The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/20/12 at 04:53 AM ET
Wednesday's Red Wings player moves require something of a recap, so here it is:
- Jakub Kindl signed with HC CSOB Pojistnova Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga;
- Pavel Datsyuk signed with CSKA Moscow of the KHL;
- Valtteri Filppula signed with Jokerit Helsinki of the Finnish SM-Liiga;
- With the Red Wings' blessing, Tomas Tatar is about to sign with a Slovak team which Hokejportal.net and SITA report will remain nameless for now (there's a bit of a PR war going on, so the reports that his signing with Dukla Trencin were a done deal became, "Dude, there's no way he's signing there" while I was writing this), and he'll remain there until the AHL's regular season begins;
And back over on this side of the pond, any Wings fans who don't plan on spending this weekend in Traverse City regardless of whether the Red Wings are skating at Centre Ice Arena need to cancel your hotel reservations as the NHL canceled all preseason games, including four games' worth of paychecks for all of the part and full-time workers at Joe Louis Arena, in concessions, arena operations, security, broadcasting, guest services, you name it.
The Wings will not, however, be laying off front office staff, which is welcome news given that so many teams are laying waste to their own front offices as the NHL's owners go for a cash grab.
This morning's new content part of the entry begins with something of a personnel pickle that the Wings find themselves in:
I'd already noticed that Swiss NLA team EV Zug had stated that Damien Brunner was going to remain with them, "während der Lockout-Zeit"--or "during the lockout time"--though Zug's announcement regarding Brunner's return states that he may play for the Grand Rapids Griffins at some point in the future.
According to MLive's Ansar Khan, there's a bit of a disagreement as to whether Brunner's contract stipulates that he should play for the Griffins during the lockout, or whether he's obliged to remain at home (and somewhat ironically, Sport.ch reports that Brunner was named the Swiss National League A's most valuable player for the 2011-2012 season during Wednesday evening's NLA awards gala in Luzern [or Lucerne, depending on which language you want to spell its name in])...
Detroit Red Wings forward Damien Brunner might not be playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins during the NHL lockout, as previously planned.
Brunner might remain with his Swiss club, EV Zug, for the duration of the lockout, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
Brunner said earlier this month that he would play in Switzerland until the start of the AHL season on Oct. 12 and then join the Griffins. He said it was important to get accustomed to the North American style of hockey, with its smaller ice surfaces.
However, EV Zug, which released him from the final year of his contract so that he could sign with the Red Wings on July 1, told him it did so only to allow him to play in the NHL, not the AHL during a work stoppage. Brunner feels obligated to the Swiss team.
Holland said the plan is “up in the air'' and evolving.
And Holland confirmed as much to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
Brunner had planned to return to his team in Switzerland, EV Zug, and then return once the Grand Rapids Griffins season began and stay there until the NHL lockout ended.
He may however have to stay with his team until the lockout ends according to Wings general manager Ken Holland.
“(It’s) up in the air,” Holland said.
The sticking point seems to be that when his club released him from the final year of his contract it was under the agreement that it was to play in the NHL and not the American Hockey League.
Brunner said earlier this month that he would return to Grand Rapids at the start of the AHL season on Oct. 12. He felt it was important for him to get accustomed to the smaller ice surfaces and the North American style of hockey.
Brunner feels very obligated to the Swiss team.
As for Tatar, there are no questions as to what his priorities involve, as Holland told Khan:
"In the next 10 days there's nothing going on because AHL camps don't start until Sept. 30.'' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "He asked if he could get it going right now. He's 22 (on Dec. 1), he wants to play hockey.''
Tatar, who has two years remaining on his contract, needed the Red Wings' permission. He also needed to be exempt from waivers, which he is for one more season. He will play for HK Dukla Trencin of the Slovak Extraliga.
"You can always assign contracted players to Europe, and he doesn’t have to clear waivers,'' Holland said. "He can play in Slovakia now instead of doing nothing.''
Holland said the organization will re-evaluate the situation in three weeks.
"The plan is, when the American League season starts, he’ll come back,'' Holland said.
Tatar tweeted: "It's official. Signed for few weeks in new Slovak Team till AHL start. Huge thanks to Red Wings organization to leting me go.''
If you're an optimist, we can at least say that the Wings don't seem to hold grudges against their players' desire to play elsewhere and make some dough while they're able.
As the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted in his Datsyuk story, we should expect Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak to sign with European teams shortly--with Mursak probably signing in Slovenia--but after that, barring any insurance breakthroughs, the rest of the Wings' players are likely to remain in Metro Detroit for at least the first half of October, if not until November.
