Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

All about Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom’s decision to continue playing (plus mid-day stuff)

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.

The soft-spoken Swede leads with his actions. He had 62 points last season - surpassing his production from each of the previous two years - to rank second among NHL defenseman and to become the first 40-year-old defenseman with 60-plus points in an NHL season.

“Nick had a tremendous years and continues to be one of the elite defenseman in the game,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

It’s been widely reported that Lidstrom will earn $6.2 million, the same salary he received last year, and according to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, Holland kind-of-sort-of knew that Lidstrom would return, albeit not officially speaking, last week:

Last Tuesday, on the first day of the Wings’ pro scouting meetings at MotorCity Casino & Hotel, Holland told staffers that he had received a call the night before from Lidstrom. “He wants to meet at my house this afternoon,” Holland said.

As Holland prepared to leave for his afternoon meeting, he told his scouts that he would return to pick them up at 6 p.m. for the Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park. That’s when someone in the room quipped, “If you keep going toward the Ambassador Bridge, we’ll know (Lidstrom’s) answer.”

It wasn’t so funny at the time, but all laughing aside, Lidstrom’s return now gives the Wings four defensemen under contract for next season, including Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart and Jakub Kindl. They also have veteran Doug Janik and highly-touted prospect Brendan Smith assigned in Grand Rapids, which gives the Wings added depth. Smith, a former Hobey Baker finalist, will be given every opportunity to win a top-six defensive role when the team heads to training camp in September.

There are also questions about the futures of Jonathan Ericsson and Ruslan Salei, and whether the Wings will offer them contracts or allow one or both players to test the open market when the free agency period kicks-off July 1.

Clearly, the big piece to the puzzle for the Wings was resigning Lidstrom for at least one more year. Last season, he rebounded nicely from a sub-par 2009-10, defying Father Time again, and becoming the first 40-year-old defenseman to score 60-points in an NHL season, and last December, he scored his first and only hat trick of his illustrious NHL career.

Despite an excellent season, Lidstrom told the team in May that he would take some time during the off-season to mull his future. He told Holland that he would have an answer prior to the NHL draft, which begins Friday in St. Paul, Minn.

As Red Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime notes, Lidstrom simply would not have returned had he not felt that he could play up to an elite standard…

“Coming into this season, I wanted to prove to myself that I could play at a high level and be an impact player for the team,” Lidstrom said. “Proving to myself that I could be that top player was important.”

Which he plans on continuing in 2011-2012, as he told MLive’s Ansar Khan:

“I wanted to make sure I had the motivation and the commitment to work out for next season,’’ Lidstrom said today during a conference call. “I wanted to make sure I’m motivated, still able to play at a high level at my age. I have to be motivated to play. You can’t just show up and play 15-20 minutes a game.’‘
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“It’s a real important decision for our team,’’ Holland said. “Nick is coming off a tremendous season and continues to be one of the elite defensemen in the game.’‘

These stories came fast and furious so I’m trying to cobble them together as best as I can, but they might sound a little repetitious at times. That’s okay, because we’re treading into familiar territory hoping to finally get some answers as to what the team’s defense will look like next season. According to Khan, the Wings’ plans involve retaining Jonathan Ericsson, but that could change….

Holland is continuing contract talks with Jonathan Ericsson, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He said a decision on whether to offer veteran Ruslan Salei a contract will come in the next 10 days.

And this is a bit of a surprise:

The club is hoping that top prospect Brendan Smith will make the team next season. And veteran Doug Janik, who has a one-way contract for 2011-12, could make the roster as the seventh or eighth defenseman. Holland said they’re considering carrying 13 forwards and eight defensemen instead of the usual 14 forwards and seven defensemen.

That would mean no room for Kris Draper and either Cory Emmerton slotted in as the team’s 13th forward or possibly a trade being made at the Entry Draft to swap in a top-six forward…and this is a good time to provide you with a stream of Twitter comments made about Lidstrom’s return during the conference call, first from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun...

