The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/16/13 at 03:10 AM ET
In the summer of 2003, online translators were still new, sometimes, you still had to wait until newspapers were delivered to read the latest Wings news, and sports talk radio ruled the airwaves.
Ten years ago, in Metro Detroit, I was a college student reading Viktor Fedorov spouting off about his son's "misunderstood" and "disrespected" status while being given a platform to perpetuate the, "Poor, misunderstood enigmatic Russian superstar" mythology that has become the "Legend of the Russian Problem" to one Igor Larin.
Even amidst a still-prone-to-write-novels Russian sports press, Sport-Express's Larin would write novellas based upon conversations he'd had with Daddy Fedorov, and as the Fedorov divorce went down, things got uglier, uglier and uglier.
At the same time, in English, Jimmy Devellano, Ken Holland and even Mr. Ilitch himself were speaking to the press about their bogged-down negotiations with Pat Brisson (Stoney and Wojo loved it when I called in and called him "Baghdad Brisson"), who was starting to sound like Viktor regarding Fedorov's role and perceived value on the team.
Over the course of three weeks, and rolling into early July, barbs were exchanged in English and Russian, in the papers and on the radio. Fedorov dinged his Ferrari on Woodward, too, presumably from "stress," but around that time, the press very conveniently revealed that the Wings' resident rock star (with what the Russian press admittedly called "superstar sickness" in terms of his declining point production) had actually racked up a string of DUI's which the team tried to cover up.
In the end, Sergei Fedorov left the Red Wings for a 5-year, $40 million contract with the Anaheim Ducks and GM Bryan Murray, and this is the New York Times' story about the divorce, from July 20th, 2003:
Fedorov helped the Red Wings win three Stanley Cups, but two weeks ago his agent, Pat Brisson, said Fedorov, a free-agent center, would not return to Detroit.
''I do not have any bitterness leaving Detroit,'' Fedorov said by telephone from Moscow. ''I enjoyed my years in Detroit. I'm going to miss the fans. They were great to me. It's been a wonderful ride, but everybody in life at some point has to change direction or place or time, and this is absolutely normal for me to change and move on.''
The deal with Anaheim includes two years guaranteed and three more at Fedorov's option, a Mighty Ducks spokesman, Alex Gilchrist, said. The Red Wings had offered Fedorov the same amount of money, but for four years. The N.H.L.'s collective bargaining agreement expires in September 2004, which affected Fedorov's decision.
''I got into free agency at a bad time with the C.B.A. expiring,'' he said. ''It was a very big struggle with Detroit. If we didn't have the C.B.A. expiring, I don't think Detroit would have tried to sign me so quickly.''
Even then, we knew that the second lockout was coming, and that it would probably cost the league a full season.
A six-time All-Star, Fedorov had 36 goals and 47 assists for a team-leading 83 points last season. He won the Hart trophy as the N.H.L.'s most valuable player in 1994 and was twice named the league's best defensive forward.
''He's one of the best defensive players in hockey,'' Murray said. ''He loves to make plays, but defensively he does the job as well as anyone. He's a strong, hard-working guy. This guy can play for a number of years.''
Fedorov, 33, has 400 goals and 554 assists in his N.H.L. career -- all with Detroit. He helped the Red Wings win the Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002.
Someone leaving Detroit with 954 points was just staggering at the time. People really did think that Fedorov's #91 would be raised to the rafters at some point. Even though his post-bringing-Kournikova-to-the-97-Cup-parade form tended to yield 60-point seasons and a certain level of, "Shouldn't he be doing more with all that talent?" doubt in both fans, coaches and apparently his teammates' eyes, the Wings and their fans still believed that Fedorov was a superstar.
At 33, it was assumed that Fedorov, like Igor Larionov before him, and like the Chelioses, Hulls, Robitailles, Yzermans and Shanahans, would keep playing into his late 30's, and it was assumed that he'd still post 60 points a season.
But there was always a sense that Fedorov wanted to be "the man," and that Fedorov presumably never felt that he could truly be the team's most important player behind Steve Yzerman.
