The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/12/14 at 04:05 AM ET
[Edit: Quickie update: This entry apparently needs a disclaimer. This entry discusses the business of hockey in Sweden and Russia at length, and it's very much so a "geeky" post.
If you do not wish to read about how Nicklas Lidstrom's going to learn the ropes of running a community-owned developmental and professional sports team, and if you don't want to read about the politics surrounding the KHL, the evening report involves more hockey and less abstract and/or verbose talky. /end edit]
This morning's crop of Red Wings-related news stories involves a pair of foreign-language news, found after the usual perusal of 40-something websites' worth of content (i.e. today's report's a little lean, but it wasn't for a lack of searching).
First: Tomas Tatar took part in a charity inline hockey game a few days ago, dedicating his hat trick to the memory of Pavol Demitra, and the Slovak news agency TASR reported that Tatar engaged in fitness testing with members of the Slovak national team to get some baseline numbers to improve upon during his summertime training sessions.
Today, Tatar spoke with Sport.sk's Ivor Lehot'an, and as Slovak's difficult to translate, I'll give you a summary of what was said:
I know that some of you are a little worried about his status as a restricted free agent-to-be (again, per Capgeek, Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser are the most noteworthy of the Wings' restricted free agents), so it's good to read Tatar tell Lehot'an that while he didn't engage in any contract negotiations with the Wings prior to returning to Slovakia, and he knows that the Wings' cap figure will depend on the players that the team re-signs...
But Tatar says that he's not nervous about his contract, and he knows that his agent will take care of the money and term. In other words, he's expecting things to go routinely.
Given that Tatar was spending last summer suggesting that maybe the Wings should let him play for a KHL team until they were willing to finally play him on their NHL roster instead of celebrating his Calder Cup victory and status as the Jack Butterfield Trophy winner as the AHL playoffs' MVP, this is a welcome relief.
The second part of this entry's a follow-up: on Wednesday, Aftonbladet's Fredrik Falk reported that Nicklas Lidstrom's slowly but surely getting into the "business of hockey" by serving as a non-voting member of Vasteras IK Hockey's board of directors.
Lidstrom is an assistant coach on his second-youngest son Samuel's 2000-born team, and his youngest son Lucas plays on the 2003-birthdate team, so it makes sense for him to take a slightly more formal role with the organization (and yes, he remains an ambassador and part-time scout for the Wings; he simply stated before his retirement that he hoped to get involved in coaching youth hockey after his playing days are over, and he's doing just that).
Lidstrom discussed his nomination to VIK's board with VLT.se's Kevin Johansson on Wednesday, and today, Johansson posted at least part of a second interview with Lidstrom. Regrettably, there's an annotation at the bottom of the interview stating that the full story's in today's print edition of Vestmanlands Lans Tidning, which makes things...complicated...
But here's a rough translation of what I can access without going to Vasteras and picking up a print copy of the newspaper (though the big ol' photo of Lidstrom published with the paper at least provides the ladies with something to look at).
I'm particularly intrigued by the fact that Lidstrom's going to not only work with the youth team, but he's also going to learn the administrative ropes on the board of VIK's Allsvenskan board. Vasteras IK's professional team plays in the Allsvenskan, one step below the SHL (the former Swedish Elite League; if you really, really want to watch ), so we're really talking about Lidstrom taking part in the day-to-day operations of a professional sports team.
Anyway, here's Johansson's interview:
The plan for Lidas with VIK
To share his hockey skills--and learn administrative work. There you have the lan for Nicklas Lidstrom with VIK's board.
The Allsvenskan team VIK Hockey now has the best-ever defenseman in its board of directors. This became a reality after the board's annual meeting on Wednesday evening.
Lidas tells VLT about his new mission.
"I look forward to the coming winter and getting to see and learn," says the 44-year-old.
What do you think you can contribute?
"I have enough hockey knowledge that I can be of help. Then we'll see what issues arise. I'm looking forward to just sitting in on the board meetings and seeing how everything works. How the business works and how the board functions."
Will Detroit influence [the team's] leadership now?
"Oh, I don't know, ha ha. Perhaps the conditions are a little different in an association instead of a team that's owned by a single owner. But I'm just looking forward to being a part of the season to come."
Will you be a sounding board for the [pro team's coaching staff], too? VIK has some young defensemen...
"It will probably be more managerial matters. That particular issue hasn't come up, but we'll see this fall."
Lidstrom has followed VIK carefully since he ended his NHL career and moved back home. Partially as a coach on the youth side, and as a visitor to the first team's games.
"I've seen quite a few games over the past two years."
What do you see in the upcoming season?
"The chance [of making the SHL] is better than it's been in previous seasons, because the SHL's expanded [its league] by two teams. There are many teams that are trying to jump on the bandwagon and take that chance. It won't be just us in VIK, so it will be an exciting season, in the summer and early autumn."
Vasteras IK's website announced Lidstrom's addition to the board--at the end of their press release regarding their association's meetings--and yes, there's a picture of a whole bunch of folks attending with Lidstrom conveniently sticking out like nobody's business right in the middle of the audience:
Annual meeting completed!
There were happy faces at the annual meeting, even though the season ended on a low note with a failed bid to join the SHL.
"Next season will be extremely important and interesting when there are 4 spots at stake," says VIK's president, Johan Fagerblad.
Fagerblad was re-elected at the meeting for two more years as the person who will point the way for a team that's striving for a place in the SHL.
"We're going up! Be it this season or the next, we won't know until next spring," says Fagerblad.
Otherwise, it was noted that the new approaches using the same board for both VIK's elite teams and VIK's youth teams worked well. This wasn't the topic a year ago, when a huge argument broke out at the annual meeting when it wasn't as obvious which way the association wanted to go.