Lidstrom on media call says biggest factor was making sure he had motivation to put in the off-season work, etc., and he felt he did
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Lidstrom also said he had questions for Holland about direction of team after Rafalski retirement. Clearly, Holland gave him right answers
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Lidstrom, ``I really like the team that we have and that really helped my decision.’‘
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Holland, ``We plan to be aggressive on July 1 and try to sign a defenseman or two.’‘
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Holland also says he’ll explore trade route this week at draft as another measure to improve defense. Other teams may need to shed $$$

And continuing with Sportsnet’s Mark Spector...

Red Wings conference call w/Nick Lidstrom begins, talking about his new, one-year deal. With Rafalski retired, this is huge for Wings.
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Like all ageing pros, Lidstrom had to make sure he had motivation, commitment to train properly for next season, his 20th.
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“If we’d have lost both (Rafalski and Lidstrom), it would have been devastating. These guys are special players.” — Wings GM Holland.

NHL.com’s Brian Compton...

Lidstrom: “I wanted to make sure I was ready. I’m very happy to be back for my 20th season for the Wings.”
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Lidstrom says he was surprised by Rafalski’s retirement. “I don’t think anyone saw that coming.”
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Ken Holland: “If we had lost both (Rafalski and Lidstrom), it would have been devastating.”

Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika...

Holland: Getting calls from teams who know Red Wings have need on defense and cap space. Will explore trade options and free agency.
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Holland: Yeah, we’re looking to be active, and we have money to spend. But we’re not going to spend just to spend.

97.1 The Ticket (ignore the typos—it’s hard to try to do things on an immediate basis, so we’ll thank whoever posted the updates for their work give ‘em a pass on the occasional boobles; Jeff Riger also filed a report on WXYT’s website)...

Nick Lidstrom “I wanted to make sure I found the motivation and was able to commit to the workouts in the offseason”
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Lidstrom “when I heard that rafalski was retiring it came as a big surprise to me” Babs and Holland told him they couldnt lose him as well
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Lidstrom ” I wanted to prove to myself that I could stay play at that level and feel I can be an impacy player! I feel I can!”
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Holland “we are going to give Brendan Smith every chance to make the team in training camp.”
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Holland “if we lost both (Rafalski and Lidstrom) it would have been devastating!
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Lidstrom ” I think it gets a little bit tougher every year” talking about the decision to come back this season
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Holland “I don’t even want to think about the Detroit Red Wings without Nick Lidstrom.”

And the Wings’ official Twitter account:

Ken Holland: We’re thrilled that Nick has decided to come back and play another year.
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Holland: He’s coming off an outstanding season and in my opinion, even at age 41, continues to be the top two-way defenseman in the world.
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Lidstrom: I’m very happy to be back for my 20th season with the Wings.
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Lidstrom: I really like the team that we have and that helped my decision.
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Nick: “I wanted to make sure I found the motivation and was ready to commit to the workouts over the summer to be ready for next season.”
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Holland on FA’s: We aren’t just out there, spend a bunch of money and have press conferences. We need to find players that fit our team.
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Lidstrom: “I like to have fun when I play, otherwise I wouldn’t be playing.”
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Lidstrom said he’d like to see the team improve in goals against and on special teams.

And I’m never sure what to make of the comments made by now-independent writer Andy Strickland, so I’ll only suggest that you can read his comment about Chris Osgood’s future on your own as it doesn’t make much sense with Jim Bedard in the fold.

In any case, thanks to the Red Wings’ website’s Flash player and the Detroit News, you can listen to Lidstrom’s presser:


Download file

And we’ll talk about the future of the Wings’ blueline and roster in general before moving back to Lidstrom’s comments. Aside from noting that it sounds all but inevitable that the Wings will make some sort of move at the Entry Draft, we know that the blueline’s the team’s first priority as it remains the foundation of the team, as noted by the Sporting News’s Craig Custance...

Now, Holland can focus on replacing just one elite puck-moving defenseman, Rafalski. The Wings GM plans on being aggressive in free agency, beginning July 1, and trade talks before Friday’s draft are starting to heat up.

