The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/16/14 at 05:06 AM ET
Today marks the start of an incredibly busy two-and-change weeks for the Red Wings organization.
This morning, the team will find out whether Tom Renney or Bill Peters will leave the organization to coach the Florida Panthers; between today and June 30th, the Wings have to decide whether to buy out Jordin Tootoo;
The team has until June 25th to attempt to re-sign any unrestricted free agents-to-be (see: Daniel Alfredsson and Jonas Gustavsson; don't expect Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, David Legwand, kyle Quincey or Mikael Samuelsson to return) before the free agent wining-and-dining period kicks in (the Wings might want to lock up restricted free agents-to-be Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar before then as Capgeek reports;
The NHL should reveal a possibly $70-million-plus "upper limit" after the Board of Governors' meetings in Philadelphia on the 25th and 26th (cap space is handy given that the Wings owe Daniel Alfredsson $2 million in performance bonuses that will count against the 2014-15 cap); and on the 27th and 28th, the team will draft six players at the NHL draft.
July 1st marks the start of free agency, and on July 4th, the Wings' summer development camp begins in Traverse City.
Between now and July 1st, the Wings also have to decide whether to offer Tom McCollum an NHL contract and/or, per Capgeek, submit qualifying offers to prospects Adam Almquist, Mitch Callahan, Willie Coetzee, Landon Ferraro, Gleason Fournier, Andrej Nestrasil, Max Nicastro and Trevor Parkes, and the team can retain Cory Emmerton's rights by submitting a qualifying offer as well.
While it's likely that the team will attempt to find a taker for at least half of the $1.9 million cap hit he's owed for the 2014-2015 season, The Score's Thomas Drance and Justin Bourne believe that the Wings will have to swallow hard and use their last "get out of jail" cap-compliance buy-out to cut Tootoo loose:
Jordin Tootoo - Detroit Red Wings
Cap hit and term: $1.9 million per year, through 2014-15
Buyout cost: $1.33 million spread over two years per capgeek.com
Jordin Tootoo only made it into 11 games with the Detroit Red Wings this season, spending the balance of the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. Tootoo has never been a big point producer, but he was a credible bottom-six forward for several years with the Predators. His effectiveness has tailed off significantly the past two seasons though.
Mike Babcock wants to see Tootoo find NHL employment after being a "good soldier" in Grand Rapids, too.
At his best, Tootoo inspired a certain set of descriptors: firecracker, untameable, Raffi Torres-esque-minus-the-desire-for-actual-murder. He was a rolling ball of human chaos.
But age is not kind to players who build careers on on spirit and spunk and fire. This one's a no-brainer. Making nearly two million and playing in the AHL at 31 for a team that needs cap space? He will not be a Red Wing next year.
Regarding Tom Renney's future, I had to smirk when reading Litter Box Cats' Todd Little's biography of Renney, because some of us forget that Renney has significant experience as an NHL coach:
Tom Renney rose to prominence courtesy of a two-year, standout stint with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. He led the major junior team to a 50-20-2 record his first season, and followed that up with a league title and Memorial Cup win in 1991-92. That success landed him the job as head coach of the Canadian Men's National Team, culminating in a Silver Medal at the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Renney has been a mainstay for Canada's national program, coaching various teams in different roles in many tournaments across the world, ever since.
In 1996, the Vancouver Canucks were the first organization to give Renney a head coaching job in the NHL. He led the team to a 35-40-7 record, a two-point decline from the prior season. The Canucks missed the playoffs, but did go 6-1-3 in their final ten games to finish the campaign off on a positive note. Unfortunately, that didn't carry over into the next season, as Renney was fired after compiling a 4-13-2 record in 19 games.
He wouldn't be behind an NHL bench again until late in the 2003-04 campaign when Glen Sather had him come out of the New York Rangers front office to take over coaching duties. Renney guided the team to a putrid 5-15 finish over the final twenty games of that turbulent season, but led the Broadway Blueshirts to three-straight postseason berths after that. Over that three-year span, Renney's Rangers racked up an impressive 128 regular season wins. Despite leading the team to a respectable 31-23-7 start to the 2008-09 season, he was fired on February 23rd and replaced by John Tortorella.
The next season, Renney was reunited with Pat Quinn, who was the GM who gave him his first NHL job, in Edmonton. Renney worked under Quinn as an assistant during the 2009-10 campaign before taking over the reins as the Oilers' head coach for the next two seasons. His teaching skills were put to the test by the young Edmonton squad, but the club did improve from 25 wins in 2010-11 to 32 wins in 2011-12. After that season, the Oilers chose not to renew his contract, so Renney joined the Detroit Red Wings and has spent the last two years there as an associate coach under Mike Babcock.
