The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/12/12 at 08:39 AM ET
In terms of at least maintaining some sort of semi-professional level of composure, he most difficult task I’ve faced while covering the Red Wings’ summer development camp involves fighting the almost involuntary urge to yell, “Get a defenseman! Get a scorer! For Gord’s sake, do something!” when I find myself within close physical proximity of members of the Red Wings’ front office.
I’m as much a passionate Red Wings fan as any of you are, and while I understand the Wings’ rationale in “waiting out” what is an incredibly stagnant free agent marketplace—generally speaking, a lack of movement in terms of player signings seems to indicate that in addition to being picked over, this summer’s thin crop of free agents’ representatives are still asking for top-dollar compensation for their somewhat middling clientele, and given the Wings’ lack of depth on the blueline, I’d imagine that the Wings have very little leverage with which to suggest that someone like Pavel Kubina or Carlo Colaiacovo shouldn’t be earning $4 million or more dollars simply because they can skate in a straight line…
And something tells me that the Wings’ decision to not engage in some sort of trade to bolster their blueline at the very least, if not also add a goal-scoring forward, involves astronomical asking prices for the most average players, never mind the kinds of contributors who could really help the Wings fill that Nicklas Lidstrom-sized crater on their blueline.
So it’s hurry up and wait, and as painful as it is for me to say this—because I’ve certainly seen Ken Holland, Ryan Martin, Jim Nill and Mike Babcock work their phones like nobody’s business, indicating that there’s no lack of trying on the Wings front office’s part in terms of trying to pursue every avenue by which they can improve their team—I’m guessing that the plan is either to wait until the end of this month or August to wait for free agents’ demands to go down so that the Wings can add a band-aid player or two to their defense, maybe a scoring forward, and then it would seem most logical to wait for the new CBA to be settled before committing tons of cap space or term to anyone, never mind perhaps pursuing a trade should the cap go down.
If anything, the Wings may very well find that adding a band-aid and then waiting until either the exhibition season or even the beginning-to-middle of the upcoming season will yield trade possibilities that won’t involve the team having to mortgage its future or “sell a barn to buy a horse” for the simple sake of improving their defense in a meaningful way.
As such, Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s statements to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan indicate that the Wings will indeed stick with what they’ve got and hope for a push from within, at least until they can find a way to add free agents who can help the cause despite their lack of name recognition.Holland told Kulfan that he doesn’t regret putting all his eggs in the Ryan Suter basket for a second:
“You do everything you can do with the information you’ve got, and when somebody makes their decision, you don’t look back,” the Red Wings general manager said, of competing for the two top free agents, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter — and losing.
Holland said he does not view their decision as a sign the Red Wings are fading.
“We might not be No. 1, but we were one of two teams that Ryan Suter met with,” he said.
Referring to the 13-year, $98 million contracts Parise and Suter signed with the Wild last week, Holland indicated the Red Wings might have been reticent to go for that long, and that much.
“Once you make those decisions, you are out of the game for a decade, you know?” he said. “So, I don’t know if people think we’re going to have major announcements this year, next year and the year after. The league doesn’t work like that. I’m confident, at some point — and it might be next year or the year after — that the history, the tradition, the commitment of our ownership, the passion of our fans, is going to all add up to having an opportunity to bring a player of significance here.”
Taking the bigger and more immediate picture into account, we Wings fans will have to simply sit and wait for the Wings to improve their team at a cost they deem acceptable, and in terms of Tomas Holmstrom’s future, as we learned yesterday, things don’t look good for Homer:
“Nobody knows more than Homer how hard he’s worked, how hard he’s competed and how he goes to all the hard areas, for over 1,000 games, since 1996,” Holland said. “If we don’t move younger people in, we’re going backwards.”
HockeySverige’s Uffe Bodin took note of Holmstrom’s remarkable career achievements given that he has probably played his last game for the Wings:
Tomas Holmstrom made his debut for Detroit under Scotty Bowman’s leadership in 1996. Since then he has played 1027 games for the team. Only five players—Gordie Howe, Nicklas Lidstrom, Alex Delvecchio, Steve Yzerman and Kris Draper—have played more.
