The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/09/12 at 07:33 AM ET
Red Wings GM Ken Holland may or may not be talking through both sides of his mouth today, and that’s a good thing. While the Red Wings and the rest of the NHL’s teams have more or less chosen to close up shop in terms of shopping for free agents or making trades (as Paul posted, even the free agents looking for work understand that CBA issues are the biggest reason that even bargain bin players agents’ cell phones aren’t ringing), and Holland told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that the summer has more or less reached its slowest point…
“Sort of a down time,” general manager Ken Holland said of this particular period around late July and early August, as even general managers unplug for a few days and the league takes a breather.
The Wings still have a need for a defenseman and the search could continue right up to the start of training camp.
There are some remnants available in the unrestricted free-agent bin, although the pickings are slim. Defensemen Michal Rozsival (Phoenix) and Carlo Colaiacovo (St. Louis) are both injury-prone but would add some experience to a Wings defense that needs a veteran presence after losing Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart. Tampa Bay’s Brett Clark might be a good third-pair defenseman.
But what’s also throwing a monkey wrench into plans for the Red Wings and every other team is the discussions over a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Still in their early stages, the talks haven’t exactly produced much optimism. That could put the start of training camp, then the regular season, in jeopardy.
And if salaries are slashed, and teams suddenly find themselves over the cap, some players could be looking for new teams — which is where the Wings could end up snatching a veteran defenseman. Until then, expect this slow time around the NHL to continue a little longer.
MLive’s Brendan Savage suggests that the Wings are still kicking the tires on Jay Bouwmeester’s asking price, just in case the Calgary Flames plan on moving the big defenseman and his even bigger salary:
A team source confirmed the Red Wings are talking with the Calgary Flames about making a deal for veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who has been the subject of trade rumors for more than a month.
The Red Wings are attempting to solidify their defensive corps with a trade because no top defensemen remain available through free agency.
Bouwmeester became expendable in Calgary when the Flames signed Dennis Wideman to a five-year, $26.25 million deal and the Red Wings need help on defense after captain Nicklas Lidstrom retired and Brad Stuart was traded to San Jose before he could sign with the Sharks as a free agent.
Wideman’s contract hiked Calgary’s payroll to $66.6 million, which is under the $70.2 million salary cap. But if the cap is reduced as expected when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, that could force the Flames to dump salary and the possibility might reduce their asking price for Bouwmeester.
The drawback to acquiring Bouwmeester is his $6.68 million salary cap hit for each of the next two seasons. Only Pavel Datsyuk ($6.7 million) has a higher cap hit among the Red Wings. The Red Wings have the money to pay Bouwmeester – they’re $13 million under the salary cap – but while they’re not thrilled at his price tag, they’re also desperate to upgrade their defense.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Bouwmeester, who turns 29 next month, was Florida’s first-round pick (third overall) in the 2002 NHL entry draft and spent the first six seasons of his nine-year career with the Panthers before being traded to Calgary in June 2009.
He was regarded as an up-and-coming star after averaging 14 goals and 40 points in his final three seasons with Florida. But has never approached those numbers in Calgary, where he has averaged four goals and 27 points in three seasons.
As Savage points out, now that the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves without Shea Weber and down a defenseman after Andrej Meszaros tore his Achilles tendon while engaging in off-season training, so they may be interested in Bouwmeester, too.
You probably know the list of available names by rote by now—I do, anyway, in saying that Michal Rozsival, Carlo Colaiacovo, Pavel Kubina, Jaroslav Spacek, Cam Barker, Matt Gilroy, Chris Campoli and Scott Hannan are all available; Wings beat writers have pointed out that stay-at-home defenseman Brett Clark is also available, and the Calgary media has suggested that the Flames might be able to move Anton Babchuk and his $2.5 million salary a little more easily given that the 6’5,” 200-pound 28-year-old wouldn’t require the kind of return the Flames would demand to simply save face given the amount of money and term they gave to Bouwmeester…
But as trade rumors tend to run wild, and as I’d strongly suggest that the Wings are more likely to be engaging in tire-kicking than serious discussions about any of their potential trade candidates, whether they be blueliners or forwards, at this point, a little cold water won’t hurt the simmering coals of impatience from fans like you and me. Lyle “Spector” Richardson offered some realism regarding the Flyers’ potential trade targets, and these words seem to apply to the Wings as well:
In terms of trade options, Jay Bouwmeester of the Calgary Flames was at one point this summer expected to become trade bait, but Flames GM Jay Feaster appears reluctant to shake up his roster.
