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Red Wings mid-day news: on Karmanos’s US HHOF induction, the follow-on rink, Alfredsson and the Habs

I'd be remiss in not begining this entry by noting that Michigan native Doug Weight, Plymouth Whalers owner Peter Karmanos and former Michigan State University coach Ron Mason were named to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame's class of 2013 inductees.

Weight, who's from Warren, was one of those classic Michigan natives that the Wings doggedly pursued but could never close a deal upon acquiring; Mason is obviously nothing less than a coaching legend; and Karmanos' Compuware program is the developmental hockey "yin" to Mike Ilitch and Little Caesars' "yang."

USA Hockey posited the following biographical sketches of each of their five inductees (Bill Guerin and Cindy Curley were the others)...

Peter Karmanos: The owner and chief executive officer of the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes, Peter Karmanos, Jr., has used his business acumen to build an empire of hockey at all levels of the game in the United States for more than five decades. In 1994, he acquired the Hartford Whalers and two seasons later moved the team to Raleigh, N.C. Since the team's arrival in North Carolina, the Hurricanes have enjoyed success both on and off the ice, highlighted by winning the Stanley Cup in 2006. In addition, the team has advanced to the conference finals three times in the last 11 seasons and captured the Eastern Conference title in 2002 and 2006. The Hurricanes were recognized as the top hockey franchise and second-ranked franchise in all of sports in 2009 by ESPN in the "Ultimate Standings," a collection of data and survey results that take into account a team's on-ice success as well as its community impact and overall fan experience. As retired executive chairman of the board for Detroit-based Compuware, he has sponsored one of America's most successful youth hockey programs of the same name. Karmanos also owns the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, the ECHL's Florida Everblades and several arenas. In 2012 he received USA Hockey's Distinguished Achievement Award, and in 1998 the NHL honored him with the Lester Patrick Award for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States.

Ron Mason: Ron Mason won 924 men's college hockey games over a 36-season head-coaching career at Lake Superior State University (1966-73), Bowling Green State University (1973-79) and Michigan State University (1979-2002). His win total ranks second in college hockey annals, while his winning percentage (.696, 924-380-83) is among the top 10 in the sport. He led LSSU to the NAIA national championship in 1972 and MSU to the NCAA national title in 1986. Mason guided 22 of his teams (BGSU-1977-79, MSU-1982-90, 1992, 1994-2002) to the NCAA Tournament, tied for second-best all-time. On two occasions he led the Spartans to streaks of nine consecutive NCAA Tournament showings (1982-90, 1994-2002). He was an architect of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in 1972 and went on to capture 10 CCHA regular season championships (BGSU-1976, 1978-79; MSU-1985-86, 1989- 90, 1998-99, 2001) and 13 CCHA postseason crowns (BGSU-1977-79, MSU-1982-85, 1987, 1989-90, 1998, 2000, 2001). The American Hockey Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in 1992, Mason was the CCHA Coach of the Year seven times (1976, 1978-79, 1985, 1989-90, 1999). Among the thousands of players Mason mentored were a pair of Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners (Kip Miller, Ryan Miller), 35 All-Americans and more than 50 future NHL players. Mason, who served on both the NCAA Ice Hockey Committee and NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee during his storied career, served as MSU's director of athletics from 2002-07 following his coaching career. Mason is a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Michigan State, Bowling Green State, Lake Superior State and St. Lawrence University Sports Halls of Fame.

Doug Weight: Doug Weight's NHL career spanned 19 seasons, during which he played for the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks and New York Islanders. After two years at Lake Superior State University (1989-91), Weight stepped into the lineup of the New York Rangers, who had drafted him 34th overall in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. In 1993, less than two seasons into his pro career, he was traded to the Oilers, for whom he played the next eight seasons. The playmaking center, who served as team captain his final two seasons in Edmonton, set career highs for assists (79) and points (104) during the 1995-96 campaign. After three-plus seasons in St. Louis, Weight was traded to Carolina, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2006. The final five seasons of his career were spent with the Blues (2006-08), Ducks (2008) and lastly the Islanders. In his last year, Weight captained the Islanders and received the 2011 King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarian contributions. In 1,238 career NHL games, Weight scored 278 times and racked up 755 assists. Weight put on the U.S. sweater at nine major international competitions, including three Olympic Winter Games (1998, 2002, 2006), three IIHF Men's World Championships (1993, 1994, 2005), two World Cups of Hockey (1996, 2004) and one IIHF World Junior Championship (1991). The 14 assists and 19 points that he notched for the 1991 U.S. National Junior Team are single-tournament records for the U.S. Later, he helped Team USA to the gold medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and received a silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

And the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, Michigan Hockey, NHL.com and USA Today all took note of the news, with USA Today's Kevin Allen offering this take on Karmanos' legacy:

Karmanos: Many around the hockey world believed Karmanos made a mistake when he moved his Hartford Whalers to Carolina, but it has been proved that Karmanos was right and his critics were wrong.

