Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: faith is nothing if it cannot withstand doubt

The next couple of weeks aren’t going to be comfortable, fellow Red Wings fans, but I didn’t realize how incredibly difficult Wednesday’s news that the Red Wings lost out to the Minnesota Wild in terms of landing a player they desperately hoped to sign (Ryan Suter) and one they were at least particularly interested in (Zach Parise)...

Until I left my computer screen, after what I would guess is somewhere between fifty and sixty hours of work put in between Sunday and this morning, and left to talk to my mother, who spent the Fourth of July at a nursing home. I needed a reality check after a day spent trying to convince fellow Red Wings fans that the team didn’t disqualify themselves for the 2013 playoffs entirely thanks to two players’ less than altruistic decisions in July, having discussed alternate plans and a plain old strange set of evening stories from the MSM online and on Twitter, and I couldn’t believe what I heard in my voice.

In addition to exhaustion and extreme disappointment, I was angry, borderline furious. I practically growled and hissed at my mom, and at one point, nearly left her room because I wanted to get up and storm out after she said something completely innocent. I was mad as hell and I wasn’t going to f***ing take it anymore.

That is until I caught myself, realizing that realized that she was the last person I should be angry at, and that the anger in itself was a useless endeavor. It was just gobbling up energy I didn’t have, and served no purpose but to make an incredibly disappointing day that much more uncomfortable.

On a morning when I can tell you that the out-of-towners’ tones aren’t pleasant at all—whether we’re talking about hearing the Hockey News’s Ken Campbell almost gleefully suggest that this is finally the year when the media’s breathless predictions of the Wings’ demise will be proven right, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector almost equally happily declaring the Wings to be “on the downswing” while gushing about the “story” that is the rise of the Wild (and the media’s absolute joy in being rewarded for a 4-day weight with a great “story,” never mind their sanctimonious, self-righteous poo-poohing of fans who dared express disappointment from their shamefully selfishly subjective perspectives, as if the people who pay the players, teams and even the media’s salaries are somehow plebeians who don’t deserve to have emotions or opinions other than what they’re told to think, my God, does that tell you about their priorities and their absolute disconnect from the game), Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski lavishing his story about the Tampa Bay Lightning’s signing of Matt Carle with suggestions that Steve Yzerman “winged” Detroit in a masterful way, or even knowing that what a somewhat sympathetic Adam Proteau has to say about a free agent “loser” in his Hockey News column might be the understatement of the summer…

Loser: Detroit Red Wings

Losing legendary blueliner Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement was a massive blow to the NHL’s most successful franchise, but many thought the Wings would soften it by signing prized free agent blueliner Ryan Suter and/or Zach Parise. They failed to add either. If they don’t improve via another signing or the trade market – they’ll have only added Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo (and lost Jiri Hudler). That’s not the type of off-season Wings fans are accustomed to – and it won’t be surprising to see prognosticators project them as a borderline playoff team next year.

I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted, and especially given that, as TSN’s Darren Dreger suggests, there’s no way in hell that the Wings will pay the kind of premium they’d need to land Rick Nash—we’re talking selling the a full stable and the barn to buy a stud horse here, folks…

While the New York Rangers have been widely considered the frontrunners for Nash, the fact that both the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins failed to land Parise means these two powerhouse teams will now focus on Columbus and perhaps, engage in a bidding war that Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson predicted would happen once Zach Parise made his move.

Philadelphia and San Jose are also on Nash’s trade list, while the Carolina Hurricanes have campaigned for days, but have yet to earn an official invite to the party.

There is no question the Red Wings would love to add Nash, however, Detroit will have to grossly overpay for Columbus to live with the reality of facing its former superstar captain multiple times a season for the next decade.

And knowing that, among MLive’s Ansar Khan’s late night Tweets, he points out that the Coyotes would definitely want Valtteri Filppula, who is more or less an untouchable at this point, likely to sign an extension and wear an “A” on a rotating basis this year instead, for Keith Yandle, and, well, I’ll let him take it away for a bit…

@BrianHedger No, Wings won’t trade Filppula for Yandle. Hard to even speculate on what it would take. Your thoughts?
@CVanV8 don’t worry about Quincey and Abdelkader. They will sign soon enough. Restricted free agents rarely move. And these two won’t.
@Cam_Rudolph agree that I don’t see Filppula being traded. I would expect him to sign long term here during the season (before maybe?)
@Cam_Rudolph Suter is real good, no question. But consider this: He has 7.5 M cap hit for 13 years and will probably never win the Norris
@RedWingChris14 Yandle possible; Ryan unlikely; Kane highly unlikely. Hawks and Wings won’t deal. Chelios trade rare exception.
@NFLDraftGeek I don’t think Winnipeg is looking to move E Kane. If they do, I’m sure lots of teams would be interested, inc. Wings.
@c_mettler I think they’ll sign a 2nd/3rd pair D. Maybe someone like Colaiacovo, Hannan, Kubina, etc. Not much left in FA.
@Rwade83 I think they’ll sign a bottom 4 D (that’s all that’s left), pursue Doan and try to trade for a top pair D or goal scorer.
@abs0lut0 yes. But I don’t why Semin would agree to short term deal at that price. Someone will give him more I’m sure.
@FHilding @redwingchris14 JBouw wood have the highest cap hit on Wings. Might be too high, but ... not a lot of options out there.

Let’s just say that whether you look at Capgeek’s list of free agent forwards or defensemen still available, or whether you read a solid rundown from NHL.com’s John Kreiser, there is simply no way that the Red Wings can make any sort of signing that’s going to satisfy you or me from a name or star power perspective:

Defensemen: With Suter and Carle now off the market, teams looking for a puck-moving defenseman are left riskier choices such as Carlo Colaiacovo, who went 2-17-19 in 64 games for St. Louis this past season, down from 32 points a year ago. He’s 29 and has missed 50 games with injuries during the past three seasons, but could be a solid second-pair if he stays healthy.

The best of the rest of the field includes some 30-plus stay-at-home veterans (Michal Rozsival and Scott Hannan), some 20-somethings still looking for a breakout year (Matt Gilroy and Bruno Gervais) and third-pair guys (Steve Eminger, Kurtis Foster, Milan Jurcina).

Forwards: With Parise gone, the best free-agent forward is easily Teemu Selanne—but he comes with an asterisk. The future Hall of Famer hasn’t decided if he’ll play this season; if he does, it will be with the Anaheim Ducks.

Parise’s departure opens the market for players like Alexander Semin and Shane Doan, among others. Semin, who has spent his career with the Washington Capitals, is coming off a disappointing 21-goal, 54-point season that is well below his capabilities. His talent ensures that he’ll receive interest from teams that missed out on Parise—he’s the only generally available forward capable of being a 40-goal scorer.

