The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/06/14 at 02:25 AM ET
Paul's covered the vast majority of what's transpired while I've been absent--and in theory, I still am, as the mom and I remain in Grand Marais until Saturday--but even on vacation, one gets to a point where you worry that you aren't going to be able to catch up...
And if you're me, you worry about that kind of thing in August. I'm working on it this week, I promise.
Anyway, amongst the stuff that's transpired while I've been absent, and ahead of a "beach day":
I looked and looked and looked, but have not been able to find Szymon Szemberg's source for his Tweets about Daniel Alfredsson:
By that last Tweet, Alfredsson might be alluding to the fact that Swedish players who don't take part in the World Championships in early May are already taking part in dryland training for their new teams at that time. In Sweden--like the rest of Europe--hockey contracts go from the beginning of May until the end of April, and even if the season doesn't start until September, you're expected to be working out with the team by June at the latest, and almost every European pro team will be on the ice to kick off a month's worth of exhibition games this week.
Regarding Alfredsson's NHL situation, I don't think that this is particularly complicated.
If his back is up to the Red Wings medical staff, trainers, coach and GM's snuff come September, he co-led the team in scoring with 18 goals, 31 assists and 49 points registered over the course of 68 games played.
If his back isn't up to snuff..Better that he's getting on the ice during the second week of August than the second week of September. He's been a "good guy in the locker room," a "good guy on the bench," a leader on the ice, and at least this #11 isn't planning on showing up at camp and hoping to be signed for sentimentality's sake, regardless of whether his health is at 100%. [edit: In other words, a full month should allow Alfredsson and the Wings' doctors to find out whether he's really going to be okay to practice and play day after day or whether he's not up to snuff. This is a patient, cautious approach, not a last-minute-last-second approach, and slow and steady tends to win the race in terms of allowing players and teams to make moves that they don't later regret /end edit].
Ryan (Grand Rapids, MI) If you were the Red Wings, would you want Daniel Alfredsson back at his age and if so, how much would you be willing to pay??
Katie Strang: Hey Ryan! Love to see another Grand Rapidian on here! While Alfredsson obviously provides terrific veteran experience and leadership qualities to the Wings, age and durability are definitely an issue. He can still produce -- 18 goals and 49 points in 68 games last season -- but I think he's gonna need to take a pay cut from the 3.5 mil he made last year.
(Low base salary + deferred bonuses will probably add up to around that range, but the base salary isn't going to be that high)
And I believe this is what we call "cross your fingers" time:
Zhao Wang (Atlanta, GA) With a healthy core of veterans (Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Kronwall, Howard, etc) and continued growth of the youngsters, can the Red Wings challenge for at least the conference finals this year?
Katie Strang: Not sure if I see a trip to conference finals for the Wings, Zhao. I think they do have a really good mix of veterans and talented youngsters, but considering the durability of some of their star players -- Datsyuk, Zetterberg -- that will be a factor in their success this season. Although there is no chance they could have the same foul injury luck as last year!
In the prospect department, as Paul has noted, both Dylan Larkin and Dominic Turgeon remain with Team USA as they cut down the team from "White" and "Blue" squads to one team for the remainder of their World Junior Evaluation Camp.
On Monday, Larkin scored the game-winning goal as the U.S. Blue team defeated Julius Vahatalo's Finns 2-1, while Axel Holmstrom scored the first Swedish goal as Sweden defeated Turgeon's white team 4-3 (the Finns and Swedes brought World Junior Evaluation teams to Lake Placid);
On Tuesday, neither Turgeon nor Vahatalo dented the scoresheet as the U.S. White team lost 4-3 to Finland, and Larkin scored a goal in the U.S. Blue team's 6-2 win over Holmstrom's Swedes (Holmstrom didn't register a point):
Team USA both announced player cuts on Tuesday afternoon and listed the schedule for the remainder of the tournament:
The trimmed Team USA roster will play Sweden on Wednesday (Aug. 6), Finland on Thursday (Aug. 7) and Czech Republic on Saturday (Aug. 9). All games are being played at the Olympic Center's USA Rink.
