Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: losing fans’ trust + ignoring their collective anger = bad idea, Wings

I had to finally give in and crash after a very hard week's worth of work and a travel day marred by that damn Cleary signing on Thursday, so I sat out Friday's fun while Paul manned the blog...

And of everything that "went down," I have to be incredibly blunt regarding the suggestions that neither the team nor a certain Daniel Cleary have to give a flying f*** what fans think about what the team does or who it signs:

If anyone understands that the armchair GM's and fans who either love to hear themselves talk and/or want to use sports as a means by which to find an excuse to argue, people who work on sports websites and blogs know at least a little bit about walk that knife-edge's tightrope between tuning out the inevitable white noise and holding oneself accountable to constructive criticism and earnest questions about the content and form of your work.

When the reaction to the Quincey and Cleary re-signings is so unbelievably and across-the-board negative, and both the most extreme and most moderate fan voices (hi! *waves*) have responded to the latter re-signing with one voice, "putting on blinders" regarding fan opinion is just arrogant and downright dangerous.

Fans do not run the Detroit Red Wings, though we sure try to do so. Fans do not know all of the information about the Red Wings' personnel or prospects that the management and coaches do, and fans are not blessed with 20+ years of experience in managing, coaching, medically treating or developing the prospects of a professional hockey team, nor would a fan-run team do anything less than trade everybody all the damn time and run a team into the ground.

Fans do have a voice, however:  fans vote with their dollars, in the form of TV and radio ratings, web hits, merchandise sales, ancillary business and especially in terms of ticket sales.

We're fickle, we're overly controlling, we're "bipolar" in the old-school "Manic-Depressive" sense of the word, we're ridiculously verbose and we have the particularly ill-timed habit of believing that "we know best" when we have the least information.

But we're not stupid, and after witnessing Daniel Cleary lose his job to younger, cheaper, healthier and simply better-contributing players twice, only to be given his job back over and against the wishes of those who support the team's supposed belief in its youth movement and its supposedly-accurate and now seemingly-hypocritically-hollow "the player who performs best will earn spots on the team" ethos--this time, in the form of a 1-year deal with a base salary of $1.5 million, a no-trade clause and a bonus of $1 million (likely "tolled" to the 2015-2016 season's cap figure) for what Capgeek reports is all of 10 damn games played (which might be his season-high given the way Cleary's derivatively-arthritic knees, chronically-injured groin and 80,000-miles-of-city-driving-on-Detroit's-city-streets body tend to behave)...

That's a STUPID contract awarded to a player who simply hasn't earned the dangerous and possibly team-destructive level of loyalty he's been awarded.

Red Wings fans might be a tree full of Brazil nuts, but we're not that stupid--and we know stupid when we see it. Bringing Daniel Cleary back is plain old stupid.

Hell, USA Today's Kevin Allen may have offered best reason as to why free agents haven't signed with the Red Wings for the past three or four summers--witnessing the Wings continue to make contradictory lateral signings leaves outsiders puzzled as to what the hell the team's direction might be:

Detroit Red Wings: D

They wanted to sign a right-handed-shooting defenseman but couldn't win the recruiting battle. 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.

The skilled youngsters never seem to get ahead because every offseason, the management that seems to re-learn this whole, "Youth movement = key to strong performance in the future" lesson every season seems to deliberately place roadblocks in the young players' way.

As far as I'm concerned, the best thing the Red Wings could have done when they struck out on Dan Boyle (it turned out that he wanted to go to New York to play with Martin St. Louis and play for the Rangers all along), Matt Niskanen (he wanted the money, and no one was willing to overpay for him the way the Capitals were, and he wanted to play for Barry Trotz), Anton Stralman (in addition to the Lightning offering more term than the Wings were willing to give him, the Lightning had Ryan Callahan recruit both Stralman and Bryan Boyle), Christian Ehrhoff (the Wings offered more money and term, but the lure of Crosby-Malkin and playing with two Germans in Marcel Goc and Thomas Greiss pulled Ehrhoff toward Pittsburgh), Tom Gilbert (apparently he wanted the Wings to give him a counter-offer, and there was some sort of "take the money, we're trying to sign other players" exchange) and Brad Stuart (speaking of a known quantity...) was to do nothing.

If this team really did believe that Ryan Sproul, Alexey Marchenko, Mattias Backman and Xavier Ouellet are nearly NHL-ready, I would have much preferred to see the team simply go to training camp with Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Danny DeKeyser and Brendan Smith as defensemen 1 through 4, Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff as numbers 5 and 6, and an open try-out for spot #7 and possibly replacing Kindl or Lashoff underway.

Instead, the team gave Quincey 2 years at $4.25 million per season for a solid second-half performance (his playoffs were very mediocre, like everyone else's), and in giving Quincey a half-a-million-dollar "compromise" raise, the team not only nudged Quincey's cap hit to within $500,000 of Niklas Kronwall's paycheck, but it also very probably made re-signing restricted free agent Danny DeKeyser (who had a $1.35 million cap hit, all figures from Capgeek) that much more expensive.

And then, with the Wings choosing to wait until September to find out whether its co-leading scorer for the 13-14 season, Daniel Alfredsson (18 goals, 31 assists and 49 points in 68 games played), is still willing and healthily able to play, and the Wings still needing to re-sign Tomas Tatar (who posted 19 goals, 20 assists and 39 points in 73 games, after having spent the first 9 in the locker room so that Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Cory Emmerton could play), and with $3.01 million on bonus overages from the previous season eating into its cap space...

And a team whose leading goal-scorer, Gustav Nyquist (28 goals, 20 assists and 48 points in 57 games played) spent nearly half the season in Grand Rapids due to the cap and roster clusterfuck created by Cleary's previous re-signing, a team which relied upon Tatar, Nyquist, Riley Sheahan (9 goals, 15 assists and 24 points in 42 games played) and Tomas Jurco's (8 goals, 7 assists and 15 points in 38 games played) contributions to make the playoffs, a team whose coach chose to exhaust Luke Glendening's waiver-exempt status by playing him in 56 regular-season and 5 playoff games, and a team which theoretically wanted to give the no-longer-waiver-exempt Landon Ferraro, Mitch Callahan and top prospects named Anthony Mantha and Teemu Pulkkinen chances to make the team...