“Obviously teams out there know we have a need on defense and we have cap space,” Holland said. “We’re getting some calls that I didn’t really have in the past.”

The Red Wings are expected to be in the hunt for free agent defensemen such as Vancouver’s duo of Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff as well as San Jose’s Ian White and Montreal’s James Wisniewski.

Now, with Lidstrom coming back, the Red Wings can be a little more selective when filling out the defense.

“We’re not just going out there looking to spend a bunch of money and have press conferences,” Holland said. “We want to try to have players who fit our team and fit our system.”

And ESPN’s Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun:

LeBrun: On Lidstrom’s media call today, I specifically asked him about whether he had talked to Holland regarding the team’s direction and, not surprisingly, the Wings captain said he grilled the GM. OK, “grilled” is likely a little much, but Lidstrom wanted to make sure Holland would be on the prowl to improve the team. The Wings have never had this much cap money to spend in the post-lockout world, so Lidstrom can rest easy.

Holland said on the call today he would look to add one or two defensemen, whether that’s via trade or free agency. That’s easier to do now that Lidstrom has decided to return on a one-year, $6.2 million contract for next season. It’s a stronger sales pitch to other players when you have Lidstrom on the roster. With Lidstrom, Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall, Holland needs to fill one major hole on defense; but if the UFA spending gets too crazy July 1, Holland’s other option is to look for second-tier UFAs and hope youngsters such as Brendan Smith or Jakub Kindl can also make the jump next season.

Still, in my mind, Holland’s No. 1 priority will be to go after the top UFA blueliners, such as Christian Ehrhoff or Tomas Kaberle, and see if there’s a fit.

You mentioned [Chris] Osgood. I’m told Ozzie is leaning toward coming back for another season. That will depend on what the Wings want to do. My guess is the Wings will explore the market and see what’s out there before returning the backup job to Osgood.
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Burnside: Well, with all due respect to Doug Harvey and Bobby Orr and Scott Niedermayer, et al, it’s going to be hard to dislodge Lidstrom from the very pinnacle of NHL defensemen given he has shown almost no slippage in his level of play. It’s incredible when you think about it. I recall talking to Babcock during training camp and he was hoping to roll all six of his defensemen in almost equal increments of time to try and keep his older legs as fresh as possible for the playoffs. It didn’t quite work out that way with injuries to Rafalski and others along the blue line, but there was Lidstrom, showing up for all 82 nights for the second straight season.

Have to figure Babcock will be looking for that same kind of collective effort in the coming season, so expect filling that blue-line hole will be top priority for Holland. Still, it’s hard to look at the Wings’ lineup now and not think “Stanley Cup contender” thanks to Mr. Norris’ return.

LeBrun: Lidstrom’s 62 regular-season points were second in the NHL among blueliners. He had a better year this past season than he did in 2009-10 and Lidstrom said that was also part of the equation in his decision to return. Had he regressed, my guess is he would have packed it in this summer. Instead, he bounced back with a Norris-worthy season.

Before we end this, Scotty, I wonder if Lidstrom asked Holland where things stood on the Jaromir Jagr front. Sources told me this morning that Detroit and Pittsburgh and two other unidentified teams remain in mix for the 39-year-old’s services. Jagr would be a nice boost to the Wings’ power play despite his age. Jagr and his agent, Petr Svoboda, were scheduled to huddle today to decide their next move. Stay tuned.

Here are LeBrun’s Twitter comments about Jagr:

Jagr and his agent Petr Svoboda expected to huddle up in next hour to discuss their decision. Doesn’t mean decision will be today
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A reminder that Jagr could also remain in KHL where best salary offer remains… we’ll see.
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@SportsnetSpec I just think Jagr is keeping all his options open, Spec. Nothing more , nothing less

USA Today’s Kevin Allen also ponders the Wings’ options...

With Lidstrom now aboard, Detroit’s defense now has Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart and Jakub Kindl committed for next season. Holland said he has entered talks with soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Jonathan Ericsson. No decision has yet been made about bringing back Ruslan Salei. Holland said high-profile defensive prospect Brendan Smith will be given every opportunity to make the team. He’s a puck-carrying defenseman, similar to the Los Angeles Kings’ Jack Johnson.

