The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: on roster ‘questions,’ an interview with Zetterberg and outdoor overload
by George Malik on 08/09/13 at 03:30 AM ET
This morning's crop of Red Wings news begins with a slate of, well, questions about personnel issues which will only be answered with time.
In a slate of "News and Views," the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan wonders why neither ex-Wing Damien Brunner or in-limbo-status free agent Daniel Cleary haven't found gainful employment...
I’m surprised both are still unemployed at this point of the summer. Cleary is a bona fide professional, solid guy on and off the ice, and makes whatever team he’s with better.
Brunner is a question mark, but given the glimpses of goal-scoring ability he showed last season and the lack of offensively gifted players around the league, you’d figure some general manager would take a chance on him.
But neither has been signed by anyone. And with each passing day, you wonder what options Cleary and Brunner have.
The Red Wings did have interest in Cleary. But the team is over the salary cap (which is $64.3 million, and the Red Wings are at $66.9 million with restricted free agent Gustav Nyquist unsigned) with 16 forwards under contract once Nyquist is signed.
This figure depends on whether you're using Capgeek's figures, which allow Daniel Alfredsson's bonuses to be deferred to the 2014-2015 season's salary cap, or whether you're counting up the team's gross payroll...
General manager Ken Holland will need to clear roster space, which hasn’t been too easy thus far. Other teams are facing similar problems, and have little interest in adding a forward such as Jordin Tootoo or Cory Emmerton.
Don’t expect Cleary to wait much further on the Red Wings. If there’s a legitimate offer coming his way soon, he’ll likely grab it, as the Red Wings attempt to whittle down their roster.
As for Brunner, the Red Wings were haunted by those two goals in his final 25 games during the regular season. Unless Brunner lowers his salary demands, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him back in Switzerland.
Kulfan continues and discusses the Wings' status among the Eastern Conference's contending teams and the most "intriguing" story going into training camps...
But I don't think that Brunner's heading back to Switzerland. If he and his agent, Neil Sheehy, feel desperate, there are always KHL teams that would be willing to sign him, and if he's holding out for NHL employment, there are teams that aren't "capped out," but they're not likely to sign any more players until the middle-to-end of this month.
Both Cleary and Brunner have found themselves without a seat in the free agent marketplace's game of duck-duck-goose because the cap declined from $70.2 million to $64.3 million, but the free agents who are willing to wait, perhaps until the exhibition season and/or start of the regular season to find employment will be signed.
They just won't find themselves with contending teams, and no, I really don't believe that Cleary's coming back here given that the Wings will have a hard time moving two of Cory Emmerton, Patrick Eaves and/or Jordin Tootoo assuming that Darren Helm's healthy.
This morning's other question involving the Red Wings' roster involves the status of Mr. Helm, and the Free Press's Helene St. James, uh...Has about as much information about Helm's status as the rest of us do:
Looking back: Days before training camp was to begin in January, Helm hurt his back, during a workout he said was nothing more than routine squats. He was able to play in the fourth game of the season, at home against Minnesota, but pain flared up again the next day. From there, Helm descended into a routine of rehabbing, skating — and ultimately going nowhere. Numerous visits to specialists all showed no structural damage, ruling out surgery. At the end of the season, Helm was no closer to playing than he was in January.
Looking ahead: In a move reflecting the continued uncertainty surrounding Helm’s status, he joined the team’s annual prospects camp in early July, taking to the ice. He said afterward he was encouraged — but he had said that a dozen times during the season, too.
At this point, the Wings need Helm to show up at training camp next month and proclaim that he’s ready to get back to the ice, without hesitation. The proof will come when he skates and scrimmages daily, then gets into exhibition games. Helm basically has not played hockey in a year and a half, dating back to injuries suffered in the spring of 2012.
Given that he’s only 26 and had no history of back pain before this year, it’s hard to think Helm can’t get better and once again be a valuable cog. The Wings would benefit greatly from having Helm and his speedy legs back in the lineup. He would make the third line better, and the penalty kill.
If last spring’s messy rehabilitation continues into fall, the Wings can put Helm on long-term injured reserve and thus get salary cap relief, but if that happens, they would also have to give serious thought to Helm’s long-term viability.
Bonus question! The Sports Forecaster went for the low-hanging fruit in asking Atlantic Division "camp questions"...
3. DETROIT RED WINGS: The Red Wings still have a little work to do before the start of training camp in September. Restricted free agent Gustav Nyquist still needs a new contracts. He represents one third of what was a very effective third line in Detroit last season. Another member of that third unit in 2013--unrestricted free agent Damien Brunner--is not expected back. One unrestricted free agent the Wings would love to have back is winger Dan Cleary, but only if the price is right. Also, Detroit already have too many forwards so they would have to move someone out.
