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The Malik Report

Red Wings evening quickies: sunshine, lollipops and rainbows

I finally crashed after a week-and-a-half's worth of prospect fun and then Cleary-re-signing-delight, and Paul did a fantastic job of filling us in regarding the Wings' assistant coaching search, a certain Anthony Mantha's confidence (he's not quite as borderline arrogant as Andreas Athanasiou is [and Andreas has backed it up, too], but Mantha knows he's good), Dylan Larkin's local TV sports show debut, and in KK Hockey, we found out, not-so-shockingly, that the Hockey News's Matt Larkin's"controverisal pick" in terms of teams missing the playoffs is probably going to be the "controversial pick" to miss the playoffs in most every other prognostication-inclined hockey yearbook.

Today, NHL.com's Dan Rosen examined the free agency moves made or not made by the Atlantic Division's teams, and he looked on the bright side of this whole going-with-the-known-quantity and/or signing-someone-not-based-upon-merit thing:

The Red Wings so far have struck out this offseason, even with approximately $9.5 million in cap space to use and an obvious need for a right-handed defenseman.

They tried to get Dan Boyle, Matt Niskanen, Stephane Robidas, Stralman and Christian Ehrhoff but each signed elsewhere. The best the Red Wings have done since the free-agent market opened is re-sign Quincey.

They still want to add players through a signing or a trade and Alfredsson will either return to Detroit or retire. But the Red Wings right now appear to be the same team they were last season, minus some veterans whose roles depleted toward the end.

That may not be a terrible thing considering the emergence of Gustav Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan, Luke Glendenning and DeKeyser, plus the fact that they played half of last season without Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and still made the playoffs.

For whatever reason, WXYZ's "7 Sports Cave" chose to poke the bear...

He's been the talk of the sports world for the last few days, so you know we'd be talking about LeBron James in the 7 Sports Cave.

He was one of the main topics of conversation when Mike Stone from 97.1 The Ticket and Matt Dery from Detroit Sports 105.1 sat down with Brad Galli.

They'll also asked if the Tigers are the best team in baseball at the All-Star break and if the Red Wings made the right, but unpopular move in re-signing Dan Cleary.

Strangely enough, the "Fast 5 Minutes" does not address the issue, and it takes 8 minutes and 40 seconds' worth of viewing to find:

 

 

Who the hell knows about the bullshit that this is all Babcock's doing (it isn't) or that there's a verbal agreement that Cleary might return next season, too (???). Apparently the Wings have been terrible at drafting, too.

Let's just say that I tend not to trust the sports talk radio types when they insist they've got "inside information," mostly because they don't pay attention to the Red Wings 95% of the damn time.

In equally cheery news, the Free Press's Helene St. James looked at the Tampa Bay Lightning's off-season moves, and let's just say that they're going to be a real threat if they stay healthy:

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, whose Red Wings career earned him folklore status, made it clear he expects his Tampa team to contend for the Stanley Cup next season by upgrading the defense. He traded for Jason Garrison, and then he signed Anton Stralman. The Wings had interest in Stralman, who had 13 points last season (same as Kyle Quincey, incidentally), but balked once finding out Stralman wanted a five-year deal. Stralman got that and $22.5 million.

The Lightning next added hard-nosed forward Brenden Morrow, who Yzerman also picked for the 2010 Canadian Olympic hockey team. And before free agency even began, Yzerman locked up Ryan Callahan, the former Rangers captain Yzerman acquired in April after Martin St. Louis demanded to be traded.

St. Louis' departure made it possible to crown Steven Stamkos with the captain's C he richly deserved. Stamkos missed 45 games with a broken right tibia last season, and still managed to be a 20-goal scorer and 40-point producer in the 37 games he did play. Former Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula, meanwhile, enters his second season in the Sunshine state after delivering a dazzling 25 goals and 58 points in 75 games in 2013-14.