''I would like to thank Sergei for his 13 years with the Detroit Red Wings and wish him well in the future,'' Detroit General Manager Ken Holland said in a statement. ''We worked very hard over the past eight months to keep Sergei in Detroit, and we are disappointed he did not choose to remain a Red Wing, but in the end it was simply not meant to be.''
The Wings did work very hard, and again, Jimmy Devellano and Mike Ilitch himself were deeply involved in the negotiations, both publicly and privately. As the Wings ended up getting caught flat-footed in free agency because they'd dedicated their energies to re-signing Fedorov, they ended up going out and bringing Derian Hatcher and Ray Whitney in as consolation prizes.
At the time, the team didn't know that Dominik Hasek would want to make a comeback, but they did at least know that Curtis Joseph's ankle was wonky, and that he was trying to play through it.
Fedorov admitted that if his free agency had come up a few years ago, he probably would have re-signed with Detroit.
The Wings weren't quite willing to pony up the money that Fedorov received over 3 seasons because they were afraid that a salary cap would force the team to tear itself apart under the upcoming CBA...
But, to this day, you'll get two very different stories regarding what happened at the negotiating table from the two sides, depending upon whom you ask.
Devellano insisted to the papers and the radio stations that Fedorov made a verbal commitment to signing the Red Wings offer, but when Brisson was supposed to get back to the team, the Wings didn't hear from Fedorov, and they were stunned to find that he'd signed with the Ducks.
That, and oh yeah, by the way, Fedorov had a drinking problem, the press intonated, and the team was tired of covering his tracks and keeping another Probert-in-the-making on the road, it was suggested.
Both Sergei and Viktor Fedorov insisted to Larin and Sovetsky Sport's scribes that the Red Wings did nothing less than pull an offer he'd agreed to sign off the table--and I hate to quote frickin' Wikipedia, but it may have been the claimed 5-year, $50 million offer--and then presented him with a $30 million contract instead.
After what Viktor claimed were years of misuse under Scotty Bowman, and after years of not acknowledging what an integral role Fedorov played on the team, if you believed Viktor, anyway, pulling the offer off the table was the final insult. Good riddance, they said!
He'd finally receive the respect he deserved as "the guy" in Anaheim, too, as the AP suggested in August of 2003:
The star from Russia had played in the shadow of Steve Yzerman during 13 years in Detroit, where he had spent his entire NHL career. Fedorov also believed he would be more effective if he got more playing time than the 20 minutes, 41 seconds he averaged under Red Wings coach Dave Lewis last season.
The ice time issue was quite the contentious issue as Fedorov and his father essentially negotiated through both the press as well as with the Wings from Moscow--and while this was an era in which more players could "get away" with claiming that they were "misquoted," it's pretty damn certain that the Wings knew what was going on in Russian--with both suggesting that Fedorov wasn't being used effectively, and that he could only produce a 1994-like 120 points in the "dead puck era" if he was being played over 25 minutes a night.
"I wanted more responsibility, more ice time, which I think will come with being the No. 1 center here," Fedorov said Wednesday at a news conference.
Coach Mike Babcock plans to give plenty of playing time to Fedorov, the league's MVP in 1993-94 when he averaged around 28 minutes a game for the Red Wings.
"We feel Sergei is a dominant player in the league, a guy who wants to be the go-to guy on this team," Babcock said. "We're going to give him every opportunity to be that, and challenge him."
A six-time All-Star, he had 36 goals and 47 assists for a team-leading 83 points last season with Detroit. He said he was happy when he learned his agent had struck a deal with Ducks general manager Bryan Murray, who was Fedorov's coach when the Russian came into the league with Detroit in 1990.
"I was visiting Moscow in my homeland when I learned I was going to the Mighty Ducks, and I couldn't wait to get here and be part of the organization," Fedorov said. "I'm really excited to be playing for Brian, and I'm excited to be playing for a team that went to the Stanley Cup finals."
Fedorov registered 42 points over the course of 82 games played for the Ducks during the 2003-2004 season. He registered
66 44 points during a 2005-2006 season split between the Ducks and mostly the Blue Jackets (who traded Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim for Fedorov), 56 42 the year thereafter...and it was all downhill from there.
