The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/26/12 at 04:55 AM ET
Updated with some middle-of-the-night Swedish at 3:32 PM: I prefer to spend a little extra time on the “overnight reports” to proffer opinions that the day’s news cycle sometimes prevents me from stating—put simply, sometimes the news moves so fast that if you’re going to stay on your skates while trying to tip pucks down into the net, you might want to leave also attempting to balance on a soapbox for other times—but this morning a line of severe thunderstorms that’s making a slow southward trek across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is starting to bear down upon the immediate Metro Detroit area, so I’m gonna rush through this one…
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing given that this is more of a “tidbit” morning than one full of main courses. So, without further adieu:
• Between you and me, I think that the reason Scotty Bowman and Barry Smith are going to split duties during the Red Wings’ Winter Classic Alumni games is simple: the Wings know they made, let’s say a miscalculation by picking Dave Lewis to succeed Bowman, and as the Winter Classic Alumni Game allows some past mistakes to be partially made up for via goodwill gestures, well…
Barry Smith deserves his day behind a Red Wings team’s bench as its unquestioned coach.
• Perhaps along those lines, 97.1 the Ticket’s Jeff Riger penned a list of Detroit athletes who simply “didn’t look right” in other teams’ uniforms, and one may or may not play in the Winter Classic Alumni game, depending on whether Ken Holland can make his hardest sales job of the summer in asking Sergei Fedorov, Jimmy Devellano and Mike Ilitch to mend fences:
Sergei Fedorov: It was the 2003 offseason and I had just started working at “The Ticket” although it was an AM station and it was called “AM 1270 The Sports Station” at the time. I was screening phone calls for a number of hosts and we all got word that Fedorov decided to take his talents to Anaheim. The phone lines were jammed for a solid 10 hours with the same reaction from every caller; how dare him!
Well he did, he bolted to play with the Ducks for a number of reasons and he was never the same player again. From the Ducks to the Capitals to even the Blue Jackets, Sergei had played his best hockey in Detroit and fans never forgot it.
Now you might think the fact that Sergei essentially ruined his own career and helped Detroit win 3 cups would be reason enough for fans to eventually forgive? That of course was not the case as Hockey Town would routinely boo Fedorov unmercifully when he came to the Joe with one of his various other teams. You got to wonder if it will be the same way if Sergei decides to play in the Alumni game at Comerica Park before this year’s Winter Classic.
That’s a legitimate question given the way things went down, and to some extent, Fedorov’s departure was at the height of Sports Talk Radio’s powers. Just before the internet got big enough that it could steal the thunder away from the print and broadcast media, people puttering around message boards like myself would be relating what Sergei’s dad, Viktor, had told Sport-Express’s Igor Larin about his son’s criminal under-usage by Scotty Bowman and then Dave Lewis, and “misunderstood” status as something other than Lenin’s gift to hockey, well, it would go from message board to message board and eventually reach the wider world via the radio. The Fedorov drama’s latest twists and turns played out on a real-time basis on WDFN and WXYT, and…
It was ugly. Really ugly.
• Speaking of tricky issues, I will merely point you to the Detroit News’s Mike Martindale and the Detroit Free Press’s L.L. Brasier‘s coverage of ex-Wing Darren McCarty’s decision to drop a personal protection order against an ex-girlfriend.
For those of you who questioned the verbage of these reports, “former ex-girlfriend” does not mean “girlfriend” given that McCarty’s married to his third wife.
• As for Steve Yzerman? Well, we have about as much of an idea regarding his plans for this December as we know about Patrick Eaves’ recovery from the concussion that sidelined him for the vast majority of the 2011-2012 season—absolutely nothing—and Yzerman was spending Wednesday trying to explain kinda-sorta-assistant coach Steve Thomas’s role with the Tampa Bay Lightning to the St. Petersburg Times’ Damian Cristodero;
• In perhaps less puzzling personnel news, but also in the alumni department: as previously noted, Fabian Brunnstrom is heading back to Sweden.
You might not be surprised to find out that Brunnstrom played coy with both Gotenburg Posten’s Johan Skold and Expressen’s Mattias Ek about signing a 3-year contract with the Frolunda Indians, insisting to Ek that his goal remains returning to the NHL at some point…
But for now, here’s what you need to know: Brunnstrom had to make his decision because each and every Swedish Eliteserien club will be on the ice for training camp and a month’s worth of exhibition games by August 10th, with some teams starting as soon as Saturday the 28th (when I leave for vacation).