Last season dead-ended in a first-round sweep by Montreal as Tampa couldn't overcome losing goaltender Ben Bishop to injury. Yzerman addressed that issue by bringing in veteran Evgeni Nabokov as a back-up.

 

 

 

In "business of hockey" and/or "numbers" news, The Hockey News's Ken Campbell also posited an article in which he questioned whether teams use advanced stats like the Fenwick and Corsi numbers, and whether doing so is a be-all-end-all barometer of success:

Those who run NHL teams, generally speaking, see value in them, but there’s still some skepticism. Most GMs are smart enough to know any tool that gives them more information is a good thing, but they’re all still feeling their way around this new phenomenon.

Lou Lamoriello of the New Jersey Devils is an interesting case. He just celebrated 27 years of running the Devils, but he’s also one of the game’s best thinkers and has an open mind about most things he thinks will improve the game. He’s an old-school GM with a new-school mentality. He said the Devils’ new ownership group, which also owns the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, has embraced analytics with its basketball experience and he’s completely on board with it. The Devils, he said, are working their way toward having an analytics department, but he wonders whether analytics will ever be as prominent in hockey as they are in baseball. He still doesn’t trust all the numbers he sees.

“Sometimes you can also get paralyzed with statistics in reading players,” Lamoriello said. “I saw something recently I thought was really interesting, but I probably would have lost my job if I had done a couple of things they said.”

Ken Holland is a lot like Lamoriello. He has run the Detroit Red Wings hockey department for a long time and with enormous success. He’s also an unconventional thinker and one of the more progressive voices in the game. He wants to embrace analytics, but like a lot of other hockey people, isn’t sure the numbers tell a complete story.

“We’ve been talking about it, but I wouldn’t say it’s a big factor in any of our decision making,” Holland said. “Let’s say you’re Pavel Datsyuk’s linemate. You move to another team and not playing with Pavel Datsyuk is going to have an effect on your lack of success. With baseball, it’s more black and white because the pitcher is on the mound and he’s going against the batter. But in hockey, you’ve got four teammates and five opponents who are going to have some impact on what’s going to happen.”

The Wings and their former assistant GM tend to make a good point here:

One of the problems with analytics is that the people doing them are taking their information from the event summaries provided by the NHL. Those summaries are done by human beings, all sorts of them, who might have a different interpretation of what just happened. Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill said it occurs often. He said the league will sometimes send out video of a disputed goal and ask 10 GMs if it should have counted. Five will come back saying it should count, the other five saying it should be disallowed. A giveaway or takeaway in one arena might not be one in another. Robert Svehla used to lead the league in hits when he played for the Florida Panthers, largely because he could count on being credited with double digits in hits every time he played a home game.

The Red Wings do use advanced stats, but they prefer to take their own stats whenever possible. That's the reason back-up goalies are asked to chart faceoffs--they and the vast majority of the NHL's teams, both successful and unsuccessful ones, don't believe that even the most objective of stats are taken all that objectively by each rink's stats staff.

Regarding the NHLPA's summertime meetings in Pebble Beach this week (from the 14th to 17th), which will determine which of the NHL's proposed rule changes actually find their way into the rulebook, the New York Post's Larry Brooks reports that the PA's going to determine what to do with the NHL's "Make Whole" payments...

The NHLPA is about to formalize its policy relating to the $300 million in “make-whole” payments the union is owed — and will begin to receive in installments — under the CBA in the aftermath of Owners’ Lockout III.

Sources have indicated the PA will distribute the funds exclusively to players who were under contract for the 2012-13 season for which their pay was pro-rated at 58.54 percent of the face value of their respective salaries when the schedule was reduced to 48 games.

By the way, did you notice that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both structured their respective eight-year, $84 million extensions that kick in with 2015-16 — at $10.5 million cap hits per — so they are both due only $2 million in salary for 2020-21 (plus $5 million in signing bonuses), by far the lowest base of the contracts?

That is because 2020-21 is set to become the next lockout season.

 

 

 

In genuinely optimistic news, Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish posited an interview with Christoffer Ehn...

