The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/25/12 at 10:27 PM ET
My apologies for the lateness of this entry. The mom and I are starting to prepare in earnest for going up to the U.P. for a one-week vacation with her side of the fam on Saturday, and, well…You can imagine that son with anxiety disorder needs to talk to mom with anxiety disorder about both of us freaking out about making something that’s supposed to be easy way too hard. I will also be in and out tomorrow and Friday, so there might be interruptions in service, and I apologize for that in advance.
Anyway, with what shoudl have been an addendum first, there’s good news regarding the Winter Classic and the man who will be behind the Wings’ bench during the Alumni Showdown, per WXYZ’s Brad Galli:
Scotty Bowman is returning to the bench.
Well, for one day at least. WXYZ has learned the former Red Wings head coach will run one of the Alumni teams during the Winter Classic’s Alumnic Showdown on December 31.
Bowman coached Detroit from 1993-2002, guiding the Red Wings to three Stanley Cup championships. He ceremoniously retired after the 2002 title. He is the NHL’s all-time winningest coach, with 1,244 wins.
After his retirement from coaching, he worked in the Red Wings front office as a special consultant, but left to join Chicago in 2008. He is currently the Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations for theChicago Blackhawks.
Bowman’s former assistant coach, Barry Smith, is slated to coach the other Red Wings team.
The Red Wings and Maple Leafs current teams will cap off the H ockeytown Winter Festival, which begins December 15, with the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at Michigan Stadium.
Because the Original Six teams commanded such an overwhelming response from their alumni, the announcement was made this month there would be two games. Chris Chelios, Dino Ciccarelli, Alex Delveccho, Kris Draper, Gordie Howe, Joe Kocur, Ted Lindsay, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, Chris Osgood, Luc Robitaille, and Mike Vernon are just some of the names confirmed to play for Detroit.
In a very different alumni vein, if you missed it during the mid-day report, Expressen’s Mattias Ek reported that Fabian Brunnstrom has signed a 3-year contract with the Swedish Eliteserien’s Frolunda (Gothenburg) Indians, and MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms...
Forward Fabian Brunnstrom, the one-time highly touted Swedish prodigy, has signed a three-year contract with Frolunda, a club in the Swedish Elite League, his agent, J.P. Barry, confirmed to M-Live.
The Detroit Red Wings signed Brunnstrom to a one-year, two-way contract last season, after he joined the organization on a tryout. He earned a roster spot in training camp but couldn’t hold onto it.
Brunnstrom, 27, had one assist in five games for Detroit. He spent most of the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, picking up 12 goals and 35 points in 45 games.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland indicated weeks ago that there likely wasn’t a spot for Brunnstrom in the organization due to the 50-man contract limit.
“We want to explore what’s out there. We’re looking for certain types of guys (for Grand Rapids),’’ Holland said on July 5. “I think Brunnstrom is a good player, but we need leadership, toughness down there.’‘
According to the Swedish paper Expressen, Brunnstrom has signed a three-year deal with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League.
After making the team out of training camp, Brunnstrom could never crack the lineup and when he did he didn’t earn much playing time.
Then he ran into the wrong end of the numbers game with the Wings.
“We haven’t written him off, but we’ve got a couple of things in play,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said earlier this offseason.
The numbers concern was the Wings’ 50-man roster limit.
“We want to explore what’s out there,” Holland said. “I think Brunnstrom is a good player, but we need leadership, toughness down there. We’re exploring the market.”
And I’m starting to wonder whether the Wings’ decision to sign five players to AHL-only deals has something to do with giving the Grand Rapids Griffins the flexibility to take in the Wings’ top prospects who have two-way deals in case a lockout occurs…
In news we’re not going to make a big deal about, via RedWingsFeed, WDIV’s website, ClickonDetroit.com, WWJ Newsradio 950 and the Free Press’s L.L. Brasier report that Darren McCarty dropped the last of four Personal Protection Order requests…
In much cooler news, and I’ll post more about this in the overnight report, the Free Press gave Amerinadian, a.k.a. Graham Hathaway from Winging it in Motown a guest columnist’s slot to suggest that Ken Holland has to earn his paycheck, big time:
For all the talk of the Wings’ drafting prowess and ability to discover gems in late rounds, the number of defensemen currently within the system that seem to have a real chance at developing into NHL players is noticeably small, especially when compared to the forward depth the Wings appear to have. The last few Stanley Cup champions have all been very good teams, but one thing they all had in common was a very strong set of defensemen, including a de facto star. I think the Wings’ defense corps is not as bad as some people are making it out to be, but I do not believe it’s good enough to carry the Wings to a Cup.
Consider what the needs are for this team: a top-2 defenseman and a top-3 forward. Granted, every team in the league would love to have more players like this on the roster, but all of the good teams are very confident in their best 5-man unit.
