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Red Wings overnight report: free agent talk, the Chairman’s speech, Shanahan muted and action Jimmy

This overnight report will be a little different than the usual, “I post stuff, start the discussion and step back” format because, well, because, so let’s start with a review of the biggest news posted during the evening (which you may have missed):

First and foremost, the Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that Red Wings GM Ken Holland is talking contract turkey with Jonathan Ericsson’s agent, which is good from the, “It would really (stink) if the Wings had to replace Ericsson, Lidstrom and Rafalski at the same time” standpoint, but is not so good if your nickname for Ericsson includes a four-letter word;

Second, and perhaps more intriguingly, DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose at least dropped a strong hint that the Wings plan on retaining the services of both Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller. Those players’ deals won’t be too hard to hammer out, and any positive, “We’re gonna keep ‘em” news is good news.

After the jump, however, we’re going to talk about one Chairman Mao’s state-of-the-game speech, which involves the topic that’s been reduced to pulp over the last two weeks—the Wings’ chances of moving to the Eastern Conference for the 2012-2013 season:

I’d like to think that my job involves not talking all that much, but instead, finding as much Wings stuff to place in TMR as possible to make following the Wings a little easier for you, to find offbeat and foreign-language stories, start discussions and mostly cut through BS so that you don’t have to read the fluff and posturing to get to the important parts of the talking heads’ takes on things.

But we’ve got to get knee-deep in BS from the master thereof, one Gary Bettman, to talk about the realignment issue (and the salary cap) because Chairman Mao’s annual pre-Cup Final “State of the Game” speech tends to predict the ways in which the NHL’s Board of Governors will approach certain situations, and as we now know, the Wings would both have to submit an application for realignment to the NHL before January 1st, 2012 and that they’d have to, according to the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox, get 20 of the NHL’s 30 teams to sign off on the Wings moving East as opposed to the Nashville Predators or Columbus Blue Jackets.

If you want to just skip to the Cliff’s Notes versions of the story, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Associated Press’s Greg Beacham and the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek can help you out, but sometimes it’s best to read what the horse’s a…I mean mouth…said to the press.

From the presser transcript, here’s what Bettman said about relocation:

QUESTION: Can you update where things stand for realignment in lieu of Winnipeg’s reentry, and also the latest on Phoenix?

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN: With respect to Winnipeg’s re-entry, obviously there is a process under the Constitution and Bylaws with respect to ownership transfers and relocation that needs to be complied with. That’s on the agenda, will be on the agenda, for the June 21st Board meeting.

In order to do a schedule for next season, it’s not possible to do realignment right now. Winnipeg, despite its geographic peculiarities relative to the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference, will be playing in that division and in that conference, with an assurance that for the following season they will be in the west.

We have a number of clubs that would like to address specific issues on realignment. All those clubs need an opportunity to be heard. That’s a process we’ll go through the first half of next season, looking at the issues that clubs want to raise, looking at various possibilities, and trying to figure out what will make the most sense moving forward.

If I had to guess anything, and this is purely speculation, as much as I hate to do that, because ultimately it’s a Board decision, I think we’ll wind up moving towards a slightly more balanced schedule to accommodate the variety of issues I’ve heard so far from the clubs.

So we know that the Wings, Blue Jackets and Predators will attempt to move to the East, and, as it stands now, it’s actually the Blue Jackets who are the odds-on favorite to move East, we know that there will be a full year’s worth of campaigning by all three teams before their fates are decided a year from now, likely at next year’s summertime Board of Governors meetings, and we know that the Wings have an uphill climb in terms of trying to get 20 of the 30 members of the Board to agree to move the Wings to the Eastern Conference.

Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly also addressed the salary cap—and their figure involves the NHLPA agreeing to exercise its right to inflate the cap by 5%, which means more escrow payments, as well as the league hitting the magical $3 billion in revenue mark—which is important as the Wings might have a little more coin to spend on Brian Rafalski’s replacement, possibly Jonathan Ericsosn’s replacement and the mythical top six forward Mike Babcock alluded to:

QUESTION: Any more precise indication of where the cap is going?

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN: Actually, I think Mr. Daly did. I don’t remember giving cap numbers.

Bill, do you want to venture a guess?

BILL DALY: I think our current projections have the cap being in excess of $60 million, maybe as high as $63 million.

I’ve heard anything from $62 to $63.5 million, but $63 million is a safe bet.

So that’s that.

Shifting gears, the NHL also announced that Brendan Shanahan would take over Colin Campbell’s duties as the NHL’s disciplinarian next season, as discussed by ESPN’s Scott Burnside, the CBC’s Tim Wharnsby, the Sporting News’s Craig Custance, the Hockey News’s Ken Campbell and NHL.com’s Dan Rosen, among others.

I know that many pundits have suggested that giving Shanahan hockey’s most thankless job will mean an increase in fines and suspensions (something Bettman alluded to—the Bettman presser link also includes Shanahan and Campbell’s comments—and that a new perspective and a younger man’s perspective, perhaps a perspective tied more to the rules emphasizing player safety (which Shanahan will continue to advocate along with his NHLPA partner, Mathieu Schneider) instead of Campbell’s adherence to “Old Time Hockey” rules, all add up to something very good happening for the league going forward.

