The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/11/14 at 02:03 AM ET
Warning, warning, this entry includes a clearly-visible four-letter word!
The general manager, in the last year of his contract, made a "loyalty-based" re-signing so unpopular that it caused me to lose my pretend cool. The coach, who is in the last year of his contract, is losing both of his assistant coaches, albeit with the support of both the head coach and management.
Some folks are wondering who's minding the store, who's in charge here (Chris Ilitch and Tom Wilson; as for the management, it appears that Kris Draper and Ken Holland have filled Jim Nill's role[s]), and whether we're witnessing the end of the general manager or coach's regime, with the same speculatory vein wondering whether the organization's going to tread water until the new rink's completed in 2016(?).
I have no idea whether the personnel shuffles in the front office have anything to do with the unpopular moves made over the past two summers and autumns, and I frankly don't know if a potential ownership-in-flux situation is another one of those, "UFA-no-want-to-sign-here" bugaboos, but I do know that the Red Wings' decision to re-sign Daniel Cleary for loyalty's sake makes little to no sense in terms of furthering the careers of the productive players who "stole" his job.
And for what it's worth, it appears that Cleary was inked to a 1-way deal worth $1.5 million in salary and $1 million in deferred bonuses, but the good news is that he's 35 until December, so if he supposedly loses his roster spot and if he were to retire, his cap hit would go bye bye, though I believe that the Wings would get all of $575K in cap relief if he doesn't make the team and keeps playing, though Capgeek reports that Cleary's deal includes a no-trade clause.
Anyway, if you're not in the mood to read my reaction piece regarding #71's(? Hey, while we're at it, will he steal Alfredsson's #11 or Sheahan's #15?) re-signing, CBS Sports' Chris Peters provides a fantastic outside and emotionally detached perspective on the deal:
To be quite frank, it's a puzzling contract for a player that has tailed off dramatically since his career year in 2010-11. It seems tough to justify at this point considering that it's hard to see where Cleary fits as the litany of young players who have been developing in Grand Rapids in the AHL should be getting more opportunities.
The 35-year-old's best days are behind him, but the Red Wings will probably only need him in spot duty as younger players look to make a bigger impact next season. He'll be back for his 10th campaign after a rather dismal 2013-14 in which he appeared in just 52 games and registered only eight points. The former 13th overall pick has 385 points in 921 career NHL games.
Cleary, as you may recall, had a deal in place to leave the Red Wings last summer on a reported three-year, $7.75 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. He reportedly agreed to the deal, but just before the season had a change of heart and re-signed with the Red Wings.
Detroit has plenty of space under the salary cap, though do have important deals to get done with restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar, while it's also likely that Daniel Alfredsson will return on another short-term deal with the club if he decides to keep playing. That will give them a bit less wiggle room as the season approaches.
The Red Wings sure do like staying loyal to their long-time players and there's something to be admired about that. However, with such promising young guys coming up and deserving more ice time led by the likes of Tatar, Tomas Jurco , Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan, it might be time to show loyalty to the future instead of the past.
With players like Landon Ferraro and Mitch Callahan out of waiver options, Jurco the only member of the above-listed quartet who needs no waivers to head to Grand Rapids, Anthony Mantha "knocking on the door," and Daniel Alfredsson having at least tied for the team lead in scoring, I read this from MLive's Ansar Khan and scratch my head:
The Red Wings now have 14 forwards, including Tomas Tatar, a restricted free agent who will be signed this summer. Tomas Jurco is the only one of the group who is exempt from waivers and can be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Holland said they will start the season with 14 forwards. They will decide before training camp whether to re-sign Daniel Alfredsson. Both sides are waiting to see how the 41-year-old's troublesome back holds up later this summer.
Of course the certain journalist who was ahead of the curve on the oh-too-conveniently-timed, just-post-free-agency-strikeout "The Wings are doomed if they don't trade for Tyler Myers or Mike Green RIGHT NOW!" rumors (remember the 700 or so comments y'all made while the summer development camp was going on because it was more fun to play armchair GM? Good times...) posted these Tweets...
And added this...
Cleary told the Free Press, "I"m happy for the opportunity to come back and play. I'm putting in a lot of effort to get ready and have a bounce-back year."
General manager Ken Holland said the decision, "has more to do with last year. My program has been one of loyalty, and there's good things and bad things that go with that. Way more good, in my opinion. I reached out to a lot of people before signing Dan, and he's very popular in our organization and with our on-ice leaders."
On the surface, it seems incongruent for a team that, with Tomas Tatar and Daniel Alfredsson still to be signed, already had a dozen forwards under NHL contracts. Cleary, 35, had eight points in 52 games last season, and had become a healthy scratch by late January.