But Karmanos' hockey contributions extend well beyond his ownership. He has sponsored a well-regarded youth program in Michigan for many years and brought the Ontario Hockey League to Michigan years ago. Behind the scenes, he has spent millions on his passion for hockey.

Many millions, like Ilitch. The Compuware, Little Caesars, Belle Tire, Honeybaked and US NTDP programs are among the best developmental hockey programs in the country, never mind the state, and in the beginning, Karmanos and Ilitch were doing the heavy lifting in establishing Metro Detroit as something more than a professional "hockey town."

Without the two choosing to build programs from the ground up, we'd still be talking about young Michigan-born hockey players having to go elsewhere to pursue their hockey dreams, and now young folks from all over the world come here because the combination of elite hockey-playing opportunities from pee-wee on up to Major Junior, NCAA and the U.S. National Team levels are second-to-none, and because we're not that far down the way from the Greater Toronto Area, if you want to "get noticed," you've got a better chance of someone finding you "here" than in Minnesota, New York or Boston.



There's good news in a different kind of developmental vein from the Grand Rapids Griffins:


RAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Defenseman Tyler Anderson of Jenison (left) and forward Robert Thrailkill Jr. of Grand Haven, both members of the Grand Rapids Sled Wings’ adult sled hockey team, have been named to the 2013-14 U.S. National Developmental Sled Hockey Team.

The 22-year-olds were among 67 players who took part in USA Hockey’s two-day tryout camp last weekend near Buffalo, N.Y. Of the 17 players selected for the developmental team and the 18 chosen for the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, Anderson and Thrailkill are the only natives of Michigan.

Anderson has already logged three seasons (2009-12) as a member of the U.S. developmental team, in addition to more than a decade with the Sled Wings’ junior and adult squads. Born with spina bifida, he remains involved with the Sled Wings’ junior team as a coach and is also a member of the Rolling Whitecaps wheelchair softball team and the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital hand cycling team.

Formerly a lance corporal and combat engineer in the U.S. Marine Corps, Thrailkill only began playing for the Sled Wings’ adult team in December 2012. After losing both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan on October 26, 2010, the Pentwater, Mich., native spent the next 25 months recovering at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Md.

The Sled Wings’ junior team, comprised of children and teens who have physical disabilities, is sponsored by the Griffins Youth Foundation in partnership with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. The Sled Wings became the first junior-level sled hockey team in Michigan upon their founding in 2001, and they have gained a national reputation by winning various prestigious tournaments and continuing to develop high-caliber players. Sled Wing Chris Melton was a teammate of Anderson’s on the U.S. developmental team during the 2010-11 campaign, and Susie Kluting has played the last two seasons with the U.S. Women’s Sled Hockey Team.

The developmental team announcement and roster can be found at http://www.usahockey.com




In Red Wings business-related news, I know that comments regarding the State of Michigan and Strategic Fund's approvals of $450 million in bond sales to help defer the cost of the Wings' follow-on rink and surrounding develompent have some of you as, let's say morally conflicted as I feel about the endeavor, but Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea (via RedWingsFeed) reiterates the concept that we're talking about downtown businesses' property taxes, which have already been set aside for downtown development, being used here...

Property taxes would pay for $261.5 million (58 percent) of the building's construction cost while the team's ownership would provide $188.4 million (42 percent), according to details provided by the state.

And he offers more details about the planned rink and surrounding development:

Olympia, which will operate the arena under a 35-year concession agreement with Detroit's Downtown Development Authority, is the property development arm of Mike and Marian Ilitch's $2 billion Detroit business empire that includes the Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and the Little Caesars pizza chain.

The hockey arena, which would be finished by 2017 and replace city-owned Joe Louis Arena, is part of a wider $650 million plan to create a 45-acre district that includes retail, residential, office and restaurant space on the venue site, located west of Woodward Avenue and I-75.

The 18,000-seat arena would have 1,200 premium seats, an attached 500-space parking garage and 10,000 square feet of retail space anchored by a Red Wings merchandise store, restaurants and other retail, according to the project plan.

I can't say that I'm thrilled about the reduction in seats, never mind the concept that all of 500 parking spaces will be built next to the rink...