I have to disagree. Campbell’s inconsistencies and back-room dealings included, we knew that he didn’t have to do anything other than worry about disciplinary issues.

Shanahan was a true progressive, installing an every-summer R&D camp, working with the PA to modify shoulder pads and even engaging fans via Twitter.

What was the first thing that happened when the hiring was announced? @NHLShanny’s “Tweets” disappeared as he closed his account.

What’s going to happen in the fall? Shanahan’s focus will shift from thinking about innovation to discipline, and he’s going to find himself entangled in the back-room deals, GM’s and player agents lobbying for leniency and/or severe suspensions, the dirty politics of hockey and establishing his status as something of a fair but harsh judge of player conduct and, in the end, something of a villain.

That’s…disappointing at best and plain old scary at worst. It’s no surprise that Gary Bettman wanted his protege to join the family of high-powered executives who take on adversarial roles toward just about everybody they deal with, but it’s very sad that Shanahan’s tenure as someone who was dedicated to thinking creatively will pretty much go out the window.

At least the Associated Press provided us with a little comic relief by producing a to-scale image of the man behind the podium:

Back to Wings stuff: On Tuesday morning, MLive’s Ansar Khan reported that Wings assistant coach Paul MacLean interviewed for the Ottawa Senators’ head coaching job, and the Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan confirms while using an unfortunate word to describe another coaching candidate:

[Senators GM Bryan] Murray’s first two interviews, as reported by the Sun’s Bruce Garrioch Tuesday, were Kirk Muller and Paul MacLean. Both enticing candidates. Muller is this summer’s sexy pick. After an exceptional, 19-year playing career, the likeable Kingston native has, by all accounts, done a solid job as an assistant in Montreal the past five seasons. Rumours also have him a top candidate to become the next Dallas coach. MacLean, a former Hull Olympique, also had a strong 10-year playing career. In eight seasons as a minor league head coach, he won almost twice as many games as he lost. He’s been an NHL assistant the past eight years, the most recent six in Detroit.

Dave Cameron and Craig MacTavish will have sit-downs with Murray, too.

Let’s stick with executive news for the moment. The Detroit Pistons’ sale to Tom Gores should receive the approval of the NBA’s BoG shortly, but the Detroit News’s John Niyo made an astute comment about the winner in terms of strengthening his front office was Mike Ilitch:

[Ilitch CEO of entertainment and business properties Tom] Wilson & Co. are busy catering to the customers for Mike Ilitch downtown, of course, and we saw the results with the Red Wings’ rejuvenated crowds at Joe Louis Arena this spring. But there still are good people left at The Palace who remember the way things used to be, and presumably Gores has a few ideas — and people — of his own to bring to the table. (Come to think of it, how about playing a Pistons game or two downtown at the Joe, just to bury the hatchet?)

The Wings raided the Pistons’ cupboard and are a much stronger organization because of it. Wilson will play a large role in the Wings’ negotiations with the City of Detroit, Wayne County and the State of Michigan regarding Joe Louis Arena’s follow-on rink, and over the past eight months, he’s done a solid job of injecting energy, enthusiasm and a customer-first mentality to the Wings’ ticket sales department. I hear nothing but good reports about Wilson’s sincerity and thoroughness.

Shifting focus back to players, at least in the alumni department: I had to laugh when I read this quip from Kerry Fraser, discussing players with notorious reputations as, let’s say “embellishers”:

Fellow Sarnia, Ontario native, Dino Ciccarelli was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last season; a well deserved honour.  While he was a prolific scorer and went into the hard areas in front of the net his uniform could often be as wet on the outside from diving as it was on the inside from sweat.  That’s no deference to Dino’s work ethic; he just fell down whenever he was touched but usually bounced right back up so as not to take himself out of the play. One night in the Joe Louis Arena, Dino went down six times on one shift in the corner and maintained possession of the puck each time.  He never complained about not drawing the penalty - he just kept trying!  It was actually quite comical.

It wasn’t his diving that made me laugh hardest but an attempt one night to grab an assist.  A goal was scored by Dino’s team with him sitting on the player’s bench.  After assessing the goal, I went to centre ice and watched Dino and his line come onto the ice. He skated right up to me and said, “Frase, I got an assist on that goal.”  I grinned and said, “Dino, you must have the longest stick in the league because if you got an assist on that play you did it while sitting on the player’s bench.  I just saw you come onto the ice after the goal was scored.”  Dino further appealed to his “hometown referee” and said, “Come on Frase, I’m in a slump and haven’t scored a point in two games.”

Wow, two whole games - that was a slump for Dino.  I laughed and said just shoot the puck and it will go in.  It wasn’t long after that the puck did go in for him.  There weren’t many nights that it didn’t.  There weren’t many nights that he didn’t dive either.

I hate to admit it, but #22 did a helluva job drawing penalties and occasionally taking them.

