The Malik Report
The Red Wings face something of a crossroads in terms of their goaltending prospects this summer. The Wings appear to be willing to put their faith in Jimmy Howard and, most likely, Joey MacDonald, whose $550,000 cap hit (per Capgeek.com) and ability to thrive on a limited workload essentially won him the back-up’s position. MacDonald told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that his back is improving on Friday, and while the unrestricted free agent marketplace in terms of back-up goaltending might be the only “deep pool” the Wings could draw from this summer, we all know how willing the Marty Turcos and Ray Emerys of the world were to join the Wings and know they were only going to play 20-30 games behind an established Jimmy Howard last summer.
Going forward, despite pundits’ suggestions to the contrary, the Wings’ brass believes that Jimmy Howard can deliver 35-plus regular season wins and dominant play in the playoffs, but Howard’s would-be future back-ups and potential successors haven’t exactly dazzled in terms of promise(or depth), with perhaps one exception. That player’s season ended on Friday night, though it wasn’t for a lack of trying on his part.
Updated with Joey MacDonald injury news at 4:53 PM: Despite our comments to the contrary regarding one Johan Franzen’s comments about the wheels falling off the Big Red Machine, I thought that Franzen’s suggestion that the Wings struggled down the stretch in no small part due to, as he told MLive’s Ansar Khan, a lack of self-confidence and plain old forgetting how to enjoy themselves—to the point that the Wings’ swagger and ability to somewhat loosely and confidently bounce back from adversity, especially without the “morale officers” that were Kris Draper and Chris Osgood in the mix, yielded late-season stumbles and perhaps a snowballing effect which yielded the return of the Detroit’s early-regular season paper-thin level of self confidence.
MLive’s Ansar Khan spoke to Red Wings forward Johan Franzen about both his disappointing 2011-2012 season and playoffs and his team’s stumbles from February onward, and, well…While Khan says that the Wings’ free agency shopping list does indeed include all of my hopes in that damn bottom-six winger with size to mash and grind on the fourth line, the top-pair defenseman the Wings couldn’t find after Brian Rafalski retired and Mike Babcock’s wished-for top-six goal-scorer, Franzen seems to suggest that the Wings missed Chris Osgood and Kris Draper’s presences and leadership in unexpected ways:
“We need to have more fun out there, get some confidence back,’’ Franzen said. “We looked like a drained team, kind of, in most of the games. Get some joy back, believing in ourselves, knowing that we’re a good team, and play for each other.’‘
The Red Wings were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Nashville Predators. Franzen, speaking Tuesday, when players cleaned out their lockers, believes the handwriting was on the wall following a 7-11-4 finish to the regular season.
“We didn’t have a good ending to the season, eight wins in the last (27), including playoffs,’’ Franzen said. “You got to come into playoffs with confidence, otherwise it’s so tight. You’re playing a team with a really good defense and a great goalie (Pekka Rinne), so if you don’t have that extra thing to get through it’s going to be tough.’‘
Um…Exactly? You can keep on reading for more on that front from Franzen, but Khan delivers noteworthy quips from both Franzen and his coach regarding the Mule’s difficult playoff performance…and future with the team:
File this line under, “Blog post starters you’re regrettably going to read me saying rather regularly between now and the draft”: This morning’s most notable Red Wings news story comes from Sweden, because Niklas Kronwall has changed his mind about remaining in Detroit to supervise the building of a new home, and instead, he’s going to leave for Stockholm with Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Jonathan Ericsson to take part in the World Championships.
Why the change in thought? The Swedish press went into overdrive after the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation announced that Kronwall would join the team, so it didn’t take long to find out. Kronwall told Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom and Johan Larsson that he was able to delay the big decision-making regarding architectural plans for a few weeks so that he can join his brother Staffan (who just signed with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s new KHL team, by the way) and his teammates at the Worlds:
Updated 2x with some evening Wings news at 6:48 PM: Given our little discussion regarding the underwhelming nature of Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s comments regarding his team’s plans in terms of possibly signing free agents, I’ve had this nagging voice in my head wondering whether Holland’s comments had something to do with the CBA which the NHL and NHLPA must negotiate this summer.
The CBA which the NHL essentially wrote by itself thanks to Ted Saskin’s betrayal of the players he was representing, the league was able to doubly ensure that its goal of parity would be ensured by both forcing through a 24% rollback in player salaries and dropping the salary cap so dramatically that many teams had to buy out players to become “cap compliant,” and I can’t help but believe that Chairman Mao would love to redistribute NHL talent all over again if he’s able to get away with it.
Red Wings fans can’t necessarily be surprised by this, but, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness and MLive’s Ansar Khan note, the 11 games missed by the Red Wings’ captain and an up-and-down season production-wise yield Nicklas Lidstrom not heading to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas for the first time in what seems like forever:
Zdeno Chara of Boston, Erik Karlsson of Ottawa and Shea Weber of Nashville are this year’s finalists for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman.
It marks just the third time in the past 14 seasons that Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, a seven-time Norris Trophy winner, was not a finalist.
Updated substantially at 7:16 AM: Neither player suggested as much during the Red Wings’ locker room clean-out, but from Mike Babcock to Chris Chelios and you and me, those who are wondering what might tip the scales toward Nicklas Lidstrom returning for one more season of NHL hockey are also wondering aloud as to whether the Wings might entice Lidstrom to stick around by inviting Lidstrom’s closest friend and carpool buddy, Tomas Holmstrom, to engage in a sort of farewell goalie-mooning tour.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James engages in this endeavor this morning for a simple reason: Holmstrom readily admitted that he wasn’t thrilled playing on the fourth line because he wasn’t able to really do his job while skating up and down the ice (albeit surprisingly well) alongside Cory Emmerton on a generally defensively-minded shift, and in light of the emergence of Gustav Nyquist down the stretch, it certainly seems like Holmstrom, like Kris Draper before him, has been squeezed out of a job:
Amidst the biggest “storylines” from the Red Wings’ locker room clean-out day, in terms of cringe-worthiness, anyway, Danny Cleary’s knee issues (the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan adds to the conversation in a blog entry this afternoon) earned some serious sympathy pains…
But the Red Wings’ player who seemed to be suffering the most discomfort, however, was and is defenseman Brad Stuart, who very clearly wants to remain a Red Wing, but, as the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness notes, is all but guaranteed to sign with a West Coast team after spending the past four-and-a-half years away from his San Jose-based family, two young sons and high school-aged stepdaughter due to Mrs. Stuart’s custody issues:
Updated 3x with more from Stuart at 3:11 PM, and, via Twitter, the IIHF is reporting that Pavel Datsyuk will join Russia’s World Championship team: As Paul noted, Red Wings fans can at least take some small solace in knowing that the NBC Sports Network will air a good chunk of the World Championship‘s later-round games, allowing us to watch Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson (all playing for Sweden), Valtteri Filppula (Finland), Tomas Tatar (Slovakia), Jakub Kindl (Czech Republic), Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader (both for Team USA) and possibly Pavel Datsyuk (Russia) at least a few more times before September.
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff spoke to several of the Wings’ Worlds’ participants during Tuesday’s locker room clean-out, and the players are both excited and somewhat relieved about earning the chance to continue their hockey seasons:
From We All Bleed Red on YouTube and TSN, Red Wings execs Kris Draper and Chris Osgood, former coach Scotty Bowman, NHL analyst Darren Pang and one Wayne Gretzky all recollect the circumstances surrounding the most famous goal of Steve Yzerman’s career, his double OT winner against the St. Louis Blues in 1996:
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.