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Mighty Wings

Jan Mursak/ Merged

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Guest ForeChecK

Havent seen him play, But i like to hear good things about our prospects

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Lives in Maribor, Slovenia…Best friends in hockey are Mitja Robar and Sergei Kolosov…Greatest hockey memory is signing a contract with the Red Wings…Hockey idol as a youth was Peter Forsberg…Greatest influence on his career was his dad…Most exciting place he’s visited is the Dominican Republic…Also speaks Slovenian and Czech…Played soccer and tennis growing up…Favorite foods are salmon, steak and sushi…Favorite music artists are Linkin Park…Favorite movie is Gladiator…Favorite TV shows are Prison Break and Californication…Favorite web site is google.com…Favorite vacation spot is The Bahamas…Favorite sport to watch besides hockey is soccer…Enjoys soccer, fishing and cars.

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Statistically speaking, no Griffins player has ever shown more improvement from one year to the next than Jan Mursak.

By Mark Newman

Jan Mursak always knew he could play hockey at the highest levels, but that belief was more severely tested than he ever might have imagined.

The Red Wings prospect would be the first to admit that he suffered through a crisis in confidence during his first full year as a pro last season.

“When I got the chance to play, I just didn’t believe in myself,” he said. “I was getting rid of the puck too fast. I wasn’t patient. I was scared to do anything because I didn’t want to mess things up.

“Last year nothing went in and I became frustrated. I was doing stuff that I’m not good at. I made mistakes. But when you’re young and inexperienced, it happens.”

A point-per-game player in junior hockey, Mursak couldn’t seem to score at the AHL level. When his production failed to materialize, he found his ice time dwindled. He became a healthy scratch so often that he lost count of the games that he sat in the stands.

His on-ice struggles were not for lack of desire or effort.

“I knew I could do it – I was always good in practice – but when the game came, nothing would go,” Mursak said. “It wasn’t like I wasn’t ready, or that something was wrong. I just didn’t have confidence.”

Through it all, Mursak remained motivated. He had come to North America in 2006 from the small country of Slovenia, wanting to pursue his dream of playing in the NHL.

His parents had sacrificed plenty to enable him to play hockey – equipment back home was not cheap – and he was not about to let them down.

“I never wanted to disappoint my parents because they put everything they had into hockey,” Mursak said. “They did everything for me and that’s why I want to make them proud, and last year it was really hard because I wasn’t doing that.

“Every time we talked, I felt bad because I knew I could do so much better.”

Frequent phone conversations with his father helped him stay focused. There were more words of encouragement when he returned home this past summer.

“I talked to my dad a lot and he supported me all the time,” Mursak said. “I didn’t know what to do any more because it was so hard. I wasn’t playing and even when I played, I didn’t believe in myself so I didn’t show anything good.”

Mursak’s first goal last season finally came in his 29th game. He finished the year with two goals and seven assists in 51 games.

It’s been an entirely different story this season. Through 51 games, Mursak already had 18 goals – a terrific turnaround for a hard-working player who refused to quit.

“Pucks started going in more often and I felt more comfortable because of it,” he said. “This year I’m getting a lot of ice time and I‘m just confident in myself, trying to make better plays and working hard, while trying to keep things simple.”

His resurgence started as soon as last season ended. He added his own twists to the Red Wings’ training program, improving his strength and conditioning, while also working on his shot.

“I have a friend back home who plays for Nashville and he wants to get better, too, so we kept pushing each other to the limit but still made it fun,” Mursak said.

He worked out twice a day, five or six days a week. He shortened his shot so that he had a quicker release. He did a lot of running. He did sprints into the hills near his home.

“I worked hard this summer – I knew exactly what I wanted,” he said. “I even took boxing classes, not to fight but just to get into shape. And it all paid off.”

He also went to a softer hockey stick and lessened the curve on the blade, although he doesn’t credit his recent fortunes to the change.

