Cup of Khan: Blashill challenges Hicketts to continue improving skills

As MLive’s Ansar Khan notes, Joe Hicketts made a very positive impression during the Red Wings’ 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, registering 2 assists…

But Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill used his post-game remarks to challenge Hicketts to continue improving his skill sets:

“Joe has got lots of swagger, lots of confidence,” Red Wing coach Jeff Blashill said. “With that kind of swagger, he’ll have to manage his turnovers, he’ll have to manage certain mistakes, but he plays to win hockey games. That’s why he’s had success at the Canadian world junior level, that’s why he had success in the WHL, that’s why he had success in the American League.

“He doesn’t look like a normal NHL defenseman with his size, skating combo. He’s been able to defy odds. Can he keep defying odds? We’ll see. Careers certainly aren’t defined in one game or two games. They’re defined time after time after time.”

Some of the Red Wings’ more prominent players are pulling for Hicketts.

“Hicketts comes in and plays really good again,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “I thought he was one of the best defenseman the last time we played him (his NHL debut Jan. 22 at New Jersey) and he got sent him down. I told him hopefully he’ll stick around this time.”

Niklas Kronwall, who recorded his 400th point (a goal) on the night Hicketts got his first, said: “He’s just a big smile that comes in, brings a lot of energy. That stuff’s contagious. That’s something we definitely need right now.”

Khan continues, and here’s Hicketts’ on-the-bench interview with Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson:


Published by

George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

40 thoughts on “Cup of Khan: Blashill challenges Hicketts to continue improving skills”

  1. It sounds like Blash is going to take it as a personal challenge to break Hicketts of this confidence problem he has. He just can’t have that. A few weeks on the bench after playing well should cure him of it.

  2. Thanks coach. I’ll try to be better next game. I’ll stay up all night watching 77 game films and focus on the daily excellence displayed by Dekeyser, Kronwall, Jensen, Ericsson…they must know the secrets of the process that I don’t.

  3. The young players are being held back by the coaching staff. They must all go. Blashill must think he has a mandate to mold the youngsters into conformity to his idea of what a hockey player should be. Perhaps that might work if he were Stevey Y. or Federov, but he was a marginal player in college and the minors.

  4. “he’ll have to manage his turnovers”

    I’m sure 52 will be scratched next game after that great pass on the Penguins 2nd goal…smh. Player management has turned into a complete gong show. Why would you want a guy like Hicketts in the line up when you can have pylons like XO and Witkowski?

    1. Hicketts was tagged with 2 turnovers last night. He needs to address that.

      Ericsson also had 2 turnovers, but let’s never mention that. He’s up to 67 giveaways on the year now but he’s got lots of stock.

      Boy-wonder Larkin had 3 more giveaways last night. He now leads the team in that category. But he’s special and immune to any criticism.

      Helm and Abby routinely give the puck away. Some times it’s tagged as a turnover. In most cases it’s just considered dumping the puck in and almost never retrieving it. But again, they have stock and they know the process. Let’s get back to Hicketts and nit-pick his mistakes while ignoring the 2 assists and 6 blocked shots in a 5-2 victory.

      How could any GM continue to employ this clown. Nearly every player is regressing under his guidance and these kids have lost respect for him ages ago.

    1. That’s always the excuse. Blash was asked about Hicketts and AA and Mantha but never about Abby or Helm or Dekeyser, etc…So it’s the media’s fault that the young guys get singled out. Nice.

      But OK I’ll play along. How about this answer:

      For his second NHL game I thought Hicketts looked pretty good. He led us in blocked shots, he set up a couple of goals, he looked comfortable on the PP. But there are things he could work on, such as minimizing his turnovers…but guess what everyone in the media scrum that apparently just asked about Hicketts and isn’t interested in speaking about any other players…we have a lot of other players that could also improve on managing the puck. Kids. Veterans. All of them. You reporters are all pretty smart. Take a look at the film and you’ll see that Ericsson turned the puck over a couple of times. So did Larkin. Helm and Abby have been guilty of this too. In fact, take a look at the stats over the entire year. You can all see who has protected the puck better than others. So I don’t want your article tomorrow to be based on a soundbite of me highlighting Hicketts turnovers or AA’s effort or Mantha’s consistency. These are issues that plague our veterans as well.

