The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/30/12 at 04:16 PM ET
Updated 4x with qualifying offer news at 5:33 PM: In theory, anyway, as a pretend-to-be-professional Red Wings blogger, I try to project a calm exterior, but I’ve woken up repeatedly over the past week, and especially during the time I missed with my sinus bug (it’s still here but it’s manageable now) to the same sound: THUD, THUD, THUD, THUD, THUD, all heavy and in quick succession.
I’m waking up having anxiety attacks, heart beating loud and fast as I find myself half-dreaming that every one of my favorite team’s free agent targets have signed somewhere else, and that my Wings have suddenly found themselves in dire straits.
Reading all the scuttlebutt and updates regarding player availabilities (yes, the fact that players like Colby Armstrong, Shane Doan, Ray Whitney and a handful of other RFA’s who weren’t tendered qualifying offers are testing the market is neat and all, but how do they fit in?, the guessing games as to where players will end up and why (all of which will seem ridiculously dated by, at the latest, July 4th at this time) doesn’t help, so part of managing my anxiety disorder has involved some very selective reading. That, and the person in the house who’s been an RN for 30 years has told me that, for the next two days, I’m allowed to take as much anxiety medication as necessary. I’m gonna need it, because I’m scared crap-less by what’s going to happen over the next 24-48 hours.
The hardest part for me is the most difficult part for so many Wings fans, myself included, to admit: you and I can make as many sacrifices to the hockey gods as we deem necessary, to wear our favorite Wings gear and invoke all our superstitions going into tomorrow, but none of us can make up free agents’ minds for them, nor can we steer them to Detroit. We can hope and pray that the Wings are right, and that the “program,” the allure of playing for an Original Six team that still believes its one and only mission is to win Stanley Cups every year and that treats its players like royalty thanks to its fantastic ownership and front office, and really the opportunity to become “the guys” on a team that needs a couple more superstars to ensure that Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement doesn’t become a crater too deep to climb out of makes playing for the Red Wings a no-brainer.
After that, we’ve got to wait and hope, and that sucks, frankly. It sucks big, fat hairy donkey balls.
I can’t imagine that those of you with better fewer neurochemical imbalances are feeling much better, and as even these stories have expiration dates, here’s a quick look at this afternoon’s Wings news:
• One more time, from the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness: Jiri Hudler’s agent, Petr Svoboda, says that his client still feels loyal to the Wings. But not loyal enough to take a $3.2-$3.3 million salary instead of testing the open market:
“What happens with the market is an unknown situation,” said Hudler’s agent Petr Svoboda, who would not comment on how far both sides are apart on getting a deal done. “In Jiri’s situation, there’s great communication, great love for the city, the organization, everything else.
“Kenny (Holland) made an offer five days ago, we did not take it,” Svoboda continued. “I don’t know if there will be any meetings or calls before July 1. He is still hoping to go back to Detroit. We’ll see what happens.”
Wings general manager Ken Holland said both sides will probably talk again on July 1.
“We agreed earlier in the week that maybe the best fit for both of us is each other,” Holland said. “It’s a chance for us to explore the market, a chance for Jiri to explore the market. Once you hit July 1, things happen fast.”
In the daily Zach Parise update, I’m told that the presumptive free agent will be at his agent’s Mississauga, Ontario, offices for the start of free agency at 11 a.m. CT Sunday instead of sitting at his home in Minnesota.
That’s where teams will be able to make in-person pitches and presentations or call him up. He is expected to speak one last time with the Devils today, but at this juncture, why would he re-sign with them this close to free agency?
Parise will likely want to see who’s interested and what they’re offering, and if he wants, he can always circle back to the team he captains after free agency begins.
As has been well-reported, half the league or more will likely make a run at Parise, including and especially Parise’s hometown Wild. In fact, my guess is the Wild brass will be beating down the doors of Newport’s office shortly after 11 a.m. [Central Daylight Time] Sunday.
On the other hand, as previously reported, fellow hot-shot free agent Ryan Suter will be at his farm in Wisconsin while his agent is fielding calls in International Falls, Minn. Suter is not expected to meet with teams Sunday.
But the concept that Suter is going to wait until Monday to meet with teams just isn’t true. That’s what his agent told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:
If you’re a team hoping to sign Ryan Suter once the UFA market opens Sunday, trying to get an audience with him in person won’t help your chances. Just pick up the phone. That’ll be good enough.
Suter will be at his farm outside Madison, Wis. His agent Neil Sheehy will be at his office in International Falls, Minn. Nothing fancy. No desire to invite teams to pitch in person.
“It’s not Ryan’s personality, and it’s certainly not mine,” Sheehy told ESPN.com Saturday.