Rumor bloggers persist in claiming Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes could be had, but Coyotes GM Don Maloney stated weeks ago he was keeping Yandle.
Earlier this summer, there was some talk in the Ottawa media suggesting the Senators should shop Sergei Gonchar - who has one season left on his contract at a cap hit of $5.5 million - for another scoring forward. Senators GM Bryan Murray appears content to retain Gonchar, especially with captain Daniel Alfredsson returning for another season.
San Jose Sharks veteran blueliner Dan Boyle has seen his name bandied about by some Philadelphia bloggers and pundits. Sharks GM Doug Wilson doesn’t appear in any hurry to move Boyle, whose skills, experience and leadership would be difficult to replace. Wilson would also prefer to give Brent Burns, Boyle’s heir apparent, another season before determining if he’s ready to take over as the Sharks’ top blueliner.
The Buffalo Sabres are also a potential trade partner, as they’re carrying nine defensemen, eight of whom are on one-way contracts.
Since they traded Derek Roy to Dallas, the Sabres could use more depth at center. Some fans seem to think Sabres management would love to bring back Danny Briere (assuming he’d accept a trade), but odds are they’d be more interested in Couturier or Schenn.
One affordable option could be Canadiens blueliner Yannick Weber, who was the subject of trade speculation in his native Switzerland. Weber denied the report, claiming his intent is to stick with the Habs, though he acknowledged the possibility of being moved at some point this season.
And again, the Red Wings have two things going against them going into trade talks with anyone:
1. The team has little to no leverage in terms of attempting to make a move without creating another hole on their roster to help fill the crater left by Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart’s departures, and the team clearly has no desire to move players like Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen (sorry, folks) or top prospects like Brendan Smith or Gustav Nyquist to simply grease trade wheels when teams could indeed find themselves in cap and/or 23-man roster limit trouble when the new CBA takes effect, so waiting while continuing to gauge free agents and trade targets’ asking prices would offer the most prudent option for the Wings at this point;
2. And given that Filppula, Danny Cleary, Drew Miller, Ian White and Jimmy Howard will all be unrestricted free agents next summer (and will be harder to re-sign given a more restrictive CBA), and that Jakub Kindl, Jan Mursak, Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Brian Lashoff, Thomas McCollum and Joakim Andersson, among other prospects, will be restricted free agents next summer, there’s no point in adding a cap millstone to the mix unless the Wings can ensure that, say, bringing a Bouwmeester onto the books won’t cost them a Filppula, Howard or Nyquist.
Long story long, I’m sure the Wings are indeed talking to the Flames about Bouwmeester, I’m sure they’ve talked to Calgary about Babchuk as well, I’m sure that they’re talking to the Coyotes about Yandle, I’m sure that Holland’s touched base with Bryan Murray regarding Gonchar, I’m sure they’re monitoring Lubomir Visnovsky’s grievance with the NHLPA regarding his no-trade clause’s violation when he was traded from the Ducks to Islanders without his consent, and I’m sure that the team’s talking to Colaiacovo, Kubina, Campoli, Barker, Gilroy, Rozsival, Hannan, Spacek and Clark’s agents, and I’m sure that the team has several other irons in the fire—including targeting some UFA and/or trade targets in attempts to add a goal-scoring forward to the mix…
But given the uncertainty surrounding the CBA, we should all assume that these discussions are taking place as part of a very slow but steady and persistent attempt to improve the Wings’ roster while every GM sits on his hands waiting to see what the hell’s going to happen between the NHL and NHLPA over the course of the next five-and-a-half weeks.
In news from the other side of the pond, Peter Forsberg’s Icebreakers charity hockey team played against Njurunda SK on Wednesday evening, and that happens to be Henrik Zetterberg’s hometown team, so he spoke to Dagbladet’s Oskar Lund about his experience playing against the franchise which first groomed him for Swedish Eliteserien stardom with Timra IK and then his NHL career with Detroit (and all of this is roughly translated):
“I’ve really been looking forward to this, and I haven’t played any senior games here since I left for Timra so early, so it was a lot of fun. Everything worked out great, and the reception was tremendous,” said Zetterberg.