Moreover, that’s the norm throughout Europe—in Finland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, etc.—and Russian teams have already begun what will be six or seven weeks’ worth of training camp, so there’s a reason there was a flurry of Grand Rapids Griffins alums signing with European teams over the past few weeks, and that’s why it’s so intriguing, as the Production Line’s Michael Petrella has noted, that we have yet to find out where Travis Ehrhardt or Logan Pyett will end up (nobody seems to know where restricted free agent goalie Jordan Pearce is going to play next season, either, but we have yet to hear what his status is with the Wings to begin with).
Pyett was rumored to be headed to Sweden to play for the Malmo Redhawks, but that transaction has yet to take place. I’ve looked around, believe me, I’ve looked around.
• The other Swedish trend requires no translation, but you can go ahead and read it if you want to: Dagbladet’s Tobias Jonsson spoke to Timra IK’s general manager, Kent Norberg, about his lockout dream list, and it of includes Henrik Zetterberg, of course.
While the KHL’s been focusing on its own players, the Swedish, Czech and Slovak papers have really been talking up the possibility that NHL players would return home and play for the teams they rose to prominence with in their respective homelands during any potential lockout, and the giddiness should increase with every day that the CBA remains an unsettled and unsettling topic of conversation.
• Speaking of the CBA, as noted on Wednesday afternoon, the NHLPA is a little closer to delivering a counter-proposal after digesting the truly draconian nature of the NHL’s initial CBA proposal, which addresses the NHL’s business problems by taking a huge cut out of players’ paychecks as opposed to doing things like actually dealing with revenue-sharing in a meaningful manner or possibly dealing with the fact that some franchises aren’t ever going to make money…
But anyway, the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa spoke to two sports business professorts about the NHL’s initial proposal, and neither person believes that the s*** has yet to hit the fan:
“The owners’ proposal is just the first offer,” said Scott Rosner, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an expert in sports negotiations. “I wouldn’t expect it to be anything close to what they get in the final collective bargaining agreement. “
“And you only tend to see a work stoppage in professional sports when one of the sides is seeking a sea change, a fundamentally different way that business is done in a league,” Rosner said. “That doesn’t seem to be happening here. That said, there could be a work stoppage. But the sky isn’t falling, yet.”
“In the end, financials will drive this deal,” said Michael LeRoy, a professor of labor relations and law at the University of Illinois, who has written extensively on work stoppages in the major sports leagues. And, given that, September 15 is still plenty of time.”
The owners seem intent on accomplishing what their peers in the NBA and NFL obtained in their most recent negotiations. Both leagues began reducing the players’ share from 57 percent, just like the NHL. The 2011 negotiations in the NBA resulted in the players’ share of the revenue reduced to 51.2 percent immediately, with the distribution essentially bouncing between 49 percent and 51 percent throughout the contract. NFL players, after a lockout in 2011, now receive 48.5 percent of the revenue. In Major League Baseball, the players currently receive about 54.5 percent.
“The current NHL negotiations are framed by two events, the lockout of 2005 and the NFL lockout,” LeRoy said. “You can expect the NHL revenue numbers and percentages to track along similar lines.”
And what about “Fearing Fehr?” That might be overblown, too:
“He is the best talent out there,” LeRoy said. “But one of the dangers is whether he lets his ego get in the way. He is a legendary figure, but you wonder if he will swing too hard for the fences. That is what he needs to be careful about, as well as managing expectations.”
Rosner said Fehr adds an element of stability.
“I think Don brings a certain level of gravitas to the negotiations,” he said. “I would say with no hesitation that the NHL Players’ Association is in much better hands than at any time in the past, and oftentimes it is easier to get a deal done with someone of that ilk as opposed to someone that is less qualified. Ultimately, it’s just easier to deal with someone who knows what is going on.”
• And regarding the Wings’ difficult summer to come, Winging it in Motown’s Graham Hathaway managed to earn a spot as a guest columnist for the Detroit Free Press, calling Red Wings GM Ken Holland out, and if that didn’t keep us, uh, jittery…
Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Jeremy Lynn wants to remind us that the Blackhawks haven’t really lost anybody, and by comparison, that may or may not leave them in better straits than the Wings:
The Red Wings lost future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom when No. 5 decided to retire. They also traded another one of their top-4 defensemen when they sent Brad Stuart to the San Jose Sharks and watched 25-goal scorer Jiri Hudler sign with the Calgary Flames.
Detroit was considered one of the favorites to land Ryan Suter, Zach Parise or both, but didn’t sign either. To date, their biggest additions have been forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo. While they’re still trying to lure Shane Doan out of Phoenix, this has been a very un-Red Wing-like offseason.
