The Malik Report
Red Wings mid-day news: more talk about overseas moves; Babcock’s lockout plans and business chatter
by George Malik on 09/17/12 at 11:30 AM ET
Updated 4x at 2:07 PM: Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings-related news, as the Free Press's Helene St. James has just wrapped up a chat with readers on Freep.com:
- You're going to have to color me skeptical regarding European player news after the Pavel Datsyuk-to-Kazan report was nixed (Datsyuk did display some anticipatory smarts by not leaving his hometown of Yekaterinburg to skate with his teammates in Detroit), but Blick.ch and Sport.ch are claiming that Damien Brunner will be playing for EV Zug for the duration of the lockout, and not just until the Grand Rapids Griffins' training camp begins on October 1st. Cue the Detroit's Ted Kulfan on this one:
- And just as Jonathan Ericsson wants to play for AIK Skelleftea, but knows that the Swedish Eliteserien can't sign NHL players at this point, both Iltahleti's Joonas Partanen and Ilta Sanomat are reporting that Finnish NHL'ers face some difficult decisions in terms of their playing possibilities due to issues with insuring their contracts and the tricky, "If you live in Finland for six months out of the year, you pay taxes" issue, which means that Valtteri Filppula is much less likely to head over to play for Jokerit Helsinki than I'd imagined, especially given that he's been in Finland since the World Championships began in May. I'd imagine that Datsyuk's in a similar boat;
- Most of the Red Wings' players have chosen to skip skating for a week before regrouping in Troy next Monday, but Smashville 24/7's Ryan Porth reports that one player is skating today--in Nashville:
- Back over on this side of the pond, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff fired off three lockout-related Tweets...
And Duff spoke to Wings coach Mike Babcock about his lockout plans:
So what does a coach do when he suddenly no longer has a team to coach? In the case of Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, he plans to become a full-time dad.
“We’re over ready as coaches,” Babcock said as the NHL lockout entered Day 2. “Those coaches that don’t have family here, I’m probably going to send them home. I’m going to watch my kids and watch hockey as much as I can and go places where hopefully I can get better.”
In this scenario, with management battling players, coaches tend to be caught in a form of hockey no-man’s land. They can’t really say much. To speak out against the players could hamper future relations between them and to criticize his employer’s stance would simply be a foolhardy venture.
“I don’t know if we’re in the middle of anything,” Babcock said. “I think the players want the game to go and I think the owners want the game to go and the coaches do and we just haven’t figured out a way to make it go. The bottom line is I’m going to embrace the time to watch my kids play their sports.”
Trying to remain positive, Babcock and his staff are still preparing as if there will be a quick settlement to hockey’s latest labour strife. “A s a coaching staff, we’ve brought in (former Edmonton coach) Tom Renney (as an assistant coach) and (Jeff) Blashill’s going to run our minor-league team (in Grand Rapids), so we brought everyone together to get at what we’re going to do and to work through last year’s stuff and Oilers stuff and try to figure out the best way for our group to play this year and be successful,” Babcock said. “Then we got training camp all planned like we always do. We’ll get our exhibition schedule planned and go through all our probables just like we always do.”
Babcock does admit to one worry regarding the lockout. A long, protracted shutdown of the NHL that would lead to a shortened season and condensed pre-season and training camp could severely hamper his ability to prepare the Wings for the season.
“No question,” Babcock said. “And it doesn’t allow for competition. We have too many forwards, which we are hoping to watch and figure out the right way to do it. Competition is an important thing.”
Again, it's highly likely that Babcock, Ken Holalnd and Jim Nill will pop up during the Griffins' training camp;
- In, "The business of hockey" department, AnnArbor.com's Angela J. Cesere wonders aloud about the Winter Classic's likelihood of actually occurring...
The NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium is expected to bring in millions of dollars of spinoff revenue to Ann Arbor and surrounding businesses in January.
That is, unless the event gets canceled.
Cancelation of the New Year's Day outdoor hockey game scheduled between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs looks like a distinct posibility after players and owners were unable to reach agreement on a new labor deal over the weekend. The National Hockey League locked out its players at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
The action marks the fourth shutdown for the NHL since 1992, including a year-long dispute that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season when the league successfully held out for a salary cap.