Possible ancillary developments and infrastructure work the DDA and Olympia said are possible on the site include:

• An elevated pedestrian bridge over the Fisher Freeway, at Park or Clifford avenues.

That's GOING to happen. It's been talked about forever, and the goal involves building some sort of covered bridge to allow fans to cross over the freeway without having to deal with the traffic noise of the freeway below or having to feel hemmed in by Woodward Avenue's proximity.

• Widening the Woodward Avenue bridge over the Fisher Freeway.

See above. Don't forget that the proposed M1 Rail Line--which is going to be built--will have stops from Midtown to Temple Street to Foxtown and beyond.

• A 140,000-square-foot office and retail development at Woodward Avenue and Sproat Street.
• 25,000-square-foot office and retail project along Woodward.

There's been more than a little bit of talk about keeping whatever restaurants and/or souvenir shops built at the follow-on rink open even when the facility is not hosting hockey games, and I do know that the Ilitches and Wings have looked at the kinds of public gatherings held by the Penguins, Canucks, Maple Leafs, etc. outside their rinks during playoff games and want to emulate them to some extent.

The whole concept here involves keeping the area busy and at least in part making it a Wings-related "destination" and/or gathering space when the team's not playing, and building a pedestrian bridge to link the area to the Foxtown district--and I certainly hope that there's some sort of area-bridging economic work to help provide a "safe zone" between the north end of the entertainment district and Midtown as well--will theoretically keep business around the "home base" of the Hockeytown Cafe, Fox Theatre and Comerica Park humming as well.

• A hotel with 20,000 square feet of retail space.

I would also not be surprised if we saw some apartments spring up in the area.

• Several parking structures that would have ground-floor retail space.

To say that more parking is necessary is an understatement.

• Renovation of the Detroit Life Building, Blenheim Building and 1922 Cass for retail, residential and office space.

This kind of stuff is a big deal because those buildings have sat vacant and "blighted" for such an incredibly long period of time that it's scary.

• Surface parking lots.
• Streetscape projects.

That would be good. The Cass Corridor is an ugly place, as is the area behind the Fox Theatre, frankly, and bringing some safety, security and livability to the area would be incredibly welcome. Those neighborhoods are still places where--if I may be frank--suburbanites and folks who belong to socio-economic and ethnic groups not indigenous to the most segregated city-vs.-suburbs environment in the U.S. tend not to feel comfortable in, and even this Detroit-born son of a Detroit probation officer thinks that the Cass Corridor is still somewhere that white people shouldn't venture into without their heads on a serious-ass swivel.

The Detroit Free Press tried to find the best of the neighborhood around the Masonic Temple, and aside from some residential areas with history, it found a bar that didn't discriminate against old, poor, African American gay men (if ever there was a minority group), but that's about it. Lots of empty lots, abandoned buildings and tightly-spaced, multi-story abandoned buildings, so...

It's needed a kick in the pants for a long, long time. Like, "I'm 35 and that area needed help for a good 15 years before that" period of time.




Otherwise, if you are interested in more Daniel Alfredsson-related scuttlebutt, the 6th Sens posted an interview from Ottawa's The Team 1200 in which the CBC's Elliotte Friedman discussed Alfredsson's defection to Detroit...

“It’s funny, we had Mike Babcock on last night on the show I do in Toronto in the summer, Prime Time (Sports), and he said when he and Ken Holland got on the phone with Alfredsson, he got on the phone thinking ‘We’re going to have to do a recruiting job’. And he said, quickly into the call, he realized that Alfredsson had already made the decision that he was coming there. And I just think that’s what happened. I think that at the beginning, Alfredsson was unhappy with how his offer was received and he kind of just sat there and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to see what else is out there.”

And I happen to have uploaded that interview as well:

You may also take the suggestion that Alfredsson was "snubbed" by not being invited to Team Sweden's Olympic orientation camp from the Hockey News's Rory Boylen for what you will:

Daniel Alfredsson (SWE)

OK, so when the Swedish list came out near the end of June, Alfredsson hadn’t yet declared if he was retiring or not. Still, to see a Swedish Olympic roster without Alfie’s name on it is like a cake without icing. Now that he’s officially back in the NHL for at least one more year, though, Alfredsson should probably still be considered an automatic for Tre Kronor. But, then again, stranger things have happened...




In scuttlebutt of a different kind, the Montreal Canadiens may claim that they have a "teammance" with the Wings, but it's not going to last given the incredibly high likelihood that the Wings and Canadiens will battle in the playoffs during the upcoming seasons as they're now division rivals.

