The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: on team-building, prospects, depth scoring, Kronner & olympic conspiracy
by George Malik on 12/03/13 at 03:29 AM ET
This entry's going to be "all over the place," and we're going to start with something of a bombshell that isn't necessarily a bombshell.
As the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa notes, while the NHL's newly-signed $5.2 billion TV deal with Rogers Sportsnet should be a "game-changer" in terms of raising the salary cap's upper limit to the level at which teams were spending money to build star-studded rosters prior to the salary cap--i.e. around $75-80 million and beyond, as the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle reported--the deal doesn't take effect until next season, and its trickle-down effect on the salary cap, well...
It doesn't take effect until next season (when the cap should return to at or near the $70 million mark), and as such, the cap won't really rise in a dramatic fashion until the 2015-2016 season at the earliest.
In the interim, Krupa reports that Red Wings GM Ken Holland plans on sticking with the team's current overarching operating policy, which involves drafting and developing players instead of simply attempting to fill "holes" via free agent signings:
“The history of the Detroit Red Wings has always been that we have a high payroll,” general manager Ken Holland said. “Now, I don’t necessarily associate that you’re going to have a great team with a big payroll. There have been other teams that have had big payrolls and missed the playoffs. It’s about managing the cap. It’s about drafting and developing.”
So the Wings will happily spend Mike Ilitch's money when the cap rises, but until that time--and perhaps beyond--the Wings', "Build Through the Draft" mentality will remain its driving force:
“If we’re not spending more money internally, we’re in trouble,” Holland said. “It’s got to be homegrown. At the end of the day, even those great Detroit Red Wings teams of the late ’90s and the early 2000s, the foundation was homegrown: Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, (Vladimir) Konstantinov, Chris Osgood, (Slava) Kozlov. We could go on and on and on.
“Or, you have a player like Keith Primeau who you draft in the third round and you turn around and you turn him into Brendan Shanahan,” he said. “In order to be successful, we’ve got to draft, we’ve got to develop, we’ve got to move people within our system from the draft table through Grand Rapids to Detroit.”
The Grand Rapids Griffins happen to sit second in the AHL's Western Conference with a 15-4-and-2 record over the course of 21 games played, as well as 4 games in hand over the AHL's Western Conference-leading Abbotsford Heat.
The Griffins' roster is jam-packed with Red Wings prospects, including, as the Production Line's Michael Petrella noted, a significant number of prospects whose waiver-exempt status will expire next year (Landon Ferraro, Riley Sheahan, Mitchell Callahan and Adam Almquist), and players like Petr Mrazek, Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Tomas Jurco, Calle Jarnkrok and Teemu Pulkkinen most certainly represent a significant chunk of the Red Wings' future.
In terms of the present-day Wings, the Free Press's Helene St. James, MLive's Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness all reported that Pavel Datsyuk probably won't play on Wednesday against Philadelphia (which happens to be Datsyuk boobblehead night and the first of two Toys for Tots-collecting games), with Holland telling Pleiness that he believes Datsyuk will need to participate in a full week of practices before he's ready to return.
DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson reported that Datsyuk practiced with the Wings' alumni slated to take part in the Alumni Showdown as Kris Draper opened a training camp for said players on Monday, but that's not quite the same as going full-out with one's NHL bretheren.
The beat writers did report that Todd Bertuzzi may return from his shoulder injury on Wednesday or for one of the Wings' "Weekend games" against the Devils on Friday the 6th (in New Jersey) or Florida on Saturday the 7th (at home), but in the interim, the main topic of today's pair of off-day news posts involved the Wings' responses to the absences of Datsyuk and Bertuzzi with strong secondary scoring.
The Free Press's Helene St. James focused on that particular aspect of the Wings' play during their 4-game winning streak in her feature story for this morning...
The Wings used Monday as a day of rest, with the next game Wednesday against the surging Philadelphia Flyers. Pavel Datsyuk isn’t expected to play that night, general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press, because Datsyuk hasn’t practiced in nearly a week. Todd Bertuzzi, who has a bruised shoulder, likely will be ready Wednesday; if not, then by the weekend.
Datsyuk didn’t join the team for its post-Thanksgiving trip to the New York Islanders and Ottawa. He hasn’t played since suffering a concussion Nov. 23.
The Wings will be all the better when they get back their most creative player, but they’ve made do quite nicely without him. They outscored the Sabres, Bruins, Islanders and Senators by a combined 18-4. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall had so good a three-game stretch — a goal and five assists — that he earned NHL second star of the week honors.
Among the encouraging trends to come out of this winning stretch is that it has come without reliance on Datsyuk, nor much on Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg did not have any points the past two games. Johan Franzen, seemingly awake after an autum hibernation, has seven points in four games. Daniel Alfredsson, back from a sore groin, also has three goals among his seven points during the same stretch.
Darren Helm is scoring. So is Drew Miller. Tomas Tatar is either scoring or a threat to score. Jonas Gustavsson and Jimmy Howard are doing a nice job tag-teaming in net. Defenseman Brendan Smith has taken huge strides over the past few weeks.
