The Malik Report
I’m starting to get nervous as nervous can be about tomorrow. Pretend professional blogger or not, I’m a Red Wings fan, and while the Red Wings’ beat writers have perhaps thankfully kept Detroit fans’ expectations somewhere under Red Bird III’s cruising altitude, emphasizing that the front office met today for the specific purpose—to go over plans C, D, E, F and so on, because the number of players available versus the number of heavy suitors this summer almost guarantees that all but one or two of the dozen-plus teams bidding on two certain American-born players will have landed the market’s “best” players a day or two from now, yielding a statistically small probability that either will land in Detroit, “program selling itself” included…
Well, everybody and his or her uncle’s cousin’s monkey seems ridiculously sure that their team is going to sign everyone they could possibly dream of. For five bucks each.
It took until Saturday evening, but here’s a slate of the pertinent Red Wings, Grand Rapids Griffins, Toledo Walleye and the NHLPA’s player meetings in Chicago, all missed while I was more ill than I am now with my head cold. On a publication-by-publication basis, in no particular order:
• This is honestly my pick for the “biggest story,” because it affects each and every Ilitch Holdings property: Ilitch Holdings’ Vice President of Corporate Relations, Karen Cullen, is stepping down at the end of July, according to PR Newswire, which means that the Wings and every other IH organization will have a new public relations face sooner than later. That’s incredibly important given the Wings’ desire to build a follow-on rink partially subsidized by the City of Detroit, Wayne County and/or the State of Michigan;
• Perhaps just as importantly for those of you who plan on attending the Winter Classic, yes, the AP reported that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder did indeed approve the bill allowing Michigan Stadium to sell alcohol during the Wings-Leafs affair on New Year’s Day, 2013;
Updated 4x with qualifying offer news at 5:33 PM: In theory, anyway, as a pretend-to-be-professional Red Wings blogger, I try to project a calm exterior, but I’ve woken up repeatedly over the past week, and especially during the time I missed with my sinus bug (it’s still here but it’s manageable now) to the same sound: THUD, THUD, THUD, THUD, THUD, all heavy and in quick succession.
I’m waking up having anxiety attacks, heart beating loud and fast as I find myself half-dreaming that every one of my favorite team’s free agent targets have signed somewhere else, and that my Wings have suddenly found themselves in dire straits.
Sometime on Monday or Tuesday, the vast majority of NHL teams’ fans might very well be playing this song in their heads, “Want it All Back” by the Seatbelts. To paraphrase, given the ridiculous number of teams bidding on an incredibly small number of free agents, even with the market fluctuating due to so many teams telling their restricted free agents to go ahead and “test the market” while others snap up their attractive targets or trade their signing rights while they can…
Let me think
If I add up all you owe me
And Include my time
I might make it through the summer
And I guess that ain’t too bad
I used up all my money on you, baby
and I want it back
Due to market fluctuations, despite Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s insistence that his team is dealing from a position of strength, the Red Wings’ “program” is indeed on the line, at least to some extent, and as such, what will the Wings’ brass spend Saturday doing?
The man has three kids who play hockey in Novi. He’s so rooted in the community that, unlike almost every other Swede that’s ever suited up in the NHL, he says he wants to stay in the U.S. for a couple of years before deciding whether to move home or apply for permanent resident alien’s status—and he once suggested that he might apply for U.S. citizenship. He’s the man who will miss Nicklas Lidstrom the most, the man who will probably retire from hockey rather than go anywhere other than Detroit (and here’s hoping that the Wings raise his hockey pants to the rafters, two inches in front of a “shooter tutor”), but such is the free agent frenzy at present…
That ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, after talking about the Blackhawks’ desire to land Ryan Suter, Martin Brodeur and Jason Garrison, dares to suggest the impossible:
If the Hawks miss on Suter, it’s not clear if they have another All-Star caliber player in mind. There’s no sure-thing second-line center on the market this offseason. Also, Chicago isn’t the only marquee franchise with money to burn. The Detroit Red Wings have about $24 million in cap space. They are in more need of a top defenseman after the retirement of Niklas Lidstrom and could use a forward or two with Jiri Hudler and Tomas Holmstrom becoming free agents on Sunday.
Speaking of Holmstrom, even at 39, he’d be an upgrade on the power play in front of the net. Hawks’ players talked of missing that kind of net presence every power play needs—they even tried 37-year-old Jamal Mayers there last season for basically the first time in his career. They were and still are, desperate.
