The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/09/14 at 03:37 AM ET
I tend not to start overnight reports or any blog entries with grown-up conversations, but we need to have one, dear readers.
Many of you responded to my, "The free agency stuff I've heard from Red Wings fans of late is nuts" comment in Sunday morning's overnight report with, "Nuh uhh, fire was banned in 1408, after a freak fire wiped out three generations of racing snails!"...Wait, I mean, "Forsooth, George, praytell where thee hath such nonsense heareth? Here? Nay!"
Okay, get ready for "the talk":
My dear comments section friends, while you are held in high esteem and valued greatly, it turns out that The Malik Report has both a wider audience, which engages the author on Facebook, on Twitter, via email and occasionally carrier pigeon...
But there are also reasons why I'd suggest that perhaps a third to a quarter of the comments regarding my blog entries come from the comments section itself:
It turns out that while my dear commenters are wise and faithful...Y'all tend to kind of intimidate people, especially when comments get...Testosterone-y. Commenters can, from time to time, get a little bit territorial and ever-so-slightly dismissive of comments that do not embrace the TMR-hath-inheretish-its-comments-section's-tone-from-Abel-to-Yzerman's-brusque-toned "19" aesthetic. As such, there is in fact a vibrant community of readers who choose to engage outside the atmosphere of the hard-core heart of the TMR community.
And while the dearly-regarded (I'm not kidding or being sarcastic about that part of this, folks) commenters have been more engaged in discussions about potential trades as opposed to utilizing the pool of free agents-to-be in terms of forwards, defensemen or goaltenders possibly available to bolster the Red Wings' ranks on July 1st, those free agents-to-be have generated considerable interest.
Some of the suggestions made by the at-large TMR community, as well as the multitude of Red Wings communities centered around the myriad of websites, blogs, message boards, newspapers, sports talk radio and non-affiliated groups, have been more than a little
batshit insane, I mean whimsical in nature, in terms of both possible trades and free agent signings, and it's toward that larger community that I directed Sunday's message.
There are those who believe that the Red Wings in fact can out-bid the Canadiens and Geoff Molson's beer money with Mike Ilitch's pizza dough when it comes to restricted free agent PK Subban; there are those who believe that the Wings need to acquire Keith Yandle, and Ryan Kesler, and Marc-Andre Fleury (to back up Jimmy Howard?), there are those who believe that the Drew Doughtys and Justin Williamses of the Stanley Cup Final could be easily acquired for marginal cost, and there are many, many fans who believe that, say, adding Martin Brodeur, Matt Niskanen and Thomas Vanek is the "way to go" in terms of helping the youth movement. There are also those who wish to combine the two approaches as well.
My message to all of you is the same message I issued on Sunday: "That would be nice, but it ain't gonna happen," and in my opinion, such spending and/or trading sprees probably shouldn't happen.
That being said...
This morning, the Free Press's Helene St. James posited a photo gallery-annotated list of 9 free agents-to-be who she believes the Wings should target: Jarome Iginla, Stephane Robidas, Derek Morris, Brooks Orpik, Dan Boyle, Andrei Markov, Anton Stralman, Jussi Jokinen and Matt Moulson.
I'm not particularly keen on most of them, but I'm sure that all of you have different opinions regarding said players.
Also in the speculatory vein, you will not be surprised that WXYZ's 7 Sports Cave's Brad Galli, John Niyo and Matt Sheppard suggested that the Wings' re-signing of Jeff Blashill is something of a "security policy" and/or "safety blanket in case Mike Babcock bolts" move....
And you can listen to WDFN's Sheppard's interview with Blashill here:
Q. I think Nashville is almost certain to trade Shea Weber. I don't see them paying his $13 million bonus due (July 1). I expect Holland to make a very hard push to land him. I think (coach Mike) Babcock has put serious pressure on Holland to improve the team; otherwise he leaves at the end of this season. Who do the Wings have to give up for Weber and what other teams will be in the mix?
A. For what it's worth, Predators GM David Poile said after the season he isn't trading Weber. If he decides to move him, surely the Red Wings would be interested. But I think the cost would be too high for them. What would it take? That's anybody's guess. It cost promising prospect Calle Jarnkrok and a second-round pick for David Legwand, so you can only imagine what it would take to land Weber, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound Norris Trophy finalist who's tough, strong defensively and capable of scoring 20 goals a year with a booming right-handed shot. Who would be in the mix? Philadelphia, which signed him in 2012 to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet, for sure, and anybody else who's not concerned about his contract and is willing to relinquish quality assets. I don't think what Babcock may or may not do after the season factors into the Red Wings' personnel decisions.