“I have never had any doubt in my mind that Kenny is trying to do everything he can to put the best product on the ice,” said Lidstrom, who indicated he had discussed Detroit’s defensive situation with Holland.

With the salary cap expected to go to $64 million, the Red Wings have close to $16 million left, depending if they re-sign Ericsson, Kris Draper, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, etc. Potential free-agent defensemen on the market this summer include Andrei Markov, Kevin Bieska, Christian Ehrhoff, James Wisniewski, Ed Jovanovski and Ian White, among others.

“We plan to try to be aggressive on July 1 to find a defenseman or two,” Holland said, adding that if the team would have lost both Rafalski and Lidstrom “it would have probably been devastating.”

Lidstrom said he likes the Red Wings’ roster, even without changes.

“I think special teams and goals-against are the things that have to be improved,” Lidstrom said. “That might not be personnel. (It’s) playing the system better, not taking chances.”

Today is, however, all about Lidstrom’s present, and as NHL.com’s Brian Compton notes, Lidstrom wasn’t necessarily waffling about continuing to play—he simply wanted to be thorough in his decision-making process:

“The reason for why it took it so long is I wanted to make sure I found the motivation and I was ready to commit to the workouts over the summer to be ready for next season,” Lidstrom told reporters during a conference call Monday. “When Ken and I met after the playoffs, Kenny told me, ‘You can take as long as you want up until July 1 at least to make your decision.’ I’ve been talking to my family and I started working out a few weeks ago to make sure I still had the motivation and still had the commitment to go through everything to get ready for next season. I’m very happy to be back for my 20th season for the Wings.”
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“Coming off (2009-10), I thought I could have played better, and going into the season we just finished, I wanted to prove to myself that I could still play at a high level,” Lidstrom said. “I still felt that I could do that. Being nominated again (for the Norris Trophy), that’s a great feeling as well. But just proving to myself that I could still be that top player was important.”
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Holland told reporters that he and Wings coach Mike Babcock had a meeting with Lidstrom in Detroit to inform him of Rafalski’s decision. Had the Red Wings lost Lidstrom, too, their chances of winning a Stanley Cup in 2012 would have been remote.

“If we had lost both, it would have been probably devastating,” Holland said. “Nick’s a finalist for the Norris and Raffy (Rafalski) had almost 50 points in 60 games. You’re talking about two elite, puck-moving defensemen. We’ve got Raffy’s cap space, but these guys are special players. It’s a reason why you pay them the salary that you do. I’d rather have Brian Rafalski back, but Raffy has different priorities in his life.”

Apparently, Lidstrom’s priority is to win another Stanley Cup before he heads into the sunset. One of the best defensemen to ever play the game, Lidstrom already has won four NHL championships in his career. One thing is certain, though—when next season ends, Lidstrom once again will have to think long and hard about if he wants to continue playing.

“I’m just taking it year by year—to make sure that I’m motivated and that I can play at that high level,” Lidstrom said. “That’s what I expect of myself.”

Holland also had this to say about his future, as noted by the New York Times’ Joanne C. Gerstner, though it’s hard to believe (insert smiley face):

“Obviously, if we had lost both, it probably would have been devastating,” Holland said on the teleconference. “I just can’t imagine the Red Wings without Nick Lidstrom. “I always say that the day he announces his retirement, I will be in an adjacent room, announcing mine.”

It is fascinating to hear Lidstrom talk about his insistence that he must absolutely, positively and completely be ready to commit to grinding it out over the summer in order to be ready to play at a still-elite level—and it might be a message that the team’s prospects ought to heed, as noted by the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:

“I wanted to make sure I found the motivation and I was ready to commit to workouts over the summer for next season,” Lidstrom said. I started working out here a few weeks ago just to make sure I still had the motivation and still have the commitment to go through everything to get ready for the next season,” Lidstrom added. “That’s why it took so long. I wanted to make sure I was ready and prepared. I’m very happy to be back for my 20th season with the Wings.”

