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Ken Holland gets busy outlining the Red Wings’ future; Dick Axelsson heads to MoDo

Updated 5x with Chelios on WDFN at 5:35 PM: Between yesterday’s interview on WDFN and speaking to the Wings’ press corps, Red Wings GM Ken Holland has begun to outline his thoughts about and plans for Detroit’s roster going forward, but as Holland told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan today, he doesn’t expect to make any major decisions about the Wings’ search for a new assistant coach or its unrestricted free agents until at or around June 1st, when his exit meetings with players end and Holland’s powwows with his pro scouts (to prepare for unrestricted free agency) and amateur scouting staff (to prepare for the NHL Entry Draft) begin.

Right now, his biggest concerns, aside from the status of Nicklas Lidstrom, involve hearing back from Kris Draper and Chris Osgood as to whether they’re rock-solid in their desire to continue playing:

[Kris] Draper, who’ll be 40 on Tuesday, told Holland he’d like to play another season. [Chris] Osgood, 38, will give Holland an answer on either retirement or his desire to continue playing within the next two weeks. Holland said he’s open to having Draper return to the Red Wings for an 18th season, but wants to see how the rest of the roster shakes out.

“It’s not even June 1 yet,” Holland said. “It’s a process. We’ll continue to work through these decisions.”

Holland would like to re-sign unrestricted free-agent forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, and both would compete for a roster spots with Draper. Jan Mursak, another grinding forward, is likely to be promoted from Grand Rapids.

“We can’t keep everybody,” Holland said.

Holland also has met with potential unrestricted free agent defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, a player he’d like to keep.

“Jonathan will talk with his agent in the next couple of weeks and we’ll move on from there,” Holland said.

As I noted early this morning, Holland spoke to WBBL’s Bakita and Bentley on Thursday, but some familial obligations this morning prevented me from doing a transcript of the interview. Thankfully, MLive’s Phil Zaroo posted the important parts of the interview, noting that Holland seems torn as to whether he believes the team should say goodbye to both Draper and Osgood:

“When is it time to make the change to move older people out and move younger people in,” Holland asked Bakita and Bentley on WBBL-FM 107.3 Grand Rapids. “You look around the league – lots of teams move in younger people, and by the middle of November, they’re looking for old veterans because younger people aren’t quite ready for the responsibilities.

“So it’s a fine line when to decide that it’s time to make change.”

Holland said Osgood and Draper have had a tremendous impact on younger players when it comes to displaying the toughness, dedication and team-first attitude that are the hallmarks of the Red Wings organization.

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Zaroo also took note of Jimmy Howard’s comments to WDFN’s Matt Sheppard on Wednesday, but it’s Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner who delivers the “bombshell” of the day, if you will:

On Thursday, I sat down with Holland to get an idea of how he sees the immediate and long-term future of his hockey club. During our conversation, we touched on several topics including:

—The futures of Nick Lidstrom, Kris Draper and Chris Osgood.

—How he gathers information to make decisions on whether to pursue an unrestricted free agent or not.

—How parity has hit the NHL, in part because of the salary cap.

—Whether young prospects Jan Mursak, Cory Emmerton and Brendan Smith will be Red Wings next season.

—On why Brad McCrimmon left the organization and who will make the final call on a replacement.

—Detroit’s willingness to deal if the right trade comes their way.

The interview’s not embeddable, but you can watch parts one, two and three of the interview on Fox Sports Detroit’s website.

Update: Red Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime posted the “tenth-best” Wings game of the 2010-2011 season...

October 23, 2010
Red Wings 5, Ducks 4

The Red Wings battled back from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits, capping off a 5-4 win when Pavel Datsyuk scored with 12 seconds left in the third period. It also marked the second time in two weeks that Datsyuk had been a thorn in the Ducks side, pulling off a Gordie Howe hat-trick on opening night.

Henrik Zetterberg had two goals and two assists, and Nick Lidstrom had three assists to move ahead of Denis Potvin for sixth on the NHL’s career scoring list for defensemen.

• DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose profiled Little Caesars AAA defenseman and Northeastern University freshman-to-be Jamie Oleksiak, a defenseman, as part of a now-ongoing series involving players who may be available when the Wings pick 26th overall in Minnesota;

• And this is just heartbreaking. The ice at Joe Louis Arena’s been gutted by Al Sobotka and the zambonis:

Update #2: I don’t see how or why the Red Wings could afford to or would wish to sign Tomas Kaberle, but the Hockey News’s Lyle “Spector” Richardson is willing to entertain the concept proffered by one of his colleagues:

Though not everyone was jumping on the “bash Kaberle” bandwagon, as our very own Ryan Dixon recently suggested the beleaguered defenseman would be a better fit on a puck-possession team such as the Detroit Red Wings.

The Wings’ top blueliners - captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski - are both aging and will have to be replaced by management at some point.

Kaberle is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and likely won’t be re-signed by the Bruins or brought back by the Maple Leafs, so if the Wings are able to afford him (they currently have $46.8 million invested in 15 players for next season) and assuming his salary demands aren’t extreme, he’ll be an option worth considering.

Critics will argue against this path for Detroit, citing Kaberle’s age (33), woeful performance with the Bruins and lack of physical play, but it should be remembered the Red Wings have a history of saving the careers of defensemen.

In the mid-1990s, Larry Murphy spent two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and was considered washed up when the Red Wings acquired him in 1997. Murphy helped Detroit win two Stanley Cups and posted back-to-back 52-point seasons.

Brad Stuart’s career was considered in decline after he bounced between the Sharks, Bruins, Flames and Kings in two years. But when he joined the Red Wings in a 2007-08 trade, he became a key member of the team and helped them to two consecutive Stanley Cup final appearances, winning it all in ’08.

I don’t see it happening. Next summer, yes, the Wings will bring in a replacement for Rafalski, but they don’t have a reason to bring in an offensive defenseman this year.

Update #3: Per the Mississauga News’s Gary McCarthy:

The Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors will honour a star-studded field of hockey legends as part of the MasterCard Memorial Cup celebrations this week at the Hershey Centre.

The Majors, hosts of this year’s national junior hockey championship final, have attracted several icons who got their start in the St. Mike’s program.
Among the stars who will be honoured and who will be featured in ceremonial face-offs are Dave Keon, Red Kelly, Dick Duff, Ted Lindsay, Dave Dryden and Father David Bauer.
The 85-year-old Lindsay will have his St. Mike’s jersey retired on Tuesday night in a ceremony before the Kootenay vs. Saint John game and he will also drop the puck for the ceremonial face-off. Lindsay played with St. Mike’s before moving on to Oshawa and helping the Generals capture the Memorial Cup in 1944.

Arguably one of the toughest players in the NHL, Lindsay was part of the famed Production Line with the Red Wings, playing alongside legendary Gordie Howe and Sid Abel. He won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring leader in 1949-50 with 78 points. The Wings won the Stanley Cup that season.

Lindsay is also seen as the pioneer of what now is the NHL Players Association. Back in the mid-1950s, he and defenceman Doug Harvey of the Montreal Canadiens led a group in an attempt to form a player’s association that fought for a minimum salary and a properly funded pension plan. The move infuriated owners and several players paid the price as they were shipped to the minors or benched. Lindsay was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks and Harvey was dealt to the New York Rangers.

The NHL players association honoured Lindsay last year by re-naming the Lester B. Pearson Award the Ted Lindsay Award for his leadership in establishing the union. The trophy is handed out annually to the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted by the players.

And the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema interviewed Fox Sports Detroit president Greg Hammaren and executive producer John Tuohey about the work that goes into airing Wings playoff agmes and FSD’s attempts to engage their fans and weigh fan opinion whenever possible. It’s a good read.

Update #3: Per Expressen’s Henrik Sjoberg and Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros, Daniel Grefve and Jonathan Ekeliw report that Dick Axelsson’s chosen to join MoDo Ornskoldsvik.