Q. What are the chances the Red Wings pursue a trade for a right-handed defenseman such as Dustin Byfuglien, Cody Franson or Shea Weber?
--TristanA. See above for Weber. They have shown interest in Franson in the past, but I don't think Toronto would deal with Detroit now that they're in the same division. If Winnipeg looks to move Byfuglien I'm sure the Red Wings would inquire. Perhaps another possibility is Mike Green of Washington.
Q. Radim Vrbata scores a decent amount of points and could be a steal on the free-agent market. Do you see the Red Wings pursuing him to a contract around three years and $3 million per season? Trevor Linden says the Canucks are not trading Alexander Edler. However, he would fit well on the Detroit blue line and the Wings have shown considerable interest in him. If Detroit offered Vancouver the right deal could you see Edler coming to Detroit?
--BlakeA. I think Linden is sincere when he said he doesn't plan on asking Edler to waive his no-trade clause and wants the 28-year-old defenseman to be part of the team's future. But if the Canucks have a change of heart and Edler agrees to a move, I believe the Red Wings would pursue him aggressively. He has five years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $5 million.
As for Vrbata, he turns 33 on Friday. I'd hesitate to make a three-year commitment to him if it diminishes Tomas Jurco's role or forces him to spend next season in Grand Rapids. I'd rather see them give Teemu Pulkkinen and/or Anthony Mantha a shot in 2015-16.
This kind of stuff is tame. Downright tame. /end edit]
Regarding Ken Holland's actual plans for Monday, the Toronto Star's Damien Cox reported that the NHL's competition committee will be meeting in New York ahead of the annual Stanley Cup Final's General Managers' meetings (the Board of Governors tends to meet at the draft). I don't mind re-posting an article already discussed by Paul because I think that the topic Cox believes the GM's will discuss in earnest is important to those of us who are tired of watching goals waved off due to "incidental contact" while others stand despite goaltenders essentially being dry-humped by opposing teams' forwards:
On Monday, the league’s competition committee will discuss using replay for things like offsides leading to a goal, goalies playing the puck outside the trapezoid and pucks that go over the glass but aren’t detected. The five management representatives — Ed Snider, David Poile, Ken Holland, Peter Chiarelli and Don Maloney — may or may not get into the thorny issue of goalie interference calls with player union representatives Ron Hainsey, Daniel Winnik, Mike Cammalleri and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Video replay and goalie interference are both on the agenda, just not together as one issue.
Regardless, when the league’s general managers meet in Manhattan on Wednesday, they definitely will talk about ways to deal with the growing controversy on goalie interference.
Glen Sather, you have to imagine, is going to have something to say. It was Sather’s New York Rangers who were victimized in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final when it appeared goalie Henrik Lundqvist was clearly impeded by L.A. forward Dwight King on a third period goal.
Referee Dan O’Halloran disagreed, the goal stood to make it 4-3 early in the third, and the Kings ended up coming back all the way to win 5-4 in double overtime on Dustin Brown’s winner.
Interestingly, there were two other goalie interference calls — one on Ranger forward Benoit Pouliot, one on Kings centre Jeff Carter — both of which were correctly called by the officiating staff. But neither one led to a goal. The one that did, King trespassing in Lundqvist’s crease, did lead to a goal, and may have significantly altered the course of this Cup final.
The NHL's War Room can't turn over calls made on the ice in these instances, nor can they overturn the "incidental contact" rule, and as Cox notes, the NHL is not fond of the concept of expanding video review to examine each and every instance in which pucks enter the net:
Commissioner Gary Bettman certainly isn’t a proponent of it, or of expanding the use of video review much beyond the way it’s used now. Obviously, goalie interference as currently written up in the rule book is a very subjective call, and going to Toronto for video reviews every time it occurs might just confuse matters more.
And the players? Hard to say, particularly since there isn’t a goalie on the NHLPA’s list of competition committee members.
