The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/26/13 at 04:27 AM ET
I'm guessing that the tenor of the comments section of late has reflected general reactions to the news regarding the Red Wings follow-on-rink's funding--at times venomous and downright nasty, which is understandable "in the spirit of the thing," but not so acceptable when it's your damn blog and your readers are being mean to each other.
So the playground lady wants to let you know that what's been said over the past couple of days is, in tenor, understood, but not cool in any way, shape or form. That needs to be said right off the *#$%@& bat here. Calm the hell down, people, and be *#$%@& civil.
Now that it has been said, I think that the Detroit News's Frank Beckmann* did a better-than-anybody-else-has-said-it job of explaining why things have been so vicious all over the damn place while providing an honestly-acceptable scapegoat: the "Tough Nerd."
Governor Rick Snyder has done some great things for the State of Michigan and some shitty things for its citizens. As I don't want to splinter my readership any further, I'll leave it at that (be warned, however: "stick to hockey" comments = a higher and higher likelihood that I will incorporate socio-cultural-economic-political-philosophical-and-personal-type-things into my entries)...
But let's be *#$%@& blunt here. Snyder's decision to proceed with the Michigan Strategic Fund meeting to approve the whopping $450 million in bond sales--again, paid for by property taxes already collected by the Downtown Development Authority from downtown businesses (GM, Compuware, Olympia Entertainment, conveniently enough, Rock Financial, etc.) for business and economic development downtown, not paid for by average folks (for the most part) and not funded by money that doesn't exist (property taxes are collected regardless of what happens during a Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy) or funded by more debt placed upon a bankrupt city (future money collected over the course of normal business and taxation = the only way to fund bond sales for bonds that people will actually buy, especially in a city that is otherwise going through a municipal bankruptcy process)--exactly THE SAME *#$%@& DAY after the City filed for bankruptcy was not the brightest decision he's made.
This could have waited until next week. Or next month. We all know that the deal's going to get done and that the rink's going to get built.
Wednesday was a poor day to hold a meeting talking about a crapton of public funds and spending them partially-subdizing a billionaire's business interests. About as poor a day as could possibly be picked, as Beckham suggests:
Sure, that’s a source of public pride, but in this case you’ll have to forgive those protesters who marched outside Detroit’s federal building to complain that their hard-earned pensions might be chopped or eliminated as a part of the city’s financial restructuring, if they’re not too excited about the announcement.
As optics go, the arena funding press conference couldn’t have come at a worse time and was a grievous blunder by the Snyder administration and Detroit economic development officials.
And then there's this:
Public funding of arenas is a contentious issue to begin with. While Gov. Rick Snyder said the project “should increase the tax base of the city longer term and should increase the employment opportunities for Detroiters,” numerous studies have shown that the benefit of publicly funded projects like this are minimal at best, and economic losers at worst.
Supporters point to more than 4,000 construction jobs that will be created, but those go away in three years when the arena is completed. Proponents point to the related economic development of increased hotel use and patronization of the bar/restaurant community, but those businesses are already realizing those benefits from the current home of the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
That much is true. And as Beckham notes, the Olympia Development spiel that, "Well, everybody else does it, and here's the economic benefit" presentation didn't hold water on a day when everybody else wasn't going through a bankruptcy process.
The development is a huge plus in that it takes vacant and blighted property and turns it into productive use. But that’s not the issue. The issue is whether that should be done with taxpayer dollars, especially at a time when Detroit is in bankruptcy court and public employees are about to take an unwelcomed haircut.
Comerica Park and Ford Field were similarly built through the partial use of public funding power and so far there’s been no sign that taxpayers will be failed by the issuance of those bonds, which are being repaid through taxes being collected in Wayne County on car rentals and hotel rooms.
The worry? Not much to worry about.
The hockey arena will use a different economic model using the parking and concessions dollars to repay the bonds, so there should be no jeopardy to taxpayers and private backers so long as fans keep showing up in large numbers for Red Wings games.
Let’s just hope the people who came up with the idea for the timing of the announcement weren’t the same ones doing the cost-benefit analysis of the project.
I'm not into scapegoating as a rule, but this is most definitely an instance where the buck stops with the governor, and stepping blithely forward and deciding that it was an equally swell day to support a municipal bankruptcy due to over $18 billion in debt while preparing to drop nearly half a billion bucks toward a private entity's future bottom line...