Allehanda.se’s Per Hagglund says that MoDo GM Markus Naslund’s promising that Axelsson will play a prominent role in the team’s plans (and he’s going to stay in Sweden), and MoDo’s website confirms as well.

Update #4: Via MLive’s Phil Zaroo, Ken Kal spoke to WZAM AM about the Red Wings’ possible tweaks:

“There might be a few changes,” Kal said on ESPN 970’s SportsPen. “There probably will be. But you’re not going to see a dramatic shift of talent, where they’ll trade people or do something crazy where they might regret it. It’s not gonna happen.

“You look at what the management staff has done over the years. They’ve really made only a couple of moves here and there – try to tweak it up – and I think that’s what you’ll see come the fall when they start playing again.”

Kal thinks that levelheaded approach is the right way to go. The core of the team is still intact, and signed for the long haul. Furthermore, Detroit was a hair away from advancing to the conference finals.

“I still believe, with a couple of bounces, the Red Wings could have won that series against the San Jose Sharks,” he said. “It was that close. With that said, then you’re in the final four, and who knows what might or could have happened.”

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Update #5: Here’s Chris Chelios speaking to WDFN’s Sean Baligian:

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

I think we need to tell “Hat Trick Dick” to piss off.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 05/20/11 at 06:15 PM ET


We don’t need/want Kaberle ... we drafted Brendon Smith 2 years ago ... ‘nuff said.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 05/20/11 at 06:32 PM ET


I think we need to tell “Hat Trick Dick” to piss off.

Agreed. There is no place on the Wings for a prima donna.

Posted by Seaner on 05/20/11 at 06:35 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

I think we need to tell “Hat Trick Dick” to piss off.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from COLUMBIA, TENNESSEE on 05/20/11 at 05:15 PM ET

LOL - I’ve been thinking the same thing.  The guy sounds too high maintenance.

And George, that video of the removal of the ice was too sad…

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 05/20/11 at 06:37 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Red Wings are being patient with Dick because they believe that he will *eventually* grow up and put his talents to good use. They’re willing to wait a few years as he’s still 24, which isn’t “too old to wait for” by Wings standards. If he can get his head on straight when he’s 26 or 27 and come in and score 20 goals when he’s 28, the wait will have been worth it.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/20/11 at 07:07 PM ET


didn’t we used to have a prima donna named Federov.. food for thought.. Maybe being around good people would make him a better person.

Good point (and George’s too). Good thing I’m not a GM.

Posted by Seaner on 05/20/11 at 07:33 PM ET


didn’t we used to have a prima donna named Federov.. food for thought.. Maybe being around good people would make him a better person.

Good point (and George’s too). Good thing I’m not a GM.

Posted by Seaner on 05/20/11 at 07:38 PM ET

thethirdcoast's avatar

didn’t we used to have a prima donna named Federov..

Yes, but he was so supernaturally gifted on the ice that everyone in Detroit was willing to tolerate quite a bit from Sergei. I am not that familiar with Axelsson, so I don’t have an opinion if he’s worth it at this point.

As for Kaberle, absolutely not. I stand by my stance that he is far and away the most overrated defenseman of his generation.

Posted by thethirdcoast from Rochester, NY on 05/20/11 at 08:09 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

In the cap era, if you have a prospect who, when his head is on straight, can come into your lineup and post 20 goals, and all you have to do to retain his rights is toss him a qualifying offer and hold one spot on your fifty-man roster for him, it’s worth it. All the Wings have to do is keep an eye on him and know that when he’s ready, he’s going to have to play for them or be traded to another team by them.

It’s all about retaining an asset. That’s what the Wings are doing.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/20/11 at 09:31 PM ET

Chet's avatar

as far as the defense going forward, we should hope shea weber signs a 1-year deal in nashville, then scoop him up next summer for 28 and/or 5’s money.

of course, the idea of weber signing only a 1-year deal is pretty farfetched, but a guy can dream.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 05/20/11 at 09:54 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Like I said: Dick Axelsson and MoDo deserve each other.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 05/21/11 at 02:58 PM 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.


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