The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/06/13 at 02:02 AM ET
Okay, one more time. On Friday:
- The Red Wings signed Daniel Alfredsson to a 1-year, $3.5 million deal with another $2 million in attainable over-35 performance bonuses, and Bryan Murray brought out his phone records as tangible evidence of...Well, a relationship that clearly went sour;
- As the Red Wings are now in a division with the Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, perhaps Valtteri Filppula found it fitting to sign a 5-year, $25-million deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning after the Wings signed his replacement, Stephen Weiss, to a 5-year deal that will pay Weiss $500,000 less than Filppula over the life of the contract (i.e. it's a $4.9 million cap hit);
- Ken Holland stated that he'd been informed that Damien Brunner was leaving for greener pastures, but attempted to retain Daniel Cleary into the evening, with no result (neither player found employment on July 1st);
- Somewhere in the middle, during the Alfredsson presser, Holland both admitted that the Wings will need to move some bodies to get under the 23-man roster limit and to retain the services of restricted free agents Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist with all of $2.307 million of Capgeek-estimated space remaining (Alfredsson's $2 million in bonuses included; they can be deferred to next year's cap) and another $6.43 million to spend under the summer cap, which the Wings can exceed by 10%...
- And Holland delivered promising news regarding Darren Helm's recovery from his back ailments...
- Given that he's one of the players who will participate in the Red Wings' summer development camp from Wednesday, July 10th to Monday, July 15th in Traverse City, MI--with the Left Wing Lock revealing the roster for said camp;
- And finally, said camp will also involve Luke Glendening, who the Wings signed to a one-year, 2-way contract (while fellow AHL-only-contracted prospect Chad Billins signed with Calgary).
Excluding the fact that the Ottawa Senators snagged Bobby Ryan in an expensive trade, and excluding the fact that Daniel Alfredsson happens to be my favorite non-Red Wings skater...
Are the Red Wings really a better team having essentially swapped out Filppula for Weiss, and Brunner for Alfredsson? Or, if we may go a step further, probably swapping out Cleary for Tatar?
According to Sportsnet's Michael Grange, Alfredsson pulled out the biggest defection since Brett Farve left the Green Bay Packers, tarnishing his legacy forever, and while Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshyski may no hate the Wings, he certainly doesn't like them, and he suggests that Alfredsson picked the wrong team because the Wings' defense remains a work in progress.
Are the Wings worth it?
I don't know. I don't know if they're truly better, or whether Scott Burnside's suggestion that the Wings are "going in a circle" is more accurate.
Much of the equation obviously depends on whether Andersson and Nyquist can prove themselves to be as invaluable over an 82-game season as they were when employed as injury replacements, whether Tatar can live up to both his and his employer's expectations...
And there's no doubt that the Wings, barring a trade between now and February of 2014, have a defense whose players not named Kronwall or Ericsson must step up in a big way. Without continued growth from the recently re-signed Jakub Kindl, the promising Danny DeKeyser and the error-prone adventure that was tossing Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith over the boards. Brian Lashoff's in the mix there, too, and the Wings don't exactly have the assets to toss at an Alex Edler without putting a decent-sized dent in the future they're supposed to be trying to protect, so it is cross your fingers and hope for the best to some extent.
The Red Wings clearly believe that Weiss, recovering from wrist surgery included, brings more grit, jam and effort to the table, and they clearly believe that Alfredsson isn't washed up despite the fact that he's going to turn 41 in December.
As Holland told NHL.com's Dan Rosen, even with Brunner, Filppula and probably Cleary exiting, the Wings feel that they'll have more offensive pop..
"We wanted to get more scoring to our team. I felt we were challenged last year to score some goals," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "Daniel has been a tremendous scorer, one of the great scorers in the National Hockey League. Stephen Weiss has been one of the tremendous playmakers down in Florida. We're adding a playmaker and a scorer, and I think Daniel can also make plays and Stephen can score some goals."
And Wings coach Mike Babcock told Rosen that the pair give him more flexibility:
"What I look at is we'll be able to have multiple combinations, and that's very important," Babcock told NHL.com.
In addition to line combinations, Babcock is thrilled to have Alfredsson in the mix for three reasons:
"No. 1, he's smart, a real high hockey IQ," Babcock said. "The second thing that comes to mind with me is competitive; he's ultra-competitive and in the big games he lifts his game. He's just been one of those guys. The third thing I think of is right-handed shot. We need one badly."
"The other thing he's going to do is make the coaching staff better," Babcock said of Alfredsson. "He's a guy who is going to have an opinion. He's been around a long time, and when you ask him a question, he's going to give you an answer. I'm ecstatic for our team. To be honest with you, I learned a lot from Nick and [Zetterberg] and [Pavel] and [Shanahan] and Yzerman and [Chelios] and [Dominik] Hasek over the years. Why not have another one?"
And, regarding Weiss?
"[Filppula] is a great player, a good two-way player, we just think Weiss gives us more offense," Babcock said. "That's what the [NHL] Guide and Record book says and that's what I look at. Over a period of time it doesn't lie."
"We really believe putting him into a winning environment with great players and an ultra-competitive demand that it's going to make him a better player," Babcock said. "It will also help our guys and we'll be able to generate two lines, plus I can play [Datsyuk and Zetterberg] together way more, which I'd like to do."