And the fact that Niklas Kronwall was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week for a six-points-in-three-games performance, and the Detroit News's Krupa pointed out that Kronwall's currently on pace for a 60-point season.
I'm going to re-post his interivew on The Fan 590 because a) he was particularly forthright and b) as soon as he hung up, Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos made quite the dick move in stating that Kronwall isn't a real #1 defenseman, and that finding a #1 defenseman is what Ken Holland needs to do (again, I'd be fine with seeing the Wings go after Alex Edler, who's struggling like nobody's business in Vancouver)...
And Kronwall appeared on NHL Live on Wednesday evening as well:
In news regarding national teams participating in championship tournaments this year, both Junior and Olympic:
How much pressure do Anthony Mantha (the QMJHL's third star of the week) and Jake Paterson face after being named to the Canadian World Junior Selection Camp roster ahead of the World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden?
As much pressure as one can possibly face as an 18-to-20-year-old prospect who's not playing NHL hockey.
The National Post's Michael Traikos, the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan (twice), Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager (twice), NHL.com and two of its correspondents in Apron Basu and Jon Lane, TSN, the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle and the Canadian Press all weighed in on the Canadians roster, Sportsnet posted a pair of videos discussing the roster, TSN, which is airing the tournament, posted a sum total of nine videos discussing every position, including a pair of videos analyzing the goaltending (the TSN "Insiders" believe that Zach Fucale, a Montreal Canadiens prospect, will get the nod over Paterson) and the forwards, and TSN's Bob McKenzie also appeared on the NHL Live to address the roster.
The Ottawa Sun's Chris Stevenson argues that Zach Fucale and Jake Paterson face the most pressure of any of the 25 players invited to the camp:
Bring your combination Teflon-Kevlar underwear to Malmo. Fucale and Paterson will be Canada’s goaltenders at the world junior championship in Sweden and they’ll be tasked with giving Canada the big-game goaltending that has been elusive since Canada’s string of five-straight gold medals ended four years ago.
Canada hasn’t won gold since and we’ve seen our results backsliding from silvers in 2010 and ’11 to bronze in 2012 to out of the medals last year.
Given that and the hand-wringing going into this NHL season over who would be in net for Canada at the Olympics, you would have thought we didn’t have anybody in this country who could stop a puck.
Some people might look around the NHL and think the rest of the world has zoomed by us when it comes to producing goaltending talent.
But Sean Burke, the Phoenix Coyotes assistant general manager and goaltending coach, who is also part of Hockey Canada’s revamped management team to oversee the Program of Excellence, looked at the issue from the other end.
“I don’t think we’re any less good at developing,” Burke said. “I just think the other countries have done a good job of catching up. There was a time if Canada was going to put together a team for an international tournament they could have iced two Canadian teams and had three goaltenders on each team that were capable of winning. Now you have more European goalies in the league, the U.S. has developed some really good goaltenders. I just think the competition has gotten a lot stiffer. I don’t think Canada has lagged behind ... I just think some of the other countries, which maybe it used to be their weakness, it’s no longer their weakness.”
When asked about Fucale, the Montreal Canadiens prospect and Memorial Cup winner with the Halifax Mooseheads, Burke said: “He’s one of those players who gives your team confidence. I think you can ask anybody who plays with him or plays against him and he has a presence about him. He’s had a lot of success. He’s proven to be a winner at different levels. All the things that I saw about him make you very confident with a goaltender like that.”
For the record, both Mantha (who has 62 points in 28 games, which leads the QMJHL in scoring) and his nearest scoring threat in terms of the Q's scoring championship race, Jonathan Drouin (who has 47 points in 21 games) will both play for Canada, so that race shouldn't change due to Mantha's 2-and-change-week absence from the Val-d'Or Foreurs.
While we're talking about prospects, Hockey's Future's Adam Schnepp penned a fine assessment of the Wings' best major junior hockey-playing players...
And in the participatory prospect department:
In terms of Olympic news, Mike Babcock told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun that he was very happy that the IIHF chose to move the final roster-naming date for all Olympic teams to January 7th...
The Free Press's Helene St. James Tweeted the following...
And I've never, ever seen as much paranoia regarding the Olympics as I have from the Russian press. Ahead of the "perfect games" in Sochi, ANY sort of NHL-related news which may negatively affect the team's roster is treated like a direct attack on Russia's Olympic integrity.
YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW what the Russian media has said about Semyon Varlamov's domestic violence case. Sport-Express's Igor Larin has deemed the IIHF's decision to name a mostly American and Canadian set of referees to the Olympic games a cruel case of discrimination.
Now, Championat reports that a prominent Russian hockey agent has told the ITAR-TASS news agency (which is the Russian equivalent of the Associated Press) that Jared Cowen's elbow on Pavel Datsyuk was a CANADIAN MESSAGE SENT to WARN Russian players that they're "fair game" to be knocked out of the Olympics by other NHL players.