And don’t expect a quick decision, either. Suter may not sign on the first day of free agency.
“I don’t expect it, because I think tomorrow will be very busy and he’ll need to carefully consider all the information,” said Sheehy. “But it’s not my decision.”
In my opinion, Suter’s going to have to make a decision pretty quickly, or those buckaroos will disappear, but that’s just my take on a how the market really works.
And yes, as LeBrun points out, teams that can best front-load contracts to Parise and Suter—while adding in lockout-proof signing bonuses—have the best chances of signing them:
Detroit and Minnesota are also clubs believed have both Suter and Parise on their radar. The Stanley Cup champions from Los Angeles are also expected take a run at Parise.
Key in getting either player will be the signing bonus, up front money that is protected from any kind of lockout or labor stoppage. My guess is the winning contract for both players will be as front-loaded as possible.
Nashville, of course, remains in the mix on Suter, although I don’t think the Predators can match the up-front money I think some teams will offer. But the decision for Suter won’t just be about money. He’s going to be a rich man no matter where he goes. Fit and lifestyle for his family will also be key.
• As the New York Daily News’s Pat Leonard notes, Parise’s agent, Wade Arnott, is not offering the same, “No way he signs with New York” bluster Parise did;
• If you are interested in that sort of thing, the National Post’s Roy Barrs (via RWF) wrote a superb free agency preview;
• The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson’s take is probably the best out there as Matheson rushed a “Hockey World” column to the press to get details like this in:
Here’s how it could shake out with Suter and Parise and Jagr:
Suter: He’ll get the biggest push from the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins (Detroit’s pro scout Mark Howe was on Suter’s trail all season long, and Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero used to work for Suter’s Predators as David Poile’s assistant), and double back to Nashville with a 10-year, $100-million offer. He’ll sign with Penguins to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Parise: The Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, Red Wings and Penguins will be in the hunt. He’s from Minnesota, so that’s a lure, and so is playing with Crosby or Hart Trophy winner Malkin, but he’ll wind up in Detroit playing with Pavel Datsyuk for the same 10 years and $100 million. He’s loyal to the Devils but they don’t have that kind of dough, not with their muddy ownership situation and Ilya Kovalchuk on board for 17 years.
And yes, folks, we do have to battle what the Triple Deke describes as the Dater Curse;
• MLive’s Ansar Khan also broke down each and every one of Parise and Suter’s possible destinations;
• Again, via RWF, the Left Wing Lock’s Sarah Lindenau updated her summer prospect camp roster to reflect a subtraction from the free agent invitees list because Espoo Blues J-20 team forward Robert Rooba will take the place of Vladislav Shalimov;
• And finally, for the moment, anyway, the Wings’ summer development camp has posted a Facebook page dedicated to July 10th, when the Wings will honor Bryan Rufenach’s memory with the following event:
To honor the Lindsay, Ontario native’s memory, organizers of the development camp in conjunction with the Detroit Red Wings, Grand Rapids Griffins, and Toledo Walleye have designated July 10th as Bryan Rufenach day. The days events will kick off at 4 pm with food, beverages, and entertainment outside Centre I.C.E. Arena. The puck will drop on an intrasquad scrimmage at 7 pm at Centre I.C.E. A brief ceremony to honor Bryan’s memory will be held prior to the start of the scrimmage. Rufenach’s family has confirmed they will be in attendance on July 10th.
Tickets for the July 10th match-up will be available at the door for $5. A portion of all proceeds from ticket sales, merchandise, and concessions will benefit the memorial fund set up to help fund the operation of the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Skills Camp. Additionally donation cans will be available throughout the arena for fans who would like to make direct contributions to the fund and a raffle for Red Wings related prizes will also benefit the fund.
*** Chelios, Fischer, Drake among the former Wings to be there. Ken Holland and Jim Nill will also participate among others! ***
*** A memorial fund has been created on his behalf to honour his memory. Funds will be put toward the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Skills Camp, building upon the hockey camp Bryan started last year, but offering it free of charge to local house-league kids. Anyone wishing to make a contribution can do so in one of the following ways:
Bryan’s family has provided the following narrative about The Bryan Rufenach Memorial Skills Camp. Please help us fund this incredible endeavor for them.
Last summer was Bryan’s first year running the hockey camp. While the camp focused on skills development, Bryan’s ultimate goal was to pass on his love of hockey to young players. He adored teaching kids; not only seeing them improve before his eyes but watching the joy they felt in realizing their own progress. This was the epitome of Bryan. A natural teacher who loved working with kids, he possessed both limitless patience and infinite passion for the game. His dream was to offer the camp every year regardless of where his hockey career led him.
