Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: Jagr, Draper/Osgood and other stuff

Disclaimer: this overnight report is being written by someone who’s slept for two of the past 36 hours, so if it’s more trite, cliched and long-winded than usual, I blame insomnia.

First and foremost, as far as I can tell, Red Wings fans seem to think that the concept of signing Jaromir Jagr is, at best, an unnecessary move, but the scuttlebutt surrounding Jagr’s future continues, so I have to write about it. On Saturday in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, Jagr won the Golden Stick award as the Czech Republic’s best hockey player for the tenth time, and he did speak somewhat obliquely about his NHL future with Hockej.cz’s Vaclav Jachim. What follows is a rough translation of their conversation:

These days, Jagr’s thinking about issues relating to continuing his career. Until now, he’s worn Omsk’s jersey, but there were rumors that he’d play for St. Petersburg. Lately, it seems that the best Czech forward will return to the NHL after two seasons [abroad]. The team [seems] most interested in him is Detroit, and by his own admission, general manager Ken Holland. What does Jagr say? “I don’t know. I’m leaving it to my agent. When the offers from the NHL are all on the table, then I’ll decide,” he says.

He doesn’t plan on rushing [into a decision], but he doesn’t want to prolong any uncertainty. “I believe that everything happens for the best.” He admits that hesitation could limit his choices. “Some teams need a decision, like St. Petersburg recently. Then there are fewer options, but I can’t do anything about that.” Negotiations with the Red Wings continue. “I haven’t seen my agent, Peter Svoboda, for four days, and phoning him doesn’t help.”

He says that news from Detroit is completely new to him. “I haven’t watched the NHL for three years, don’t know how the team’s built. But I confess that I was surprised that Detroit was interested. I was.” He acknowledges that more bids have come. “It’s not the rule that there’s only one. If there are more you think about them. Once you decide, you don’t look back.” What might play a role? Certainly, the quality of the contract. “Money is important. The more money you demand, the fewer clubs are interested.”

While talking about his next step, he makes sure to not suggest which alternative will win out. “I love hockey, I still want to get better. Now it depends on which way I choose, whether I go West or East,” and he hesitates. For all the NHL talk, that to Jagr, it may still be the best league on the planet, he won’t give it the last word. “But I only half said that I didn’t close the door on the NHL. The second part of me feels that it would be better for me if I don’t return. It depends on what you tell me [about the NHL],” he says and laughs.

Jagr’s motivation is based on sporting possibilities. “I will also decide how interesting the team is to me, whether it has the chance to win the Stanley Cup. That’s important to me.” The Kladno pupil is used to having a starring role on his teams, but he says that isn’t easily won. “Your name, and what management expects from you, can help players for the first ten games. Then one’s role depends on how you perform on the ice. You can’t fight for your position tooth and nail if you don’t play according to what’s required of you. This is a relative, fleeting concept.”

Regarding Detroit, he’s apparently talked with Jiri Hudler, who plays for the Red Wings, and even former goaltender Dominik Hasek. By telephone, however, he has spoken with Mike Babcock. “It felt like an interrogation! As if someone tried to shine a bright light in my eyes,” he says, smiling. He appreciates this kind of coach’s approach, however. “Because of him, I can see why Detroit is still on top. Without hesitation, the team’s drafted players stick with the program.”

So what did Babcock ask Jagr during their conversation? The Golden Stick record-holder responds with his own sense of humor. “I can’t remember, after all it was a week ago. I don’t know what’s happened half an hour ago. I’m old, I just remember that Babcock talked for a long time,” and his face erupts in a broad grin. No conclusions can be drawn, it’s clear. “It’s possible during the week that I’ll interview with other teams, so it’s useless right now to ‘make hype’ about one team.”