Lidstrom, who turned 41 in April, finished second amongst defensemen with 62 points this season. He is the only Wing to play all 82 games each of the past two seasons.
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Lidstrom is fourth on the Wings’ career list for points (1,108), ninth in goals (253), third in assists (855) and fourth in games played (1,494).

“At my age I need to be motivated to play,” Lidstrom said. “I have been motivated. When I’m motivated I’m having fun playing.

“If I drop off and I can’t keep playing up to that level, or I was a sixth or seventh defenseman I probably wouldn’t be playing,” Lidstrom added. “I admire (Chris) Chelios for what he did. His ice time dropped and he accepted that. If that happened to me I probably wouldn’t be having much fun playing.”

As the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa notes, Lidstrom holds his team’s ability to compete for the Stanley Cup to an equally high standard:

“I really like the team we have, and that helps my decision, too, knowing that we have a competitive team, knowing that we are going to have a good product on the ice for the season,” Lidstrom said.
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Lidstrom said he asked general manager Ken Holland about whether the club’s commitment to winning is still vigorous.

“I did have those questions for Kenny,” Lidstrom said. “And I have, often, in the past as well. I’ve never had any doubt in my mind that Kenny is trying to do everything he can to put a good product on the ice, and Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch, as well. When I heard of (Brian) Rafalski retiring, that came as a big surprise to me, as well, and Kenny and Babs brought that out to me, as well, when we had our year-end meetings. They really wanted me to come back, with losing Rafalski.”

Holland assessed the situation. “Obviously, if we had lost both,” he said, “it probably would have been devastating.”

Lidstrom also made sure to state that he’s got some unfinished business to complete, as noted by Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski:

What about the motivation of falling short of the Cup last postseason, with the Wings losing to the San Jose Sharks in the semifinals?

“It could have been easier to walk away when you’re on top,” said Lidstrom. “But when you get knocked out of the playoffs, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth.”

This comment about Brian Rafalski, via Sportsnet’s Chris Nichols, is telling, too:

“I know Raffi was on the trainer’s table a lot,” Lidstrom said. “I didn’t think he was going to retire. I thought he was going to come back. It didn’t even cross my mind he was thinking about hanging them up. … It came into my decision a little bit. But the ultimate decision was still for myself to be ready, for myself to be motivated and able to play next season.

“I knew they wanted me to come back even more when he retired but it was still a decision that I was ready to play again.”

So the bottom line is a simple one. As the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan notes, it’s equally about Lidstrom making sure that he doesn’t half-ass so much as a milliliter of effort...

“I wanted to make sure I found the motivation and was ready for the workouts over the summer,” said Lidstrom, who’ll earn $6.2 million in 2011-12 — same as 2010-11. “Preparing for a long year, you have to start now and work out even harder to keep up. You can’t cut any corners.”

Proving that he can still play at an ultimately elite level, as noted by Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji...

“Coming off last season (2009-10), I thought I could have played better,” Lidstrom said. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could play at a high level and be an impact player for the team. If I took a step back, it could have been a different decision.”

Lidstrom was asked what he defines as an impact season.

“I’ve always played against the top lines, usually killing penalties, on the power play, involved in the game all the time,” Lidstrom said. “That means playing 23-25 minutes, night in and night out. My expectations for myself are to shut down the top line, kill off that penalty, make the power play work. Adding those pieces up is what I expect for myself. If I dropped off to being the sixth defenseman, I probably wouldn’t be playing because I wouldn’t be having as much fun and contributing as much to the team.”

And, as Wakiji suggests, ensuring that the team’s committed to improving, not regressing:

Holland said the team plans to be active in free agency, which begins July 1, and possibly on the trade market, depending on what’s available. The salary cap is expected to be in the $64 million range.

“Teams know we have a need on defense, and we have cap space,” Holland said. “I’ve received a few calls in the last week or so from teams looking to do something different with their teams. We’re going to explore the trade front, July 1st free agency. But we don’t want to spend for the sake of spending.”

