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Jimmy D on Mike Ilitch

The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Jimmy Devellano regarding Mike Ilitch's legacy as the owner of the Detroit Red Wings:

The Ilitches long had loved hockey - their sons played it - and they sponsored youth hockey in the Detroit area starting in 1968 with the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey Program. Buying the Wings was realizing a dream.

Devellano, now a senior vice-president with the organization, was hired as general manager by the Ilitches. He recalls having lunch with them on July 12, 1982, when Marian Ilitch wondered how many season ticket holders the team had. "The answer was 2100," Devellano said.

That soon changed.

"Mike Ilitch was all in, to put it mildly," Devellano said.

Within two years, the Wings were back in the playoffs. They missed again in 1986, but in 1987, Joe Louis Arena throbbed with fans as the Wings advanced three rounds before losing to the Edmonton Oilers in the conference finals. A decade later, the Wings won back-to-back Stanley Cups, and Ilitch's reputation as a generous owner became legendary.

"You presented players to him, and whether it was Dominik Hasek or Brett Hulll or Luc Robitaille, or re-signing Nicklas Lidstrom or Sergei Fedorov, he was willing," Devellano said. "When we brought in Scotty Bowman, the good coaches were making $300,000. Scotty made a million with us. That was all Mike. No general manager can do that a without approval of ownership.

St. James continues...

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Attention to detail separated Ilitch franchises

My mom and aunt gasped when I told them that Mike Ilitch had passed away at 87 years of age, and that appears to be the default reaction to his passing, even given that the Red Wings and Tigers owner was in poor health for the better part of a decade.

I know that the day-to-day business operations of the Red Wings, Tigers and Ilitch Holdings have been in the hands of Chris Ilitch for the better part of a decade as well, and the family stated a long time ago that it planned on keeping the sports and business franchises in the family (as Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea noted), so there are no concerns as to the well-being of two of the city's sports franchises...

The thing that always amazed me about Mike Ilitch's sports operations, however, was something a little simpler than Mr. Ilitch's personal involvement in his sports franchises, and perhaps a little more subtle:

Red Wings players have always been able to walk out to their cars in the players' parking lot knowing that they would be left running on cold nights, so that the cars were warmed up for them, and they've always gone to the rink knowing that they'd be going home with full tanks of gas. I know those are trivial details, but to me, nothing emphasizes the "family" aspect of a sports business more than the assurance that you won't be going out into a 10-degree night with a cold car waiting for you.

Mr. Ilitch built a sports and entertainment empire that will out-live most of us, never mind Mike Ilitch and Gordie Howe, but it's attention to detail that separates the great from the legendary, and Mr. Ilitch ran his franchises with immaculate attention to detail.

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Ken Holland on Mr. Ilitch + Twitter reaction to Mr. I’s passing

MLive's Brendan Savage spoke with Ken Holland about Mike Ilitch's passing:

It's too bad that Mr. Ilitch won't see the fruition of his plans for Little Caesars Arena and the entertainment district that will eventually surround it. Here's hoping that he got to see the rink under construction.

I think Dave Coulier of all people might have said it best:

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Mike Ilitch has passed away

Oh my goodness:

Here's the official release from the Ilitches:

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Articles from practice: Wings adjust to loss of Ericsson; Howard OK; youngsters weigh in

The Red Wings held an optional practice in Columbus on Friday, and after practice was over, the Wings placed Jonathan Ericsson on long-term injured reserve as he's undergoing wrist surgery, and the team recalled Jimmy Howard from Grand Rapids in a paper transaction.

Howard won't actually skate with the team until Monday as his equipment went with the Grand Rapids Griffins to Des Moines, Iowa, where the Griffins play tonight and tomorrow.

Losing Ericsson hurts the Wings' cause, as the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted...

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Surgery For Jonathan Ericsson, Done For The Season

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Wings assistant coach John Torchetti talks about return to Minnesota, Vanek

The Pioneer Press's Chad Graff spoke with Red Wings assistant coach John Torchetti about his experiences as Minnesota's interim head coach last year and his take on the Wild's success this season...

Torchetti is now an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings, who play the Wild in a nationally-televised Sunday matinee at Xcel. And he comes back without bitterness over the Wild hiring Boudreau over him last May.

“It’ll be fun. I’m looking forward to it,” Torchetti said. “Those guys played hard for me and our staff. They did a good job and got us into the playoffs. We came up short, but I thought a lot of guys made some good strides in understanding what it takes every night. I wish we beat Dallas. That would’ve been extra special. I thought we did a good job against them but just came up short.”

Torchetti lauded several Wild players who he said sacrificed for him, revealing that goalie Devan Dubnyk had shingles during the playoffs but didn’t miss a game.

“What else can you ask for from a guy?” Torchetti said. “He was fantastic. Fans don’t know stuff like that, but I sat there in awe of him. He could barely sit still and then he comes out in practices and wins playoff games. That’s a tough situation, so that tells you a lot about certain players. Those are the things that stand out.”

And Torchetti made mention of Thomas Vanek's renaissance with the Red Wings:

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Practice Tweets: Wings ‘take an optional’ in Columbus

The Red Wings took to the ice on Friday, hoping to recover from Thursday night's loss to the Washington Capitals ahead of a pair of difficult games against Columbus and Minnesota, per DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji...

The Free Press's George Sipple...

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Morning news: Day-after videos, Ericsson’s bearnaise sauce (really), poker and peewees

Of (mostly) Red Wings video-related note this morning:

1. Fox Sports Detroit's John Keating and Darren Eliot weighed in on the Wings' 6-3 loss to Washington on Thursday:

I hate to say it, but doesn't a defense consisting of Ouellet, Sproul, Jensen, Smith, DeKeyser and Green sort of feel like that's the defense the Wings' should be dressing?

2. The Red Wings posted a slate of post-game comment videos, including the press scrums of Justin Abdelkader...

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“Bet On Ken Holland Replacing Lou Lamoriello In 2018-19”

Kevin McGran opened up the mail bag today...

QUESTION: With Claude Julien's recent liberation from Boston, here's what I was thinking.

He and Mike Babcock are pals and can work together. Toronto hired Babcock with a promise to give him more of a say in player development and selection, if I remember correctly. Lou Lamoriello is retiring after 2017-18 season. Does Toronto bring Claude Julien behind the bench to work with Mike Babcock, and then bump Babcock upstairs after Lou Lamoriello retires? It's not as if money is an issue for management/scouting/coaching issues.

Am I out in left field with this one?

Other possible scenario for Claude Julien: "Hello Claude, Marc Bergevin calling. Listen, I wanted to talk to you about something...."

ANSWER: Leaf Nation should shiver in its boots at the thought of Babcock being GM. He is a fantastic coach. As an evaluator of talent and negotiator of contracts and maker of deals, others are far better. Bet on Ken Holland replacing Lou Lamoriello in 2018-19.

more Q & A, mostly Toronto related but some questions answered about the expansion draft too...

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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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