Quoth the GM:
"We have a lot of pieces here," Holland said. "I feel good about our nucleus. I feel good that Pavel Datsyuk re-upped for three more years, so we have Pavel for four more years. We believe we have a tremendous goaltender in Jimmy Howard. With the additions of Alfie and Stephen Weiss, we think we'll be a lot deeper up front."
Or, as Babcock put it in another interview with Rosen:
Babcock told NHL.com he spoke with Alfredsson on Thursday and got the sense Detroit was the front-runner. The coach said he thinks the change in organizations will invigorate Alfredsson.
"The thing about leadership ability is when you're Alfie's age and you go to a new situation, put yourself out there, you bring your leadership skills, you bring your competitiveness, but also it's new because you haven't been with them and it's the change," Babcock said. "All those things are exhilarating. He's going to make our team way better."
Babcock also mentioned how Alfredsson has three boys are who into hockey, "and Detroit is an unbelievable spot for hockey development for young guys."
I'm not going to cover the Alfredsson-Senators divorce in too much detail, because I don't want to dwell upon what it must be like for a division rival to essentially watch Nicklas Lidstrom pull a Hossa and say, "Yeah, you guys are great, but I think your division rival's going to win now." That's unimaginably painful, and that's the reality Senators fans are dealing with.
As previously noted, the Ottawa Citizen posted the audio of the combined Alfredsson and Weiss conference call...
But I'll allow you to watch Senators GM Bryan Murray's response on your own. I thought it was much more vicious than most readers did, but that's my opinion.
As Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika suggests, there's no doubt that we ended up witnessing an ugly divorce play out, and the words were "sharp" on both sides (this is obviously a small chunk of yet another must-read Cotsonika column), let's put it that way:
Murray came to his press conference with dates written on a sheet of paper, prepared for the PR battle. He said he met with Alfredsson before his captain went home to Sweden, giving him time and space to make a decision on retirement. He told Alfredsson about the potential Ryan trade. He met with Alfredsson’s agent, J.P. Barry, on Saturday and that was “the one and only time money was talked about.” Barry made one- and two-year proposals.
“One of the numbers that was at me, I said, ‘That’s not really the number we can go to. It’s not a fair number, I don’t think,’ ” Murray said. “In turn, I made a different proposal, and he said he would take it to Alfie.”
Don’t want to make too much out of it, but here that is again: Murray not only rejected Barry’s number, he said it was unfair.
Now here’s Alfredsson:
“I felt a week ago that I was not going to go anywhere,” Alfredsson said. “If I was playing, I was playing in Ottawa. And then our negotiations went a few days, and I just started thinking.”
Murray said he talked to Barry on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. The Senators have an internal budget of reportedly $50 million, below the 2013-14 salary cap of $64.3 million, but Murray said owner Eugene Melnyk was willing to add Ryan’s $5.1 million cap hit and write Alfredsson a blank check. Melnyk told him: “Spend whatever it is and get Alfie done.”
“I was convinced that it was a matter of one phone call,” Murray said. “[Barry] called me the one day and said, ‘Tell me your best price, Bryan.’ And I said, ‘That’s not the way to negotiate this deal. The way to negotiate this deal is, ask Alfie what it’s going to take to play in Ottawa. Tell me the number, and we’ll get a deal done.’ That was my statement to him, and I never heard back.”
The Globe and Mail's James Gordon and Roy MacGregor pondered the move and its politics; the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy assured Senators fans that the Ryan trade evened things out and then some; the Canadian Press posited both a statement from Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and reaction from Alfredsson's former teammates; the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch discussed Murray's rough day, the Ryan trade, former Senators goalie Ron Tugnutt pondered what Alfredsson was thinking, as did Tim Baines, and while Chris Stevenson took in the spectacle with some Drew Sharp-style glee, Garrioch both relayed Murray's timeline and got down to brass tacks, saying that, at the draft, a week after Alfredsson announced that he was returning, the Senators' former captain felt that he was lowballed in a meeting between Murray and J.P. Barry, Alfredsson's agent:
A 45-minute meeting between the two sides may have been the beginning of the end for Alfredsson in Ottawa. It's believed during the session, the two sides exchanged ideas about numbers. The Senators were in the $4-million range on a one-year deal, while Alfredsson's camp wanted a two-year contract at $6 million per season.
The reasoning? Alfredsson felt he'd get that much on the open market. Though Murray didn't disagree, the Senators wanted him to return on a one-year deal. That was the first hurdle the two sides had to climb to get a contract done.
The word is Alfredsson wasn't thrilled with the initial meeting. He had played out the contract for $1 million when he had really wanted an extension last summer and didn't like what Barry heard from Murray in the meeting.
And then came that "wining and dining" period:
When teams were given the two-day window to speak with players, Barry entered talks with six teams, including Detroit, Boston, Montreal and San Jose. Only Red Wings GM Ken Holland and Boston GM Peter Chiarelli actually spoke with Alfredsson. He asked both general managers about schools, what their cities were like and what their plans were for their teams in free agency. It turned out to be as much an interview by Alfredsson of the teams -- he wanted more information about the cities than the GMs wanted about him.
The Red Wings and Bruins were both left with the sense that Alfredsson was definitely serious about moving on.
The Senators and Melnyk were essentially prepared to offer up a blank cheque and all Alfredsson had to do was fill in the amount. The Senators spent Thursday waiting for a call to find out what it was going to take to get a deal done. That call never came.
Alfredsson was up until 3 a.m. in Sweden discussing the decision with his wife Bibi. After much soul-searching, Alfredsson made the decision it was time to move on and he wanted to do something for himself in his career.