In terms of foreign-language news regarding these signings, I can tell you that I may have been wrong about Datsyuk's destination (I thought he would sign with the Ak Bars Kazan), but I was right about his character.
Datsyuk feels both patriotic pangs--see the World Championship--and sentimental leanings, and he wanted to return the favor the Ak Bars Kazan gave him in allowing him to start his pro career and being discovered by the Red Wings. Datsyuk told Sport-Express's Sergey Gavrilov, Igor Larin and Vladimir Yurin that he had hoped to play for Kazan (roughly translated)...
Question: So where are you, Pavel, and where will you play during the lockout?
Datsyuk: "Ask about the Ak Bars..."
Question: Team director Shamil Khusnutdinov clearly said that the Ak Bars have fundamentally rejected the concept of adding NHL players, explaining that he'd already built the team...
Datsyuk: "All correct. I was told the same thing. So I won't play for the Ak Bars..."
Question: What are your plans now? They say that you've got one foot in CSKA.
Datsyuk: "I can tell you one thing--at the moment, I'm not in Kazan."
Question: And so, to which option are you leaning? CSKA Moscow, Dynamo, where you played in 2005, and became a Russian champion during the previous lockout, and the best player of the playoffs, Barys Astana [in Kazakhstan], where your coach [from your first pro team] Dynamo-Energiya, Vladimir Krikunov works, as he did with the Ak Bars and the Russian National team? Or Avtomobilist in your hometown [of Yekaterinburg]?
Datsyuk: "I hope to resolve the issue over the next couple of days. I can only say one thing for sure: during the lockout, I will play in the KHL."
But Datsyuk's agent, Gary Greenstin, ended up hammering out a deal with CSKA Moscow (if you want a summary of the translation of their press release, Sergei Fedorov gushes about oil and natural gas giant Rosneft, whose money he's spending, and the concept that somehow, magically, Datsyuk and Ilya Bryzgalov playing for a KHL team will yield Olympic success in 2014--it's standard Russian PR blather), as he told Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov (again, roughly translated):
Yesterday Pavel Datsyuk signed a contract with CSKA. This Sovetsky Sport correspondent spoke to the player's agent, Gary Greenstin.
"Everything was decided on Tuesday evening. And on Wednesday, Pavel Datsyuk arrived in Yekaterinburg, where he prepared for the season, and signed a contract with CSKA," said agent Gary Greenstin. "General manager Sergei Fedorov held talks intelligently and simply, and we [worked it out] over two days."
Were you unnerved by the rumors that Datsyuk would play for Avtomobilist, or the Ak Bars?
"Absolutely not. Pasha went to the NHL from Kazan, and he wanted to play for the Ak Bars. But no one was upset when the Kazan team announced that it wouldn't invite NHL players during the lockout. No hard feelings."
Now Datsyuk receives the honor of playing for the legendary Central Red Army team. His favorite player, Valeri Kharlamov, played there. And Fedorov, who played for him for a time in Detroit.
"In general, I'm not worried about Datsyuk. He's one of the best players in teh world. He's always in demand. We don't have to bluff before choosing the right team."
Are you upset that the IIHF hasn't delivered transfer cards to Datsyuk and other NHL players yet?
"I think that time will decided in the favor of the players. The KHL should put the question squarely, and give the green light to hockey players from the NHL. They are all unemployed. The trans-Atlantic league is closed for a lockout. It's all obvous."
As reported by Sovetsky Sport, Pavel Datsyuk will play for CSKA in his customary number 13. The sweater's already hanging in the locker room. While there is no jersey for Ilya Bryzgalov, according to our information, his signing with CSKA is a done deal. The third NHL'er who will sign with the team is defenseman Anton Volchenkov. There were rurmors about Mikhail Grabovski, whose interests Greenstin also represents, but he denied those reports.
Back over on this side of the pond, and regarding the front office, it's good news, bad news, as the Free Press's Helene St. James notes:
The Red Wings aren't trimming staff because of the NHL lockout. John Hahn, senior director of communications, said Wednesday that they "don't have any plans to lay anyone off."
Al Sobotka, the team's well-known Zamboni master, "will do what he does during the off-season," Hahn said. "He'll find some building projects to do."
Many U.S.-based NHL teams have announced much the same. Canadian-based teams such as the Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets have made changes to their staff, such as going to four-day work weeks.
NHL owners locked out players Sunday, the day after the collective bargaining agreement expired.