Doan, the longtime captain of the Phoenix Coyotes, has put off a decision while waiting to see what happens with a potential sale of the franchise. If the 35-year-old opts for a change of scenery, the line will form to the right. The Coyotes are doing everything they can to persuade him to stay.

Beyond that, there are lots of veteran role players who can be valuable contributors if put into the right circumstances—but not a lot of guys who can make a difference.

I’m running short on inspirational words here, folks, so I’ll re-post Ken Holland’s words to the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell, because they’re the truth, from the fact that we’re going to have to wait for the front office to make its next move to where the Wings really stand right now, despite their superb core:

“I don’t know if I have a priority,” said Holland of his next move. “We tried to get into the market for the top two free agents and it didn’t work out. There were only two of those guys available.”

In assessing what’s left in the free-agent market, Holland wants to avoid paying a lot more money for players that aren’t appreciably better than what the Wings have.

“If you look at the players we have, other than just paying more . . . . ,” Holland said before cutting himself off. “There’s also got to be an opportunity for some of our kids and the guys we’ve just signed to play. It’s not a high profile, big-star team that we’ve had in the past. We made our pitch the last three days and it didn’t fall in our favour.”

Holland said he’s not going to panic into rash moves and believes the Wings still are a playoff contender as is. He said he’ll use all summer to build his team if need be. Regardless of whatever signings or trades he makes, Holland said part of the solution has to be internal growth.

“We’re looking at Quincey, Ericsson, Smith, Nyquist developing,” Holland said. “We have to have internal growth and development. That has to be part of the solution. Any team that has Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Filppula, Franzen, Kronwall, Howard, Helm on it isn’t a bad team. We have also added Tootoo, Samuelsson, Brunner and Gustavsson. They’re not sexy signings, but they’re good fits for our team.”

However, on a day of disappointing news for Detroit, Holland is hardly going to tip his hand on Plan B. Hknows he’s working in a market used to having stars. Spoiled as Wings’ fans have been, they aren’t nearly as demanding in terms of expectations as owner Mike Ilitch. Knowing that, it would be surprising if the Wings entered training camp with just the 14 forwards, six defencemen and two goalies currently listed on their NHL roster knowing they had immense salary cap space sitting unused. It would also go against Holland’s own philosophy of doing the bulk of your team building in the summer, especially these next few weeks.

“We’re going a little younger,” Holland said. “Will we be younger in October, I don’t know. I’ll work the phone and see where it goes. We have the makings of a good team. I’d like to improve it. We need one defenceman, we’d like to have a veteran. Up front, we’ll have be offence by committee.”
“I think regardless of what happens here the next couple of weeks, we’ll go into camp as a work in progress,” Holland said. “That’s a lot different than the past 15 years around here.”

Our faith is going to be severely tested over the next couple of weeks, and the next few months, until we find out which defenseman or defensemen the Wings choose to add, whether they’re going to pursue a goal-scoring forward at all, and whether this team, which was never really going to be able to address Nicklas Lidstrom’s departure via free agency, can have the internal “push” from both its younger, core and even role players, or whether a new voice alongside one of Mike Babcock’s shoulders might give the coaching staff a needed veteran voice of its own…

And part of having faith in the Big Red Machine not falling to pieces—I simply refuse to believe the stupid suggestions that the team should tank for a couple of years, not only because once you take a machine apart, you never know if you might strike out with high draft picks and not be able to put it back together, but also because, put simply, there’s no way in hell that fans like you or me are going to pay the prices the Wings are asking us to pay to watch a team that’s made the playoffs for the past 21 years will pay to watch the team intentionally stink on ice—but instead healing itself over time from within as well as without..Part of faith is having doubts, and withstanding those doubts, accepting that those doubts are natural and normal, stating ‘em, getting ‘em out in the open and then not allowing those doubts to spurn you or I to lose hope.

In sports fandom as well as life, without hope, and without faith in something bigger than ourselves that we feel part of, even if it’s something as silly as a professional sports team full of people paid disproportionately to the general public to play a kid’s game, without having hope and faith, life is pretty *#$%@& bleak. And life is hash and futile and dark enough on its own.

Where do the Wings go from here? I don’t know. 

How are we going to deal with it as a fan base, given that I am simply a fan like you are, and am honestly scared shitless about a future that doesn’t exactly look bright?

A minute and an hour and a day at a time. Because the rest of the summer’s going to involve long periods of waiting for the Wings to make what we will obviously see as lateral moves for players who don’t exactly sell jerseys, especially if the Wings are as interested in Semin as the beat writers suggest (that is to say not at all); the summer’s going to involve a retirement press conference for the gentleman who spent the 4th hugging Alpacas in one Tomas Holmstrom; this summer’s going to involve reading innumerable amounts of media members who are loyal to “the story” as opposed to a team insisting that, finally, after all these years, they can proclaim the Red Wings as dead, dead, dead (and they will say so with glee)...

And given what Ken Holland told the Free Press’s Helene St. James, we’re going to have to spend our time pondering the long silences after sparse statements made by the Red Wings’ front office to the press, statements that aren’t going to generate a whole bunch of enthusiasm given that even Holland sounds distraught right now.

Holland told St. James that he simply did the best he could to recruit both Suter and Parise, and Suter in particular:

“Personally, I feel real disappointment that we weren’t able to land either or both,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “But I feel in looking back, in Suter’s case, we sweetened our offer. I feel good about our presentation. Ryan made a decision that he felt was best for him and his family. We were down to the short strokes. We lost out to family. Can’t beat family.”
Having received feedback from Suter’s camp that the Wings were among his top choices, Holland, team owner Mike Ilitch, coach Mike Babcock and executive advisor Chris Chelios met with Suter at his off-season home in Madison, Wis., on Tuesday. By that time, they had already increased their offer to $90 million over 13 years.

“Detroit is a great franchise. They came in yesterday, and I met with them,” Suter said. “They’ve got a great thing going there, obviously. Everyone knows how much success they’ve had. They were right there till the end.”
The Wings were among numerous teams, including Philadelphia, Chicago, New Jersey and Nashville that sought the services of either or both players. After offering $80 million and 13 years to Suter on Sunday, the Wings heard back, and upped the pot.

“With Suter, we heard back on July 2, sweetened the deal,” Holland said. “We didn’t have a lot of communication with Parise’s camp, but were told Zach was having a difficult time making a decision. We feel good about our offers to both. We were on the short list, but if you’re not the one team, of course you’re disappointed.”

At this point, St. James believes that the Wings will at least look into trading for Nash, but she thinks that Carlo Colaiacovo or Chris Campoli are more likely additions on defense, and that the Wings may very well swallow hard and grab Jay Bouwmeester if the Flames are willing to dump his salary for a modest return. Otherwise, for the moment, the Wings’ outlook isn’t going to be as bleak as some will attempt to lead us to believe, but it’s not going to be fantastic, either:

“Our focus going back to last year was to be positioned for this summer,” he said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to add a high-profile player or two. But I think we have a lot of good pieces in place, and we have some players ready to take bigger roles. We’ll explore the marketplace. We’ll explore trading. We’ll move on.”