That team's management and coaching staff apparently decided that the best possible option in terms of reinforcing its forward ranks was to both bring Cleary back and to insist that it will only carry 14 forwards, all but assuring that Ferraro and Callahan will be waived and that there's little to no chance that Mantha or Pulkkinen can make the team.

Why do I sound so pessimistic if Cleary himself told the media that he's been given no guarantees of making the roster (though his one-way contract ensures that all of $575,000 of Cleary's $1.5 million cap hit would actually disappear from the team's cap figure if he does in fact go to Grand Rapids)?

The management's actions and the coach's preferential treatment toward Cleary and his veteran compatriots over the past three or four seasons, especially when younger players out-play veteran players during training camp and the exhibition season, give me absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that anything's truly changed, or that this team has any sort of intention to award jobs or playing time based upon merit.

Six months after Ken Holland appeared on the radio station which still loves playing that, "The kids aren't the answer" sound-byte to say that the kids in fact were the answer, and that the signings of the then-Grand Rapids-banished Samuelsson, Tootoo and Emmerton and the sitting-in-lieu-of-the-kids Bertuzzi and Cleary were "on him," and two-and-a-half months after Holland told the media that he was not going to make any of the kinds of signings that he would have to "get rid of in November" during the team's locker room clean-out day, what have the Red Wings done?

They made a lateral and seemingly panicky alumni re-signing when they couldn't land a top-tier offensive defenseman who shoots right, signing a stay-at-home defenseman who shoots left instead, and then the team "took care of Dan Cleary" even though the team told Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby that they'd have to sign two-way, league-minimum try-out contracts and battle their way onto the team after each player won 3 more Cups and played at least 500 more games in Detroit than Cleary has played for the Wings.

A player who finished with 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points in 53 games, and finished tied with Drew Miller and Joakim Andersson for a team-second-worst -11 has been treated like he's more equal than the players who stole his job twice now.

That's not loyalty at work. That's stupidity and "putting on blinders" to the point that this team's off-season signings have done the worst thing possible--they've sacrificed the team's credibility with its fans. And there is no worse contract it can break than its contract with the faith fans have placed in the Detroit Red Wings. Our faith and trust feel like they've been waived for Daniel Cleary's sake.

Of course, as Paul noted, Cleary told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that he doesn't care what we think...

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and you try not to let any of the negativity or positive comments affect you,” Cleary said. “We live in the day of social media, anyone can say anything. You can’t worry about what people think. You’ve just got to go out and do what you do.”

And Cleary insists that he's going to be healthy despite battling chronic and degenerative knee issues for the past two years:

Cleary, 35, began training a week after the season and just resumed skating this week, which is four weeks earlier than normal.

“It feels good,” Cleary said. “It’s very promising. My knee’s a lot stronger and feels a lot better. I knew I needed to get my entire leg stronger to support my knee.”

Cleary’s numbers have dropped off each season since he scored a career-high 26 goals and totaled a career-high 46 points during the 2010-11 season.

However, he was the Wings’ second leading scorer (four goals and six assists in 14 games) in the playoffs two seasons ago when they lost in Game 7 in a Western Conference second round meeting with the eventual Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks. Cleary feels he can get back to that level.

“It’s going to take hard work and dedication, but that’s my goal,” Cleary said. “I’m confident I can.”

Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner tried to determine, "What re-signing Dan Cleary means for the Red Wings"...

When Cleary's signing would pose a problem and have the fans in an uproar is if Detroit inks Daniel Alfredsson to a new deal. This move would balloon the roster to 15 forwards, one more than the Wings want to carry.

Tomas Jurco would be the odd man out. Jurco would have to begin the season in Grand Rapids since he doesn't have to clear waivers, drawing comparisons to Gustav Nyquist last season. And the finger of blame will once again be pointed to Cleary.

What could complicate matters even more is if Anthony Mantha and/or Teemu Pulkkinen look strong in training camp and the preseason.

And Regner has this to say about Cleary's comments:

He's an astute guy and is well aware that many people in the Wings organization have stuck their necks out for him.

It's now up to Cleary to "do what you do," which is help the Wings win hockey games, because that's the bottom line in a bottom line business.

However, if Cleary cannot contribute and his skills have eroded, it's up to him to be a stand-up guy and walk away from the game. He owes that to Holland, his coach, his teammates and to Wings fans.

The Free Press's Helene St. James' weighed in on the defensive whiffs and potential trades on WBBL's Schiling and Bentley show on Thursday, prior to the Cleary signing (which makes this intereview seem far-far-off...)...

And MLive's Ansar Khan weighed in on Cleary's return while speaking to Regner, who was filling in for WDFN's Matt Sheppard, on Friday morning:

Khan of course spoke with Holland about the health of another player who needs to earn his damn paycheck in Stephen Weiss...

"(Trainer) Piet Van Zant texted him two days ago," general manager Ken Holland said. "He said he's feeling great, he's training hard; he's played some shinny (pick-up hockey). So far all reports are he's healed and ready to roll in September."

(Weiss is at least working with fitness guru Gary Roberts in Toronto, he's not just dicking around somewhere)

Cue the raised eyebrow:

"(Coach) Mike Babcock and I talked to many of our players about the importance of having a great off-season and coming to camp understanding there's a competition for ice time and jobs," Holland said. "Last year we always had so many injuries that for the most part we were digging into our farm system. I'm hoping with the adversity we faced and with the quality minutes those young kids played it'll allow us to be a four-line team."

Holland said the club has gotten positive updates on the health of Pavel Datsyuk (mid-season knee issue), Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery on Feb. 21) and everyone else.

"The biggest thing is health," Holland said. "If we can get to training camp (Sept. 19) and get Pav, Z, (Darren) Helm, Weiss on the ice we're optimistic we got the potential to be a decent hockey club."