Christoffer Ehn thinks of himself as a playmaker because of his skating ability and hockey sense and t is refreshing to see a player who models himself as a playmaker not only able to battle for the puck on the boards, but willing to do that.

There are a few differences between the game Ehn is used to playing in Sweden and the one he had been thrust into in Traverse City.

Ehn said, “It’s a lot more little details, like being on the right side of the puck and closing down on angles to give your teammates some more time and space. So you have to be ready the whole time.”

 

 

 

And on Twitter...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

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but balked once finding out Stralman wanted a five-year deal.

If this is true then it really is incredible.

Balking at giving a five-year deal to a 27-year old UFA?

Do they really not understand the way the league has changed?  UFAs, especially first-time UFAs and especially first-time UFAs who are entering their prime.  I’m not saying Stralman is/was the answer, but if they were interested him but not willing to give him a five-year deal then I guess it’s no wonder that Helene got a terse “no” when she asked his agent if the Red Wings were in the mix.

5-7 years seems to pretty much be the going term for young UFAs who haven’t just been bought out by their teams, and if Detroit isn’t willing to give market value OR term to UFAs then we really need to prepare to continue to be steam that can’t sign anyone who is actually an in-demand UFA.

Posted by Garth on 07/13/14 at 06:21 PM ET

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I am certainly not defending the Wings for NOT signing Stralman but…what if such a contract turns out to be an albatross. Not much recourse!!!! 

Stralman has never had exceptional stats although he plays well defensively it seems. Given the upcoming prospect pool the Wings have, I would be reluctant to sign someone like that for 5 years too. I had hoped they would get Boyle for 2…but only to transition the team and allow for the full development of the players in GR right now.

Posted by NewfieWing on 07/13/14 at 07:22 PM ET

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I wanted Boyle for 2 years to help our PP and transition game and Matt Greene as he brings the element we do not have (toughness, shotblocking). After that did not materialize, I would have given an opportunity to Oulette, Marchenko and Sproul.
I am also quite excited to see what healthy Weiss can bring to the table.

Posted by VPalmer on 07/13/14 at 07:57 PM ET

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Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both structured their respective eight-year, $84 million extensions that kick in with 2015-16 — at $10.5 million cap hits per

That’s certainly a lot of cap % right there. Is there anyway Seabrook might not be kept?

Posted by VPalmer on 07/13/14 at 09:02 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

At this point the rumors are surrounding a Hawks defenseman, but it’s Johnny Oduya, not Brent Seabrook, that the Hawks might move.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/13/14 at 09:20 PM ET

RocketSurgeon's avatar

“That may not be a terrible thing considering the emergence of Gustav Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan, Luke Glendenning and DeKeyser”

Isn’t it strange that no one mentions Brendan Smith much these days?

Posted by RocketSurgeon on 07/13/14 at 09:24 PM ET

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With a healthy season we slide into the playoffs at least in a 7 place.

Posted by SlimChance on 07/13/14 at 09:43 PM ET

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Isn’t it strange that no one mentions Brendan Smith much these days?

Yeah,especially because he still actually has potential to be good.

I think the bigger surprise is that people are actually pretending that Luke Glendening is an nhl player.

Posted by Garth on 07/13/14 at 10:21 PM ET

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Posted by NewfieWing on 07/13/14 at 08:22 PM ET

Sure, what if it’s an albatross?

What if it isn’t?  What if Detroit’s mediocre defense stays healthy and mediocre with no way for them to integrate any of the youngsters?  What if Marchenko, Oullet and Sproul all get a chance to play and all end up being busts?

The fact that they were pursuing Stralman means they think he’s good, so not signing a guy because his contract might be an albatross is making decisions based out of fear and is that any way to run a franchise?

Posted by Garth on 07/13/14 at 10:26 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

That’s just the coach wink

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/13/14 at 10:28 PM ET

awould's avatar

The fact that they were pursuing Stralman means they think he’s good,

This is the point every Holland apologist refuses to accept. The defense of Holland failing to land any of their UFA targets is ... that guy’s not worth it anyways, etc.