Overall, Holmstrom has scored 243 goals and registered 580 points, and won four Stanley Cup titles (1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008).
Next week, we may have another tearful and emotional retirement presser on our hands, and that stinks.
But Holmstrom’s loyalty to the Wings and to his adopted home in Southeastern Michigan will probably win out, so I’m not putting much stock into his agent’s claims to Expressen’s Oscar Brostrom that other teams are interested in his client’s services…
Just as I’m not buying Dominik Hasek’s agent Rich Winter’s claims to iSport’s Pavel Barta that five NHL teams are interested in employing the 47-year-old as a back-up.
That being said, I’m not sure about this quip from Kulfan being 100% accurate, either:
You’d think free agent forward Alex Semin would have been signed by now.
Teams like the Red Wings, Penguins and Rangers, among others, have decided not to pursue Semin, who has a history of moodiness and questionable work ethic.
The belief is Semin might return to Russia and the Kontinental Hockey League to repair his image.
Ironically enough, I wrote all of that and this article from MLive’s Phillip Zaroo popped up, more or less providing a head-nod from Holland:
“I don’t think we need a whole bunch of guys,” Holland said at Wednesday’s Hockeytown Winter Classic press conference. “I think if we can get one more player, (we’ll be fine). First off, we’re done in goal. I think we’ve got lots of pieces of up front. Obviously, with the loss of (Brad) Stuart, the loss of (Nick) Lidstrom, we’re not as deep as we’ve been in the past in defense. Two players that are going to replace him that weren’t here (last year) are Brendan Smith and (Kyle) Quincey, so it’s not like we’ve lost two guys and don’t have any players.”
Holland is still pursuing different avenues to improve the team, even it doesn’t seem like he’s moving fast enough for some fans’ tastes.
“We’re going to continue to explore the market,” he said. “There are some players on the free agent market that we have some interest in. There is some trade talk out there, which we’re trying to explore. I think right now is a slow time. I think it’ll start to heat up again in a couple of weeks.”
So that’s that, folks.
Regarding Smith, the Detroit News’s Kulfan took note of the fact that Smith may have been one of the only people to not find terrible disappointment in the fact that Ryan Suter signed elsewhere:
“It would have been great to have him here, and it just shows how the organization wants to win every year,” the defenseman said after a recent break from the Red Wings development camp. “He’s obviously a great player. I still would have been around, but obviously I would have been dropped down (to a third pairing) and I wouldn’t have had the ice time, or at least battle for more ice time. So it’s unfortunate Suter didn’t come here, but for me, there’s kind of an upside.”
With a defense in transition — and in need of one more veteran defenseman — Smith could get top-four minutes as the Red Wings push the development of arguably their No. 1 prospect.
“The other few years I wasn’t too sure (about making the NHL), and I was fighting for a spot, but they’ve pretty much told me I’ll be there (this season),” said Smith, the team’s first-round pick in 2007 out of Wisconsin. “I just have to keep working, keep getting bigger and stronger. The big thing is, I want to show leadership. I can show them what needs to be done to get to the next level.”
In other prospect news, the Free Press’s George Sipple spoke to Wings assistant GM Jim Nill about the team’s decision to sign Luke Glendening to an AHL-only contract:
“He’s a kid that’s overcome all odds,” assistant general manager Jim Nill said of Glendening. “He’s a walk-on that became a captain at Michigan, which is one of the best college teams in the nation. There’s something there. We’re just going to see if he keeps climbing the ladder.”
Glendening is one of eight players to wear the C at U-M for multiple seasons. He was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s best defensive forward as a senior. He tied a career high with 21 points last season and set career highs in goals (10) and plus-minus rating (plus-18). But he said past accomplishments don’t mean much now.
