The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/29/12 at 04:32 AM ET
Okay, let me get this out of the way first: after spending three and a half hours reading up on Tuesday's CBA negotiations and the NHL's "meaningful" proposal: It's lipstick on a pig and a PR push by Bettman to insist that the NHL moved off its initial proposal, which it did not. This time, the 24-percent-ish rollback and cut down to about 45% of revenues is achieved through massive escrow withholdings, and it guarantees a round of dispersal draft-style buyouts.* The two sides can't agree on how to define hockey-related revenues, never mind how to split the HRR pie, but at least the sides are talking and exchanging proposals, even if they're window-dressing.
Anyway, as MLive's Ansar Khan reported, Red Wings GM Ken Holland may not attempt to engage in contract extension talk with Jimmy Howard or Valtteri Filppula until the new CBA's ground rules have been established, but Holland is actively searching for some sort of defensive help, and he confirmed as much to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“We need to sign another defenseman or two,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Tuesday. “There are some veteran defensemen out there looking for an opportunity. I'm having conversations.”
Last Friday, a source confirmed that Detroit had offered often-injured Carlo Colaiacovo a two-year deal worth $2.7 million a season. Colaiacovo, who reportedly is looking for a three-year deal and was originally offered a one-year deal by the Wings, hasn’t played more than 67 games in any season.
“We're not close to signing anybody,” said Holland, who didn’t know if they would be able to sign one or two defensemen before Sept. 15.
But once again, CBA complications may delay the team's plans:
The organization isn’t thrilled with what is left on the open market – Michal Rozsival (Phoenix), Pavel Kubina (Philadelphia), Mark Eaton (New York Islanders), Brett Clark (Tampa Bay) and Milan Jurcina (New York Islanders) – and may wait until the collective bargaining agreement is reached. If the salary cap goes down, teams may be forced to trim salary and perhaps leave a top four defenseman looking for work.
The Wings do expect to re-sign the team's last restricted free agent, Justin Abdelkader, in short order (he'll get Helm-ish money under the current CBA's market values)...
“I believe we’re close,” Holland said.
But no news is no news regarding Tomas Holmstrom...
Holland has talked to Tomas Holmstrom regarding what his plans are for the upcoming season, but there has been no decision made.
Though it sure as hell sounds like the addition of Damien Brunner, who may be loaned to his Swiss team, EV Zug, if there's a lockout, means that there's no room for Holmstrom:
Brunner is skating with other NHLers in Minnesota and should arrive in Detroit when players begin skating on their own within the next week or two.
“Brunner will get acclimated and comfortable,” Holland said. “He’ll go back to play in Switzerland if there is no CBA.”
In other news regarding an addition to the Wings' roster, the Free Press's Helene St. James continues her series of assessments of the Wings' key performers by discussing the potential impact of a player whose new goalie mask was unveiled by the Wings on Tuesday in one Jonas "the Monster" Gustavsson:
Looking at money: Salary for 2012-13 is $1.5 million, start of two-year, $3-million contract.
Looking back: Gustavsson has spent the past three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, trying to establish himself as a starting goaltender in the NHL. He has missed chunks of time getting a heart murmur treated, but said earlier this summer it hadn't been an issue for the past year.
Looking ahead: The Wings' backup goaltending situation has been in flux for years, with starter Jimmy Howard spelled by an aging Chris Osgood, journeymen Ty Conklin and Joey MacDonald and untested Thomas McCollum. The result has been heavy reliance on Howard, leaving him injury prone, especially last year.
Relief arrived this off-season in the shape of Gustavsson, a 6-foot-3 27-year-old eager for stability after the craziness of Toronto. Gustavsson is going to push Howard, in a good way, and barring a disastrous first few outings by Gustavsson, he should be a regular every handful of games. That'll ease up the workload for Howard, which will reduce the risk of getting hurt and ideally leave him fresh mentally and physically for the playoffs.
Gustavsson had his ups and downs with the Maple Leafs, mirroring the club as a whole. He's talented and, much like Dominik Hasek did, holds himself accountable for how he plays and doesn't shy away from scrutiny. He might struggle behind a Detroit defense that right now is average, but Gustavsson is the best the Wings have looked at backup in a while.
