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Chris Chelios tells WDFN’s STK show that the Red Wings have big plans for Ericsson

As previously noted, Chris Chelios, the Wings’ Red Wings special assistant to the GM (his full title), engaged in a fascinating interview with WDFN’s “Sean, Terp and Killer” show, admitting that the Red Wings’ front office is in fact busy and bustling to the point that it almost floors Chelios to watch its machinations:

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Here’s the transcript, minus several, “Uh’s,” “Um’s” and, “You know’s” for clarity:

Sean Baligian: Hey Cheli, we had Kenny Holland on yesterday, and we were talking to him about, you know, the post-season, you sit down, you meet with the players, you meet with the coaches, and all of that…Give us some insight, now that you’re, I guess, on the other side of the business…What basically goes down in a post-season meeting, so to speak, before you take off for the summer?

Chris Chelios: Well it’s interesting, that’s for sure. In my role, obviously, I’ve got just under one year under my belt as management, I’ve sat with Ryan Martin, Jim Nill and Kenny, over the last three or four days, while they’re going through their player meetings, individually, I know Nick’s coming in on Monday, and you know, I guess…They’re just trying to strategize and position themselves, now, first for the draft, and then the prospects, and then, obviously, re-signing guys, on that July 1st, where everybody becomes a free agent, meaning Ericsson and a few other players. A lot of listening, for me, on my part, but it’s all new for me, because I didn’t go through this last year, at this time of the year, I wasn’t with the team, so…

It’s crazy, when you think it’s going to be quiet, and there’s nothing going on: there’s more going on now than, ever, right now, being like a week and-a-half, being just knocked out of the playoffs.

Tom Kowalski: Hey Chris, obviously one of the big guys, everybody cares about, is Lidstrom, and whether he’s going to come back or not, but that’s kind of a no-brainer. If he wants to come back, you’re going to take him. To me, some of the more interesting decisions are going to be the other guys, some of the role players, because that, to me, that’s where it’s hard to say, “Okay, we’ve got to get better; is this guy going to make us better, or is that a spot where we have to upgrade?” Do you see that in some of those spots?

Chelios: Well, unfortunately, the politics of the game, meaning the financials…If you’re going to go out and get someone, especially in the past, with players coming here, you’re always overpaying. You see a lot of teams have done that in the past. to get a legitimate top-four D, or who you think is your top-four D, you see a lot of guys out there that are making, $3 and $4 million as a 5th or 6th defenseman, which is, you know, it doesn’t make sense, so…

I think one of the big keys, you know, Johnny Ericsson becomes an unrestricted free agent. He’s a guy, that, if you do end up losing him, who do you replace a guy who, I would imagine that we have big plans for Johnny, to be that guy who succeeds Nick.

Obviously, you’re never going to replace a Nick Lidstrom, but a guy who can play 25 minutes a game, and that’s just one example of a player, but, like you said, the free agency, and we look at the lists of players that are available, and on top of it, you’re dealing with the cap issue, and then you’re competing with other teams that are first trying to dismantle you, and then are competing with you for those same players.

Ryan Terpstra: Chris, you worked a lot with the Griffins this year, we also talked with Kenny yesterday about some of the guys that might make an impact if they have a good work-out up in Traverse City before next season. He mentioned guys like Jan Mursak, Cory Emmerton, Tomas Tatar…Are those the names that you would think of when talking about guys who could be a threat to make the team next year? Anyone else that is, maybe is, at the top of your mind?

Chelios: Well, absolutely, you mention those two guys, or three guys, but basically, it’s the same guys that were up during the playoffs, that didn’t play, they call them the “Black Aces,” I don’t know where that name came from, but there’s [Brendan] Smith, [Doug] Janik, Tatar, they had Brian Lashoff, who was with us for a little bit, another defenseman that was in Grand Rapids who struggled with injuries this year…

But like I said, there’s question marks with players coming back. You know, Drapes, is he going to be back? And those guys that you’ve mentioned are all going to have the opportunity to make the team come training camp, and it just depends. It doesn’t look like Mike Modano’s going to return; there’s another spot that’s going to be available for one of those young guys that you mentioned.