The NHL can cancel the annual New Year's Day outdoor game as late as Jan. 1 should a work stoppage stem from a lack of a contract between players and owners. Should that happen, the league would owe the University of Michigan $100,000 of the $3 million dollar rental fee for the use of Michigan Stadium.
In August, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon weighed in on the possibility of the Winter Classic being cancelled after a speaking engagement.
"I hope they get their labor issues resolved and we can play the game as we planned. Let's hope it happens, but if it doesn't, life will go on," Brandon said. "Michigan Stadium has been dark and cold and barren every New Year's Day for the last 80 years. We're kind of used to that, and if something happens where they can't play the game, it'll be the way it's always been. Hopefully, if that were the case, they'd come back and play it the next year. We'd love to host it, and I know they'd love for us to host it."
- Via RedWingsfeed, Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea spoke to business experts about the Wings' lockout plight, and let's just say that Mike Ilitch's team isn't going to suffer very much--in no small part, Shea says, because Fox Sports Detroit has to pay the Wings broadcasting fees regardless of whether games are played, and because the Wings' lack of a new barn = no arena debts to pay off (gee, do you think that part of the reason there's no new Joe yet involves the team knowing that the CBA would be expiring in 2012, in addition to the whole city and state still recovering from an economic cratering = no chance of public subsidization?):
"Detroit's not going to give up on hockey, but there are marginal clubs out there that might never recover," said Patrick Anderson, principal and CEO of East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group and former deputy budget director for the state. His firm conducts sports economic analysis.
Those that would feel an immediate financial effect from the loss of Wings games would be downtown bar and parking lot owners, he said, but discretionary spending will pick up elsewhere.
The benefactors would be restaurants and bars elsewhere, along with the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Pistons and downtown casinos, Anderson said.
"By and large, people are still going to have some time and feel like going out to a game and some entertainment, and they're going to do it," he said.
Detroit would lose the 1.275 percent nonresident income tax it collects from Wings players. The financial danger to the Wings and local businesses is a long-term lockout.
"Long (work stoppages) do cut into your fan base and they undermine the sale of merchandise and licensed materials. It's just not a positive thing for a club owner," Anderson said. "Fans get really mad when they think there's a bunch of millionaires arguing with each other on how much money they can keep from fans."
There's the understatement of the f'ing month...
- And finally, the Utica Observer-Dispatch's Don Laible posted the final part of his discussion with a certain Red Wings exec who probably doesn't feel war and fuzzy about the NHLPA right now...as is usual for the typically anti-labor "hawk"...
The economy is running on flat tires in America these days, and getting people, sports fans especially, to spend on most anything other than what they need is a chore. And the Detroit metro area has been hit perhaps harder than in most parts of the USA due to the difficulties the auto industry has been dealt. "It has been an effort to get people into the arena and stadium", Jimmy Devellano informs. "With baseball ( Tigers ), tickets are more reasonable. The ballpark ( Comerica ) offers more games and has more seats to draw fans. Hockey has been more of a challenge. Now, the Wings have about 13,000 seasons ticket holders, and at the team's peak, they had 17,000 ticket holders in an arena that seats 20,000".
My genuinely most "insightful" thought about CBA negotiations right now? The last wasn't "unfairly" skewed toward players: it wasn't recession-proof. The theoretical capping of costs to a certain percentage of revenues, even if it was over 50% thereof, meant that teams that were bleeding money had no problem earning single and sometimes double-digit percentage increases on their franchises' equitable values prior to the recession, meaning that the bank values of their teams would continue to rise, rise and rise, allowing even the weakest of the NHL's sisters to gain leverage in sponsorship agreements and leverage their franchises' equity toward making money in other business ventures.
That's not the case anymore, and that's a huge reason why the CBA "doesn't work" for the owners anymore...
Smart minds make smart decisions , that hopefully will draw the crowds. The Red Wings front office welcomed Steve Yzerman to their excutive team, after he retired from playing in 22 NHL seasons for them. Yzerman was brought in as a vice president and was allowed to be involved in as much as he wanted. "Steve said from the beginning that he wanted to someday be a general manager. Our General Manager Ken Holland showed him ( Yzerman ) all that he does; trades, contract negotiatons, planning training camp, everything", Jimmy tells. "Since there is no GM position available in Detroit, our ownership convinced him to do things the right way, whatever offer would come his way, with our blessings".
