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Discussing Brendan Smith’s pluses and minuses

The Free Press's Helene St. James examines Brendan Smith's pluses and minuses this morning:

Looking back: Smith lasted four games into the season before he was made a healthy scratch, but his banishment did not last long. He played all but one game between Nov. 20 and Feb. 23 before he again was benched, culminating in being scratched the last seven games of the regular season. He reappeared two games into the playoffs and backed up his insertion with a big hit minutes into Game 3, sending Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette flying. For a while, coach Jeff Blashill appeared to like the pairing of Smith with Mike Green. Smith saw some duty on the penalty kill, less on the power play and averaged 17:36 minutes per game, sixth among defensemen. He had 94 hits, 42 blocked shots and 35 giveaways.

Looking ahead: Smith, 27, brings the Wings grit and aggressiveness. He competes hard and is willing to go at it with an opposing player on behalf of a teammate. (Justin Abdelkader has this trait, too; likewise, newcomer Steve Ott.) Smith can cause heart palpitations with his sometimes reckless decision-making, and the quicker he smartens up in this area, the better. He’s an unrestricted free agent next summer, so the Wings need to decide this season whether Smith is part of their future.

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The ‘Larkin Hockey School’ is a family affair

Via RedWingsFeed, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples filed a report and photo gallery from the "Larkin Hockey School" in Waterford, MI:

The inaugural Larkin Hockey School kicked off this week in Waterford, Mich., with the four Larkin boys – Colin, Adam, Dylan and Ryan – bringing their hockey expertise back to their hometown rink.

And while the hockey camp logos may pay homage to the one Larkin family member who currently plays for the Detroit Red Wings, the camp is a group effort for the cousins – with Adam leading the way.

The second oldest of the Larkin boys – brother to youngest Ryan and cousin to Colin and Dylan – will start his third season with Yale’s hockey team this fall. When you attend an Ivy League school, you are required to be ‘the brains of the operation,’ apparently.

“That’s what they tell me, anyways,” Adam told MiHockey during a break in the action Tuesday morning. “I’m the one of the four Larkins that goes to Yale, so they tell me I have to do all the figuring things out and I’ve been working a lot with [Lakeland Hockey director Brad Martin], so it’s been good. Obviously everybody has something to contribute – all the counselors we’ve brought in but also my cousins and my brother. It’s good.

“I’d like to think of myself as the brains of the operation, but at the same time, it’s a group effort.”

Caples continues...

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Kulfan: Daniel Cleary still wants to play hockey

From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

Dan Cleary admits some of the days and nights were awfully difficult last season. Cleary hadn’t played minor-league hockey since 1999 before being waived and sent to Grand Rapids by the Red Wings before last season began.

The long bus rides, or returning from Grand Rapids after games, all left plenty of time to think.

“I’d be driving back and thinking to myself, ‘What in God’s green earth are you doing?’ ” Cleary said.

But know what? Cleary, 37, wouldn’t mind playing some more hockey, serving a similar role to that he had last season, and is leaning in that direction again.

Now it’s just a matter of some organization — maybe the Red Wings? — giving him that chance.

“I really enjoyed what I did last season, being in that role, helping the young kids grow into being future Red Wings,” Cleary said. “I’m training to do that (playing). It took me a few days (after being sent down), but after I settled into it, I really enjoyed the experience in Grand Rapids. It’s a great coaching staff, great group of guys, great training staff.

“It was a lot of fun, and I still want to play. The thing is, though, is can this body hold up over the course of a season? But I feel I can help mentor young players, and show them what it takes to play in the NHL.”

Continued

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A call for calm among the fan base

I've been looking to file away the Hokej.cz's report that former Wings prospect Richard Nedomlel has signed with Sparta Prague of the Czech Extraliga for the upcoming season, but I've found myself almost afraid to do so thanks to the state of the fan base.

Richard was never a top prospect, and while he battled a defensive personnel crunch in Grand Rapids, "Big Richard" never found a way to add an extra step to his skating or an extra gear to his game in terms of keeping up with the pace of play. These things happen--not everybody develops into an elite player, and sometimes guys end up "going home" after making earnest attempts to break through the North American pro leagues.

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Wings post a pair of videos highlighting the franchise’s present and future players

Yesterday, the Wings posted a 7-minute video summarizing the team's offseason thus far...

And this morning, the Wings posted a 7-minute video highlighting the summer development camp:

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A bit about the Wings development campers’ use of heart monitors

The Red Wings' prospects wore advanced heart monitors to help evaluate their athletic condition during the summer development camp, and several of the players were absolutely fascinated by the data that was being collected. The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa spoke with Jiri Fischer regarding the team's use of said heart monitors

“This year for the first time we had everybody wired on heart-rate monitors, through all of the fitness activities we’ve had on and off the ice,” said Jiri Fischer, director of player development. “So, we also get a base of where guys are: Do they recover fast enough? Can they stay calm while they are exercising vigorously? How do they bounce back from being completely fatigued?”

