The Malik Report
With the exception of a couple of “slow days” before the NHL Awards and Nicklas Lidstrom’s announcement that he’d return for at least one more season, Red Wings fans haven’t had any sort of, “Okay, our team’s roster is set and our management’s heading to their summer homes, now we wait!” off-season. The Wings’ coaching and playing rosters have remained in flux, and that’s still the case as we head into a “slow” weekend because Wings GM Ken Holland has chosen not to announce any decisions as to Chris Osgood or Kris Draper’s futures with the organization until Monday at the earliest.
In the interim, there’s something to keep in mind, and it was something that rattled around in my brain during prospect camp but never managed to find its way out: regardless of whether you want to see Osgood and Draper continue to play or hang ‘em up, the fact that the players and Wings’ management made a mutual decision to wait until after July 1st to determine their respective courses of action is nothing less than extraordinary.
If you check out tonight’s FSD/FSD+ dual telecast of the Tigers-White Sox game, it’s entirely possible that you’ll see the Red Wings’ prospects taking in the game from Mike Ilitch’s suite at Comerica Park.
The prospect tournament has ended and, for better or worse, we’re all on Chris Osgood watch until at least Monday—and longer in Kris Draper’s case—as GM Ken Holland’s chosen to not make during-the-weekend announcements regarding his powwow with Osgood in Vernon, British Columbia or any conversations with Draper.
The Detroit Red Wings’ wrapped up their summer development camp on Thursday, and were very happy with their decision to both shift its venue to Traverse City and open it up to the public. There’s good news and bad news in that department for fans like you and me—the good news is that the Wings plan on returning to Centre Ice Arena next year at this time, so no one who wishes to see the prospects will have to scramble to find lodging on short notice. The bad news is that the early-July camp will continue to coincide with Traverse City’s Cherry Festival, so if you do want to get up here, you’re going to have to plan ahead (and here’s hoping that the Wings release the dates for their summer development camp earlier in the year next time around).
According to the Free Press’s George Sipple, Wings assistant GM Jim Nill is all but ready to officially declare that the team’s eight-day camp’s status as a de-facto road trip for new and returning prospects provided the perfect environment in which to introduce them to and reinforce the fundamentals of training and playing like Red Wings:
Hockey players remain creatures of habit from beginning to end, and over the past four years of covering the Red Wings’ summer development camp, I’ve learned to expect a scene one might find after a pick-up hockey game—aside from a little speech given to the prospects by the team’s management (which I accidentally kinda barged in on), the players just get undressed, toss their still-wet gear into their hockey bags, shower, maybe grab a snack and get the hell out of dodge. There’s no moment for reflection, there’s no reality check, it’s just “move on to the next thing.”
After eight days of incredibly difficult off-ice workouts and on-ice skill-development, skating and Red Wings-system-specific drills, the finely-tuned athletes piled on the bus back to Detroit, where they’re probably engulfed another team meal or two and have completed their exit interviews, and they’ve got a little time to kill before concluding their activities by taking in Friday’s Tigers-White Sox game from Mike Ilitch’s suite.
Then they’ll begin their summ…Well, okay, the real reason the players are just “moving onto the next thing” is pretty simple: even at the Major Junior and college levels of hockey, never mind the ECHL, AHL or European pro leagues, hockey is what it is in the NHL—a 12-months-out-of-the-year job.
Not exactly stunning news from MLive’s Ansar Khan: Red Wings GM Ken Holland hasn’t yet met with Chris Osgood in the pair’s off-season haunt, Vernon, British Columbia, and he’s going to take the weekend to listen to Osgood and then decide what the team does in terms of both its back-up goaltender’s situation—and Kris Draper’s future might take even longer to be determined:
“I anticipate early next week I’ll know what I’m going to do in goal,’’ Holland said.
The Red Wings pursued several goalies through free agency, including Tomas Vokoun, who signed with Washington, Jose Theodore (Florida) and Mike Smith (Phoenix). But all wanted starting roles and weren’t interested in backing up Jimmy Howard and playing only 20-25 games. Holland has talked with the agent for former Red Wing Ty Conklin, who remains an option. Marty Turco and Ray Emery are among the few other free-agent goalies still unsigned. Holland said he also was offered a goalie through a trade.
“I have been in contact with agents of other goalies,’’ Holland said. “They know where I’m at, but right now the goalie market is pretty settled. We have time on our hands. If some team decides to get in the mix with one of those goalies then that could accelerate the process.’‘
No point in waiting for the gravy-here are the interviews with Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill, etc.
