GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — New general manager Steve Yzerman isn’t wasting any time putting his mark on the Detroit Red Wings’ front office.
He and other Wings brass traveled to Grand Rapids Tuesday for annual exit interviews with players for the AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins, whose season came to a close over the weekend.
Yzerman said the Griffins program is essential to what he’s trying to build in Detroit.
“The stage we’re in, we’ve had several young players come into the organization that we are counting on to move on to Detroit eventually. A lot of draft picks in these next couple of drafts, so we need to have a good environment,” he told reporters. “We need to have a good development program for them, so it’s absolutely crucial that we run a good program. We know we have a good environment here and we’ll do everything we can to make it even better.”
The exit interviews give the players a clear idea of what they need to work on what the teams’ plans are for them. For a couple of top prospects, Filip Zadina and Dennis Cholowski, development in the off season will be key. Both have showed they have the skill to play in the NHL, but both also need some improvement.
“It was way more physical hockey than I played in junior,” Zadina said. “It’s (what they want me to work on), about the quickness and the physicality. I would say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as of now.”
“I was sent down to work on my defensive side, being harder and more assertive,” Cholowski said. “I feel like I did a pretty good job of that a hopefully I can continue to work on that over the summer and be ready to go next year.”
Yzerman, a Red Wings legend, was named the team’s general manager earlier this month after the team moved longtime GM Ken Holland to senior vice president.
“I learned a lot working with Kenny over the years, playing for him and then working alongside of him,” Yzerman said,. “And then over the last eight, nine years since I left, just spending time with him, I learned a lot. Obviously having a career with the Red Wings organization and living in Detroit and living in Michigan, I’m thrilled to be back and look forward to the challenge.”