Was as subtle a move as throwing a brick through the window of a burning building, inscribed with a note that says, "Send money." It wasn't a bright thing to do, and, regrettably, it's not the first time that the governor's shown particularly poor timing in talking about "tough times" and "sacrifices" that the average folk have to deal with on one hand while gushing about corporate opportunities on the other, at almost the same damn time.
As such, the Ilitches' deafening silence regarding this news spoke respectable volumes, because this was no day to celebrate.
*And yes, I know that Beckmann is a controversial figure. He's quite a "far right" fellow, and I am downright "militantly middle-of-the-middle" at times, but when somebody's got a point that's worth examining in a reasonable manner...Somebody's got a point.
In actual hockey news, but in a topic of interest that seems to be similarly provokatory in terms of the knife the terms "third line" and "fourth line" toss between passionate Wings fans, the Free Press's Helene St. James caused her share of controversy by suggesting that Joakim Andersson would center a "fourth line" consisting of himself, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar if Darren Helm returns from his back injury, and today, she looks at Andersson's value to the team looking toward the 2013-2014 season:
Looking back: When it became clear a couple of weeks into the season that Helm was not anywhere close to returning, the Wings called up Andersson from the minors. Less than a handful of games later, he had demonstrated he could handle being a defensive center in the NHL, enabling the Wings to use Justin Abdelkader as a wingman on the top line. Andersson showed a steadiness and maturity that reached beyond his 24 years, and ended up being a significant and reliable regular.
Looking ahead: If Helm returns from his injury, Andersson will center the fourth line; if not, the third. Wherever he plays, Andersson will be a solid fit because of his smart play in his own zone. During line meetings late in the season with his wingers, Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner, and the coaching staff, Andersson was the loudest in preaching defensive responsibility before offensive chances.
Andersson is, as Henrik Zetterberg put it, a typical Swedish center: Someone who learns defense first, then develops his offense. Whether he plays in the third hole or fourth hole, Andersson will help make that line viable for the Wings, one that can help spell the top two lines. He’s also a good addition to the penalty kill and has shown a knack for face-offs that will only improve as he gains more NHL experience. He’s among the team’s bigger forwards at 6-feet-2 and about 210 pounds.
He wasn’t slated to push for a full-time spot in Detroit until this coming season, but injuries prompted an earlier test run.
Andersson responded by ameliorating what ended up being a season-long absence of Helm, along the way securing a spot as a regular for the coming year.
Let's get this straight: given the way that the Wings operate, and given both Andersson and Nyquist's aplomb displayed this past season and given Helm's importance as a "checker," the line between "third" and "fourth" is going to be determined by who receives the least ice time on a given evening as opposed to who contributes the least to the effort.
This past season, Babcock found himself going down the stretch playing his top players 22 minutes instead of his preferred 18-20, his second line another 20 minutes, his third line 12-14 and his fourth 6-8 minutes. He doesn't like to do that, and it's much more likely that we'll see both Andersson and Helm's lines playing 10-12 minutes, which will help the team's balance tremendously given that those extra two minutes count so much more over the course of an 82-game season.
In any case, we know that the Wings value Andersson and Nyquist enough that they've chosen to not toss a body and sign Daniel Cleary instead, hoping to ink their restricted free agents first and to worry about the long-serving unrestricted free agent at another time--assuming that they're still interested in signing him at all (which seems to depend upon whose analysis you read).
The Wings need to find better balance on defense, too, because Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson can't keep playing 22-24 minutes a night, but they're not going to find an answer based upon what Kyle Quincey and the recently re-signed Brendan Smith did on Thursday night: the pair were in Toronto to take part in Dominic Moore's "Smashfest" table tennis tournament (for charity!).
All I could find from the usually quotable pair involved a picture of Quincey from the NHLPA's Twitter account and a note from the Denver Post's Mike Chambers that Quincey has been spending his past week doing something many Wings fans won't like--hanging out in Denver, where Quincey spends his off-seasons:
Former Avalanche defenseman Kyle Quincey of the Detroit Red Wings and former University of Denver standout forwards Tyler Bozak and Joe Colborne of the Toronto Maple Leafs are among those participating in this week’s DU pro camp at Magness Arena. Others include Drew Shore of the Florida Panthers and his little brother and former DU teammate Nick Shore, who signed with the Los Angeles Kings last spring. A bunch of other former Pioneers currently playing professionally include Denver Cutthroats captain Aaron MacKenzie, a former Avalanche defenseman, and fellow “Fish” Luke Fulghum, Kyle Ostrow of the Colorado Eagles, Brett Skinner of the Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins, new Cutthroat Matt Glasser, plus Adrian Veideman, Anthony Maiani, Luke Salazar and former CC Tigers Colin Stuart and Curtis McElhinny.