I dropped some hints regarding some massive interviews in my mid-day report from the final day of the Red Wings’ summer prospect camp, but halfway into a much-needed afternoon nap I figured that there’s no point whatsoever in asking you to wait for the “evening report” to hear my conversations with Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill, 2011 first-round pick Tomas Jurco, Grand Rapids Griffins forwards-to-be Landon Ferraro and Mitchell Callahan and Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer:
Starting with a continuation of the “overnight report’s” Kris Draper conversation, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirms that the long-time Red Wings forward has no desire to sign a try-out contract and compete for a spot on the roster during training camp:
“Zero chance,” said Draper, an unsigned free agent and the 2004 Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) winner. “I think I’ve proven myself to the Red Wings organization and (general manager) Kenny (Holland) knows what I’m all about after all these years.”
Draper, however, is hopeful he’ll play his 21st season in the NHL, 18th with the Red Wings.
“I’ve been training and preparing for next season as I always have,” said Draper, fresh off a weeklong golfing trip with teammates and friends. “But first I need to talk with Kenny and hear what he has to say, what he thinks is best, and we’ll go from there.”
One of the most virulently anti-NHLPA voices during the lockout belonged to crusty curmudgeon Stan Fischer, and he’s cranking up the “Panic Meter” to 11 by suggesting that Donald Fehr will find a way to screw things up while rambling on about how great the NHL’s revenue-sharing agreement is despite the fact that big-market owners despise handing blank checks to subsidize their opponents:
The revenue sharing agreement brought labor peace [in Major League Baseball] because the large market teams were able to buy off the mid- and small-market teams just enough to keep them happy, while the big-market teams continued to make large profits and maintain their ridiculous competitive advantage. MLB teams are making money. If the small and medium markets were losing money the way the NHL’s small and medium markets were losing money before the 2004 lockout, the small and medium markets would have held out for a salary cap.
The NHL has several low-revenue teams which are struggling to maintain the salary floor while still making a profit. They are vulnerable to be bought off by the NHL large market/high revenue teams the way baseball’s little guys were bought off. And you had better believe that Fehr knows it.
It’s hard to be “bought off” when it’s Gary Bettman’s narrow $15 million payroll range that’s raising the cap floor to nearly unsustainable levels for franchises who’ve learned the hard way that a salary cap based upon league-wide instead of team-by-team revenues is…a mess…
And then Fischler really goes off into insanity land:
Biggy update at 8:07 AM: MLive’s Ansar Khan spoke to Draper yesterday, too, and that follow St. James’ report: As we’ve waited for Red Wings GM Ken Holland and goaltender Chris Osgood to sit down and discuss #30’s future in Detroit, we haven’t heard much regarding Kris Draper’s status, but the Free Press’s Helene St. James suggests that in Draper’s case, there very literally isn’t a spot for him on the roster:
“No doubt he wants to play ... and play in Detroit,” Holland said. “We don’t have any cap issues, but we have to sort out what we’re doing with our 14 forwards.”
Draper, 40, showed last season that he still has something left in the tank. His primary role was as a defensive role player, but he also contributed six goals and 11 points in 47 games, and didn’t complain when made a healthy scratch. He has tremendous value in the locker room, where he sets a great example for younger guys with a relentless training program.
The Wings certainly can fit Draper in financially; they have about $6.5 million in salary-cap space. Roster-wise, however, it’s a hard fit. Thirteen forwards already are under one-way contracts for 2011-12. Cory Emmerton, a second-round pick from ‘06, is on a two-day deal, but he’d have to be exposed on waivers to be sent to the minors, and the Wings won’t risk that.
To put things as subtly as a brick, the Red Wings’ decision to add an eighth day to their summer development camp has allowed them to push their new and returning prospects to the absolute edge of their performance envelopes, and in some cases, very, very purposefully beyond them, and what held true for Wednesday’s morning session remained the case in the afternoon.
For the AHL’ers who’ve been working out, save perhaps a week or two off in May, we’re talking about utter physical and mental exhaustion; for most of the returning prospects, we’re talking about ice bags, time on the trainer’s table and in Petr Mrazek’s case, asking try-out Tyson Teichmann to spell him during the afternoon so that his sore…something (he didn’t tell me and I didn’t ask) didn’t get worse.
In the case of Marek Tvrdon, who’s missed the vast majority of the 2010-2011 season due to reconstructive shoulder surgery, the reason he first left Tuesday’‘s practice, hobbling on one leg and returning after the Zamboni scrape, and then leaving halfway through Wednesday’s session and not returning at all was summarized by Tvrdon himself when I asked him if he had a sprained ankle:
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.