The Malik Report
MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Tomas Tatar regarding his up-and-down 2015-16 season during the Wings' locker room clean-out day, and he found Tatar to be particularly frustrated with his season's production (or the lack thereof):
"I know I could be way better," Tatar said. "I'm disappointed I couldn't help more; my expectations were a little different than how the season went. My goals were way higher than they end up, but it was different stuff this year than it was last year. It was different position for me, so I guess what the numbers are saying is the way it is now."
Tatar has 21 goals – eight fewer than his team-leading total of 2014-15. His point total dipped from 56 to 45. He also logged less ice time, averaging 14:21, down from 16:13 the previous season.
Tatar attributed some of his struggles to being moved around various lines.
"I think the position was way different this year than last year, after last season playing most of the time with Pav (Datsyuk) and Helmer (Darren Helm)," Tatar said. "This time I was kind of around the lines. With different position comes different responsibility. Wherever I played I tried to play best, bring the energy as much as I could.
"It was a little tougher to get comfortable, I was squeezing the stick almost all season. The goals I set were hard to end up (with), so it was kind of disappointing for me."
The beat writers penned 3 articles about 3 players at very different stages in their careers, and two have big decisions to make regarding their hockey-playing futures.
From youngest to oldest: Anthony Mantha's had a fine three-game playoff showing for the Grand Rapids Griffins, scoring in 2 of 3 games thus far. After a difficult conclusion to the AHL's regular season for both Mantha and the Griffins, coach Todd Nelson told the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner that it's good to see Mantha round back into scoring form:
"This is just an investment into his future," Nelson added. "He's going to have a nice career ahead of him in the National Hockey League but right now he's focused on winning a championship here."
The three goals, which tied Tyler Bertuzzi for the team lead, already exceeded Mantha's postseason output from a year ago when he had two goals and four points in 16 games.
"It came with experience, and from learning up there (in Detroit)," said Mantha, who had 21 goals and 45 points for the Griffins and two goals and three points in 10 games with the Red Wings. "For me (the goal is) to be a big part of the playoff run this year and that's what I'm trying to do."
Wallner continues, and we're pretty darn likely to see Mantha in Detroit next season...
Darren Helm, not so much.
Ken Holland rather enthusiastically suggested that he'd like to re-sign Helm during the Wings' locker room clean-out day, but as an unrestricted free agent-to-be, Helm will have his pick of teams offering him more significant roles and more money than the Wings can guarantee him in July.
It will be up to Helm to determine whether what the Wings can offer represents enough for Helm to stick around, and the Free Press's Helene St. James took note of Helm's comments to that effect:
Two more items of "Little Caesars Arena"-related note popped up this evening. One is simply aesthetically disappointing, and the other is more weighty:
1. WXYZ noted that, during the press conference unveiling the "Little Caesars Arena" name, Tom Wilson revealed that the LED Roof concept was a "placeholder," and that the stadium's roof will be made of aluminum, though it will be "projected onto" and change colors as a result:
2. And the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa discussed the fact that we won't have a "Joe Louis" Arena any more as the Joe's scheduled to be demolished and redeveloped:
In a predicatbly music-and-hockey-entwined column, ESPN's John Buccigross gets the "state of the Red Wings' fans" pretty much spot-on:
Detroit Red Wings
"I'm sorry, but I'm just thinking of the right words to say
I know they don't sound the way I planned them to be
But if you wait around a while, I'll make you fall for me
I promise, I promise you I will"
Simpson's remake of When In Rome's 1988 beaut is one of the best covers of this century. Emo's roots were in 1988 songs like "The Promise." In 1988, it was masked in a generic New Order design. John Sturgill Simpson gave it the full-country emo treatment.
Red Wings Nation is in full emo mode right now. They look at their team's cap space, the age and productivity of their high-salaried guys, and the state of their D corps, and they are concerned. The Wings are trying to reboot without tanking. That is very difficult to do, unless one plucks an unforeseen unrestricted free agent in his prime like a Steven Stamos.
Detroit does have a nice, young group of forwards -- led by Dylan Larkin, who it views as their franchise pillar -- a No. 1 center who everything will revolve around. And the team sees Petr Mrazek as a highly competitive #1 goalie. But, it needs more. I would be tempted to strip as much salary as they can and play all the young, skilled kids next year and don't plug with older veterans. Play the kids in the last year of the Joe and see what you got. Don't worry about the playoff streak.