So Lidstrom will attend the NHL Awards in Las Vegas after spending a week in Los Angeles with his family, and the Wings’ summer of uncertainty will give way to answers, and as the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes, maybe there wasn’t that much doubt as to whether Lidstrom would return as much as there was time necessary for Lidstrom to ensure that he would follow through on a process he was already undertaking:

“It’s something our entire organization was hoping would happen,” Holland said.

Lidstrom will head back to his native Sweden after the awards show but already has begun his training.

“The reason for why it took so long was that I wanted to make sure I found the motivation, that I was ready to commit to the workouts over the summer to be ready for next season,” Lidstrom said. “I started working out a few weeks ago, just to make sure that I had the motivation and still have the commitment to do everything to get ready.”

Now that he knows Lidstrom is staying, Holland can focus on plugging the immense hole left by Rafalski, who was one of the team’s best passers. There are a number of high-profile defensemen eligible for free agency July 1 — a list that includes Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff and Sami Salo, Phoenix’s Ed Jovanovski, Carolina’s Joni Pitkanen, Boston’s Tomas Kaberle and Montreal’s James Wisniewski — but Holland also will explore trades. The Wings are pretty stocked up front and could move someone such as Jiri Hudler.

“I’ve had a few conversations,” Holland said. “Teams out there know that we have cap space. We’re going to explore. We’re going to explore ways either on the trade front or July 1 free agency. We want to be active. We do want to make some additions to our team, and we’re open-minded.”

It’s time to get to work on that now, and now that Holland knows that his captain will be back, the Wings know that their rudder remains amidships, and their captain has essentially declared a simple command: “Full speed ahead!”

Also of Red Wings-related note: According to the Columbus Dispatch’s Jeff Rimer, Todd Richards will join the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach, leaving Ken Hitchcock, Craig MacTavish, possibly Craig Ramsay and the favorites in Bob Boughner and Pete DeBoer looking for head coaching jobs. I get the feeling that Claude Noel will be hired by the Winnipeg franchise as their head coach if they don’t tab Ramsay, and MacTavish will probably join the Wild;

• The Winnipeg Free Press reports that Gordie Howe is in town to take part in a charity golf tournament today;

• Looking forward to the draft, NHL.com’s John Kreiser examined “hits and misses” by the NHL’s Central Division teams, including the Wings...

DETROIT RED WINGS

Best first-round pick: Steve Yzerman (1983)—The Wings actually wanted to choose Pat LaFontaine with the fourth pick, because he had played in the area and management felt he would help sell tickets. But LaFontaine went to the Islanders at No. 3, leaving Yzerman to the Red Wings. Yzerman became the face of the franchise for a generation of Detroit fans, morphing from a high-scoring center on some non-winning teams to one of the best two-way centers on a franchise that won three Cups in six years. He moved into the front office after retirement before leaving last spring to become GM of the Lightning—and promptly building them into a final four team.

Honorable mention: Marcel Dionne (1971), Mike Foligno (1979), Keith Primeau (1990)

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Nicklas Lidstrom (1989)—This one is a tough call—the Wings took another likely Hall of Famer, Sergei Fedorov, in the fourth round—but the six-time Norris Trophy winner ranks as the biggest prize in one of the great drafts of all time. Lidstrom has been nearly flawless since arriving in the NHL in 1991. He owns four Stanley Cup rings, was the first European captain of a Cup winner, surpassed 1,000 points for his career early in 2009-10 and is in the conversation when the topic turns to the greatest defensemen of all time.

Honorable mention: Sergei Fedorov (1989), Chris Osgood (1991)

Best later-round pick: Henrik Zetterberg (1999)—Getting Zetterberg in the seventh round of the Entry Draft was like finding a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk. As is the case with fellow late-round gem Pavel Datsyuk, Zetterberg is perfect for the Wings’ puck-possession system—offensively skilled, defensively responsible and tremendously hockey-smart. There is nothing that he can’t do on the ice, and he’s a perfect fit for Detroit’s style of play.

