The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/13/12 at 04:22 AM ET
On a day when, in theory, anyway, Red Wings fans received more than enough substantiated, source-cited and credible news to sustain a day’s worth of discussion in Detroit’s front office’s show a little loyalty to Tomas Holmstrom by delaying their decision on his future to July—a courtesy the Wings have only extended to Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby since the salary cap was introduced—and perhaps offering an understated cheer that Chris Conner’s European agent told Jnytt.se that his client wants to remain in North America…
As I said in the evening report, I’m very suspicious of the report about Ryan Suter’s rights being in play at the draft given that a) it came from someone citing a “league source” and b) Predators GM David Poile has told the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper and ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun that he’s already ruled out making that move…
But that kind of, “Hey, wait a minute, this is suspicious, take it with salt” talk doesn’t stop fans like you and me for a second.
Over the past 24 hours, we’ve been told that the Red Wings, Wild and Kings are all in the running for Zach Parise, but the truth of the speculatory matter is that, regardless of a team’s financial situation (i.e. cap space) or roster needs, the Blackhawks’ press corps, those who cover the Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and I’m sure at least ten more teams are absolutely certain that Parise, Suter, whoever, will sign with their team and only their team, with no possible way in history for any other result to ever happen ever ever.
Look, I’m a Red Wings fan, I’m scared shitless of what might happen now that my favorite player ever, Nicklas Lidstrom, has retired, that Tomas Holmstrom is, in all probability, actually approximately a month away from a retirement press conference, that the Wings showed an equal amount of dignity and class (the kind of dignity and class in treating their players like kings that will totally land us Suter and Parise, and maybe other players, right, right?) in trading Brad Stuart to the San Jose Sharks, and that, as the Wings’ wise press corps has duly noted, the signing of a middling Colorado Avalanche player named David Jones to a silly $4 million-a-year deal all but ensures that Jiri Hudler is out the damn door to pay him way more for his services than the Wings would or should offer him, even though they’re actually seeking a goal-scorer, and Hudler will leave having registered 25 goals and 50 points...
I’ve got Capgeek’s Wings roster page bookmarked, as well as their list of free agent defensemen, forwards and goaltenders, and in case you haven’t noticed it already, I’m quoting the Sports Forecaster’s masive index of NHL player bios like they’re gospel…
And I think that it’s fantastic that Wings GM Ken Holland, assistant GM Jim Nill, super-super capologist and de-facto assistant GM II Ryan Martin, VP Jimmy Devellano, special assistants Kris Draper and Chris Chelios, all the pro scouts, including Mark Howe and Kirk Maltby, and one coach Mike Babcock are planning on meeting repeatedly to discuss half a dozen dozen contingency plans should Matt Carle, Dennis Wideman, P-A Parenteau, Alex Semin, Bryan Allen, Mike Knuble, etc. etc. sign elsewhere on July 1st, or the team be unable to secure their rights at the draft…
But aside from pointing out that those with nothing to lose and little to gain in terms of pondering where free agents end up, like Kevin Allen, the aforementioned LeBrun, Craig Custance, Jim Matheson, Eric Duhatchek and the like are generally those who are going to give you and me more reliable information than “league sources” or “a guy who knows a guy,” here’s the bottom line:
It is up to the players themselves to decide whether not being re-signed by June means that they should take the opportunity to see how many teams will offer to take financial care of them for the rest of their lives, or whether they should not see whether the grass is greener based upon making a career-altering decision about moving to another team, another city, another coaching staff, style of play and of course shouldering an incredibly high number of expectations thrust upon them to be seen as all but heroes by “staying home.”
Generally speaking, if they’ve gotten to June 13th and haven’t been signed, there’s a more than even chance that they’re going to “play the field,” but with the exception of actual player confirmation as to what their plans are, whether it’s esteemed members of the mainstream media, those with something to gain by tilting the rumor mill in a certain direction (team personnel included), or partisan bloggers like myself, we are, at best, engaging in educated guesswork, and my best advice to you is that you take everything you read with a healthy dose of skepticism.
I’m not suggesting that you throw an entire 50-pound bag of rock salt (hey, I’m from Michigan, folks, and the abundance of naturally-occurring salt deposits below the Detroit River and Lake Huron = salt is an easy and cheap way for us to melt ice) at USA Today’s Kevin Allen’s suggestion about Mr. Parise’s plans while discussing the Kings and Devils’ off-season challenges…
Issues: 1. Parise likely will sign elsewhere, heavily damaging the offense.