MLive's Ansar Khan "scouted" the Canadiens as part of his Eastern Conference breakdown (he's also talked about the Sabres, Bruins and Panthers; DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose has looked at the Rangers and Panthers)...

Canadiens' strengths: They have depth and scoring balance at forward. No superstars, but a lot of skilled, productive players, seven of whom notched 26 or more points (the Red Wings, by comparison, had four). The group is led by Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Brendan Gallagher. Danny Briere, signed as a free agent after being bought out by the Flyers, adds to their skill level. Brandon Prust (10 fighting majors) provides toughness and chips in offensively. The Canadiens also get offense from their blue line. P.K. Subban (38 points) won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman and Andrei Markov contributed 10 goals and 30 points.

Canadiens' weaknesses: They were the smallest team in the NHL in 2013, ranking last in average height (6-foot) and 28th in weight (197.3 pounds), according to James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail. The lack of size didn't faze them during the season, but might have had some effect in their rugged playoff series against Ottawa. Goaltender Carey Price has regressed since his career year of 2010-11. He struggled the second half of the season, his save percentage dipping to .905.

Canadiens outlook: The Habs were one of the most improved teams in the league, rising from 15th to second in the East in just one year. They might have finished first if Price played like he is capable. Still, they probably overachieved a bit during the abbreviated season. They might take a step back, but they should make the playoffs.

For the record, I know that Paul already posited MLive's Ansar Khan's "ask Ansar" article, but I'm just as relieved as you are to hear a second person (with DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose being the first) to suggest that the Helene St. James-led, "Cleary IS coming back to the Wings" theory isn't necessarily spot-on. I'm grateful for Cleary's service to the Wings, but it's time for Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist to play.




And finally, in the Twitter department:

Update: Good stuff from Karmanos and Weight via the Free Press's Helene St. James:

While he cited the 2006 Stanley Cup championship won by the Carolina Hurricanes franchise he owns —and especially Game 7 of that last series — as favorite moments in his career in hockey, the passion is just as strong when it comes to his OHL team, the Plymouth Whalers. It goes all the way back to when he started Compuware, back in the 1970s.

Karmanos related how he started the program "primarily because of one conversation that I had with a parent, who looked at me and waved over a crowd of players and said, 'You realize the best these kids could expect is that they maybe get a partial or full ride to college? None of them are ever going to play in the NHL.'"

Unbeknownst both to Karmanos and the parent, the crowd that day included Pat LaFontaine, Al Iafrate, Kevin and Derian Hatcher, and several other future NHL stars. "I decided at that point in time," Karmanos said, "I had an opposite opinion. I thought the players were a tad better than that. And I thought I had a responsibility to put together a program that allowed those kids to be able to perform ... and win in all areas.

"I think it's really important that people that have the opportunity help develop the sport. And I was born and raised in Detroit, so it was especially rewarding that it could happen in Detroit."

Weight spent 19 seasons in the NHL after playing two years at LSSU. He went from the New York Rangers to the Edmonton Oilers, where he served as captain, before landing in Carolina, where he helped the Hurricanes to the 2006 championship. That 2006 title naturally stands out as a favorite moment in his career, as does helping the U.S. top Canada at the 1996 World Cup. On a more familial level, wherever he played, no road game was more special than a visit to Joe Louis Arena.

"Growing up in Detroit, you had to be a Red Wings fan," Weight said. "Every time I went back, it was the biggest game of the year for me. And most expensive, having all my family and friends come to the game. I loved playing there;, I still love the jersey. When they're not playing our team, I always root for the Red Wings.”

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


Primis's avatar

George, am I correct in that the Detroit Life Building and Blenheim are more “downtown” than in the area of the new arena?  I did some Googling of maps, that’s what it seems.

If so that’s impressive, and means more than just the immediate arena area is getting attention, which is really what’s needed.

It’d be nice if there were a map with all these locations (including the proposed rail line maybe) so we could really get an idea of what sort of scope of transformation we’re talking about here.  My gut reaction now is that the efforts are more spread-out than I thought.

Posted by Primis on 07/25/13 at 02:56 PM ET

Primis's avatar

NM, I Google Earth’d it and really got more of an idea… it’s not closer to the river, it’s more off to the side from Comerica and Ford Field apparently.  I have a terrible time orienting Detroit because of how it orients streets to the river, which runs at an odd angle compass-wise.

Posted by Primis on 07/25/13 at 08:32 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

There are some good maps in the Detroit Free Press that show that area.

Posted by RWBill on 07/26/13 at 02:15 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.