The Malik Report
On Saturday, Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill told the Free Press’s George Sipple that the Wings are in the process of attempting to sign both power forward Andrej Nestrasil and slight-but-savvy defenseman Adam Almqvist to entry-level contracts before the team loses their rights on June 1st, and this morning, Jnytt.se’s Daniel Hultqvist reports that the Red Wings are highly likely to sign Almqvist to a thee-year, entry-level contract.
As the article’s roughly translated, it’ll begin after the jump:
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steve Downie suffered what is probably a concussion via a hit from Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton on Saturday, but Downie was assessed a penalty for “unsportsmanlike conduct” do to his…reputation for embellishing calls:
On the play, which came with 2:35 left, Downie was checked into the boards behind the Bruins net by Horton, who was initially called for boarding (later changed to roughing). Downie was slow to get to the bench afterward and headed straight for the locker room.
Lightning LW Simon Gagne said he was surprised to see Downie called for diving but added Downie’s reputation for getting into conflicts could have played a role.
“He’s Steve Downie, so maybe it’d be a little different if it’s me or somebody else,” Gagne said. “It’s part of his game. We don’t want him to change it.”
Boucher said he had never seen a call like that but praised the referees for how they’ve done in Tampa.
“If it’s a mistake and the (referees) make only one during the entire game, they’re like coaches and players if they limit their mistakes,” Boucher said. “The referees have been great the past two games. They let the players play. It’s not a cheap series.”
Both the Canadian Press, Edmonton Sun’s Derek Van Diest and the Regina Leader-Post’s Rob Vanstone report that family, friends, numerous members of the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild organizations and representatives of the NHL and NHLPA (including Brendan Shanahan and Donald Fehr) attended the funeral of Derek Boogard on Saturday, but even as the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports that Boogard’s final fight against drug addiction began with a de-facto intervention staged by the NHLPA’s substance abuse program, it seems most appropriate to give Boogard’s family, via Vanstone, he only word about the 28-year-old’s legacy as a beloved player who the Boogards hope is remembered for kindness and charity work, not his fists.
“Derek’s legacy will live with us every day,’’ Ryan Boogaard told the gathering. “And for any of you that knows him or who have met him, no matter how briefly, we know that you too will be touched by the light that was Derek. While this light was extinguished too early, it will continue to burn strong for all of us that were privileged enough to know him and love him.’’
From substantive talk to the land of rumors in no time flat: welcome to the off-season, Red Wings fans. After a Saturday’s worth of news about Derek Meech, Dick Axelsson and the Wings’ free agency plans, as well as a belated suggestion from Chris Chelios that the Wings want to keep Jonathan Ericsson in the fold, it’s a jab about the now-wide-open realignment derby that kicks off this morning’s proceedings, via the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons:
The NHL is quietly telling people it won’t realign for next season but it makes sense to move Nashville to the Eastern Conference Southeast division for Year 1 and Winnipeg to the Western Conference Central Division. And then figure it all out after that. Even if it browns off the Detroit Red Wings in the process ... By the way, what’s the point of having divisions in the NHL, other than for travel costs? They don’t really factor in the standings and frankly, they just confuse people
It won’t surprise me one bit if the Wings remain in the Western Conference. It’s not exactly a shocker that Gary Bettman’s promise that the Wings would get first preference to move East if the NHL were to expand didn’t apply to anything else (he was making quite a few empty promises, including one about the second lockout eliminating franchise instability for good)...
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons’ weekly notebook, acerbic as always, takes not of a very simple fact—the reason there’s no “agreement” between the Atlanta Spirit, the owners of the Atlanta Thrashers, and the NHL and/or Winnipeg and/or True North Sports and Entertainment involves the reason the Thrashers are laving Atlanta to begin with: the owners can’t agree on a thing without their lawyers present:
There are nine partners involved in the ownership of the Atlanta Thrashers, not to mention two or three times that many attorneys. When you add in the Winnipeg True North side, the National Hockey League side, what you get are enough legal minds in a room that no one can determine what day of the week it is, let alone how this deal is going to get finalized.
It will be done, just as the 2004 sale of the Thrashers got done, and that took 372 signatures on contracts that were so thick they needed to be placed in binders. It’s one thing to agree on a price, it’s another to agree on terms when so many different parties and agendas are involved.
Another problem: It’s hard to find agreement when there is clear animosity between some of the Atlanta owners and there is definite animosity between some of those owners and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. It will all be settled, but not necessarily within the next few days or minutes.