In the “activity” category, the Saginaw News’s Adam Bouton reminds us that Mickey Redmond will attend Thursday’s Great Lakes Loons baseball game;

And the Wings posted a press release regarding Saturday’s equipment sale:

The Red Wings will be holding a special equipment/memorabilia sale at Hockeytown Authentics in Troy, Michigan (1845 E. Big Beaver Road) this coming Saturday, June 4 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For the first time, game-worn jerseys from the team’s 2010-11 campaign will be available for purchase, as will various game-worn jerseys from previous seasons and used/unused equipment (sticks, skates, etc.). Red Wings fans will also be able to add limited-edition autographed memorabilia items to their collections as part of this one-day-only event. 

Members of the Red Wings’ Season Ticket Holder Family will have exclusive access to this special sale between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. The general public will be able to take advantage of the incredible items up for sale from 11:00 a.m. until the store closes at 7:00 p.m. Longtime Red Wings Equipment Manager Paul Boyer will also be on hand to answer any and all queries from the Hockeytown faithful between 11:00 a.m. and noon.

Quite frankly, the STH folks tend to snap up the best stuff, so if you can find a friend who’s a partial or full season ticket-holder who doesn’t want to go…

Let’s end, or nearly so, with an article and a video which should make you smile.

The Hockey News’s Adam Proteau notes that a certain Red Wings forward played so dominantly over the course of 11 games that he’s still the playoff leader in one statistical category…

6. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit: Datsyuk was a one-man wrecking crew for Detroit against the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round, posting two goals and four assists before adding nine points in the second round against the San Jose Sharks. He finished the post-season with seven more points than the Red Wings’ next best playoff producer. Even more impressive: despite playing only 11 games, the two-way wizard still has the second-best plus-minus rating (plus-10) of this post-season.

And this is plain old cute, per the Red Wings’ website—Jimmy Howard was asked to ham it up after his MacFarlane Sports action figure was released, and he did so in spades:

As of 5:47 AM, there’s no Russian, Swedish, Czech, Slovak or Finnish Wings news that I can find, and I tend to stay up to look as the Swedish local newspapers don’t tend to update their sites till 5 AM EDT.

And regarding the whole trip thingy...I was asked to try to guesstimate costs (I hate talking about this, by the way) regarding possibly heading to Traverse City to cover the Wings’ prospect camp from July 7-14.

At present, as the Cherry Festival takes place during that time, the cheapest hotel rates I can find range from $800-950(!!!!—at a Super 8, no less). In terms of other expenses, I can cover my own dry cleaning ($80), in terms of food, I’m guessing that $100-150 would be a generous budget in terms of getting groceries, pop and fast food, and it took me—let’s add in a margin to be safe—about 3/4ths of a 22-gallon tank up, 3/4ths to get home, home and about a quarter tank of gas to drive around during the week during training camp because I had to shuttle back and forth from the hotel several times a day sans wireless access at the rink. Regrettably gas is supposed to hit nearly $5 a gallon in early July, but at its present rate, let’s say $4.10 a gallon, and given that I have a 22-gallon tank in the Pacifica, we’re talking about, let’s say 55 gallons x 4 = about $160 for gas, based on driving at 78 miles an hour on cruise control for the 230-mile trip up.

Sadly, due to the Cherry Festival stuff, I can tell you that I paid about $250 more for a full 15-day stay in September, so that should tell you about the rates for July. We’re looking at, minimum, about a grand for the week. I can maximize my travel budget to cover any underage and if there’s any overage I’d put it into the training camp fund as that cost about $1,400 last time around.

Again, I’d give away my $60 seat to A Perfect Circle’s July 8th concert at the Fox Theatre as part of the bargain.

Let me know what you think—and I should mention the fact that, save a few incredibly generous pals, the $5 here and $10 there were the donations that fueled the prospect tournament/training camp trip. I may have to start a Facebook or Twitter campaign or something but I honestly feel pretty crappy about having to ask in the first place. Believe me, if I could do this stuff on my own dime, I would.

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This is the worst case scenario I was talking about.

The worst case scenario is that we fill a quarter of the roster with cheap scrubs, and you’re OK WITH THIS?

Patrick Eaves is utterly replaceable, but I was kind enough to fit him in anyway. Same with Drew Miller.

That statement is utterly ridiculous.  Do you watch hockey?  Find me two better guys than that tandem who are making a combined $1.4M dollars.  PLEASE.  The reason that Detroit has had such a PHENOMENAL fourth line is that these guys (and Helm, and Draper this year) are playing way above their pay grade.


The fact that you think a team with up to 5 different forwards, 4 different defensemen and a different backup is the ~EXACT~ same boggles my mind.

As is the fact that you have no comprehension of looking beyond this coming season.

The REASON that Holland handed out two long-term deals and lowered the cap hit as much as possible is so that they would be less affected by a new CBA.  That’s smart management.  What is UTTERLY MORONIC management would be two add an $8M forward to a deal the year before a new CBA is coming.

Posted by Garth on 06/04/11 at 02:58 AM ET

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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.


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