The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/16/13 at 11:54 AM ET
Updated 2x at 1:23 PM: Today's survey of Red Wings-related news begins with slightly disturbing news from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. According to Iltahleti and Jokerit Helsinki's website, Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves' brother Ben, who's 31 years old, is retiring due to post-concussion syndrome. Perhaps it really does run in families, as the Moore family's issues with concussions certainly suggests.
After weeks of trying to move a forward and free up some salary cap space, the Detroit Red Wings could face considering other options to accomplish that goal.
GM Ken Holland told MLive.com's Ansar Khan the trade market was very quiet, but expected it could pick up during training camp next month.
Holland also suggested he had other ways to free up room at forward and become cap compliant, though he declined to get into specifics.
Khan speculated one way could be placing ailing forward Darren Helm (back) on long-term injury reserve to open the season. Another could be demoting forward Gustav Nyquist and/or defenseman Danny DeKeyser, as they're exempt from passing through waivers.
Holland said his team is in no position to add any players, which spells bad news for free agent Dan Cleary's hopes of returning with the Wings.
Again, I don't believe that the Wings will demote Nyquist or DeKeyser unless absolutely necessary. The Wings will suffer injuries like everybody else over the course of training camp and the exhibition season, which may provide the team with some short-term cap relief, and moving Cory Emmerton (1 year left on a deal with a $533K cap hit per Capgeek) if Darren Helm is healthy, or Eaves' $1.2 million salary (in the last year of his contract) shouldn't be too difficult as both players can provide strong supporting-role performances.
I know that the Wings theoretically want to move Jordin Tootoo, but his $1.9 million cap hit over the next two seasons makes that complicated, though his ability to drop the gloves may make him intriguing to a team in need of some "truculence."
In theory, the Wings could move Mikael Samuelsson, too, but only if the team keeps $1-1.5 million of his $3 million salary via a trade, and Samuelsson's no-trade clause would make that kind of deal tricky.
Looking forward in a different vein, MLive's Ansar Khan "scouts" one of the Wings' new Eastern Conference opponents in the New York Rangers...
Rangers' strengths: Defense and goaltending. Their top four defensemen – Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto and Marc Staal – can move the puck, are solid in their own zone and can log between 23 and 26 minutes a game. Girardi has led the league in blocked shots in two of the past three seasons. Staal is expected to be ready after suffering an eye injury on March 5 (he appeared in one playoff game). Henrik Lundqvist, the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner, might be the best goalie in the league. He is the only starting goalie to post a save percentage of .920 or better in each of the past four seasons. Rick Nash remains one of the top snipers in the game, capable of scoring 40-45 goals. The physical Ryan Callahan and playmaking Derek Stepan are solid two-way forwards.
Rangers' weaknesses: They lack scoring depth. Their special teams are mediocre to bad. Brad Richards has seen better days and still has seven years at a cap hit of $6.67 million remaining on his contract.
Rangers outlook: This team underachieved under volatile coach John Tortorella, replacing him with a coach, Alain Vigneault, who underachieved in the playoffs with Vancouver. But a fresh voice might be just what the players need. It's a club many predicted would reach the Cup finals last year. If Richards rebounds, the Rangers might challenge the Penguins and Bruins for the top spot in the conference.
And offering a completely different "scouting" report, Bob Bisigliano of Detroit 4 Lyfe reports that Ken Kal's one-game stint as the Detroit Tigers' play-by-play man went well:
Longtime Detroit Red Wings radio play-by-play man Ken Kal scrapped the hockey vernacular for a night and called his first career Detroit Tigers game on Thursday. Since 1995, Kal has been the distinct voice of Hockeytown, calling the final seconds of four Stanley Cup victories and nearly losing his voice on every Red Wings goal, including several milestone lamp lighters. After Thursday night, he now gets to say he has called a Prince Fielder slap shot home run and a Tigers win (in the season they -- hopefully -- win the World Series).
I thought Kal did a remarkable job in his first Tigers gig. Before the game, Kal modestly said he didn't want to call the grass the ice and the ball the puck, but you could tell from the start of the broadcast he wasn't going to make that mistake. He sounded like he did his homework, capable of plugging statistics and other tidbits in timely spots -- that, or Dan Dickerson left some great notes. He also had at least one Ernie-ism and even famously referred to it as Tiger baseball. Overall, I was impressed, even if it admittedly sounded very weird to be listening to my favorite hockey announcer call a game for my favorite baseball team.
Via RedWingsFeed, USA Today's Kevin Allen gave Kal the thumbs-up, too:
I suppose that it's somewhat inevitable that we've got a "tailing" from yesterday's Alfredsson-Senators divorce proceedings, and while I don't give a flying *#$%@& about Daniel Alfredsson's admission that he initially wasn't going to play during the last year of his previous contract with his team--at $1 million, but carrying a $4.875 million cap hit (despite the fact that the first three years of Alfredsson's over-35 contract would have had a $6.16 million cap hit) for the 2012-2013 season--and as you might imagine, one Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski, who happens to be a New Jersey Devils fan, is absolutely furious about the fact that the NHL's chosen not to penalize Ottawa retroactively:
While the NHL was closing loopholes on cap circumvention [during CBA negotiations]– and the new rules on salary variance would not allow the Alfredsson contract to exist today – it was also crafting the “Luongo Rule” that turned a dozen or so long-term, cap cheating deals into toxic contracts, punishing the team that signed them.