The answer lies in loyalty, and in untangling a web of agreements from last September. After rejecting contract offers from the Wings – his team since 2005 – in June of 2013, Cleary verbally agreed to a three-year, $8.25 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. A day before training camp, Cleary flew to Traverse City and met at the airport with Holland and head coach Mike Babcock.
Babcock pushed hard for Cleary's return, leading to a one-year deal at $1.75 million. Along with that came with a verbal agreement the Wings would take care of Cleary this summer.
"He had a tough year, but we're hoping he's going to bounce back," Holland said. "We've had luck with players with heart and determination."
Later in the evening, MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Cleary...
"Super-happy to be back," Cleary said Thursday. "Last year was a tough year. Overall disappointment. It's going to take hard work and dedication. That's my goal. I'm confident."
He is encouraged with how his knee responded this week when he began skating for the first time in three months.
My knee has been bad for three years, a lot of wear and tear," Cleary said. "Hard a rough start (last season), then had a reaction to the Synvisc (lubricant injection) and it got blown up and swollen and the season's over. It's a lot stronger, a lot better."
(Ah, yes, Synvisc, the partially-synthetic-sort-of-organic stuff they inject into the knees of people who have osteoarthritis and generally degenerative issues that might eventually require resurfacing of the knee joint or knee replacement. Totally not a big deal, ask Tomas Holmstrom)
Who suggests that he is not a guaranteed Wing...
"It's a competition," Cleary said. "I'm going to go in with an open mind, work hard on and off the ice and see where the chips fall. If I'm strong and healthy, things will work out."
Who had this to say about people like you and me:
"Everybody is entitled to their opinion," Cleary said. "You try not to let any of the negativity – or the positive comments – affect you. We live in the day of social media; anyone can say anything. You can't worry about what people think. You got to do what you do."
He's here. He's just as cocky as ever. We've got to get used to it, I suppose...
Let me share my feelings on your re-signing given my status as a stupid internet jerk!
Meanwhile, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness remembered the good times...
Cleary spurned a professional tryout from the Philadelphia Flyers and wound up signing a one-year deal to return to the Wings for $1.75 million on the eve of training camp.
He also shot down a report that he was offered a three-year deal worth $2.75 million a season to join the Flyers.
Signing Cleary put the Wings three players over the roster limit and just over $2 million over the salary cap and meant Gustav Nyquist would begin the season in Grand Rapids, which didn’t sit well with Wings fans.
Nyquist was the only forward that, at the time, didn’t have to clear waivers and be exposed for other teams to scoop up before being sent down to the minors.
Nyquist wound up with 48 points (28 goals, 20 assists) in just 57 games.
Tomas Jurco might want to brush up on this meme...
Meanwhile, two hours after the Cleary signing, Jurco Tweeted this...
And maybe the Griffins are just trolling us:
While we're playing "let's crush some dreams!" except in the "good news" vein, Comcast Sportsnet Northeast's Joe Haggerty reports the following regarding the Boston Bruins' cap issues:
There have been some twitter murmuring of a Johnny Boychuk-for-Tomas Jurco swap between the Bruins and Red Wings, but there have been no indications that the divisional rivals would be willing to help each other out.
While we're talking about prospects possibly losing their jobs by default or playing for Grand Rapids, this gentleman will face the same waiver issues that Mitch Callahan or Landon Ferraro will probably face (and yeah, I guess Mantha making the team out of camp or Pulkkinen making the team out of camp are even that much less likely now, woot)...
But Tom McCollum earned his $100,000 AHL salary and any potential chunk of the $600,000 at-the-NHL-level bucks he might earn.
In Griffins-specific news, the AHL's Board of Governors held their meetings in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where Ryan Martin represented the Griffins, and while you might not be interested in the Griffins' award for "ticket sales and digital media excellence," the AHL's Board of Governors approved some intriguing rule tweaks:
Rule 85 (“Overtime”): During the regular season, the sudden-death overtime period will be seven minutes (7:00) in length, preceded by a “dry scrape” of the entire ice surface.
Teams will change ends at the start of overtime.
Full playing strength will be 4-on-4 until the first whistle following three minutes of play (4:00 remaining), at which time full strength will be reduced to 3-on-3 for the duration of the overtime period.
If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.
This couldn't possibly have anything to do with Ken Holland's desire to extend overtime, or 8 NHL teams watching the concept at work at last fall's prospect tournament, could it?
Regarding shootouts, the AHL previously employed 5-player shootouts, which strikes me as slightly more equitable if you're going to decide games by skills competitions, but I guess they're going with a little streamlining to make up for the longer OT's.
Rule 20.4 (“Major Penalties): An automatic game misconduct will be applied to any player who has been assessed two major penalties for fighting or three major penalties for any infraction in the same game.
The major penalty issue involves the fact that many AHL teams tend to employ a dedicated enforcer. Or two.