Here's hoping that Quincey's suggestions that training at high altitude gives him an edge bear fruit, because the Wings' second and third defensive pairs--and again, "number" doesn't necessarily matter here--need to provide a better platoon of support for Kronwall and Ericsson. Whether it's DeKeyser and Kindl playing more than Quincey and Smith or vice versa doesn't matter as much as what those "second" and "third" pairs do with their ice time.
In off-season news of a very different kind, I've got some Czech and Slovak-language news regarding a future roster contributor and an...Immediate future roster contributor...And I can only quote so much of each.
1. Petr Mrazek gave an interview to the Czech news agency CTK, and he stated that:
- He understands that he's going to have to have an excellent training camp showing to unseat Jonas Gustavsson, and that he's probably going to have to spend at least the start-to-the-middle of the season in Grand Rapids;
- He's very happy with his playoff performance, he says that he had a chat with Ken Holland after the Calder Cup playoffs, and he's hoping to push Gustavsson as best as he can;
- He is well aware of Detroit's municipal bankruptcy, and he says that the suburbs, like where Jakub Kindl lives (Birmingham), are very nice, but that it's "sad" in Detroit, but he also points out that it's not as if the Wings' bottom line suffers due to the economic state of the city they play in;
- And he was told by the Czechs that they're at least going to watch him while participating in their Olympic camp earlier this month (it was an orientation camp).
2. Tomas Tatar held a no-holds-barred chat on CAS.sk, and he answered some...strange...questions...as well as stating that:
- He's aware of the fact that he's starting the year in Detroit and that he can't be sent to Grand Rapids, and that he'd like to go to the Olympics if at all possible;
- He expects his showing in training camp to determine how much ice time he'll be able to earn;
- He wants to play for the Red Wings, and also the Red Wings;
- He expects to play with Nyquist and Andersson, though if he were the coach, obviously, he'd be playing alongside Datsyuk and Zetterberg;
- Tomas Tatar is indeed a friend but he also has friends on the Wings' roster, who are a "great bunch";
- He will attend Marian Hossa, Tomas Kopecky and Michal Handzus' Stanley Cup celebration in Trencin;
- He definitely needs to learn how to cook better to make some Slovakian food for himself as at present, he's a restaurant-goer;
- And his favorite players growing up were Pavel Bure, Steve Yzerman and Datsyuk.
In case you missed it, Plymouth Whalers owner Peter Karmanos and Warren, MI native Doug Weight were named to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame's 2013 induction class, and Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski took note of Karmanos' comments about starting up his famous Compuware developmental hockey program...
The Detroit native’s company, the Compuware Corporation, is the sponsor of the Compuware hockey association, which boasts one of the top AAA hockey programs in the U.S. One conversation Karmanos had with a parent got him involved in helping youth hockey players out.
“I had with a parent who looked at me and waved over a crowd of players and said, ‘you realize the best these kids could expect is that they maybe get a partial or full ride to college – none of them are going to play in the NHL’,” he said.
Neither him nor the parent knew that the group included Pat Lafontaine, Al Iafrate, the Hatcher brothers, and other future NHL players.
“I decided at that point in time I had an opposite opinion,” he said. “I thought that the players were a tad better than that I thought that I had a responsibility to put together a program that allowed those players to perform and to be able to win in that environment.
“It’s really important that people who had the opportunity help develop the sport, the programs and try to give kids the ability to show off their talents. I was born and raised in Detroit and it was especially rewarding to do that in the Detroit area.”
As well as Weight's comments about his hockey upbringing in Metro Detroit (and yes, the Wings repeatedly pursued Weight when he was with the St. Louis Blues, just as they pursued Dallas Drake, but they were never able to pry him away from St. Louis):
In 19 NHL seasons spent with the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders, and the Hurricanes, Weight scored 278 goals and added 755 assists for 1033 points, enough for sixth all time among American born players.
Weight also wore the USA sweater at nine major international competitions, including the 1996 World Cup, where he and his fellow Americans defeated Canada. He spoke fondly about the impact of that tournament.