I hate that damn term. It wasn't "cheating" under the previous CBA. "Lifetime contracts" exploited a loophole that existed in the CBA to the benefit of both teams, players and the fans who wanted to watch those players continue to play for the teams fans were paying money to watch. The fact that the media so happily began calling the contracts "cheats" and "back-diving deals" when the league told them to do so is stupid as far as I'm concerned.
It was Gary Bettman’s revenge on those owners and general managers that undermined the previous CBA and made losing a full season to a work stoppage look like a gigantic waste of time, money and fans who still haven't come back.
As has been revealed, it turns out that the GM's and owners of the teams not involved in said deals are the ones who pushed for the "Luongo rule," and Bettman just happily followed along.
Those long-term deals were legal contracts under the previous CBA, mind you. And not one of those players or teams has gone on the record and admitted they added a pseudo-year to the end of their contracts like Murray just did.
But, apparently, the NHL is now out of the retribution business.
When the New Jersey Devils circumvented the salary cap on the first rejected Ilya Kovalchuk contract, the team was fined $3 million and lost two draft picks. That came after an arbitrator’s decision, rather than an admission of guilt – the Devils maintained the “negotiated in good faith” with Kovalchuk, whose contract ended six seasons at $550,000 apiece and stunk like a skunk’s commode.
Yesterday, Alfredsson and Murray admitted they conspired to circumvent the cap with their contract. The NHL’s response: That the behavior used to be rampant, and that there’s no point in levying a fine now because it wouldn’t be “productive.”
Translation: It’s productive when it means making an example of a contract like Kovalchuk’s to scare off other teams, and it’s productive when Gary Bettman wants to retroactively change the accounting rules on existing contracts to punish those teams that dabbled in the dark arts of cap circumvention from 2005-2012.
Those was grand larceny, while Murray’s circumvention was pretty theft, apparently. Which doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s all criminal.
That's the NHL for you. Its "wheel of justice," as Wyshynski likes to call it, has always been and always will be applied selectively, based upon "optics" and the league's mood to make message-sending splashes instead of actually punishing wrong-doers.
Is that right or fair? Of course not. But the NHL's never cared about holding players or teams to a consistent standard, and its constantly-changing refereeing standards prove as much on a shift-by-shift basis.
And finally, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose offered some light-hearted Tweets from the Red Wings fantasy campers' scrimmage against current Wings and local media/celebrity types:
Update: I can't say that I'm a fan of Sean McIndoe, and his ramble about the Senators-Alfredsson divorce is...typical:
This all came down to money: It wasn’t about respect. It wasn’t about legacy. It wasn’t about Bobby Ryan. It wasn’t even about the Red Wings having a better chance at the Stanley Cup than the Senators. (Alfredsson had said that was part of his decision in July, but walked that sentiment back Thursday.)
This was about money. Alfredsson had taken a steep discount on the last year of his deal, and he wanted the Senators to pay it back. In a post on the Senators website, Murray said that Alfredsson wanted $7 million on a one-year deal, or $12 million over two. The Senators offered him one year at $4.5 million.
Could the Senators have afforded their captain’s demands? Under the salary cap, absolutely. Even after the trade that landed them Ryan, they currently sit just 28th in the league in cap hit.
But under the internal budget that owner Eugene Melnyk has recently gone public with, maybe not. (The question of how a team in an enthusiastic Canadian market could be struggling to stay in the black remains unresolved.)
Alfredsson wanted to get paid. The Red Wings could afford to pay him more than Ottawa said it could. It may really be that simple.
Ottawa may still be a better team because of all this: Alfredsson might be the most beloved player in franchise history, but he’s 40 years old. If it came down to him or Bobby Ryan, well, the latter is the better player right now and it’s not close. You could even argue that Clarke MacArthur, a Maple Leafs castoff whom the Senators picked up at a relative discount after Alfredsson signed with Detroit, could come close to replacing their former captain’s production on his own.
Ottawa is already a trendy pick as a sneaky Cup contender next year. Mix in a solid dose of that old “nobody believes in us” mojo, and who knows where this team could wind up.
Let’s just hope that wherever the Senators’ road takes them, it leads through a first-round playoff matchup with the Red Wings. It needs to happen. At this point, that’s probably the only thing fans on all sides of this issue could agree on.
Uh, no. I'd like to see the Senators fall flat on their faces and not even make the playoffs. And it was never, ever about money alone.
Update #2: If you're interested, Ottawa Senators radio play-by-play broadcaster Dean Brown spoke with The Fan 590 regarding Alfredsson's departure:
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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.