Did I cover this? Yes, yes I did. Not going to happen.
In our main course, I'm grumpy and tired, but I'm going to do my best to translate Henrik Zetterberg's interview with ST.nu's Kenneth Fahlberg (and if you're in Stockholm, Sweden today, don't forget that Niklas Kronwall's charity game to raise funds for Jarfalla HC takes place today; this is roughly translated Swedish, too):
Zata ready for his fourth Olympics
He's experienced both heaven and hell in the Olympic context. Both gold in Turin and a fiasco in Salt Lake City. In Sochi, Henrik Zetterberg's ready to represent the Tre Kronor.
"It's actually my fourth Olympics. It's great to have been a part of every single one," says Zata.
Right now, Henrik Zetterberg is at home in Sweden for the summer, as usual. On Tuesday, he went on the ice for the first time this season with Timra IK.
"It's just as hard every time, you notice that you're not 21 any more," says Henrik Zetterberg when we meet him after his second on-ice session.
During training with the new, young players on Timra IK, he also became aware of an uncomfortable fact: "They said I was the oldest one on the ice and it was true, I'm 16 days older than Pelle (Hallin). So now I'm really old, ha ha."
On Saturday, Zetterberg will take part in an alumni game against the new Timra IK, a classic game in which the team from Timra's 1999-2000 season will meet this year's team. Only Zetterberg and Christian Soderstrom are still active players from that team.
For many, it's been several years since they put their skates on the shelf.
"Huss (Anders, Timra's equipment manager) has said that whoever checks him during the game won't have any sticks for the seaso," says Zata, laughing and then he gets a little more serious.
After two days with this season's Timra IK, who have to play in the Allsvenskan league after 13 straight seasons in the Eliteserien, Zata's seen some of the new players. And he's convinced that the path the team's on [is the right one].
"Absolutely, they have to start over. Now it's just like when I came to play for Timra, it's a lot of young guys who want to go forward and live in Tallnas [near the rink], just like I did. And so does Pelle, of course," he says with a nod to Timra IK captain Pelle Hallin.
Personally, Henrik Zetterberg has his first season as the captain of the Detroit Red Wings behind him. It was a season that started late due to the lockout, and Detroit's team woke up even later. When it was most needed, at the end of the regular season, Detroit woke up and won the last four games, which were all necessary."
And above all, Henrik Zetterberg woke and basically led the team into the playoffs. And it was a tough period, he acknowledges.
"It wouldn't have been fun to miss the playoffs for the first time in 23 years in Detroit, and during my first year as captain. We played playoff games before the playoffs, which was a first-time experience for us."
For the upcoming season, Detroit reinforced its roster with Daniel Alfredsson, and Zata believes that it's a positive for the team. Moreover, it is, as you know, an Olympic year. But hockey players [have different circumstances] compared to most other sports.
"There are still many months, we're supposed to play 50 games before they start. I think that for us hockey players, there's a different focus compared to the individual sports, where everything builds up to the Olympics."
"For us, the Olympics are a 12-day event in the middle of the season. It's hard to start and stop. We have to be focused starting in October."
Gettingto the Olympics is still something Henrik Zetterberg treasures, especially given the unique possibility to watch other sports.
"It's only at the Olympics that you can do it. Once you're in the Olympic village, you live with all the other athletes, and you can get caught up watching curling, ice skating, skiing and so on. It's a very unique tournament for an athlete."
What do you think of Erik Gustafsson's chances to make the team?
"I think they're great, especially after playing as he did during the World Championships. Now coach Marts (Par Marts, the Tre Kronor's coach) knows what he can do."
For Zata and Detroit, the season ended in the quarterfinals against Chicago. They didn't win another Stanley Cup, it wasn't so, but his season wasn't without a prize. In June, he received the NHL Foundation Award. The award goes to the player who's considered to have done something extraordinary for society. The prize includes $25,000 which went to Zetterberg's foundation.
It's a prize that he wants to give to his wife, Emma.
"We've been doing this for two years, and that includes building a school in Ethiopia. We built three classrooms there and want to build three more. Emma's worked with the charity far beyond what I have, and her work's a much bigger reason why we won than mine."
The prize money will now be used for a water project in the village where they built the school.
"There are many children who can't attend school because they have to get water for their family. Now we're going to make sure that they have water at school, so now the kids can get an education and bring water home from school. That work starts this winter."