This rule definitely seems experimental, and it mirrors the IIHF's rule regarding players playing without helmets:
Rule 9.6 (“Helmets”): A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play will be assessed a minor penalty unless he immediately (a) exits the playing surface or (b) puts the helmet back on with the chin strap properly fastened.
The Canadian Press asked AHL commissioner David Andrews to clarify the overtime rule change:
The American Hockey League will experiment next season with seven-minute overtime in the regular season, with 3-on-3 beginning at the first whistle beyond three minutes, the league announced Thursday. That means there could be as many as four minutes of 3-on-3 overtime.
AHL president and CEO David Andrews said his league had roughly 16 per cent of its games go to overtime, and the hope was that these rule changes would reduce that. At the same time, it's a preview for NHL front offices.
"Clearly the hockey folks on our board and our competition committee, which is made up of NHL assistant general managers and AHL general managers, thought that this would be a way to make the overtime even more compelling and hopefully reduce the number of shootouts," Andrews said in a phone interview. "They felt that they'd like to see it in the American League."
If successful in reducing shootouts, the rule could make its way to the NHL. The league is implementing two smaller changes next season, with teams switching ends and the ice getting a dry scrape before OT. The AHL will also do the dry scrape and long line change for regular-season overtimes.
"I think our coaches and players and general managers still feel that they would rather see the game settled in something other than a shootout," Andrews said. "I think this overtime rule that we're bringing in this year attempts to do that. I think our hockey people believe, and I certainly agree with them, that going to a 3-on-3 is going to become a very entertaining way to try to finish the game for our fans and should lead to a lot of excitement."
Actually, if there are points on the line, it can turn into a ridiculous case of trap-trap-trap, dump-and-not-chase hockey, except that it looks like kids are playing it when it's 3-on-3, but nobody mentions that part.
Regarding players who took part in the Wings' summer development camp who will probably play for the Griffins or Toledo Walleye this upcoming season, the Red Wings posted a video which accompanies Bill Roose's "Red Wings firsts" article about Ryan Sproul by profiling...Ryan Sproul...in the words of Holland, Martin, Jiri Fischer and Sproul himself...
MLive's Brendan Savage discussed his summer development camp observations with Fox Sports Detroit's Art Renger, who filled in for WDFN's Matt Sheppard, on Thursday morning...
Hooked on Hockey Magazine's Kevin Sporka spoke with Jared Coreau...
HOHM: “Last development camp, obviously you weren’t able to take part in all the drills. This time, you’re healthy and taking part in everything. Just kind of describe what it’s like to be a part of the camp.”
Coreau: “Just participating in everything, that’s awesome. But also, just being around the guys more, because last year, I’d see them in the dressing room, and then I’d go out and do the goalie skate. Then when practice would start, I would come in, get undressed by myself…So it’s the comradery too. I get to see everyone more and be around the guys more. So that’s the big thing.”
HOHM: “What do you hope to take away from the weekend?”
Coreau: “Well, this weekend here, just listening to the coaches, goalie coaches specifically. Anything they can give me that they think I still need to improve on for next season, and just keep a mental note, keep it in the back of my head, and any time I get on the ice, work on those specific things, and just show them what I’ve improved on from the end of the season until now.”
And I can't embed it, but the CTV Northern Ontario profiled Tyler Bertuzzi in a video that reminds us that both Tyler Bertuzzi and Zach Nastasiuk will attend Team Canada's World Junior summer camp in Montreal from August 3rd to 8th (Dylan Larkin will take part in the U.S. World Junior Evaluation camp in Lake Placid, NY from August 2nd to 7th, and Axel Holmstrom will represent Sweden as a visiting team member as Team USA will ice a pair of teams against WJC hopefuls from Finland and Sweden).
In terms of the try-outs, Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski profiled David Johnstone, who didn't stand out, but maybe he was a little intimidated...
The Grand Ledge native skated in last weekend’s Detroit Red Wings development camp, hosted by Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City.
“They’re my favorite team, so it’s an honor,” he said.
The Michigan Tech soon-to-be senior forward was invited to camp by the club as a free agent. He said the moment was a “lifelong dream.”
“I feel good. There are a lot of great players here, just trying to get the rust off because some of us haven’t really skated in a while.”
Johnstone came into development camp after enjoying another fine offensive season with the Huskies.
“Throughout the season you get better and better and here we’re only with each other for a week so we haven’t hit our best stride yet,” the 5-foot-11 forward said. “You try to get some chemistry going as quick as you can because you want to make an impact right away.”
And finally, Red Wings TV posted a video in which the first fans in line for training camp tickets, Perry and Jeanette Rusnell, explain why they do what they do every year--and why Centre Ice Arena still holds in-person and fax ticket sales instead of placing tickets on Ticketmaster (see: they value their "repeat customers"). The Hockey Writers' Zachary Landers and some compulsive typist make cameos in the video:
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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.