That’s why waiting for next summer is such a dangerous game. As we saw this past season, so many of the top UFA targets re-signed with their teams that the market was picked bare before the trade deadline, and as such, the Wings swung for only one fence and missed.

The Wings stood out for so long as one of the most successful clubs in the NHL that it’s all the more notable when things don’t go their way. Right now, the Wild probably would top a lot of polls for early Stanley Cup favorite, but the team has $35 million, or half of the salary cap, tied up in five players. Last fall, the San Jose Sharks were many a pundit’s preseason darling to win the 2012 Stanley Cup, and they were bounced in the first round—just like the Canucks, who sat at the top of the standings when the regular season ended.

There are no clear favorites anymore, and as the Western Conference eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings so swiftly proved this spring, a regular-season bubble team can be the one soaked in champagne bubbles when the playoffs end. That’s what the Wings bear in mind, post-Suter. There are a couple of players they’re still interested in on the market, but they’re not going to overpay for the sake of signing someone.

“I’d rather go with our kids,” Holland said. “I think we can compete. Are we going to win the Presidents’ Trophy? No, but you don’t have to anymore.”

It is pretty hard to be excited about the Wings’ defense as it is right now, but a dark horse who could make it look better is Brendan Smith. He played just 14 games last season, but he’s smart, swift, moves the puck well, likes to shoot and has an edge to his game. Niklas Kronwall is a bona fide top-four guy. Holland echoed coach Mike Babcock in talking up the strides Jonathan Ericsson made the second half of last season in developing into a shutdown defenseman. Ian White didn’t look as good last season after losing Lidstrom as a partner, but at $2.875 million, White’s a bargain considering the money defensemen are getting today.

Besides Smith, the other big question-mark on defense is Kyle Quincey, a restricted free agent the team is working to re-sign: Can he bounce back after struggling upon joining the team in late February?

There was so much focus on adding Suter it’s easy to forget the Wings already have gotten better since free agency began five days ago. They added Jonas Gustavsson, a 6-foot-3 goaltender who provides safety as Jimmy Howard enters the final year of his contract. They added Mikael Samuelsson, who at $3 million a season was a better option than spending $4 million to keep Jiri Hudler: Samuelsson is much bigger, and a better skater. For $1 million, they added Damien Brunner, who’s fast and skilled. And they added Jordin Tootoo, an aggravator who can help out offensively.

Landing Suter would have been a huge boost. Losing him may render the Wings a bubble team—but it’s not like their fortunes have burst.

I don’t know if I buy the concept of the Wings being a “bubble” team, but we may be looking at a team that tries to stabilize its defense by adding a veteran this summer and then explores the trade market to further its defensive cause over the course of the 2013-2014 season, and that we may indeed see the team shift toward a more chip-and-chase-oriented game, at least over the short term, as even Suter wasn’t going to completely fill the crater-sized hole caused by Lidstrom’s retirement and Brad Stuart’s departure.

We’re going to have to wait, we’re going to have to hope, and if you’re religious, you might want to pray. We’ll see how the Wings’ front office responds to their disappointment over the course of the next month or two, and then we’ll have to wait until September to see how the team takes shape and October—assuming that CBA negotiations go smoothly—to see whether this team can prove its legions of doubters and detractors wrong for the umpteenth time based upon how it performs on the ice.


Personally speaking, after taking part in the free agency siege for the past four days, I’ve absolutely positively, no doubt about it, got, got, got to cut my coverage back for today and tomorrow at least.

Your generosity will allow me to head up to Traverse City to cover the Red Wings’ summer development camp starting on Saturday, but to simply have the energy to get up there tomorrow, I can’t keep pulling these hours and I’m gonna have to leave the computer screen to at least a) get errands done today (I’ve got to go to the bank, get my dry cleaning and go to the doctor’s office to pick up prescriptions, all in the afternoon) and b) plain old rest before packing up late tonight, going on a last-minute shopping trip tomorrow morning and embarking on the 4-and-a-half hour trip to Traverse City sometime early on Friday afternoon.

I don’t want to sound as whiny as I think I sound right now, but I’m wonked, folks, emotionally, mentally and especially physically. I’ve literally broken out like a teenager from the stress and I feel about as good as I look with multicolored dark circles around and bags under my eyeballs. I’m going to get my errands done today and be online here and there to update news when I am able, but I plain old need to rest up and get prepared for tomorrow’s journey and the events to come.

For that matter, even if I’d been laying around for the last two weeks instead of covering what’s been a no-off-season, the coverage you’re going to get from the 7th to 13th will hopefully be worth your money, but it can’t be as self-consuming as it was last year or the year before. I need to know from you what exactly you want to see, who you want me to focus on and whether you really want that every-player-analysis on an every-day basis or you want me to focus on a certain group of players one day and a certain group the next. The hours last year—up at 6, at the rink at 7, back to the hotel at 5, and not in bed till 12 or 1 AM—may be repeated, but in between, I can’t grind myself down quite as much as I did last year.

The last four days’ worth of trying to be everywhere at the same time and cover everything in as many formats as possible at the same time’s got me wrecked and continuing that, as much as it comes naturally, just isn’t going to lead to anything good, including the substantive nature of what I write.

But I’m asking you to let me know exactly what you want in the coverage department when I go up there via your comments and emails (georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com) over the next couple of days and throughout camp as your ideas and constructive criticism will drive the form of the work I produce, and for today, I’m asking for your pardon and forgiveness for dialing things back in a big way so that I can find the energy to get up to Traverse City to begin with.

In terms of expenses, I do have a spreadsheet going and will be gathering together my receipts as well so that I do things on a budget, and that what doesn’t get spent up there gets spent to get my ass up to Traverse City for training camp, because that is, CBA gods willing, only two months away.

And with that, I rather desperately want to stop talking about myself. If you can lend a hand to continue helping me deffer the cost of heading to this summer camp, I’d appreciate it, and between now and training camp, we’ve got to keep a little faith, doubts included, in our favorite team.

Cross your fingers, folks, and goodnight. I’ve got to get offline because there’s a line of severe thunderstorms making a beeline for South Lyon, and gauging by the NWS radar, the little line preceding the severe cells will be here in 40 or 50 minutes.

You’ll have to use my personal email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate, and if you want to aid the cause by some other manner or means, fire me an email at that address or at georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com.

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John's avatar

We need one defenceman, we’d like to have a veteran. Up front, we’ll have be offence by committee.”

That’s it.  The strategy is to sign a veteran defenceman.  Holland will add a forward if one falls into his lap, which isn’t going to happen.  No Nash, no Ryan.  Maybe Doan.

