The Malik Report
I need to preface this report with a suggestion: at this point in the lockout, there is little being stated to the media, dropped as a hot tip or plain old blatently blathered that is not propaganda.
As far as I'm concerned, until the NHL and NHLPA work the, "Lockout is illegal" cases through the various provincial courts, we're likely to see more games canceled* and another week or three without negotiations thanks to the simple fact that lawyers are lawyers, and in the interim, fans like you and me can expect our emotions to be jerked around like a puck on a Datsyukian steal and double deke.
That being said, there's no doubt that the chain of events regarding the Red Wings and the supposed cancelation of various Winter Classic-related activities, starting with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's report that the Hockeytown Winter Festival might be in jeopardy, and continuing with the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran's suggestion that the Winter Classic itself might be scrapped for the simple sake of eliminating a CBA negotiating leverage point are both worrisome. The Sporting News's Jesse Spector offered a nuanced, "Why go nuclear?" and Kulfan himself is questioning the report this morning...
But given that we're currently in the middle of a particularly violent spin cycle, it should come as little surprise that the Ottawa Sun's well-connected Bruce Garrioch suggests that the Winter Classic's fate is indeed in question:
The Island News's Scott Harrigan's interview with Red Wings VP Jimmy Devellano's been tossed around like a hot potato, with each and every person who's re-listed it treating Devellano's inflammatory comments regarding players as "cattle" who are generously allowed to graze at the owners' "ranches," his allusions to collusion on NHL owners' parts regarding offer sheets and his, "There there, little fan, it's all too complicated for you to understand, but we'll 'get it fixed,' and then you can bring your money back to us" attitude, so I suppose it should come as little surprise that player agent Allan Walsh--who may be Devellano's polar rhetorical opposite--offered a post-script from Devellano via Harrigan:
Given that both sides are accusing the other of never really negotiating off their first proposals, and that contempt for the other side's position is boiling over, why do I get the feeling that the potential cancelations of the Hockeytown Winter Festival (per the Detroit News's Ted Klufan) and/or the Winter Classic itself (per the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran) are the least of our concerns?
This is particularly interesting given a certain Red Wings exec's compound comments regarding players, fans, and then the potentially imminent cancelation of the Winter Classic's precursor events, a.k.a. the Hockeytown Winter Festival: while Jimmy Devellano suggests otherwise, the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran quotes a "league source" as stating that the whole shebang will be canceled shortly in an attempt to gain lockout-negotiating leverage:
The NHL’s New Year’s Day Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings is on the chopping block, a potential early victim of the lockout.
A league source told the Star that, barring a settlement, commissioner Gary Bettman plans to cancel it in November — to take away any advantage the players may have at the bargaining table because of the game’s popularity.
“Gary told (the board of governors) he was going to cancel the Winter Classic in November because he didn’t want the players to use the game as leverage,” the source said.
The first thing you notice about the Red Wings' management--when you're around them for, say, a prospect camp's worth of time, anyway--is that they're in some seriously good shape under those baggy track jackets, and while Wings assistant GM Jim Nill isn't the kind to engage in the same kinds of punishing workouts that Mike Babcock and Ryan Martin enjoy, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reports that Wings assistant Nill will be taking part in quite the athletic endeavor, and he's doing so for a touching reason:
For someone who enjoyed a decade-long pro playing career, it seems odd that Jim Nill wasn’t much of a fan of running when it came to cardiovascular fitness. He still isn’t.
However, Nill’s antipathy for pounding the pavement won’t stop him from following through on a promise he made four months ago, one that he plans on seeing through – straight to the finish line.
The Red Wings’ assistant general manager will make his long-distance racing debut when he tackles the Chicago Marathon next month as a tribute to his wife, Bekki, who is battling cancer.
“She’s the one that got me into it and got some of her friends into it,” Nill said. “She was doing the training but with her feet and the chemo, she just can’t. … It’s too much, so I’m running for her.”
Contnued, and it's worth your time.
Aww, this is downright cute, especially given that, as noted this morning, Jimmy Devellano wants to pat every NHL fan on the head and let us know that while the economics of the game are far too hard for our wee little brains to understand, the owners are gonna fix the good old hockey game again, this time, for good, and that we can go and watch other hockey games until the NHL's ranchers are willing to let their cattle graze upon our wallets again:
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly gave a Q and A to the Tampa Bay Times' Damian Cristodero, and he insists that the NHL does indeed care about their walking dollar signs,' I mean fans' thoughts...