I’m sticking to my guns here, and I’ll add a wrinkle: I don’t think that Doan will sign with a Western Conference team if he does leave Phoenix. I do think that the Wings will go after Alex Semin, though they may end up settling for Mike Knuble, and again, I don’t think that the Wings will look at a trade for a defenseman (or a forward) given that Bobby Ryan and Keith Yandle could cost so much in compensation that they’d create more holes in the Wings’ roster than they’d fill, which means settling for a band-aid defenseman for now (Carlo Colaiacovo, Pavel Kubina, Chris Campoli, Cam Barker, Matt Gilroy, Jaroslav Spacek, Scott Hannan, Michal Rozsival, Milan Jurcina, they’re definitely the best of Capgeek’s UFA defenseman leftovers) and making a more meaningful trade during the regular season.
Why wait? Well, aside from having no leverage with that crater on the blueline thanks to Lidstrom and Stuart’s departures, so many teams are still looking to add to their bluelines that roster gluts won’t form until too many defensemen on one-way deals populate the rosters of teams whose young players and rookies take steps forward, or, if the CBA goes the Wings’ way, too may teams find themselves tight to the cap and have to shed salary.
That’s why waiting until at least the end of the exhibition season makes managerial sense, even if it makes Wings fans like you and me squirm…
And as Holland & Company have shown us, it turns out that they’re not only in on Doan, but also made offers for Rick Nash and to Shea Weber’s camps, so they’re exploring trade options that we don’t even know about.
• If you really want to get into the business of talking about business, the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts revealed that the Coyotes’ sale is not exactly free and clear of legal tangles on Wednesday night;
• Shifting gears to Ken Holland’s backyard and charity news, according to the Kelowna Capital News’s Wade Paterson, new Wing Jordin Tootoo happened to be within driving distance of Holland’s off-season home in Vernon, BC to take part in a charity golf tournament (Holland will be holding his own at the Predator Ridge course in August):
Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie, NHL tough guy Jordin Tootoo and 102 other golfers had one thing in common Tuesday—they were swinging their clubs for the benefit of First Nations youth.
The first annual Westbank First Nation and Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society Golf Tournament raised over $30,000. Proceeds from the tournament will go toward Westbank First Nation youth programming and the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society.
“It’s good for the community to have two different native organizations collaborate together,” said Michael Blackburn, a family support worker with the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society. “Working as a team, you get more done. Us getting together, we’ve raised quite a bit of money to be able to provide for the youth.”
WFN Chief Robert Louie said that the tournament will help youth programming throughout Westbank First Nation.
Detroit Red Wings’ right wing Jordin Tootoo joined Louie’s foursome in the tournament and provided an autographed jersey to be auctioned off at the dinner.
WFN Coun. Mic Werstuik was part of the planning process for the tournament and said that he hopes to continue the tournament in the years to come.
“We wanted to make sure everyone had a great time. . .we want them to come back next year,” said Werstuik.
• In a different sort of giving back, DetroitRedWings.com’s Andrea Nelson reports that the Red Wings are hosting youth campers this week, and that they’re working their tails off already:
With sleep in their eyes, over 100 campers streamed into Joe Louis Arena at 7 a.m. Wednesday for the Red Wings’ youth hockey camp. But as quick as they received their brand new camp jerseys, their excitement to play in the Wings’ home took over. There were laughs, yells and hellos as the campers dragged equipment bags as big as themselves into the locker rooms that were theirs for the next three days.
Then it was time to get to work. Some campers jumped on the ice while others walked up the flights of stairs to the concourse for dryland training. The 9- and 10-year-olds went upstairs first. A trainer greeted them and ran them through a circuit of agility drills to warm-up muscles for the next few hours.
“It was fun and hard,” one camper, named Blake, said of the dryland training. “The best ones were probably the ladder things. We had to do two-foot jumps in the ladder sideways.”
After the two-minute circuit training, it was time for the infamous wall sits. More than 40 campers shared the concourse’s numerous walls and pillars to test leg strength.
“My legs started shaking,” said Eden, another youngster, who is participating in the three-day camp that concludes Friday.
“Yeah it hurt,” Blake said. “I’d rather sit on a chair next to the wall instead of having my back on the wall sitting there.”
The campers had guidance from a few old and current faces of the Wings’ franchise. Howard, center Cory Emmerton, and former forward Kirk Maltby instructed the campers through drills and scrimmages.
• In the “coming attractions” category, we already know that Los Angeles Kings enforcer Kevin Westgarth is bringing the Stanley Cup to Amhertsburg, Ontario (across the way from, uh, Downriver, and the former gateway to Boblo Island) on August 21st, and WILX’s Tim Staudt reports that the Cup’s coming to the Lansing suburb of Grand Ledge on August 10th, thanks to
Michigan State University alum
The Stanley Cup comes to Grand Ledge on Friday, August 10th. A parade through town will begin at the Fire Barn on the north end of Bridge Street and wind through town. The Cup is hosted by Grand Ledge native Matt Greene, assistant captain of the NHL champion Los Angeles Kings. He vowed to bring the Cup home for display and details are set.
