The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/16/14 at 02:27 PM ET
Updated substantially at 3:25 PM: This afternoon's selection of Red Wings-related news isn't as interesting as the Paul-posted, "Jimmy Devellano's first words to the media since the draft" article in which the Hockey News's Ken Campbell discussed Ken Holland and Mike Babcock's shelf lives, but I've found enough tidbits to cobble together a respectable mid-July entry.
The first bit of Wings-related news comes from the ECHL, and it involves a somewhat surprising signing made by the Toledo Walleye:
Goaltender Jeff Lerg has agreed to terms with the Toledo Walleye for the 2014-15 season.
The Walleye are the ECHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League and the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.
Lerg has spent the last three seasons playing in France and Italy. The native of Livonia, Mich. posted a goals-against average of 3.32 with a save percentage of .910 last season while between the pipes for Villard-de-Lans in France and was named French League "Best Goaltender". The 28-year-old has also posted save percentages of .912 (2012-13) and .921 (2011-12) while overseas. Lerg played a full season in the ECHL with Trenton in 2010-11 appearing in 27 games with a 12-12-1 record, a 3.15 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage.
Prior to turning pro, Lerg spent four seasons at Michigan State University. In his time as a Spartan, the 5'6", 165-pound goaltender scooped many league awards including the 2005-06 CCHA Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie Team member, plus 2006 CCHA Tournament MVP. In 2006-07, he helped lead the Spartans to the NCAA championship. He won 78 games over four seasons, including a career best 26 during the 2006-07 season. Lerg finished his collegiate career with a 78-51-17 record, a 2.37 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
Given that Jared Coreau and Jake Paterson will likely start the 2014-2015 season in Toledo, I'm not sure how much playing time Lerg will actually get, but he's attempting to reestablish himself on this side of the Atlantic, and if the Griffins call on Coreau or Paterson, the Walleye will have a solid netminder in reserve. He may get some short jokes given that Jared Coreau's 6'5" and that Jake Paterson's 6'1," too.
The Walleye's goalies come in three sizes!
In a more controversial vein, via Paul again, Grantland's Sean McIndoe examined the "Best and Worst" of the first 10 years' worth of salary cap-era free agency signings, and the Wings earned a pair of "bests"...
2007: Best: Brian Rafalski, Red Wings, $30 million over five years
Rafalski didn’t come cheap, but he gave the Wings everything they could have hoped for. He finished in the top 10 in Norris voting in each of his first two seasons and was a key component of Detroit’s Stanley Cup win in 2008. And when his production started to decline, he unexpectedly retired in 2011 rather than cash in on the final year of his deal.
2008: Best: Marian Hossa, Red Wings, $7.45 million for one year
This deal ended up becoming a punch line; Hossa spurned 2008 runner-up Pittsburgh to join the champion Red Wings, only to see the two teams meet again in 2009 with the Penguins winning. But playoff results aside, this was a great deal for Detroit, who got an elite player in his prime on a low-risk one-year deal.
But McIndoe pans a contract that many Wings fans rue to this day:
2009: Worst: Marian Hossa, Blackhawks, $63.3 million over 12 years
As much as I’m tempted to give this spot to Mike Komisarek’s awful deal with Toronto, I’m going to go with what I suspect is a more controversial pick: Hossa’s monster contract with the Blackhawks.
Hawks fans could argue that this can’t be considered a bad contract because Chicago won two Cups in its first four years. But the deal goes on until 2021, at which point Hossa will be 42, and it’s so comically front-loaded that the cap-recapture penalties are potentially huge.
The Hawks didn’t know about that last part when they signed the deal, of course, because again, the NHL changed the rules on everyone years later. But in hindsight, the team must wish it had just swallowed the higher cap hit to get a shorter deal done. Could they have still won those Cups if they had? Your answer to that question probably goes a long way toward deciding if you agree with this pick.
Otherwise...MLive's Brendan Savage noted that several pundits believe the Wings have one of the "easiest" schedules in the NHL for this upcoming season...
There's good news for Detroit Red Wings fans who don't think the club did much to upgrade the roster since last season.
According to a story by The Hockey News, the Red Wings will have the easiest schedule in the NHL next season when it comes to travel.
Thank last year's move to the Eastern Conference for that.
Writer Dirk Hoag of Hockey Gear HQ makes an annual analysis of the number of miles each NHL team will travel and then compares that to the number of times they're play back-to-back games against an opponent that is also playing back-to-back games.
The Red Wings lead that NHL in the second category with a plus-10. That number means the Red Wings will be the rested team 10 more times than they will be the tired team when both teams are playing back-to-back games.
Sports Illustrated reminds us that Pavel Datsyuk's actually making $10 million in real-world dollars during this upcoming season (he begins a 3-year contract extension with an averaged aggregate value of $7.5 million per season), which makes Datsyuk the 10th-highest-paid player in the NHL this season.
Datsyuk's having a busy week. His annual summer hockey school's moved to Moscow, and it ends on Saturday; Datsyuk's going to be playing against the media tomorrow, and I believe Red Wings Grinder's Alexey Kovalevich will be taking part in said game; on Sunday, Datsyuk turns 36, and is it a coincidence that he was born 9 years to the day after man first landed on the moon?
