The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/27/12 at 05:01 AM ET
And now things are going to get a little weird. With private schools' academic years beginning this week and public schools' academic years beginning the day after Labor Day, the majority of the Red Wings' veterans will be filtering back into Metro Detroit this week, with their younger teammates likely to return from their summer homes by the end of the first week of September, so the news cycle will pick up, starting today.
As the Wings' Twitter account noted on Sunday, the Ilitch Charities Golf Classic takes place today, and a charity dinner preceded it on Sunday evening...
And I'm sure that some Wings players and coulple members of the coaching staff will be speaking to the media sometime today.
After today, however, the Wings' players, trainers, coaches and management will begin to enter something of an uneasy partnership. As DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose stated a week ago, Henrik Zetterberg's already in Detroit, and as the Wings' players with school-aged children will be here for the start of private schools' academic years this week or public schools' academic years the day after Labor Day, pretty soon they'll be gathering at rinks around Metro Detroit, and as Roose suggested, at Joe Louis Arena sometime around or after Labor Day, to skate, train and prepare for the regular season as if training camp will start on September 16th.
That's probably not going to happen. The Red Wings' voting member of the Board of Governors, Jimmy Devellano, is almost certian to vote to lock the Wings' players out when the CBA expires, and while the players, trainers, coaches and management will interact as if everything's normal, it isn't.
After September 15th, given that a lockout seems all but inevitable, the players will have to find somewhere else to skate and to work out, with the Troy Sports Center a likely pick, but they'll be competing against local hockey programs for ice time, they'll have to hire their own equipment staff to sharpen their skates, do laundry and fill their water bottles, they'll need to find a trainer to nurse their bumps and bruises, and who knows how things will work if somebody takes a puck off the boot and has to go to the hospital for a preventative x-ray.
Given that we still have no clue whether the NHL will chop a certain amount of games off the schedule, and given that so many of the Wings' players have families and/or significant others, I don't think that Pavel Datsyuk's patriotic yearnings or any other player's desire to play in Europe will be cut-and-dry decisions, either--will the lockout last for a couple of games? A month? Half the year? Nobody knows yet--but the team's leadership will definitely have to come together and find a place to skate and scrimmage should there be a lockout, which seems incredibly likely.
The Grand Rapids Griffins' training camp is up in the air as well. They usually camp with the Wings, practice at the Joe in lieu of participating in pre-season AHL games, and they tend to break camp and head to Grand Rapids toward the last three or four exhibition games. Given the Tweets by the Wings' prospects, it appears that those who usually take part in the prospect tournament will be gathering in Grand Rapids initially, but whether they'll start camp as an AHL team on September 16th, or whether Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner will be among their ranks is up in the air as well. At least some of the Wings' top prospects, including the goalies who fall under Jim Bedard and Chris Osgood's coaching responsibilities, will probably be skating in Detroit to start, but after the 15th?
Nobody knows yet, and while the news cycle will pick up this week, there's going to be a tremendous amount of players making things up as they go along amidst CBA uncertainty.
Contractually, it's safe to assume that the Wings will re-sign restricted free agent Justin Abdelkader sometime soon, it sounds like the team will find out whether Carlo Colaiacovo's interest in joining the cause is mutual, and we'll probably witness Tomas Holmstrom's retirement press conference as well, but that's all guesswork, too.
For the moment, the topic of the day seems to involve predicting that the end of the Wings' playoff run is finally nigh. I received The Sports Forecaster's annual fantasy hockey yearbook on Saturday (I quote their NHL Watch's player assessments pretty damn regularly), and they're picking the Wings, as they are currently built, to finish 9th in the Western Conference and 17th overall.
We already know that the Hockey News is picking the Wings to finish seventh in the West, ESPN's Summer Skate fantasy projections for the Wings will hit the wires sometime today (regrettably, Craig Custance's presence = automatic Insider-only status), and the Tennessean's Joshua Cooper chose to begin his 2012-2013 season coverage of the Predators by suggesting that the Red Wings are old and busted, certain to fall behind the team which vanquished its playoff archrival because the Red Wings are too old (for some reason, he includes Nicklas Lidstrom's age as a slight--and nobody's told him that fifteen of the 26 players on the Wings' current roster are under 30), too thin defensively (meh) and have drafted too poorly to keep up with the Predators' wonderful pool of prospects (and I obviously disagree with this assessment):
The Red Wings have drafted in the top 20 once since 1991. Since then, they’ve been able to stay competitive through smart late-round drafting, good trades and deft signings.
They were fortunate that Lidstrom could be a strong player into his 40s. They were also able to grab Datsyuk at 171st overall in 1998 and Zetterberg at 210th in 1999 — they were essentially first-round picks who didn’t come in the first round.
A lot of years the Red Wings made moves to solidify their postseason standing, and it cost them more than most in 2003. That year they landed Mathieu Schneider from the Kings in a deal that included Detroit’s first-round pick. That draft was considered one of the most talented in NHL history.
Granted, the Red Wings ended up picking franchise goaltender Jimmy Howard with their second-round pick, but what could they have done with the 27th pick in the draft had they not traded it?Corey Perry, the 2010-11 MVP, went No. 28 to the Ducks. Other players of note selected between Perry at 28 and Howard at 64 included Loui Eriksson to the Stars (33rd), Patrice Bergeron to the Bruins (45th), Weber to the Predators (49th), and David Backes to the Blues (62nd).
All those players have either made an all-star team or won a major NHL award. Who knows which prospect the Red Wings had pegged at No. 27? But imagine if they had landed any of those players.
Yeah, but the Predators didn't draft them, either...
The Red Wings were smart enough to beat the system. For the first time in over 20 years, it has finally caught up to them.