      Next question?

      That’s a coach the players would respect…

      1. Hey Fatsavage, that is the kind of post we need. It is constructive criticism. You have hit the nail on the head and that is why Blashill must go NOW!

  5. Personally, the last thing I want to hear about when I ask about a specific player, is more about another player. Especially guys that have been here forever and just aren’t worth the time to work on. Known quantities and all that. Our time is better spent seeing if we agree with the coach, not “WELL HE NEVER TALKS ABOUT THIS GUY.” He hasn’t done that all season, so why expect change? Blashill threw some compliments in there, too. I don’t see the merit in always being negative against someone, especially when it just makes you look like a flip flopper. So we as users are allowed to critique Hicketts, but as soon as Blashill does it, it is somehow not fair.

    1. Well maybe Hicketts and AA and Mantha don’t really care what YOU prefer the coach to say. Instead, they might like some reassurance that their coach doesn’t just routinely name them in public, but also clarifies that the veterans are in the same boat. Nobody said a question on Hicketts has to lead to a 30-minute sermon on Dekeyser and Ericsson and Kronwall and Jensen. But just briefly mentioning that these guys also could improve upon their puck protection might reassure the kid that he’s not the only guy making mistakes.

      1. When Hicketts is asked about specifically, it’s hard for Blashill not to name him. You act like you have some factual information, like you know these guys. I think you’re just out to tear down this team no matter what they do or say, good or bad. To each their own, I guess.

  6. When Hicketts is asked about specifically, it’s hard for Blashill not to name him. You act like you have some factual information, like you know these guys. I think you’re just out to tear down this team no matter what they do or say, good or bad. To each their own, I guess.

    1. Where did I say Blashill should be asked a question about Hicketts and then not name Hicketts in his answer?

      Scroll up. Read again.

      It’s pretty obvious (well maybe not, so please read again)…that I’m suggesting Blashill say exactly what he said. Hicketts did good things. Hicketts has things to work on. But then, take 10-15 more seconds and remind everyone that Hicketts is not alone. So when you get asked about AA or Mantha…you NAME them, you can even publicly question their effort and compete level, but then continue and say that guys like Nyquist and Helm and Abby and Green have also been guilty of taking nights off. So this isn’t just an issue with AA and Mantha but something our team has to improve upon.

      Do you still not understand my point?

    2. “I think you’re just out to tear down this team no matter what they do or say, good or bad. To each their own, I guess.”

      Always remember this comment and save yourself the headache.

  7. Everyone in our top 10 is playing a spot or 2 above their natural position. Only on a great night do they actually fulfill their positional expectations.

    Dragging this fact out would tear the heart out of veterans who already know they are losing battles almost every period. Then the veterans would point out our coach is playing above his head. Then the coach would look at the manager and ask “wheres the beef? all I have is a bunch of vegetables and a couple leaky buns. ”

    What I am getting at is pointing out veteran mistakes reveals failure at management level, and Mr. Blashill needs to back up Mr. Holland or immediately lose his job.

    So its Mr Hollands fault that only rookies are fair game to criticize, because the rest own NTCs.

    1. Fantastic point. Significant politics at play – which is awful just to be clear. But such is the reality of this team.

    2. So other coaches around the league can publicly call out veterans and scratch them – like what Dallas did to Jason Spezza. Or bench a guy in the 3rd period – like what coaches have done with Ovechkin, Kadri, Marner, Gaudreau, Duchene. Dustin Brown was stripped of his captaincy. As was Patrick Marleau.

      But not us. We can’t even mention the name of a veteran…because our coach doesn’t want to embarass his GM? So as a result the only players who get publicly slagged are the young players who we hope will one day form a new core. That sounds like a winning strategy…

      1. JB is a terrible communicator—however, I don’t see that many of us (myself included) are doing much better! 🙂

        1. I think JB said long ago that his wife tells him what he should have said or what he should say. Maybe she has booted him out of the bed?? If not, I would agree with her decision to send him to KH’s house. Seriously he does say the same thing in totally opposite/different ways. I really think his mouth might be faster than his brain??