On if public opinion matters: Yeah, we care what our fans think. Ultimately we have to do an agreement that makes sense for the league and from which the league can grow and from which our franchises can be healthy and stable, and ultimately that will benefit the fans and will benefit the players. But of course we care what our fans think and we are cognizant of that and that’s why they need to hear our message as well as the Players’ Association’s.
On possible fan backlash: Of course there’s a concern about that. There has to be a concern about that.
Daly also tries to explain why the owners have locked the players and fans out for a third time to "fix" the game yet again...
Updated 2x at 5:17 PM: Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings-related news:
- If you missed it, Valtteri Filppula signed a lockout contract with Jokerit Helsinki of the Finnish SM-Liiga;
- And in case you haven't already figured it out, the NHL's cancelation of preseason games yielded an indefinite "delay" in the holding of training camps, and the Free Presss (no author cited) reports that the losses in terms of revenues from both the Red Wings' 8-team prospect tournament and their main camp have yielded immediate consequences for Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, MI:
We’ll get through it,” Centre Ice executive director Terry Marchand said. “It’s going to be a tough year for us, but we’re got a lot of great support within our different organizations and the community.”
Marchand said the rink has raised ice time rates by $10 an hour to help compensate for some for the lost business. Rates are $230 an hour, or $140 an hour for times Monday through Friday before 3 p.m.
This woudl usually be part of an "afternoon report," but with the news regarding the latest Red Wings' European player movement and the Grand Rapids Griffins' training camp receiving their own entries, this is a stand-alone:
As the Plymouth Whalers open their season tonight and offer Wings fans the opportunity to watch an OHL powerhouse, the vast majority of Wings prospects have begun playing in Europe, Major Junior hockey or the USHL and the Grand Rapids Griffins are all of ten days from opening training camp, Hockey's Future's Adam Schnepp looks at eleven Red Wings prospects who should make significant impacts at the minor pro, Major Junior, NCAA and European levels of hockey during this upcoming season:
From the Grand Rapids Griffins' PR department:
GRIFFINS ANNOUNCE TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday announced the schedule for their 2012-13 training camp, which will begin on Monday, Oct. 1 at Van Andel Arena.
The team will report to Grand Rapids for physicals that morning before beginning on-ice sessions in the afternoon. Players will be split into White and Blue teams that will alternate on-ice and off-ice sessions, with one full-team special teams practice scheduled each day. Camp will wrap up with a scrimmage on Friday, Oct. 5 before the team departs for two preseason contests against the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, and Sunday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Updated at 1:24 PM: Jokerit made things official: Via RedWingsFeed, Finnish talboid Iltahleti is reporting that Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula is flying back to Finland from the U.S., and Ilitahleti states that Filppula will begin practicing with Jokerit Helsinki of the SM-Liiga on Saturday and Sunday. He'll presumably sign a contract with the team in short order.
Also: Aftonbladet and Expressen are reporting that the Swedish Eliteserien's been sued by an organization of agents called the Competition Authority, and while the Eliteserien is expected to keep things tied up in court for a while, an arbitrator has ruled in favor of a measure designed to end the Eliteserien's banning of its teams from signing NHL'ers to short-term contracts. This could mean that Jonathan Ericsson may sign with AIK Skelleftea over the next week or two.
I thought this was a pretty sensational thing for Red Wings VP Jimmy Devellano to say a couple of hours ago, but after reading his comments to the Island News's Scott Harrigan, I guess it shouldn't be surprising. Devellano wants Red Wings fans to know that the "Hockeytown Winter Festival" is already in jeopardy due to the owners' lockout (might those open skates be Wings fans' only opportunity to see the ice at Joe Louis Arena this season?) and that the Winter Classic won't be far behind if the players dare to not yield to the owners' demands, as he told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
"We're only days into a lockout, so it's so very early to speculate on any of this," he said. "You don't know what is going to happen in a month from now. I don't know what is going to happen in a month from now. But I will say a month from now, some decisions will have to be made pro or con."
The collective bargaining agreement between owners and players expired Sept. 15, and there have been no negotiations since.
The Winter Classic is scheduled to be played Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings.
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.