The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/01/11 at 05:09 AM ET
Today may very well mark the nadir—or more colloquially, the rock bottom—of the NHL’s summer news cycle. Of the few arbitration hearings that remain, Shea Weber’s shindig with the Nashville Predators wasn’t scheduled for today because it’s August Long Weekend in Canada, most NHL’ers are a week or two from venturing back onto the ice for the first time since their teams were eliminated in the playoffs, and unless you don’t mind reading the garbled language that comes out of online translators from European hockey websites (European teams actually begin their training camps and endless pre-season “tournaments” in early August), the next seven-to-ten days should be…quiet…In theory, anyway, because there are always surprises.
For those of us who try to find content to share one way or another—I’ve given up guessing why I feel better coming in from a campfire on the “big beach” that involved getting kicked off my own blanket, S’mores (didn’t partake), serious-ass drinking (when allergic, the “ditto” applies), picture book-quality stargazing under an incredibly clear, dark sky only marred by the faint green glow of a far-off Aurora Borealis and a nighttime swim by a cousin at the end, all to head over to the “activity room” and spend an hour online looking all over the world for Wings news in August—this time of year can be more frustrating because when we finally start to relax, something big inevitably breaks and it’s back to work.
Long story short, this is what passes for summer in a 24/7/365.25 sport these days, and this morning, I can offer you Red Wings tidbits galore but nothing particularly substantive.
• First and perhaps foremost, the Fake Henrik Zetterberg gents have a day left to attempt to raise $5,000 to air a new slate of episodes, and they’re at $3,940 on IndieGoGo.com right now;
• Second, if your Russian is passable, Pavel Datsyuk will visit Sovetsky Sport’s offices in Moscow to pick up the Kharlamov Trophy (awarded to the best Russian player in hockey as based upon a vote by his peers) on Tuesday, and before he chats with Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov, he’ll answer questions from Sovetsky Sport readers;
• DetroitRedWings.com’s Rick Bouwness looks at Datsyuk’s injury-shortened 2010-2011 season “By the Numbergs” this morning, and Bouwness focuses upon some of the subtler numbers from Datsyuk’s 56-game season:
: 1.05: In his ninth season, Pavel finished tied with Calgary sniper Jarome Iginla for 11th place in points-per-game during the 2010-11 campaign, registering 23 goals and 36 assists in 56 appearances.
1.36: During the Stanley Cup playoffs, Datsyuk had the best points-per-game total in the NHL amongst players who advanced past the opening round. The 32-year-old playmaker recorded four goals and 11 assists in 11 games.
5: Datsyuk recorded just the second fighting major of his career on Oc. 8, earning five minutes in the sin bin after engaging in a spirited bout of fisticuffs with Anaheim forward Corey Perry. The four-time Lady Byng Trophy winner also scored a goal and dished out an assist in the 4-0 victory.
71: Led all Wings’ skaters in takeaways on the season with 71, easily surpassing longtime teammate and second place-finisher Henrik Zetterberg (45).
And while I feel kinda funny talking to you about partial season-ticket plans, the Free Press does just that ,and Crain’s Detroit Business offers information about the Cadillac Turning Point Invitational, which is a golf tournament raising funds for a charter school in Detroit. There’s a dinner with Henrik Zetterberg in the offing if one feels like bidding upon it, but given that it costs $10,000 to simply secure one round of golf and a spot at the charity dinner and auction, something tells me that you might be more interested in the fact that, according to the Saginaw News’s Kyle Austin, the Great Lakes Loons are giving away 1,000 Gordie Howe bobbleheads this Thursday;
• If you happen to have the NHL Network on your cable or satellite system, the NHL plans on making early August worth your while in the programming department via some warm fuzzies from April, when we thought the Wings were going places other than San Jose after steamrolling the Phoenix Coyotes:
2011 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS REPLAY SCHEDULE
DATE TIME GAME
Mon, Aug 1 6 p.m. ET Western Conference Quarterfinals: Coyotes @ Red Wings, Game 1
Tue, Aug 2 6 p.m. ET Western Conference Quarterfinals: Coyotes @ Red Wings, Game 2
Wed, Aug 3 6 p.m. ET Western Conference Quarterfinals: Red Wings @ Coyotes, Game 3
Thu, Aug 4 6 p.m. ET Western Conference Quarterfinals: Red Wings @ Coyotes, Game 4
• Shifting gears, the Coyotes chose to part ways with Ilya Bryzgalov as his asking price exceeded their financial means, choosing to sign an affordable alternative in Mike Smith instead, but USA Today’s Kevin Allen doesn’t care that it’s August—he’s already dishing out ten “early projections” for the 2011-2012 season—and he believes that the Wings’ reasonably-priced goaltender won’t fail ‘em:
6. In Tomas Vokoun ($1.5 million), Jonathan Quick ($1.8 million) and Jimmy Howard ($2.25 million), the Capitals, Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings have the NHL’s best bargain goaltending.
