The Malik Report
Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika spoke to Red Wings GM Ken Holland, Chicago Blackhawks adivsor Scotty Bowman and a certain Tampa Bay Lightning GM named Steve Yzerman about his ability to seemingly make every right move, including signing Sean Bergenheim to a bargain-basement $700,000 contract, and Yzerman’s former employers simply aren’t surprised that Yzerman’s made so many “right” moves that it’s scary:
“You’ve got to be lucky,” said Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, Yzerman’s old boss and mentor. All GMs do. That said, Holland added: “I mean, the guy is sitting out there for anybody to sign, and he signed him.”
And the signing of Bergenheim was just one of a series of successful moves – from hiring rookie coach Guy Boucher, to resigning Martin St. Louis, to acquiring veterans Dwayne Roloson and Eric Brewer during the season. It’s not just that Yzerman hit the jackpot with Bergenheim. It’s that he never really went bust with anyone else.
“I don’t think any of his moves backfired,” said Chicago Blackhawks senior advisor Scotty Bowman, who coached Yzerman in Detroit and worked with him in the Wings’ front office. “Steve’s moves are paying off.”
I’m still not buying the talk suggesting that the Red Wings will move to the Eastern Conference, if only eventually, should the Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg, but that hasn’t stopped Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner from providing a piranha’s worth of steak on fishhook via quotes from Wings VP Jimmy Devellano‘s belief that, at some point in the future, the Wings will indeed head East:
“I don’t think so, certainly not anything next year, the schedules under way now,” Devellano said. “I can only tell you what will happen next year, and we’re probably going to be where we’ve been for a long, long time.”
Devellano also added that, contrary to popular belief, the Red Wings do not have the power to demand that they move to the Eastern Conference.
“We have no say whatsoever; it’s a league decision,” he said. “Those kinds of things have to be voted on by the owners of the league.”
While speaking about the lack of impact in the literal sense provided by Sharks forwards Ryane Clowe, Logan Couture and Dany Heatley against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, the San Jose Mercury News’s Mark Purdy speculates that Clowe in particular may still be suffering from the after-effects of being “Kronwalled” during the Detroit-San Jose series:
Clowe entered Game 1 against the Canucks as the Sharks’ leading playoff scorer, with 13 points in 12 games. But on Sunday, he took just one shot, which was blocked. At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Clowe is also the physical conscience of the Sharks’ forwards. But on Sunday, he delivered just one barely noticeable hit during his 18-plus minutes of ice time. Meanwhile, fourth-line scrappers Jamal Mayers and Scott Nichol each had three hits in less than six minutes of action.
Every hockey team has a barometer player or two. When those players are hot, the team is hot. When those players are cold with occluded fronts and fog, so is the team. Clowe is definitely one of the Sharks’ barometer players. Which makes you wonder if the barometer has a hairline crack in it, or something similar. Clowe’s unspecified ailment—perhaps a sternum or ribs issue—probably was caused by a crushing collision with Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall during the last series.
The Sharks’ official spin is that the Kronwall hit had nothing to do with the problem. Monday, Clowe said only that the mystery injury is healing day by day. Also, he felt better Sunday than he did in last Thursday’s game.
“I think from a physical standpoint, yes,” Clowe said. “But my legs felt better against Detroit in Game 7, for some reason.”
I’m still a little burnt out from the Wings’ playoff run and a bit dippy from getting actual sleep, but our Fearless Leader’s a bit under the weather today, so the inmates (Alanah and myself) are running the asylum today. Thankfully, Too Many Men on the Site’s Chris Hueber provided a heads-up to an article from the Atanta Business Chronicle’s Carla Caldwell that has to be read to be believed:
The latest talk swirling around the financially ailing Atlanta Thrashers has the team possibly staying in Atlanta courtesy of – wait for it – Atlanta hip hop artist and producer Lil’ Jon and big-time film and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer, reports Atlanta Business Chronicle broadcast partner WXIA-TV. Might sound a little out there, but Bruckheimer has pockets deep enough to buy the team and several others, and Lil Jon, a big success in hip hop, and who has made many new fans courtesy of his run on the most recent installment of “The Apprentice” television show, has loved Atlanta hockey for years going back to the Atlanta Flames.
The latest twist regarding a possible future purchase was broadcast early Tuesday on WXIA-TV. The story comes amidst a growing number of media reports in Atlanta and Canada that talks are underway between the Atlanta Spirit LLC which owns the Thrashers and True North Sports and Entertainment, a group in Canada that wants to move another NHL team there. Most media reports say any new team would most likely be based in Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Free Press reports this week the NHL has prepared two draft schedules for the Thrashers, one that has the team playing in Atlanta, and another with the team in Canada.
Lil’ Jon, interestingly, was featured on the Thrashers’ website in 2006, when the Stanley Cup made a visit to Atlanta. The musician proudly posed with the trophy and talked about his love for the game going back to Flames games at the Omni.