After three years with Detroit, Yzerman was offered the GM position by the Minnesota Wild, which he turned down. A year later, the Tampa Bay Lightning came calling. Steve was named general manager in May 2010. " Steve spent 26 years with Detroit, I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed with Tampa for that long", Devellano predicts.
As for being named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010 in the builder category ( he is also a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame ), Devellano is very appreciative of the honor. "I've had some angels along the way, and a little luck. I was given an opportunity and I didn't want to let either down", Jimmy said. Then there is the thrill Jimmy received when Wings/Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch asked for Devellano to counsel the Tigers front office. For a long period of time the Tigers were lousy on the field, and at the box office. Jimmy used to be a season ticket holder of the Blue Jays. When the Tigers won the American League pennant and challenged the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996, ( Cards won the Series 4-1 ), Jimmy earned a championsip ring.
In seeing hockey as his single focus in life, in a perfect world, Jimmy would like to own his own NHL team. "That will never happen", Devellano states. His main ingredient for a successful franchise, surround yourself with good people. Hey, Jimmy, you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Yeah, and treating your employees and "talent" well...
Update: Sportsnet's Patrick Hoffman suggests that Tomas Holmstrom will be a lockout "casualty":
Tomas Holmstrom, F, Detroit Red Wings: There is no doubt that the Detroit Red Wings have had a ton of success with veterans in the lineup.
With that said, if the puck does not drop this season, one of the Red Wings' esteemed veterans might not be back when it does drop. Of course, we are talking about 39-year-old forward Tomas Holmstrom.
With Nicklas Lidstrom now retired, the Red Wings are looking to get younger and faster and go in a new direction. Holmstrom is still unsigned and if this season ends up being cancelled (worst case scenario, of course), he will be close to the age of 40.
Based on Holmstrom's good character, it is unlikely that he would sign with another club and instead, would retire as a Red Wing, a team he spent his entire career with.
Update #2: Yahoo Sports' Dmitry Chesnokov says that there is chatter about Pavel Datsyuk playing for CSKA Moscow, alongside Alex Ovechkin, but that it's only chatter at this point.
Update #3: Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager asks some "burning questions" about the challenges facing Red Wings draft pick Jake Paterson and the OHL's Saginaw Spirit:
1. How will reigning coach of the year Greg Gilbert keep morale up with a tough early schedule?
The schedulemaker doubled down on Saginaw by having a team which said aloha (it means both hello and goodbye) to its entire first line and shutdown defenceman play 17 of its first 27 games on the road. Gilbert, who did a fabulous job of salvaging the season a year ago, will have to keep a young roster focused on improvements more so than results. It might be tough for young athletes to see it this way, but Saginaw might have to accept the wins will be very hard-earned for the first 2 1/2 months; it's the best way to avoid falling too far out of the playoff races. The Brandon Saad-Michael Fine-Josh Shalla troika cannot be easily replaced and the graduation of hometowner Brad Walch leaves a void, but the Spirit have good reinforcements up front and at the back.
3. Will defence and goaltending tide them over during the early-season transition?
The Spirit, between Paterson and rookie Russian Nikita Serebryakov, should be spoken for in goal for the next three seasons. Paterson won the starting job and the Red Wings' attention in back half of last season, then went save-for-save in the playoffs against JP Anderson and Michael Houser, who can now both be called Memorial Cup goaltenders. He might have to turn a game or three early on. Defensively, Saginaw isn't star-studded but has a range of experience as it waits for overager Brandon Archibald to return from injury. Its brighter lights on the blue line include 19-year-old Steven Strong, power-play quarterback Dalton Young and native Michigander Grant Webermin, who probably hasn't had the ideal opportunity to shine through two junior seasons. Backup goalie Serebryakov was born on All Saints Day, meaning he will have two North American seasons to showcase himself for the 2014 draft.
Update #4: Michigan Hockey posted a preseason Plymouth Whalers preview--their season begins on Friday in Sault Ste. Marie, and their first home game will talke place against the Belleville Bulls this Saturday, September 22nd;
And I don't buy the Score's Chris Lund's suggestion that the Wings would use an "amnesty buyout" on Johan Franzen. Disappointing stats included, he's paid a reasonable wage given the market for players like him.
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