The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/07/11 at 08:06 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings have yet to make any significant personnel moves, but the Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that Red Wings GM Ken Holland will get down to the business of negotiating with the Wings’ unrestricted free agents-to-be after today and tomorrow’s General Managers’ meetings in Boston:
Holland has had talks with the representatives for the team’s trio of 27-year-old unrestricted free agents—forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson—but things are relatively quiet overall.
“It’s a process,” Holland said Monday. “We’ll see where it leads us. Free agency isn’t till July 1, so there’s no real pressure on anybody.”
Holland and coach Mike Babcock are talking informally with candidates for the assistant coaching position that opened with last month’s departure of Brad McCrimmon. The Wings may be looking for two assistants, as Paul MacLean is also garnering interest from several NHL teams looking to fill head-coaching vacancies.
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan reports that MacLean fielded a call from a second potential employer on Monday…
Holland said assistant Paul MacLean has interviewed for the top job in Ottawa, and was called by another team official Monday for an interview for its vacancy. Minnesota, New Jersey and Dallas also have openings. The Red Wings have offered MacLean a two-year extension.
And he reiterates Holland’s position on Chris Osgood and Kris Draper’s futures with the Wings—the team would prefer to weigh the pluses and minuses of holding onto numbers 30 and 33 for another season during their organizational powwow on June 15th and 16th—but Kulfan reports that Osgood’s agent, Rollie Thompson, has seconded Kris Draper’s assessment and acknowledged that Osgood wants to continue playing:
“We’ll sit down and I’ll get input from a lot of different sources,” said Holland, who will meet with the front office, coaching staff and scouts next week and evaluate available free agents along with the current roster.
Holland has begun talks with several of the Red Wings’ unrestricted free agents, but isn’t close to any deals.
“These things are an ongoing process,” said Holland, who’ll be in Boston this week for the general manager meetings. “The one thing that gets the process going is deadlines. There is a deadline of July 1 (when unrestricted free agency begins) and I would expect deals to be worked out a little before that date.”
Holland isn’t quite sure whether Osgood’s really fully healthy, and I can’t blame him given the severity of the corrective surgery Osgood underwent in January, when the same sports hernia specialist who helped Kris Draper found more than a herniation to repair:
“You never know how it’ll react until you put it to the test,” said Holland, of the injury. “He says he’s feeling fine and he wants to play.”
He’s been banged-up and missed time with groin injuries in each and every one of his post-lockout seasons with the Wings, but Osgood’s also done a fantastic job of mentoring Jimmy Howard, so the team has to decide whether it’s worth bringing Osgood back and possibly dealing with a #2A/2B situation with Joey MacDonald spelling Osgood or Howard when necessary, or whether they want to make a clean break. Ditto for Draper, who’s helped Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader and would probably step into a role as the team’s first strength and conditioning coach if he can’t win a job during training camp.
Kulfan adds good news on the Todd Bertuzzi front as a post-script…
Holland said forward Todd Bertuzzi (concussion) has been cleared to begin working out.
As for Nicklas Lidstrom, who was named a finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership Award (as Hockeysverige.se’s Uffe Bodin points out, Lidstrom’s a finalist for both the Norris Trophy and Lady Byng Trophy, meaning that he could pull of a second hat trick at the NHL Awards on June 22nd)—it’s assumed that Lidstrom will let Holland and the Wings know of his future plans before the awards show, but it was USA Today’s Kevin Allen, speaking to WBBL’s Bakita and Bentley, who suggested most demonstratively that Lidstrom will return for at least another year.
Allen spends the first half of his interview speaking about the Stanley Cup Final, but from the 7:30 mark on, he talks about Brian Rafalski’s retirement, Lidstrom’s future (he believes that the Wings will replace Rafalski via free agency, targeting Kevin Bieksa or James Wisniewski) and the realignment issue (he suggests that the issue is indeed contentious). At the 11-minute mark, he suggests that both Nick and Annika still enjoy living in Novi, and he simply doesn’t believe that Lidstrom played like or looked like player ready to say goodbye to the NHL during the playoffs.