• Even on a “slow day,” I don’t plan on revisiting the fact that the Free Press’s Kirkland Crawford chose to revisit Justin Bourne’s suggestion that Nicklas Lidstrom should have retired this past spring, lest he damage our memories of the Wings’ captain as a completely dominant player at or near his peak.
I might suggest that we have a spirited discussion as to whether my take on Michael Petrella’s observation that the Wings’ jersey customizer page on Shop.nhl.com lists summer development camp try-outs Evan Mosher, Zachery Franko and Adam Estcolet as roster players, if you will, over a month before the Wings tend to offer players contracts based on their performances during the prospect tournament and main training camp…
• And regardless of whether I’m telling you what my final Red Wings-related tidbit of the day is from iSport.cz’s Jaroslav Krcal, who reports that former Wing Dominik Hasek went 0-7-and-2 at a Czech chess tournament whose games lasted a maximum of five minutes (Hasek says he’s not used to playing chess that quickly), or whether I’d be finishing off a game “wrap-up” with an odd final link, I’d post what I’m about to—a wise comment made by the Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin regarding the fact that the parallels between the NFL’s just-resolved lockout and the one the NHL dealt with in 2005, and may impose upon its players again in 2012:
So, class, what did we learn from the NFL’s tree-falling-in-the-middle-of-the-forest lockout? We learned that the NHL, the Dunkin’ Donuts of sports leagues, convinced owners in other leagues that, if you hold players out long enough, they’ll cave. The total collapse of the National Hockey League Players’ Association in the spring of 2005 convinced the industry that players making $5-million (U.S.) a year are still living paycheque to paycheque. Ergo, starve ’em out.
So the NFL imported Bob Bannerman, the NHL’s lawyer and strategist in the 2004-05 lockout, as its von Clausewitz. The message was clear. Unless we get what we want, players were going to lose their mortgages and their bling and their solidarity (in that order). The National Football League Players Association prudently picked up on this vibe, settling last week before any members missed more than an off-season workout.
NBA players have not shown any indication of absorbing this lesson as yet (at their peril). Major-league baseball players, due for a new deal in the next year, should also be paying attention.
NHL players, who face a new deal in the fall of 2012, don’t want a replay of the owners as Brad Marchand and the players as Daniel Sedin. A speed bag to pummel. So hockey players should grab whatever baubles it can get and survive, right? Well, here’s where the NHL might set another precedent. If commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners try to sell hardship again, they’ll face a skeptical public.
Bettman strapped himself to the mast of fiscal sanity last time, and the public bought in. Now he must make a case that the economic system is still broken. That would be the same system he shut down the league for a year to install. If he goes to the public with a tale of woe he’ll encounter the Pottery Barn maxim: You broke it, you own it.
Plus big-market owners are fed up to the teeth of making less money with 30 teams than they could make under 24. So the new rule courtesy of the NHL: You can’t sell the same storyline twice. Even the gullible sports audience can recognize a commissioner crying wolf.
Last time around, far too many fans bought into the NHL’s claim that it was player salaries that were driving ticket prices higher and higher regardless of teams’ relative financial stability or on-ice performances, and it was bull**** (ticket prices are determined by supply and demand and how much teams can get away with charging their fans)—just as his claims that a hard salary cap with an ironclad link to revenues would provide economic stability over the long haul, ensuring that all 30 teams would “remain in the markets in which they’re currently located” (whoops!) were bull****...
And anything Bettman and the Board of Governors tell us over the next 12 months regarding some sort of reduction in the players’ share of earnings, an across-the-board salary rollback or anything else that they believe is worth locking out its players and fans to achieve will somehow save the owners and GM’s from themselves or magically eliminate the red ink bleeding from teams forced to pay to a cap “floor” that Bettman demanded would be only $15 million below the “ceiling”...Well, it’ll probably be bull****, too, or at least statements that are worth thorough examination instead of taking at face value.
Last time around, even an NHLPA led by the bully that was Bob Goodenow didn’t want to “strike,” and even with Donald Fehr in charge, this version of a slightly less Reality Show-dysfunction-worthy NHLPA won’t want to strike or engage in any sort of “work stoppage,” either. I’m already siding with the NHLPA, and barring anything plain old insane coming out of the PA’s mouths over the next twelve months, my loyalties will remain the same.
There are no magic formulas or limits upon any aspect of the current system that could solve all the problems facing teams that are struggling economically, nor can Bettman wish away the fact that there will always be “haves,” “have-not’s,” or GM’s and owners who will always find a way to out-bid their foes to acquire or retain marquee talent, even if the means by which they achieve their goals are nothing less than loony.
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About The Malik Report
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.