Cox continues, and I shit you not when I say that the Board of Governors' dinosaurs tend to suggest that reviewing goals which count or don't count due to contact with goaltenders and/or allowing the War Room to overturn calls made on the ice should not occur because such instances would "slow down the game" too much.
After watching at least thirty goals in which Tomas Holmstrom was involved be waved off, and after watching Dan F***ng O'Halloran make the following call so very regularly, I believe that each and every instance in which the puck goes into the net should be reviewable and should be subject to oversight from the NHL's War Room:
I can live with "slowing the game down" in order to get the damn call right. But what do I know?
The NHL's competition committee and GM's will probably also discuss the NHL's concussion protocols.
While you and I witnessed Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and other players miss extended periods of time because the Red Wings' trainers tend to whisk away anybody who's suffered some kind of blow to the head to take their baseline neurological tests, we've all seen players sustain heavy hits, get up wobbly and magically avoid taking such tests during the playoffs, usually by shaking their heads when asked by trainers whether they need to be tested.
I found it particularly disturbing that Drew Miller told the Associated Press's Larry Lage that his teammates have done the same in order to not "lose their spots" in the lineup:
The NHL's concussion protocol, like other leagues, requires players to get a team doctor's OK before they can return to play. They are taken to a quiet place for evaluation, questions and tests of their memory, balance and general awareness.Players, though, seem to be able to skate around the protocol.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski said he avoided return-to-play protocol after he went headfirst into the boards during the playoffs. He wanted to keep playing. The Montreal Canadiens were criticized for letting forward Dale Weise return to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals after a blindside hit sent him to the dressing room. General manager Marc Bergevin insisted the team did not know Weise had a concussion until the next day and that the league's protocol was followed.
''It's flawed, but I'm not a doctor,'' Bergevin said. ''We all worry about our players, but we can only go by what we're given.''
Detroit Red Wings forward Drew Miller said players choose to keep playing with head injuries for at least a few reasons.
''Guys downplay the symptoms or don't report them because of job security and they don't want to lose their spot,'' Miller said. ''And, guys want to keep playing because they want help their team. In the back of our minds, too, you don't want other teams to know you have a head injury.''
Given the fact that so many teams know that they can get Franzen to go apeshit by deliberately elbowing him in the head or punching his face after play, Miller has a point regarding the latter matter, but that still doesn't make it right to hide what really is a brain injury from trainers.
I haven't really talked about the topic, but it's June 9th, and I still don't quite feel like I'm back at 100% after sustaining that damn concussion on New Year's Day. I'm close, but there are still some small issues that I've had to deal with when I suffered a severe concussion in 2006, and I have to admit that I'm considering ruling out playing sports entirely because the pair of concussions I've had over the past 8 years have been so severe in nature. The concept of playing with "cowbebs" scares the hell out of me.
But you and I also learned that even the best training staffs in the league don't catch everything, and in Stephen Weiss's case, Weiss told Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji that he "played through" a groin issue that bothered him since the first day of training camp because he felt pressure to fulfill the Wings' expectations. That led to two surgeries to repair a "core muscle" injury and then remove some scar tissue, and it led to a lost season for Weiss.
The truth of the matter in terms of all sports injuries is the same truth for any of us who've told a family member, friend or doctor that we feel "fine" despite battling a physical issue that's been bothering us because we don't want to be a "burden," don't want to "make a big deal" out of things or don't want to "deal with the hassle" of being treated for our issues.
Some of us can be more stubborn than others, and in Stephen Weiss's case, that's detrimental to player and team; in the cases Miller is discussing, that's just plain dangerous.
Regarding the Stanley Cup Final, ESPN's Craig Custance posited a list of the "Top10 Finals from the Past 20 Years," and the Wings made the list twice, one for the Cup they won and another in which the result was not positive:
It has been 20 years since Madison Square Garden hosted a Stanley Cup finals game, in a 1994 series that was an all-timer. So in honor of those 20 years, we asked 19 veteran media members -- one for each final (never forget the lockout) -- to rank their top five Stanley Cup finals series. Some of the panel had covered every single one of those finals, including ESPN's Barry Melrose and Steve Levy. Most had covered a majority of them, and a few are even in the Hall of Fame. We gave five points for a first-place vote, four for a second-place vote, right on down to one for a fifth-place vote. Here's the final tally for the top 10 Stanley Cup finals over the past two decades:
2. 2009: Pittsburgh Penguins over Detroit Red Wings in 7
(53 points, 2 first-place votes)
It was the first Stanley Cup for Sidney Crosby, who looked like he was ready to collect a few of them with a powerful young Penguins team. Each team took care of its first two games at home and the Red Wings appeared to seize the series with a crushing 5-0 win in Game 5, but a pair of 2-1 wins in the final two games prevented a repeat for Detroit. Marc Andre-Fleury's save on Nicklas Lidstrom in the final moments of Game 7 will go down in Penguins history as one of the best.