And the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren certainly talks about free agents’ plans in general enough terms that we can all nod our heads…
Where will the big unrestricted free agents land?
New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur labels Zach Parise a franchise player, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be back in Newark. Parise could be headed back home to Minnesota if the Wild can afford to sign him to a lucrative long-term contract. Washington’s Alex Semin, the New York Islanders’ P-A Parenteau, Pittsburgh’s Steve Sullivan and Dustin Penner, fresh from winning the Cup, could also be among the first to sign with new teams on Canada Day. Unless Nashville can find big cash, defenceman Ryan Suter will also sign elsewhere on July 1
And this kind of stuff, from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Jim Souhan?
Had Mike Modano on the Sunday radio show this week. Asked him where he sees Zach Parise playing next season. Modano said Jersey has such a good young roster he sees Parise staying put.
Plus, he gets to summer in Minnesota, and work a cab ride away from Manhattan, when he’s young and without kids. Who wouldn’t take that deal?
Riiiiight. Because Mike Modano’s priorities when he was, say, 28, are totally the same as Parise’s.
That and we really have no clue as to whether that $70 million in arena debt will play into the Devils’ ability to retain Parise and all, but you know.
Long story long?
We are fans. It is in our nature to hope for the best and/or worst, to speculate like nobody’s frickin’ business between today and July 1st, and great Gordie Howe knows I value your opinions like nobody’s frickin’ business…
But our words and wishes will not determine the fate of the crop of unrestricted free agents-to-be upon whom the Wings’ future, to no small extent, rests, and even the media’s words, with the exceptions of actual players’ comments, you and I can do exactly three things between now and the draft, if not July 1st:
2. Hope (and if you are of a certain persuasion, pray).
3. Talk it out, because the reason that blogs like this exist, at least as far as I’m concerned, involves allowing sports fans like you and me to cope with the ups, downs and anxieties of supporting our teams (and, probably, working a whole bunch of other stuff out by investing a portion of our energies and concerns in following said teams) by reflecting upon whatever develops between now and the draft, if not July 1st. The comments section and the TMR community, if you will, is here for coping purposes, lest we feel totally powerless (which we kinda are) or feel that the wait between now and the time when the Wings finally start making moves seems like a lifetime away as opposed to two or three weeks from now.
If you are interested in free agent profiles, MLive’s Ansar Khan has already discussed the pluses and minuses of the Wings possibly adding Dennis Wideman and P-A Parenteau to the mix, and the Free Press’s Helene St. James has profiled Jay Garrison.
Also of Red Wings-related note this morning:
• The Detroit Free Press is commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Red Wings’ 2002 Stanley Cup win by reprising its “paper doll” campaign with PDFs of Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull, Darren McCarty, Luc Robitaille and Brendan Shanahan available;
• The 1996-97 Wings made the cut in the Los Angeles Times’ Andrew L. John’s list of the ten biggest “longshot” teams to win professional sports championships:
6) 1996-97 Detroit Red Wings (38-26-18, 2nd in the Central Division): The Red Wings won only 38 regular season games and finished fifth in total points in the NHL. Postseason expectations were modest. In the playoffs, however, Detroit beat St. Louis and Anaheim before eliminating heavily favored Colorado in the conference finals and then swept Philadelphia in the Stanley Cup Final. The championship was the Red Wings’ first since 1955.
• Cranking the “way back machine” into the 80’s, DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose spoke to former Wing Jim Schoenfeld about his 96-game tenure with the Wings. As Roose notes, Schoenfeld is now an assistant coach with the New York Rangers:
Question: Do you keep in touch with any of your former Red Wings teammates? If so, who?
Schoenfeld: “I would say sporadically. Teammates that were here were teammates in other places. I was only here for a short period of time. But I would say that Derek Smith was one of my closest friends in the game, and he came to Detroit in the trade for Danny (Gare). So Derek and Danny for sure.”
Question: Which of the current Red Wings is your favorite? And why?
Schoenfeld:“It’s hard for me to look past (Nicklas) Lidstrom. I think when Stevie Yzerman was here he was the class of the organization, and I think that moniker can easily fit Lidstrom.”
Question: What was your favorite memory as a Red Wing?