The 2012-13 regular season hasn't yet been officially delayed. When that happens, it will start cutting into the Wings' TV money. Though teams still get the money from the national NBC contract, the Wings will not be paid by local broadcaster Fox Sports Detroit if there aren't any games to televise.
On Wednesday morning, Ted Kulfan told us that the FSD broadcast deal pays out $20 million per season, and as you and I know, Belle Tire and Amway are "presenting sponsors," so while I can tell you personally that the Wings' owners and front office despise revenue-sharing, the Wings make a ton of money actually by employing their players to play hockey games--tens of millions in profit per season--so their rubber-stamping of the owners' lockout wasn't an enthusiastic one.
Losing four home games' worth of gate receipts doesn't help, either, as the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness notes:
The NHL announced the cancellation of all preseason games through Sept. 30 due to the lockout. That wipes out four games for the Wings – two at home (Sept. 27 vs. Chicago and Sept. 30 vs. Washington) and two away (Sept. 26 at Pittsburgh and Sept. 28at Chicago).
There are still four preseason games left on Detroit’s schedule.
The season opener is at home on Oct. 12 against Nashville.
The Wings were scheduled to begin training camp in Traverse City on Friday with physicals before hitting the ice on Saturday.
Like I said, if you have a hotel reservation in Traverse City, and you're not planning on taking a lovely four, five or six-day vacation in Northwestern Lower Michigan regardless of whether the Wings are skating at Centre Ice Arena this weekend, you need to cancel your reservations and get your vacation days back from your job if that's possible. I hope that the Wings will hold training camp in Traverse City at some point, but that's simply not going to happen anytime soon.
As the Detroit News's Ted kulfan suggests, losing both the 8-team prospect tournament and main camp are devastating to Centre Ice Arena, to its volunteers, and for the city and region as a whole:
The NHL has cancelled all exhibition games through Sept. 30. That means no training camp for the Red Wings and every other NHL team, which also means a little less activity around Traverse City beginning this weekend.
I feel bad for the good folks in Traverse City. It’s the one opportunity for the avid hockey fans in that area to see the Red Wings up close in their local hockey rink, around town, and you can tell how special it is for those fans.
Centre Ice Arena is going to be quieter without the Wings next week.
Having the Wings for a week is also good for business in Traverse City, as fans around the state flock to get a look (although that number has been dwindling, it seems, through the years).
Going to Traverse City is always a nice way to get the season rolling. Much better than a lockout. I look forward to it next season.
Estimates vary from Centre Ice losing anywhere from a million bucks to $2.5 million, and it's possible that both Centre Ice, hotels and other businesses in Traverse City will lose up to $5 million in total business income thanks to this lockout, and that plain old sucks.
If we were talking about an actual Red Wings season about to start, this would probably be the thrust of my entry: Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski has boldly soldiered on with 30 NHL team previews, and on Wednesday evening, he penned a Red Wings "election year" season preview.
I'll try and give you an "election year style" selection thereof to get you in the political mood--or not (I dunno about you, but I'm finding that this election cycle, like the lockout, has reminded me about how much we Americans resent each other, at least over the last couple of days):
Senior advisors: Mike Babcock is cursed with being the best coach in the National Hockey League, so he apparently isn't eligible for the Jack Adams. But know this: Considering the Wings' adversity in their lineup, there isn't another coach you'd rather have to lead them. From the line juggling the Death Stare, Babcock's the man.
GM Ken Holland whiffed on bringing Ryan Suter to the Red Wings, and thus far hasn't suitably addressed the team's blue line. That said: He'll have well over $8 million with which to play this season, and there's no question he's one of the best at sustaining quality in the NHL.
Party Nominee (key player): [Jimmy] Howard. He's never played an NHL season without Lidstrom patrolling the blue line in front of him, and given that defense's uncertainties it'll be up to Howard to do more heavy lifting this season.
Keynote speaker (breakout star): [Gustav] Nyquist was a point per game player in the AHL and had a cup of coffee with the Wings, last year. He's 23 and there's no rushing him, but he could break into the lineup and be a factor on the power play this season thanks to fantastic passing skills.
Most Impeachable (potential bust): Damien Brunner. Who knows, right? He's a coveted unsigned European free agent. In a related story, the Wings opted not to resign Fabian Brunnstrom.
Attack Ad[Female Narrator]: "Pavel Datsyuk. The people love him. And why not? He's a socialist.
The rest is actually a helluva preview, and I love the "Campaign Slogan":
"Abdelkader, Tootoo, Colaiacovo: All Your Vowels Are Belong To Us."