That segues nicely into Khan's other conversation with Holland, regarding potential trades and other free agents who remain available:

"Had the odd call, but for the most part it's slowed down," Holland said. "It goes slow now for July and August. In past years once (top) free agents are off the market and money is spent things get slow."

Trade possibilities for right-handed shooting defensemen include Mike Green (Washington), Tyler Myers (Buffalo), Jeff Petry (Edmonton) and Cody Franson (Toronto). But the cost is high. Teams are asking for a top young forward like Gustav Nyquist or Tatar, or No. 1 prospect Anthony Mantha.

"I explored trades through June, couldn't find a fit," Holland said. "Now I sense a quiet three, four, five weeks. In the meantime I'll reach out to some of those (GMs)."

Oh look, I wonder who suggested that the whole trade talk in July concept was frivolous at best? Remember who that was?

As for free agents...

"I don't know that what's out there is any better than what we got in our system," Holland said. "Players (free agents) would be more experienced, but are they any better than (Ryan) Sproul or (Xavier) Ouellet? We got pretty good kids."

Oh really?

Sproul, Ouellet and the other top young defensemen, Alexey Marchenko and Mattias Backman, will start the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, barring multiple injuries in the preseason.

And, regarding re-signing Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar:

"We're going through the process," Holland said. "We made offers, had conversations with both camps."




In terms of Wings prospect news, the Wings made the re-signing of Tom McCollum official on Friday, and while I know that Jared Coreau and Jake Paterson weren't jumping up and down with joy, the players seemed to know it was going to happen, and McCollum did something that hasn't happened too often regarding alumni who are awarded contracts with the team again--he earned his job back, as DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose notes:

The 24-year-old McCollum played in Grand Rapids last season under an American Hockey League contract. The demotion seemed to pay off for McCollum, who produced several career bests in his fifth season with the Griffins, posting a 24-12-4 record with a 2.30 goals against average, a .922 save percentage and two shutouts in 46 games.

In the wake of injuries in Detroit, McCollum shined while replacing goalie Petr Mrazek, who was called up to the NHL six times last season.

When his NHL contract with the Wings expired following the 2012-13 season, McCollum’s future with the organization was very much in peril. Coupled with the opportunity that was presented, McCollum’s work ethic and determination yielded positive results, which undoubtedly helped him earn a new NHL contract.

After five AHL seasons, McCollum ranks third all time among Griffins goaltenders, trailing Joey MacDonald and Jimmy Howard in games played (159) and wins (69). It’s expected that McCollum, who agreed to a two-way contract, will play backup to Red Wings’ top goalie prospect Petr Mrazek in Grand Rapids, while Jake Paterson and Jared Coreau will play in Toledo (ECHL).

Quite conveniently, Griffinshockey's Alan Cross penned an article about Paterson and Coreau on Friday (via RedWingsFeed):

Joining the Detroit organization just over a year ago on a three-year entry-level contract, undrafted goaltender Coreau also spent the majority of last season with the Walleye. In 20 games, he produced a 1-12-6 record and a 4.03 goals against average. The 6-foot-5 goaltender faced similar woes in his five games with Grand Rapids, posting a 0-4-0 record and a 4.39 GAA.

“We’re adults. We’re pros. People have tough seasons, and nobody is going to pat you on the back and tell you it’s going to be OK,” Coreau said. “You just have to keep going and working hard. Sometimes it turns around and sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless, you have to keep working.”

All challenges considered, Coreau’s positive attitude remains intact.

“It’s a big season coming up here for me, and I think the lessons learned last year are definitely going to help me,” said Coreau.

Coreau will spend a majority of his second professional season with Toledo, where he’ll likely be joined by former Saginaw Spirit goaltender Paterson. The 20-year-old netminder was drafted in the second round (80th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, and he briefly served as a “black ace” with the Griffins during the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.

“It’s a pretty likely scenario that me and Jared might both be in Toledo,” said Paterson. “So you have to head into [the season] with the right mindset and try to stop as many pucks as you possibly can.”

With Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum manning the pipes in Grand Rapids for the third straight season, both Coreau and Paterson will have to battle for occasional back-up duty.

“I need to win. That’s the biggest thing,” said Coreau. “Go in there, show I can win. Work hard. Put the hours in. Be a good teammate and go from there.”

The article continues, and includes quotes from Griffins coach Jeff Blashill and defenseman Richard Nedomlel about the Toledo Walleye's attempts to rebound under new coach Derek Lalonde.

The Griffins also posted a 9-and-a-half minute video which serves as the second chapter of its "Between the Benches" chronicling of the Griffins' playoff run:

One of the Wings' prospects will make his local TV debut on Sunday, per WXYZ:

Detroit Red Wings first round draft pick Dylan Larkin is coming home.

The team's top choice in this year's entry draft, Larkin will join the Suburban Ford 7 Sports Cave live in studio this Sunday at 11 a.m.

Larkin grew up in Waterford, Michigan, and played for the United States National Team in the USHL in Ann Arbor the last two seasons. The Red Wings selected him 15th overall at last month's draft.

The 17-year old will join host Brad Galli, 971 The Ticket's Mike Stone, and Detroit Sports 105.1's Matt Dery LIVE in the 7 Sports Cave to discuss the whirlwind experience since being picked by his hometown team, and his time at the team's development camp last weekend.

The Suburban Ford 7 Sports Cave airs live on WXYZ-TV Channel 7 on Sundays at 11 a.m. You can watch on TV, online at wxyz.com, and on the WXYZ app.




Regarding a pair of summer development camp try-outs, Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski profiled Ferris State University graduating senior Scott Czarnowczan...

The 5-foot-10 defenseman was invited to camp as a free agent following a successful college career in Big Rapids. He said that getting the invitation was something he’s dreamed about.

“I fond out and I was pretty ecstatic,” the Macomb native said. “Being a part of the Red Wings organization, it’s a privilege to be here.”

Czarnowczan viewed the opportunity to once again play in the state of Michigan – even if only for a week – as an advantage.

