As reported yesterday on their official website, Ilari Filppula, Valtteri’s older brother, has chose to sign a four-year contract with Jokerit Helsinki of the Finnish SM-Liiga.
Ilari led the Griffins with 64 points in 76 games this past season (20 goals 44 assists), The Griffins didn't make the AHL playoffs, he wasn't called up to the Red Wings during the regular season, nor was he invited to participate as a Black Ace during their playoff run. All of that, along with more money and more exposure were undoubtedly the deciding factors for Ilari to return home.
Have no fear. Red Wings’ Finnish scout, Ari Vouri, works in Jokerit’s player personnel department, so you can pretty much bet weekly reports will be on someone's desk this coming season.
Jokerit’s website also posted an interview with Ilari ... in Finnish ... so grab your Rosetta Stone DVD and brush up.
Also in the wind the past couple of days is the public announcement that Red Wing's assistant coach (and former player) Brad McCrimmon is fishing for a head coaching job with one of the 5 teams that have openings (Dallas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ottawa, and Florida). Brad faces stiff competition with from former NHL stars Kirk Muller, Craig MacTavish, Guy Carbonneau, and Kevin Dineen also on the prowl. We wish him good luck in his future endeavors and thank him for his 3 years behind the bench.
Former head coaches Ken Hitchcock and Mike Keenan have thrown their hats into the ring as well, with 'Hitch' being on the Wings short list to replace McCrimmon. Hitchcock's resume speaks volumes (defence first style/stanley cup in dallas/etc.) and will most likely be Detroit's choice to improve upon last seasons poor penalty kill stats, but it's early in the process and there are procedures to follow so no bridges are burned.
Lastly for today, even though they're still trying to sell season tickets in Atlanta, it looks like the finishing touches are being put on the sale of the Thrashers to the True North group in Winnipeg. Holding up the deal is who gets how much money and why. Naturally, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is trying to get his hands on as much as possible in an attempt to make up for the ongoing losses in Phoenix. Relocation fee?? Seriously ?? It must be nice to be a lawyer and have the ability to make up new rules on the fly. All the ugly details on the sale, and league realignment as they become final.