The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/19/14 at 01:40 AM ET
Out of Wednesday's Red Wings news stories, especially regarding to the team's buyout of Jordin Tootoo (he'll clear waivers at noon today, and be bought out at that time) and the team's decision to cut ties with Todd Bertuzzi (who joins Mikael Samuelsson and probably David Legwand and Kyle Quincey in the, "See ya later, good luck in your future endeavors" category), it was at least a little refreshing to hear that the Red Wings' front office plans on taking advantage of the new "wining and dining" period between June 25th and June 30th instead of tossing sticking with the, "If you don't re-sign by July 1st, we're moving on without you" philosophy.*
Ken Holland told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that he plans on putting talks with the team's potential unrestricted free agents off until they can gauge the free agent marketplace and come back to the Wings to negotiate comparative salaries (though the team's highly likely to re-sign Jonas Gustavsson as its back-up, and Daniel Alfredsson's said that he only wants to play for Detroit if he continues his playing career)...
“The other guys I’m not sure,” Holland said. “I basically told the other agents we’re not doing anything right now. Under the CBA on June , which is next Wednesday, we can start talking to potential unrestricted free agents.
“There’s a lot of chatter about trades, but I don’t know if things will come to fruition or not,” Holland said. “If we go out and sign one or two people we’re basically done. These guys might be the best options we’ve got, but right now we want to keep our options open so we can explore.”
There is also no more news regarding who’ll back up Jimmy Howard next season.
Holland also told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan that the team's discussion of its verbal promise to "take care of" Daniel Cleary will have to wait until after the team makes its unrestricted free agent moves on July 1st...
Holland plans on talking with Cleary, 35, after the free agent period ends.
“Once the dust settles after July 1, I’ll sit down with Daniel Cleary and we’ll talk,” Holland said.
Cleary signed a one-year contract worth $1.75 million last season, turning down larger multi-year offers to remain with the Red Wings.
Cleary, 35, had four goals and four assists in 52 games last season, his season shortened by knee problems.
The Red Wings could offer Cleary a two-way contract, with the ability to send him down to Grand Rapids, if Cleary doesn’t receive a contract offer anywhere else around the league.
And Holland's comments regarding Jordin Tootoo's status were at least encouraging in terms of coach Mike Babcock's slow movement away from the, "Veterans win ties with youngsters" philosophy to, "It's about the best player stealing a job" mentality. Here's what Holland had to say to MLive's Ansar Khan about his Tootoo essentially losing his job to younger players...
"We signed him to bring some key ingredients to the lineup and that first year he did, he helped us get into the playoffs," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "When I went out last year and signed Daniel Alfredsson and (Todd) Bertuzzi was healthy and we had Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, eventually Mike Babcock didn't see a fit in the lineup for (Tootoo)."
Tootoo has one year remaining on his contract at $2 million ($1.9 million cap hit), which made him impossible to trade. After he is bought out the club will owe him two-thirds of his remaining salary ($1.33 million), spread out over the next two seasons. He no longer will be on their salary cap ($925,000 would have counted against the cap had he been buried in the AHL).
Tootoo will become an unrestricted free agent.
"We don't want to pay someone the kind of money he's making to play in the American League," Holland said. "He doesn't want to be in the American League. He wants another opportunity to be in the National Hockey League. Mike thinks with the development of our kids we're better served that they can bring certain things to the table, so it all added up to doing this."
And Pleiness noted that waiving Tootoo is a very different kind of promise-keeping given the Cleary talk of late:
“I told Toots at the end of the year if we didn’t have a plan for him to be in Detroit next year that it would be in his best interest and ours to place him on waivers. This is step one.”
My take on the state of the front office is this:
If the team's moves this past season were about four months behind the curve due to salary cap considerations, the team's front office still seems to be struggling with the concept that it's got to cut ties with the 2008 and 2009 teams and be a little less loyal to its "good soldiers" if its good soldiers can't keep up.
The fact that the front office includes essentially a second assistant GM in Kris Draper, a pro scout in Kirk Maltby, a player mentor in Chris Chelios and a director of player development in Jiri Fischer, all of whom were "taken care of" in the front office, but all of whom--save Fischer--were essentially told that they'd have to accept a Cleary-like pro try-out contract with the possibility of being sent to the AHL if they wanted to continue playing.
Chelios eventually chose to skate with the Chicago Wolves to continue his playing career, but there are still voices in the front office who understand that there's a time for the team to move on from the veterans-first mentality, and as Jimmy Devellano's role diminishes, Mike Babcock's philosophies have moderated in that particular area of coaching, and "the kids" proved to be "the answer" this past season...
I think that we're going to see the front office operate a little differently from here on out, but it may continue to make some stubborn-headed moves for the next year or two. I can only hope that those moves don't handicap the team's cap space or the coaching staff's willingness to give everybody an equal chance to earn a spot on the roster.