“Michigan’s one of the best states for hockey in the U.S.,” he said. “To stay here, you keep learning from all of the coaches around here.”

Who turned pro with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads this past spring...

After his collegiate career ended, Czarnowczan made the jump to the ECHL, playing in two games with the Idaho Steelheads. He scored a goal and picked up an assist in his professional debut on April 11.

“It was definitely a next step up,” he said of the experience. “In college, you’re pushing the tempo, never really bringing the puck back. In the ECHL, you’re circling back, slowing play down, and setting up plays. It was different, a learning experience before I came here.”



In the non-playing alumni category, the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Wings pro scout Kirk Maltby's started a hockey camp for youngsters:

Having tried their hands across the border, Kirk Maltby and his brother Shawn are about to undertake their first camp locally.

The Maltbys — the men behind 1118 Hockey, named for the numbers they respectively wore in their hockey careers — are setting up shop Monday through Friday at St. Clair Civic Arena in St. Clair Shores to help fine tune the skills of boys and girls ages 8-12.

The Maltbys have run camps the last two summers in Cambridge, Ontario, near where Shawn is a correctional officer. Kirk, 41, played 14 seasons for the Red Wings, helping them to four Stanley Cups.

Part of what made Kirk such an effective NHL’er, of course, was his penchant for riling opponents. That, however, isn’t something pre-teens need to learn.

“No, boys do that to each other as is,” Kirk said Friday. “What I’ve learned is, the boys and girls work extremely hard, but sometimes you have to ask boys to do something — or stop doing something — and you have to ask two or three or four times. Girls, it’s one time and they’re back on track and listening.”




And finally, if you're looking for an alternate opinion regarding the Wings' most recent signings, Winging it in Motown's Kyle McIlmurray penned a letter to Ken Holland, and it doesn't sound all that different from mine:

You've carbon-copied the roster that couldn't stay healthy (I have every reason to believe they won't next season either) and you've snubbed one of the players who helped your team stay relevant and make a push to your impending doom that was the Boston Bruins in the first round.

As for coaching? Peters is gone, Renney is likely gone.. You can't get UFA players to come to Detroit, and you have no idea why.. What makes you think coaches are going to be any different?

An accountable organization? No, I think what you're running here is a burlesque comedy, and I'll tell you what.. Red Wings faithful just aren't sitting so faithful anymore.

So who's accountable? In the eyes of team ownership, no one. The team keeps bringing in money, so who cares right?

With that being said... Good luck making the team anytime soon, kids. You're gonna need it. Don't worry! Your hard work won't be forgotten.

When you not only break your fans' trust, but you also suggest that their opinion doesn't matter...You wind up in a slightly dangerous situation, not only in terms of recruiting players to come to play for your organization, but also in terms of recruiting fans to attend your games or root for your team.

I've heard from at least a dozen fans who say that they're either walking away from the team or that their level of interest in the team has gone down significantly, and that they won't follow the team nearly as closely. I'd imagine that they're the tip of the iceberg of apathy toward the organization.

Sometimes I wish I didn't care so deeply for the team and its players, but I do, and that means I'm sticking around. But hockey fandom can be like a marriage--a significant relationship full of highs and lows--and it's not a happy marriage right now, not for me, nor for many of my fellow Wings fans.

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DrewBehr's avatar

What I would give for Ken Holland to read this post…

Well done, George.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 07/12/14 at 02:34 AM ET

awould's avatar

Nyquist is not the savior?

Posted by awould on 07/12/14 at 03:37 AM ET

silversailer's avatar

Well said George. You may have missed this so I’ll post it again. It was from a fan at LetsGoWings

“I called and canceled my half-season ticket plan yesterday over voice mail as well as gave my great displeasure, directly but professionally, over the mismanagement and lack of professionalism of this organization.

I actually received a follow up this morning from the head of ticket services telling me, ‘If you don’t believe in the vision or management style of the best GM in sports, perhaps you might think about following another team. That said, we will no longer expect voice messages from you either”.

Almost unbelievable. Almost…

Posted by silversailer on 07/12/14 at 03:59 AM ET

awould's avatar

I actually received a follow up this morning from the head of ticket services telling me, ‘If you don’t believe in the vision or management style of the best GM in sports, perhaps you might think about following another team. That said, we will no longer expect voice messages from you either”.

If that’s true, that’s despicable.

Posted by awould on 07/12/14 at 04:02 AM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

This must be a new low for this site, with all due respect, but what some guys here are doing is simple low-life garbage-throwing. Yeah like any other GM takes care of the fans. Why should he, it’s not his job, it’s the marketing-people’s job to make sure fans are happy.

Also it’s not Kenny’s fault that no one wants to come to Detroit, guess what: money isn’t everything. Especially when you offer it to guys who already have a truckload of it. Hmm imagine you have to chose between let’s say Vancouver, New York and Detroit. I am sure Detroit is the last place you want to be…

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 07/12/14 at 06:53 AM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

just ... wow

The regular season doesn’t start for 3 months and already people think Cleary is going to be on the roster and on the ice in Detroit.  You’ve heard it from Cleary himself .. he’s NOT promised a roster spot ... he has to earn it.  But so many of you have jumped to conclusions and made the assumption he’s going to screw things up for Jurco just because he signed a piece of paper saying the Ilitch family now owes him another $1.5 mil.

Me ?  I will wait to see who looks good and who looks bad in the few exhibition games we get to see on TV before I go all batshit on Holland.  I find it difficult to believe men (holland & babcock) with that much experience would hand anyone a roster spot for no reason.  Do they know if Cleary will rebound and be the player he was 2 or 3 years ago ?? Nope ... and neither do we ... so pissing & moaning about re-signing Cleary in July could turn out to be a moot point come October.  Nobody wants to see a player go out on a wonky knee without getting one more kick at the can after getting it fixed.  That’s all the contract represents .... one last shot ... no promises.  If it were you, you’d be singing a different tune.

Now ... jump ahead 3 months ... and Cleary looks like dogshit in exhibition games but still end up with a roster spot ... that’s when we have a problem.