The Czechs are "crossing over" from the Canadian World Junior "Summer Development" camp, where teams from the Czech Republic and Russia are battling a Canadian team that includes one Wings prospect, Zach Nastasiuk, didn't take part in Canada's camp-opening 6-2 win over the Czech Republic.
The other Wings prospect who was supposed to take part in the camp got hit by the injury bug again:
Also in the prospect department, but in the "closer to the NHL" vein, the Red Wings posted a video profile of Alexey Marchenko...
And the video serves as a companion to Bill Roose's "Red Wings Firsts" article about Marchenko's lone NHL appearance:
Alexey Marchenko became the fifth Red Wings’ rookie – and the first with the nickname ‘Killer’ – to make his NHL debut last season when he appeared in Detroit’s 5-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Jan. 4.
At 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Marchenko is already an imposing figure on the ice, but it was during a more relaxing sport that the Moscow native earned the moniker.
“We took him fishing with us in Traverse City,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “He’s a good fisherman. His nickname is Killer.”
Marchenko logged 82 games in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League before his arrival in North America in September. He and Datsyuk were teammates with CSKA Moscow during the lockout last season.
“Last year I was playing with CSKA during the lockout and I got to know him a little bit,” Marchenko said. “It helps a little bit because I already know him. So it was great to go fishing with those guys who are great guys even off of the ice.”
The game against Dallas was the sole NHL appearance Marchenko made with the Wings last season, in which he was paired with veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey.
“He’s a heavy guy,” [Wings coach Mike] Babcock said. “Evidently he can really make plays coming out of his own zone. He defends well. He’s a heavy guy, doesn’t seem to mind the heavy going.”
In the promotional vein:
1. The Wings announced their promotional "giveaway" schedule for the 14-15 season;
2. Danny DeKeyser is autographing bike helmets at a helmet promotion for kids at the Livonia Kohls from 5-6:30 PM today;
3. Tickets for the Red Wings' "Hockeyfest" go on sale today at 10 AM;
4. As Paul noted, Jimmy Howard's flying in the backseat of an F-16D Fighting Falcon (a.k.a. the "Viper") on Thursday in Ypsilanti, ahead of the Thunderbirds' performance at the Thunder Over Michigan airshow this weekend at Willow Run Airport;
5. The Wings posted a video highlighting the team's charitable appearances over the past calendar year...
5. And in a sort of summary, from the Detroit Free Press:
■ The Wings hit the ice Sept. 19 in Traverse City for training camp. Tickets are going fast. Find information at http://www.centerice.org.
■ The exhibition season opens Sept. 2 in Pittsburgh. The first of four straight games at the Joe Louis Arena is Sept. 25, against the Chicago Blackhawks.
■ Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday for the Wings’ annual HockeyFest, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Joe. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for 12 and younger. They are available at the Joe Louis Arena box office, through Ticketmaster or at http://www.DetroitRedWings.com/HockeyFest.
■ The Ilitch-owned Hockeytown Cafe, across Woodward from Comerica Park, has announced an updated menu featuring 14 new pub-style items to expand its appetizer and entree lineup. The changes include smoked gouda mac and cheese bits, fried pickles, a jalapeno salsa burger, a crispy chicken sandwich and Philly cheese steak pizza. Find the full menu at http://www.HockeytownCafe.com.
■ The season opens Oct. 9 against the Boston Bruins at the Joe.
In "coming attractions" of the literal kind, Bloomberg BusinessWeek's Chris Christoff offers a semi-positive take on the Wings' "District Detroit" project:
Billionaire Mike Ilitch and his family plan to create an instantaneous neighborhood around Detroit’s new hockey arena and jump-start an economic recovery where other sports ventures fell short.
The 250-acre (101-hectare) project near downtown sets the arena apart from other U.S. stadiums where little or no related development occurred, or arose long after construction. The Ilitches, owners of the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings, will spend $200 million on apartments and retail space to attract residents by the time the arena opens for the 2017 season. They’ll also pay 44 percent of cost to build the arena.