“I have to show up and prove myself again, and that’s the kind of situation you want to be in,” Glendening said. “You want to have to show up every day and prove yourself, and that’s what I’m going to have to do here.”
Glendening had skated in three AHL games with the Providence Bruins on an amateur tryout after finishing his senior season.
“I knew this is what I really wanted to do, and I was going to give it a show no matter where it was,” he said. “I had no idea that it was going to be here. It’s a dream come true.”
Glendening said he can’t worry about what other prospects the Wings have in Grand Rapids. But he did seek the advice of Michigan coach Red Berenson before signing with the Griffins.
“I actually asked him, because I respect his opinion,” Glendening said. “He was like, ‘I would do that 100%. It’s a great opportunity for you, and they’ll appreciate the kind of player you are.’ It meant a lot that he was willing to say: ‘This is a good place for you.’ “
• Sipple also spoke to Wings try-out Dean Chelios about his need to play well during his senior season at Michigan State University to land an NHL deal…
Dean Chelios scored eight goals for the Spartans last season, matching the total he had as a sophomore in 2010-11. He set career highs in assists (seven) and points (15) last season, but figures he’ll have to be much more productive in his final season of college hockey to earn a pro contract as an undrafted free agent.
“This is my last year, so it’s a huge year,” Chelios said. “I’ve been training real hard for it. Every year I get more and more comfortable (at the development camp), and I like this pace. This last year, I want to stay healthy and have a breakout year, and then hopefully I can get a chance to do something with the Wings’ program or anything.”
And both Dean and Chris Chelios spoke about Jake’s decision to play at the Blackhawks’ camp:
“We actually lived together last year in the same apartment, so we were literally together all day and night,” Dean Chelios said of his younger brother. “We’ve been hanging out the entire summer again, and we’re going back to school together after this.”
Chris Chelios said Jake had become familiar with most of the guys at Detroit’s camp and decided to go to Chicago for a new experience.
“He plays a little bit on the edge,” Chris Chelios said of Jake. “He wanted to go somewhere where he didn’t know anybody, maybe play with that edge. He has a tough time doing that to friends.”
Chris Chelios said his sons are competitive with each other “but they get along great.”
The Chelios family will get back together Saturday in Hockeytown to celebrate Dean’s 23rd birthday.
• DetroitRedWings.com’s Andrea Nelson spoke to Andreas Athanasiou about his experiences at the Wings’ prospect camp, duly noting that he’s all of 17:
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, just getting drafted in the NHL and getting drafted by one of the most respected teams in the NHL, the most respected organization,” Athanasiou said of being Detroit’s fourth-round pick. “The people here are very genuine and they’re really welcoming. It’s just an honor to be a part of one of the greatest organizations.”
It’s a goal that the London, Ontario, native started working toward before he had his first birthday.
“I think I was in skates when I was 8-months-old,” Athanasiou said. “I can’t even remember. I just remember sitting on the chair and my dad pushing me and I fell in love with it right at the start. My dad put me in skates and then I was playing in London where I grew up to play my junior career.”
Athanasiou left London to play in Toronto. There’s no place like home, but he found the next best thing when he arrived in a different city. His travels haven’t slowed down either, with his latest adventure bringing him to northern Michigan for the 2012 Red Wings’ development camp.
“I’ve never been to Traverse City,” Athanasiou said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s really nice, the people are nice. At the Cherry Festival they were really welcoming and supportive. It’s an unbelievable place along the beach and it’s really relaxing.”
The prospects haven’t been able to do much relaxing, though. They’re too busy practicing, weightlifting and scrimmaging to do much else. But Athanaiou knows how important this training is to his growth as a player.
“You’re learning a lot of little things,” he said. “They want to make you the best player you can be and they teach you a lot of little things, the ins and outs, and you can bring that back to your development wherever you’re playing next year.”
Also: The Free Press posted a list of former Wings who are members of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame to commemorate Mike Modano’s selection as a member of the US HHOF’s 2012 induction class, and the list is pretty impressive.
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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.