The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/05/13 at 12:55 PM ET
Updated 4x--yes, four times on August 5th, with substantial news updates, no less--at 3:35 PM: Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings-related news stories:
First and foremost, please take note: Chris Chelios's status as a "Fox Sports One" hockey analyst does NOT mark the end of his tenure with the Red Wings. Chelios still wants to work with the team and help mold the team's younger players while working with (and possibly eventualy helping coach) the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The Free Press's George Sipple spoke with Chelios regarding his role, telling Sipple that he's going to attend the Olympics in Sochi, but will continue in his present position with the Wings:
“He thought it was a great opportunity for me,” Chelios said of Holland’s response. “He didn’t even hesitate when I asked.”
Chelios is known for shooting straight. He never minded giving a strong opinions during his long playing career. So will he continue to be blunt as an analyst?
“I talked about that with the people from Fox,” Chelios said. “I’m going to leave it up to them. I can sit on the fence, I can be edgy. I think I can be charismatic. I’m going to start doing some telecasting from the house two or three months ahead of time.”
Chelios said he has to familiarize himself with players who aren’t currently in the NHL. He already was planning to go to the Olympics in some capacity. He said he has taken up snowboarding and is looking forward to visiting a ski resort in Sochi.
At the last Olympics, Chelios said he sat in on all of the Team USA meetings and sat in the press box during games with general manager Brian Burke. He recently was approached by USA Hockey about helping out again.
Chelios referred to the 2010 experience as an “internship.” He regards his work with the Red Wings since retiring as a player the same way.
Again, Chelios doesn't want to leave his kids, and that's essential in terms of his present and future--and the fact that he's probably going to stay with the Wings for a long time to come:
The only thing keeping Chelios, 51, from getting a full-time job, in some capacity, is his desire to be around his four children. His sons, Dean and Jake, play hockey at Michigan State. His daughter Caley plays lacrosse at Northwestern, and youngest daughter Tara is in high school.
“After playing 28 years, I just can’t see myself getting on a plane or a bus,” Chelios said. “I can’t imagine sitting in the hotel rooms not playing.”
Statistically speaking, and regarding someone whose future is equally certain to involve remaining with the Wings, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose offered a statistical look at Datsyuk's 2013 season performance with the Red Wings:
49: For the first time in three seasons, he led the Red Wings in points, which included 34 assists. He averaged 1.04 points per game, which was his second-highest average in four seasons.
56: For the third time since the Red Wings' 2008 Stanley Cup season, he led the league in takeaways, tying Chicago's Jonathan Toews in steals this season.
20: Number of faceoffs won in Game 2 of the opening-round series against Anaheim. He was 20-of-28 in the faceoff circle in the Red Wings' 5-4 win that evened the series with the Ducks.
Sticking with "numbers," MLive's Brendan Savage weighed in regarding potential Wings jersey retirements as part of a story-yielding-a-poll, and he included a player that I've warmed to the idea of seeing in the rafters given his 4 Cups, entire-career status as a Wing and the fact that he literally sacrificed his knees and back to the cause:
No. 96, Tomas Holmstrom: Holmstrom played all 15 of his NHL seasons in Detroit and was one of the best players of his generation when it came to providing a net-front presence on the power play.
In 1,026 career regular-season games, he scored 122 of his 243 goals on the power play while also racking up 287 career assists.
Holmstrom helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008 while bagging 46 goals and 51 assists in 180 career playoff games. He had 19 career power-play playoff goals. Holmstrom was sixth in the NHL in power-play goals (13) in 2009-10 and seventh in game-winning goals (8) in 2005-06.
Two high-profile projects that have been long speculated about became reality in Midtown this year: M1 Rail, the Woodward Avenue streetcar line, and a hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings. Supporters of both projects predict an influx of visitors who will spend money downtown at current businesses and create demand for new retailers, restaurants, bars and housing.
M1 Rail -- the $137 million, 3.3-mile streetcar project that is a public-private nonprofit effort -- was finally announced in January, six years after preliminary design efforts began.
M1's plan is a mostly curbside-running, fixed-rail streetcar circulator system co-mingled with traffic, with 11 stops between Grand Boulevard and Congress Street. It will run in the median at its north and south ends.
Leaders set of a goal of having the line in operation by the fourth quarter of 2015. Construction from Adams Street south to Congress is scheduled for June through August 2015; work happening north of Adams is expected to run from April 2014 to August 2015, according to M1's bid documents.
"Detroit's greater downtown needs what transit-oriented development brings: a greater population density along the region's most noted corridor in Woodward Avenue," said Malik Goodwin, vice president of project management for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. "As density increases, it not only supports the M1 Rail project itself but also bolsters the business case for other new investment. The establishment of this first line could help economic activity grow and support the development of more walkable districts and additional transit options along Woodward Avenue and other intersecting corridors that connect neighboring areas in Detroit and into the metropolitan region."
And as a rink-related FYI...
DEGC President and CEO George Jackson said he hoped the approvals could be in place by the end of the year. Actual construction of the arena would take 24-30 months, so 2016 or 2017 are the likeliest years it would open.
Also via RedWingsFeed, the Windsor Star's Dave Waddell penned an article for Michigan Hockey in which he spoke with Wings GM Ken Holland regarding the state of the team's defense...
“Eighteen months ago was ‘try and be lean (lots of cap space)’ and go into free agency in 2012 because there was potential for a whole lot of high-profile players,” Holland said. “We were lean and we did go in and we came within a whisker of getting one and we didn’t. So when you lose Lidstrom and you lose Stuart and you lost Holmstrom you’re going a little bit into the unknown.”
The Wings decision to see what they had on their hands proved a wise decision, though it took nearly until the season’s last four weeks to clearly see that. Detroit ultimately finished fifth in the NHL in goals-against, the best finish since the Wings last Stanley Cup in 2008.