“This isn’t, ‘Build it and they will come.’ This is, ‘We’re coming and we’re building it,” said Mark Morante, a manager for the Michigan Strategic Fund, which must authorize a $450 million bond sale to build the arena, the largest by the state’s economic development arm.
“This project will become one of the largest that’s ever been done by a single team owner,” said Mark Rosentraub, sports management professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who’s advising Olympia Development. “It’s not about an arena, it’s about real-estate development.”
Detroit, the former automotive giant whose population of 700,000 is 60 percent smaller than its 1950s peak, sorely needs residents and businesses. The Ilitches are trying to provide both.
Victor Matheson, an economics professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, said stadiums built in Detroit, Chicago and St. Petersburg, Florida, since the late 1980s did little or nothing to spawn development. Detroit’s arena may prove otherwise.
“At least that’s structured in a way to give the owner a very strong incentive to go through with the redevelopment project,” he said. “An arena on its own doesn’t do much for the city.”
Christoff continues and includes the inevitable "this is a snake oil salesman" comment from one economist.. For what it's worth, the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo poured a little more cold water on the whole "Pistons coming to Detroit?" theory (the answer is no, no they are not coming to Detroit, that would negate the new rink's ability to serve as a competitor to the Palace, and sans a practice facility, bringing the Pistons downtown would make no sense for either team), too.
In the alumni department, the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran penned another article about the challenges facing former Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek as he attempts to help Korea qualify for an Olympic hockey berth:
Paek, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins, is returning to the land of his birth and trying to do something remarkable: build an Olympic hockey power against insurmountable odds.
“Hockey’s a funny sport,” said Paek. “Look at the 1980 U.S. team (when collegians won Olympic gold). Not saying we’ll do that, but you never want to set your goals low. You might as well shoot for the stars if you can. Our goal is to get better every day, and hopefully getting better every day will allow us to get competitive against the other countries in the world.”
Short-track speed skating is Korea’s true winter sports passion. It was suggested he might want to give sticks to some of those skaters.
“I might just do that,” said Paek. “They’re aggressive skaters. If I could get a few of those to take up hockey, that might be a thing.”
Of course, he’ll also scour North American rinks for Canadian players who are eligible for Korean passports. Brock Radunske, a blond-haired, blue-eyed Kitchener native drafted in the third round by the Edmonton Oilers in 2002, has lived in Korea for six years and suited up for that country in the recent Division I worlds.
“So we have a blond-haired, blue-eyed kid playing for the Korean national team,” said Paek, chuckling. “So we’ll be allowed to find a few of them. But it’s the Korean national team. I would like to develop and use as many Koreans as possible on that team.”
In the land of popularity contests, the Free Press is down to its "final four" of its bracketed "Who's Your Red Wing?" vote, and MLive's Brendan Savage is asking fans to weigh in as to which pair of defensemen were the Wings' best defenders;
In terms of Wings beat writers doing summertime stories:
[Capitals GM Brian] McLellan nabbed the prize free agent on the market, luring defenseman Matt Niskanen to D.C. with a seven-year, $40.25 million contract (the Wings offered seven years and $38.5 million).
He wanted to play with Ovechkin and knows Capitals assistant coach Todd Reirden from the Pittsburgh days...
28: Led the team in goals, despite making his season debut on Nov. 21. His nine-goal lead over Tomas Tatar (19 goals) was the largest margin for a Red Wings’ goal leader in six seasons. He also led all NHL skaters with 23 goals from Jan. 20 until the end of the regular season.
6: The youngest player to lead the Red Wings in game-winning goals since a 24-year-old Sergei Fedorov paced Detroit with 10 GWG in 1993-94. Four of Nyquist’s GWG came on the road, including two at Florida (Dec. 28 and Feb. 6).
18.3: Led the Red Wings and finished in the top 10 among league skaters in shot percentage, scoring 28 goals on 153 shots on goal in 2013-14. He was perfect in his season debut, scoring twice on two SOG in the Red Wings 4-3 win over Carolina (Nov. 21).