“I’m not really picky about my hockey equipment,” he said. “I don’t think it had anything to do with my sticks. I usually have my sticks for a long time before I break them.”

The difference, Mursak believes, came in his approach to the game.

“This year I’m going to the most high-scoring areas,” he said. “When my teammates have the puck, I just go to the net and look for a redirect or a rebound. I’ve just been in the right place at the right time this year.”

Mursak also stopped worrying about making the perfect pass or the pretty play. He knew he had to start taking advantage of his speed and do whatever he could to put the puck past the defense.

He was rewarded almost from the start of this season. He scored a goal in back-to-back contests six games into the new campaign and has never looked back.

"I just need to keep shooting the puck and I know it will go in, whether they’re nice goals or ugly ones. No one asks you if they were nice or not, as long as they help the team.”

Griffins head coach Curt Fraser said he never doubted Mursak’s ability, even when he struggled during his rookie season.

“Like a lot of young players, Jan found out that not everything is going to go your way,” Fraser said. “He ran into some bumps in the road, a little adversity, but he never stopped working.

“When he was getting a lot of scoring chances and not finding the back of the net, I’m sure it was tough on him, but he found a way to keep working. He probably worked harder than almost anybody last year.

“Jan has really taken a step up this year with his speed, skill and determination. He’s really impressed a lot of people and we think he has a really bright future with the Detroit Red Wings.”

Mursak will still have his struggles. He will still make mistakes. He will have trouble scoring again. In fact, he went through a 16-game stretch from Jan. 9 to Feb. 15 in which he had just one goal.

If anything, it means he will continue to work that much harder.

“I’m a really competitive person and I would do anything to be better than another player,” he said. “I’ll work extra hard. I’ll go to the gym every day for an hour more than the other guys. I just want to get better and better.”

Mursak said he was confident from the first day of training camp last fall. “I just knew I was going to have a good season,” he said. “But I want to play good for a whole season and not just a half.”

He would like to still get stronger.

“Last year I was a healthy scratch a lot of games and it was really hard on me, but I kept working hard in the gym and I got stronger, which has helped my stability on the ice.”

“I still need to get a little bigger, but I don’t want to rush it because two years ago I added a lot of weight and it didn’t work for me. I felt like I couldn’t skate as fast.”

Having made strides in his own play this year, Mursak would like to do whatever he can to improve the Griffins’ fortunes as the team heads into the closing portion of the 2009-10 regular season.

“We’re not far from winning. It’s just that one mistake or one bad period that costs us,” Mursak said. “We’re getting punched for every mistake we make. I think we’re working hard, but we’re just not working smart.

“We just need to keep it simple, especially against teams with good defense. We just need to chip the puck in and wait for their mistakes.

“This is a really good team with four strong lines. We just need to start winning. I’m a team guy and I’ll do anything for the team.”

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Thanks for posting that.

It's true, I love Mursak, he's my favourite prospect.

He's got everything that'll see him make, and succeed, in the NHL. I've known for a while that he's a commited guy, thins article proves it. As long as he continues to work hard he'll make it.

Mursak - Helm - Eaves, that'll be a amazing line for a number of years.

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Thanks for posting that.

It's true, I love Mursak, he's my favourite prospect.

He's got everything that'll see him make, and succeed, in the NHL. I've known for a while that he's a commited guy, thins article proves it. As long as he continues to work hard he'll make it.

Mursak - Helm - Eaves, that'll be a amazing line for a number of years.

Haha, your favorite prospect really does change a lot. That's good though. It means you know how to have fun with all the prospect excitement.

Though if they were to really put that line out there I think I'd want Eaves on the left simply because he has the best shot among those three and I'd like to see him coming from the opposite side because that would put him in better position to shoot.

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Mursak has the potential to be another one of Detroit's diamonds in the rough. Its great that he has a good work ethic because at his size, he will have to be a workhorse to succeed (to a certain extent). I wish him the best and look forward to seeing him in Detroit in the next few years.