Fredrik Modin [who’s also from Njurunda and played for Timra IK] also made a comeback.
“It was fun, and right now my body feels better than I thought it would. But it’ll probably be worse tonight and tomorrow,” said Modin.
Were you looking to make a real comeback?
“It’s no doubt that it’s fun, but I know I have too much pain to make that work” [said Modin].
Henrik Zetterberg played with retirees in Peter Forsberg and the aforementioned Modin in what would prove to be the evening’s hottest line.
“I was a little pissed off when I saw the lineup because I was going to do so much skating, but it went well,” Zetterberg said with a smile.
Before the third period the score was 8-2, but Zetterberg and Modin switched to Njurunda’s team and played the final period for the parent club whose ranks were reinforced by Erik Gustafsson and Sebastian Lauritzen, among others.
“We knew that we’d play with them for the last period, and it was fun to go back into the locker room. Unfortunately we didn’t have much energy left in the end,” said Zetterberg, who himself had no time to rest.
He landed in Sweden on Wednesday night after meeting with the NHL’s players union in Barcelona. They’re currently negotiating a new agreement with the NHL, and if they don’t reach a new one, a lockout may await.
“I don’t really know what to believe, but I hope of course that there will be games played. All our players want to play, ” says Zetterberg on the negotiations.
Zetterberg also addressed said negotiations a little more directly while speaking to Sundsvalls Tidning’s Eric Westlund:
“We stand together and know what we want. We want a fair contract,” says Zetterberg, and continues:
“When there was a lockout in 2004, we took an incredible cut. We had to give 24% of our wages right back, for example.”
Now the players don’t want to give in again.
“It’s their turn to take responsibility. We took it last,” Zata says.
The NHL’s training camps usuallys tart in mid-September, but it won’t be so this year unless the parties have agreed.
“We can’t start unless we have a new contract.”
Do you think there will be a lockout?
“I don’t know what to believe. All our players want to play over there, but there’s not much time to play with,” says Zetterberg.
Unlike many other stars, Zetterberg would not be able to play in Sweden immediately if a lockout becomes a reality.
“Because I’m [part of the negotiating team], that’s going to be my season in this case. It’d be in December at the earliest.”
• In cheerier news, Expressen’s Stefan Nilsson spoke to Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson about his naming to the Frolunda Indians’ board of directors. The news is a bit of a shocker, but in theory, anyway, it represents no conflict of interest for him or Frolunda:
Frolunda’s strengthened with a strong NHL name
Gothenburg: Frolunda expanded its Board of Directors.
And it recruited Detroit’s chief European scout, Hakan Andersson, 47.
His 22 years of experience with one of the NHL’s strongest clubs will help build Frolunda’s future.
“I have some viewpoints and ideas which I hope will help Frolunda,” says Andersson.
Scouts whose tasks are to find the best players for their teams don’t usually sit on other teams’ boards of directors.
But for their annual meeting on August 29th, the Frolunda Election Committee will propose that Hakan Andersson be elected to a new board, which will be expanded from four to six members, plus the chairman.
Hakan Andersson is famous in the hockey world, but unknown beyond.
His scouting work has been a contributing factor in Detroit’s four Stanley Cups over the last 20 years, and of course, he recruited all the team’s successful Swedes.
“Except Nicklas Lidstrom,” said Hakan Andersson with a laugh. “He was already drafted when I started.”
Andersson has a huge network of contacts throughout the hockey world. And he has strict control over the talented players [he guides] on this side of the atlantic.
So why then is Andersson, who lives in Stockholm and is governed by Detroit, going to Frolunda?
“We’ve engaged in discussions for several months. And we think similarly in many ways in terms of what one should do to develop a team,” he says. “The NHL isn’t right all the time, but Detroit does everything professionally. And Swedish clubs need to work at that level, there is no voluntary work anymore.”
Frolunda’s chairman, Mats Grauers, who has both met with and had other contact with Hakan Andersson, is very pleased that Andersson’s about to embark upon his tenure on the board.
“It’s something new,” says Grauers. “We get great hockey skills and extensive knowledge of various players.”
But is there a risk of bias because he’s a scout who’s looking for players [for his employer]? Sometimes even Frolunda’s.