That hasn’t happened ... and it probably won’t ... but for Cleary’s sake ... it’s nice to know there are a few people out there that are willing to give him one last chance.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 07/12/14 at 07:16 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

You are a legend in your own mind.

Posted by w2j2 on 07/12/14 at 08:18 AM ET


Great article, Dan Cleary should be selling pizza somewhere.

Posted by karlander on 07/12/14 at 08:19 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Count me among the group of people who absolutely do NOT believe the ticket rep story, especially now that I’ve seen two slightly different versions of it across a few different sites.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/12/14 at 08:34 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

—There’s no way in hell this actually happened.

This isn’t how people in sales, let alone “the head of ticket services” perform their job. If they do decide to make a call-back to someone canceling their ticket-plan it’s to beg them to reconsider.
Posted by alwaysaurie on 07/12/14 at 02:22 AM ET

that supposed “email response” from someone in sales for the Red Wings is a bunch of BS, in that there is no way it was ever said.
Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 07/12/14 at 08:55 AM ET

That is right.  No one in the Detroit Red Wings sales or public relations office, or anyone in the organ-I-zation, would say that to a fan much less go out of their way to track someone down to say that.

Posted by RWBill on 07/12/14 at 09:14 AM ET

gowings's avatar

“Yeah like any other GM takes care of the fans. Why should he, it’s not his job, it’s the marketing-people’s job to make sure fans are happy. “

yes partially….but this is like running an election. If party A has more funds and great PR to attract people, but has shitty ideas on how to rule VS party B that has almost no money and no great PR but has great ideas, then party B can still win. Although I do not live in Detroit, I would honestly not buy as much tickets, even if the nice marketing people sold it to me for 20$. The organization as a group, need to understand that this is not MTL nor Toronto where you can still have tickets worth 400$ and always someone to buy it…the economy is not the same and the culture is also different. The new arena is coming…..you will needs to fill it win fans…...this does not just fall on marketing as said previously….and even if you had the best marketing people in town…they still have to convince you about the product on the ice…..and you don’t need a PHD to see where that is going

Posted by gowings from MTL on 07/12/14 at 09:17 AM ET

DrD's avatar

I like the Khan interview, because it is professional and most importantly, rational. I don’t expect bloggers to keep it together forever - most of them are just passionate fans themselves trying to walk a line.

I think that Cleary will get the money he was promised, but he will not stay healthy and even if he does, he won’t be a regular in the lineup. Jurco stays. Kindl goes. They sign another righty Dman and Marchenko or Sproul will bump Lashoff before the season is over. I think Quincey will be a 5-6 guy by the time the D core is reshuffled - and that signing will make more sense than it does now (although I thought he ended the season well and I like him better paired with DeKeyser).

The problem is not that KH isn’t replacing old guys with youth, it’s that he’s not doing it at the pace that most fans would like. These guys are gone: Tootoo, Samuelsson, Bertuzzi, Eaves. These guys replaced them: Nyquist, Tatar, Jurco, Sheahan. At least one more Griffin Dman will be on the roster permanently before the season is done - mark my words.

I love you George, (not like that, and not there is anything wrong with it) but I’m hoping this doesn’t become a lunatic fan flame war site because the sane joined the insane at the asylum. That’s my two cents.

Posted by DrD on 07/12/14 at 09:18 AM ET

RWBill's avatar


brasil nuts

Posted by RWBill on 07/12/14 at 09:19 AM ET


Here is my whole point and why KH just doesn’t get the fans anger and why the fans are ahead of him.  The red wings as currently constructed are not a Cup contender, they may get a decent seed but they do not match up with anyone well in a 7 game series and they definitely don’t could not win a series with anyone out west.  It doesn’t matter how healthy Weiss is, it doesn’t matter how healthy Zetterberg or Datsyuk are, they are not Cup contenders.  There also does not seem to be anyone on the market that can make us legitimate Cup contenders as well, evn if there were no one has any confidence that KH could trade for him anyways.  The ONLY way this team makes a major move forward is the play of the younger players.  If they make major moves forward that is all that will make this team contenders once again.  So it’s an insult to the fans to being back guys like Quincey and Cleary and expect fans to get excited or think things will be different.  The fans want to see the younger players take larger roles, even guys like Callahan and Ferraro.  Out it his way, if a guy like Brandan Saad was drafted by Detroit he’d still be in Grand Rapids or playing fourth line duty on the Red Wings, meanwhile he’s a top line player in Chicago-a team with a legitimate chance to win the Cup for many years running.  Fans would be fine if Holland said we’re going with youth, we’re allowing Jensen, Sproul, Marchenko, and Ouellet to win spots.  Same with forward positions, why pay Miller for what both Callahan and Ferraro can do cheaper?  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  What is the plan here?  Because no one thinks the Wings are contenders, so something has to change and since Holland struck out in free agency and he can’t seem to trade to save his life, that something means moving out the dead wood and turning the roster over to the younger players finally.  Again signing Quincey and Cleary does nothing to excite a fanbase or making this team a Cup contender, this team sinks or sails with the younger players, why not give them the keys finally.  Give them legitimate chances in defense to make the team and take larger roles, they’ve earned it.

Posted by bababooey on 07/12/14 at 09:26 AM ET

Primis's avatar

The regular season doesn’t start for 3 months and already people think Cleary is going to be on the roster and on the ice in Detroit.  You’ve heard it from Cleary himself .. he’s NOT promised a roster spot .

He signed a one-way contract with a NTC.  There are not compliance buyouts left.

Pray-tell, how exactly is it you think he’s not going to be on the roster on opening night, possibly in the Top Six even?

He was promised a roster spot when he signed ink to paper on a one-way deal with a NTC and $1m in easily-achievable bonuses.  To suggest anything else is to be willfully and knowingly wrong.

Posted by Primis on 07/12/14 at 09:38 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Would the Wings be a better team one year from now by playing Cleary over Jurco this season, or Jurco with a full season of NHL experience?

What makes the Red Wings a better team in the future?