Look at the Wings’ roster and tell me that you’re comfortable with Niklas Kronwall and a combination of Ian White, Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey, Jakub Kindl or Brendan Smith going against the best forwards in the NHL night in and night out. How does a team that is clearly getting older not address these issues? How did Holland and the rest of his management team allow this to happen? Certainly finishing high in the standings year after year means that the Wings don’t get the benefit of drafting a star junior defenseman early, and some bad luck in the past has resulted in the Wings not enjoying the careers of two guys who would have been fixtures for years in Vladimir Konstantinov and Jiri Fischer. However, one could see that the Wings’ defense was getting older, and other than Smith, no one within the system seems close to making the jump to the NHL.
With the salary cap, gone are the days when the Wings could put forth a roster of Lidstroms, Yzermans, Shanahans, Fedorovs and others as proof of a dominant team. Gone are the days when Ilitch could give Holland a blank check and say “go get this guy, cuppy cuppy cuppy.”
Does all this mean that Ken Holland is suddenly bad at his job? Of course not. But no one gets to ride on their past accomplishments forever. In every business, it’s all about forward progress and, “What have you done for me lately?”. This team has serious flaws in the roster, and while I believe Holland has done what he could to address them, the fact remains that the only moves that have been made were to shore up depth at the forward position.
So, rather than put my head in the sand and say that everything’s going to be fine like an apologist or start lighting torches while heading up an angry mob, I am simply issuing a challenge to the Red Wings’ front office, and Holland, in particular: This is the year that you need to prove that you are the best in the league. The roster is decent, but I think most of us, in the deepest recesses of our brains, understand that this team needs more than just tinkering if they have any chance of competing for a Cup.
In somewhat scary news, USA Today’s Kevin Allen reports that those God-damned Predators, who seem to think that matching Shea Weber’s offer sheet will mend miles and miles of fences that were torn up when he signed with the Flyers and his agents suggested that the Predators were not on the cusp of winning a Stanley Cup, are going to go after Shane Doan….
And in plain old awesome news, according to the Production Line’s Michael Petrella, pledges will be taken for Herm to Hockeytown 3 during this upcoming season:
WHAT: Unless you’re new around these parts, you’re familiar with the Pledge Games we’ve proudly hosted leading up to both H2H and H2H2. In two years’ worth of fundraising, your pledges have accounted for $12,536.06 of the nearly $20,000 that the group has been fortunate to donate to Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
Once again, you’ll have the opportunity to pledge your donation dollars. In years past, we’ve gotten some magnificent pledges and we look forward to hearing yours this year. Whether it’s $20 for a Red Wings win, $10 for a Pavel Datsyuk goal, $35 for a Jimmy Howard shutout, or anything in between, we’re anxious to add your promise to our spreadsheet and collect a few bucks here and a few bucks there until the total is something we can all be proud of.
If at all possible, we respectfully request that your pledges are based on something quantifiable — and preferably quantifiable by the post-game statistics. Shots, goals, plus/minus, penalties… all of that is fair game. But when we get into the more bizarre pledges (how many times Larry Murphy mentions hot dogs, second-period shots if the team is losing, etc), it becomes insanely difficult to keep track of everything. We’re going to enlist all of the help we can get in counting phenomena, but it would really help us out a great deal if your pledges were based on something easily countable.
Also, let’s try to keep the pledges to things for which there will be no disputes. For example, we may count 4 “Datsyukian Dekes,” but you only saw 3. No one has ever claimed we were trying to gauge them for more money (and I can’t imagine anyone would, since it’s going to a good cause), but the very last thing we want is for someone to feel as if their generosity has been taken advantage of. Some folks can give a dollar, some can give much, much more. But we’re grateful for every last dime and have no interest in stretching you thin.
WHEN: Leading up to H2H, we hosted 11 pledge games. Prior to H2H2, we hosted 12. This year, we’re increasing the number a little bit in hopes that we can double the amount we’ve been able to forward to the charity that’s eventually selected (to be announced in the very near future). For any (or all) of the following games leading up to the Holidays and the Winter Classic, you may place your pledge.
• 11/17 at Minnesota (featuring Ryan Suter, who thinks he’s too good for you)
• 11/19 vs. Pittsburgh (and a team full of people nobody likes)
• 11/21 vs. St. Louis (a division rival that’s accomplished exactly nothing but acts cocky anyway)
• 11/23 at Florida (lol Tomas Kopecky)
• 11/24 at Tampa Bay (how ya doin’, Stevie Y)
• 11/27 vs. Phoenix (several post-season match-ups make for good hate)
• 11/29 vs. Los Angeles (defending Stanley Cup Champions)
• 12/1 vs. San Jose (featuring Brad Stuart… how many pledges will be about his being booed?)
• 12/4 vs. Colorado (it may not be 1996, but I still hate them)
• 12/7 vs. Washington (Semin-stained)
• 12/10 vs. Boston (they keep stealing Griffins captains)
• 12/13 vs. Phoenix (see above)
• 12/15 at Nashville (featuring Shea Weber and The Head Slams)
• 12/18 vs. Los Angeles (defending Champs… again)
Head on over to TPL for the rest of the details.
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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.