3. And USA Today's Kevin Allen isn't a beat writer per se, but he's based in Ann Arbor, and he gave the Wings' offseason a...poor grade:
Detroit Red Wings: They wanted to sign a right-handed-shooting defenseman but couldn't win the recruiting battle and gave Kyle Quincey a raise to return. Free agents seem reluctant to come to Detroit because it's difficult to project how good this team will be moving forward. The Red Wings are a mix of older players and skilled youngsters. Grade: D
(Which is exactly what they were last year? Oh, wait, that's the whole problem, isn't it, or at least it's the sense of the problem, the belief that there's no depth up the middle in terms of star players in their mid-to-late 20's, and the corresponding belief that the Wings "can't win" unless they've got star players in their mid-to-late 20's contributing regularly)
1. FYI: There is another Holmstrom in the Wings family, albeit the extended family:
Forward Josh Holmstrom has agreed to terms with the Toledo Walleye for the 2014-15 season.
The Walleye are the ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey Legaue's Detroit Red Wings and the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins.
Holmstrom, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., finished the 2013-14 season with a seven-game stint in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, in which he collected an assist. He had 18 points (7g-11a) in his senior season at UMass-Lowell. Over the course of four years with the Riverhawks, the 24-year-old picked up 74 points (31g-43a) in 154 games. He served team captain as a senior and was an alternate as a junior. Holmstrom was a +11 over his career at UMass-Lowell.
His best college year was during his junior year when he finished the year fifth on the team with 25 points (12g-13a) and was third in plus/minus with a +15. That same season, he helped lead the Riverhawks to the Hockey East championship and a spot in the Frozen Four. Prior to his collegiate career, Holmstrom skated for two seasons in the USHL with Sioux Falls, scoring 68 points (29g-39a) in 117 games with the Stampede.
Josh is 24 going on 25, and he's a 6'0," 181-pound forward who shoots right.
2. The Free Press's George Sipple is fielding questions about both the Tigers and Red Wings at 10 AM today;
2. Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager noted that Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Sonny Milano, Larkin's linemate on the U.S. National Team Development Program squad, may or may not ditch his college plans to play for the OHL's Plymouth Whalers;
3. The Whalers are holding an alumni game on August 16th;
4. The Hockey News's Ronnie Shuker penned an interview with Mike Krushelnyski, focusing on Krushelnyski's role in the Wayne Gretzky trade, but this stood out to me:
Krushelnyski played nearly 900 NHL games over stops in Boston, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Toronto and Detroit, scoring 241 goals and 569 points. His final season came in 1994-95 with the Red Wings. After one season in the American League, followed by a two-game cameo in the Italian League, Krushelnyski returned to Detroit as an assistant coach in 1996-97 and won his fourth Stanley Cup.
“I got to admit, ’97 as an assistant is right up there, or even surpassing it,” he says. “It was extremely rewarding.”
"It" being the trade, I believe...
Krushelnyski then spent two seasons as head coach in the Central League with Fort Worth, followed by one with German team ERC Ingolstadt and a pair with the Kontinental League’s HC Vityaz.
For the past few years, he’s been working with the NHL Alumni Association, supporting causes around the world and representing the organization on the TV show Battle of the Blades last fall.
“They keep you hopping and bouncing around the planet, so it’s been a lot of fun,” Krushelnyski says. “No matter how much money you got, you still need something to do in life.”
5. Octopus Thrower's Howard Ward asked whether Joakim Andersson can earn a spot in the Wings' lineup via training camp, and I don't think any of us will know the answer to that question until the end of the exhibition season;
6. On Twitter...
And with that, I'll hand the wheel back over to Paul, for at least a couple of days. I've put about three hours into this and I need to get back to resting, relaxing and preparing to swim in Lake Superior later today. Hope all is at least okay.
Update: Pitea Tidiningen posted an article entitled "Tomas forsta hockeyskola," about Tomas Holmstrom holding a hockey school in Pitea, but the article's a subscriber/paywall-blocked missive.
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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.