Renney didn't reignite the Wings' middling power play, but he served as both a buffer between the players and Mike Babcock (see: "Good Cop, Bad Cop") and he likely served as a sounding board for the coaching staff regarding the team's reluctant embrace of its youth movement.
Little also reminds us that Bill Peters has strong ties to Babcock...
Peters began his coaching career at the young age of 24 with the Junior-B team he previously suited up for in Killam, Alberta. After his wife's nursing career took the couple south to Texas, Peters began running hockey schools in both the U.S. and Canada. He even managed to get in a game for the shorthanded San Antonio Iguanas of the Central Hockey League and scored a goal and added two assists to boot. He joined the WHL's Spokane Chiefs and head coach Mike Babcock as a mid-season replacement for assistant coach Brett Cox during the 1996-97 season. Two years later, Babcock brought Peters back on a permanent basis. He stayed on as an assistant for an additional two seasons in Spokane when Babcock was replaced by Perry Ganchar after the former left to begin coaching the AHL's Cincinnati Mighty Ducks.
In 2002-03, the Three Hills native left the Chiefs to bolster his résumé, taking his first head coaching job with the University of Lethbridge. His first two years there saw the team make one postseason appearance, but the out-manned Pronghorns struggled badly in his final season, going 3-23-2 in CWUAA league play. With the Chiefs in need of a new head coach, as well as a culture change, Peters was on his way back to Spokane to take over. After a last place finish during his first year, the club made the playoffs in 2006-07, and the next season not only won the WHL crown, they also captured the 2008 Memorial Cup with a convincing 4-1 win over the host Kitchener Rangers. That summer he led Team Canada to a gold medal at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
And Panthers GM Dale Tallon:
After achieving junior hockey's highest honor, Peters, who compiled a 111-82-10-23 record in three seasons in Spokane, was hired by then Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon to be the head coach of Chicago's AHL affiliate in Rockford. Peters led the IceHogs to back-to-back playoff appearances, although the club failed to advance past the opening round each time. Despite finishing with 38-33-9 record, Rockford missed the playoffs in the 2010-11 season.
Regarding the Wings' draft picks, the team does possess the 15th overall pick in the 1st round, but the team traded its second-round pick to Nashville in the David Legwand deal, and TSN's "Reporters" provided a reminder that the draft re-sets after the first round as the New Jersey Devils will be picking 11th overall in rounds 2-7:
The Predators hold the 11th pick in the draft, but also have two second-round selections (numbers 42 and 46 with the latter gained from the Detroit Red Wings as part of the David Legwand trade) and could use both of those to grab a second pick in the first round.
The Devils will be picking 30th overall because they chose to pay the CBA-circumvention penalty for Ilya Kovalchuk's contract during this draft. As such, the Wings' 3rd through 7th round picks will slot into the 16th slot instead of the 15th.
So, per TSN's "DraftCentre," the Wings will make the 76th pick in the 3rd round, the 106th pick in the 4th round, the 136th pick in the 5th round, the 166th pick in the 6th round, and the 196th (and, via a trade) 201st overall picks in the 7th round.
Regarding other kinds of "numbers," CBS Sports' Chris Peters reported that Bovada posted its initial Stanley Cup odds for the 14-15 season on Sunday, and the Wings rank 11th out of 30 teams, having 22/1 odds (the link to Bovada's odds is available here, but I must warn you that it's a betting site, so be careful)...
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose looked back at the "numbers" from Jimmy Howard's 2013-2014 campaign. Among them:
7: Wins recorded in his last 11 regular-season appearances, including four in his last five against Toronto (Mar. 29), Boston (Apr. 2), and Buffalo (Apr. 4 and Apr. 8) when he posted a 2.00 GAA and .924 save percentage.
6: Times he faced 40 or more shots in a game during the 2013-14 campaign, posting a 3-2-1 record with wins coming at Dallas (Jan. 4), at Los Angeles (Jan. 11) and against Pittsburgh (Mar. 20).
23: Shots he faced in seven shootouts at Joe Louis Arena. Finished the season ranked No. 5 in SO shots faced at home during the 2013-14 season, only Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop (38), Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec (34), San Jose’s Antti Niemi (31) and Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller (27) faced more rubber on home ice.