We've also been talking (we as in you and I have been talking) about players' potential plans in the case of a lockout, and aside from suggesting that you read an article that Paul posted in the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline's take on the utter weirdness of players showing up to work out and practice at rinks they'll probably be barred from entering on September 16th...
MLive's Khan and other have covered Pavel Datsyuk's likely backup plans as they involve the KHL (if you missed it, Mikael Samuelsson's going to emulate the pattern of most Wings players with children by remaining in Metro Detroit, and Niklas Kronwall may or may not play for Djugardens IF of the Swedish Allsvenskan), and Datsyuk also addressed his plans and other topics in an interview with Sport-Express's Sergey Gavrilov. What follows is roughly translated, and it comes from a Datsyuk's conversations with the Russian press after a charity game in Kazan (and Sport-Express published a picture of Datsyuk posing with Evgeny Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk as well):
- The first question for today's typical of August--will there be a lockout in the NHL?
"No comment. If it happens, then I'll think about it, but for now there's nothing to discuss. As they say, hope springs eternal. At least in my heart. I think that before the middle of September, the situation regarding a lockout will be clarified. Everyone's waiting. What, do you want us to have a lockout or not?
-I'd rather that it doesn't happen. By the way, you'll have importance in the event that the lockout is still to come: You could play for "Barys" [Astana] for your beloved coach Krikunov, who gave you a spot on Yekaterinburg's Dynamo-Energia when you were 16, or to Dyanmo Moscow, where you became a champion of the Russian Superleague during the lockout season, 2004-2005?
"Fist of all, I'll consider options with a team that will fight for [the championship[ gold medal. Moreover, it's important that I don't stop developing my sporting skills. These two are my main principles in choosing a team."
- What memories do you have of your two seasons in Kazan, with the Ak Bars?
"Only pleasant ones. This applies to both the city and the team, which I left to play for Detroit. Therefore I always return to Kazan with great pleasure. It's great to remember the masseur of the Ak Bars, Gadel Zainullin, you need to look for artists like him (Datsyuk gave Zainullin one of his many awards from the World Championship, a Swiss watch [he won as a palyer of the game]--Sergey Gavrilov's comment). He has hands of gold, a heart of gold, and these people only know him a little. I talk to him by phone.
-What do you enjoy most in hockey: scoring, passing, stealing the puck? In the latter, by the way, you're almost the best in the NHL.
"The main thing is to please the fans. When you see and feel their emotions, their energy is transferred to you. And taking the puck away...It's not so easy, so I don't get to do it so often. But those statistics [don't matter] to me."
-Once you had a fight, so can we say that you've completely mastered the entire arsenal of overseas hockey skills?
"Well, you see, I've grown. Maybe my pride got me? I understand that that's not my style, but anything can happen. Nonetheless, I know that I'm not good at fighting."
-Even with tough guys like Donald Brashear, for example, probably not even as a joke in practice?
"It's possible to joke, but it's better to not do it. Though I still have some catching up to do..."
-In addition to the charity game in Kazan, there are games planned for Moscow and Magnitogorsk. Are you going to participate?
"I don't know, I haven't decided. There are some problems associated with my departure for America. My daughter is in fourth grade, I need to help her. Although if I get a chance, I'd be happy to respond to such a proposal to help the families of [Lokomotiv] players."
In Detroit, by the way, they're preparing to release a book about Ruslan Salei, who played for the Red Wings and was killed a year ago in Yaroslavl. The book's about Salei and was written in his native Belarus. So the NHL will know and remember him for a long time, and won't forget the tragedy of Yaroslavl.