To this day, I know that Fedorov sticks to his story, and there was at least some scuttlebutt suggesting that the Red Wings didn't attempt to reacquire Fedorov in 2008 because the team decided that someone the Columbus Blue Jackets were using as a defenseman wasn't worth a top prospect in no small part due to character issues.
Fedorov went to Washington instead, and the Wings won their fourth modern era Cup without him.
Very obviously, money played a huge role in what ended up becoming an incredibly bitter divorce, but issues of respect, the player's perceived worth to the team, the player's perceived role and future with the team (Was he a franchise player? Was he Steve Yzerman's successor? Should the "A" have been stripped from his jersey after he signed that $28 million offer sheet from the Hurricanes in 1998? Was he really more interested in hockey or more interested in dating sports superstars and supermodels?) all determined the course of negotiations, they determined the public PR spins...
Those issues are the reasons why it is entirely possible that Fedorov may beg off playing in one of the two Winter Classic Alumni games because he's busy working as CSKA Moscow's general manager.
The fact that he may or may not have talked with Pavel Datsyuk about signing with CSKA after the 2013-2014 season may have complicated the equation.
Who the hell knows whether the Wings will ever retire his number, or whether he'll patch things up with the team by the time he's inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (he didn't retire from pro hockey until the 11-12 season, so he's got a bit of a wait).
Sergei Fedorov is not Daniel Alfredsson, but Thursday's Alfredsson presser (if you really want to watch it, you can do so here--and you can read the full text of his comments via the Ottawa Citizen, too), he subsequent scuttlebutt and Bryan Murray's return to his script--never mind the fact that, as was noted on Twitter by J.J. and others, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch's initial "volley back from Murray" article (now with video! And hey, do you want to read about ten athletes who left franchises they were associated with?) had a 12:15 time-stamp that indicated Garrioch was more than ready to post Murray's remarks far, far before Alfredsson made his--evoked so many memories of the Fedorov divorce for me that I was wondering if Viktor was going to show up in Aftonbladet or Expressen.
Garrioch also chatted with Sportsnet's The Fan 590 for TEN minutes about the money issue and J.P. Barry's role in the divorce; Sportsnet posted a second 6:47 report chronicling the day's events--with even more Garrioch insisting that money's the only issue involved, and that Murray feels that Alfredsson "threw the organization under the bus"--and TSN tossed off a 4:50 clip about today's spiel, so, yes, TV folks got into the act, too, and you don't want to know what fans had to say on The Team 1200 in Ottawa.
In my opinion, the money issue is the third of the iceberg that's out of the water. Alfredsson certainly suggested that he didn't receive the proposed monetary compensation that he'd hoped to garner given that he'd essentially agreed to help the Senators circumvent the salary cap,
It's easy to say, "It was about money." To some extent, Alfredsson played right into Murray and Senators owner Eugene "I can't spend to the cap no more" Melnyk's hands.
To a large extent, the fact that Alfredsson was making his statement from a mental health care facility (to which he will continue upholding his charitable obligations) seemed downright bizarre, but perhaps fitting given what a mind-*#$%@& this has become.
Alfredsson's 40. He's not exactly in the prime of his career. The fact that he said that he'd spend a year or "maybe two" in Detroit, from a Red Wings fan's perspective, was plain old bonus material.
But he was the face of the Senators through their dominant early 00's form, their surprising 2007 Stanley Cup Final run and what has been, of late, a bit of a dismantling job under Murray over the past four or five seasons.
And he signed with a division rival which the Ottawa media insists is too old and too small (we're still hearing that) to win against the young Senators and their new gem in Bobby Ryan.
Garrioch continued the, "Well, it's all about the money" (intonation: and what a shallow jerk it shows us that Alfredsson's turned out to be) narrative in an article filed late on Thursday evening (having already dealt his bombshells from Murray and Barry on Thursday afternoon)...
The bottom line: Alfredsson wanted the Senators to show him the money and when they didn't he accepted a one-year, $5.5 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings to try to win a Stanley Cup in the twilight years of his career.