Posted by RWBill on 07/12/14 at 09:39 AM ET

DrD's avatar

@ bababooey For my views on Cleary and Quincey see my last post - that horse has been well-beaten at this point.

Based on your logic, it actually makes more sense to get rid of Pav and Z and probably Kronwall too and just collect as many first round picks as you can. Just start over.

Since there is no Cup in sight and those guys aren’t getting any younger, why keep them around? Trade them and have players no older than 24 throughout the whole lineup. Right? Move all the Griffins up, move all the Walleye to Grand Rapids and move all of the kids in your local PeeWee league to Toledo.

Give the fans exactly what they want, because that’s what all great organizations do. That’s how champions are built, by polling fans.





Posted by DrD on 07/12/14 at 09:47 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

When the Wings resurrected their season at about the 53 game mark (see the Moving Average chart in previous thread) which happened concurrently with the benching of Cleary and the beginning of Nyquist’s goal streak, I’d like to believe that happened because Babcock finally had had enough of Cleary being a boat anchor and a drag on the team.

Now I’m reading things that make me believe he was scratched just because his knees were in bad shape, which means otherwise he may have been left in the lineup every night.

They can keep 23 on the active NHL roster, dress 20 for a game including 12 forwards, 6 defensemen and 2 goalies.

Cleary will most certainly be among those 23, but will he be a healthy scratch or one of the 12 forwards dressing for the games?

Suppose they do sign Alfredsson, it really becomes jammed with Cleary in there.

KFH may be saved by someone rotating on and off the DL list like last year.

Posted by RWBill on 07/12/14 at 09:49 AM ET

DrD's avatar

Also, if Cleary was Babcock’s boy and he wanted him so badly to be in the lineup, how come he is never around to answer any questions or take the heat from the fans? If there is anyone KH should stop listening to - it’s probably Babcock.

Except Babcock is the “genius” coach that all these other organizations covet and his contract is up, so you have to give him what he wants…or else he’s going to leave. That’s a tough spot to be in as a GM. Babcock prefers the vets and he thinks that a vet should always beat out kid for a spot, so how much of this is on Babcock?

Personally, I’m thinking more and more Babcock might be the bigger problem. Maybe they should just let him go and bring Blashill up. I’m thinking that KH is constantly trying to appease Babcock and it’s making it difficult to balance making Babs happy and moving the organization forward.

I guess I’m in the minority, but if I had to find the best way to clear the waters and move ahead, I would say let Babs go. Bring up a guy who has proven he can work with youth and vets.



Posted by DrD on 07/12/14 at 10:13 AM ET

Nate A's avatar

You’ve heard it from Cleary himself .. he’s NOT promised a roster spot ... he has to earn it.

I dearly hope this is true. But I have an awful lot of trouble seeing anyone making that kind of money just being dropped. He’s gonna get every chance in the world because of that alone, never mind the loyalty thing. Best case scenario for the team is he gets injured in training camp and never hits that 10 game bonus mark.

Love everything Cleary has done and given for the team up until last season, but his time is over. Its time to move on.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 07/12/14 at 10:17 AM ET


Based on your logic, it actually makes more sense to get rid of Pav and Z and probably Kronwall too and just collect as many first round picks as you can. Just start over.

Since there is no Cup in sight and those guys aren’t getting any younger, why keep them around? Trade them and have players no older than 24 throughout the whole lineup. Right? Move all the Griffins up, move all the Walleye to Grand Rapids and move all of the kids in your local PeeWee league to Toledo.

Give the fans exactly what they want, because that’s what all great organizations do. That’s how champions are built, by polling fans.

Silly straw man argument.  Zetterberg and Datsyuk are still the cornerstones and foundations of this team.  If someone were ready to step in and replace them, maybe, but we’re so far from that.  And no, GM’s don’t build teams via poll testing fans but they do have plans, this GM does not.  So my point, again, is that replacing broken down vets with younger players is good-re-signing broken down re-treads for more money-bad.  Is that clear?  Cleary and Quincey could easily be replaced by any one of the prospects in Grand Rapids.  Once Holland whiffed in free agency, like in 2012, he should have just given the kids more prominent roles.  He didn’t then and mostly on defense he doesn’t seem to be doing it now.  If he did do that most fans would understand and support that, thus being in sync with the fans and looking like there is a plan.

Posted by bababooey on 07/12/14 at 10:32 AM ET

Primis's avatar

BTW George kudos on the story URL.  :-p

Posted by Primis on 07/12/14 at 10:36 AM ET


One final point.  You don’t have to do what the fans wish each time, but you do have to have a plan and sell them on that plan.  They are paying your salary, they are stakeholders and have vested interest in what you do and the direction you’re heading.  So while you don’t have to do everything the fans want, you should sell them on your plan.  I think that is an obligation to your loyal fan base.  And this loyalty crap and re-signing Quincey and Cleary is a big middle finger to that fan base.  Most fans are pretty rationale in that they understand there is a transition here and they want to see younger players get more prominent roles not re-sign the same crap from last year (at higher salary) and expect different results.  Its an insult to our intelligence.

Posted by bababooey on 07/12/14 at 10:38 AM ET

DrD's avatar

Like I said, I don’t think Babs and KH see eye to eye on this veteran stuff. I think Kenny has given Babs too much say in all this, because Babs holds more sway in the organization than most coaches otherwise would. Kenny’s being being diplomatic - he can’t say where he disagrees with Babcock, but I think this is part of the reason why Babs is going to go after this year - and the organization will ultimately be better off.

Sure Kenny has to take the ultimate blame for signing vets and he is a loyal guy, but I believe he was willing to let Cleary go the first time - and this new contract is part of the commitment he made last year due to his coach’s request. The Quincey signing will make more sense when Kindl (and Lashoff) goes and he becomes a 5-6 guy or is paired with DeKeyser.

Anyway, I am curious to see just how healthy Z, Pav, Weiss and Ericsson are this season. If those four and the team can stay healthy and Jimmy has a bounce-back season, this is a still a very good team…but the window is very, very small.