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With his speed and style of physical play he will soon be playing in a Wings sweater. He is 3rd in points this season with the Griffins. One thing that could definitely be standing in his is Jeremy Williams, he's doing very well and may get a shot before Mursak.

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With his speed and style of physical play he will soon be playing in a Wings sweater. He is 3rd in points this season with the Griffins. One thing that could definitely be standing in his is Jeremy Williams, he's doing very well and may get a shot before Mursak.

You don't need to worry about Williams, I highly doubt he'll even be around next season. I don't see the Wings in his future.

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Now I know Jan isn't a bone crushing hitter but is he physical and throws the occasional hit?

I've seen him fight a few times and not done too bad but I was wondering about his checking ability. I remember him from his days with the Bulls when I held season tickets for the Sting but jsut can't eem to remember if he was physical or not. Any insight would be appreciated.

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Mursak on deck for NHL duty

By Sarah Lindenau – RedWingsCentral.com / September 20, 2010

After sitting out nearly 30 games during a horrendous American Hockey League rookie year, Jan Mursak was down but not out.

The 5-foot-11 right-winger returned with renewed vigor as a Grand Rapids Griffins sophomore in 2009-10, increasing his goal production by 1,100 percent and his point total by almost 400 percent.

He finished with 24 goals and 18 assists for 42 points through 79 games.

"My first year I was down on myself," said Mursak, who had two goals and seven assists in 51 games in 2009-10. "Last year I started on the fourth line and climbed my way up to the second line. All my shots went in and I was feeling really good on the ice and started to be confident. It was just amazing going from one season where I didn't play to playing a lot and scoring goals."

The Maribor, Slovenia native also represented his country in the IIHF Pool B world championship, collecting five goals and seven points in five games to lift his country into Pool A for 2011.

With a number of newcomers arriving in Grand Rapids this season, Mursak is expected to assume an even heavier load.

"This year is really important for me because it's my last year of a contract," he said. "I have to show what I can do and try to do my best. So in the off-season I had a private trainer who mixed the Detroit training plan with his plan. I think we did a really good job because I am feeling really good on the ice right now."

What makes this season that much more pivotal is the fact that Mursak is out of waiver options next fall. He'll be expected to increase his production and maybe get a few looks as a call-up to show he is ready for full-time NHL duty.

"Playing for the Red Wings would mean everything," he said. "When I was a young kid I always wanted to play in the NHL. I think my dreams would come true if that happens, but I am concentrating on the season in Grand Rapids first. I am sure if I play well there I will get a call up, but I don't want to think about that too much."

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Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak impress Mike Babcock in Red Wings' 3-2 preseason win over Chicago


DETROIT -- Having played together so often, it doesn't take Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg long to mesh.

Their line, which includes Tomas Holmstrom, accounted for two goals Friday as the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, in an exhibition game at Joe Louis Arena.

But the line that impressed Red Wings coach Mike Babcock the most featured three young players who will return to the Grand Rapids Griffins by the end of the preseason.

Cory Emmerton was strong at both ends of the ice, generating some scoring chances, holding onto the puck and doing a good job on the penalty kill. He assisted on a goal by Jan Mursak, who, along with Jordan Owens, used his speed to apply pressure on the Blackhawks defense.

"I thought Cory Emmerton and (Mursak) were fantastic today,'' Babcock said. "Both look like they're going to play and really push our guys, which is a great thing.''

Babcock likened the young forwards to longtime grinders Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby, seeing them as future replacement parts.

"Emmerton has good skill and good vision and sees what's going on out there. And Mursak plays with a lot of speed,'' Babcock said. "They had their team in trouble tonight just with forechecking and pressure.''

Mursak opened the scoring at 2:12 of the first period by firing in the rebound of Emmerton's shot.

"I think Cory Emmerton did a good job shooting for the rebound, and I was in the right place at the right time and put it in,'' Mursak said. "I think we played pretty well together. We were skating good, creating some offense and playing decent in our defensive zone.''