"When I did my last contract for four years ending in the (2012-13) season, I was asked to help the team manage the salary cap by adding on a extra year to my contract. I agreed. Each side fully expected I would retire and not play the 2012-13 season," said Alfredsson. "However, after the 2012 season, I told the Sens I wanted to play another season. I also asked to look at a possible extension this upcoming season at a fair amount to balance out the two years for both of us. They agreed. Sadly, the contract negotiations went nowhere, but I played out the season as I had promised and I believe this past season, in my view, was a very special one."
Alfredsson informed Ottawa before he became a unrestricted free agent on July 5 he planned to play.
"In late June this year, I decided I had it in me to play at least one more season," said Alfredsson. "I told management I was willing to return and I reminded them of our agreement from the year before and to my disappointment the negotiations again quickly stalled."
Senators GM Bryan Murray told the Sun Alfredsson asked for a one-year, $7-million deal for this season or a two-year, $12-million contract. The club offered a $4.5-million contract for one year but didn't get a chance to change off that number.
According to Alfredsson, once the negotiation period started in late-June, the Wings piqued his interest because the talks with the Senators didn't lead to the kind of deal he wanted.
"Negotiations this year, I wouldn't say they didn't go anywhere, but they stalled," said Alfredsson. "When I make this decision it's for me to challenge myself as a hockey player and try a new adventure with the family. It's not easy but I'm looking forward to this new chapter and it's going to be a lot of fun."
And the Ottawa Citizen's Allan Panzeri offered the scuttlebutt side of the story while noting that Alfredsson never mentioned his owner's name:
Not surprisingly, general manager Bryan Murray was “disappointed” at Alfredsson’s charges, and suggested he hadn’t been kept informed during negotiations by his agent, Kelowna-based J.P. Barry. The Alfredsson camp asked for money the Senators couldn’t afford, then didn’t negotiate, Murray said. They started negotiations this summer by asking for a one-year deal at $7 million or a two-year deal at $12 million, while the Senators offered $4.5 million.
“I indicated that his number didn’t work, and he said that mine didn’t work,” Murray said on Thursday afternoon.
Owner Eugene Melnyk had also made it clear that Alfredsson was asking for too much money this summer in an exclusive interview with The Citizen on Friday. To pay Alfredsson what he wanted would have prevented the Senators from acquiring Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks.
“You can’t have it both ways and say, ‘Well I want this for me, but I want you to do this with me and the team.’ It’s ‘which one do you want?’” said Melnyk. “To come up with the kind of money they were talking about and being fiscally responsible and ensuring the ongoing success of the organization, we knew we needed to add a Bobby Ryan-type player,” Melnyk explained. “And at the end, when I said blank cheque, that would have meant we would not have got the (Bobby Ryan-type player). Couldn’t afford it. Just couldn’t do it.”
The Alfredsson camp presented a similarly unreasonable demand last summer, said Murray. They wanted an $8-million, one-year extension, so that the two years, with the first year at $1 million, would average out to $4.5 million — much closer, but still under, market value.
The Senators said they couldn’t do that and the negotiations fell apart. Murray said he thought Barry and Alfredsson were going to get back to him this summer with the number that would keep the captain in Ottawa. But after talking to Barry at the end of the NHL draft, Murray didn’t hear anything — despite repeated emails and phone calls — until Alfredsson called the following Thursday and said he was considering signing with Detroit or Boston.
“That was the last I heard until he signed with Detroit,” said Murray.
In an email, Barry said Alfredsson was kept thoroughly informed every step of the way. If anyone wasn’t negotiating in good faith, he said, it was the Senators.
I can't quote his entire article, so you'll have to read that on your own, but Barry says that the Senators kept low-balling them and expecting a pending unrestricted free agent to take as much time as the organization wanted to negotiate a return-to-the-team contract, and that simply wasn't going to happen.
As you can probably tell by now, I don't have a high opinion of the man who runs around to "league sources" to receive impossible trade rumors (I did earn the Twitter block for a reason), and I'm not a fan of the Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan, either.