Among the Ottawa Citizen's offerings, including a request to not villify Alfredsson by Wayne Scanlan, a "by the numbers" look at Alfredsson's career with Ottawa, a remarkable recollection of the ups and downs of his tenure by Allen Panzeri and a photo gallery of Alfredsson "in our community," Ken Warren offers the most pointed conversation:
Red Wings GM Ken Holland acknowledges he was surprised his interest in Alfredsson went anywhere and Murray was convinced that he simply needed to talk to Alfredsson to get a deal done. When the two finally spoke and Alfredsson suggested it was simply like he was fading away into retirement, Murray didn’t want to hear it.
“I told him, ‘but Alfie, you didn’t retire, you’re going to play in our league, and dammit, in our division.”
Alfredsson says he had long, “difficult” discussions with his family before finally taking the leap, but he insists the Senators are on the right track.
“Ottawa is in a great spot, going in the right direction and has a lot of things going for it,” he said. “If this is my last season, I don’t want to change anything that’s going on there and not demand that Bryan or Eugene have to make a push because of me to go for it. They have too many good things going on there to not stay the course.”
And then there's...His realitor...Speaking to the Ottawa Citizen's Chris Cobb?
“He’s fine, very comfortable,” said [Tony] Rhodes who spoke to Alfredsson on Thursday evening. “He’s excited. He can’t wait.
“The guy wants to win,” Rhodes said. “He’s going to Hockeytown, and they don’t call it Hockeytown for nothing. The organization there might be one of the best organizations in all of North American professional sports. They were one goal away from beating Chicago and going to the Cup (final in June). They’re a contender.
“And they have a commitment from their owner to make it work, whereas I don’t know whether that is evident in Ottawa,” Rhodes added. “The message here is that another organization was more committed.”
SCENE CHANGE: Meanwhile, in Tampa Bay, the Lightning posted a simple press release after signing Valtteri Filppula...
“We are pleased to sign Valtteri to a five-year contract today,” [GM Steve] Yzerman said. “We feel he is an outstanding, all-around centerman who brings a winning pedigree to our organization. He fills a much-needed position for us at center and his skill, work ethic and character will make him a great addition to our team. On behalf of the Lightning we’d like to welcome him to the organization.”
And Filppula spoke to the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson about his signing...
[By] mid-afternoon Friday, general manager Steve Yzerman made plenty of noise in the marketplace by signing center Valtteri Filppula to a five-year contract worth $25 million, filling the area of need Yzerman most wanted to address. Filppula likely will take over the second-line center role vacated when long-time Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier was bought out on June 27.
"We feel he is an outstanding, all-around centerman who brings a winning pedigree to our organization," Yzerman said in a statement. "He fills a much-needed position for us at center and his skill, work ethic and character will make him a great addition to our team."
Filppula, 29, spent his first seven NHL seasons with Detroit. Filppula and Yzerman were Red Wings teammates during the 2005-06 season, with Filppula becoming a Detroit regular while Yzerman served in the Red Wings front office.
"A big part of it was, I spoke with Yzerman and I've known him from Detroit times," Filppula said. "And I spoke to Sami Salo, too, and they have a really interesting, young kind of team that is going to be a good place for me. Those were sort of the main things that made me want to come to Tampa. I think it's a big thing (to speak to Yzerman) knowing him before and knowing what kind of a player he is, wanting me to be on his team, that meant a lot to me."
And he had a chat with the Tampa Bay Times' Damian Cristodero, too:
Valtteri Filppula took a few seconds to consider the query and then decided he did not have an answer.
"A good question," he said when asked why his production fell so sharply last season. "I don't know. I really don't have a good explanation for you." One thing for sure, he said, "going into next season, I feel confident. You always want to improve your game, and that's the goal for next season as well."
"He's just a well-rounded player," said Yzerman, who played four games as Filppula's Red Wings teammate in 2005-06, then watched him for four years as a team vice president. "We didn't just sign him for point production. Our team can score goals. I like the rest of his game. He's good defensively, good on faceoffs and a good skater. He really fits what we're trying to do here."
"You want to be on a team that has a good chance to win," said Filppula, who picked the brain of fellow Finn and new Lightning teammate Sami Salo about Tampa Bay. "I feel like we have that team."
And on the other side of the state of Florida, the Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filakov reports that Stephen Weiss left the Panthers over money and playing time, too--mostly because the Panthers had maxed out their team-imposed budget, preventing GM Dale Tallon from re-signing Weiss:
"I tried to stay there as long as I could and always put the team ahead of myself,'' Weiss told the Sun Sentinel. "I wanted to have a fairy-tale ending, taking the team to the playoffs and eventually compete for a Stanley Cup one day. It took awhile to get the first part done and, obviously, the second part isn't going to come true. From what I was hearing from [my agent Pat Morris] was that Dale was doing everything in his power to find a way to get a deal done and to present a contract. In the end, that didn't happen. It's not a big secret when you're publicly saying you want to get someone signed and a deal doesn't get done then it's because your hands are tied. I'm disappointed to leave, but at the same time looking forward to a new challenge.''
Ditto, Tallon and Weiss told the Miami Herald's George Richards:
"It just didn't work. We couldn't get it done,'' Tallon said of the Weiss negotiations. "It didn't fit in. You know, it's not very often you get into this position to be an unrestricted free agent. I don't blame Stephen one bit. I'm happy for him. He's deserving of it. We have to move on."