The point is, Detroit was very emphatic as to what their needs are, pointed out specific players they would pursue, and then one after another failed to get them.

That concerns me more than the makeup of the current roster. The Quincy deal is annoying. The Cleary deal is just stupid. But all in all, the team - if healthy - should make the playoffs. And then get ousted in the first round in 5 games or so. And then we’ll be subjected to Holland’s annual summer cliche parade yet again.

Posted by awould on 07/13/14 at 10:35 PM ET

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The defense of Holland failing to land any of their UFA targets is ... that guy’s not worth it anyways, etc.

No.  Wrong.  You begin from a point of fallacy.

Pretty much anybody is worth pursuing… to a point.  I do not think that pursuing a guy means you ought to then think that guy should be signed at any amount.  That is lunacy.

Yes, Holland pursued Stralman, but balked at least at term, if not term and per year both.

What all of the Holland bashers refuse to accept is that sometimes ‘winning’ a FA auction actually means the organization loses.  They look at FA acquisitions in a binary manner.  Either Holland gets his guy, or he does not.  If he does not he ‘failed’.

This is entirely the wrong way to look at things.

Personally, I was unimpressed by the entire UFA class at dman, and said this before the auctions even started so it’s not a case of revisionist goal changing.  However, if they could get guys at reasonable prices I thought there were some options out there… but 5 years 22.5 mil for Stralman is not a reasonable price.  7 years and 40.25 for Niskanen is not a reasonable price.

At those prices even if Holland ‘wins’ and gets them, the team loses because those contracts are bad ones relative to the player in question.  In a capped league these bad 4-7 year deals are killers, and Detroit already may have two of them with Weiss and Howard.  You cannot race around and add another just to look busy or because there’s an immediate need.

What does that reality mean for Detroit?  It means that for the next year or two (or three) their biggest need of a lead dman is going to have to go unmet externally.  They are going to have to find some way to play the even 6 game instead of their heavy 3 light 3 they employed on the blueline for the whole of Lidstrom’s tenure.

Blasting Holland for not fixing that problem given the reality of the NHL’s cap system is just as stupid as it would be to blast Datsyuk for not having 100 points a year.  Neither guy is able to contravene the basic realities of their environments.  They may occasionally overcome them, but they cannot rewrite the fundamentals on which they are based.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/13/14 at 10:57 PM ET

awould's avatar

Your argument essentially forgives whatever move Holland & Co. fail to make.

If they don’t get their man, it assumes both that they were outbid (not that they were rejected on a comparable bid or more) and that the deal the player did take was bad for the team.

Convenient.

The other is that Holland has really failed to close any sort of deal in the way of upgrading the D when Lidstrom surprised nobody by retiring. Despite their proclaimed wishes of upgrading from the UFA market, no dice. But all is well because Quincey, and at least Holland didn’t theoretically overpay for a defenseman who supposedly won’t be worth it.

Posted by awould on 07/13/14 at 11:20 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

If we’re going with sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, I’ll try this:

I have less of a beef with the not signing Stralman issue than I do with most because the Wings already have Danny DeKeyser. I’m still not sure what Stralman for 5 years would’ve done to improve the puck-moving game, though I am more than willing to admit that Stralman is an upgrade over Kyle Quincey by a more-than-solid margin.

Telling Tom Gilbert to take the Habs’ money? I’m *#$%@& baffled about that one.

The Wings *seemingly* not doing their due diligence about Dan Boyle’s desire to play in New York, for the Rangers, having a clue that Ryan Callahan might bring Stralman, etc. to Tampa, not seeming to understand that Matt Niskanen wanted to play for Barry Trotz and Todd Reirden and the Capitals, or being able to convince Christian Ehrhoff that money and term in Detroit > ZOMG a whole year with Sid and Geno?

Very upset. VERY upset.