Posted by DrD on 07/12/14 at 11:09 AM ET


He signed a one-way contract with a NTC

That doesn’t matter. He can be buried in GR just like Sammy and Tootoo were last season. Sure he’ll take up salary cap space but do you really think a) anyone would claim him off of waivers or b) he has *any* trade value whatsoever?

Do I agree with the signing? Absolutely not. They should have let him go to Phily last year but it’s not the end of the world.

Signing Quincey on the other hand…

Posted by AZWinger on 07/12/14 at 11:12 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Thanks, G.  Now, it’s on Babcock to deliver a pair of quality Assistant Coaches to take with him to TC in TC.

It’s done.  This is what we’re stuck with because of Holland and his staff.  Yes, deals can still be made, but if anything, Holland’s a man of his word.  If he says he’s done for the summer, he’s done.  He’s not gonna do anything unless some earth-shattering deal is too good to resist, which I’m not even gonna try to speculate.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 07/12/14 at 11:41 AM ET

cainer4wingsglory's avatar

The Quincey signing will make more sense when Kindl (and Lashoff) goes and he becomes a 5-6 guy or is paired with DeKeyser.

So paying your 5th/6th Dman over 4 mil per season ‘makes more sense’? Don’t think so man…

Posted by cainer4wingsglory on 07/12/14 at 11:44 AM ET

Tracy from T-Town Hockey 's avatar

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care so deeply for the team and its players, but I do, and that means I’m sticking around. But hockey fandom can be like a marriage—a significant relationship full of highs and lows—and it’s not a happy marriage right now, not for me, nor for many of my fellow Wings fans

Amen to that!  I could not have said it any better.  Spot on with the way a lot of us are feeling.

Posted by Tracy from T-Town Hockey on 07/12/14 at 11:53 AM ET

von Awesome's avatar

I won’t go as far as to say “Fire Holland and the rest of the front office”, I will say that I really don’t like him anymore. I don’t trust him right now to make the moves that will help build this team into a more competitive team, but that could always change. It would help if he simply went off to one of the green fields of the billion country clubs across the tri-country area of southeastern Michigan, and worked on his golf game. Perhaps, he could reflect on this offseason of what seems to be undue panic from a team that is stacked everywhere in depth besides say goaltending.

I don’t buy into the theory that they are treading water until the new arena, because if they did, they would just let the youth movement go full bore. The Quincey signing smells like panic, the Cleary signing smells like something foul. But are either of these signings going to kill the team? No, probably not.

Am I mad that I don’t get to see the full bore youth movement that I’ve been begging for since like 2011? Abso-frickin-lutely. But I think what’s more important, is that I am really really disappointed in the attitude of Holland in relaying his explanations for what’s went down this offseason, and I am especially disappointed in Cleary’s smuggy attitude. No one owes him anything, especially not a benefit of doubt that he can “surprise” everyone.

Posted by von Awesome on 07/12/14 at 12:57 PM ET


It’s definitely possible to get whipped up into an outrage over the latest developments with the Wings. It’s part of the fun, to a point. Being a bit obsessive and over-analytical about facts and decisions, some of which it’s impossible to fully know the details of, is part of being a fan. Accepting an internet rumor about the ticket office too uncritically (maybe it was an exaggeration, maybe entirely made up, who knows) is an example of that.

But the experienced professionals and experts can delude and “outsmart” themselves as well. When a person in high places gets complacent about their accustomed way of doing business, and especially when they lose the perspective and critical counterpoints of one after another of what used to be a team of equally smart, experienced experts, who had the clout to disagree and influence decisions, things can go downhill in a hurry.

Not only has Holland lost Nill and Yzerman below him, and the incomparable Scotty Bowman as an advisor, it seems he’s also lost some of the oversight and accountability he used to have above him when Devellano and Mike Ilitch were younger and more engaged.

Sometimes the laypeople and outsiders aren’t hysterically imagining things and, for the most part, get the shape of things right.

If the experts and insiders were always right, no decision to go to war by any country in world history would have ever been unnecessary or a mistake. I don’t use that example to make any kind of political point. Just as an analogy or example of how sometimes the public, or in our case, the fans, aren’t so blinkered or invested in a particular approach or way of doing business and can actually see (at least parts of) the picture more clearly.

Posted by Lefty30 on 07/12/14 at 01:05 PM ET


The Wings enter next season with a lot of unanswered questions staring them in the face. The season will hinge on some of the nagging questions being dealt with in a positive way and I find myself truly doubting the Wings’ management team for, perhaps, the first time, especially with the re-signing of Dan Cleary.

However, more important than bringing Cleary back, is how the Wings respond this year to injuries. If the injury jinx continues, then I would submit that there is a major problem with the training approach taken by this team. Cleary will likely last for part of the season and be one of those on IR……. but will we also see the likes of Datsyuk, Z, Ericsson, Kronwall, and others spending significant time on IR?

If so, the team is going to struggle mightily to gain any traction and will likely squander leads and points as often as they did last season. That would mean another nail biter of a playoff effort but, more importantly, they would find themselves in a deep hole come playoff time…even if they make it that far.

I am annoyed and frustrated that the youth movement has not firmly taken hold but is it Kenny, or is it both him and Babs? Did Babs push for Cleary to come back?

Will Babs sit better performing youth to play Cleary and other vets? Will he play his bottom 6 guys more than the stars? Will he overlook the mistakes of some players but relegate Kindl to the dog house from Day 1?

Will he find any capable and strong-willed assistants to work with him behind the bench? Whoever it is, I hope these assistants can come up with a PP that works better…. and a breakout system that adapts itself to the personnel on the team. The Wings are still living off the fantasy that our D can play the same way they did when Lidstrom was here….. but there was only one St. Nick.

Will the Wings ever be able to make a trade that benefits both teams? Kindl is in need of a new place to call home, unless Babcock leaves next year and he can get his career going under a new coach.

Posted by NewfieWing on 07/12/14 at 01:12 PM ET


One more point:

None of us can predict with certainty what will happen over the course of the full season with Cleary.