And we head back to The Score for another Bourne article. Bourne posited a list of "The 10 best teams to not win a Stanley Cup," and the Wings made his list twice:
1996 Detroit Red Wings
Between the 1995-96 season and the year 2000, the Detroit Red Wings seasons ended as follows:
95-95: Lost to the Colorado Avalanche
96-97: Won Stanley Cup (swept final)
97-98: Won Stanley Cup (swept final)
98-99: Lost to the Colorado Avalanche
99-00: Lost to the Colorado Avalanche
Detroit did not care for the Avs, nor should they have, because DAMN, were they great (and the Avs were a thorn in their side).
13 losses in 82 games, ho-hum. It was the Conference Finals where they ran into the Avs, who had the second most points during the regular season (104, not even close).
Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman, Paul Coffey, Nick Lidstrom, Viacheslav Fetisov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Igor Larionov, Keith Primeau, Dino Ciccarelli, and more grit than you could shake sandpaper at farther down the lineup...and they didn’t win the Cup. Somehow. Holy smokes.
2009 Detroit Red Wings
Marian Hossa made a terrible choice. Well, not terrible, but it didn’t pan out - he left the Penguins to join the Red Wings. That made him 0-2 in the Cup Final (he’s won two since - how many playoff series has this guy won, like, 1000? It’s incredible).A year removed from hoisting the Cup, a Wings lineup featuring stars Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Nick Lidstrom, Hossa, Johan Franzen, Brian Rafalski and more couldn’t go back-to-back. Crosby got his ring.
In the "Draw Your Own Conclusions" department, the Detroit Free Press's Carol Cain spoke with new Plymouth Whalers GM Mark Craig on Sunday, and he discussed the challenges that he feels the Whalers face in drawing crowds to Compuware Arena, as well as team owner Peter Karmanos' suggestion that the team may move if attendance does not improve:
As he steps in to try to beef up attendance at Plymouth Whalers hockey games, newly hired general manager Mark Craig is facing a foe that didn’t exist a few years ago.
“HDTV,” he answered when asked what he considers among his challenges as he takes on the task of getting more fans into seats of the arena off M-14 in Plymouth Township.
The advent of high-definition television has brought TV coverage of sporting events to another level . Couple that with the comforts of home and the end result is more fans opting to watch games from their living rooms.
In announcing Craig as new GM on May 30 at a news conference, Karmanos said he wanted to see attendance pick up or he would consider moving the franchise.
“His bringing the Plymouth Whalers here for the last 25 years has been at a cost,” Craig said. “His first goal is to stay here. But that’s not to say he won’t move. We just need to do a better job of selling the team.”
Certainly, winning isn’t an issue as the team has made the playoffs 23 straight years. But they continue to average 2,500 fans per game in an arena that seats 3,800.
Cain's conversation continues...
And finally, regarding my attempts to raise funds to attend the Wings' summer development camp, with two-and-a-half weeks until I leave, I'm exactly halfway to my goal. If there is any way that you can lend a hand, I would greatly appreciate it:
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.
Quick update: MLive posted a link to another "Ask Ansar" column at 6 AM. Amongst his "Answars?"
Q. What do you think will happen to Adam Almquist? What are the chances Petr Mrazek is Jimmy (Howard's) back up this season? Does he have anything left to prove in the AHL? What do you think of coach (Mike) Babcock taking time to watch Anthony Mantha in the QMJHL playoffs? Are the Red Wings seriously considering putting him in the lineup if he has a good camp?
A. I think Almquist will play in Sweden. If he were to re-sign with the Red Wings (he's a restricted free agent) and not earn a preseason roster spot (odds would be heavily stacked against him) he would need to clear waivers to be assigned to Grand Rapids. He's indicated he'd rather play in Europe than the AHL.
I don't see Mrazek being Howard's back-up, at least not at the start of the season. I think they'll sign Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year deal. I don't know if Mrazek has anything left to prove in the AHL, but the Red Wings want him to get a heavy workload with the Griffins as opposed to playing sporadically in Detroit.
I think Mantha would need to have a legendary camp, coupled with a rash of injuries, to start the season in Detroit.
Q. It's against the historical norm for Red Wings prospects to get called up as early as they did last season. Unless we repeat the injury epidemic, how many games do you project Anthony Mantha will get called up for next season?
A. It depends on how he fares in Grand Rapids, which is where I expect he'll start the season. If he has trouble adjusting during his first season as a pro he probably won't play any NHL games in 2014-15. If he's scoring at a decent rate in the AHL then he'll probably play some games with the Red Wings. It's difficult to project a number.
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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.