Without repeating Alfredsson's chronology of how it all went down, the bottom line is he would have been handsomely rewarded had he stayed put. As well paid as he will be with the Red Wings? Maybe, or maybe a few hundred thousand shy of that. So a guy who has earned between $60-70 million from the Senators is going to a dump like Detoilet -- and if you have ever visited Motown's downtown, you can't object to that classification -- over a measly mil?
Yes, I can object to that classification.
It's nice that he's taking the family on a "new adventure," but the Alfredssons aren't exactly on their way to Disney World. The boys are being torn from their friends and schools and hockey programs, and while their new house is sure to be in a ritzy neighbourhood, it's not like Hugo and Loui will be able to play road hockey outside Joe Louis Arena while dad is at practice. The sticks would be stolen out of their hands.
Because all Wings players live huddled in a compound with 15-foot-tall, razor-wire-trimmed fences and guards, right?
Maybe we shouldn't tell Brennan that both of Joe Louis Arena's parking lots are guarded, that people actually fish, walk, jog (like Babcock), bike and even hang out on the Riverwalk without fear of being stabbed as cops patrol the whole thing, and that players actually live in a spread-out suburban area that's bigger than Rhode Isla...Aw, nah, let's not spoil his fun!
This split shouldn't be placed all on Alfredsson's shoulders, either. There is plenty of blame to go around. Agent J.P Barry should have scoffed at GM Bryan Murray's offer and actually earned his percentage by working for a better deal. Alfredsson, who clearly felt disrespected, should have been kept in the dark until Murray placed everything on the table he possibly could. At that point, Barry should have advised Alfredsson to sign here, because here is where he belongs.
Yes, Alfredsson "earned the right" to go to another team. Under the CBA, all players do after seven years. But Alfredsson is not just another player. Not in Ottawa. Here, he was a pillar of the community. He was bigger than life. He had Senators red running through his veins, even if he never fully understood the magnitude of his importance.
At a local mall recently, he was approached by four people over the age of 65 who pleaded with him not to leave.
"I almost started crying," Alfredsson said.
The moaning and whining Thursday came from the media who felt shortchanged by the time allotted for questions. Andree Steel, the Royal Ottawa Foundation's president and CEO, mishandled the event. She allowed queries from fans, but later cut a TV reporter off in mid-sentence and missed the raised hands of other reporters. Alfredsson signed autographs -- there were more than 100 people lined up outside the gym waiting for him -- but left to his doing, it's hard to believe he would have limited the Q and A to the 12 minutes it was.
Moaning and whining? There's more of that from Brennan, who intonates that perhaps all of this suggests that it's the Senators' finances that are about to get Detroit-like...Oh, wait, no, he doesn't quite say things are going to get that hellishly bad, but he's worried.
Or maybe he just wants Senators fans to be as worried about Melnyk's finances as he wants them to be afraid of attending a game at Joe Louis Arena.
I'm sure that Brennan's just excited as all *#$%@& get out because he's going to visit Detroit two times during the upcoming season, and will have two more opportunities to slag Detroit (the Senators visit Detroit on October 23rd and November 23rd, and Detroit heads to Ottawa on December 1st and February 27th).
For the record, and as I'd prefer that Brennan not get the last word here, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson was asked about Alfredsson's departure by HockeySverige.se's Ronnie Ronnqvist, and here's what Karlsson had to say:
What has Daniel Alfredsson meant to you personally?
"Everything, basically. I mean, on a personal level, it'll be damn tough that he's not there, just because we're good friends and hung out so much. But I'm happy for him because he'll see something different and try something new. He still wants to play hockey."
Even if it means playing in "Detoilet."
This whole situation has much more to do with respect, perceptions of a player's "worth" and "value" to an organization in figurative as well as literal senses, and breakdowns of communication and trust over a long period of time than it does about money...
But money always matters, and clearly, the Red Wings were more than willing to step up and make a 40-year-old who's still a 20-goal-scorer and 40-to-50-point player feel both very valued and ensure that his "year or two" in Detroit would be very well-compensated.