In news regarding current Red Wings player personnel, most significantly, Michigan Hockey Nows's Michael Caples posted a feature article and photo gallery chronicling presumptive captain Henrik Zetterberg's recent photo and video shoot with his equipment sponsor, Warren, Michigan-based Warrior Hockey:
The Wings’ assistant captain – he is expected to take over the ‘C’ when the season begins – spent roughly four hours with the Warrior group, laughing and sharing stories between video segments. Zetterberg appeared to enjoy the entire experience, which was no surprise to Christine Knight, brand manager for Warrior Hockey.
“This is not our first time working with him, and he’s always been a really accommodating, friendly, outgoing guy any time that we’ve requested time with him,” Knight said. “You can tell he comes from kind of humble beginnings in Sweden and he comes from a small town. I think that’s the really impressive thing about him in person, really just how humble he is, not only about being one of the most recognizable NHL athletes and how he handles that, but how he plays the game, too. He really takes pride in being a two-way player, he’s not a flashy guy; on the ice he gets it done, game after game, that’s what he really takes pride in his game, which is why for us, he’s such an amazing athlete, in our hometown, and such a great match for our brand.”
Zetterberg said that he’s learned to have fun with all aspects of his job, including events like photo shoots.
“I think you have to [have fun with it], otherwise it won’t be fun,” Zetterberg said. “It’s a part of it, if you don’t do too much of it, I think you can actually enjoy it.”
As far as hockey goes, Zetterberg and the rest of the Wings decided to take a week off from working out collectively.
“Basically we took this week off, and then next week we’re back at it again,” Zetterberg said. “We’re going to skate up in Troy for a bit, and then just see what happens.”
The native of Njurunda, Sweden, said he is still considering returning to his homeland during the lockout with wife Emma Andersson, however.
“I’m staying home, we’ll see how long we’re going to stay,” Zetterberg said. “Hopefully we can find a fair deal soon, and get the season started. If not, we might go over to Europe somewhere and play.”
Zetterberg's part of the NHLPA's negotiating committee, so he's hanging around until December. If the season's canceled, he may return to Sweden, but...How do I put this delicately?
While the Free Press's Helene St. James suggested that the Wings fans have every right to worry about Pavel Datsyuk going home to Russia at the end of his current contract, Zetterberg and Andersson really are treated like the David and Victoria Beckham of Sweden when they go "home," so I would imagine that Metro Detroit remains their preferred hockey home for at least the duration of Zetterberg's playing career, if not longer.
As the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan notes, the Wings' desire to ensure that their roster will be good to go if they're not able to make any more additions after the CBA dust settles was welcome news to Carlo Colaiacovo. With a good 25+ serviceable NHL players remaining unsigned, unrestricted and not knowing whether their futures involve playing hockey, Colaiacovo is, to some extent, one of the lucky ones...
Carlo Colaiacovo can rest a little easier. Others … not so much. Colaiacovo, an unrestricted free agent last week, found a home with the Red Wings a little more than 24 hours before the NHL lockout began.
"It puts me at a peace of mind," said Colaiacovo, a defenseman who signed a two-year deal worth $5 million. "It was a long summer of uncertainty."
That uncertainty has extended into the fall — for several unsigned players like forwards Jason Arnott, Daymond Langkow and Brian Rolston (Flint), and defensemen Brett Clark and Pavel Kubina.
And, with a new collective bargaining agreement on the way — eventually? — it's going to be tougher for those guys to find jobs on rosters pretty much set.
Plus, not knowing what the salary cap will be in the new agreement is forcing teams to wait to make decisions.
"The current (unrestricted free agents) are in limbo because the first wave was signed and now everybody's waiting to see what the cap number will be," agent J.P. Barry told the Canadian Press.
But I cannot help but cringe regarding the accuracy of Kulfan's "by the numbers" portion of his "NHL Insider" column:
8 -- Red Wings exhibitions likely to be canceled because of the lockout (four were canceled Wednesday)
1,026 -- Career games played by Red Wings F Tomas Holmstrom, likely to retire once the NHL lockout ends
$3.3 -- Money, in billions, NHL officials and the players association are trying to divide
Holmstrom is highly likely to retire--eventually, and I can't begrudge the Wings for giving him all the time he needs to make his decision--And I just don't understand why the NHL has chosen to lock its players, business partners, sponsors and especially fans like you and me out given that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly insists that everything with the just-expired CBA works fine, save the amount of money the owners pay the players.
If the CBA isn't "broken," the NHL's 30-team business model "works," and teams like Phoenix, the Islanders and Panthers don't need to have their situations addressed via greater revenue-sharing, why the hell wouldn't the NHL play through it until they and the NHLPA agreed upon a new one?
