The Malik Report
Updated with the Wings’ draft pick order: Of Red Wings-related note as we wait for the NHL Awards to get underway at 7 pm EDT (live on Versus, tape-delayed at 8 PM on the CBC, live-streamed on CBCSports.ca): Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner believes that, should one compare Nicklas Lidstrom’s status to that of Brian Rafalski, one may very well suggest that Lidstrom has entered “genetic freak” territory when it comes to staving off the aging process:
[Lidstrom] kept saying that it depended on whether he wanted to continue to train like a mad man during the offseason. OK, I added the mad man thing, but the point is that physically Nick is there. It just comes down to where hockey is in his life.
We may believe that all a professional athlete has to do is show up for a few hours, play their game and then go home. That is hardly the case. These athletes have to work their tails off year round or they will not be pro athletes for very long. In their 20s and early 30s—depending on their injury history—training is second nature. When you start to hit your late 30s, priorities shift—not to mention waistlines—and you start to ask yourself, “Do I really want to go through this rigmarole again?”
Updated with Hawks talk (they’re not interested) at 1:37 PM: And so the Jaromir Jagr to the Red Wings-or-Penguins drama continues, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi...
Jaromir Jagr is expected to speak with Penguins owner Mario Lemieux and general manager Ray Shero at some point today, according to Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda.
“That’s what I am expecting to happen today,” Svoboda said. “They are supposed to talk.”
Nothing imminent is expected with Jagr’s status. Svoboda confirmed that the Penguins and Detroit Red Wings remain the frontrunners for Jagr’s services.
“But nothing is going to happen in the next couple of days,” Svoboda said.
While I’ve displayed my professional level of foot-in-mouth-planting abilities over the past few days, both Red Wings fans and NHL fans in general seem to be a little…jittery…as we wait for our teams to finally sign their unrestricted free agents-to-be, draft players this weekend in Minneapolis and get down to business on the unrestricted free agent market. The past three weeks, Stanley Cup Final aside, have involved all talk and bluster and no action, and it’s got us all a bit…itchy.
For Wings fans, while we’ve breathed huge sighs of relief when Nicklas Lidstrom revealed that he’d return, we’re more than a little bit peeved at the way Jaromir Jagr’s agent has started to wax poetic about Jagr reuniting with the Pittsburgh Penguins while claiming that “mystery teams” are also in the running for Jagr’s services, and between finding out that he had a bit of a gambling problem in the Burgh and wondering whether a 39-year-old who hasn’t played on a 200’x85’ rink or had to deal with the physical or mental demands of an 82-game NHL schedule, we’re almost viewing his potential acquisition as more Allen Iverson than Mike Modano, so Lyle “Spector” Richardson places the latest rumors about Jagr’s dalliances with the Penguins in letter-perfect perspective:
After agonizingly waiting for a month and then spending all of Monday and part of Tuesday listening to Nicklas Lidstrom explain to the press that he simply would not return to the Detroit Red Wings unless he felt that, at 41, he could continue to play at a Norris Trophy-finalist’s caliber of play, I kinda lost it and said some very stupid things about Justin Bourne’s suggestion that Lidstrom should retire lest age and a drop-off in play tarnish his legacy.
I’m very sorry for saying what I said and will readily admit that I acted like a moron, especially after asking my own audience to disagree with opinions but not call each other names, and I am sorry for being a moron myself. My vehement disagreement with Bourne’s position, however, will not change.
Updated 3x with more Jagr stuff from LeBrun and Howard joining U of Maine’s sports hall of fame: According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and a “mystery team” are in the running for the services of Jaromir Jagr, who’s no longer considering playing in the KHL for the 2011-2012 season…
Agent Petr Svoboda said Pittsburgh, Detroit “plus another team I can’t name” are the three options for his veteran client.
“We have to make a decision soon,” Svoboda said from the Czech Republic.
Svoboda said Jagr would sign a one-year deal with one of those three NHL teams. He also said a decision should be made within the next few days, perhaps as early as Tuesday. Jagr met all day with Svoboda on Monday and the two were slated to meet again later Tuesday. It appears going back to Russia’s Continental Hockey League, where Jagr has played the last three seasons, is no longer in the mix.
