Suitors keep calling for Babcock (Update)

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The latest in the Mike Babcock coaching sweepstakes has the 52-year-old meeting with Red Wings GM Ken Holland on Monday. (Note: see the end of this post for a growing list of Babcock suitors …)

According to hockey insider Darren Dreger, Babcock and Holland flew home from the Czech Republic, where they were watching the World Hockey Championship, on Sunday.

Babcock and Holland were to discuss the coach’s future during the flight before meeting again tomorrow.

Dreger reports a decision on Babcock’s coaching future is expected midweek.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres are reportedly the only two teams, which filed paper work for permission to speak with Babcock.

Update: Apparently the San Jose Sharks will be in the running, too. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the Sharks are scheduled to speak with Babcock sometime this week. The clock appears to be ticking, too:

The Sharks aren’t shy about hiring from Detroit, as Todd McLellan was once a Babcock assistant.

Interesting side note: Babcock may have initiated this meeting.

Second update: Maybe throw the St. Louis Blues’ name in the hat, too?

What about Ken Hitchcock? It sounds like the Blues are evaluating whether to stick with him or not.

(Related) Report: Sharks want a second interview with DeBoer

Gustavsson believes he has ‘another 10 years of good hockey’ left

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After an injury plagued season Jonas Gustavsson’s time in Detroit appears over.

Last week GM Ken Holland hinted at Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek competing for the starter’s role next season.

“We need great goaltending,” Holland said per the Detroit Free Press. “We need the two of them to compete to be ready to come to training camp to battle for ice time. Pro sports is a competition.”

A shoulder injury followed by a concussion limited Gustavsson to just seven appearances in the Wings’ net this season where he was 3-3-1 with a 2.56 G.A.A. and a .911 save percentage.

“My shoulder injury kept me out of long time,” Gustavsson said. “I didn’t know if I was going to come back or if I needed surgery. I did pretty much everything I could rehab-wise to try and come back. I managed to get back and play a few games, then I got the concussion. Obviously, I never got in a rhythm. Then at the end of the season, we had two other goalies. Mrazek came up and played great. It wasn’t much room for me, and I understood that.

“Tried to work on my game in the shadows, tried to keep pushing myself. Tried to be a good teammate. Hopefully that’s going to help me in the future.”

Gustavsson’s one-year, $1.85 million contract is set to expire making him an unrestricted free agent in July.

In three seasons with the Wings he put together a 21-10-6 record to go along with a 2.67 G.A.A. and a .904 save percentage.

The 30-year-old believes he has lots of good hockey left him.

“Hopefully I can stay in this league,” Gustavsson. “I feel I have lots left in the tank. I’m only 30 years old. So, hopefully have another 10 years of good hockey in me.”

Wings’ Franzen has ‘no clue’ if he’ll return to playing

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Johan Franzen says he’s finally starting to feel better, but isn’t sure if he’ll return to playing.

Franzen suffered a concussion following a hit from Oilers’ forward Rob Klinkhammer on Jan. 6 and did not play again.

“This time was a little bit scarier,” the 35-year-old told The Macomb Daily. “For two months you’re not able to pick up your kids or play with your kids for more than two minutes. It makes you think a little bit, but you know I’m slowly getting better, so that puts my mind to rest.

“I feel a lot better. I was in a really dark place maybe not the first month because you think it’s going to get better. But then when it doesn’t get better, you start wondering.”

Franzen, who has had multiple concussions during his 10 seasons in Detroit, was hoping to return to the Red Wings lineup if Detroit had advanced past Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs, but suffered a setback.

“Certainly the message the last month was he wanted to play,” said Red Wings’ GM Ken Holland. “He told us a couple weeks ago he felt great and was on the right path. If we advanced in the playoffs he was hoping he’d be available. Then he had a bit of a setback.

“People with concussions it’s hard to know, but the hope is over the summer he gets 100 percent healthy.”

As for his future in the game, both Franzen and Holland are unsure if the Wings’ forward will play again.