I guess I can deal with a season where we give our prospects a chance to shine.  I always have felt that the Wing’s system stifles the development of some players that may be NHL ready but are still in the minors.  Gonna be real interesting to see how Nyquist does, I think he has a hell of an upside.  Smith, obviously, has been all the talk too so we’ll see how he does.

Posted by John from Pittsburgh, PA (Wings fan for life!) on 07/05/12 at 08:35 AM ET

John's avatar

Couldn’t agree more.  One stop shop for Wings news, thanks for all of your work!

Posted by John from Pittsburgh, PA (Wings fan for life!) on 07/05/12 at 08:40 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

My mom was recently in a nursing home, too—my best wishes go out to you and her, George.  Makes all this hockey stuff seem kinda silly in context.  Great distraction, though…

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 07/05/12 at 08:44 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Appreciate the in-depth coverage there GM.
Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 07/05/12 at 06:36 AM ET

Hear, hear.  Thanks to GM and Master Chief for having the two most comprehensive and best collection of RW opinions and editorials in the universe.

This morning I woke up and had echos from this past Saturday, 6/30 in my brain.  The day where the Wings front office gathered to talk strategy:

Holland: “K guys, what are we gonna do?”

Mark Howe:  “Honestly Ken, I think we need to rule out Parise.  I’m not getting a good sense that this is gonna happen.”

Holland:  (puts red line through name on list)

Maltby: “Draper got a hold of Sammuellson, he’s in so long as we give him a pay bump. 

Merkosky: “Kronwall got a hold of The Monster, we’ll have to pay a premium to get him but it sounds like we have a backup goalie now. Of course, that assumes his heart is okay.”  (chuckles nervously)

Holland: “That’s great Malts and Glenn.  Chelios says he’s got Suter in the bag as well.” 

Haralson: “Don’t forget, I told Helm to call is buddy Tootoo, I think we’ve got a good in on that so long as we pay him decently.”

Holland:  “Excellent.  Remember guys that we also have Brunner… we’ll have to give Babs (sighs) a little credit for that.  Anything else fellas?”

Martin:  “I’ll have my cap calculator and bank checks ready to rock.”

Holland: “K boys, let’s go turn this mother out.”



“There’s a game plan, but you need a lot of game plans,’’ Holland said. “Things happen fast.

“At noon, we’ll contact all the people we have interest in because if you wait on the first people on your priority list then you’re behind on the others. The rest of it is instincts, experience and preparation. You got 5-10 minutes to make a decision.’‘

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 07/05/12 at 09:05 AM ET


Enh, there’s a lot of hyperventilation going on around here.  On and off for the better part of 15 years there’s been a pretty significant cadre of fans who have railed against Detroit using their kids more often, preferring rather to always sign vets to fill high-value positions and leaving us poor fans without any ability to ‘see if the kids are good enough’.

Well, going into this year so far Detroit will be playing a freshly-signed Bruner in their top 6 (allegedly), they will have Nyqvist and Mursak on their active roster as well with all kinds of chances to earn top 6 or at least top 9 time, and a pair of 1st round Dman selections (Smith and Kindl) are in line to have substantially increased workloads.

All of those fans should be thrilled with how things have turned out so far.

For those of us (myself included) who like established talent over wing and a prayer youth, we can sit and know that nowadays all a team has to do is get in the playoffs.  Once there, anything can happen because there are no playoff favorites anymore.  Not even if you look at things the day before the playoffs start.

Detroit will get a vet dman to play 18-20 minutes a night and PK.  They may get two.  Their top 9 right now is D, Z, Fil, Franzen, Brunner, Sammy, Bert, Cleary, Nyqvist.  They’ve got Helm, Eaves will be back, and Homer is likely gone.  5 on 5 the Wings will be a better defensive team next year than they were this year.

If they get solid goaltending from Howard, they are a playoff team.  If they are a solid playoff team, they will also have tons of pieces to move at the deadline.  If not, they’ll have some pieces to move to pick up picks and prospects for a mini-rebuild.

Welcome to the new NHL, boys.  25 teams all within a smidge of each other, and 5 teams that suck.  As long as Detroit isn’t one of those 5 teams, they’re right there just like everyone else is.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/05/12 at 09:24 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

Thanks as always for your tireless work George.  Hell, let’s all try to bring some sorely needed perspective to all of this.  For starters, I think the rumors of the Wings’ demise are greatly exaggerated.

It was pretty obvious that with such a thin crop of free agents this summer, the competition for what were perceived to be the only two legitimate blue chip players on the market was bound to be fierce.  The basic law of supply and demand dictates as much.  Look, I think both Suter and Parise are supremely talented hockey players who add a great deal to any team they’re on.  But let’s not confuse them for the type of “once in a generation” talents who can carry teams on their shoulders.  They’re simply not. 

While he’s a legit top pair D-man who plays 25+ minutes per night and plays reliably in all situations, we also have to acknowledge that Ryan Suter is a notch below the very best players at his position.  Would I have loved to see the Wings get a guy like that?  Hell yes.  Of course.  And if I had to pick between him and Parise, he’s clearly the one I would have really liked to see the Wings get.

Parise carries some real question marks in my book.  He’s clearly an offensively skilled top-six kind of guy, but for a team like Detroit that has already recognized the need to get bigger and stronger up front he would have added yet another small body, and as I watched this year’s playoffs unfold, I had real questions about his ability to adapt to playing the more physical style required to thrive in the Western Conference.  He seemed like he got flat out manhandled in the finals and was frankly way less than I’d hoped for defensively.  He’s also just one season removed from a knee injury that cost him most of the 2010-11 season.  Commiting $7.5 mil of cap space to a top-2 blue-liner is one thing, but for an undersized left wing whose offensive numbers may take a significant hit playing in the Western Conference, I think it verges on insanity.

That’s not to say that Suter or Parise couldn’t have been a fit in Detroit even at inflated prices.  In fact, for some of the teams who were said to be interested (let’s include Pittsburgh and Chicago here), you could argue that over-paying made a certain amount of sense as I think either player could potentially be the crucial difference-maker for a cup-contender that has lots of pieces already in place and was one player away.  But even then you would have to go into such a deal eyes wide open with regard to the long term salary cap havoc you may be creating for yourself.

When I look at the obscene money and term commited to two very good (but perhaps less than great) players, I’m okay with the way things turned out.  Others have pointed out that Minnesota now has five players on their roster north of $6 million dollars which basically commits half of their cap money to those five players.  While these signings make them “king for a day”, it doesn’t seem like a particularly great strategy for the long term as they’re going to be prepetually hamstrung when it comes to being able to sign quality depth players and may not even be enough to make them a playoff team next year.