This part is pretty spiffy:
Eight additional questions for Henrik Zetterberg:
His sport if he was in the summer Olympics: "Whitewater rafting, when you can go kayaking in rapids."
When does he think about the Olympics: "Three times a week."
Where he'd go on a dream vacation: "New Zealand."
What he enjoys eating the most: "Home-made meatballs."
What he watches when lounging on the couch: "Seinfeld."
What he listens to while he works out: "Bruce Springsteen."
Who makes him laugh: "My wife."
A fact that you don't know about him: "I'm good at cooking."
Name: Carl Henrik Zetterberg
Born: October 9th, 1980.
Lives: In Detroit.
Team: Detroit Red Wings.
First team: Njurunda SK.
In prospect news, Team Canada defeated Sweden 7-3 at the World Junior Evaluation Camp being held in Lake Placid, New York, and Anthony Mantha assisted on the game's final goal. The Canadians will play Team USA on Saturday, and Jake Paterson will start in that game;
Regarding the fact that the Winter Classic between the Wings and Leafs is now one of six Gord-dang outdoor games that will take place during the 2013-2014 season, here's what captain asshat told the Associated Press about the fact that the NHL is making craptons of money off of these multiple games at the cost of any sort of novelty for the artificially-created events:
"If you’re looking at it on a national basis, obviously we’re doing more," commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday at Yankee Stadium, which will host two games in January. "But for teams and markets that want to host this (event), for fans that want to attend, we can’t do enough of them."
In Canada and the United States, the NHL’s "Stadium Series" that includes stops at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, Chicago’s Soldier Field and Yankee Stadium and the Heritage Classic in Vancouver might not get as much attention as the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich. But within those areas, they’re can’t-miss events.
"The reason we’re doing more outdoor games is really what it’s now doing locally," Bettman said. "This is an incomparable event and what happens is fans get connected to the game in ways they never imagined, we get new fans who, for the first time, will come and be a part of this. This is a fan-oriented, fan-driven event, and that’s why we’re doing so many games so we can bring it to more fans."
The league expects all six outdoor games to be sellouts. That’s reason enough for Bettman to think that the NHL isn’t providing too much of a good thing.
"Fans love attending this event, the demand that we’re hearing and feeling from our teams and markets and venues wanting to host this game is overwhelming," Bettman said. "So if you’re actually getting an opportunity to attend this game, you don’t think we’re doing too many of them."
And here's NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins' take on the games and the whole, "Hey, Chicago, here's another game, yay" thing:
"I think we’ve seen it over the last five, six years, in the markets that we’ve been in," Collins said. "We’ve been in Chicago — just at the beginning of their big run where the Blackhawks talked about how it did a couple things. One, they sold a ton more season tickets because that was the way fans could be guaranteed to get tickets into Wrigley. And two, it raised the relevance of the Blackhawks in the Chicago market ahead of them winning the Stanley Cup. a We saw it in Pittsburgh in terms of the impact that the game had in Pittsburgh, which is a football town becoming a hockey town, too."
Winning titles likely played more of a role in those burgeoning fan bases, but hosting the Winter Classic didn’t hurt. And Bettman doesn’t think it hurts to have six outdoor games instead of one or two, or roughly 0.4 per cent of the 1,230 regular-season games.
"I don’t think we’re overdoing them at all," he said. "We’re actually responding to the incredible interest and demand we’re getting."
- I will allow you to read the Free Press's readers' reactions to Shawn Burr's passing on your own. Several sports broadcasters weighed in;
- The Free Press is also doing the whole bracketed sports logo thing, and the Wings are advancing (surprise) but will probably lose to the Tigers;
- In the spiffy free advertising department, Greatest Hockey Legends' Joe Pelletier reports that the Windsor Star's Bob Duff will be releasing a new Red Wings-themed book soon:
"Original Six Dynasties: The Detroit Red Wings " is the first in a series of hockey books to showcase vintage photographs from the sport's golden age. With nearly three hundred images ranging from 1942 to 1967, "The Detroit Red Wings" shows you Gordie Howe, Terry Sawchuck, Ted Lindsay, Sid Abel, and other legends in their prime. Drawn from archives not available to the public, the Original Six series is must-have for collectors and sports fans alike.
Currently the sports columnist for the "Windsor Star," Bob Duff has covered the NHL since 1988 and is a contributor to "The Hockey News."
The book's coming out on October 15th and will cost $20.83 for the hardcover...
- And from Twitter:
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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.