It will later be on display at the high school football stadium and later at other locations in town including City Hall. Other Grand Ledge teams will be involved in the parade at Greene’s request and a Color Guard will be a part of the proceedings as well.
• And finally, in the programming department:
My availability is going to be a little limited as I prepare to go on vacation. Today I’m doing a little mental health maintenance and/or medication pick-ups (hey, it all plays into the equation) starting at 1:30 and will have to steer the mom through Wal-Mart as we do our pre-vacation supply shopping run; tomorrow, I’m going to be gone for chunks of the afternoon for ye olde trip to the bank, and in the evening I’ll be packing…
And on Saturday, I’m headed up to Grand Marais for a week. I’ll be back on August 4th, and I will try to check in every day at least once, if not twice, for my sanity as much as yours, but I’ll be trying to enjoy my vacation, too. It’s been a hard year (they’re all hard) and this summer’s been a bit more difficult than most, but I’ve managed to keep it together, and now I need to go be with my fellow crazy relatives and do something utterly insane in trying to swim in Lake Superior, which is lovely, even in late July, once the hypothermia sets in.
There may be one big addendum to this entry, but with the first of two lines of severe thunderstorms rumbling through, I’ve gotta get this out and on the web.
• I done forgot: the Production Line has let us know that H2H3 is on;
• And via RedWingsFeed, Aftonbladet’s Angelia Lundberg spoke to ten Swedish NHL’ers about their off-season training regimens, and Niklas Kronwall weighed in her top ten list (roughly translated of course)...
Niklas Kronwall, Detroit: There’s a [workout] session every day from Monday to Friday that’s 90 minutes long, and I rest on weekends. I do a lot of rehabilitation work to protect my shoulders and knees. Training every summer as I do now allowed me to play in every game last year, so it’s incredibly important.
And Lundberg also wrote a feature article on Kronwall and his unlikely workout pal, Nashville Predators forward Patric Hornqvist:
Coming into form—in Stockholm
It’s the middle of summer—but NHL stars are ripping it up in the gym.
Summer training is NHL players’ only chance to build up their body.
It basically saved Niklas Kronwall last season.
“It was the first time in a long time that I played in all the games, and was injury-free,” he says to Sportbladet.
The NHL season is still far off, and just like many other players, Patric Hornqvist and Niklas Kronwall decided to go back to Sweden for the summer. Both are residents of Stockholm and they spend many hours together in the gym.
“I work out five times a week for 90 minutes each time, and then I’m off on weekends,” says Hornqvist, who’s supported by Kronwall.
Surely you can understand that they have a vacation here at home, but it’s not that simple.
“We have no deadlines to meet, but training is your own responsibility, so it’s no holiday, even if people think it is,” says Hornqvist.
Most important training
The focus during the summer is on core strength and explosiveness. Something they both feel that they lack. Hornqvist has even enlisted the aid of a Finnish skating coach.
“I need to be faster on the ice, and this is a good way [to do it],” he says.
The NHL players’ most important training is during the pre-season. It means more to them than it does for Eliteserien teams.
“When the season kicks off, everything is focused on playing 82 games plus playoffs. We don’t have the time to build up our body a little more during that time, while Eliteserien teams have fewer games and more free time. They can push it during training sessions, and maintain their bodies in a different manner,” said Kronwall.
Do you think you’re in better shape than Eliteserien players?
“We have more hockey conditioning because of our games, it’s not the same as it is from working out. At the same time, we lose more strength because we can’t keep up the pace during the season the same way as Eliteserien teams, so the answer is yes and no.”
Both Kronwall and Hornqvist have been in Sweden for a few weeks and have had time to decompress. When they’re not at home, they [okay, this is very Swedish, so let’s give it a try: “miss having sausage and hash in the pan, spending time far apart from their families”].
That was the best I could do with that one. Sorry.
“Friends and relatives receive nearly all the time now because you’re away from them for eight months. But my girlfriend and I have also bought a house, so there’s plenty to do there as well. I’ve become a bit of a groundskeeper,” says Hornqvist.
“I’ve had trouble with injuries”
Kronwall’s taken the opportunity to go on a golfing trip with his brothers in Mallorca (Spain), but he’s just returned to Stockholm, and he does a lot of rehab work for his knees and shoulders at the beginning.
“I’ve had trouble with injuries over the past four or five years, and therefore I try to work out gently. Last season was the first time I played for the whole year and played in every game, and it depends on a lot of basic training in the summer,” he says.
What’s the most important to work on?
“There are training sessions and then you get on the ice. The desire always comes back after a break and then you reignite. Had I replied otherwise I probably would be a weightlifter instead,” said Hornqvist.
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About The Malik Report
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.