“To say I’m proud of it would be an understatement,” he said. “I do believe it has substantial meaning to these kids coming up that grow up in the United States, and it makes them instantly proud to wear that jersey.”
Weight started his hockey career in Michigan, playing in Saint Clair Shores for his father until he was 15.
“My memories were listening to the Red Wings games on the way home from my games with my father,” he said. “Playing against the likes of Compuware and Little Caesar’s in the Detroit area, it truly is Hockeytown.”
He then moved on to Lake Superior State, where he played two seasons, scoring 144 points, before being drafted by the Rangers in 1990.
“The state of Michigan was always where I wanted to play and Lake Superior was a great move for me,” he said. “I learned a lot about off-ice discipline and work ethic, it was a great place to play and the CCHA was a great time in my life.”
DICK'S Sporting Goods, the largest U.S. based full-line sporting goods retailer, invites the community of Portage to their three-day grand opening weekend. The celebration begins on Friday, August 2 at the retailer's new location, 6355 Westnedge Avenue, and continues through Sunday, August 4. Special extended store hours will be in effect for Friday (8:00 a.m. to 10), Saturday (8:00 a.m. to 10) and Sunday (9:00 a.m. to 8).
Throughout the weekend, DICK'S will host a variety of giveaways, including a free Mystery Gift Card from $5 to $500 for the first 100 adults in line on Friday and Saturday, a free The North Face FLASHDRY T-shirt for the first 100 people in line on Saturday and a free Scratch & Win card, where every card is a winner, for the first 100 adults in line on Sunday.*
On Sunday, Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader will make an appearance in-store from 3 - 5 p.m.** Prior to joining the Red Wings, Abdelkader led the Michigan State University Spartans to an NCAA Championship in 2007, earning him the Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player distinction.
**Beginning at 9 a.m. local time, 250 wristbands will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of event only. Limit one wristband and one autograph per person. Fans must have a wristband and must be in the Special Appearance line by 1 p.m. to receive an autograph. See store for details.
In the promotional department, part 2:
The Wings also posted...Uh...SEVENTEEN highlight clips on their YouTube channel on Thursday evening, including the following:
And finally, yes, I'm *#$%@& serious about the reader comments going too far, and I'm going to be more vocal about stepping in and being the playground lady when I have to around here from now on.
This upcoming season will be my third with Kukla's Korner, and while I've understood that many of you were inherited from Abel to Yzerman, which has an entirely unique code of reader conduct, and while I try to do my best to stay out of the fray...
I nearly lost you at the trade deadline. At that point, when the rancor was so very bitter and the out-and-out fighting was so bad that I wondered whether what I was doing was worth it given how divisive and pointless it all seemed. Yes, you had me thinking about quitting.
That's not going to happen again. I checked myself and decided that I was going to soldier on, and it made me stronger as far as I'm concerned.
I don't want you to have to wade through personal insults to "make you stronger." That kind of shit pisses me off, and yes, I know that "letting things be" involves allowing you to vent, be emotional and get passionate in terms of defending your points and/or getting into it intellectually and emotionally, but there's a *#$%@& line of civility, and while it's my job to deal with the chirping sent my way as I'm paid to deal with it, you're not.
You shouldn't be and you don't have to, and if you have a problem with somebody, quite frankly, you need to let me know, because there's a fine line between "hands off" and "survival of the fittest," and I'm fine with keeping my hands out of the comments section whenever able, because it's supposed to be your discussion once I hit "submit entry," but...*#$%@&, folks, we don't have to be assholes to each other, and I'm way *#$%@& past tired of the concept that four or five people are allowed to speak and that the rest have to listen.
It's been almost three years. If you're still reading me instead of just waiting for A2Y posts--and yes, I'm more than willing to admit that Bill is #1 on the Red Wings audience-building-and-holding chart, and that I'm #2 here, I'm completely comfortable with that fact--you're a Malik Report reader, and I was supposed to be a counter-point and a slightly less muscular voice and/or place to talk about the Wings to begin with. I've done my best to live up to that concept, and now I'm asking that you do the same.
And as we're heading toward a new season, y'all get to hit the re-set button, but once training camp is over and the exhibition season is upon us, as far as I'm concerned, we're going to be playing by stricter rules. Not, "I can't voice my opinion because you think I'm too rude" rules. Just, "Be *#$%@& nicer to each other and remember that you're generally talking to people who are fellow Wings fans, so they're not your *#$%@& sworn enemies here" codes for conduct.
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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.