Continued with talk about everything from the likely rise of the salary cap to $62-63 million (it’s not a rumor when SportsBusiness Journal’s Liz Mullen quotes Bill Daly as she is an impeccable source) to the Atlanta Flames’ divorce rates, and if you want to watch Rick Dudley talk to Sportsnet about the uncertainty with which he’s approaching his everyday job, enjoy:
The Red Wings planned to submit qualifying offers to all of their restricted free agents and hoped to attempt to retain their unrestricted free agents-to-be who wish to to return, but the Free Press’s George Sipple reports that Derek Meech, who spent the season on the Grand Rapids Griffins’ blueline, has informed the Wings that he’d prefer to leave the team:
“It’s time for me to move on and explore some different options,” Meech said. “I’ve been in the organization for seven years. It’s been unbelievable. I’ve learned a ton.”
The highlight was being part of the Stanley Cup champion team in 2008. The Wings successfully petitioned to have his name on the Cup, although he didn’t appear in the playoffs and played in 32 regular-season games, eight fewer than the minimum for Cup consideration.
“Just fortunate to be part of something like that,” Meech said.
Meech harbors no regrets about spending the 2010-2011 season with the Griffins…
Ugh. This was supposed to be simple—regardless of whether the Thrashers move to Winnipeg or Mars, they’d play in the Southeast Division and we wouldn’t be talking about realignment until next summer’s Board of Governors meeting as the Board, which meets on June 21st, has the final say as to whether the Thrashers go. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, being a diligent and studious reporter, says that it’s messier (not Mark) than one could possibly imagine when it comes to realignment:
Realignment would very likely wait another year, meaning Winnipeg would play one season in the Southeast Division, because the league believes all board members deserve a say on the matter. All kinds of scenarios are in play. This might be a chance to do a massive overhaul of the league’s divisions and conferences, not just switch one team with another, a source told ESPN.com Friday.
In the words of Linda Richman, “discuss.”
As previously noted, Chris Chelios, the Wings’ Red Wings special assistant to the GM (his full title), engaged in a fascinating interview with WDFN’s “Sean, Terp and Killer” show, admitting that the Red Wings’ front office is in fact busy and bustling to the point that it almost floors Chelios to watch its machinations:
Here’s the transcript, minus several, “Uh’s,” “Um’s” and, “You know’s” for clarity:
I got, ahem, taken in by Mr. Stephen Brunt’s “Winnipeg is happening now, now, now!” story, so it’s within TMR territory to offer Brunt’s defense of his position via [colleague Jeff Blair] of the Globe and Mail, which is of course owned by David Thomson:
True North owns the MTS Centre, the NHL has a salary cap, the Canadian dollar is stronger. Manitoba’s economy has been on a roll, boasting $53-billion in gross domestic product last year. The province generated 11,500 jobs in 2010, its best showing in eight years. Economists are forecasting that Manitoba’s unemployment rate will dip this year to 5.1 per cent compared with 5.4 per cent last year. While Manitoba has a population of 1.23 million, the Winnipeg hockey club will also draw from Saskatchewan, which has enjoyed its own economic renaissance.
“Everybody thinks about Alberta growing, but the western region has benefited from economic growth, too,” said Barry Prentice, a business professor at the University of Manitoba. “As Calgary and Edmonton have grown, so has Winnipeg. Manitoba and Saskatchewan used to be losers, but now we’re gaining. It’s a fabulous thing to have the NHL back.”
University of Manitoba finance professor John McCallum noted that Winnipeg will draw fans from Saskatchewan, northern Ontario, northern Minnesota and North Dakota. He added that manufacturers in the Winnipeg area have thrived on their proximity to the Canada-U.S. border, sending goods south.
So if this is a risk, then it’s a risk worth taking, in a place that actually cares about the game enough to have missed it when it was gone. That’s our story, at least. And as expat Manitobans, we’re sticking to it.
The St. Petersburg Times’ Damian Cristodero reports that while Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina hopes to make some sort of playoff return from a concussion suffered during the second round, there’s no way in heck that he’s realistically going to make a miraculous recovery given the symptoms he’s experiencing:
Pavel Kubina said he did not want to get into too many details of the symptoms he is experiencing. But the Lightning defenseman, out the past six games because of concussion-like symptoms, revealed enough to paint a grim picture.
“I always watch the games (from the coaches’ office),” Kubina said Friday. “I can’t even go watch from the press box. It’s too loud and too many lights. It’s hard, but it’s something I can’t do anything about.”
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.