What follows is plain Google-Translated, garbled Russian, and given the story, it doesn't really need to make any logical sense to begin with:
Famous hockey agent Alexei Dementiev expressed his opinion about the fact that the defender of "Ottawa" Jared Cowen in a match of the regular season NHL forward caused injury, "Detroit" Pavel Datsyuk. Experts believe that this incident may become a silent signal to beat Russian players on the eve of the Olympic Games in Sochi.
"It was an obvious blow to the head. In my opinion, this is an obvious serious violation that goes unpunished, and subsequently was characterized Mr. Brendan Shenehan as" an accident. "It bothers me that this episode may wittingly or unwittingly serve as a signal to other NHL players - you can with impunity attack and beat the leaders of the Russian national team before the Olympics: Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin, Vladimir Tarasenko.
I would not in any way connected with this episode NHL, which is interested in the successful performance of its best players, with which I listed the Russian masters are in their clubs. Itself League, Gary Bettman and the rest of his colleagues, and Ken Holland in "Detroit" interested to Datsyuk was healthy and of great benefit to his club and the entire NHL. But looking at the reaction of the disciplinary committee and its leader Shenehana, I can not exclude its emotional decisions in matters related to the attacks on the leaders of the Russian Olympic team. I seriously believe that it may become a silent signal to beat our players on the eve of Sochi "- quoted Dementieva ITAR-TASS.
[sarcasm in all capitals] DAMN YOU KEN HOLLAND FOR WILLFULLY WANTING YOUR PLAYER TO BE CONCUSSED! [/sarcasm in all capitals]
Darren McCarty's book tour begins today (promoting his memoir, My Last Fight: The True Story of a Hockey Rock Star) at the Barnes & Noble in Allen Park, and McCarty spoke to Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Drew Lane for FORTY minutes on Monday afternoon. WXYZ's Tom Leyden reports that he'll be speaking with McCarty today:
In the "stuff I can't quite categorize" department...
1. The Score's Justin Bourne noted that the Wings exploited the heck out of the Senators' line changes en route to Sunday's 4-2 win;
2. This is pretty cool, per Riley Manufacturing:
It’s less than a month to go before the Alumni Showdown between the Leafs and the Red Wings for The 2013 SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival. In conjunction with the Winter Classic, which will see the current roster of Leafs play the Red Wings at Michigan Stadium on January 1st, the Alumni Showdown is set to be played at Comerica Park.
In what looks like an authentic winter setting, the picture below shows day one of the dasher board install by Riley Manufacturing for the Winter Festival. Let’s hope for this kind of snow for the duration of the Festival!
Image via Riley Manufacturing
3. "Up North," Northwest Michigan's Second Wave's Sam Eggleston reports that Centre Ice Arena, home of the Red Wings' summer development camp, prospect tournament and main training camp, has named a new marketing director...
Centre ICE, the organization that runs the Centre Ice Arena and Howe Arena in Traverse City, has hired a new marketing director.
Tricia Frey comes to the job with plenty of experience in the right places. She's formerly an ad sales representative for the Detroit Red Wings training camp and for the NHL prospect tournament. She's also been a marketing and ad rep for Centre ICE and Howe Arena, and now will take on the title of marketing director.
"It's time for Centre ICE to expand our public relations and marketing efforts to include elevated community and regional networking, social media and greater promotion of all the activities, events, opportunities and user groups that make Centre ICE what it is," says Terry Marchand, executive director for Centre ICE "I've been pleased with Tricia's sales efforts in the past and having her on board in the capacity of marketing director feels like a perfect fit."
4. If you happen to find yourself in Muskegon, MI on January 11th, the Muskegon Chronicle's Mark Opfermann reports that the Red Wings Alumni Association team will play against a Muskegon Lumberjacks team whose ranks will include John Vanbiesbrouck, Dave Van Drunen, Robin Bouchard and Kory Karlander;
And finally, Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski posted a video in which a certain hockey team from Chicago performs a rendition of "All I Want For Christmas Is You."
The team happens to be the Chicago Gay Hockey Association's competitive adult league team, and the player wearing #7 in the video, who happens to be the team's captain and the board's president--wearing a really nice pair of Robert Lang model Reebok hockey gloves that are actually Reebok-branded Koho 4470 gloves--and his name is Andrew Sobotka, son of Wings facilities manager Al Sobotka.
I happened to peruse the player profiles of a team whose ranks include people of all sexual orientations and genders, and I discovered one overriding theme: they have very good taste in hockey teams, because the majority of the team is constituted of the most important "demographic" of all--Red Wings fans.
The video's hilarious and surprisingly well-sung:
Any difference that can separate a human being from another human being--gender, race, ethnicity, religion, ability or disability, sexuality, socioeconomic status, whatever--does not make a Red Wings fan anything less than a member of our hockey family.
As my father liked to say, "There are only two kinds of people: good people and assholes. Don't be an *#$%@&."
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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.