Honorable mention: Tomas Holmstrom (1994), Pavel Datsyuk (1998)

Biggest disappointment: Kory Kocur (1988)—Joey Kocur’s cousin was a scorer, not a fighter—the Wings chose him after a 34-goal season with Saskatoon of the WHL, and he put up 45 goals and 102 points in 1988-89 before turning pro. However, his scoring touch in junior never translated to the pros—he had 18 and 8 goals in two AHL seasons before being sent to IHL Fort Wayne, where he had 25 and 21 goals before calling it a career in 1993.

Honorable Mention: Curtis Bowen (1992), Jesse Wallin (1996)

• The Red Wings’ website posted a video that “Catches Up” with Danny Cleary…

• And if you missed it, the Wings released their pre-season schedule today.


Update: Lidstrom did confirm his decision to Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom and Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman, but as I’m going out the door to ferry the mom to a doctor’s appointment, I’ll have to translate the Aftonbladet article later.

Update #2: According to Spector, the Canadiens aren’t very interested in Jaromir Jagr, but the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi reports that Jagr’s asking the Penguins if they’re interested in his services.

Update #2.5: Justin Verlander > Nicklas Lidstrom, says FSD’s Mike O’Hara. Cue the ORLY? owl.


Update#3: Per the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff and RedWingsFeed on Twitter, the Hockey News’s Ken Campbell reports that Ken Hitchcock turned down an invite to become one of Mike Babcock’s assistant coaches.

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Comments

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

you’re crazy if you think Z gets the nod for best gem vs. Pav.. CRACK

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 06/20/11 at 06:08 PM ET

Jordan_NOHS's avatar

It’s a close call but Z edges Pav as a leader. He was also drafted later so is more 50.1% to 49.9%

Posted by Jordan_NOHS from Detroit, MI on 06/20/11 at 06:13 PM ET

monkey's avatar

you’re crazy if you think Z gets the nod for best gem vs. Pav.. CRACK

Kreiser apparently believes picking Nick Lidstrom over Sergei Fedorov (check that out, JJ) is a “tough call”, yet makes no mention of such struggle in picking Zetterberg over Datsyuk.  Weird.  At least he pegged the Red Wings’ haul in 1989 as one of the best drafts ever.

Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings: He might be the most complete and consistent defenseman in NHL history. I wouldn’t say he takes a back seat to Verlander. It’s more like the side car.

And then there is this dude.  Sidecars are for bitches. Anyone who rides in one is automatically your bitch.  Justin Verlander would look great in Nicklas Lidstrom’s sidecar.

Posted by monkey from Praha, Česká republika on 06/20/11 at 06:17 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Kreiser apparently believes picking Nick Lidstrom over Sergei Fedorov (check that out, JJ)

Hooray!  My oddly-specific-blood-pressure-elevating pet peeve gets a break!

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/20/11 at 06:24 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Monkey,

I’m pretty sure the draft remark was about the ‘89 draft class in general, as it produced a ridiculous number of all-star talent for the entire league, with Lidstrom being the top prize. I’m not sure if there has ever been a deeper draft than ‘89, and better group of rookie classes the following couple of seasons.

As for Update #2.5:

Justin Verlander > Nicklas Lidstrom, says FSD’s Mike O’Hara. Cue the ORLY? owl.

This isn’t even a conversation until Verlander does the following:

1) Matches or surpases Lidstrom in Cy Young Award’s vs. Norris Trophies

2) Has a career filled with phenomenal personal regular season and post season records

3) Wins at least one World Series as the ace and at least one World Series MVP award
-Can a starter win the MVP for the Series? If not then he’s got to be the ace for at least two championships.

When Verlander checks off all three of the above items we can debate who is > than whom until we are blue in the face (or numb in the fingers). Until then, I call horse hockey!