The Wings being iffy on Stralman for 5 years? Annoyed, pissed, but not furious.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/13/14 at 11:41 PM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/14/14 at 12:41 AM ET

I’m not overly upset about any of the missed UFA players specifically, but the ways they were missed and the number of misses that is stacking up is a problem. These aren’t players that us fans really really wish they’d get and then they don’t, these are players named by the team that they will pursue and then they fail. Excusing that by implying that Holland is some shrewd bastard by not overpaying in dollars or term just begs the question of how such a shrewd man can continue to miss.

Posted by awould on 07/13/14 at 11:55 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Sounds like we may have to start a fundraiser in January for you to get to Ekaterinaburg-istan (or wherever Dats is from) George. You have a personal invite.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 07/14/14 at 12:03 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

The question I never got to ask due to the canceled interview was simple:

“Do you feel that your recruitment process could use some refinement?” As in, “If it’s about wining and dining when the money is more or less equal, do you need to do a better job of selling players on your team?”

My gut feeling throughout this has been that the Wings aren’t doing nearly a good enough job of convincing players that coming to play for the Detroit Red Wings is coming to an organization that treats its players well, or that coming to Detroit means playing for a team that’s “not as far away” as some might think. I wonder whether the Wings are still pulling the same kind of, “We’re great, playing for us is a privilege” bullshit that they were with season ticket-holders when the rink was far emptier than it was at the end of last season and there were zero perks for and zero effort in selling season-ticket packages.

Detroit as a city gets a shitton of bad press that isn’t representative of the Metropolitan Area, the Red Wings are still seen as “too old” and the, “The coach is an *#$%@&” theory is more than Mike Commodore’s credo. If the money was equal, even given that Boyle wanted to play in New York, Niskanen wanted to play for the Caps, etc. etc., these consistent strike-outs make me wonder whether the team’s doing a shit job of selling itself.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/14/14 at 12:05 AM ET

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I would have liked them to sign Stralman at the price and term that Tampa did, and share the puzzlement about blowing off Gilbert to chase guys who, depending on the reporting, it may have been possible to realize were already going or leaning hard toward other teams.

It makes me wonder if Hollland et al have as good a grasp of league scuttlebutt as say Yzerman or Nill—either through lack of effort or lack of meaningful contacts when the chips are down.

Who else were they chasing when they told Gilbert not to wait? And were those guys already gone?

No, I don’t think virtually every player is pursuing up to a point. But I do think it’s more than puzzling when a team—from the GM to the coach and on—virtually screams about how *they* have identified a solid #4 right-shooting D as their overwhelming, almost desperate need…and then either don’t do their homework or are out of the loop or get caught flatfooted when actually trying to signall those guys. Some simply have other preferences that aren’t about money and there’s not much you can do. With others, maybe the money and term do get too crazy.

But we already knew Holland wanted all four of the top D prospects to play another season in GR, with or without a UFA signing. So why did a fifth year for a 27 yr old, legit #4 right-shooting defenseman, who appears to be just coming into his own, become a huge sticking point when the cost is only .25 million/season more than they paid Quincey?

Why wouldn’t Gilbert at, say, two years and 3 million/yr (slight increase over Montreal’s offer) leave them cold, when Quincey made sense later that day at 8.5/2?

And to take George’s point, why wouldn’t Holland ask Z or Kronner or Alfie, etc—whichever of the Wings—Swede or otherwise—who might have the most sway with Stralman—to help pitch signing in Detroit?

It’s done. And it’s not the end of the world. But just because Marchenko and/or Sproul might be on the roster in a year or so, doesn’t negate the need for an upgrade on D. This was the near-desperate need that *they* identified. Then they look borderline incompetent and it’s suddenly not such a need anymore? That’s weird.

Posted by Lefty30 on 07/14/14 at 01:58 AM ET

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meant to write “no, I don’t think virtually every guy is worth pursuing to a point”.

Some guys are worth going after pretty hard and some aren’t even worth a thought.