For Weiss, leaving the only franchise he has ever known was a bit bittersweet. The Red Wings are a team built to compete for championships and were a win away from knocking off the eventual Stanley Cup champs out in the west semifinals.
Not only did the Red Wings find their second-line center in Weiss on Friday, but they also snapped up Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson.
"Coming from Florida, only being in the playoffs one time, it was pretty easy decision to come and play for the Red Wings," Weiss said on a conference call with Alfredsson. It’s been a culture of winning over the years. Their goal every year is to win a Stanley Cup and to come to a team and be a part of that is really exciting. I’m thrilled to be given this opportunity to come to this team.”
Let's just say that the Miami Herald's David J. Neal's less than impressed with the Panthers' "plan":
The Red Wings can cast Weiss perfectly as a second-line center instead of Weiss masquerading as a first-line center, as he had to do with the Panthers. Weiss’ last contract set him up to make $4 million in 2011-12 and $4.1 million in 2012-13.
Even if the Panthers matched Detroit’s dollars to make Weiss their highest-paid forward — and they didn’t — why would Weiss stay for another round of Florida Young Guns?
In terms of the "experts" take on what the Wings did today, what they gained and who they lost, the Wings received mixed reviews.
Detroit Red Wings: It was a curious day for the Wings as they signed an aging Alfredsson to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million, evoking memories of the disastrous turn in Detroit by an aging Mike Modano, and then signed Weiss to a big five-year deal at $4.9 million a season, even though Weiss has toiled in relative obscurity in Florida his entire career. He’s played in just seven playoff games, all in 2012. The Wings also failed to immediately re-sign veteran Daniel Cleary or bring back impressive first-year player Damien Brunner or center Valtteri Filppula, who signed in Tampa. In other words, a few steps in a circle.
But Pierre LeBrun spoke glowingly of the Wings' moves:
The Red Wings will challenge the Bruins for the division title in their new Eastern digs next year, which is why it’s no small achievement Daniel Alfredsson chose Detroit over Boston. Overall, what a day for the Wings in finding a No. 2 center in Stephen Weiss plus the luxury of adding a veteran presence in Alfredsson. It allows Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to play on the same line. And it gives Detroit a more productive second line that they had this past year. The Wings are back, baby.
And oh hey, by the way...
Valtteri Filppula will be a nice fit in Tampa, where GM Steve Yzerman knows him well from his Detroit days. Filppula is a smart player whose struggles this past year I believe were an anomaly. The St. Louis Blues were in hard on both Filppula and Weiss and struck out on both, and to me there’s still a hole to fill there in middle for the top-six forward group in St. Louis after the retirement of Andy McDonald. (I prefer Patrick Berglund as a No. 3.)
[W]hy make the move? Playing in the Western Conference, the Red Wings had an identical season to the Senators in the East—seventh place in the regular season, and a second-round exit to the No. 1 seed. Detroit also has a very strong goaltender in Jimmy Howard, who is three years younger than Anderson and a better bet to improve. But, most importantly, there is Pavel Datsyuk.
Alfredsson has never played with a center like Datsyuk, because there is no center like Datsyuk. The 34-year-old Russian is a magician with the puck, and the thought of putting Alfredsson on his right wing after his most common linemate this season was Justin Abdelkader—well, look out. If there is any concern for Detroit, it would be that Alfredsson slipped to 0.55 points per game in 2013, but he was at 0.79 in 2011-12, and it is worth noting that Alfredsson’s shooting percentage this past season was 9.9—the first time he was under 10 percent since scoring on only 6.7 percent of his shots in 1998-99.
The thinking would have been the same if the Red Wings had been able to lure another franchise scoring leader to Detroit, but Patrik Elias, three years younger than Alfredsson, stayed in New Jersey. Instead, the Red Wings wind up with one of the greatest consolation prizes imaginable on a one-year deal compared to the three-year pact Elias got in New Jersey, and they simultaneously rip the heart out of one of their new division rivals. It’s also a way to serve notice to the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs that the new guys in the East mean business.
Sportsline's Adam Gretz isn't so sure, deeming the Wings "first day losers"...
Detroit Red Wings: They didn't have a terrible day, but I'm not wild about what the Red Wings did. Daniel Alfredsson was the signing that caught everybody's attention, but he's 40 years old. How good is he going to be? The Red Wings seem to have a way of squeezing every last drop of productive hockey out of veterans, but there's still visions of Mike Modano's final NHL run fresh in my mind here. It doesn't appear that Damien Brunner will be back, and that might hurt, and five years and $25 million for Stephen Weiss also seems to be a bit much. It wasn't the worst day for an NHL team in free agency, but it wasn't one of the better ones, either. Detroit isn't going away anytime soon, and the Red Wings are still going to be a playoff team, but it's not because of the guys they brought in on Friday.
But USA Today's Kevin Allen disagrees...
Detroit Red Wings: When the Red Wings landed Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, it was as if the franchise turned back the clock to the days when they seemed to acquire whomever they wanted on free agent signing day. The Red Wings significantly improved their defense last season, and they improved their offense on Friday. Goal scoring was a problem last season, and it shouldn't be now. These two moves could re-energize the team's offensive attack.
As does ESPN's Craig Custance (in an Insider-only entry)--albeit with a realistic caveat...