I still have nightmares about that save. I'm not kidding.
10. 2008: Detroit Red Wings over Pittsburgh Penguins in 6
This finals was the end of an era for a Red Wings team featuring Detroit favorites and multiple Cup winners Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Kirk Maltby, Chris Osgood, Kris Draper, Darren McCarty and Tomas Holmstrom. It was Crosby's first trip to the Stanley Cup finals and the start of Marian Hossa's incredible streak of reaching the finals three consecutive years with three different teams. It was also historic in that Lidstrom became the first European-born captain to win the Stanley Cup.
Regarding the Stanley Cup Final in a larger sense, you will find more than a few pictures of Red Wings battling for the Cup in Sports Illustrated's "100 Best Stanley Cup Photos," and you get stuck watching this save mentioned by the Hockey News's Casey Ippolito's "Most Saves in a Stanley Cup Run" because I learned how to play goal emulating this guy:
I can't say that idolizing Kirk McLean growing up yielded aesthetically-pleasing goaltending from yours truly, but I sure made a crapton of, "How did that not go in?" saves without dropping into the butterfly. I eventually incorporated some more modern stuff into my game by watching Nikolai Khabibulin (one of the pioneers of the "hands-in-front" tweak) and Dominik Hasek prior to his Stanley Cup Final appearance (you could really see how some of the things he did were based upon an unorthodox but still disciplined style earlier in his career), but I still have and cherish my Hespeler Kirk McLean model stick.
Regarding free agents, and speaking of players who've played in pain to their detriment, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's latest "By the Numbers" article focuses on Daniel Cleary's 2013-2014 season stats...
29: Regular-season games missed down the stretch after he suffered an allergic reaction to an injected painkiller in one of his knees. He missed one other game during the season when he was a healthy scratch against Winnipeg on Nov. 12.
10: The number of teeth he lost after he was struck by a puck at Florida on Dec. 28. Three days later he visited a Detroit area dentist for repairs that took approximately 90 minutes. By his own account, he has only 12 of his original teeth left.
23: Career number of game-winnings he has after his second-period goal – which was also his first of the 2013-14 season – helped the Red Wings claim a 3-2 victory at Boston on Oct. 14. Only Henrik Zetterberg (56), Pavel Datsyuk (45) and Johan Franzen (41) have more GWG among active Red Wings.
And this has been floating around: According to La Presse's Richard Labbe, we shouldn't expect to see Andrei Markov on the free agent marketplace at all as the defenseman with Daniel Cleary-like knees (i.e. wonky ones) is incredibly likely to re-sign with Montreal, per his agent, Sergei Berezin.
Finally, I'd prefer to do this after writing a more "meaty" entry, but I can't really wait any longer. It's June 9th, I've got $22 in my savings account, and I am still hoping to attend the Red Wings' summer development camp from July 4th to 8th (that's 5 days) in Traverse City, MI, but there's no way in heck that I can do so on my own.
Over the past three years that the Wings have held development camps in Traverse City, I've asked for your help in raising the finances to cover my hotel and gas bills, and you've been amazingly and remarkably kind in affording me the opportunity to "work for you"; due to my present financial circumstances, I'm afraid that I have to ask for your assistance again.
If there's any way that you can lend a financial hand in my attempts to get up to Traverse City for the summer development camp and/or eventually to attend the prospect tournament and main camp in the fall, I would be incredibly grateful for your assistance.
I'm sticking with Paypal as it's the most direct route (though I will also do the whole, "Give me your address and I'll send you a check or a few bucks in the mail" thing, too), and you have to use my email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, as the recipient.
Here's the button:
If you can aid the cause, I'd be incredibly grateful; if you can't, I understand, and as usual, literally any amount helps. You'd be surprised how many $5, $10 and $20 donations end up paying my way. Thanks.
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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.