“I’m not worried about that,” answers Grauers.” If he would think that any of our players were good enough to be considered for Detroit, it wouldn’t matter whether he sits on our governing board or not.”
Hakan Andersson has wondered if it could be a problem.
“Have many ideas”
“We’ll see what happens if it would be necessary for Detroit to draft a player from Frolunda. But I don’t think there’s any conflict,” he said.
Andersson has received approval from the Detroit Red Wings to sit on Frolunda’s board of directors.
“I have many ideas. It will be great fun if I get to test some of them with Frolunda,” he says.
• And this ties in to something the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted about the Wings’ prospect tournament:
The Wings’ annual eight-team prospects tournament in Traverse City, the weekend before training camp begins, could be in jeopardy.
If there’s no CBA, or if progress remains slow, the tournament could be canceled, as the CBA expires Sept. 15 and the tournament can’t be held without a CBA.
Holland said a decision on the tournament will be made later this month.
As it turns out, I believe the Wings posted official news that they’ve assigned Calle Jarnkrok to Brynas IF and Teemu Pulkkinen to Jokerit Helsinki for the sakes of those European teams.
And while my Finnish is terrible, Iltahleti‘s Patrik Rummukainen spoke to Pulkkinen about his summertime training and the learning experiences he gained from attending the Wings’ summer camp. Here is an incredibly rough translation of Pulkkinen’s comments:
“I’ve been working out very hard this summer. I want to improve my game from last season and want to help my team in my own way,” Teemu Pulkkinen said.
“I went to play with 41 other young players who were prospects in Detroit, at their camp. I practiced and played a lot, but managed to get to know other players along the way,” says Pulkkinen.
Although the Red Wings’ brass have compared Pulkkinen with the cold-blooded sniper Brett Hull, the Finnish talent is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
“I received a quite a bit of positive feedback from the camp, and it went pretty well, but much remains to be done yet.”
Regarding the CBA, I know that the media’s starting to get itchy regarding the NHL and NHLPA’s slow but steady discussion of systemic issues before tackling the elephant in the room—The Hockey News’s Adam Proteau’s top ten list of CBA issues to be discussed displays a wee bit of impatience, and the Sporting News’s Jesse Spector and ESPN’s Katie Strang seemed to be displaying a little bit of siege fatigue based on their Twitter comments on Wednesday.
For those of you who think that per-diems and agreeing to file trades, call-ups and demotions with the NHL’s Central Registry via email instead of faxes to be boring fare as opposed to the kind of nit-picky stuff that forms the guts of the CBA—and the kinds of issues that have to be agreed upon so that the NHL and PA can’t simply say, “Hey, what about grandfathering visors in?” while staring each other down regarding the players’ share of revenues and the league’s revenue-sharing plans—well, there was good news on Wednesday, because the NHL and PA finally got down to a very sticky wicket in discussing supplemental discipline.
As the Sporting News’s Spector notes, the players really despise the concept that they can only appeal fines or suspensions issued by one Brendan Shanahan to Gary Bettman himself, and that discussion provoked some…“heated discussion”...Given that the NHL wants to keep things the way they are:
“I think it’s more changes they’d like to see made,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “I think it’s fair to say that, I think the objectives they have in their changes are objectives that we share. We just believe that the supplementary discipline process— it’s a tough process, but it works fairly well. I’m not sure some of the changes they propose would necessarily improve it. I’m not prejudging that. It’s something we have to talk through with them, and we come at it with an open mind.”
Despite his initial disagreement with the NHLPA’s ideas, Daly balked at the characterization of discipline as a “divisive” issue in negotiations. The union is not necessarily looking at modifying the appeals process—if a system can be put in place to make Shanahan’s job easier with guidelines, rather than handling disciplinary issues on a case-by-case basis, it could represent a big step toward reforming a process that had come under heavy public scrutiny long before Shanahan took over as the league’s sheriff last summer.
“It’s an ongoing discussion—it’s evolving,” said Mathieu Schneider, special assistant to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr. “We have a lot of common goals, and it’s about coming to a system that the players feel very confident in, is the goal at the end of the day. We want players to feel confident, and we want general managers and coaches to feel confident, and we want the fans to feel confident in it as well.”