“He’s really decided he wants to play in the NHL and he’s excited about it. He’s ready for the challenge,” said Svoboda. “His mind is pretty much made up but he wants to make sure.”
Early on Monday morning, the Red Wings officially announced that Nicklas Lidstrom would return for his 20th NHL season, signing a one-year, $6.2 million contract. I had asked Paul to text message me and/or call when the Nick news came about ten days ago, and while Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom tipped Lidstrom’s hand for him, I popped up with a start when my cell phone’s text message alert jingled me from a restless night’s worth of sleep and got to work.
Relieved. Unbelievably relieved. As Ken Holland suggested and columnists pointed out during the mid-day and evening crops of columns, the Red Wings’ off-season renovations hinged upon the fulcrum that was Lidstrom’s future, and as Ken Holland suggested to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, the Wings can weather the storm that is Brian Rafalski’s sudden retirement, but losing both Rafalski and Lidstrom, well…
The NHL’s obviously agreed to move the Thrashers to Winnipeg, the NHL, NHLPA and the competition committee have signed off on tweaking the blind-side hitting rule to better protect players whose heads are targeted, and it certainly appears that the salary cap will rise to $64 million after the NHLPA applied its 5% inflator, but as NHL.com’s Dan Rosen notes, none of these issues will become official until the NHL’s Board of Governors approves these changes today in New York:
While considered a formality at this point, the Board of Governors still has to give its stamp of approval for the Thrashers sale to True North Sports and Entertainment and relocation to Winnipeg beginning with the 2011-12 season. The transfer of ownership from Atlanta Spirit to True North Sports and Entertainment requires a 75 percent approval from the Board while relocation needs a majority approval. True North Sports and Entertainment is purchasing the franchise for a reported $170 million, including a $60 million relocation fee.
If approved, the still unnamed Winnipeg franchise will play in the Southeast Division for one more season with the expectation it will be moved into the Western Conference starting with the 2012-13 season.
Updated at 9:20 PM with Ken Kal and Bob McNamara on WBBL: Given the wars of words in the main Lidstrom post, I must politely and respectfully ask my readers to please give the arguments about the Red Wings’ captain supposedly harming his team by taking his full $6.2 million salary a damn rest. As NHL.com’s Brian Hedger noted via Twitter, the Wings aren’t exactly in cap trouble because their best player still expects to be paid like their best player at 41 years of age:
#Redwings in good shape heading into free agency on July 1. W/Lidstrom back @ $6.2M, they have 17 signed for $48M. New cap $64M
That means Ken Holland will have about $15M in cap space to fill out roster w/6 players. #Redwings in market for 1-2 top D and maybe Jagr.
Those players include a back-up goalie, Patrick Eaves and/or Drew Miller, possibly Jonathan Ericsson, that #1 defenseman and either Jagr or another top-six forward. Lidstrom is not slighting his team, nor is he proving that he’s not as good a captain as the gentleman who took a lesser salary when he was a 3rd-line player in his last season, when the salary cap was down by the cap floor.*
Great news for teams that spend to the cap, via the Canadian Press:
The NHL Players’ Association has decided to trigger the growth factor in the salary cap for next season, pushing the upper limit to roughly $64 million US.
A source told The Canadian Press that the union’s executive board voted via conference call Monday to have five per cent added to the calculation of next year’s salary cap — a decision it gets to make each spring to account for inflation. The NHLPA has chosen to have the five per cent added every year but one since it was brought into existence.
The official number for next year’s salary cap is expected to be announced this week.
Updated 3x at 3:41 PM: Hitchcock won’t join the Wings’ coaching staff: Red Wings fans received the news we’d all hoped for when the team announced that captain Nicklas Lidstrom would return for the 2011-2012 season today (and kudos to Gunnar Nordstrom for scooping everybody, eh?), having chosen to take an extended period of time to weigh his playing future for what he suggested was a simple reason, as noted by the AP’s Larry Lage:
“The reason it took so long was I wanted to make sure I found the motivation,” the 41-year-old Lidstrom said Monday on a conference call.
Lidstrom is a Norris Trophy finalist for the 11th time in 13 seasons. If he wins the award for being the NHL’s top defenseman. It would be his seventh - on Wednesday, he will match Doug Harvey’s total and trail Bobby Orr’s record by only one.
He is also a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
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.