The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/18/12 at 11:54 AM ET
With MLive’s Ansar Khan’s Rick Nash bombshell dropped before someone’s internet service went out last night, we’re shifting back to more pedestrian Red Wings news this morning with more discussion about Kyle Quincey and Justin Abdelkader’s contracts.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that the Wings will have to submit legal briefs of their stance against Quincey earning a big raise two days before the team’s scheduled to meet with an salary arbitrator a week from today, but Ken Holland told St. James that he believes the team’s not likely to engage in their third arbitration hearing since 1995:
“We’ve talked a couple of times, and we’ll talk some more,” general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday. “We continue to talk about one year, but we’ve also had conversations about maybe beyond a year. It’ll have to play itself out before next Wednesday.”
It’s not uncommon to settle at the 11th hour. Quincey’s age, 26, restricts an arbitrator to awarding a one-year deal, which would make Quincey eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. He is coming off a two-year, $6.25-million deal, with an actual salary of $3.25 million last season. In arbitration, he isn’t going to get less—but the Wings can make an argument he shouldn’t get much more. For both, a one-year deal might make sense, as Quincey would have the chance for a bounce-back season and increase his value, and the Wings could gauge whether he’s worth a longer investment.
Solid defensemen are precious in the NHL, and the Wings are confident Quincey can establish himself as such. The Wings acquired him a week before the Feb. 28 trade deadline from Colorado via Tampa Bay. In 54 games with the Avalanche, Quincey had five goals among 23 points; he had three points, two of them goals, in 18 games with Detroit.
The Wings had drafted him in the fourth round in 2003 and lost him on waivers in October 2008. Quincey spent a season with the Kings before being traded to the Avalanche.
His transition back to Detroit was rough, but he arrived in a “perfect storm” scenario, joining a lineup struggling in the absence of its two best players, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk.
“When Kyle joined us, our team was playing the worst hockey of the year. We had lots of injuries. As a player, you need the whole group to be playing well,” Holland said. “And he was probably a little surprised he got traded. I thought he was better later in the year. We scouted him, we know him, we know that he’s a good, solid NHL defenseman. I think the opportunity for him to start right from training camp and get a comfort level will help this year.”
Holland more or less confirmed his optimism to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
The Red Wings and free agent defenseman Kyle Quincey appear to be closing in on a deal that would preclude the arbitration session slated for July 25, general manager Ken Holland said.
“I talked to his agent and we’re both hoping to avoid arbitration,” Holland said.
Quincey was acquired February 21 from the Lightning.
As something of a follow-up to Khan and the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness’s takes on the no-deal for Nash, Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski finds Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson’s unwillingness to deal his very disgruntled captain to the Wings downright puzzling:
If the [approved trade destination] list was six teams, it’s down to five. The five remaining teams — the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks — are still kicking the tires on signing Shane Doan and Alex Semin, or trading for Bobby Ryan. The winners of those derbies will likely reduce the field again.
Unless Howson decides to make Nash the first domino to fall before those other transactions, it might be in his best interests to continue holding onto Nash, with the hope he expands his trade horizons.
Otherwise, Howson’s limited options for getting the proper return for Nash are continuing to dwindle
At this point, Shane Doan seems to be the first “domino” that the rest of the free agent marketplace is waiting for, and along those lines, it’s worth taking a look at the Hockey News’s Lyle “Spector” Richardson’s list of the ten best free agents remaining on the market as, barring a radical change of philosophy, these are the players the Wings are most likely to be targeting:
Upside: Doan is respected around the league for his physical play, consistency, experience and leadership. He would be a terrific addition to any NHL team.
Downside: At 35, he doesn’t have many quality years left. He would prefer to re-sign with the Phoenix Coyotes on a multi-year deal and appears willing to wait for a resolution to their ownership situation. As many as 16 teams have reportedly expressed an interest in him.
Upside: He’s 28 and still in his prime. Semin is better defensively than his critics would have you believe and possesses strong offensive skills, having netted 54 or more points in four straight seasons. He’s just two years removed from his career-best 40-goal, 84-point season.