Could it happen? Yeayah! Is it likely? Erm…
During the Red Wings’ locker room clean-out on Saturday, coach Mike Babcock suggested that the Wings will continue to make tweaks to the roster as opposed to wholesale changes, and the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell revisits Babcock’s comments today:
“I think we’re going see some changes, no question,” Babcock said. “I think it’s very important as we ask our players to train all summer and work and get better. One or two per cent better. That as coaches we do the same thing. And as management we do the same. We got to improve our team. The bottom line is the final four is going on and this is our second year in a row we’re not involved.”
Aside from suggesting that Nicklas Lidstrom’s all but certain to return, Babcock suggested that the Wings will largely see improvement from players who progressed during the team’s playoff run, including Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart…
When an ownership group fails to keep an NHL team in a market, outsiders tend to assume that the team’s leaving a market because it’s simply “not a hockey town” and that there’s fault upon part of the fans as well as the owners. I didn’t believe that when the Jets left Winnipeg for Phoenix, the Nordiques left Quebec City for Denver or the Stars left Minnesota for Dallas, and I’ve found it downright insulting that now that the shoe’s on the other foot, Canadian media types have assumed that fans in Phoenix, Atlanta, and Long Island, among other places, simply aren’t that rabid about hockey. It’s an oversimplification to say the least and an all but lets ownership off the hook for trying to “sell” fans an inferior product in most cases.
So I’m not about to begrudge Thrashers fans’ hockey chops as their team’s crappy ownership group, which has never been particularly interested in presenting fans with a superb on-ice product, seems ready to bail and send the team to Winnipeg. Things got busy in a hurry on Tuesday, with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution confirming that True North Sports and Entertainment is officially talking with the Atlanta Spirit about buying the team and relocating it to Winnipeg, and the Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg Sun, Globe and Mail and the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman all stated that things are getting hot and heavy, with various sources suggesting different things about possible realignments which might or might not include the Red Wings moving East.
Red Wings evening report: Hoping for Nick, HF’s organizational ranking and more Dick (Axelsson) news
Our mid-day’s worth of Red Wings updates provided the only real radio interviews that team members engaged in (that I can find, anyway), which may speak for the attention span of sports talk radio hosts, who, aside from talking about the Wings-moving-to-the-East scuttlebutt, have moved onto this year’s usual topics in the Tigers and Lions.
The Free Press’s and WCSX’s Jamie Samuelssen, however, chose to weigh in on Nicklas Lidstrom’s possible retirement in his blog, suggesting that the Wings captain has neither slowed much, nor does he seem to exhibit a Mike Modano-like level of weariness regarding off-season training and the regular season grind:
Bad timing: the “Red Wings overnight report” fell victim to Ye Olde, “You’ve got to click ‘open’ on the entry options tab for the damn thing to post” boo boo, and I’m about to head out the door for an afternoon’s worth of errand-running, so I’m going to be only to address the following Wings-related stories ever-so-briefly before revisiting them later today.
First and foremost, MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a series of player grades whose preface might be just as revealing as Khan’s assessments in terms of the Wings’ course corrections going forward:
In 2004, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman asked Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and governor Jimmy Devellano to endorse an experiment involved locking out paying customers for an entire season, eliminating Detroit’s ability to out-spend its opponents (and buy out three players in the process) via instituting a hard salary cap, halving the Wings’ playoff revenues for the sake of revenue-sharing, and on top of it all, cutting a check in the $10 million range to help subsidize teams like the Coyotes and Thrashers. As this experiment was less than palatable to big-market teams like the Wings, Bettman engaged in the same kind of empty promise-making that fueled Arthur “Enron” Levitt’s “audit” of the league, a website full of lies about a hard salary cap eliminating ticket price increases and selling that lie to fans while courting the owners.
In the Red Wings’ case, Bettman ensured Ilitch and Jimmy Devellano that, should the league expand (back in 2004, the economy was a very different beast), the Red Wings would be given first priority in fulfilling their long-standing request to move to the Eastern Conference, as the Detroit News’s John Niyo notes...
It’s this kind of fluff that really irritates my Wings fan’s sensibilities…Since January, it seems, the Vancouver press corps has regularly suggested that this year’s Canucks compare favorably to the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup-winning teams from the late 90’s, and this suggestion from the Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher is just...silly:
Not since the Detroit Red Wings of ‘98 has a team approached a Stanley Cup run the way the Vancouver Canucks seem to be tackling this at times.
To refresh, that was the year the Wings won the Cup despite the fact Chris Osgood fanned four shots from centre ice during their playoff run and that’s what he’s often remembered for even though he won three Cups and was the starter for two.
That’s where Nick Lidstrom got the idea to shoot from long range on Dan Cloutier in 2002. He’d seen them go in behind him in earlier playoffs.
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.