productive. In the regular season he had 14 goals and 31 points and was the only player on the Griffins to play all 76 games.
Roll those together, add in a work ethic that causes young twenty-somethings to take inventory, and the oldest skater in the league may also have its biggest heart.
"He leads by such an example that he brings the culture of your work ethic to such a level that everybody improves," Blashill said. "Everybody gets better as a hockey team because of the way he carries himself."
Wallner continues, telling quite the tale...
Update: And Fox 17 profiled Hoggan, Brennan Evans and Nathan Paetsch, too (warning, auto-play after-you-play-it video).
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.