Emmerton said he hasn't played with Mursak and Owens in Grand Rapids but expects they might be on the same line this season.

"Before the game, we talked. We just wanted to play simple, play structured, get pucks on net and be responsible, and I think we used our speed and shot the puck when we had a chance,'' Emmerton said.

"It would be a very good line, (with) a lot of speed, and our chemistry seems to be pretty good. We know where each other is going to go and what they're going to do and what we expect.''

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Red Wings dress close to regular lineup today in preseason finale against Penguins.

Ansar Khan - Mlive

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings will dress close to a regular lineup in today's preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Joe Louis Arena (5 p.m., Fox Sports Net Detroit).

Pavel Datsyuk-Henrik Zetterberg-Tomas Holmstrom

Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Mattias Ritola

Jiri Hudler-Mike Modano-Dan Cleary

Drew Miller-Darren Helm-Jan Mursak

Nicklas Lidstrom-Niklas Kronwall

Brad Stuart-Brian Rafalski

Jonathan Ericsson-Ruslan Salei

Chris Osgood

Jimmy Howard


I'm so impressed with Mursak. The Wings must be also.

Am I the only one that thinks this is the last year for Mursak and Grand Rapids?

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GRAND RAPIDS -- Jan Mursak doesn't particularly enjoy speaking to the media after practice or games.

He prefers to let his play do the talking.

"I'm normally a pretty shy person, especially when I have to talk," Mursak said. "English is not my first language. I got better at it, I'm a little more comfortable talking."

Truth be told, the 22-year-old Slovenian's English is just fine. But it's his output on the ice that might get people talking.

Mursak leads the Grand Rapids Griffins with four goals and is tied for first with seven points through the season's first seven games.

The forward also owns a four-game point streak that is one shy of his career high.

Mursak, who was drafted 182nd overall in the 2006 NHL draft by the parent club Detroit Red Wings, is looking to take another step in his development after last season's drastic improvement.

After recording only two goals and seven assists in 51 games during his rookie year, Mursak's production jumped to 24 goals (second on the team), 18 assists and a plus-12 rating in 79 games last season.

"I've had a pretty good start. The years before, I had a slow start, nothing went my way really," he said. "But this year, it looks like pucks are going in.

Mursak, who was a point-per-game player for two years in the Ontario Hockey League, said he wasn't as prepared as he should have been when he made the leap to the American Hockey League in 2008.

"I didn't know about the 80 games, bad road trips. I don't think I was mentally and physically ready for all that," he said. "But I was working extra hard in the summer and got way stronger in the gym, and I think it's paying off so far."

Griffins coach Curt Fraser wasn't surprised Mursak jumped out to a strong start.

"That's what we expect out of him. Remember, the first year with this kid, he had chances every night he played, but he couldn't find the back of the net," Fraser said. "But he didn't stop working, off the ice and in the gym. He didn't let things bother him, he just kept moving forward."

Mursak's biggest asset always has been speed, which helps him create scoring chances even on the penalty kill. His two short-handed goals are tied for the league lead this season.

The biggest knock has been his size and strength, but Mursak (5-foot-11, 192 pounds) worked with a trainer this summer to ensure that area no longer is a concern.

If he continues to flash a deft scoring touch, Mursak might even earn his first NHL call-up later this season.

"I think I'm making smarter plays, I'm hanging onto the puck a little longer. I used to get rid of it pretty quick my first year, even last year," he said. "This year, I'm trying to perfect it better and kind of thinking before I do stuff, 'What am I going to do?' It's a good thing.

"During the season, we learn new stuff. You see what plays you can make, what's good, what's not good. I think I still have a lot to learn."

As long as Mursak continues to work hard, Fraser will reward him with ice time.

"I don't bench anybody," Fraser said. "I just go with the guys that are going."

E-mail Michael Zuidema: mzuidema@grpress.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/michaelzuidema

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