I was certainly among those who saw Zach Parise and Ryan Suter pass on signing with the Red Wings and read that as a sign Detroit was no longer one of the premier destinations for NHL free agents. Daniel Alfredsson proved otherwise on Friday. When he made his decision to leave the Senators, he could have quickly found a home in Boston, a team that will no doubt contend for a Stanley Cup next season. But after consulting with Henrik Zetterberg, the veteran Swede decided his best shot at finally winning a Cup was in Detroit. "I just really like the way Detroit plays hockey. It's the puck possession game. It's the push-the-pace game," he said during a Friday conference call. "I know quite a few of the guys from before. I know the personalities. I know how they play and the culture of Detroit appealed to me."
And the respect around the league the Red Wings still receive was clear in the voice of Stephen Weiss, who referred to Mr. Babcock and Mr. Holland while calling his decision to pick the Red Wings an easy one. Weiss was arguably the best center available on the market and the Red Wings signed him for a reasonable five-year deal worth $4.9 million. He'll replace Valtteri Filppula, who got a slightly larger deal to sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning despite rarely producing at the same offensive level Weiss had during his time in Florida. Weiss has six seasons where he has registered more than 40 points. Filppula has done that just once.
"I'm thrilled to be given an opportunity to come to this team," he said. "I'm going to do everything in my power to help out."
It wasn't all perfect for Detroit, though. The Red Wings will miss the natural scoring ability Damien Brunner brought to the lineup. Ken Holland said he expects Brunner to sign elsewhere.
And so does Nicholas J. Cotsonika, caveats included:
Detroit Red Wings: GM Ken Holland failed to land the big free agents last year, striking out with Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. It was supposed to be evidence that the Wings had lost their luster as Cup contenders, that Detroit was no longer a free-agent destination. But the Wings made the playoffs for the 22nd straight season and came within a win of the Western Conference final, and now they have swiped leaders from two teams that will be division rivals when they move to the East in realignment. They signed Alfredsson in a stunner. He can play with all their Swedes and skill players, and the commitment is for only one year. They also signed Stephen Weiss away from the Florida Panthers for five years at a $4.9 million hit. Those are almost the same terms Filppula got from the Lightning, but Weiss is a more consistent, two-way player. The Wings will lose Damien Brunner and maybe Dan Cleary, but if they gain a healthy Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson, their main problem will be finding room for some young up-and-coming players.
Frankly, while he was talking about the "Numbers Game" of Alfredsson's addition, I think TSN's Scott Cullen may have summarized Alfredsson's addition in particular most astutely in the fewest words (imagine me praising brevity!):
That he feels comfortable with Detroit, a team that still has a strong veteran Swedish contingent (including Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Mikael Samuelsson in addition to Zetterberg) is understandable and, as strange as it might look initially, it's still easy to see Alfredsson as a solid complementary player for the Red Wings and, on a one-year deal, he's a low-risk investment for a team that expects to contend every year.
In the out-of-town multimedia department, Sportsnet posited two videos regarding Bryan Murray's take and a 10-minute video in which the Sportscentral panel of Doug MacLean, Nick Kypreos and John Shannon all pondered how things "went sour" (oh Doug MacLean yelling!), and they did at least get to speak to Stephen Weiss for four minutes (it's an auto-play clip);
TSN's Brent Wallace discussed the comings and goings in Ottawa, TSN posited Alfredsson "moments," "Insiders," Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun and Bob McKenzie, discussed Alfredsson's decision to leave the Senators, with Dreger noting that things did go south at the draft, and that by the time the Senators figured out what was up, Alfredsson had made his mind up (so it was and wasn't about money, says McKenzie), McKenzie and Mike Johnson weigh in as to whether Ryan coming or Alfredsson going was more shocking, if you really want to listen to Pierre McGuire rave about...stuff, please do, there is honestly a 2:48 clip of social reaction entitled, "TH: Stud vs. Dud," and while I can't embed the clips, you can listen to the full conference call and/or Murray's lament.
In the hometown multimedia department, the Red Wings' website posted a combined Weiss/Alfredsson photo gallery and the Free Press posted photo galleries of Weiss and Alfredsson, as well as a "tale of the tape" from Helene St. James.
And in terms of out-of-town transcription, this is hopefully where we'll get back into the narrative regarding Alfredsson and Weiss coming to Detroit. Let's start with the CBC's Tim Wharnsby, who discusses Alfredsson's rift with the Senators one more time...
In hindsight, it was clear that Alfredsson had been swayed after a few conversations with Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, general manager Ken Holland and head coach Mike Babcock.
The right-shooting forward was convinced he would be more productive playing alongside left shooting forwards in Pavel Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Stephen Weiss, who was signed by the Red Wings on Friday. Senators centres Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris shoot right-handed.
Alfredsson will move his wife and four sons to Detroit for the season, but keep close ties to the Ottawa area through his charities there. Down the road, who knows what will happen with Alfredsson's connection to the Nation's Capital. Still, Alfredsson appeared to be a man comfortable with this "difficult" decision.
"I'm not worried about my legacy," Alfredsson said. "I expect there will be resentment and anger from the fans, and there definitely should be. I had my favourite sports teams too. I didn't like it when a decision was made that affected my team. I gave it everything I've had in Ottawa throughout my career. I've have so many people to thank, they've been too good for me. This decision is purely about me. This is the decision I made for myself, not for anyone else. This is about trying to win a Stanley Cup."