I’m gonna take a hard left turn and blame the rant on allergies that are so bad they’ve made me ill: Because the Winnipeg NHL franchise chose to both appease the NHL’s Board of Governors’ worries regarding the franchise’s stability and engage in what is quite honestly a bit of a cash grab, the team sold out its season tickets to non-Manitoba Moose season-ticket-holders within minutes…
To the point that the 6,000 or so people who lined up for tickets mostly received the Ticketmaster “No seats available at this location” message because ticket-scalping companies lapped up tickets (after the season ticket-holders multiplied their stakes), even though the tickets have to be picked up in Winnipeg, leaving the average fan more or less shut out of games given what will probably happen to the 2,000 or so remaining seats for individual Winnipeg games when they go on sale to the general public.
Part of choosing to do the job that I have means that I have to go asking for help to go to training camp and means that I’m ensconced within the ranks of those who’ve never been financially able to buy season tickets and probably won’t find myself in that socioeconomic bracket for a while yet, and in an era where any access whatsoever to professional sports teams is limited to those who can at least buy partial season tickets…
It sucks. Nothing more and nothing less. I won’t use “stink” as a less unpleasant filler word for a phenomenon that, in the words of Bart Simpson, makes you realize that something can, “Suck and blow at the same time.” It’s not even in the same league as me grumbling that the Wings don’t hold open practices for the average Joe…This is an entirely different dimension, where thousands and thousands of people who wanted to shell out for season tickets, partial packages or had scrimped together the money to split ducats with family, friends or coworkers got systematically screwed out of the guarantee to see an NHL team play in their city for the first time in 15 years.
The fans that got shut out are getting the usual, “Them’s the breaks” spiel from the media, and I think that’s just…It’s easy to say when you don’t have to pay to get into games. And for so many of us who have yet to get out of the first dip of what’s supposedly a “double dip”
recession, it’s another reminder of the fact that just as in life, in sports fandom, there are haves and have-nots, and when you’re not a paid subscriber, if you will, you’re most certainly reminded of that status over and over again, so my heart goes out to the people who got screwed…From an even-eyed perspective.
Also of Red Wings-related note, mostly in the tangential vein: From the Detroit Free Press, Mike Bruendell spoke to Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson at the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School, and he answered an obligatory Wings-related question:
Question: What did you think of the Red Wings’ performance this year?
Anderson: I think they did pretty well. They should have beaten San Jose. I think the time off after the Phoenix series hurt them. But they are a class act. Jimmy Howard is a good goalie. They are a team I always wanted to play for since I was a kid.
• The Free Press’s Steve Schrader also reports that Ryan Kesler got a “thank-you” note from the Livonia Chamber of Commerce;
• Two members of the Plymouth Whalers took part in the NHL Draft Combine in Toronto, and the Plymouth Patch’s John McKay took note of some quickie spotlight interviews with forward Rickhard Rakell and right winger Stefan Noesen;
• Also regarding the Whalers, the Detroit News’s Melissa Burden reports that their owner, Peter Karmanos, is stepping down as the day-to-day CEO of Compuware;
• And closing with a Draft Combine-related quip—it’s not Red Wings-related, but it made me smile—the Toronto Sun‘s Mike Zeisberger offers quite the tale, and it does involve the Whalers, sort of:
What was the most bizarre question you were asked at the NHL scouting combine? In an informal poll Monday by QMI Agency, that very question was put to top draft prospects who were on hand for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins.
The same query also was posed to Bruins forward Tyler Seguin, a former Plymouth Whaler who was selected second overall behind Taylor Hall at last year’s entry draft in Los Angeles. Interestingly, once the results were tabulated late Monday, they were cryptically similar, especially in the case of Seguin and Kitchener Rangers forward Gabriel Landeskog.
“Oh, I remember,” Seguin said. “It was: ‘Would you rather write a poem or carry a gun?’ “
In other words, would you rather be Robert Louis Stevenson or Harry Callahan?
“I’m not a violent guy so I went poem,” Seguin said. “Of course, I’m not a very good writer but that was the choice.”
Twelve months after Seguin answered the question, Landeskog was asked the same thing at the 2011 Scouting Combine in Toronto this past weekend. He, like Seguin, considered it the weirdest thing he was asked throughout the process.
“I went poem, too,” Landeskog said Monday evening, breaking into a sheepish grin. “I’m not a violent guy either. It was a different experience, that’s for sure, One team brought me into a room, turned out all the lights and then shone a couple of spotlights on me.”
As a “writer,” I’d rather carry a hockey stick. It can extend your reach, it can steady your stride, it can write your name in the sand and it’s wonderful for whacking people that annoy you.
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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.