Downside: He has a reputation among NHL GMs for being lazy, selfish, enigmatic and a dressing room cancer, which is hurting his market value. He’s believed to be seeking a two-year, $10 million contract, but could be forced to accept a one-year deal if he wants to play in the NHL next season.
That, and his agent, Mark Gandler, is crazy…
Upside: The 29-year-old Colaiacovo would be of interest for teams seeking more offense from their blueline. Established himself as a good, puck-moving defenseman during his four seasons with the St. Louis Blues.
Downside: He’s been plagued by injuries throughout his career and has never played more than 73 games in a season. At times has faced criticism over his shaky defensive play.
Upside: The 33-year-old Rozsival was a solid second-pair defenseman with the Phoenix Coyotes. He blocked the third-most shots of all Coyotes during the regular season and second-most during the post-season.
Downside: His 30-to-40-point years are well behind him and injuries have prevented him from playing a full season the past two years.
Upside: At 6-foot-4 and 258 pounds, Kubina is a physically imposing defenseman. He was fourth on the Tampa Bay Lightning last season in blocked shots prior to his trade to Philadelphia. Still possesses a booming blast from the point.
Downside: His offensive production has declined steadily since 2008-09, so he’s deployed in more defensive roles now. Time appears to be catching up to the 35-year-old after 13 NHL seasons.
I’m rooting for Kubina in terms of the Wings’ likely defensive targets, but that’s just me…
And if you missed it, Paul pointed out that the Arizona Republic’s Lisa Halverstadt reports that the group of Glendale citizens who tried unsuccessfully to place a yes-no vote regarding the Coyotes’ sale on the November ballot are now suing the city, and won’t be in court until August 14th, so who the hell knows what’s going to happen with Doan…
Speculation continues to build as to where Coyotes captain Shane Doan will land next season, but the prized free agent is in no hurry to make a decision. Doan’s reluctance to choose among the growing list of interested teams clearly points to the Coyotes as frontrunners, but uncertainty surrounding Greg Jamison’s bid to purchase the team still remains.
General Manager Don Maloney believes it “may be weeks” until Doan picks a team, and the Coyotes don’t mind waiting.
“I still remain confident that we will be able to sign Shane,” Maloney said. “Nothing has changed in that respect. We still have regular communication despite everything you see and read.”
Again, Doan’s simply the next “domino” in the UFA market because there’s no urgency from any team to go after UFA’s who are, to some extent, “damaged goods” likely demanding early-July prices despite their status as the kinds of players who, barring any CBA uncertainty, would be signed in early August at bargain rates—and that includes Semin given both his and his agent’s “high maintenance” statuses—so that’s why things have slowed to a crawl.
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• Minus his excellent CBA points, the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman offered some Wings-related comments in his last “30 Thoughts column of the season/summer:
17. Red Wings players will tell you Babcock’s belief is that “when we’re defending, you do it my way. When we have the puck, you can create.” (He laughed when asked about that.) [Ralph] Krueger’s plan for Edmonton will be along those lines. “The only way we’re going to learn to win is by having a solid team structure,” Krueger said. “We had a lot of ‘immature games’ last season…they were fun to play and watch, but we lost. We need to learn to manage the game better—play to the score, the clock, the situation.”
31. Rick Nash: MLive’s Ansar Khan reported Tuesday night that Detroit made a run at the Columbus captain, speculating that Johan Franzen and/or Valtteri Filppula would be the centrepiece. For what it’s worth, I’d heard the latter but not the former (although Khan is much closer to it than I am). Scott Howson’s getting critiqued for his stubbornness, but what if the trade proves that to be the right play?
32. Think the Red Wings are very confident that they can go in different directions because Babcock can coach multiple styles and systems. He didn’t exactly preach puck possession in Anaheim, but showed up in Detroit, saw who was on his roster and realized, “We can do that here.” If the roster dictates another adjustment, he can deliver.
33. Shane Doan: ESPN’s Craig Custance quoted a GM as being “90-per-cent sure” Doan will turn to the Coyotes. That’s probably true, but I really wonder how much he’s being tempted. Only a fool underestimates the Coyotes on-ice, a brilliantly run and coached organization full of players who compete beyond belief. But, Doan’s getting great offers to play with the Sedins or Pavel Datsyuk or Sidney Crosby or Claude Giroux or Joe Thornton. He’ll be 36 in October. How hard is he thinking about trying to win a Cup on a high-revenue team for the first time in his career?