Buccigross continues, and more often than not, I'm in the, "Just play the kids and see what happens" camp...
Hockey's Future's Ryan Womeldorf issued "2015-16 Detroit Red Wings prospect awards" today. Among them:
Prospect of the Year: Evgeny Svechnikov, W, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Svechnikov, the most recent first round pick in Detroit’s prospect pool, has shot up the rankings quickly and with good reason. The 19th overall pick in 2015, Svechnikov followed up an impressive rookie season in the Q by not only matching his 32 goals, but slightly besting his 46 assists and 78 points (he had 47 and 79, respectively) despite playing in five fewer games.
Svechnikov already has smooth skating ability and power forward size to go with outstanding hands and scoring ability. His ceiling is substantial and he could be a fixture on one of Detroit’s top two lines for a long time to come.
Breakout Player for 2016-17: Vili Saarijärvi, D, Flint Firebirds (OHL)
The 2015-16 season was a bit of a whirlwind for the diminutive Finnish defenseman, but the writing is on the wall in regards to his abilities as an offensive defenseman. In 59 games with Flint, Saarijarvi posted a dozen goals and 43 points, showing that despite his size, he can be a dynamic player.
This comes in the face of some organizational issues between Detroit and Flint as well as the fact that he is just a couple years removed from being a forward full-time. It seems a sure bet that he will have a new home in 2016-17 where he will have a chance to take that year of experience in the OHL and use it to fuel his true breakout.
Do we call it the Pie? Or the Pizza Pizza?
The Red Wings unveiled their corporate sponsor's name for what will now be Little Caesars Arena (note: No possessive "Little Caesars' Arena" and no, it's not "Little Caesar's Arena," just as they are not the "Red Wing's").
It could have been worse, a lot worse, and if you are interested:
The Detroit News's Louis Aguilar explains the rationale behind essentially naming the rink after its builder...
The naming rights of the new venue is $120 million deal over 20 years. It essentially means one part of the Ilitch empire will pay another part of an Ilitch organization that is managing the new arena. The arena is owned by the city’s Downtown Development Authority, but the Iltch’s Olympia Entertainment will run the venue.
“This is more than just about money,” said Chris Ilitch, the son of Mike and Marian, who runs the day-to-day operation of the family’s business. “This is our hometown. This is our legacy business, the first business my parents started back in 1959.”
Chris Ilitch, who is president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc., also pointed out the enormous advertising exposure it gives to Little Caesars.
“The company is at a point in its history that it’s literally exploding in growth around the world right now,” he said. “This platform, this brand, it will really help the company.”
The Red Wings revealed the logos involved...
Updated with quips from Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader at 4:13 PM: Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
1. MLive's Ansar Khan issued his Red Wings grades for the 2015-16 season;
2. DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose took note of Jeff Blashill's end-of-season remarks regarding his first season as the Wings' coach:
Press release is below...
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
So Tomas Jurco (Slovakia), Teemu Pulkkinen (Finland), Pavel Datsyuk and Alexey Marchenko (Russia), Dylan Larkin and Luke Glendening (USA) and Gustav Nyquist (Sweden) will represent the Red Wings at the World Championships in St. Petersburg and Moscow starting on May 5th.
2. In the locker room clean-out-day vein, the Free Press's Helene St. James took note of Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill's comments about his own learning process as a no-longer-rookie NHL coach:
Of Grand Rapids Griffins-related note:
1. The Griffins swept the Milwaukee Admirals as of April 26th, but their second-round series against the Lake Erie Monsters won't begin until May 5th due to basketball and concert conflicts at Quicken Loans Arena. The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with the Griffins about their long lay-off between series...
"We got some guys that play some big minutes, some hard minutes. So if we're going to be mature about it and do the right things with time off, it will be great," said Eric Tangradi. "... On Friday we'll put the work boots back on and focus on the next challenge."
"I think it's definitely a good thing," said goalie Tom McCollum. "We have some guys who are a little banged up and so it will give us some extra time to recover. Now it's important to be smart with our energy and not kill ourselves in practice and working hard on things we need to."
The best-of-seven divisional finals will begin with the first two games in Cleveland, on May 5 and 7 before shifting to Grand Rapids for a pair.
Lake Erie did the Griffins one-day better in eliminating Rockford in three games. The Monsters completed their sweep Saturday.
2. And Fox 17 posted a video report highlighting Tom McCollum's ability to rebound from an ankle injury that bothered him for a significant portion of the regular season:
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.