“I don’t think anybody knows,” Holland said. “When you’re dealing with people that have concussions and he’s (had) a bit of a history. That’s a decision that’ll be determined between Mule and Dr. (Jeffrey) Kutcher.”

Added Franzen: “I have no clue, but I’m just happy I’m feeling better. Hopefully, it’s going to progress a little bit every week and I will be fine.”

Franzen has five years left his deal with a cap hit of $3.95 million. If he does not play again, he will likely remain long-term injured reserve so that the Red Wings do not incur cap recapture penalties.

PHT Morning Skate: The Great One raves about McDavid

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Is Connor McDavid the second coming of Wayne Gretzky? The Great One chuckles at the notion, but agrees McDavid is going to be a game changer. “He’s as good as I’ve seen in the last 30 years, the best player to come into the league in the last 30 years, the best to come along since (Mario) Lemieux and (Sidney) Crosby,” said Gretzky. “He can definitely change a franchise’s fortunes.” (The Edmonton Journal)

Former Toronto Maple Leafs teammates Mikael Tellqvist and Justin Pogge are currently in a head-to-head battle for the Swedish Hockey League’s save of the year. (SHL)

Editor’s Note: Play one-day fantasy hockey tonight! Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $20,000 league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $2,000. Starts tonight at 7:00pm ET. Play Now!

Some of the sights and sounds from the first Stanley Cup playoff game in Winnipeg since 1996:

Current Lightning GM Steve Yzerman had a huge impact on the Detroit Red Wings leading the franchise to three Stanley Cups. He’s also part of the reason why Pavel Datsyuk is still a member of the Wings. In 2007 Yzerman went to Ken Holland and told the GM to “Absolutely, get it done” with regards to contract negotiations with Datsyuk. Datsyuk eventually signed a seven-year contract worth $6.7 million per season. (Tampa Bay Times)

Todd McLellan, who “mutually agreed” to part ways with the San Jose Sharks on Monday, will have no shortage of offers for his next coaching gig. According to Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, McLellan’s coaching style would be a perfect fit with the Edmonton Oilers. (Sportsnet)

Sidney Crosby was locked out of the Pens’ room ahead of Game 3 on Monday night:

Investigative reporter Rick Westhead has further information on Jarret Stoll’s arrest last week in Las Vegas including the police report. (TSN)

Holland: ‘I’m not against fighting’

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Over the course of the last nine seasons the Detroit Red Wings have been at the bottom of the league when it comes to fighting majors in every season but one.

That doesn’t mean the team’s general manager, Ken Holland, is against fighting.

“I’m not against fighting. We prioritize that on our fourth line, we wanted hockey players versus one-dimensional players,” said Holland in a story now up on NBC SportsWorld. “Fighting is in the game. I grew up in an era as a minor league goaltender where, in the Western Hockey League with the Medicine Hat Tigers, where there was lots of fighting.

“I don’t have anything against fighting, I just want the guys that fight on my team, to be able to play. If you can fight, and you can’t play, we don’t have room for you.”

Under Holland’s leadership, Detroit has made 17 straight playoff appearances and won the Stanley Cup three times.

“You’ve got to play,” said Holland. “The game is fast. Nobody wants to take penalties. It’s a hard league to score in. You hope to get a few goals out of your fourth line. You hope they can eat some minutes off your top forwards just to rest them.”

Following the 2004-05 season the league’s fighting rate was nearly cut in half in 2005-06 — 466 in 1,230 games, or 0.38 per game — before rising back to 734 fights during the 2008-09 season (0.6 per game).

Numbers have been on the downturn since.

There were 469 bouts last season, a rate of 0.38 per game. Those numbers have decreased this season as fights happened every 0.34 games through play Tuesday (stats courtesy HockeyFights.com).

“It appears those, what I call them, one dimensional players that all they can really do is fight, those types of players now are … becoming past-tense,” added Holland.

Through 32 games this season, Detroit has three fights and sits at the bottom of the league in fighting majors.