Detroit on the other hand, in spite of all the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth isn’t exactly sitting on the side of the road with the needle on empty.  There’s a solid core group of veterans, plenty of flexibility in terms of salary cap dollars and a real opportunity for a number of young players to step up.  Granted, it’s far more uncretainty than a lot of us are used to, but we’re very likely going to see what guys like Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist have to offer.  I know this whole free agency thing has really sucked in a lot of ways, but let’s see what this team looks like six weeks from now before we start jumping off any bridges.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 07/05/12 at 09:30 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Enh, there’s a lot of hyperventilation going on around here.
Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/05/12 at 07:24 AM ET

Comments like this lose me the rest of the way on a post, and this ain’t the first time in the last few weeks that I’ve cringed before forging ahead on reading your thoughts.

Rather than spend time broad-stroking something that differs from your own perspective as emotional/immature/knee-jerk BS, try launching directly into your sentiments instead.

A lot of folks (including myself) respect your opinion HD, there’s no need to set your table with anything other than the paper plates, cups and plastic silverware that the rest of us are using in this house.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 07/05/12 at 09:55 AM ET


I see the Wings needing to give the young kids a bigger shot to help this team than they have in the past.. Nyquist and Smith surely will have a shot to perform, but when the injuries hit, and they will, give some of the talent in the AHL a shot to impress this year.

Long term success needs to be both from the draft and the the FA/Trade market. We didn’t hit a homerun in that market this year so lets see if we have someone from a recent draft that can impress at the NHL level.

And that my request for George. If you have to focus more at TC, give us the scoop on those who are getting ready for the big show. Maybe skip the stories of the kids who are still a few years away (even if they might be the better story). Focus on those who should/can contribute in the next year or two. That would make me feel better about the last week.

Posted by JP on 07/05/12 at 10:22 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

“I’d rather go with our kids,” Holland said. “I think we can compete. Are we going to win the Presidents’ Trophy? No, but you don’t have to anymore.”

So true. Show me the name of one hockey “expert” MSM writer who was picking LA to win the Cup last year at this time. 

I agree with those who say it would have been great to get Suter but, really - $12 million this season for a guy who aint even close to being a Nick Lidstrom?  Hell, Smith could turn out to be better - let’s give the kid a chance and see what he can do.

I personally am excited that some of our young guys are finally going to have a chance to have significant time in the line up.  And this Brunner could turn out to be a gem.  And our basic core of forwards is still as good as any in the league.

Bottom line for me is I don’t give a rat’s ass if the MSM declares the Red Wings to be dead in the water.  They’ve been predicting the Wings’ demise for years haven’t they? They’re just excited that they have a new story line and no longer have to rehash all their “the Wings are too old” stories.

I’m in no matter what.

George, try to get some rest and ENJOY camp, OK?  Write what seems interesting to you and that can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.  I join with the others in giving you and Paul kudos and thanks for being the best source of Red Wings news out there.  Take care of yourself so you can keep going, OK?


Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 07/05/12 at 10:38 AM ET


Thank you, good sir.

Been devouring your work the last few days—it’s kept me at Borderline Sanity and prevented me from shoving a fist into my mouth, slowly gnawing off my knuckles and nervously chewing up to my elbow.  (No bath salts involved.) 
Here in New England the NHL FA coverage has been nil.  Granted, not sure who exactly the Bruins are going after, but still…  I’d love to take a few cracks at my fellow proud Bostonians right now, and all 10 of their pre-Cup Bruins fans (<—-oh hey, there’s the snark), but to be honest they’re always nothing but respectful to Wings fans.  Plus I’m downtrodden, disheartened, and have been texting my (Bruins) friend “OMG WINGS ARE SO F*CKED!!!” repeatedly for about 2 days now.

That being said:
1.) I’m seriously worried about our chances in the Winter Classic (and it’s the LEAFS for godsake).  Pride, country, and ... freaking… The Big House is at stake.

2.) Filpulla… He gets more—and deservedly so—respect from non-Wings fans and those of us who follow the team but don’t live in The Mitten.  Great 2-way player.  Might be the outsider perspective, but give the guy some credit.  Never understood why Wings fans tend to throw him in the same bin as Hudler (poor Flames).

3.)  Is this the part where we mobilize and storm Sweden? “Nick! Come baaaack!!!”

4.)  Stevie Y got Carle… possible bargaining chip for whoever it is he wants on our team?

5.)  Thank you, again, good sir.  Get some well deserved rest and leave your poor mother alone.

Posted by Miz B from Boston on 07/05/12 at 10:45 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

Everyone has concluded that Kindl is a bust. 
He may be a guy who is a little slower to develop, and I think there is a very good possibility that he may yet develop into a top 4 defenseman.

Posted by w2j2 on 07/05/12 at 10:45 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Bottom line for me is I don’t give a rat’s ass if the MSM declares the Red Wings to be dead in the water.  They’ve been predicting the Wings’ demise for years haven’t they?

Funny how little discussion there has been about the lost luster of “The Kid”, and that Pittsburgh not no longer deploys, ” the best team in the NHL down the middle, hands down”. 

It’s hard to give up your tropes.  Like money, they never get old.

Posted by MoreShoot on 07/05/12 at 10:47 AM ET


First, I’d like to thank you for all of your hard work to bring the best RW news, updates, rumors, etc., to us everyday. I’ve looked everywhere to get the latest and best news and I always find myself here. A much appreciated thanks.

I’d like to propose a question/comment about the future of the RWs. With all the money that’s bring thrown around I feel bad about losing out on Suter and Parise but at the same time I almost feel relieved. Neither of them are worth that much money and certainly not for that long. Congrats to the Wild for landing both and good luck trying to put an entire team together after contracts like those. They were the best UFAs available but were they worth all that money? In my opinion, hell no.  Which brings me to my next question…

Is/Was Suter the best available?  No. Shea Weber is THE best defenseman in the league and unless I’m mistaken he is a free agent albeit a restricted free agent. Why not put in an offer sheet to that equal or greater than Suter and it actually be worth the money being put in the contract?  Sure Nashville can match and probably would but it seems ridiculous to consider other options before considering the best defenseman (or at least top two) in the league. What do we have to lose?  A couple of draft picks? Is there something I’m not understanding?  Why even consider Yandle or Bouw trading away valuable assets in the process while only getting an average player and overpaid in Bouwmeester’s case?  Why are restricted free agents off limits?  They are restricted not untouchable.  It seems like GMs around the league have an unwritten rule to not touch restricted free agents at any cost or be casted out by the rest of the league.  Why should a 26 year old still be under team control in the first place?  I’m getting away from the point a bit here, but they seem like valid questions to me.

So, my advice to Ken Holland and the rest of the Red wings brass (as i they needed it):  go get the best defenseman in the league, get Shea Weber and pay him the money (or more) that you were going to spend on the top 10-15 defenseman in the league.  Get him with an offer sheet or trade for his rights if offer sheets are off limits.