Posted by Bradley97 on 06/20/11 at 06:36 PM ET

yzer19man's avatar

Thanks for compiling all this great info George…I was away during the time of the announcement so it was nice to be able to see the twitter updates that were happening…You the man

Posted by yzer19man from Chicago, IL on 06/20/11 at 06:52 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Posted by Bradley97 on 06/20/11 at 05:36 PM ET

Bingo.

Verlander is off to an awesome start and the last 2 years has been one of the dominant pitchers in either league.  But consistency and durability are essential traits of greatness, so let’s enjoy the ride every 5th day with Verlander and hope he stays healthy long enough to achieve greatness from a career perspective.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 06/20/11 at 07:22 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Wisniewski plays physical (he had 108 hits last season) and blocks shots (119). He was suspended twice in 2009-10 while in Anaheim—two games for hitting Phoenix’s Shane Doan in the forehead and eight games for a hit to head on Chicago’s Brent Seabrook.

Look at those eyes.  “Imported from Detroit, Moth—Fu——!”

He would immediately claim the title of serial killer from Bertuzzi.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 06/20/11 at 07:47 PM ET

Avatar

Tomas Jurco…..lame attempt to petition the Wings to draft the junior stick-handling apprentice to Datsyuk….Tomas Jurco - who plays for St. Johns, and I think wears #13 - the 24th player selected.

Posted by Jesters Dead on 06/20/11 at 07:53 PM ET

monkey's avatar

When Verlander checks off all three of the above items we can debate who is > than whom until we are blue in the face (or numb in the fingers). Until then, I call horse hockey!

All Hail the Lizard King.

Hooray!  My oddly-specific-blood-pressure-elevating pet peeve gets a break!

Don’t say I never did anything for you.

Posted by monkey from Praha, Česká republika on 06/20/11 at 08:03 PM ET

monkey's avatar

m pretty sure the draft remark was about the ‘89 draft class in general, as it produced a ridiculous number of all-star talent for the entire league, with Lidstrom being the top prize.

That may be, but who cares about the other teams?

Posted by monkey from Praha, Česká republika on 06/20/11 at 08:18 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Monkey,

Thank you and touché!

Posted by Bradley97 on 06/20/11 at 08:27 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Wisniewski plays physical (he had 108 hits last season) and blocks shots (119). He was suspended twice in 2009-10 while in Anaheim—two games for hitting Phoenix’s Shane Doan in the forehead and eight games for a hit to head on Chicago’s Brent Seabrook.

Posted by RWBill from Imported from Detroit, Land of Todd-Ber-Tuz-zi !! on 06/20/11 at 06:47 PM ET

If he hit Shane Doan in the noggin’ he’s OK in my book.  (Just kidding - not - well, maybe.)

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 06/20/11 at 10:21 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

you’re crazy if you think Z gets the nod for best gem vs. Pav.. CRACK

Not quite—there’s more going on here than appears.  I recognize that article from a year-and-a-half ago.  Kreiser actually wrote it and posted it sometime in late 2009 or early 2010 if my memory serves me correctly, and he appears to be re-posting it verbatim because it’s the slow season.  At the time he wrote it, you could have made that argument for either Z or Dangle—it was not so clear-cut as it appears to now be.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 06/21/11 at 05:33 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Matches or surpases Lidstrom in Cy Young Award’s

Ouch, there goes my oddly-specific-blood-pressure-elevating pet peeve again…

(Just joking, Bradley, but the apostrophe isn’t always your friend).

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 06/21/11 at 05:40 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Tomas Jurco

Pass.  No room for Jurco in my dream.  I’ll be over the moon if we get Klefbom in the first round as some think we will.  With our developmental system that enables passionate, dedicated players like him to fulfill their potential, I suspect we could be talking about Klefbom returning at a pay cut for his twentieth season in the League sometime in 2033…

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 06/21/11 at 05:43 AM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Ouch, there goes my oddly-specific-blood-pressure-elevating pet peeve again…

(Just joking, Bradley, but the apostrophe isn’t always your friend).

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 06/21/11 at 04:40 AM ET

D’oh!

Posted by Bradley97 on 06/21/11 at 10:54 AM ET

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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.