I get that the issue—or at least the argument would be—that it’s about not giving out too much term.

But if Stralman, at 27, is worth 4 yrs, he’s suddenly a huge potential albatross at 5 yrs?

If you really like the player and think he’s part of the solution, and he’s only 27 and seems to be getting better, then what’s the big deal?

I wouldn’t want Gilbert at more than a couple years and a lower cost. But Montreal seems ok with slotting him in at #4 for a couple years.

Critics are just judging Holland by his own stated needs, priorities and standards.

Posted by Lefty30 on 07/14/14 at 02:09 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Human beings are also trying to put some closure on this now-yearly, “We want to improve our defense via free agency!” turned, “Uh, we tried!” mess.

I do know that the Red Wings needed and still need to improve their point production on defense. I don’t think that’s just KH’s criteria for critiquing here. But that’s just my take.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/14/14 at 02:22 AM ET

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My gut feeling throughout this has been that the Wings aren’t doing nearly a good enough job of convincing players that coming to play for the Detroit Red Wings is coming to an organization that treats its players well, or that coming to Detroit means playing for a team that’s “not as far away” as some might think.
Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/14/14 at 01:05 AM ET

GM, not sure if that is true. There really isn’t anything new about Red Wings organization that the players around the league would not know. Same management and ownership for a long time. Proven track record. Babcock is well known coach.
A few years ago, and I honestly don’t remember exact when and which player it was, when he signed with the wings, he said something to the extent of “players around the league know how great Wings organization is”.
So my point is I don’t think there really is anything NEW to sell that the players don’t know about.
In this particular free agency, most players seemed to have made up their minds before Holland even had a chance.

Posted by George0211 on 07/14/14 at 07:43 AM ET

awould's avatar

But if Stralman, at 27, is worth 4 yrs, he’s suddenly a huge potential albatross at 5 yrs

Exactly. A good deal suddenly becomes a potentially team-wrecking overpay with just an incremental difference.

And your point about how the bad deals the Wings avoided is inconsistent with the Quincey deal is apt. Quincey doesn’t even address their stated need. The team seemed very okay with letting him walk. But then suddenly he’s the solution at the end of the day when all their other, better options went elsewhere. And it’s ok because these other, better options weren’t worth slightly more than some number KH set, in dollars or years?

Posted by awould on 07/14/14 at 10:34 AM ET

Tony Perkis's avatar

I really think adding Boyle, Stralman, or plenty of other d-men who aren’t considered superstars or “elite,” like Greene, Martinez, Stuart, Boychuk, Big Buff, would significantly improve the Wing’s blueline. I know some people think adding one of those guys wouldn’t make much of a difference, and that’s a valid argument. But I’d love to see it because an experienced NHL d-man would really support Kronwall-E-52-DK-Smith- and of course Quincey, well. I also want to see what the kids are capable of, but I really think one more d-man and healthy forwards would make this team contenders.

Unhealthy D in 14-15 would be even worse than losing all the forwards this past season. Big E was certainly missed this year. Anyone else have nightmares about a Wings team without Kronwall for two months? Yikes.

Posted by Tony Perkis from Drinking at Robert's Lounge with Billy Batts on 07/14/14 at 11:14 AM ET

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Very good thoughtful discussion. I agree that this summer KH showed that
1) he is not good at selling DRW brand to the best free agents in the market
2) he does not read the market well not counteroffering Gilbert (a right handed offensive dman who could be had on a 2 year deal for less money than Q) thinking that better players will sign here.
3) he wants Stralman for 4 years, but does not want him for 5 years? If true, that’s weird, to say the least.
4) he panics (signing Q, a left handed defensive dman and giving him a raise although same or better dmen were/are still available at a fraction of the cost).

As a long time DRW fan, I cannot understand why KH deserves a contract extension. Just because he was good 10-15 years ago? Last 5 years were sort of disastrous saved only by his ability to sign his own players for reasonable money.

Posted by VPalmer on 07/14/14 at 08:34 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.