The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/24/11 at 05:47 PM ET
In case Kukla’s Korner is getting too Red Wing-y, let’s condense talk about Brian Rafalski’s retirement, the Wings’ desire to move to the Eastern Conference and the Wings’ exhibition game in London, Ontario to one place while adding a few tidbits to the mix:
Guism’s Neil Bulson argues that Chris Osgood is the sixth-most-underrated athlete, ever, in any sport:
6 Chris Osgood
10 of the most underrated sports stars of all timeThere is a general perception that Detroit Red Wings goalies are just along for the ride, that they’re more lucky than good. And while that is probably true to at least a small extent, you simply can’t win a Stanley Cup without your goalie playing like one of the best in the world, and that’s exactly what Chris Osgood has done for the Red Wings on a couple of different occasions. His best performance probably came in the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs in which Osgood proved once and for all that he’s more than just a lucky bum, putting in a dominating performance in which he stole several games for the Wings on the way to the Cup. There is a good argument to be made that Osgood deserved the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP that season even though that honor went to teammate Henrik Zetterberg. But Osgood is more than just that one scintillating Cup run. He was also the man in goal when the Wings won the Cup in 1998 and he came within an eyelash of being the Cup winning goalie in 2009 when the Wings lost to the Penguins in 7 games. Osgood was great in that Cup playoff too and probably would have won the Conn Smythe had the Wings prevailed. But aside from team accomplishments, Osgood has a damn fine resume. He is one of only 10 goalies in NHL history to have won 400 games, he has 50 career shutouts, 24th all-time and for the first 15 years of his career Osgood never had a losing record, and while yes, a lot of those years came with the dominant Red Wings, a couple of those seasons were spent as the goalie for crappy Islanders teams. Say what you will about Osgood, but the guy has stats most goalies only dream of, he’s one of the biggest winners in NHL history and he has a trio of Stanley Cups to remind him and everybody else of all that he’s accomplished. And yet, Osgood will likely never get the recognition that he deserves. He’s talked about only occasionally as a borderline Hall of Fame candidate and it seems like he’s being constantly dismissed as just a guy along for the ride. But read everything I’ve just written again and tell me how that makes sense. And that’s why Chris Osgood is one of the most underrated athletes of all-time.
• Via the Red Wings’ Twitter account, if you can stand the piano ditty from hell, NHL.com’s History Will Be Made site is holding a tournament regarding “history” moments, and at present Scotty Bowman’s 2002 Stanley Cup win is tangling with Steve Yzerman’s OT goal against St. Louis in one of the semifinals;
• Amongst the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts, the Wings possibly moving to the East included:
5) What I’ll remember about Brian Rafalski: As we approached the one-year anniversary of Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal, how many reporters wanted to do a story? 1,000? Rafalski refused, wanting no part of it. Here’s a guy who won three Stanley Cups and two Olympic silver medals. But he was so bothered about being beaten on that one goal he wouldn’t discuss it. I admire that, considering there’s one thing in my career I’ll never get over, either.
6) Was talking with Nick Cotsonika, who covers the NHL for Yahoo and has spent a lot of time around the Red Wings. He pointed out something very interesting: last year, Rafalski made $6 million US, so Detroit paid Nicklas Lidstrom $6.2 million. With Rafalski retiring, the next-highest blue-line salary is Brad Stuart at $3.75 per. Assuming Lidstrom comes back, will he take less to give Ken Holland more cap flexibility? After all, Lidstrom is all about winning and he did drop $1.25 million from his previous deal.
7) How about this scenario: with the extra cap room, Holland makes a run at Brad Richards. Imagine giving Mike Babcock the ability to play around with Richards, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg - yikes. Trade the maddening Valtteri Filppula and then work on your blue-line. Two reasons this won’t happen: the Red Wings believe in spending money on defence first and, with a new CBA looming, this may be Richards’ last chance to hit a contract Grand Slam.
No, Lidstrom won’t take a big cut because whoever the Wings sign will make $4-5 million, and on top of that, he doesn’t owe the Wings’ pay cut, and no, I don’t see the Wings snagging Richards;
• Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
Hey @DetroitRedWings fans, in 11 #Stanley Cup playoffs, Brian Rafalski is the ONLY #NHL player to finish among top 10 scoring D-men 8 times.
• Via WXYT, if you’re a Rafalski fan, this is your new wallpaper, and no, I don’t know why the Wayne Dispatch posted pictures of Tomas Holmstrom attending some sort of event in Wayne, MI this past week;
• In “Blast From the Past territory, from Sports Illustrated:
Business As Usual
By David Fleming, April 20, 1998
His contract controversy behind him, Sergei Fedorov is back in the good graces of his teammates and leading the red-hot Red Wings into the playoffs.
• The Muskegon Chronicle’s Tom Kendra believes that Justin Abdelkader is poised for a break-out season, should the Wings give him a break (???):
I’ve said for several years that Abdelkader could put up much bigger offensive numbers, and thus command a bigger contract, if he played for a different team. He scored seven goals with 12 assists this season and has one year remaining on his current contract that will pay him $787,500 next season.
With the Wings’ plethora of scorers and finesse players, Abdelkader has been forced into more of a mucky, enforcer role - a fact which makes his team-leading plus-minus even more impressive.
My wish for Abdelkader next year is that Babcock quits bouncing him around so much from line-to-line. As a young player, he would benefit from a more defined role on the wing of the third or fourth line (think of the old “Grind Line”) where he continues to play tough and physical, with his proven knack for scoring unexpected goals.
I know I speak for many when I say I’m sure glad we have our boy Abby in the “D.”
• This just in, via the London game, from the Free Press:
The Detroit Red Wings will be Philadelphia’s opponent for the Flyers’ annual exhibition at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario. Game time is 7 p.m. Sept. 22.
Tickets will go on sale at noon Saturday through johnlabattcentre.com and at 866-455-2849. Tickets are $ 100, $90, $80 and $65 Canadian.
• And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan weighs in on Rafalski’s departure via his blog:
Nicklas Lidstrom, you could understand the speculation and talk of possible retirement (although he likely won’t) But Brian Rafalski? Definitely surprising. Few, if anybody, could see that one coming.
But this does create a unique opportunity for the Wings. They suddenly have $6 million (Rafalski’s salary cap number) to play with in the free agent market.
Who do they go and get on July 1? I suggest Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa (but I’d be surprised if the Canucks don’t somehow retain him). Maybe Phoenix’s Ed Jovanovski, who may want to return close to home (he’s from Windsor). Or one of three free agent defensemen Montreal has (Canton’s James Wisnewski, Andrei Markov, or Roman Hamrlik).
But, really, it’s not a great group of free agent defensemen this summer. And I’m not even sure if any of these names is a significant upgrade over Brian Rafalski.
For the amount of abuse Rafalski took from die-hard Wings fans, don’t be surprised if you’re disappointed he’s gone late next season. Rafalski won’t be easy to replace.
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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.