In honor of Bryan, his family has decided to carry on this dream. Immediate plans are for Bryan’s dad and brother to run a small camp in August and offer it to local house-league players aged 7-12 at no cost. The hope is to build the camp into a larger, volunteerbased, not-for-profit program allowing even more kids the opportunity to develop their hockey skills.
Donations to the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Fund will help cover some of the overhead costs associated with running the camp. While the camp is currently being offered in Lindsay, Ontario, the town Bryan called home for the last 10 years, the hope is to one day expand to other communities. We know that Bryan would love for his legacy to live on in helping kids to find the same fun, love and passion that he felt every time he stepped onto the ice. ***
Update: And NO, I am NOT going to follow or post the Twitter updates of the Penguins’ beat writers, who are all but intentionally dropping Ray Shero’s contracts for free agent targets’ agents to consider in the open. That’s cheap, that’s sensational, and that’s the kind of “thought balloon” crap I want to stay away from, because that jerks fans like you and me around, and that’s exactly why their press crops is doing it.
Update #2: Thank goodness, via RWF. Here’s the AP’s Larry Lage on Suter:
Ryan Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, tells AP the defenseman will hit the market Sunday, adding Nashville is “in the mix” to re-sign him.
That comes from the AP’s Josh Wawrow:
Ryan Suter’s agent says the Nashville Predators defenseman will be hitting the NHL’s free agent market.
Neil Sheehy told The Associated Press on Saturday that he doesn’t know where Suter will sign, but added the player will keep the Predators “in the mix.”
Free agency opens at noon Sunday with Suter heading a short list of marquee players expected to be available. Also potentially on that list is New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise.
Update #3: Who the hell knows what this means, per the Nashville Examiner’s Jim Diamond, quoting preacher David Poile:
“Ryan has told me umpteen times that it is not about the money,” Poile said Saturday. “I feel that he is going to be compensated very well whether it is with us or anywhere else. I don’t think that we are going to be losing out on Ryan Suter’s decision based on money. That is what he has told me, and I firmly believe by what I would be prepared to put forth in an offer to him that the decision is not going to be about money.”
Suter has let it be known that he wishes to play for a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup. He has also said that he hopes that the team he signs his next contract with will be the one he plays for the remainder of his NHL career.
Poile certainly hopes that Suter decides to continue playing for the team that made him the seventh overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, which was held in what is now known as Bridgestone Arena.
Whether or not Nashville is the place Suter signs with, Poile feels comfortable with what he has done to try and retain the 2010 silver medalist’s services.
“Absolutely,” Poile said when asked if he feels that he has done all that he could with Suter to this point. “We have had enough conversations, and I am probably speaking for both sides, we would both like to see this to be over with. Over with for me is a good ending that he is playing for us.“
It is believed that Suter may take a few days before deciding where he will take his talents going forward. Poile believes that Suter will contact the Predators to revisit negotiations after fielding offers from other teams in advance of signing his new deal.
At the Predators development camp at Centennial Sportsplex, General Manager David Poile looked business as usual. Every few minutes he would pop out of his office to watch the Predators younger players do drills. For those conspiracy theorists out there, Poile was not on his cell phone the whole time. It was interesting to watch Poile operate the day before one of the biggest moments in his Nashville tenure.
At 11 a.m. ]Central Daylight Time] tomorrow, All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter will be allowed to field offers from any team in the NHL as an unrestricted free agent. It’s Poile’s hope that Nashville is Suter’s top option.
“Both parties have stated their case and fondness of each other,” Poile said. ”Starting tomorrow, in the next couple of days, you think there’s going to be a marriage or a separation.”
Suter has stated that he would like his next contract to be his last, and he would like for it to take care of him and his family for a long time. Poile believes that no matter who offers Suter, he will likely receive a large sum of money. Because of this, Poile believes Suter’s decision will come down to other factors.
“Ryan has told me (a lot of) times it’s not about the money, and I feel he’s going to compensated very well with us or anywhere else,” Poile said. “I don’t think we’re going to be losing out on Ryan Suter’s decision based on money. That’s what he has told me and I firmly believed (that) by what I would be prepared to put forth in an offer that the decision is not going to be about money.”
Update #3.5: Here’s an exception to the UFA speculation rule as USA Today’s Kevin Allen knows his stuff:
Detroit could be front-runner for both Parise and Suter: The Red Wings have more than $20 million to spend and they covet both players. Depending on what happens with Parise and Suter, they could also be in the hunt for Doan or Jaromir Jagr. They clearly would like to get Suter to replace the retired Nick Lidstrom. Suter is Lidstrom-like as a defensive player.
Update #4: Via the Production Line, both Logan Pyett and Travis Ehrhardt were not issued qualifying offers by the Wings. Interesting.
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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.