The arena issue was brought up a number of times, where it's clear that the City of Vasteras and VIK have had advanced discussions about what the next step in the evolution of the Rocklunda Arena will be.
"Rocklunda arena isn't what it was, it's almost 50 years old and needs to keep up with developments," said meeting chairman Per Lithammer, who is also chairman of Culture, sport and recreation.
This is kind of neat: because the team is a community organization, its revenues and budget are public knowledge:
The financial results are as follows for the elite team's operations:
Budget for 2013/2014 (including qualification games)
Revenue: 35.6 million Swedish Krona [$5,230,046 U.S. dollars].
Team costs: 21.9 million SEK [$3,272,514 U.S. dollars].
Results: 300,000 SEK profit [$44,828 U.S. dollars].
Budget for 2014/2015 season (excluding qualification games)
Revenues: 31.3 million SEK [$4,677,155 U.S. dollars]
Team costs: 18.8 million SEK [$2,809,282 U.S. dollars]
Margin: 500,000 SEK [$74,714 U.S. dollars]
Fredrik Nilsson thanked the members of the board. Camilla Thorngren and Kent Hellstrom were re-elected with president Johan Fagerblad. Former NHL and VIK defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was named an adjunct to the board.
Board of Directors:
Johan Fagerblad, chairan; David Holm; Kent Hellstrom; Madeleine Ahlqvist; Thomas Larsson; Camilla Torngren; Nicklas Lidstrom, adjunct.
I'm not going to tell you where I've found certain things for privacy's sake, but Lidstrom has posted on VIK's message boards a couple of times, and it's neat to see him say things like, "Lucas and I will be at the fundraiser" or, "I'm sorry, we can't come to this event, we're going to the U.S."
While Lidstrom is going to learn the professional hockey administrative ropes, he remains a hockey dad first and foremost, and while he's sorely missed on the ice, off the ice and in the community here in Michigan, it's good to know that he's enjoying a somewhat normal post-hockey existence.
Your "bonus story" comes from Russia: The Russian Hockey Federation is going to conduct elections on June 18th, and it was assumed that current chairman Vladislav Tretiak was going to be re-elected unopposed.
Over the past couple of days, Slava Fetisov, who's currently a member of the upper house of parliament as a representative of Vladivostok, started suggesting that it was a shame that Tretiak was running unopposed.
Then Fetisov decided to run for the chairman's position, pointing out that he was Russia's Minister of Sport for eight years, and suggesting that the current administration is resting on its laurels, and that it's not addressing the fundamental problems in Russian developmental hockey.
Today, R-Sport reports that Fetisov and Tretiak are the only candidates for the president, Russian Hockey Federation president Valery Fesyuk reported that the 72 regional federations will hold their meetings and elect a chairman in Sokolniki, Moscow on the 18th (there's a bit of irony there in that Spartak Moscow, which plays in that part of Moscow, won't be playing in the KHL next season due to the collapse of their main sponsor), and as Tretiak is promising to reveal changes to the Russian developmental system at the meeting...
There's a unique little twist to this story. Fetisov stormed out of KHL commissioner Alex Medvedev's "state of the league" speech at the KHL's All-Star Game in 2010, resigning from his post as vice-president of the league and resigning from his position as CSKA Moscow's president--paving the way for the changes which led to Sergei Fedorov becoming the team's general manager.
Fetisov disappeared from the scene for a little while, but when a rink and performance center was built in Vladivostok, far from Fetisov's hometown of Moscow, it was announced that Fetisov was going to donate all of his trophies to the Fetisov Arena. Soon after, Fetisov moved to Vladivostok (Vladivostok is so "Far East" that it's northeast of North Korea), and, wouldn't you know it, a KHL team soon followed in the Vladivostok Admiral (the fact that Fetisov happens to be buddies with Vladimir Putin may or may not have aided this cause).
Alex Medvedev is a very powerful man in his own right--he's the GM of the wealthiest team in the KHL in SKA St. Petersburg, he's the KHL's commissioner, he's the deputy chairman of the board of directors of Gazprom, the largest oil and natural gas-producing company in the world (which is owned by the Russian government, of course), and he's the director of Gazprom-Export, which is SKA St. Petersburg's sponsor and one of the main sponsors of the KHL.
If I may be frank, Medvedev's power is so vast (and he's such a pal of one Vladimir V. Putin) that it's surprising that he's not on the U.S.'s list of sanctions related to the Russians' retaking of Crimea.
SKA co-owner Boris Rotenberg and Moscow Dynamo chairman Arkady Rotenberg are both on the sanctions list, and they and their billionaire pal Gennady Timchenko (who's SKA's president; he's on the sanctions list, too) bought Hartwall Arena, the home of Jokerit Helsinki, and have engineered Jokerit's move to the KHL (smell a conflict of interest or three here? They don't exist in post-Soviet Russia!).
"I support the nomination of Vyacheslav Fetisov as a candidate. I hope the elections will be fair. I won't deny that it's a struggle between the old and new [guard]. Some are content to live the old way--to do nothing and to not respond [to change]. But I see Vyacheslav, as a candidate, is of the order who will be responsible for what he does," said Medvedev.
So that's what I've got for you today. I know that Lidstrom's quiet evolution into a hockey executive and Fetisov's not-so-quiet attempt to become one of the most powerful men in Russian sport--again--aren't intriguing to everyone, but I think this stuff is absolutely fascinating.
And you know what's coming now...Again, I'm not thrilled to have to ask for your financial support, but there's just no way in pants that I'd be able to afford to get myself up to Traverse City to take part in the Wings' summer development camp from July 4th to 8th.
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 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.
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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.