Of disparate Red Wings-related note as the Red Wings and their prospects take in a Tigers game this evening:
- The Red Wings posted a video of development camp produced by Dan Mannes, and Dan really “knocked this one out of the park”:
— David Guralnick (@DavidGuralnick) June 27, 2018
— David Guralnick (@DavidGuralnick) June 27, 2018
4. In the text department, DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji spoke with Givani Smith regarding the racist taunts he had to endure during the Kitchener Rangers’ playoff run, and Smith very graciously revisited an incredibly uncomfortable situation with the media this morning:
“Fans all like to say a lot of things,” Smith said. “Certain things it’s just like 2018, don’t really need to hear that stuff. It doesn’t happen often but it happened. For me, it’s on the ice, stuff away from hockey I don’t pay attention to too much. It happened but I was raised to be pretty mentally tough. It didn’t really faze me too much. I dealt with it pretty fine.”
Smith has a strong support system with his father, Gary, and brothers Gary, Gemel and Joshua.
“Me and my brothers were all raised to be mentally strong,” Smith said. “My dad told us when we were little, down the road, wherever you go stuff might happen. That’s just life, how it is. I was prepared for it, me and my family. I think I handled it pretty well.”
Gemel Smith is a forward in the Dallas Stars organization.
“I have two other brothers that play hockey so they’re like my mentors, I look up to them,” Smith said. “It’s really nice having them. They understand everything I’m going through. They’ve been in my shoes. It’s really good having older brothers.”
Smith also heard from current and former NHL players like goaltender Kevin Weekes, Joel Ward, P.K. Subban and Akim Aliu.
“They offered me a lot of advice, they’re always there, said if you want to talk about it, we’re there,” Smith said. “I’m sure I’m not the only black hockey player that’s been through it. It happens, I’m over it now. I’m here in the next chapter, which is development camp.”
The Red Wings also reached out to Smith to make sure he knew he had their full support.
“It was an ugly situation,” Detroit director of player development Shawn Horcoff said during his recent appearance on the Red and White Authority podcast. “We just said, ‘Listen, you have the Detroit Red Wings’ support. If there’s anything that you need at any time in terms of anything here, you have our support’ – he was playing for Kitchener at the time, I think they did a good job of handling it – we said, ‘Once you’re under our firm control, we will not put up with any of this. We don’t condone it, we obviously don’t support it, we strongly disagree with it and we strongly will have your back.’ To his credit, his team was winning, they were moving on, he didn’t want to make it a bigger deal than it was. Those are his words. He just didn’t want it to be a distraction to his teammates. I thought he handled it extremely well, professionally. But anytime something like that happens, it just puts a black mark on the game of hockey in general overall.”
5. In a lighter vein, the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa spoke with Wings second-round draft pick Jared McIsaac, who looks to be a hard-hitting defenseman…
He might amount to the top-four defenseman projected by some scouts, and desperately sought by an organization hard-pressed along the blue line in Detroit and Grand Rapids.
Like a lot of the Wings defense prospects, McIsaac is aware of the need.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I want to try to make a name for myself early, whether its development camp or early in rookie camp. I’ll just try to gain as much experience and try to give the staff a look and make it hard for them to send me home.”
Home is Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where Filip Zadina was a teammate and where McIsaac developed a reputation as a defenseman with a high IQ.
It is also Truro, and hour drive from the big city, where he grew up in a hockey home. His father, Jamie, is a well-known referee in the Canadian Maritimes and his uncle, Jon, is an NHL referee.
“Big influences? Obviously, my father,” McIsaac said. “Being around the rink quite a bit with him as he was reffing, and also my uncle watching him pursue his dream and refereeing in the NHL now.”
Krupa continues, and Guralnick posted a video of McIsaac’s remarks:
When Trevor Hamilton was asked if he had assumed a leadership role with some of the other players at the Red Wings development camp, he referred to them as ‘the little guys.’
Funny, of course, because the Grosse Pointe Farms native won’t win any height-chart competitions this week.
Fitting, though, because he’s one of the elder statesmen of the group. Hamilton has attended two previous Wings development camps in Traverse City.
“Yeah, definitely, trying to help out guys as much as I can,” said Hamilton, who signed with the Grand Rapids Griffins this offseason after the conclusion of his college career at Penn State. “Everyone’s seeing this place for the first time this week, so we’re kind of walking around like where do we go and everything, but me and a couple of the other older guys, we’re just trying to help out where we can, get in the front of the line, and show the little guys – not the little guys but the younger guys – how it’s done.”
Asked if he felt like the old man in the group, he laughed.
“Yeah…yeah, a little bit. I was talking to the guys and they were like yeah, ‘I’m a 99 [birth-year], I’m a 2000 and I thought, ‘oh my gosh, I feel so old here.’” The 1995 birth-year defenseman said. “It’s like when I came into camp as one of the younger guys. It’s definitely…camp’s only getting better and it’s definitely nice to get a little conditioning and get back into a hockey sense in the middle of summer here.”
7. And finally, Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff penned an article about Dennis Cholowski’s developmental curve:
Everyone – Cholowski included – anticipated and expected the Wings to tab a rearguard with the sixth overall pick of this year’s draft. When they opted to jump on high-scoring right wing Filip Zadina, when he fell from his third overall rating into Detroit’s lap, everyone – Cholowski included – did a double take.
“I’m embracing it for sure,” Cholowski said. “When I saw that, it was get on my horse and get going because I think I’m next in line.”
Selected 20th overall in 2016, Cholowski, 20, split last season between Prince George and Portland of the WHL and got into one AHL playoff game with Grand Rapids. He won’t be sent back to junior as an overager, so it’s the Wings or the minor leagues for him this season.
After opting out of taking one of Noah Dobson, Evan Bouchard, Quinn Hughes or Adam Boqvist with pick No. 6 last week, the Wings have put all their puck moving eggs into Cholowski’s basket. He knows what type of defenseman he must be.
“Offensive guy,” Cholowski said. “Skate with the puck. Smooth skater. Making a first pass, too.”
The Wings don’t just want to see that style of game from Cholowski. They need to see it. He recognizes that fact of life.
“For sure,” Cholowski said. “Definitely.”