Fans would most like to feel confident in the idea that the 2012-13 NHL season will start on time, and a better gauge of that confidence should come after Fehr returns to the bargaining table on Thursday following a trip to Europe to update players there on the talks.
The expectation is that Fehr’s return will bring core economic issues back to the front burner, although those issues will not come to full boil until the NHLPA presents its counterproposal. That may not happen this week, as Schneider said that the union still is in the process of receiving independently audited financial information from the league.
Here’s a video Spector posted of Schneider addressing the press:
NHL.com’s Dan Rosen took note of some of the first public growling not coming from Gary Bettman’s mouth as well…
The primary agenda item Wednesday was the League’s supplementary discipline process. Several key members of the NHL Player Safety Department, including Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan and Managers Rob Blake and Stephane Quintal, were involved in the negotiating session that dealt with supplementary discipline. There was also an additional sub-committee session that included discussion on legal matters.
Both Daly and NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director Mathieu Schneider said the discussions on supplementary discipline were lively. Schneider said the supplementary discipline process is an important issue for the players and those who were present in the meeting Wednesday expressed strong opinions. The players in the meeting were George Parros (Florida Panthers), Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders), Steve Montador (Chicago Blackhawks), JT Wyman (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Ron Hainsey (Winnipeg Jets).
Daly said the players’ interest in the supplementary discipline process does not come as a surprise to the NHL’s negotiating committee.
“I would suggest that based on what we’ve heard to this point in the negotiations, and now we’ve been at this a month-and-a-half, it seems to be an important issue for the players, so it’s an important area of discussion,” Daly said. “I think it’s an important issue for the League; just in terms of player safety on the ice and how we handle those matters is very, very important. So, we share the view that it is an important issue, it needs to be addressed by both sides.”
But while tackling these issues allows the parties to ratchet up both the rhetoric and the “temperature” in the room without coming to blows…
Schneider added, “If you can work through on important issues, especially like supplementary discipline, it paves the way to further discussion.”
The ten-ton elephant in the room remains the parties’ main focus, even if it’s been delayed by Donald Fehr’s jaunt to Europe to update Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Gustav Nyquist and 35 other players who attended the Barcelona players’ meetings:
Daly reiterated Wednesday that the League is still waiting for the Union to make its proposals on the core economic issues. The League made its proposals last month.
Schneider indicated that the PA is in the process of “developing alternate proposals.”
“We’re missing a key part of the negotiation, which is where they sit on the important economic issues,” Daly said. “So, until we hear from them on the important economic issues it’s tough for me to forecast what the future might hold.”
The NHL posted a video from the proceedings as well…
And as ESPN New York’s Katie Strang notes, the growling and grousing was somewhat welcome, all things considered:
“At times there have been heated exchanges,” Schneider said. “There’s definitely strong opinions on both sides, especially when it comes to supplementary discipline, but I wouldn’t describe it as adversarial. Not at all.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly similarly downplayed the tension and described the discussions as “lively.”
“I wouldn’t characterize it as tense, I really wouldn’t,” Daly said. “People had strongly-held views, and we heard some players in particular, how important this issue is to them. That didn’t surprise anybody at our end of the table. Actually, I thought it was a good, lively discussion. I didn’t feel tense at any point.”
Both league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan and fellow members of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety Stephane Quintal and Rob Blake were involved in Wednesday’s subcommittee meeting on supplementary discipline. Schneider declined to disclose the specific gripes the players have with the current system, but he made it clear that they’d like to see some changes.
“I don’t think we’d be discussing it if we were satisfied with it,” Schneider said.
Although the two sides recently have found common ground in other areas—legal and health and safety issues, for example—supplementary discipline may be among the most polarizing of the “non-core” economic issues that must be brokered should they come to a new deal.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as divisive,” Daly said. “I would suggest that, based on what we’ve heard at this point of negotiations now that we’ve been at this a month and a half, it seems to be an important issue for the players.”
And regarding the elephant in the room that may return with Donald Fehr today, Pro Hockey Talk’s Mike Halford may have posted the most revelatory article of the day at noon, because Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell more or less spilled the beans on Gary Bettman’s negotiating strategy while speaking to Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia’s Tim Panaccio:
To use Gary [Bettman’s] own words, it’s a systemic issue,” Hartnell said this week. “He doesn’t want to look at the rich teams or the teams that are losing money. He wants to look at them all together which is a total 180 from what it was seven years ago. It’s a little frustrating that way, but that’s their position and you take it as it is. You have to believe they are 100 percent certain of getting everything [from us]. It’s up to us to see if it’s feasible or not. But you look at the rollback and percentage they want and it’s more concessions than we gave up last time around.”