Posted by G from TC on 07/05/12 at 10:51 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Why is Valteri untouchable?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 07/05/12 at 10:55 AM ET


What do we have to lose?

Depends what you do.  If you don’t grossly, grossly overpay for him on a long contract then Nashville will match and you’ll have no chance ever at getting him.  If you’re going to sign him to an offer sheet you either have to give him stupid money long term or stupid money short term.

SOMEONE needs to offer him league max for one year.  That way Nashville has to match, but in one year Weber is a UFA, and anyone can take their crack at him.

Why is Valteri untouchable?

Her certainly shouldn’t be.  He should be as touchable as Jordan Staal, and he should be dealt now when he’ll get a return (*cough*packagehimwithpospectsorpicksforBobbyRyan*cough*) rather than letting him leave next year for a team that will give him a Jordan Staal contract and #1/2 centre minutes and get nothing in return.

I know, I know, he’s really, REALLY important, because all teams need a third line natural centre being forced into a second line winger role.  Or maybe the big plan is that when Datsyuk’s contract is up in two years we don’t re-sign him at all and let him walk so we can make Zetterberg the #1 centre and Filppula the #2.

Posted by Garth on 07/05/12 at 11:10 AM ET


They will sign soon enough.

That’s what worries me.  Abdlekader more than Quincey, because we need defensemen right now.  We f*cking well do NOT need yet ANOTHER bottom-six forward with very limited offensive upside.

Of course, maybe the plan is to make Detroit a really hard team te play against while also being an easy team to beat.  We lose 60 games a year, but hooooo boy do teams not like facing us because we’ll hve four lines of grinders.

Posted by Garth on 07/05/12 at 11:13 AM ET


I think there is a very good possibility that he may yet develop into a top 4 defenseman.

Based on what?

Posted by Garth on 07/05/12 at 11:13 AM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

2 - How does the team adapt to the loss of skill, particularly on the blueline?  Can and should Babs re-mold this team into a chip and chase team or some awkward hybrid of puck possession? Can the generally smaller and lighter wings adapt and succeed at that aggressive game?

I noted something similar to this the other day.  Since there are no elite “D” out there - except via a trade;  DET are going to have to “run and gun”. 

Yet, you make an astute point.

I expect DET will have to adopt a fierce forecheck, and try to play much more up-tempo; it seems the only choice they have.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 07/05/12 at 11:21 AM ET


i don’t see Brunner play with Helm and Tootoo, I know him from the swiss championship and he NEEDS a good playmaker as center… (it was Josh Holden or Glen Metropolit in Zug). If they put him on a line with Datsyuk or Fil, I’m sure he can score 20+ goals next season. But I guess he won’t play good if they put him in a 3rd line…

Posted by Wandfluh from Switzerland on 07/05/12 at 11:32 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Thanks for the great coverage these past few days George, its been outstanding. 

Let’s not lose sight of whats right with the Wings guys: 

-We still have the best set of hands in the league in Pavel Datsyuk. 

-We have a solid goaltending tandem, one of the best in my mind. 

-Sure the cupboard is a little bare on the blueline, but we still have Kronwall and White.  That’s not too shabby. 

-Folks like Ericsson and Filppula finally started to round into the form that the Wings management saw in them.

Lets not forget what Holland has already done in the free agency.  I know Jordin Tootoo gives most of us indegestion, but I think the gritty personality he and Samuelsson will bring to the Wings could be infectious.

Losing Lidstrom was indeed a blow, but here again we need to look at it as an opportunity rather than just a loss.  We’ve often made note of the Red Wings complacency on the ice over the past few seasons.  Its not going to be so easy (or even possible) to go through the motions anymore.  That might not be a bad thing for the Wings.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/05/12 at 11:39 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

Based on what?

1)  Watching him:  Kindl is a very good skater, and a good puck handler.  His downfall is that he is a split second slow in making decisions.  This will improve with experience at the NHL level.

He developed slowly in each of the levels he has played at before, but eventually became one of the best at each level.

2)  His stats:  http://www.nhl.com/ice/playerstats.htm?season=20112012&gameType=2&team=DET&position=D&country;=&status;=&viewName=summary

Given his games played, those are not bad numbers for a 24 year old rookie Dman.

Give him another year or 2.  He will perform very well at the NHL level just as he has done well at each of his prior levels.

Posted by w2j2 on 07/05/12 at 11:43 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Of course, maybe the plan is to make Detroit a really hard team te play against while also being an easy team to beat.  We lose 60 games a year, but hooooo boy do teams not like facing us because we’ll hve four lines of grinders.

Posted by Garth on 07/05/12 at 09:13 AM ET

After re-reading Holland’s quotes again from last night, that sure as hell sounds like it’s the plan for a franchise that still has 6 of its top 10 paid forwards (yet only 1 of its top 7 salaried d-men) remaining from a team that was 1 goal away from a b2b cups a mere three years ago.

I think I might have it figured out now that we’re all so relieved to have not committed to such a lengthy and rich contract for the best FA d-man to hit the market since Brian Campbell:

- Age ‘em and grind ‘em up front. Give the fans some blood.
- Let the D learn as we go by pegging them into roster spots above their proven capability and hope that these guys mature into players that blow away the imaginable comprehension of naysayers both near and far.
- Pay premiums to maintain salaried players under the age of 27 should the contract be up, that tells your younger guys that you are committed to them even if they miss the first playoff season in over 20 years.
- Keep Howard’s salary extension reasonable.
- Maybe fire a coach along the way.
- Maintain employment for self and surrounding front office support network for at least four more years.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 07/05/12 at 11:45 AM ET

cainer4wingsglory's avatar

But I guess he won’t play good if they put him in a 3rd line…

It’s a good thing Uncle Mike has already said Brunner is earmarked for the top 6. Whether or not he stays there is the question.

Posted by cainer4wingsglory on 07/05/12 at 11:53 AM ET

joedaiceman's avatar

Bye Bye Suter, Bye Bye Parise. Couldn’t bear the thought of being near mommy and daddy so off to a loser franchise for you both. How sweet it will be when we kick your collective butts during the regular season next year. Minny is great at spending lots of dough but did you think to ask how what in the hell they have in terms of strategy to get to the playoffs? You probably did not notice as you were looking at the mounds of dough that they are spectacular in their mediocrity and ability to miss the playoffs.

Posted by joedaiceman on 07/05/12 at 12:08 PM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

If we’re willing to sink 3 mil a year into an aging, declining Samuelsson and take our chances with wild cards Tootoo, Quincey, Brunner and Gustavsson… why wouldn’t we be chomping at the bit to add Semin?