Also: I don't believe that any contracts can be signed between June 25th and June 30th, so don't be surprised if the Wings aren't able to extend the contracts of restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar until early July (no, I don't believe that anyone will toss them an offer sheet between the 1st and 5th, but you never know).
We might not find out whether the Wings submit qualifying offers to retain the rights of (per Capgeek) prospects Adam Almquist, Mitch Callahan, Willie Coetzee, Landon Ferraro, Gleason Fournier, Andrej Nestrasil, Max Nicastro, Trevor Parkes or the AHL-only-contracted Tom McCollum until early July, either. I'd guess that the Wings will let McCollum shop his services around the league before deciding whether to bring him back on a two-way contract.
Also also: Asterisk for a reason. The "wining and dining" period is going to be nightmarish in terms of people like Paul and I hoping to get sleep from the 25th to July 2nd or 3rd, but it's a superb concept. If you recall the Wings' signing of Mike Commodore, Commodore was sleeping at the beach, and he was called by his agent and told that the Wings were giving him 15 minutes to decide whether to sign a one-year contract (which didn't work out very well).
Giving the players, coaches, GM's and owners a couple days to offer not only sales pitches, but explanations as to what the team expects from its players on the ice, what they can expect off the ice (see: Detroit is in fact surrounded by vibrant suburbs, and that's where players live), and again, the concept allows players and agents to "circle back" to their rights-holders without facing the prospect of losing the chance to re-sign with their current employers.
Regarding Babcock's assistants, we're still dealing with "wining and dining period" of a different kind.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dave Molinari reported that new Penguins GM Jim Rutherford wrapped up his interviews with possible successors to Dan Bylsma on Wednesday, and the potential candidates' ranks include Bill Peters and Tom Renney;
The list of candidates is believed to include Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach John Hynes — the only publicly acknowledged contender — NHL assistants Ulf Samuelsson (New York Rangers) and Bill Peters (Detroit), Red Wings associate coach Tom Renney and longtime NHL coaches Ron Wilson and Marc Crawford. The identities of the other two candidates have not been established.
While it is impossible to predict who Rutherford will settle on to be behind the Penguins’ bench in 2014-15, he said several of the interviewees appear to be capable of helping the Penguins perform to their potential in coming seasons.
“I think it’s fair to say there’s more than one, which makes it good,” he said. “I will say that all the guys I interviewed did a good job. Here, in the near future, I have to make a decision that most suits what we need.”
Rutherford said the coach he selects will have “to have a presence and the respect of the players,” and reinforced the idea his choice must coach a puck-possession style and have a proven ability to make adjustments in individual games and playoff series.
While he might have been impressed, to varying degrees, by everyone he interviewed, Rutherford acknowledged that a few had separated themselves from the group while speaking with him and other members of the Penguins front office.
“I’m getting it down to a couple,” he said. “I really, as I narrow it down here, would like to make a decision fairly soon.”
The only deadline Rutherford has stipulated is that he would like to have a coach in place before the start of free agency July 1.
The Score's Thomas Drance found out that Peters is also a candidate for the Carolina Hurricanes' coaching job:
The Carolina Hurricanes will interview Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Bill Peters for a second time in the near future, according to a report from TVA's Louis Jean.
Peters has coached on Mike Babcock's staff in Detroit for three seasons, and has been a head coach at the AHL and WHL levels. He's worked primarily with Detroit's defenseman and occasionally the penalty-kill.
Peters has been a somewhat heavily sought after coach this offseason and in addition to his interview with the Hurricanes, had interviewed for the Florida Panthers job.
Speaking of "reports"...
Sportsnet's Jeff Simmons also offered an update on the Canucks' coaching search on Wednesday evening, and the Wings were apparently asked to let the recently re-signed Jeff Blashill speak with Vancouver, but the team declined:
Vyacheslav Fetisov's attempt to unseat Vlasidlav Tretiak as the Russian Hockey Federation's president failed in a big way on Wendesday--he lost by a vote tally of 125 to 11--but Sport-Express's Vladislav Domrachev reported something that you might want to know: the Russian Hockey Federation did elect new board members as well (geek moment: the vote took place in the Moscow district of Sokolniki, which is home to Spartak Moscow; in an act of supreme irony, the Russian Hockey Federation's chosen to not help Sokolniki's team play in the KHL next season):
According to Domrachev, Atlant Mytishchi GM Alexei Zhamnov and CSKA Moscow GM Sergei Fedorov are now members of the Russian Hockey Federation's executive committee, which means that Fedorov will have a say in not only the personnel of the Rosneft-sponsored Moscow team, but also hockey policies throughout Russia;
Regarding all of that chatter suggesting that Brian Campbell and his $7.141 million salary (for the next 2 seasons) want out of Florida, which the Miami Herald's George Richards quashed (with Tom Gilbert likely to bolt for free agency, the team kind of needs Campbell, and that salary is nuts), TSN's Darren Dreger further quashed it by stating that all Campbell did was tell Panthers GM Dale Tallon that, should the GM need to make some roster changes, Campbell would only waive his no-trade clause if he was traded to a contending team;
I had to chuckle at this little tale told by Edmonton's TSN 1260's Jason Gregor, as related by Edmonton Oilers president Craig MacTavish:
DeKeyser was "wined and dined" by two thirds of the NHL's teams, but Mickey Redmond let the cat out of the bag after the Wings landed DeKeyser, saying that DeKeyser's dad skates with Mickey in Troy.