Seven years ago, when negotiations began under then NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow, the league wanted a salary cap, cost certainty, parity and to save the small market clubs from economic oblivion. Small market Carolina won a Stanley Cup coming out of the last lockout – much like Tampa Bay did the year before the lockout – and Los Angeles, a team that seemed far removed from being considered a Cup contender a few years ago, won the Cup this season. Competitive parity has never been better.
The greatest irony, however, is that seven years later, small market Nashville, which still receives a hefty revenue sharing check, is among the most competitive in the NHL and recently matched the Flyers’ gargantuan restricted free agent offer sheet to Shea Weber of 14 years and $110 million.
“The biggest thing I heard seven years ago was we had to save the dying teams – the Nashvilles, the Tampa Bays, the Phoenixes,” Hartnell said. “There were five or six teams that were hurting. You look seven years later and the way the cap was growing, and the way the league revenue was growing, it’s been nothing but great things for everybody. Fans are happy. The game is the best it’s ever been. What is all comes down to is, they [owners] want a bigger piece of the pie. Seven years ago they wanted cost certainty, they wanted parity in the league and locked us out to get it and got everything they wanted.
“… We’re not going to take a deal where Ryan Suter and Zach Parise sign $100 million deals only to take a 24 percent cut and get paid 76 million. I don’t know if owners were thinking that’s why they signed these guys to that kind of money, but it’s a little ridiculous to me.”
“They have a set of goals to get,” Hartnell said. “As you see by their first proposal … it takes every leverage a player had and throws it out the window. Obviously, the biggest thing is the percentage [of revenue]. Forty-six percent for us, instead of 57. It’s very frustrating for us, that’s for sure.”
Recently, the union made it clear after one bargaining session that the owners need to take a harder look at revenue sharing and change the system to make it more viable to struggling clubs. On that front, it is expected the union will counter with a luxury tax, which Fehr instituted with success in baseball.
“Whether there’s a luxury tax, I don’t know how you make it work, but you read all these articles and a lot of people have great ideas,” Hartnell said. “It’s up to us to get the players and owners to figure it out before there is a stoppage. It’s August and probably six weeks till training camp starts … I think the information we’ve asked for and have gotten certain part now, that’s the key to the whole thing. You can’t make an educated decision on a cutback if you don’t know what is going on without audited records. We’re doing a great job to get informed and make an educated decision. These are educated men and hockey men. It’s ridiculous to think they don’t want to start the season on time.”
I don’t believe that the NHL cares if the season starts on time, but that’s just me looking at the record of the gentlemen who’ve locked the players out twice over the past 18 years.
And finally, if we’re going to be speaking about “heated discussions,” I know that more than a few of you suffered from Magnum P.I. raised eyebrow syndrome when you heard that Paul Coffey, Martin Lapointe and Mathieu Dandenault will be joining the Wings’ alums for the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park, but I’ll put things bluntly:
In Coffey’s case, I know that the man held a grudge against the Red Wings for trading him to Hartford for an incredibly long time, and given that Coffey both found himself losing the Cup to the Wings as a member of the Flyers in 1997 and given that he never really reclaimed the form he displayed in Detroit as his career waned, bouncing from Hartford to Philly, Chicago, Carolina and eventually Boston, his career may very well have ended after the Wings rewarded him for a 90-point season in 95-96 by sending him and Keith Primeau to the Whalers for Brendan Shanahan.
Bringing Coffey back into the fold can help mend fences and offer at least some sort of acknowledgment that leaving a Hall of Famer out of a three-Cup run may have been business as opposed to something more personal (despite Scotty Bowman’s mind games to the contrary)...
And I think some of us forget that Martin Lapointe’s departure was almost as acrimonious as Sergei Fedorov’s exit—and it had an effect upon Lapointe’s career similar to Coffey’s departure.