We'll find out whether that's true on the ice, whenever the season begins, and along those lines, MLive's Brendan Savage proffered an opinion which makes me equally cranky, suggesting that the Wings would benefit from a shortened 2012-2013 season while asking whether this is so in an MLive polling article:
If there's a lockout because a new collective bargaining agreement isn't in place by Sept. 15, could a shortened season actually be a good thing for the Red Wings?
It only seems to reason that fewer games would result in less stress on the players, right?
Remember, last winter the Red Wings had the NHL's best record at midseason until a second-half slump – brought on in part by injuries – saw them drop from the top of the overall standings before they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Nashville.
Is it possible the Red Wings would have more gas in the proverbial tank – and perhaps even be less prone to injuries – if the season didn't start until mid-December or perhaps New Year's Day with the Winter Classic?
I'd much rather see the Wings have 60, 70 or 82 games to work out the kinks and find their post-Lidstrom form, but that's just me...
Regarding the Red Wings' prospects, European teams and the QMJHL's pre-seasons are underway, the OHL's preseason will begin on the 31st, the WHL's preseason will begin on Tuesday and NCAA teams hold training camps in early September, so the Wigns' prospects will be busy despite the cancellation of the prospect tournament.
I don't know who runs the Twitter account "DRW Prospects," but they're doing an excellent job of keeping up with preseason stats...
And in Europe, we had something of a reminder of the fact that the Wings' former prospects are, by and large, doing just fine. In one European Trophy game, Mattias Backman was held off the scoresheet in Linkopings HC's 5-2 loss to Sparta Prague, and Dick Axelsson scored a goal in the Frolunda Indians' 3-1 victory over Adler Mannheim, but another Axelsson stole the show--former Wings prospect Anton Axelsson (no relation to Dick), who scored two goals.
Also in Europe, Sport-Express's Sergey Gavrilov reports that the charity game Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexei Morozov and Pavel Datsyuk took part in on Sunday in Kazan, Russia raised approximately $550,000 U.S. dollars for Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin's "From a Pure Heart" charity;
For the record, from the Free Press's sports staff, yes, one Shane Doan will probably decide where he's playing before September 15th:
As the NHL and the players association are negotiating toward a Sept. 15 deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement, Shane Doan's agent says his player is setting a deadline, too.
The Phoenix free agent has been putting off a decision on his future as he waits for the Coyotes' ownership situation to be resolved.
The Wings are among several teams interested in Doan, though odds are he's going to re-sign with Phoenix. Wings general manager Ken Holland has spoken to both Doan and his agent Terry Bross this summer.
"Shane is going to sign a contract before the CBA expires on the 15th," Bross told the Arizona Republic. "(Ownership has to) be done before the 15th, otherwise we're signing somewhere because we don't know what the new CBA is going to look like, and I don't know if it's going to limit any scope of a contract, so we want to make sure we sign before then. I guess from that respect, time is ticking."
While DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson's profile of former Red Wings coach Jacques Demers and his fight with illiteracy generally involves archival material...In the words of Mike Babcock, "Sometimes you need to be reminded" of good things, and Demers was the coach who woke the "Dead Wings" from their slumber:
"They were the laughing stock in the NHL, as I was the laughing stock in school where kids made fun of me because we were so poor,” Demers said. “That was a huge challenge, the Detroit Red Wings. When I was young I always challenged myself to get out of a bad situation and I think that really helped me.”
Demers breathed life back into the Red Wings through his passion, emotion and unconventional coaching style. He wanted to be more than a coach. He wanted to be the father figure to his young players that he never had in his life. Demers didn’t care if his coaching style was different. Nothing was more important than being himself.
“I think they saw that I was more of a player-coach than someone that would kick butt all the time,” Demers explained. “I never was made important by my dad so I made them feel important as players, made them feel important as human beings and certainly more important is what made them play to a level where even sometimes they didn’t think they were as good as they were.”
The Red Wings flourished under Demers’ caring and emotional personality.
“That was Jacques,” Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said of his former coach. “It came from his heart and I think that’s where the players wanted to play for him, they knew that he cared that much, it came from his heart and when you have a person who cares that much you want to make sure they succeed.”
Everyone succeeded. Demers became the first Red Wings’ coach to reach the third round of the playoffs since the league’s expansion. He led Detroit to the playoffs three years in a row, becoming the only coach to win two consecutive Jack Adams Awards as the NHL Coach of the Year. Detroit had just been another challenge.
“I don’t back down from challenges, I never back down,” Demers said. “To not back down, you have to have the help of people. I can’t do it all by myself and I certainly did not do it all by myself. I know I was the head coach and the head coach is supposed to be the leader but I had really good leaders that I was surrounded by, too.”
And finally, I've been putting it off for as long as possible, but now that we're only four weeks from the proposed start of the Wings' training camp on September 22nd, I need to know whether it's kosher with you to start a Paypal fund or a Kickstarter page to start raising $$ for attending the event as I can't do so on my own. I also need to know whether you'd be willing to send me to Toronto or New York (via car, bus or train or plane, whatever's cheapest) should there be a lockout, or whether anyone who lives in Toledo or Grand Rapids would let me crash on their couch if I attended some Griffins and Walleye games. I can claim some mileage each month, but that's about it.
Yes, we're doing the whole, "You have to register to comment" thing now, but I promise that we do jack s*** with your information--there is no spam, no selling of your info to anyone, absolutely no "hitch" to sharing your personal information with us. The only reason we do it is to reduce spammers and make sure that particularly abusive commenters can be taken care of so that they don't present a threat to you. That's it.
One more thing, from the Wings, the team's in the last 24 hours of a drive to beat the Blackhawks in Twitter followers, and they're offering some sort of prize for the following:
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About The Malik Report
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.