...

During camps, especially for those attending for the first time as recent draft picks or invitees, pressure can vie with physical exertion for demands on the heart, and that can be evaluated as a measure of psychological traits, including susceptibility to stress, Fischer said.

“There’s obviously pressure that players had to deal with, whether it’s the first time wearing the logo and being part of the Red Wings organization, the Red Wings brand and the culture we try to instill, to Ken Holland watching,” Fischer said.

“We really try to get across that everything is a competition and that there’s always only one winner.

“And also these were long days for the players. The first day, they got to the rink at 8 o’clock in the morning, guys really got less than an hour off in the afternoon and we finished close to 9 o’clock at night — and then goes into another very intense practice day and then an intense scrimmage day, which I believe creates the emotional high for lots of players.”

Through it all, the rates of all 39 hearts were meticulously measured.

Krupa continues...

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‘Two Things’: On Drew Miller’s pluses and minuses and a Q and A with Filip Larsson

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James offers a discussion of Drew Miller's pluses and minuses in her latest Wings player profile...

Looking back: Miller had a streak of 190 straight games going when a hit from Arizona’s Klas Dahlbeck during a game in early December left Miller woozy — and out for a month. During his second game back from that injury, Miller suffered a knee injury that required major surgery and left him gone for the season. The Wings missed him, especially on the penalty kill.

Looking ahead: Miller, 32, was re-signed for one season because the Wings like what they have in him — a hardworking, relatively inexpensive grinder who can help kill penalties. It’s something of a risk because it takes a long time to fully recover from major knee surgery, though the team has said Miller has made good progress and should be ready for training camp. At best, Miller grinds away on the fourth line and penalty kill. If the knee proves problematic, he can be placed on injured reserve and the Wings can gain the salary cap relief. Part of the reason for the re-signing was the desire for depth — and to stir better internal competition for minutes.

2. And Hooked on Hockey Magazine's Kevin Sporka presents a Q and A with Wings draft pick Filip Larsson:

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Wings’ ‘Street Hockey Summer Tour’ involves hockey lessons as well as play

The Red Wings' "Street Hockey Summer Tour" is winding its way through Michigan's lower peninsula, and the Free Press's Brandon Folsom reports that the tour will do more than give 7-to-9-year-old and 10-to-12-year-old kids the opportunity to play a little hockey in Meijer parking lots:

The Wings' staffers put the campers, who ranged from ages 7 to 12, through six stations. They taught them proper stick handling, puck control, how to pass and how to shoot various types of shots.

"It's more of teaching them the basics of hockey skills," Wings event marketing director Liz Rousseau said. "We wanted to keep it fairly simple and make sure all these ages had the opportunity to learn the basics. Depending on their skill level, we didn't want to make it too difficult, so we wanted to keep it more of your basic skill levels."

Meijer also hosted a wellness station where it handed out water and snacks to the children and taught them about nutrition.

Rousseau led a "dry-land training" station and showed the campers how to improve their speed and stamina with activities such as ladder drills.

"The kids get a chance to have some fun in the summer, learn some hockey skills, learn about what we do in our organization, meet the coaches and just have a good time," Rousseau added.

Folsom continues...

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Frans Nielsen Excited About Playing In Detroit

from Chris Lomon of NHLPA.com,

On July 1, the 10-season NHL veteran and unrestricted free agent signed a six-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings. In less than two months, Nielsen and his wife, Moa, will welcome their first child.

But there’s more.

In September, he’ll captain his native Denmark in qualifications for the 2018 Winter Olympics, and later that month, he’ll don the jersey of Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on, but I’m excited about it all,” said Nielsen.

That list would include joining one of the NHL’s Original Six teams.

“I’m looking forward to playing hockey in a new place,” he offered. “I can’t lie – it was a tough decision to leave New York. I have nothing bad to say about my time there. I will have those friends for life. But, this is the start of something new. In Europe, people would see playing with Detroit like a soccer player signing with Manchester United.”

In Nielsen, the Red Wings get one of hockey’s most versatile two-way performers, a forward often described as underrated.

It’s a role the centreman cherishes.

read on

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Red Wings TV posts a superb Twitter video chronicling the Wings’ offseason so far

The Red Wings have produced a Twitter-based video recapping the team's summer events thus far, inluding Pavel Datsyuk's decision to say goodbye, locker room clean-out day remarks, the NHL draft and the start of free agency. Some of this, especially Datsyuk's farewell, is still hard to watch:

Update: Via RedWingsFeed, here's the video in YouTube form:

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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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