Ten of Holmstrom’s 11 goals last season came on the power play. That would have led the Hawks. He would be a specialist, but a good one if he plays near to form. It’s the role that Brunette was unable to take ownership of despite some good moments—he just didn’t have enough of them. Holmstrom might retire if he doesn’t re-sign with the Wings, but couldn’t the Hawks make a decent offer for him to move west a few miles for one season? It makes sense on several levels.
No, just no.
updated with a remarkable interview Ken Holland gave to WBBL this morning at 8:14 PM: Yes, I know, parallel posts. Promise they won’t last for too long, but for now, there’s a reason that Red Wings GM Ken Holland made the statements that he did about his team’s core supposedly being at or near elite as-is—especially on a night when so many teams have informed the media that they’re letting their UFA’s-to-be to test the market that you’d think the NHL’s initial CBA proposal to the players was three slices of a Hot and Ready Pizza from Little Caesars per ten franchises—as the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek suggests:
In some ways, this summer represents an important referendum on the Red Wings and their cachet with NHL players.
Detroit, in the person of general manager Ken Holland, has done a remarkable job of attracting and retaining talent for an organization that has made the Stanley Cup playoffs for 21 consecutive seasons.
Four years ago, when Marian Hossa hit free agency, he took a one-year contract from the Red Wings, turning down multiyear contracts worth tens of millions more from other teams, because he figured Detroit represented his best chance to win a Stanley Cup.
As Holland says, the Red Wings can’t sell climate, anonymity, or a state-of-the-art facility to players. Their pitch revolves strictly around the hockey-playing experience.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland has some serious needs to fill on Sunday, but he told the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness (via RedWingsFeed) that his team does not believe that it’s dealing from anything other than a position of strength going into July 1st:
“We’ve got cap space, we’ll explore the market, but it’s got to make sense,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said Friday. “We have lots of pieces in place, players ready to step up and play a bigger role. Some of this has to be internal evolution.”
And Detroit has some major holes to fill, namely on the blue line and perhaps another top six forward. This offseason the Wings lost defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (trade). They could also lose Jiri Hudler to another team that’s willing to offer the winger more money.
“We don’t have as many holes as some people think,” Holland said. “I attribute that to the development of Brendan Smith. You’re not going to replace Nicklas Lidstrom. He’s going to be replaced by all defensemen picking it up. Brad Stuart is a loss. I look at the addition of Kyle Quincey, the development of Brendan Smith, Jonathan Ericsson. We got Nik Kronwall, Jakub Kindl is 25, Ian White had a good year. We don’t have big names, but we have good players. Jonathan Ericsson is developing into a shut-down defenseman.”
So what does Holland’s assessment mean given that Nicklas Lidstrom’s retired?
From my phone, from lovely Community Mental Health of Oakland County (for a routine appointment)...As Paul posted below, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo is reporting that Ryan Suter may not entertain offers on Sunday at all, and I can’t help but think that such a plan is incredibly foolhardy at best.
Yes, Suter is the premier defenseman available, but especially if he l’s planning on circling back to the Predators to give them a chance to match offers, as the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper has suggested…
Teams like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, etc. cannot simply sit and wait as Matt Carle or Jason Garrison sign elsewhere and prospective bidders face the prospect of losing the Suter sweepstakes AND finding themselves having lost out on the few remaining marquee free agents out there as well.
FYI, from the Wings’ PR department:
RED WINGS TO PARTICIPATE IN SOCIAL MEDIA DAY DETROIT 2012
… Special Event Takes Place on Saturday at MotorCity Casino …
Detroit, MI… For the third straight year the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings will be taking part in one of southeast Michigan ’s most preeminent social media networking events. On Saturday, June 30, the Red Wings will participate in Social Media Day Detroit – an annual gathering of the region’s most esteemed Web 2.0 devotees.
Updated with confirmation from Khan at 11:28 PM: Well color me as surprised as I was to hear the Free Press’s Helene St. James state that the Red Wings would have to pay both arms and three legs (or something close to that) to pry Rick Nash from Columbus, or that Governor Snyder, according to the Detroit News, anyway, approved the waiver allowing liquor to be sold at the Winter Classic: According to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, Wings GM Ken Holland has resigned himself to the fact that Jiri Hudler is probably bolting for more money than the Wings can offer him:
“Right now it looks like he’s going to July 1,” Holland said Thursday.
Hudler could be expecting a big payday on July 1 after scoring a career-high 25 goals last season to go along with 25 assists and finished a plus-10 in the plus/minus category. Only New Jersey’s Zach Parise (31 goals) and Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne (26 goals) scored more among players eligible for unrestricted free agency.
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.