37. Alex Semin: you try to be careful with Semin, because, it reaches a point where it’s like piling on. But, here’s the issue: he always seems unhappy. Last year’s playoffs weren’t easy on either him or Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin, though, decided to put on the best possible face because the team eliminated the defending champs and pushed the Rangers to seven games. Semin didn’t do that. It’s a long season and it’s hard on teams when guys are like that. He’s got incredible talent, and if he ever showed a little more warmth (for lack of a better term), opinions might change.
• I’m surprised that DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose interviewed former Wing Rick Bowness in an “Alumni Reunion” article given that Rick Jr. is a member of the Wings’ PR staff:
Question: Do you keep in touch with any of your former Red Wings teammates? If so, who?
Rick Bowness: “Nick Libbet, Jimmy Rutherford, Paul Woods. I see Dennis Hextall every now and then. The guys that are around you see the most, but Nick is probably the guy I keep closest in touch with.”
Question: Which of the current Red Wings is your favorite? And why?
Bowness: “I love watching (Pavel) Datsyuk. To me, he’s the best player in the game. He’s incredibly creative with the puck, with that long stick. To me, he is the most educated player to watch in hockey. I think he’s outstanding.”
Question: What was your favorite memory as a Red Wing?
Bowness: “We knocked off Atlanta in the first round (1977-78). We hadn’t made the playoffs in a long time and we came in and not only made the playoffs but won our first round. The atmosphere in that Olympia was just phenomenal. Knocking off the Flames and winning that round was pretty special.”
Question: Which of the guys you played with was the toughest?
Bowness: “Dennis Hextall. Night in and night out, in terms of not a big man, but playing hard, feisty, competitive, it was Hexy.”
• CSKA Moscow GM and former Wing Sergei Fedorov answered questions from Sportbox.ru readers, and two of them involved his time spent with the Red Wings:
Which players from the beautiful Russian Five in Detroit did you have the best working relationship, and with whom were you most friendly? (PAN 1)
“All of our top five were friends. We respected Vyacheslav Fetisov and Igor Larionov. They were our idols since the Soviet Era. I was closest with Vladimir Konstantinov and Viacheslav Kozlov. I was closer to them in terms of age.
How often do you wear your Stanley Cup rings? (BARIN-25)
Who are the players of the beautiful Russian Five “Detroit” you have been working relationship and with whom - friendly? (PAN1)
“I wear them, but not often.”
• Because this might interest you more than CBA news, the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell found that Los Angeles Kings enforcer Kevin Westgarth, who’s bringing the Stanley Cup to Amhertsburg, Ontario on August 21st, is just gobsmacked by the historical significance written on the trophy he’s been partying with;
• And now we come to CBA news, if only in short form:
1. There’s some irony in the fact that the Buffalo News’s Bucky Gleason, one of the most outspoken anti-player voices during the last lockout, has changed his tune:
[Y]ou couldn’t blame the players Friday for feeling insulted and pushed around when the NHL’s first offer called for another salary rollback and for them to get only 46 percent of the revenue. They knew Bettman wanted a larger piece of the pie, but not 54 percent. Bettman had it all backward, at best.
Bettman was low-balling because that’s how negotiations work whether it’s the NHL or a garage sale.
It was surprising only because the deal in place made sense. A tweak here and there seemed plausible. But here we go again. The NHL is headed toward another long labor dispute.
Rather than work with a reasonable number, Bettman stuck out his chest and essentially challenged Fehr, the NHL players’ association chief. Fehr is a new kid on the NHL’s block, but this isn’t his first backyard brawl.
Owners can control their teams, but they do not own the sport. Fans don’t buy tickets to watch owners sit in their suites. They pay to see the players.Over the past seven years, a salary cap tethered directly to revenue rose from about $39 million in 2005-06 to an estimated $70 million this year. Owners continue to sign players to contracts nearing and exceeding nine figures in guaranteed money. They can’t cry poor when they refuse to control their own spending.
