The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/25/12 at 05:28 AM ET
We occasionally hear it from ex-Red Wings—and Daniel Larsson’s still complaining about the fact that the Red Wings dared to tell him to get off the goal line in an interview with Marie Hallman—but most of the time, challenges to change and to deal with a little less ice time than players had expected are welcomed, so in the case of Red Wings prospect Andreas Athanasiou, his suggestion to DetroitRedWings.com’s Andrea Nelson that not playing a regular shift for the London Knights wasn’t that big a deal (Athanasiou’s lack of ice time is one of the reasons he slipped to the fourth round of the 2012 draft)...
“Just do the best I can and try to produce as much as possible,” Athanasiou said of his goals for next season. “But it comes with opportunity. Last year we had a deep team in London, going to the Memorial Cup finals. I didn’t get too much ice, I think I was averaging 5-10 minutes, but whenever I get ice time this year I’ll produce as much as I can and just get bigger and stronger.”
Don’t ring so true after his Friday trade to the Barrie Colts, as noted by the London Free Press’s Ryan Pyette:
Andreas Athanasiou’s request was granted. On Friday, the Detroit Red Wings prospect was shipped by the London Knights to the OHL’s Barrie Colts for a second-round draft pick in 2013, a third-rounder in 2014 and a conditional second rounder in 2015.
“It was time,” the swift-skating forward said. “It was me (requesting a move). It was more just wanting to be closer to home. Barrie is closer (to Woodbridge) and my family and friends can come to watch me play more. That’s what I wanted.”
There is, of course, more to it than that. Athanasiou’s ice-time in London has been a major issue for much of the last year and it threatened to be a distraction again.
“He wasn’t happy with his ice,” London GM Mark Hunter said. “He’s a talented player with a lot of potential and you’re sorry to see it go that way, but if you have someone who isn’t happy, and it doesn’t happen very often (here), then you look at trying to give him what he wants and move on. He sat out the two games there (against Saginaw) in the playoffs but we were looking at using different lineups every night. We had a lot of forwards, but to win championships, sometimes you need a couple of guys to accept two or three less minutes a game in order to win.”
Athanasiou admitted he has known for a while he wouldn’t have to face the uncomfortable position of deciding whether or not to hold out of Knights training camp, which begins Tuesday, to reinforce his trade demand. There were many interested teams and it took until Friday afternoon for Hunter to settle with the Colts.
“I knew a trade was going to happen before (camp),” Athanasiou said. “It was time to go. That’s the way I feel. I enjoyed my time in London, the fans were great getting behind us, and we won a championship. I have no ill will towards anybody. I’ve already talked to a few of the guys to say good-bye.”
The Colts are hoping that the young Athanasiou (he was drafted as a 17-year-old high school junior) will pan out while receiving a more prominent role on the team, as the Barrie Examiner’s Gene Pereira suggests:
The Barrie Colts addressed their need for a top-six forward and scorer with the acquisition of Andreas Athanasiou from the London Knights on Friday. The Colts acquired the speedy winger by sending a second-round pick in 2013, a third-round pick in 2014 and a second-round selection in 2015 to the Knights. The 2015 pick is conditional on Athanasiou playing next year in Barrie.
Athanasiou, who was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth round (110th overall) of the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft, had 22 goals and 15 assists for 37 points in 63 games last season with the Knights. He added a goal and four assists in 11 playoff games during London’s run to an OHL championship.
Known for his blazing speed and good hands, the 18-year-old former fourth-round pick (81st overall) of the Knights in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection had 11 goals and 11 assists in 57 games as a rookie in London.
The Woodbridge native was also part of the gold medal-winning Ontario squad at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The six-foot-one, 174-pound winger fell out of favour last season during the playoffs and was scratched from eight of the Knights’ 19 playoff games. The Colts management team hopes a change of scenery will get the smooth-skating, highly skilled winger back on track and fill a need to help replace some of the scoring the club lost with the departure of Tanner Pearson, Colin Behenna and Ivan Telegin.
In other prospect news, I still have yet to understand how the European Trophy’s seeding works, but several Wings prospects took part in the preseason tournament on Friday, and they all came up empty in the production department.
• Calle Jarnkrok didn’t register a point as his team, Brynas IF, dropped a 6-2 decision to HC Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga;
• Mattias Backman was held off the scoresheet in Linkopings HC’s 4-3 overtime win over Pirati Chomutov, a.k.a. the Czech league’s Chomutov Pirates;
• And Teemu Pulkkinen didn’t register a point in his team’s 4-1 loss To EV Zug of the Swiss National A league.
In the FTR department, via RedWingsFeed, the Grand Rapids Griffins aren’t exactly rooting for an NHL lockout, but…
To summarize Stephen Benton’s article and reapply his take on how the Charlotte Checkers would benefit to the Griffins: the Griffins’ attendance would likely increase, with the Griffins hoping to attract Red Wings fans to see the next best thing in the team’s top prospects, and the presences of three players with two-way contracts slated to play for Detroit in Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner wouldn’t hurt, either.