Schoenfeld: “To be honest with you, in my time here, if I could rewind the clock a little, I would do things a little better. It was kind of toward the end of my career and like most players in the end you think that you should be playing a lot more then you are. … But same thing here as it was everywhere; it was the relationships that you make with the players, a lot of terrific guys. But in the year and a half that I was here, I wouldn’t say that there were a lot of team highlights.”
Question: Which of the guys you played with was the toughest?
Schoenfeld: “Toughness is measured in different ways. When I was in Boston, Terry O’Reilly and I were teammates for a short period of time, but he was as tough and competitive as they came. Danny Gare, I always felt, was a highly competitive player, and he would go where he had to go to score the goal that needed to be scored. And he was willing to take on someone who was bigger.”
The rest of Schoenfeld’s article is more than worth your time as he dishes out a heavy dose of hockey philosophy.
• In developmental hockey news, Active.com posted a notice that Wings director of pro scouting Mark Howe will take part in a hockey camp which will be held in coordination with “Evolving Athletes” in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey from August 7th-9th;
• Red Wings prospect Tomas Jurco engaged in an interview with Hokej.sk’s, uh, the author is listed as, “jäzva,” and while my Slovak is terrible, I can tell you that…
1. Jurco was very happy with the Saint John Sea Dogs’ ability to defend their QMJHL title, but he wasn’t happy about their Memorial Cup loss to the Shawinigan Cataractes;
2. He fully expects to sign with the Red Wings and play for the Grand Rapids Griffins this fall, and after receiving very good feedback from Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer and assistant GM Jim Nill, he’s going to work with a personal trainer this summer, skate with HK Kostice later in the summer, and then prepare to adjust to the higher pace and more difficult nature of the professional game while playing in Grand Rapids.
He seems to understand that he’s got to earn his way up the ranks on the Griffins’ roster, never mind trying to earn a spot with the Wings;
3. And he’s currently wrapping up his high school studies in Slovakia and is also learning how to drive, though he’s having some trouble with the European preference for stick shift vehicles.
• I don’t want to rant all night long, so I’m simply going to call shenanigans on Comcast Sportsnet Northeast’s Joe Haggerty’s insistence that we must live in fear of Donald Fehr and a probable player’s strike that would wipe out half of the 2012-2013 season.
BS. The players haven’t struck since 1992, when they engaged in a ten-day walkout over trading card and merchandising revenues, and it’s the NHL, Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors who locked the players out in 1994, canceled an entire season in 2004-2005, and may feel so empowered by the NBA and NFL lockouts that they may decide that fans like you and I can be bought with another “inflationary spiral of salaries = higher ticket prices” line and lock out the players to crank their share of revenues down to 50% as a matter of course.
It would be utterly suicidal for the players to strike, and as the Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher reminds us this morning, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported that when the NHLPA finally exercised its option to audit three NHL teams’ books, and it found that the Capitals and Predators had been hiding Hockey-Related Revenues.
As Gallagher notes, the Vancouver Canucks are asking that their books remain sealed as their owner goes through a divorce, and if the players are asked to take another haircut in terms of their 57-and-change percentage of the revenue pie for a league that took in over $300 million in revenues this past season, Fehr’s one power play may involve demanding that the players’ cut be more accurately determined.
If there’s a lockout, the people who’ve locked the doors purposefully, twice, are the ones who have the track record of canceling games when they feel it benefits them to burn down the village in order to save it.
• And finally, I’m going to be out of the office for a significant chunk of Wednesday’s “prime time” for hockey news. The mom and I will be heading out at noon as I must ferry her to an appointment in Sterling Heights, and we may not return till 3:30 or 4. Paul will post anything particularly pertinent during that time.
I feel pretty awful this morning, so I’m turning in early.
With that, here comes the button:
I’m trying to raise funds to attend the Wings’ summer prospect camp from July 7-14 in Traverse City, and I’m somewhere between a quarter and a third of the way there, with those $5-25 donations that end up paving the way all the way up US-23 and I-75 in short supply. If you can lend a hand, I would greatly appreciate it.
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, and I don’t mind sharing the mailing address of my secret blogging lair via my other email address, georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com.
Update: Larry Murphy, “hockey expert!” Murph appeared in two Fox Sports videos, discussing “what’s next” for the Devils and Kings. Beware clunky Silverlight auto-play stuff…And I love that Murph has his four Stanley Cup replicas on his mantle behind him.
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About The Malik Report
The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.