When you've been with a franchise that's been bankrupted, salvaged and turned into a "cap team" and then re-set as a "budget" franchise by an owner who no longer seems to be garnering sporting pleasure from a franchise that, by his own decision, breaks even during a good year...
Sometimes it's good to go to someplace where winning matters and where players in the latter stages of their careers are treated like x-factors instead of franchise players turned millstones.
Or, as Alfredsson himself said, as noted by the Canadian Press's Lisa Wallace:
"In late June this year, I decided I had it in me to play at least one more season," he explained. "I told management I was willing to return and I reminded them of our agreement from the year before and to my disappointment the negotiations again quickly stalled."
Within days, a number of teams began contacting Alfredsson, who felt the Red Wings were a good fit. He had friends on the roster and the club was in need of a right-handed shooter. Initial discussions with the Red Wings left Alfredsson pondering a whole new future.
"I was also delighted by their enthusiasm about me and how they saw me fitting into their plans and their team," he said. "So that call opened my eyes to a possibility I would never have thought of -- to play another year, or maybe even two, with another great team."
Alfredsson said he and wife Bibbi, who was by his side at Thursday's news conference, discussed the opportunity offered by the Red Wings and, knowing the impact the change would have on his children, asked for their insight as well.
"Bibbi and the kids and myself struggled with this decision, but in the end we decided we were ready for another adventure and this time in Detroit," said Alfredsson. "I don't know how long this new adventure will last and if or when we will return, but Ottawa will always be home in our hearts."
The Red Wings learned how terribly narratives of "franchise players" finishing their careers with the teams that drafted them can turn when a player doesn't feel that he's "valued," and the relationship sours over a long period of time.
Whether it's Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa or Alfredsson, the Senators seem content to simply press repeat, usually to their detriment.
I don't want to offend Senators fans here, but I sure as hell hope that it's Alfredsson who comes back to bite the Senators in the ass, and not the other way around, both as a Wings fan and as an Alfredsson fan who thinks that Melnyk and Murray are a pair of dicks.
I'm going with "Hab it Her Way's" Erica Taddeo's take on the Montreal Canadiens' "League of Hockey Nations" entry for Puck Daddy, because one former Red Wings player and current member of the Red Wings front office was shipped out of Montreal during the prime of his career because of his...Let's say once Fedorov-esque lifestyle priorities away from the rink:
USA: Chris Chelios: Choosing Chris Chelios as the greatest American Hab was kind of a no-brainer, since he might be the best American NHLer of all time. Honestly, if I was as good at hockey as Chelios was, I'd play until I was 79 years old, too.
Chelios started to play for the Canadiens after the 1984 Olympics. His first NHL goal was a playoff game-winner in Game 1 of the first round. His first full season as a Montreal Canadien was just as impressive, setting a new scoring record for Canadiens rookie defencemen and earning him a second-place finish in voting for the Calder Trophy (which he lost to Mario Lemieux, so that's okay, I guess).
His best season as a Hab, by far, was 1988-89. Holy crap. His career stats are impressive, but that one season speaks for itself. I want to put on my Habs jersey and stand up and cheer every time I read his stats for that year. (And I did!) Seventy-three regular season points, 19 playoff points in 21 games, and enough fights to prove that he's not the kind of d-man you can mess with. He kicked ass and took names, and unless you're Ron Hextall, you know that his Norris Trophy win that year was well-deserved.
Since then, no Canadiens blueliner has been able to match Chelios' 1989 tally for regular season or playoff points. I can't help but wonder what would have happened in Montreal if Chelios had never been traded.
Instead, he was swapped for Denis Savard, who won a Cup in Montreal but eventually returned to Chicago to coach, be fired and serve as an ambassador, and we all know how Chelios's career in Chicago turned out...Rather Alfredsson-like at the end, with a happy ending in Detroit.
Regarding present-day Wings under 40, yesterday morning, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan continued his three-part series on the Red Wings' forwards, defense and goalies by examining the Wings' blueliners, all while the Free Press's Helene St. James serendipitously profiled Jimmy Howard, and today, Kulfan looks at the Wings' net, focusing on Howard's Olympic push (which begins during the U.S. Olympic orientation camp on August 26th and 27th in Washington D.C.)