      2. I would enjoy a hearing our coach off the record, head on a bar crying at 1:55 a.m. We would all understand that heartfelt aha moment, and realize we all have a lot of common feelings about the state of our team and individuals on it.

        But…, on the record has to be a different reality. He is a new pro coach who owes everything to the people that employ him and gave him his shot. Do you think another team would pick him up if he was released under these circumstances? Even he has to doubt that.

        This also leads me to believe that he does not have the the years behind him to put holes in his boat and expect veterans to bail him out and keep paddling. That wonder-full list of demoted elite players (Thanks F.S.! i agree.) mostly had coaches not on their 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd team. They had enough legacy to mess with someone elses legacy.

        Also, one positive thing about our character veterans is that they dont need someone to call them out. They do it themselves.

  8. Again, my bottom line involves both KH & JB past performances providing strong indicators of similar future performance. Hopefully, these are false indicators, but scary nonetheless—and now we have some suspicion that Chris I. may de-emphasize our beloved Red Wings.
    Maybe there’ll be some reasonable clarification in the next 10 days or so.

  9. Let’s pretend I made a disparaging remark about JB and KH then some replied to counter it. I then replied to them with some information that seems relevant, but really isn’t.

    Let’s then call that a discussion when it’s really just me being argumentative….okay?

    1. There just hasn’t been enough engaging discussion without you and your knowledge that surpasses 99% of the rest of us, Grry!

  10. Great posts guys. Way to contribute to the discussion. Now try and get back on track…

      1. Jeepers H. Cripes Almighty—don’t any of us understand this type of thing will destroy both (a) meaningful hockey conversation and (b) motivation for others to join George’s meaningful discussion formula!
        Our brains are in complete ‘fart mode’ with too many still trying to “win” the conversation!
        George DOES NOT deserve this!!!

  11. My problem with this whole thing is name names, or don’t. If you call out a kid, call out a goat. If your worried about kh firing you for making him look bad, you already have one foot out the door. If the reporter asks you about hicketts you say “he plays hard, plays to win, we love his compete level” and then stop.

    1. Exactly. But if you want to mention Hackett’s mistakes then take a moment to remind those in the media scrum that he isn’t alone, we have many vets plagued by the same mistakes. That brings the conversation back to the need for collective improvement instead of the spotlight on a kid playing his second game. This excuse about how he happened to be asked about Hackett’s is BS. You’re the coach. You can influence the media spin. Guy Boucher was getting grilled after Chabot had a rough game…his answer…yeah he’s adjusting but the whole team wasn’t engaged tonight. We need our best players to be our best players and that hasn’t happened lately. Hmm. Fancy that. Deflecting criticism off a young player and laying the blame at everyone, specifically their best players. And somehow the GM didn’t beat him up with a hockey stick. Wow. Shocking stuff huh?

      1. Your pretty good at cherry picking. He literally WAS asked about hicketts. Let’s deal with facts not your made up scenarios of negativity

        1. Biv, why don’t you either scroll up and read carefully. Or just leave me alone. I’ve spelled out almost verbatim what to say when specifically asked about Hicketts, without alienating him. Not going to write it again. So re-read or just move on. We’ll all be happier…

          1. Alienated? Lol. Why not re-type it thats what you do when you go on your crying about razz. Polly want a craCker?

  12. You guys know there was actual hockey played last night, and they won. It was also against the Penguins. So lighten up all around.

    Blashill is not the coach for this team but he is the one we have and will mostly still have next season.

    1. Even winning is a problem right now! We lose if we win, we win if we lose.

      The only thing we cling to is hope for the future, and thats not what motivates our coach that needs to win to stay. So it feels like getting to winning is going to take longer with the status quo.

      If Mr. Blashill says he has a new 4 year contract, and says that playing the kids now makes sense for a couple years. Thats when the hope returns and we would understand the constant losing.

      Ok…roasting the penguins IS awesome….thanks. better now.

Comments are closed.