Pure greed, and the fact that the "talent" that draws people to hockey rinks, paying ticket prices that have little to nothing to do with levels of player compensation, don't want to give up their income for the sake of paying to play. That's one of the many reasons I stand with the PA.
And speaking of new players hoping to turn things around, I've done my best to ignore the messy divorce between the Toronto Maple Leafs and goalie coach Francois Allaire. Allaire's really one of the progenitors of the Quebec Butterfly school of goaltending, but his desire to have all his Toronto players stand back on the goal line didn't work for several of them, including, as the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan notes, the Red Wings' new backup goaltender:
Skinny: There always were whispers that Gustavsson wasn’t overly accepting of Allaire’s teaching methods. Gustavsson was supposed to be THE guy when general manager Brian Burke won a bidding war and signed him in July 2009, but the Monster, who was tagged with that nickname before he left his native Sweden, battled health problems and didn’t live up to expectations. When Gustavsson shone during a spell last January, it was one of the few times as a Leaf he relied on his athleticism to stop the puck. He will try to rejuvenate his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings once the NHL lockout ends.
The Wings plan on having Jim Bedard and Chris Osgood bring Allaire out to the top of his crease while encouraging him to play goal as he feels most comfortable doing, and there's no denying that being able to play like himself was one of the biggest reasons that the 6'3" puck-blocker signed with the Wings.
In junior hockey news, per the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy points out that fans in each and every one of the league's 30 markets have non-NHL hockey options, including Detroit...
Detroit – Michigan Wolverines hockey is close by, as is the Ontario League’s Plymouth Whalers and the U.S. National Team Development Program, not to mention midget powerhouses such as Little Caesar’s, Belle Tire, Compuware and Honeybaked.
If you're interested, Wings prospect Andreas Athanasiou is barely mentioned in Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager's Barrie Colts preview, and there are no Wings prospects playing for the Plymouth Whalers, but the Whalers are still stacked, still can be seen for all but peanuts at Compuware Arena, and still rock, as Sager's Whalers preview suggests;
In QMJHL news, both Martin Frk's Halifax Mooseheads and Xavier Ouellet's Blainville-Boisbriand Armada have made the cut in Hockey's Future's first Top Ten CHL team rankings, and Frk, Ouellet and Phillipe Hudon's Victoriaville Tigers are profiled in Hockey's Future's Kevin Forbes' 12-13 Q season preview (albeit incredibly briefly);
The Vancouver Province's Steve Ewen believes that Wings prospect Marek Tvrdon is the 20th-best player in the WHL:
20. Marek Tvrdon, LW, Vancouver Giants: When he’s right, the 19-year-old Slovak can have opposing defenders flailing away with his patience with the puck. Tvrdon (Red Wings, fourth round, 2011) bagged 31 goals and 43 assists in 60 regular season games in 2011-12. The 6-foot-2, 217-pounder had a good chemistry last season with Brendan Gallagher, and looks to have found a connection with new Euro Ales Kilnar.
And DRW Prospects answers a question regarding a potential future "tough guy": as it turns out, the Red Wings decided that big, bruising defenseman Mark McKee should remain in the USHL for one more season before heading to college to play for Western Michigan University, and, well, he's up to his old tricks with the Lincoln Stars:
If we were talking about the NHL's regular season starting on time, and we were talking about this current team's identity as I prepared for what was supposed to be a welcome day off after the Wings' prospect tournament concluded on Wednesday night, I'd suggest that the Wings would hope to rebound from their poor playoff showing against the Nashville Predators in the same way that the 2006 Wings did after losing to Edmonton in the first around *and* dealt with the losses of Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan without blinking.
The 05-06 Wings made the Hockey News's Adam Proteau's list of the ten worst playoff disappointments in NHL history, but I would be saying something like, "We'll find out whether these Wings can remain a playoff team, if not an elite team, without Nicklas Lidstrom starting on Saturday here in Traverse City" if not for this stupid lockout...
2. The 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings: The Wings won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2005-06 by a whopping 11 points over the second-place Sens thanks to a 58-16-8 mark. But the upstart Edmonton Oilers only needed six games to dispose of them in their first-round matchup.
And finally, in the promotional vein, Angus Certified's Jeff Angus penned an absolute epic of an article discussing the trade values of the 50 best fantasy hockey players, including Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, and the latest edition of Stevie Roxelle's Biscuit Fox is out.
Update: Enjoy, ladies:
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About The Malik Report
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.