2012-2013: the season of question marks.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 07/05/12 at 12:10 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

I think we need to quit the doom and gloom. Nothing lasts forever. Eventually, we all knew there’d have to be a “rebuild” instead of a “reload,” and even this rebuild is highly unlikely to look as dramatic and painful for us as recent rebuilds were for fans of the Blues, or the perpetual rebuilds of the Avs, Isles, and Jackets.

First thing. This team should still be a playoff team. Yeah, maybe an 8 seed. But still a playoff team. For a team that does need to rebuild to a moderate degree, that’s something to look forward to as a fan, especially since Jimmah has proven his worth and just might steal a series once or twice.

Second thing. The front office can come up with a clear strategy now. Obviously, signing Suter and/or Parise was a clear strategy as well. And a better one we all preferred. But unlike the last couple years where the team has still been deep and talented, but injury prone and a bit stale in their “compete” level, we kinda know what we have. A low-seed playoff team that will have to compete like hell to get there. There won’t be any reason/incentive to trade for a Quincey again. We’ll keep our first round picks for a few seasons, and turn them into something good.

Third thing. We need Smith to develop into a legitimate #1 or #2 over the next two seasons, regardless. This would be true even if we signed Suter, or trade for Yandle. I think comparing Smith to Yandle is actually very appropriate. I think that’s the type of guy we have to expect him to develop into. If he doesn’t get there, we’re either going to be hurting anyways, or it’s going to take some incredible luck somewhere else (like an unexpected UFA to hit the market, or a lesser light in our system to bloom late) to make up for it. So, we’re kind of sitting, waiting, and hoping on this no matter what.

Fourth thing. This was/is a weak UFA crop. Next year there are going to be a few good veteran options and a few good long-term options. Not really a lot better than this season, but another good opportunity.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/05/12 at 12:12 PM ET


He developed slowly in each of the levels he has played at before, but eventually became one of the best at each level.

And herein lies the problem.  If you’re taking your time easing him into it and you have the likes of Lidstrom, Stuart, Rafalski and Kronwall then it’s fine to have someone who has proven to be a slow developer, but now he’s going to be expected to make a pretty big leap if they’re going to be replacing Lidstrom by committee.  On top of that, he’s one of two slow developers because, since his breakout playoff performance, Ericsson has been very slow to adapt ot becoming a regular NHLer.  And again, that was fine when he was at best 5th on the depth chart with very little expected of him.  He has been given the time to grow at his own pace, but now he’s going to be expected to take a leap.

When you’ve got a guy who, in your own words, has developed slowly in each of the levels he’s played before, what on earth leads you to believe that he will accelerate his adaptation just because we need him to?  Sure, he’s a good skater and stick handler.  Those are two of a plethora of skills needed to be a top-four defenseman, and in fact they’re simply two of the basic skills needed to play hockey at the NHL level, unless you’re just an enforcer.

Posted by Garth on 07/05/12 at 12:16 PM ET


The front office can come up with a clear strategy now.

Why is it that everyone was pissed off that Parise and Suter didn’t have a clear strategy for free agency and let everyone twist in the wind for four whole days before making their decision, but it’s OK that the Wings didn’t come up with a clear strategy between the day the Wings were eliminated and July 1st?  Isn’t that when they should’ve had their strategy?

Seems like the strategy they had was “Sign Suter, because he’s going to come to us and beg to play in Detroit, then all we’re going to have to do is pick and choose who we want from all the other UFAs who will follow in his footsteps”, and when that didn’t work out it was the old fall back of “*shrug* we have young kids, we like our team”.

Posted by Garth on 07/05/12 at 12:20 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Posted by Garth on 07/05/12 at 10:20 AM ET

Garth, I’m as frustrated as you are, but other than Parise and Suter, who were the Wings supposed to go out and get via free agency?  Its slim pickings out there.  It seems like Matt Carle is the only person that the Wings have lost out on that didn’t have some personal reason to go where he did.  I don’t see how the Wings can be expected to compete against those kinds of player interests, or how you can fault the team’s management. 

After all these years and what we’ve seen out of this organization, I think its a little over board to accuse Holland of having no plan B.  The plan to develop young talent and add by free agency when/where you can has been there all long.  You can’t have a free agency contingency plan when there aren’t really and contingencies to play off of.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/05/12 at 12:39 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Second thing. The front office can come up with a clear strategy now.

This is where I really struggle with acceptance of where things are this morning. 

I cut Holland a little slack with Rafalski last summer as his decision was probably a year or 3 ahead of conventional timetables for really good hockey players. 

However, Holland has had years to prepare for the Lidstrom departure.  Surely they could’ve put themselves in a better place over the past few years rather than counting on the words of a rookie front office staff member that promised he would deliver two of the most reasonable replacements on the open market this summer?

Based on this quote from last night I don’t think that Kenny has thought much out on what is arguably the most important roster vacancy for this franchise in the modern era:

“I don’t know if I have a priority,” said Holland of his next move. “We tried to get into the market for the top two free agents and it didn’t work out. There were only two of those guys available.”

That’s not gonna hack it for an Illitch-run team based on my experience of following them over the years.  All I can hope this AM is that the boss still hasn’t looked at the Tigers box score from last night.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 07/05/12 at 12:43 PM ET


Rather than spend time broad-stroking something that differs from your own perspective as emotional/immature/knee-jerk BS, try launching directly into your sentiments instead.

Bah.  You’re overreacting to my comment mentioning people were overreacting.  wink  George in his post here and IWO in his post a day or so ago were doing exactly the kind of hand-wringing I was talking about.  You trying to drive my mention of that unnecessary worry into some larger statement about “emotional/immature/knee-jerk BS” is really, really reaching.

It looks like people got most of their worrying out of their system, which is good.  I hope the fan base is a little more reasonable with regards to expectation than they’ve been in the first few years under the cap, especially as cap realities start to set in to the point where it will be almost impossible to avoid recognizing them.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/05/12 at 12:44 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Posted by Garth on 07/05/12 at 10:20 AM ET

Even though you quoted me, I don’t think you’re specifically commenting on my post, because I never brought up anything of that nature.

Regardless… I don’t blame Suter or Parise for how they did what they did. They just made one of the biggest decisions of their lives. I respect George’s take from a couple days ago where he argued they needed to make a decision quickly, but I disagree with him. And also, we don’t know the details. They both may have had a very clear strategy. Likely only their wives and agents will ever know the truth.

I think the Wings did have a clear strategy for July 1st. It just didn’t pan out. Everyone knew this was a possibility. The Devils, Preds, Wild, Wings, Pens, and Flyers all had to have had very similar strategies, and they all knew that at best, two of them were going to execute it successfully. So there were going to be a lot of disappointments no matter what.