It appears that DeKeyser's signing wasn't a slam dunk and/or an empty-net goal, but it was pretty dang close.
DeKeyser will present an award at next Tuesday's NHL Awards (Tuesday the 24th at 7 PM on NBCSN and the CBC), and here's hoping it's the Jack Adams Award. I don't believe that Mike Babcock's going to take Jack home, but we can cross our fingers.
If you missed it, ahead of the NHL releasing its regular-season schedule on Sunday, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose Tweeted something of a hint that we may see teams release their preseason schedules over the next day or two.
The Pittsburgh Penguins released their preseason schedule on Wednesday, and Pittsburgh will host Detroit on Monday, September 22nd, and the Penguins will end their preseason schedule in Detroit on Wednesday, October 1st.
Pittsburgh's playing 6 preseason games; the Wings have played as many as 9 preseason games in some seasons, but last year, the team scaled that number back to 8 games. I hope the team cuts another game off that slate given the ridiculous incidence of preseason groin pulls.
In news regarding making one's way to those preseason home dates, it's turned out that the federal government's transportation funding has a $12 million shortfall that may threaten the M1 Rail Line on Woodward Avenue (one of its stops, Temple Street, will likely let people out in front of the Wings' follow-on rink, which is supposed to open for the 2015-2016 season), and the Detroit News surprisingly suggested that the feds need to step up:
Compared to most infrastructure projects the federal government is helping to fund, Detroit’s M-1 rail amounts to pocket change. Of the $137 million cost of the commuter rail, the U.S. Transportation Department is in for just $25 million.
That’s a pittance for a department that is more accustomed to billion dollar requests for projects not nearly as transformative as the M-1 rail promises to be for Detroit.
Now, the project is asking for another $12 million to address cost overruns that have surfaced since the planning process began.
Construction will begin within the next 30 days, pending city council approval, and the three-mile line on Woodward from downtown to New Center may have to be tweaked if new money isn’t found.
A letter from Michigan’s congressional delegation to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx warned of indefinite delays if the shortfall isn’t covered, although M-1 officials say the warning is overstated and construction will begin on time.
It’s a tough year to be asking the federal government for transportation money.
The National Highway Trust Fund, which finances transit projects, is nearly broke, thanks to declining gasoline tax collections and decades of cost overruns on infrastructure projects.
Still, if any initiative is worthy of funding, it’s the M-1 rail.
This is an unprecedented undertaking. Nowhere else in America is such a major transportation project being funded primarily by the private sector.
Backers of the line have raised $125 million from foundations, corporations and individuals whose overriding interest is reviving downtown Detroit.
The investors will reap no return on their donation except to see the city revitalized.
If you are unfamiliar with the editorial leanings of Detroit's newspapers, the Detroit Free Press has adopted a blue masthead and the Detroit News has a red theme for a reason. The Free Press tends to lean toward the liberal side, and the News is staunchly conservative. It is very rare for the News to suggest that a "handout" has merit.
Edit/update: The Free Press's John Gallagher reports that the M-1 Rail Line still expects to break ground on its construction this summer.
Matt Cullen, CEO of M-1 Rail, told the Free Press that the board of the project met June 6 and decided to go ahead anyway with groundbreaking this summer despite the latest wrinkle in financing for the roughly $140-million project.
In a May 1 letter jointly signed by Michigan U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and other congressional leaders to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the leaders said M-1 Rail might be “delayed indefinitely” unless the government approved a $12.2-million so-called TIGER transportation grant.
Cullen said the project leaders expect the TIGER grant to be approved, and if it is not, the project can go ahead by shifting future operating funds into the construction budget and then raise more operating funds in the future. Another option is to buy one fewer passenger cars to save money. M-1 Rail has planned to buy six passenger cars and operate five at a time.
“It’s not going to stop us from building it and it won’t stop us from (having) the resources necessary to operate it,” Cullen said. M-1 has overcome previous challenges, he added, “and if that’s the hand we’re dealt then we’ll deal with that one.”
In a statement released later, Cullen said construction could begin soon after Detroit’s City Council gives final approval, which could come as early as next week.