This time, the players are right.
And they’re more equipped to fight.
2. Of course, there’s no surprise in the fact that Stan Fischler takes offense at the “pro-union suspects” daring to suggest that Bettman’s initial offer may signify a looming lockout, instead mocking the PA for their pre-first proposal discussions with the NHL while gushing about Scott Burnside’s “nobody panic” article:
While cheery homilies are being transmitted by both the NHL and NHLPA PR machines, nothing substantive has been accomplished in the labor-management meetings so far in terms of producing a new collective bargaining agreement. The union has brought up such minor issues as equipment, arena ice quality, and the selection of team doctors. What everyone should know is that all of the above—and just about any other issues—are small potatoes compared to the only major issue that counts. What makes the players’ concerns so fatuous is the fact that the teams employ the best doctors, the clubs fly in their own planes, they stay at the best hotels, and working conditions up and down the line are first-class.Additionally, right now the players get 57 percent of the money pie, and the owners want to reduce that inequitable ratio.
3. I guess it also comes as no surprise that a current member of the Board of Governors and a former BoG member told the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts that the NHL’s desire to once again “save the owners from themselves” should be considered par for the course…
“Where did you expect [the owners] to come in? We’re giving 57 per cent [in revenue], so now we’ll take 56?” the governor said. “If a house is up for sale at $299,000 and you want to pay less, you come in at $249,000 and then the other side splits the difference with you. Does that make sense? It does to me.”
However, on the players’ side of the equation this is not a simple negotiation about sharing a pie equally but about management still demanding, as it did eight years ago, a fundamental change in the system.
There are many on the union side who see this as confirmation the owners are ready once again to shutter their arenas in order not only to get enough concessions from the players to ensure their financially weak teams start raking in more money but to ensure the rich get richer as well. The soothing comparison to real-estate haggling is considered the owners’ spin once they saw the negative reaction to their opening offer.
There was no interest in discussing how a league with record revenue in the last seven consecutive years – rising 63 per cent to $3.3-billion (U.S.) this year – could deal with six problem franchises out of 30.
Looked at in total, the league’s demands take an individual owner’s control of his team out of his hands. Hence the demand for all contracts to be no more than five years in length and to eliminate signing bonuses, one of the only areas under the salary cap where owners can be creative.
• And the New York Times’ Jeff Z. Klein wonders how the NHLPA’s response to the NHL’s first offer might determine what happens from today’s CBA meetings on out:
N.B.A. and N.F.L. owners locked out their players last year in successful efforts to reduce the players’ split of revenue to around 50 percent in each league. N.H.L. owners are believed to be seeking the same kind of reduction. During the N.H.L.’s last lockout, which wiped out the 2004-5 season, players took a 24 percent pay cut and agreed to a salary cap. The offer Bettman made Friday asks the players to take another substantial pay cut, despite a rise in league revenue to $3.3 billion last season, from $2.2 billion in 2003-4.
Bettman’s initial proposal to cut the players’ share of revenue would take a huge amount out of the players’ pockets and put it in the owners’ — about $363 million for last season, and more each season should revenue continue to grow.
With the players seeming unwilling to give up any amount after giving back a quarter of their income in 2005, it is not easy to see what counterproposal Fehr can make beyond a simple refusal.
One possible avenue for compromise is revenue sharing among the league’s clubs. The N.H.L.’s current revenue-sharing system is less extensive than the one used by Major League Baseball. Fehr was the executive director of the baseball players union for more than 20 years, and he has often pointed to the revenue-sharing system as a reason for the labor peace in that sport, which has not had a work stoppage since 1994-95. Under baseball’s system, big-market teams pay in more, and small-market teams receive more, than under the N.H.L.’s system.
But for the N.H.L. to adopt such a reform, wealthy clubs like Toronto, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and the Rangers must be willing to sacrifice more to improve the bottom line of poorer teams like Nashville and Carolina.
Whether those clubs are willing to make sacrifices among themselves, or whether they will count on the players’ making sacrifices, could determine the outcome of a union counterproposal involving revenue sharing.
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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.