I said this in another thread but forgot to mention it here, I think it’s time to make a push for Semin. He’s had a few coaches that are now all gone. Do we really think Semin single-handedly took those coaches out? That’s crazy xenophobe Canadian hockey pundit talk. If Babcock is all he’s cracked up to be, and the leadership of Dats, Z, and Kronwall is as strong as we believe it to be, then Semin is the type of player that this club should be able to turn into a professional and a Red Wing.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/05/12 at 12:48 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

5 on 5 the Wings will be a better defensive team next year than they were this year.
Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/05/12 at 07:24 AM ET

I pretty much agree with most everything except this.  In spite of a horrible last 22 games the Wings still finished with 48 wins, league best 5x5, and #7 in GAA.

Now after the loss of Lidstrom and Stuart you believe the Wings will be even better defensively? 

There are many cases, LAK this year the latest, of a team that plays together and feels it every night.  Detroit could become one of those this year as we develop through the season.  I don’t believe you have to have a Norris Dman to have a good team defensively, although it helps.

I think it’s a stretch right now to think that Detroit will somehow will be better 5x5 defensively than last year, when they were pretty darn good.  The PK was where they gave up a lot of goals, until Magic Man Ericccsssson returned and by God the PK actually did improve.

I am looking forward to the fall, for hockey, to break the 100 degrees, and send the goddam ankle-biting fleas into submission.

Posted by RWBill on 07/05/12 at 12:53 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/05/12 at 10:48 AM ET

I think its hard to call anyone who went through the roller coaster that has been the Washington Capitals a coach killer.  Between the eccentricities of Leonosis and Ovechkin, and the historic dysfunctionality (is that a word?) of the Capitals organization, I wouldn’t blame anyone for shrinking away.

I think that Pavel and the Wings could make great things happen with Semin.  (rimshot)

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/05/12 at 12:57 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 07/05/12 at 10:43 AM ET

The point is, you can’t really prepare for replacing Nick Lidstrom, can you?

You only feasibly get talent like that two ways—draft, or UFA. They knew Suter and Weber would be UFAs in back-to-back seasons. They struck out on Suter, but not without trying. Suter had understandable personal reasons for choosing Minnesota and it is hard to fault him or Kenny for that.

As for the draft, it has been a catch-22. Each year Lidstrom came back, the team was a legitimate Cup contender, which made it hard to draft a top-flight D prospect. Smith and Kindl are as close as we’ve had, and Smith just looks like he might make it, maybe turn into a Yandle type player. If you want a Doughty, you have to suck for a year or two.

Of course there are other options, but they aren’t feasible. Getting a late-round gem, or simply drafting a D that exceeds expectations for his draft slot takes good scouting, but also a lot of luck that you just cannot count on. Trading for a top D, like perhaps Yandle who is out there, costs a lot of players/picks/prospects, which is tough to do when you know your team has to do a bit of a rebuild.

I just can’t fault the front office for this. This is the very small drawback that comes with having players like Lidstrom and Yzerman. Eventually you have to sustain a drop-off because those HOF guys will be gone. I think it is really an issue of expectations. We have high expectations because of all the talent the team has had, and all the great moves Holland and Co. have made. We hoped we’d ride the wave forever, but that was never realistic. Let’s count our blessings for the hockey we’ve been able to watch the last 20 years, and for the hockey we’re going to still be able to watch, as this team is still going to be decent to watch and competitive in the playoff race.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/05/12 at 12:58 PM ET

The Hurricane's avatar

Maybe Lidstrom will pull a Hasek and change his mind for a season raspberry

We need 1 D-man and a better special teams coach. That is all….heck, we might not even need a D-man if we get a coach that can cure our special teams issues.

There is not enough valuable and guaranteed talent available to muck with a locker room at this point. Spending too much money on someone who will definitely want a LONG TERM contract will do more harm than good.

We hoped to add another franchise talent player. We didn’t… and none more are available (save Nash and Weber.) Now we are in, gulp, a development phase.

We’ll be fine, not great, but fine…and we will pray to god our boys stay healthy and can find a little more speed to compete with the new kids on the block.

Posted by The Hurricane on 07/05/12 at 12:58 PM ET

Cal's avatar

Trade Franzen for Yandle.

Sign Semin.

If Doan wants to play, hell, we are getting used to the idea of Tootoo.

Just don’t give away the farm for Nash.  Minnesota will find out it is nice to have the caliber of player of Suter and Parise. However they cannot pay on all lines/d-pairs.

Posted by Cal on 07/05/12 at 01:01 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Just don’t give away the farm for Nash.  Minnesota will find out it is nice to have the caliber of player of Suter and Parise. However they cannot pay on all lines/d-pairs.

Posted by Cal on 07/05/12 at 11:01 AM ET

Agree 100%

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/05/12 at 01:03 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

I think its hard to call anyone who went through the roller coaster that has been the Washington Capitals a coach killer.  Between the eccentricities of Leonosis and Ovechkin, and the historic dysfunctionality (is that a word?) of the Capitals organization, I wouldn’t blame anyone for shrinking away.

I think that Pavel and the Wings could make great things happen with Semin.  (rimshot)

Posted by bezukov from Nasburgum delenda est. on 07/05/12 at 10:57 AM ET

This. If Semin was that big of a problem, they would’ve shipped him out instead of cycling through Hanlon, Boudreau, and Hunter. Semin isn’t Ovechkin or Backstrom. He’s super talented, but not on that top-tier level of those other two, where his talent is so irreplaceable that he’s worth shit-canning coach after coach for.

From watching Semin play, I don’t at all doubt that there are motivational issues. But I think the “coach killer” thing is just a convenient story line for a large doofus fanbase that buys into the stereotype of the primadonna, lazy, entitled Russian player.

If Babcock can get Hudler to where he is in his career, I have a lot of faith of what he can do with Semin, who is markedly more talented in every way. Say what we will about Hudler, he’s still slow as dirt, but compare his skating, defensive awareness, and work ethic today to where it was four years ago and it really is remarkable.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/05/12 at 01:06 PM ET


After all these years and what we’ve seen out of this organization, I think its a little over board to accuse Holland of having no plan B.

Why?  I’d love for someone to point to a time since the lockout that Holland has had to even have a plan.

After winning the Cup, they lost one forward - Dallas Drake- and replaced him by allowing Marian Hossa to fall into their laps.

When they lost Hossa, Hudler and Samuelsson they brought in young kids and reclamation projects.

Their Plan A for replacing Rafalski was “get a decent guy and pair him with the best defenseman of his generation”, which is fine when you have the best defenseman of his generation.

Again, their plan seems like it was to assume that Suter would jump at the chance to sign with Detroit for less money than anyone else was offering (as is evidenced by the fact that we KNOW they had to up the offer to stay in play for Suter), and that he would take Parise by the hand, pull him to Detroit and convince him to sign in Detroit for less than anyone else was offering.  That’s barely a plan, and beyond that it seems there’s no plan at all.

Posted by Garth on 07/05/12 at 01:08 PM ET

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