“We remain very optimistic about the requested TIGER grant based on the quality of our application, the strong support of the mayor, our congressional delegation and others, the administration’s focus and commitment to the City of Detroit, and the profound impact of this project for our community,” Cullen said in the statement. “That being said, the TIGER grant is just one component of our funding structure; there are contingency strategies that we will deploy if the grant is not approved.”
I'm going with "this is just cool": Part the first, from Michigan Hockey:
Part the second: The Goalie Guild's tour of Vaughn Hockey's factory in Oxford, MI continued on Wednesday:
Part the third: The Hockey News's Rory Boylen describes this gentleman as an "obscure player," but he was in fact a key contributor to the Wings' 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup wins:
Bob Rouse: OK, so Rouse played north of 1,000 career NHL games, so he may not qualify as “obscure” to some, but he only logged 218 points so he wasn’t exactly a headliner either. When Los Angeles’ Matt Greene told CBC during the Stanley Cup final that Rouse was his favorite player growing up, I freaked out. As a Toronto-area native, I best remember Rouse in the Blue and White and that we’d joke about him being related to my grandmother, whose maiden name was Rouse.
He was a bit of a fighter and here he is taking on Derian Hatcher – who is eight years his junior – near the end of his NHL career.
I tend to mention Rouse admiringly for a reason: before the Wings had Brad Stuart or Danny DeKeyser, Rouse was the prototypical no-frills two-way defenseman who could take care of his defensive duties superbly and occasionally take some power play minutes or play on the top pair if necessary. He didn't show up on the scoresheet very often, but he saved sure goals against on a regular basis...
And he was just plain old mean. You need Nicklas Lidstroms and Niklas Kronwalls to win playoff series, but if you don't have a Bob Rouse or two, you aren't going anywhere.
And finally, I do have to ask:
Over the 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 any help.
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.
Update: I missed this. NHL.com's Dan Rosen tossed off an article discussing the "draft hits and misses" for Atlantic Division teams, and the Wings were listed in their new division, not their old one:
DETROIT RED WINGS
Best first-round pick: Steve Yzerman (1983) -- The Red Wings were hoping to land high-scoring center Pat LaFontaine with the fourth pick because he had played in the Detroit area and management felt he would help a struggling team sell tickets. But LaFontaine went to the Islanders one pick earlier, leaving Yzerman to the Red Wings. Yzerman became the face of the franchise for a generation of Detroit fans, morphing from a high-scoring center on some non-winning teams to one of the best two-way centers on a franchise that won the Stanley Cup three times six seasons. He moved into the Red Wings' front office after retirement before leaving in 2010 to become vice president and general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Honorable mention -- Marcel Dionne (1971), Mike Foligno (1979), Keith Primeau (1990).
Uh, Keith Primeau during a draft where they skipped past Jaromir Jagr? Not so much.
Best pick, rounds 2-4: Nicklas Lidstrom (1989) -- The greatest defenseman in franchise history ranks as the biggest prize in one of the great drafts of all time. Lidstrom nearly was flawless in his 20 NHL seasons. He was a member of four Stanley Cup-winning teams and won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman seven times, more than anyone not named Bobby Orr. Lidstrom also was the first European captain of a Cup winner, surpassed 1,000 points for his career early in 2009-10 and is in the conversation when the topic turns to the greatest defensemen of all time.
Honorable mention -- Sergei Fedorov (1989), Chris Osgood (1991), Niklas Kronwall (2000), Valtteri Filppula (2002), Jimmy Howard (2003), Johan Franzen (2004).
Best later-round pick: Pavel Datsyuk (1998) -- It's hard to believe Datsyuk actually went two years without being drafted. The Red Wings finally took a flyer on him near the end of the sixth round (No. 171) in 1998, but they didn't bring him from Russia to North America for another three years. Datsyuk arrived in the fall of 2001, just in time to help the Wings win the Stanley Cup the following spring, and he's become one of the best two-way players in NHL history, averaging nearly a point per game in 12 NHL seasons while winning the Selke Trophy three times and the Lady Byng four times. There is nothing he can't do on the ice, and he's a perfect fit for Detroit's style of play.
Honorable mention -- Tomas Holmstrom (1994), Henrik Zetterberg (1999).
Biggest disappointment: Kory Kocur (1988) -- Joey Kocur's cousin was a scorer, not a fighter. The Red Wings chose him after a 34-goal season with Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League, and he put up 45 goals and 102 points in 1988-89 before turning pro. However, his scoring touch in junior never translated to the pros; he had 18 and eight goals in two AHL seasons, and didn't do much better with Fort Wayne of the International Hockey League, where he had 25 and 21 goals before calling it a career in 1993.
Others -- Curtis Bowen (1992), Jesse Wallin (1996).
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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.