In terms of news regarding the Red Wings or their alumni, I’m coming up short despite my usual survey of, oh, eighty-some websites, foreign-language ones included, but the community of Avesta, Sweden’s Twitter account points us to an article by the town’s website, penned by Marie Palm, and while this was a pain in the butt to even roughly translate, I’ll put things simply before getting into it: Nicklas Lidstrom was born in Avesta, not Vasteras, and as such, the town’s going to honor his hockey career by awarding him the equivalent of a spot on Avesta’s walk of fame:
He’s considered one of hockey’s greats, wearing #5 on his jersey, but he’s now the second to receive his own plaque at the Little Square home in Avesta.
On Friday, September 7th, Nicklas Lidstrom will unveil his own plaque. The plaque was designed by Andy Howden, who also designed Tony Rickard’s plaque (which was unveiled on May 25th).
“We always want to pay attention to people who do good things in and out of Avesta. Nicklas Lidstrom had an exceptional career, and he began that career with Skogsbo SK here in Avesta, which took him all the way to the NHL,” says Lars Isacsson, mayor of Avesta.
“Nicklas has also shown that he knows where he comes from, and each year the Lidstrom Cup’s played in Skogsbo, with participants from different parts of Europe. Avesta’s a sports community and that a talent like Nicklas began his development [here in] Avesta is amazing, and it also shows that there was and is huge support for athletic development in our community.”
Nicklas Lidstrom will unveil his own plaque on September 7th at the Little Square home in Avesta. The program will include music. Avesta natives, Nicklas’ fans and all others are invited to a pleasant afternoon at the Little Square starting at approximately 16:00 [or 4 PM].
And finally, if you can’t get enough of this exciting lockout business, both SI’s Adrian Dater and USA Today’s Mike Brehm try to compare the previous lockout (and in Brehm’s case, the 94-95 lockout) to the upcoming one, the National Post’s Michael Traikos duly notes that Gary Bettman’s proposed CBA attempts to undo all the “damage” done by his own owners and their GM’s exploiting the loopholes he wants to close in the current CBA, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange is wondering “who will blink first,” and Donald Fehr made sure to tell the Toronto Sun’s Dave Hilson that fans’ support and money matter while addressing the possibility of a lockout at the conclusion of the PA’s informational meetings in Toronto on Friday:
“I’m going to be optimistic until it’s impossible to be optimistic — and we’re not there yet,” Fehr told a group of reporters gathered at the swanky Toronto hotel.
“A lockout is not a choice that is imposed by law, it’s a choice you make voluntarily. So if there’s a lockout on September 15 or on some other date, it will be because the owners have decided that’s what they want to do—and that’s a decision they’ll have to make. We hope they treat a lockout as a last resort, the same way we treat a strike as a last resort. Time will tell whether they do, but the history in the (salary) cap sports is they don’t do that. The history in the cap sports is that they treat a shutdown as a negotiating tactic.”
“I’m out of the prediction business, I’ve been out of the prediction business for a very long time,” Fehr said regarding how he thinks talks with the owners, scheduled to resume on Tuesday in New York, will go. “All I can tell you is from our standpoint, you get up every day and think about where you are. You try to analyze and re-analyze, you talk to your constituents if there’s a new or different approach or a new or different argument you can make to the other side. You go back to the bargaining table and you continue the discussions until you find a way to make an agreement. And if that’s Tuesday or a week from Tuesday, whenever it is, the process will take as long as it takes. The optimum is, of course, to get a deal done before this one expires.”
At the heart of the matter is, of course, money. The players have agreed to reduce their 57% of revenue to closer to the 50% range that was accepted by the other three major sports—but the owners want that number closer to 43%. It’s a widely held belief, and one that Fehr seems to share, that the owners will lock out the players as a negotiating tactic if their demands are not met.
“If the object is to reach a solution before you have an interruption in the normal course of the season, then you have to wonder why you are shutting things down at that point, unless your purpose is, you think you can get leverage,” Fehr said. “The problem with this industry is that history suggests that doesn’t work given what happened last time.”
The problem for the players is they will be losing a considerable amount of money if there is a prolonged lockout, while some owners, the owners of franchises that lose money, will actually be ahead of the game. But Fehr denied the players are scared of a work stoppage.
“The players are not afraid of a lockout. You would have to have had your head in the sand not to remember what happened seven years ago (the previous full-season NHL lockout) and not understand what happened in football and basketball. Everybody understands what can happen but the owners have to make their own judgements about that. But, you know, we do have fans that we ought to be taking into consideration.”
Ding ding ding ding ding. As opposed to the Chairman’s mocking version of “We’ll be fine” because, “We have the greatest fans in the world,” Fehr’s willing to suggest that the lockout matters to the people who pay his players’ salaries, and that you and me are not to be taken for granted, nor dicked around with.
When asked if he was worried fans would not come back to the game if there is a prolonged lockout, Fehr said: “I’m still hopeful that we’re going to find a way not to (have a lockout). That’s not a question I ever hope we have to have answered.”
I think you’re going to have to try to answer it soon, Mr. Fehr (note to readers: I was taught by my parents to call people older than myself “Mr.,” “Ms.” or “Mrs.,” and I still try to do that when it comes to people who I actually respect, cough cough Gary cough cough), and that’s scary for everyone who loves the NHL’s teams and players.
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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.