If you can stand the stats and the cliffhanger, Mike from the Detroit Hustle's examining the "best way to measure the shootout" as it applies to all 30 teams, including the Wings...
In charitable news, Crain's Detroit Business's Tom Henderson reports that Mike and Marian Ilitch have donated $8.5 million to Wayne State University's department of surgery at its School of Medicine;
In not-so-charitable news, CK Teez is selling a rather clever t-shirt (and we can officially call this a "ManthaTee")...
(The Tennessean's Alsha Foster reports that Flint-based hockey chain Perani's is expanding to Tennessee, too)
One quick thing I'd like to add to yesterday's post, and it's regarding @Kyle_Kujawa. He's mentioned very briefly, but at the end of a very powerful quote. I wasn't expecting it, but he's being viewed as a bit of a villain in this whole thing. I consider Kyle to be a friend, and owe him a great deal of gratitude, particularly for his help when he was with the Griffins. He was ALWAYS helpful when we asked to get a Griffin on the podcast, and NEVER asked to censor anything. I haven't had to interact with him professionally since he's joined the Wings, so I can't speak to the quote's validity -- but if there's one thing I regret, it's that I didn't reach out to him for comment. I'd certainly welcome his thoughts, and hope he accepts this apology for not offering to include him.
And I'd like to report that while the tumult regarding our summer revision of the comments section will continue, again, in the comments section, on Twitter, Facebook, email, you name it, if you have feedback as to how we might improve the community we're trying to build, the floor is open...
Paul reports that traffic on TMR is up from last year at this time.
Regrettably, I get the feeling that this is the case because of the Kyle Quincey and Daniel Cleary re-signings, the Mike Green/Tyler Myers trade talk and a whole bunch of negative stuff that's happened since July 1st as opposed to prospect camp stuff. Oh well.
Update: Allhockey.ru's Yevgeny Safronov is covering Datsyuk's summer youth camp in the Moscow suburb of Zelenograd. It's worth noting that Datsyuk's partnered with the Russian cell phone giant Megafon to ensure that the kids get proper gear and that the costs can be subsidized. Today, Alexander Shapiro posted pictures of Datsyuk, and he reports that all is going well at the camp (what follows is roughly translated):
On July 15 in Zelengograd, at the Ice Arena Orbit, the summer school of the most experienced and well-known players in the hockey world, 2-time Stanley Cup winner and 2002 Olympic medalist Pavel Datsyuk, began.
On the ice, Datsyuk and 9 other coaches led about 70 taltented players born between 1999 and 2001. The players came to Zelenograd from across the country. Among those who engaged were a group of guys who flew in from the Far East the day before camp started, and for them working under the guidance of the idol of millions of fans is the ultimate dream.
Getting into the 5-day school of Pavel Datsyuk wasn't easy. There were qualifying rounds held in different regions of Russia--hockey players had to go through three competitions. There was a skating speed race, puck control through obstacles and shooting accuracy in targets. Only the best were invited to Zelenograd.
Parents of the children were watching the practices, as well as several specialists. One of them, former MHL coach of Kalitan and of the team Stupino RHL HC Bryansk Igor Gavrilov, who decided to gain experience working with the techniques developed by experts from the NHL (along with Datsyuk, there are specialists who come from the other side of the Atlantic).
"In North America, great attention is paid to on-ice preparation--children are taught how to skate, how to hold a stick, and now se see that one of the most important aspects of Datsyuk's school is skating technique. Coaches deal with the children on the ice, show them quite interesting exercises, and I'm sure that children participating in the school in the future will only be helped. Having a mega-star like Pavel Datsyuk come to Zelenograd, it's been a huge scucess," says Gavrilov.
Also: The Walleye confirmed the signing of Jeff Lerg:
Goaltender Jeff Lerg has agreed to terms with the Toledo Walleye for the 2014-15 season.
Lerg has spent the last three seasons playing in France and Italy. The native of Livonia, Michigan posted a goals against average of 3.32 with a save percentage of .910 last season while between the pipes for Villard-de-Lans in France and was named French League "Best Goaltender". The 28-year-old has also posted save percentages of .912 (2012-13) and .921 (2011-12) while overseas. Lerg played a full season in the ECHL with Trenton (2010-11) in which he appeared in 27 games with a 12-12-1 record, a 3.15 GAA and a .903 SVP.
"Jeff is a championship goaltender," Head Coach Derek Lalonde said. "He is so solid between the pipes, you know what you are getting from him each and every night. With Lerg on board we will have some stability at a key position on the ice."
Prior to turning professional, Lerg spent four seasons at Michigan State University. In his time as a Spartan, the 5'6", 165 pound goaltender scooped many league awards including the 2005-06 CCHA Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie Team member, plus 2006 CCHA Tournament MVP. In 2006-07, he helped lead the Spartans to the NCCA Championship. He won 78 games over four seasons, including a career best 26 during the 2006-07 season. Lerg finished his colligate career with a 78-51-17 record, a 2.37 GAA and a .920 SVP.
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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.