But, please people who say Cleary is not guaranteed a roster spot: read the articles carefully.

Multiple MSM reporters have written very unambiguously that Cleary *will be on the roster*

No, that does not guarantee how many games he will play (though I’d be shocked if they didn’t find a way to at least get him his 1 million bonus). But it’s not splitting hairs to distinguish between being on the roster and in the lineup.

Cleary is getting a roster spot, at least to start the season. Both Khan and Regner have reported that very clearly. When people write that they personally still don’t think that will happen and have no special knowledge or other basis to explain why, it comes off as a basic failure of reading comprehension.

Posted by Lefty30 on 07/12/14 at 01:14 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Newfie, you got it, brother.  I really hope that the Wings health and training staff have studied the ‘13-‘14 season’s ridiculous shitpile of injuries like one would for a doctoral thesis and final exam.  That is the biggest hope I have for the ‘14-‘15 season.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 07/12/14 at 01:31 PM ET

Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit's avatar

I guess I’m in the minority, but if I had to find the best way to clear the waters and move ahead, I would say let Babs go. Bring up a guy who has proven he can work with youth and vets.

Posted by DrD on 07/12/14 at 10:13 AM ET

Yes, you’re in the minority, but, some of us(myself included) have been advocating for this for a few seasons. Ultimately it is the Coach that decides who is going to be played. He draws up the game plan. I give him his due credit for making the post season under some tough circumstances, but, he has not shown me anything for 3 seasons.

‘09 was the last time I felt we were competitive. Then there is the whole can of worms regarding not being prepared for the loss of 2 very good blueliners, and of course TPH. I find it hard to believe KH did not have a heads up on these guys leaving. Considering the character of the players involved, and of course the Loyalty thing.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 07/12/14 at 01:36 PM ET


So does the Cleary signing start to smell more and more like Babcock’s work?

Posted by brians neck on 07/12/14 at 01:54 PM ET

Rumbear's avatar

At the rate KH is going he might try to re-open the contract with Weiss and give him a raise for re-habbing well.  Strategic thinking seems to have left the building. It’s more of a bi-polar strategy…..must be loyal to the Cleary’s….LOOK! new kids!....Ohhh a right handed, left skating, swaggering, defenseman…it never ends.

This is why I never give a rat’s behind about who the Wings draft. Whoever it is will be banished to Grand Rapids for 4 years and then we might see him IF he can cut through the BS required to get a spot on the team.  In the mean time, we will hear about how [insert name here] is tearing up the Moosejaw Nutgathering Pine Cone Daffodil Conference with steller Corsi points and a fancy stick. It don’t matter a wit because ...... Dan Cleary wants to play and KH is beholden.

The whole premise of developing from within requires that the old horses get put out to pasture. Without that, the farm cannot prosper. It’s a simple concept that Tick Tock needs to embrace.

Having said that,

Let’s Go Red Wings !!!

(although where we are going remains a question)

Posted by Rumbear from Top O the Hasek, Czech out my recliner..... on 07/12/14 at 01:59 PM ET

perfection's avatar

an ode to the fair-weather fan… By George Malik

Not only will I watch every game, I CAN’T FRIGGIN WAIT. It’s hockey. It’s fun. The rest of this obsessive what-if micro-analyzing is supposed to be part of the fun. If signing some player over another suddenly makes you not like watching the game, you probably should stop. You’re obsession with rosters and the business of the NHL is bordering on unhealthy. It is what it is. We were supposed to be crappier than we were the last two years. Who knows if we’ll be better than expected this year? That’s the awesome part about sports… nothing is certain until the games are actually played. 

But I get the sense if we miraculously win the cup and Dan Cleary gets the Conn Smythe, the tone and opinions in these comments would be roughly the same - spiteful and angry. Hope some of you find the proper dosage of your meds, prescribed or otherwise, and are able to eventually just accept the roster for what it is and just enjoy watching hockey. But if not, it’s your loss I guess. Maybe Babs or Holland will leave? Maybe Zetterberg will request a trade to a “contender”? Maybe our assistant coaches ARE leaving because they can’t believe what a failure the Wings are and not because they’re being offered bigger and better opportunities? But, none of that matters once the puck drops. I will enjoy watching with this GM/Coach/Roster and I will enjoy watching with the next GM/Coach/Roster.

I too was kind of dissapointed about the “Cleary promise” when it was reported they were going to resign him oh… two weeks ago or so. By the time they actually signed him, I was long over it and had already accepted it as reality. The feigned surprise I’ve seen here the last few days has been comical. We’ve known for weeks Cleary was coming back. But any excuse to get all riled up I guess…

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 07/12/14 at 02:17 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

  —There’s no way in hell this actually happened.

  This isn’t how people in sales, let alone “the head of ticket services” perform their job. If they do decide to make a call-back to someone canceling their ticket-plan it’s to beg them to reconsider.
  Posted by alwaysaurie on 07/12/14 at 02:22 AM ET

  that supposed “email response” from someone in sales for the Red Wings is a bunch of BS, in that there is no way it was ever said.
  Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 07/12/14 at 08:55 AM ET

That is right.  No one in the Detroit Red Wings sales or public relations office, or anyone in the organ-I-zation, would say that to a fan much less go out of their way to track someone down to say that.

He did later add that they wanted to reach out and talk about renewing (paraphrasing) like any good marketing department would. But by that time it was too late and he wasn’t in the mood.

Look, I don’t know for sure if this exchange actually happened anyway. Wings employees have probably been hearing alot of “buy into the system” “Just buy into it” from the top guys for so long that they believe it to a fault. They may have been getting alot canceling that morning and, being human, maybe some in the department just got frustrated and sent it out. But the fact that myself among others don’t have to go out of the way to believe something like this could happen is problematic.

Posted by silversailer on 07/12/14 at 02:55 PM ET


SK77 im not talking about last year. Im talking about this year and if the coach is forcing the GMs hand then we have a problem.

Posted by brians neck on 07/12/14 at 03:03 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.