The Red Wings did take the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks to a seventh game in overtime in the second round. But are they better than Senators, especially with the addition of Ryan? The Red Wings are better with Alfredsson, but so are the Senators with Ryan?
As Wharnsby suggests, given the incredibly high likelihood of some sort of Wings-Senators series over the next year or two, we're going to find out.
And Alfredsson was blunt about his selfishness, as the CBC noted:
"I had not won a Stanley Cup and that's a big priority for me," Alfredsson said. "With Ottawa, I think they're getting closer and closer or definitely going in the right direction and has a really bright future in front of them, but at this stage of career there's not much left. I don't have the time to wait for that."
He added: "This is purely a situation to me where this is about me. This is the decision I make for myself, not for anybody else. It's all about trying to get the Stanley Cup."
The right wing confirmed he was returning to the NHL for another season last week after taking some time to decide in his native Sweden. Alfredsson has scored 426 goals, 682 assists for 1,108 points in 1,178 games for Ottawa, all franchise records. He has added 51 goals, 49 assists and 100 points in 121 playoff games.
"I think the easiest thing for me would be just to stay in Ottawa, enjoy my last year there and retire an Ottawa Senator," Alfredsson said. "It probably would've been a great ending as well, but it's the ultimate prize and I'm a competitive person. I wouldn't have felt the same drive, I think, in terms of just trying to be the mentor and play it out. Ottawa is going to be a good team next year, as well. I felt I needed a different challenge to do this."
He was finishing up a four-year deal that had a salary cap hit in 2012-13 of $4.875 million US.
The classy veteran, who won Olympic gold with Sweden in 2006, has yet to hoist Lord Stanley's Mug. He will now chase that goal with countrymen Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall, among other new Detroit teammates.
"I just really like the way Detroit plays hockey: It's a puck-possession game, it's a push-the-pace game," Alfredsson said. "I just think with the personnel they have throughout their lineup, I could come in and be of help in different areas and be part of something really good. I know quite a few of the guys from before, I know their personalities, I know how they play and the culture of Detroit really appealed to me from all the conversations I've had with different players that's been there."
This comment, noted by the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno, reminded me of what Brendan Shanahan said before leaving for bright lights and big New York City in 2006:
Alfredsson said he didn’t want to demand a win-now approach from Murray or owner Eugene Melynk.
“I think they have too many good things going on, they should stay the course in what they’re going there,” he said. “The torch is going to have to be passed one time pretty soon anyway. That’s pretty much my reasoning for deciding to go and look somewhere else, for a team that has a lot of guys that’s been there before.”
Did things "happen quickly?" Sort of. As it turns out, the Wings used the "wining and dining" period to their advantage--big time:
“I really expected to kind of get a response that he was going to stay in Ottawa and J.P. said Daniel was taking some time with his family and was considering talking to some teams and explore what’s out there,” Holland said. “A lot of this has happened fast.”
And while Holland did the ceremonial chest-puffing statement at the start of the presser, as noted by ESPN...
"It's an extremely exciting day in Detroit and for our team," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "We felt we had some needs we wanted to fill. We wanted to get more scoring. We were challenged last year to score some goals. Daniel has been one of the great scorers in the National Hockey League and Weiss is one of the tremendous playmakers."
It turns out that Henrik Zetterberg did the playmaking:
The Swedish star joins a team with several players from his native country, including captain Henrik Zetterberg.
"Zetterberg, I talked to two or three times," Alfredsson said. "He was the one that I bounced ideas around with mostly."
Lest we forget Weiss, the AP's Larry Lage duly notes that Weiss may be from Toronto, but the player once nicknamed "Weisserman" became a Red Wings fan while playing for the OHL's Plymouth Whalers:
Weiss, who is from Toronto, has 145 goals and 394 points in his career that began with the Panthers during the 2001-02 season. He had a career-high 61 points during the 2008-09 season and scored a career-high 28 goals the next year. Florida drafted Weiss No. 4 overall in 2001 while he was playing for the Plymouth Whalers in suburban Detroit.
"It is neat to come back to a city where I played before and watched the Wings, and wondered about playing for the franchise one day," he said. "It's kind of surreal."
The "hometown press" narrative begins not with news about the free agents the Wings signed, but instead, the player the Wings have been insisting would be like a free agent signing and/or trade deadline acquisition should he ever become healthy, one Darren Helm, per the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Could a healthy Darren Helm be in the Red Wings’ future again? The answer could come in the next few weeks. Helm is slated to be a part of next week’s development camp, unusual for a 26-year-old, except when it’s a 26-year-old who hasn’t played in over a year because of a slew of injuries. But — and Wings have all their fingers crossed — maybe at long last there is good news on the Helm front.
Holland said today that he spoke to trainer Piet van Zant, and “Helm is feeling very good. Darren Helm is a real key piece to our team and hopefully next week in Traverse City, we get good news and he is on the ice and can push and he feels good, and we can expect to see a healthy Darren Helm in training camp.”
This would be fantastic news for the Wings. Helm, 26, basically has been a non-factor for over a year, felled by a slashed wrist in the first game of the 2012 playoffs, after a spring that saw him hobbled by various injuries.
He was supposed to be a big part of the 2013 team, until a workout days before a lockout-shortened season was to begin revealed a troublesome sore back. Helm ended up playing one game in the 2013 season; he may as well not have played any. Repeated attempts at returning fizzled over and over.