In news regarding Red Wings prospects, as noted in the mid-day report, Tomas Jurco took part in an NHLPA-sponsored photo shoot for Panini and Upper Deck in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke, and the NHLAP's Facebook page posted several pictures of Jurco taking part in the shoot and various activities, but the coolest picture of Jurco will hopefully make a rookie card's cut;
- As of 4 in the morning, the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran and Liam Casey posted a slate of answers the 29 players taking part in the shoot gave to three questions, but there are no names attached to the answers, so your guess as to which might be Jurco's quips are as good as mine;
- And as the Score's Justin Bourne posted, Brendan Smith took part in last year's Biosteel pro camp, but neither Biosteel's website, Twitter account nor Facebook page offer glimpses of Smith, though I'm pretty sure that he's somewhere in video of their first day's events:
In the alumni department, as noted by Yahoo Sports' Sean Leahy, Dominik Hasek has been added to EA Sports' NHL 13 "Legends," Gordie Howe, Chris Chelios and Steve Yzerman remain from the previous editions, and there are two female characters now in Angela Ruggiero and Heyley Wickenheiser;
- This is rather gloomy, but Pro Hockey Talk's Ryan Dadoun noted that former Wing Mike Knuble spoke to MLive's Peter J. Wallner, and the still-unemployed Knuble believes that the lockout won't be a short one:
“My own opinion is it’s going to be awhile because they’re not even close to being on the same page,” he said. “I think the issues are different than the last time … and now there are a lot of revenues out there and they’re trying to figure out how to split it the right way. (The league’s) take is look what just happened in basketball and football. And the players say, well, look at baseball. They don’t have a salary cap and they’re just fine. So, it’s going to be a he said, she said and go back and forth.”
Meantime, Knuble waits. He spent the offseason in West Michigan after a week in Stockholm, Sweden, where his 12-year-old son played hockey. Last season was one of Knuble’s worst, despite reaching the 1,000-game milestone. The right winger scored six goals and had 18 points in 72 games with the Washington Capitals after signing a two-year, $2.8 million deal in 2009. After the season, Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee informed Knuble he would not be re-signed.
“It was a funny adjustment to come in and have the mentality that you’re ready to have a good year, be a big factor and then when things change, it’s tough,” said Knuble, who has gone from playing on the Capitals’ No. 1 line with center Nicklas Backstrom and left wing Alexander Ovechkin to being a healthy scratch in 10 games late in the regular season. “It’s tough to change in midstream.”
On the other hand, Knuble said he spent the season bracing for the finality if his career is over.
“I’ve approached the whole summer that way,” he said. “I think I’m very realistic about what could happen and, in fact, if anything at all could happen.”
If that’s the case, he hopes to stay in professional hockey. He said he has not spoken with the Griffins or Red Wings about future plans.
“I’d like to help develop players and think I have a good rapport with younger guys,” he said. “And where we live and where we’re located, that’d be a pretty good fit. That would be my first choice. But you never know what’s going to happen.”
And finally, after quite a bit of waffling on my part, I've decided that it's time to start up a training camp and/or lockout protest fund. I've got to start preparing as if there's going to be a training camp starting on September 21st, and as I can't afford to go there on my own, I need to ask for your assistance in doing so. I only need to ask one more question of you: Paypal or Kickstarter? Which do you prefer?
*For the obvious record, I'm both an NHLPA supporter and a Red Wings fan, so of course I want the owners and players to make money. As I said on Twitter, I'm fully aware that I cheer for a bunch of athletes being paid a disproportionate wage to play a kid's game, but that doesn't bother me one bit, and I'm well aware of the fact that I spend my money supporting a professional sports league. As a rule, I don't resent the players' right to make a living and I don't resent the Ilitches' right to make money, either. The players, the owners, the Wings' sponsors, front office, support staff, game-night personnel, when I go to a game, I help pay all of their salaries, and that's fine.
But I cannot and will not in good conscience support the owners as a group, the Board of Governors, their appointed representative, Gary Bettman, or even Jimmy Devellano given that the owners believe in lockouts as a matter of collective bargaining course. I also cannot support the owners' stance given that their 30-team business plan (and there will be no contraction, folks, it is what it is) involves repeatedly asking the talent whose salaries have little to nothing to do with the supply-and-demand price of admission charged to fans to dig into their pockets and "give at the office" to bail out what is obviously a fundamanetally flawed business plan.
The owners spent an entire year locking out players and fans and many of their own employees to essentialyly write a dream CBA in concert with a Benedict Arnold figure in Ted Saskin, and that CBA is working exactly as it was intended to do in terms of restricting player salaries to 57% of an average of league-wide hockey-related revenues. The players should not be asked to save the NHL from itself for the second time in a row.
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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.