Howard’s push toward an Olympic spot would benefit the Red Wings also, as the U.S. national team will likely go with the goaltenders playing their best hockey heading into the Olympic tournament. Signed to a six-year contract extension worth $31.8 million last season Howard, 29, has cemented his position as the No. 1 goalie and a leader on the roster.
Howard tied for the league lead with five shutouts last season, with a 21-13-7 record and 2.13 goals-against average and .923 save percentage (both ninth in the league) and is now being mentioned as one of the top 10 goalies in the NHL.
“It was like that all season, Howie gave us a chance to win (a game).” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.
Few positions on the U.S. Olympic team are as deep as the goaltending.
Along with Howard, East Lansing native Ryan Miller (the 2010 U.S. silver-medal- winning standout), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles’ 2013 Conn Smythe-winning goalie), and Ottawa’s Craig Anderson (league leader in both goals-against and save percentage) and Cory Schneider (New Jersey) are battling for roster spots.
(and as such, I'm guessing that Howard and Schneider will go to Sochi as Quick's co-back-ups)
“There’s a lot of good players out there,” Howard said. “You want to be playing good hockey in the first half (of the season) and make it tough for the people selecting the team.”
While the Free Press's Helene St. James looks at Jakub Kindl:
Looking back: It hardly boded well for Kindl when, in a season during which he was supposed to establish himself as an NHL regular, he left training camp with a sore groin. He played within a week, though — and thus began a transformative four months. Kindl, a top-20 pick from 2005 who had taken time developing, went from looking like a bubble player to leapfrogging a couple of veterans on the depth chart. Kindl utilized his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame, generally made safe plays with the puck, and finished with a plus-minus rating second only to Pavel Datsyuk on the team. Late in the season, Kindl gained a new partner in Danny DeKeyser, forming a solid third pairing.
Looking ahead: The first half of 2013 saw Kindl show the Wings exactly what he needed to show them — that he’s a legit NHLer, not a reserve, not a guy one waiver away from the minors. In return, the Wings gave Kindl a four-year deal this off-season that will give him peace of mind. As the defense shapes up now, Kindl will be paired with DeKeyser, an ideal combination because Kindl’s effectiveness as a stay-at-home defenseman will give DeKeyser freedom to make plays with the puck. Kindl, 26, has plenty to work on, but he has demonstrated he can thrive as a third-pair, penalty-killing defenseman and comes at a good price.
If Kindl can continue to play steady, solid hockey as a puck-mover and strong shooter, he, DeKeyser and the Quincey-Smith pairing should finally give Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson some minute-munching relief, and he'll prove he's worth his 4-year, $9.6 million deal (at a cap hit of $2.4 million per season and $1.9 million in real-world dollars this year, per Capgeek) and then some.
The Wings are also continuing to ask fans to vote on their Top 24 Plays of the 2013 Season;
I couldn't find any audio of Ken Kal calling Thursday night's Tigers game, but he was quite happy with what transpired:
I can't afford an animation studio, but perhaps I can interview Tomas Tatar using a sock puppet now that he's taken part in an interview with an animated character...
And finally, it's that time of year, so...I am going to have to keep things rolling and keep requesting assistance in paying my way up to and staying in Traverse City during the Red Wings' prospect tournament--which starts on September 5th--and main training camp.
I hate asking for money, but I plain old can't afford to go up on my own. I wish I could. But I will do my best to provide the best level of coverage possible, and as you know, I try to make things interactive and take your suggestions, ideas and critiques into account.
Any amount is appreciated. $5, $10, whatever you can afford, it's greatly appreciated.
I'm sticking with PayPal for the present moment as folks are familiar with it, and the email address that you use as my "recipient" ID is my personal email address, email@example.com (regardless of whether you send email to that address or my Kukla's Korner email, firstname.lastname@example.org, they end up in the same place).
Your support is plain old humbling. I wouldn't have been able to attend the summer development camp without you.
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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.