It was a long day in Traverse City for everyone involved, with the players skating for nearly two hours (compared to 50 minutes yesterday) along with news about the new figures on the Detroit scouting staff, leaving everyone looking forward to the morning off tomorrow before the scrimmage at 5:00.
After arriving late to the morning skate because I forgot my media credentials back at my hotel (I was thrilled with myself), I got to settle in and watch a little bit of Team Lidstrom’s practice. It was quickly made apparent that the format of the practices have changed compared to last year: Instead of 40 or 50 minutes each with skills coach Tomas Storm and power skating instructor Andy Weidenbach, and then an hour or so with Red Wings coaches, the players got 20 minutes with Storm and Weidenbach before the zamboni cleaned the ice and Jeff Blashill took over practice for the final hour.
This change, which Luke Glendening told me was good because last year guys were really worn out after camp and had to take a week or so off, threw me and others off, but more importantly, led to Weidenbach and Storm speeding up their instructions. And while the players looked better today than they did yesterday, the higher tempo of practice, combined with the uniqueness of the two coaches’ drills, led to some fatigue out on the ice. (It was the same way for Team Yzerman in the afternoon.)
On the other hand, the new format created more opportunities for team oriented drills. George Malik explained the drills much better than I could, but basically, the skaters got to play in a three-on-three type game that was contained to the width of the offensive zone, and went through a number of Tomas Holmstrom-specific drills, including one where a player grabs the puck below the goal line, cuts in toward the goalie, shoots, and after that stands right in front of the goalie for a redirection. (Wow, that was a long sentence.)
While they were doing that, I was authoring some articles for Michigan Hockey, and they include:
The announcement of Tyler Wright’s position with the team was the headliner of the day. Wright spoke at length with the media, and while I’m not going to post the audio because I didn’t ask any questions, I can tell you that he is very excited to come to Detroit and work for Ken Holland. He knows that the stakes are higher in Detroit than they were in Columbus, and any fan who is slighting the hire because Wright worked for the Blue Jackets is being ignorant. He will being a new perspective to the team, and frankly, that’s needed after the departures of Jim Nill and Joe McDonnell.
Mike Babcock also spoke with the media, albeit quickly because he was only in Traverse City for a very short time. The audio is out there on the web so I won’t post that either, but basically he talks about what it’s like to be back up in Traverse City and what the message to the prospects is about what it takes to be a Red Wing. It’s classic Babcock – short, inspirational, and a bit more realistic about what these players are up against. Read this about what he’s looking for when he watches practice:
I want to see them. I want to see them, know who they are, and then tell them about the development plan with the Red Wings. Explain to them how much work it’s going to be, how long the process is, and how much fun it’s going to be the one day you actually put our uniform on. But understand, totally you’re a work in progress. As excited you should be about being a draft pick, you got to get better everyday or you’re not going to play.
While he doesn’t have any on ice presence at camp, he has a presence every where else, despite only being at the rink for such a short time.
Here is some audio I can post:
Seeing as my profile on him has already been posted, I’ll throw the audio up here. What a great kid – despite the fact that when I walked up to him he told me my shirt sucked (I guess I made the mistake of wearing my MSU pullover in front of a Wolverine, and of course, it was all in jest), he is still great to talk with and you can see how he is a natural born leader.
Detroit’s fourth-round pick this year, Pope is still working on adding strength. He is, after all, still only playing in the BCHL. He is confident about next season though – as he said himself, he plans on dominating his league.
Despite us both talking about the transition to the pro game, Paterson will be returning to Saginaw (OHL) for his final year of juniors before actually turning pro. He did get a taste of what the transition will be like as he signed an amateur tryout with the Griffins in April.
His English is better than my Russian, so I will give him credit.
The only thing on tomorrow’s schedule is the scrimmage in the evening, so the players and coaches get the morning off to rest before the game. If you are attending, don’t expect a game anything close to what you’d see on a pond in the middle of winter – it will be physical and tightly contested. They want to show management what they can do in game situations, and while they’ll be playing against their own teammates, they’re essentially playing for themselves. If there’s anything you’d like to see coverage wise, please let me know.