So, now the Wings hope he can be back for a full, 82-game 2013-14 season. It would be a tremendous addition. Coach Mike Babcock has called Helm the best third-line center in the NHL, something that stands to benefit the Wings even more after signing Stephen Weiss Friday, because now their depth down the middle reads Pavel Datsyuk, Weiss, Helm, Joakim Andersson, with Cory Emmerton in reserve.
And let's address that damn *#$%@& glut right here.
The Wings aren't going to be sitting Tatar, Andersson or Nyquist for the sake of Samuelsson (just a gut feeling, but the Wings could wait till he's healthy and plain old buy him out at a cap hit of $1 million per year for the next two years) And Cory Emmerton and Jordin Tootoo may be endangered species at this point. Holland did address that issue to some extent during the presser, as noted by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
The Red Wings have 16 forwards under contract once restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson are re-signed (not counting Cleary or Brunner), meaning general manager Ken Holland will have to make further moves.
Cleary remained in touch with the Red Wings on Friday night, and both sides expressed hope a deal could still be reached. Brunner was expected to land with another team in the free-agent market. And Holland is planning on doing removing and adding players.
“Obviously we have a couple of extra players,” Holland said. “This is going to be a work in progress over the course of the summer. Our roster is still going to take shape over the course of the next month or two.
Holland would like to make “a move or two,” but it won’t happen soon.
And let's talk about Weiss for a while, lest you're incredibly *#$%@& tired of the Days of Our Sens.
Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner noted that Weiss is SUPER EXCITED about joining the Wings...
"The Red Wings have been a team that I have always looked up to growing up," Weiss said. "Obviously, playing in the Plymouth (Mich.) area for a few years (in the Ontario Hockey League), I got to go see some Wings games, and I always dreamt about plying for them one day. To have them interested in me and to have that opportunity is awesome … words can really express that right now."
Weiss will center Detroit's second line, replacing Valtteri Filppula, who agreed to five-year deal at $5 million per season with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Weiss, who has played his entire NHL career with the Florida Panthers, was limited to 17 games last season because of a wrist injury. He had 20 goals and 37 assists in 2011-12.
He has 145 goals and 394 points in his career that began with the Panthers during the 2001-02 season. He had a career-high 61 points during the 2008-09 season and scored a career-high 28 goals the next year.
As did MLive's Brendan Savage...
Weiss drew comparisons to Yzerman – as well as the nickname "Weisserman" – by averaging 30 goals and 75 assists during three seasons in Plymouth. His 40 goals and 87 points in 2000-01 prompted to Panthers to make him the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NHL entry draft.
Although his NHL numbers have never approached those he put up in juniors – and certainly not those that Yzerman had – Weiss' two-way game helped make him the Red Wings' No. 1 target when free agency opened Friday.
"The comparisons at that age were a little scary to be compared to a guy like Steve," Weiss said. "But I think it came from playing a two-way game and being responsible on both sides of the puck and that's something that I take a lot of pride in. Playing up against the best players and trying to shut them down, and also being accountable offensively too. I think that's where those comparisons came from.
"Obviously, we've had pretty different careers to this date, but it's neat to come back to a city where I've played before and used to watch the Wings and watch Steve play there before, and wondered about maybe playing for that franchise one day. It's kind of surreal, but I'm not coming there looking to be anything that he was. I'm going to play my own game and do what's asked of me and just try to help the team win in all of our games and listen to the guys who have been there before."
He said that group includes Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall and Johan Franzen as well as fellow Detroit newcomer Daniel Alfredsson, the Red Wings' other free-agent acquistion Friday. When the Red Wings went after Weiss, general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock envisioned him as the club's second-line center and replacement for Valtteri Filppula, who signed a five-year, $25-million deal with Tampa Bay Friday.
"Coming from Florida and being there for about 10 years, only playing in the playoffs one year it was a pretty easy decision to come and play for Mr. Holland and Mr. Babcock," Weiss said. "Their goal every year is to win the Stanley Cup and to come to a team and be a part of that is really exciting. I'm thrilled to be given the opportunity to come to this team and do everything in my power to help out and fit in and do what I can to help the Red Wings reach that ultimate goal."
But we do indeed need to revisit that whole season-ending wrist surgery bit, as the Detroit News's Kulfan noted:
Weiss had one goal in 17 games last season for the Panthers before wrist surgery ended his year, but that's not a concern heading into next season. Before that he had three straight seasons of scoring 20 or more goals.
Here's what Weiss told the Miami Herald's George Richards on March 7th, 2013:
Panthers center Stephen Weiss said Wednesday morning the pain in his right wrist was so severe he wasn’t helping himself or his team. After consulting with specialists at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday, Weiss made the decision to have season-ending surgery.
“It doesn’t make sense to keep playing like this,” he said. “I have to get it fixed. … You can’t fake your way through this league. It’s too good.”
Weiss said the procedure, which he had once before at the end of the 2008-09 season, would be done in Cleveland on Tuesday by Dr. Thomas Graham. Weiss also had surgery on his left wrist in 2006. He has been told he would be able to shoot pucks again in three months.
As for Alfredsson, the worries are more metaphorical in nature, at least until he returns to Ottawa, as MLive's Ansar Khan noted, all while pointing out that the wining-and-dining period paid off in spades:
“I feel that’s the strength of my game, playing a two-way game,'' Alfredsson said. “I love watching (Datsyuk and Zetterberg) and the whole team play with or without the puck because they do so many good things, little things that many people can’t pick up. They perform extremely well under pressure and in important situations. In talking to Henrik, he hadn’t made up his mind who I was going to play with yet. No, I’m just kidding. It’s obviously going to be (coach Mike) Babcock’s decision. He was just happy that I was able to join as a right-handed shot. For me, playing even with Stephen, as a left-handed player, should open up a lot of chances for me.''