While veteran defenseman Jonathan Ericsson upped his game to another level with his promotion to the first pairing, it was the growth of youngsters like Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl and the late-season addition of Western Michigan product Danny DeKeyser that have made Detroit’s defense much better than people give it credit for.
Of course the further emergence of goalie Jimmy Howard into a consistent, top-quality puck stopper last season was also an enormous help, especially early in the season. However, Holland’s off-season actions confirm he no longer has doubts about his club’s blue-line. Enough so that he has jettisoned two veterans this summer, Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo, who were counted in Detroit’s top four heading into last season.
“We didn’t lose in the playoffs because of our defense, we struggled to score goals if Pavel (Datsyuk) and Hank (Zetterberg) didn’t do it,” Holland said.
Indeed in losing in overtime of Game 7 to ultimate Stanley Cup champion Chicago, the Wings allowed fewer goals (16) in the series than a supposedly much superior Boston defense did in the finals against the Hawks (17) in six games.
“I look at the resume of a player,” Holland said of his belief in youngsters like Smith. “Brendan Smith was the best, high-scoring defenseman in college hockey as a junior and he was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. We put him down in the American Hockey League to spend some time to learn how to play defense because we know he can play offense.”
“I’m optimistic every year,” Holland said. “I know that not a lot of people think like I do. But at the end of the day, I get to go to Grand Rapids. I get to go to the World Juniors. I think for the first time people are starting to see, there’s some kids and there’s more kids on the horizon.”
And finally, from Twitter, the Red Wings' summer development camp is taking place at the Joe this week:
There’s no question the first meeting between Alfredsson’s agent J.P. Barry and Murray at the Westin Times Square in New York City during the week of the draft festivities didn’t go well, at all.
As reported in this space a month ago, the Senators offered Alfredsson a one-year deal in the $4- to $4.5-million range while his camp was looking for a two-year contract at $6 million per season.
The reasoning: He could get something close to that on the open market. In later discussions, the two sides agreed a one-year deal would be best for both since Alfredsson wasn’t sure if he planned to play beyond next year.
By the time owner Eugene Melnyk and Murray offered Alfredsson a blank cheque he already had both skates out the door. At that point, he was sizing up his options: The Wings or Boston Bruins.
Yes, the two sides did discuss a one-year extension last summer, but it was decided Alfredsson would play out the final year of his contract at $1 million and then a decision would be made on what would happen.
Since signing with the Wings, Alfredsson has only spoken briefly on a conference call with reporters that day. He’ll be back in Ottawa later this month to clean out his house and then he’ll get settled in Detroit before school starts.
Sooner or later, Alfredsson will provide more answers. He’ll say all the right things and people will continue to want more. He’ll be welcomed back with open arms when he returns to the Canadian Tire Centre next season.
Despite his streaky scoring, Franzen has four 27-plus goal seasons on his resume and a reputation as a clutch playoff performer. Though he has seven seasons remaining on his contract, the average annual cap hit ($3.954 million) is affordable for a big-market club like the Red Wings.
Still, Franzen will be 40 when his contract expires in 2020 and could retire before then. If he does, the Wings will pay for that via cap benefit recapture penalties. And since Franzen’s contract was heavily front-loaded, if he retires towards the end of it the penalty would become more expensive.
For example, if Franzen retired this summer, the cap recapture penalty would only be a little more than $740,000 per season over the remaining years of the contract.
However, if he retired in 2018, the penalty would be $2.954-million per season over the remaining years of the contract.
If the Wings trade Franzen they would split the recapture penalties with his new team, but if his performance declines in the coming years, finding a trade partner will prove increasingly difficult.
If the salary cap increases as projected over the course of this CBA and Franzen retires before his contract ends, the cap recapture penalties will be easier for a free-spending team like the Red Wings to absorb.
Update #3: According to Hokej.sk, Tomas Tatar apparently took part in a charity golf tournament to raise funds for disadvantaged children under a charity managed by Miroslav Satan, and Tatar raised the most money of any of the players taking part in the tourney, which ended up raising a total of 95,870 Euros, or $127,000 US dollars.
Update #4: Brian Lashoff spoke with the New York Hockey Journal's Mike Zhe about his Calder Cup-winning season with the Griffins and his future with the Wings:
With goalie Jimmy Howard (Ogdensburg, N.Y.) banged up and Wings-Ducks going to a Game 7 in Anaheim, Lashoff was sent down to Grand Rapids, with the club calling up another New York native — Tom McCollum (Sanborn, N.Y.) — to be their emergency goalie.
“There wasn’t an emotional low or anything like that,” said Lashoff. “Going into the second round with Grand Rapids, you maybe notice it for a day that things are a little different. You’re not playing in front of 20,000, more like 5,000. But at the end of the day you want to be a pro and you want to win. I just went down there with the mindset that I wanted to win. The adjustment wasn’t hard.”
Lashoff, part of a core group of young defensemen in Detroit that also includes DeKeyser and Brendan Smith, signed a three-year contract extension with the organization in February, a one-way deal that will pay him $2.175 million. As expected, the Wings used their first-round pick late last month on a forward, Anthony Mantha.
Though he would one day love to celebrate a championship in HockeyTown, doing it for a franchise that has the Wings’ stamp all over it was pretty special, too.
“That’s one of the biggest things and you can really tell that Detroit has a tight grip on what happens in Grand Rapids,” said Lashoff, citing the involvement of legendary Red Wings like Chris Chelios, Chris Osgood and Jiri Fischer, the director of player development. “Having a guy like Chelios to talk to … I mean, I talk to him every game, every practice. Having a guy like that in your corner is huge.”
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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.