The old rumor goes that Ilitch suggested to Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs that he was a cheap SOB during a Board of Governors meeting (Jacobs is now the Chairman of the Board, for the record), and with that, Jacobs hatched a plan to swipe a player from Detroit. When Martin Lapointe, who we now know was being groomed as a potential successor to Steve Yzerman, became a free agent in the summer of 2001, Jacobs and the Bruins shocked the Wings by…Well, I’ll let the Calgary Sun’s Randy Sportak tell the story from a column penned in 2004:
Bruins give winger four-year, $20M deal for one better-than-usual season
A day after [Bobby] Holik signed [with the New York Rangers] came a reminder the Boston Bruins have no right to complain about salary escalation.
A year before signing Martin Lapointe, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and Detroit owner Mike Illitch got into a heated shouting match at the board of governors meeting. Illitch called Jacobs a cheapskate for raking in so much profit with a mediocre team year after year and Jacobs vowed revenge.
It came in the form of signing Lapointe to the tune of four years and $20 million.
Lapointe, who somehow scored 27 goals the year before, has been either hurt or back to his old self—a career 15-17 goal scorer.
Word is, Lapointe’s agent had a deal with Detroit GM Ken Holland to give him a last chance to come to terms and Holland’s reply hearing the numbers was: “You’re lying.”
Lapointe only played for six more seasons, and he only came close to the numbers he’d begun to produce with the Wings during his first season with the Bruins. When he retired after playing for Boston, Chicago and Ottawa, he became a member of the Hawks’ front office, and recently left to become the Montreal Canadiens’ director of player development, so enough time has passed that Ilitch and the Wings clearly want to let bygones be bygones with Lapointe, thus the invite.
So there’s something to be said for the power of a Winter Classic Alumni game invite as an olive branch in both cases.
Dandenault was an important part of those three Cups the Wings won under Bowman, too, and again, he was a player who never really equaled his prominence with the Wings during four post-lockout seasons with Montreal. No word as to whether Dandenault will start the game as a defenseman, play forward for a few shifts and then go back to defense.
One more thing: As I said on Twitter, I saw this in Hockeytown Authentics’ window on Wednesday (they are awash in Drew Miller’s sticks and Danny Cleary’s skates, but there were some Zetterberg twigs and a slate of game-worn jerseys with super sticker shock prices available there as well), and I still don’t know what to think about it:
Update: For the record, the Abbotsford Times reports that the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat, have signed former Wings prospect Adam Estcolet to an AHL-only deal;
• And, uh…From the New York Post’s Mark Everson:
They sweated the small stuff with “heated discussions” Wednesday. It bodes ominously that fireworks could erupt when the NHL and its Players Association finally argue the big “lockout issues’’ in the next week.
Union head Donald Fehr joins the CBA negotiations Thursday at NHL headquarters in midtown, and is expected to challenge the NHL’s proposals for revising methods of counting revenue today and tomorrow. But sources say Fehr is not likely to present the union’s economic proposal — the big one — until the sides reconvene in Toronto, starting Monday.
Fehr arrived in New York yesterday from Barcelona, where he conferred with his European constituency, but did not join the “small group” talks that focused on grievance arbitration in the morning, and supplemental discipline in the afternoon.
Both sides are waiting to see Fehr’s proposals, expecting him to take a militant stance against further concessions on the salary cap.
A proposal to dismantle the current salary cap would be a bold declaration of intent. Fehr will have to demonstrate his historic other-sport strength in these negotiations, since tough negotiator Bob Goodenow fell victim to a cabal in 2005 that snatched defeat from the jaws of union victory.
The league has proposed drastic give-backs by the union with little inducement. The NHL’s proposal would cut the players’ share of revenue from 57 percent to 46 percent, and the union calls it 43 percent because of proposed changes in counting revenue. The union says that plan amounts to a 25 percent pay cut. The league also wants to extend entry contracts from three years to five, and severely limit salary arbitration.
Former Detroit Red Wings forward Darren McCarty will make an appearance at Wuerfel Park on Tuesday as part of a nine-game homestand.
McCarty — a member of the Red Wings Stanley Cup championship teams in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008 — will sign pregame autographs on the Wuerfel Park concourse as the Beach Bums host Strike Out ALS Night.
Traverse City will wear special jerseys during the game that will be auctioned off during the contest against the Joliet Slammers with the proceeds going to research for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
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