Alfredsson, who is in Sweden, was on a conference call with general manager Ken Holland and Babcock Thursday for 45 minutes. Unlike past years, teams were allowed to speak to other clubs' free agents during a 48-hour window prior to free agency.
“Everyone knows Detroit’s goals are always to be at the top of the game and to win championships,'' Alfredsson said. “I’m really excited to get this opportunity at this stage of my career to go for a Stanley Cup and fulfill a longtime dream.''
Alfredsson told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan that he made his decision quickly by Swedish standards (ha ha, kidding...kind of)...
"I've had nothing but great times in Ottawa," Alfredsson said. "I didn't see myself making a change, if you'd ask me a week ago. As we got closer to free agency, thoughts started to creep in. It hasn't really sunk in, but I feel this is right for me."
Alfredsson, who is from Sweden, spoke "two or three times" with Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg and felt comfortable with the style of play of the Red Wings as well as the comfort level with nine Swedes on the Red Wings roster.
"I felt I could be a part of something good," Alfredsson said. "How they play, the culture of Detroit really appealed to me from conversations with other players."
And Alfredsson decided that Detroit is the place where players go to win championships--perhaps restoring the Wings' "mystique," even if it's only a mirage--as he told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
“It was extremely difficult,” Alfredsson said. “It pretty much came down to I have not won a Stanley Cup and that’s a big priority to me. I feel with Ottawa I think they’re getting closer and closer and going in the right direction and have a really bright future in front of them, but at this point of my career I don’t have that kind of time to wait for that. It was a tough decision to make and it still hasn’t sunk in. I’m doing this for myself, I feel this is right for me and I really like to (finish) it with the Detroit Red Wings.”
“I can’t say I had 29 choices to make,” Alfredsson said. “I did have some teams that were interested and expressed their interest and I talked to a few teams. I talked to a couple of guys. (Henrik) Zetterberg I talked to two or three times. He was the one I bounced around ideas with mostly.”
The Free Press's Helene St. James addressed the mystique-restoring issue directly...
Within hours of Friday’s noon start, the Wings had beat out multiple competitors for Stephen Weiss — a guy who will give them the No. 2 center they’ve wanted for the past two years, a guy who wanted to join the Wings because once upon a time people used to call him “Weiserman” after Steve Yzerman, and wouldn’t it be fun to play for Yzerman’s old team.
Making good on all the times he said he was going to make changes to the Wings, general manager Ken Holland proved yet again the Wings will pay when they believe the player is worth the money. They got Alfredsson, 40, for one year at $5.5 million, though $2 million are bonuses that can be deferred until 2014-15 if needed. Weiss, 30, came in at five years and $24.5 million, a touch less than the five years and $25 million Valtteri Filppula got from Tampa Bay.
Alfredsson and Weiss both cited Detroit’s 22-season streak of making the playoffs, and the Wings’ perennial status as Stanley Cup challengers, as motivation behind leaving the only NHL team’s they had ever known.
And boy, did she get a substantiated quip:
Teammates past and present were thrilled. Nicklas Lidstrom — former captain of the Wings, fellow Swede, fellow Olympian — told me that Alfredsson “will be a great addition to the team with his leadership and experience. He will also be a great asset on the power play, being right-handed where he can play the point.”
Where do the Wings stand today?
The Wings set off fireworks July 5, sending a light straight into the sky that they will be contending for next year’s silverware. They have four solid corners in Zetterberg, Datsyuk, defenseman Niklas Kronwall and goaltender Jimmy Howard, and now they’ve added two sharp pieces in Alfredsson and Weiss, without throwing a financial anvil around themselves.
“With addition of Alfie and Stephen, we think that we’re going to be a lot deeper up front,” Holland said. “We think we’ve got tremendous goaltender who’s durable. We think our defense is a little bit under the radar. We have a lot of kids that can skate and pass the puck and got a year of experience under the belt. We wanted to add some forwards. We wanted to add some scoring. Today was a great day for us.”
In "the spirit of the thing," the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa literally praised Ken Holland's "fastball," and the Windsor Star's Bob Duff offered a similar take on what separates Alfredsson from, say, Mike Modano...
Modano was in Dallas , Alfredsson, the 17-season Ottawa Senator, was the heart of his previous team, coming to Detroit for his last NHL season at age 40.
Here’s why this signing should work out differently, though. Modano came to town and basically played out the string.
Alfredsson is coming to town with an agenda. He wants the one bauble missing from his resume – a Stanley Cup.
And let's with DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's master copy of the press conference Q and A:
Question for Alfredsson: Will your family stay in Ottawa?
“We’re going to move the whole family to Detroit. I would find it extremely difficult to live away for a whole season; also something that we really discussed thoroughly, my wife and I, and our children as well. It’s going to be an adjustment. We’re going to go to Detroit, all of us, and I signed a one-year deal and I don’t know what will happen next, but that’s the plan right now.”
Question for Alfredsson: You might return to Ottawa after the 2013-14 season?
“I can’t say. You never know what’s going to happen, but I always live to the short-term and Ottawa is always a special place. I won’t commit to anything, but we’ll take a year in Detroit and go from there.”
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