Baligian: Cheli, we’re going to speak with Kevin Allen in the 5 o’clock hour, and I know you are well aware of all the rumors, speculation and innuendo, for people out there that don’t remember, you had a cup of tea with the Atlanta Thrashers. They’ve been run forever by Don Waddell, local guy, was part of the Red Wings’ franchise: what’s your take about everything out there about Atlanta, them pulling the plug and going back into Winnipeg?

Chelios: Yeah, well, I think the issue there is, there’s seven or eight owners, and they just can’t make a decision, I wouldn’t imagine it would be easy for all eight guys to agree on that, so…I just, it’s funny ou mentioned it; a friend of mine, that works with Kid Rock, actually, just asked. His only text was, “Atlanta, going to Winnipeg?” It’s definitely one of the teams that is very capable of moving and doing it this year. Now that Phoenix is locked in, that would have been the other alternative, Phoenix going to Winnipeg, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. If it does happen, I hope that they’re putting Detroit #1 on the list to move back to the East. It would be a big relief for a lot of people, including the Ilitches, I’m sure, with travel and the time change, we’ve had to deal with over the years, but I think it’s a very, I don’t think it’s a rumor, I think they’re trying to figure out if it’s a possibility, and if they can do it.

Note: WDFN has yet to post the Kevin Allen interview.

Kowalski: Hey Chris, we talked about that for the last couple days, and if they do move to Winnipeg, do the Wings go to the East…But you know what, when you look at the Western Conference, don’t they need the Wings? I mean, you split up the Original Six, plus, some of those teams, as you well know, the gates are huge when the Wings come to town, and some of those Western Conference owners are not going to be happy to see the Wings leave.

Chelios: No, absolutely not, but you know, it goes in stages. We’ve been a powerhouse for years. I don’t know, we made the playoffs 20 years, but it goes in cycles. And you look at Pittsburgh, they won the Cups and then had a little bit of a struggle for years, and now look at them…Some teams are going to get that 1st pick overall, Edmonton, at some point, they’re going to have those picks, so I don’t think that would be an issue, they can’t use us, ther’es revenue-sharing, so they’re going to get their cut either way from some team somewhere down the line, so I don’t, I would hope that it doesn’t factor into their decision.

Baligian: Cheli, did you see the, ahem, footage the other night, of Ben Eager in the penalty box in Vancouver?

Chelios: Ah, no, I didn’t, I’m sorry, but what happened?

Baligian: Let’s just say that a young lady came down and wished him all the best on live television.

Chelios: Oh, did she, and Ben had something to say about it?

Baligian: Ben, you know what? He played it well, he kind of looked at her when she, showed him her, ahem, goods, so to speak, and just kind of looked the other way, but it was priceless. The CBC feed caught it live, and I was like, “Did I just see what I thought I saw?” It was, uh, anything like that ever happen to you in the day?

Chelios: Not exactly like that. I played cards with someone in the crowd when I served about a 15 minute penalty, that was the only stupid thing I did in the box, thank God Jacques Lemaire didn’t see me doing that in the box, but that takes the cake, what happened with Eager, that’s some old-school Slap Shot, old-time hockey!


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Guilherme's avatar

I think one of the big keys, you know, Johnny Ericsson becomes an unrestricted free agent. He’s a guy, that, if you do end up losing him, who do you replace a guy who, I would imagine that we have big plans for Johnny, to be that guy who succeeds Nick.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 05/21/11 at 02:49 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 05/21/11 at 12:49 PM ET


”...I know Nick’s coming in on Monday,..”

So… is there a possibility we’ll know something about Lidstrom as early as Monday?

*chewing fingernails*

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 05/21/11 at 03:30 PM ET

thethirdcoast's avatar


Personally I think that Ericsson has some pretty fundamental flaws in his game that will be nearly impossible to fix at the age of 27. Based on what we just saw in the playoffs I feel like Kronwall is a more logical candidate to succeed TPH, but what do I know?

Posted by thethirdcoast from Rochester, NY on 05/21/11 at 04:01 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

Big E replace Nick???  are you kidding me???  Oh lord help us

Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michgian on 05/21/11 at 08:16 PM ET

Norskirama's avatar

I would bet that Chelios knows more about D than any of us.  I’m thinking Chelios sees potential in him still since Johnny converted to playing D not that many years ago.  Just my 2 cents worth.

Posted by Norskirama from Lincoln, Nebraska on 05/21/11 at 11:23 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.

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