Read: Jagr wants to be wined and dined, and the Wings have already done their homework. He gave a similar interview to the Czech news agency CTK, saying that he hasn’t closed the door on Avangard Omsk, and that he’s going to sit down with Svoboda on Sunday or Monday, and I think that iDnes.cz’s Frantisek Suchan made an extremely astute point in noting that Jagr happens to be good friends with Tomas Plekanec, which is one of the reasons why he’s interested in playing for Montreal (Jagr seems to hold a rather romantic concept regarding playing for the Canadiens and playing in Montreal in any case; and there is an English-language Jagr quip, but it’s really short):

And what about playing with Plekanec next year in Montreal?

“I can’t answer that now, really. It’s in God’s hands, where I play, and I’m curious to find out, too.”

Besides, when we’re talking about Jagr, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks knew the guy pretty well from Jagr’s tenure with the Rangers, and guess where Brooks thinks Jagr will end up?

There are a number of teams with interest in bringing Jaromir Jagr back to the NHL, including the Red Wings and Canadiens, as has been reported, but also including a couple of low-payroll clubs for whom No. 68 has no interest, Slap Shots has been told.

Montreal, though, seems the best bet. Can you think of a better idea than reuniting Jagr with Scott Gomez?

If that’s not enough Jagr talk for you (and it is for me), the Detroit News’s Bob Wojnowski weighs in on the calculated gamble that would be signing Jagr to a bargain-basement contract that wouldn’t hamper the Wings’ more pressing free agent needs.

I agree with Wojnowski that timing’s a big issue here—Babcock and Holland probably spoke to Jagr during the team’s organizational meetings on Tuesday or Wednesday, and knowing the Wings, they’ll want to get things wrapped up fast so that they can all but get the paperwork done and know how much cap space they have left to retaining Jonathan Ericsson and/or Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves, Chris Osgood or Kris Draper, as well as finding Brian Rafalski’s replacement—the longer that Jagr and his agent dilly-dally, the more obvious it will be that Jagr’s doing the song and dance for the sake of being wined, dined and ego-stroked, and if that’s the case…

If it’s just a negotiating ploy, trust me, the Wings won’t get into some silly bidding war with, say, Montreal or the Russians. But if Jagr wants to return to the largest stage with a storied winning team, the Wings have to be interested. GM Ken Holland is exploring it, knowing Detroit still has an asset that few teams can match. This is a place veterans like to play, and just because one signing doesn’t work, you don’t bypass another out of fear.

He’s referring to Mike Modano’s inability to deliver thanks to his wrist injury. And then there is the other red flag, as Jiri Hudler illustrated—while the biggest-market KHL teams play at or near an NHL level, the KHL is not an NHL-level league, and Jagr hasn’t played in the NHL for three years:

it should not affect their thinking on Jagr, who’s actually a little younger (39) and reportedly played well in the Russian Kontinental League, with 50 points in 49 games. That’s also where the trepidation stirs. Jiri Hudler also played well in the KHL, returned to the Wings and was slow and scattered this past season.

Again, the Jagr situation is different. This is the one and only time Hudler ever will be compared to Jagr, who was the NHL MVP in 1999 with the Penguins and is a five-time league scoring champ. His last NHL season was with the Rangers in 2008, when he had 25 goals and 46 assists. That’s too much talent — however dusty it might be — and too much production to overlook.

The Wings will have to get a little creative here. Nicklas Lidstrom is still mulling retirement, and although most expect him to return, nothing is certain until he gives the word, perhaps early this week. Brian Rafalski already retired, leaving a gaping hole on defense. With a sudden bundle of salary-cap space, Holland should be able to fill that spot with someone such as Montreal’s feisty James Wisniewski, a Canton native.

Wojnowski argues that the Wings need to add a forward in any case, suggesting that the Wings never really replaced Mikael Samuelsson, thus necessitating Babcock’s request for a top-six forward, preferably at a bargain price. He also doesn’t believe that Jagr’s Sergei Fedorov-sized ego could disrupt the locker room given the leadership involved, and as he suggests, the possible signing at least makes sense from the point of view that the team planned on making tweaks, but find themselves, by necessity, engaging in a wholesale renovation:

Mike Babcock is a unique coach, as fiery and driven as anyone. He’ll spend part of his summer hunting for two more assistants, with the departures of Paul MacLean and Brad McCrimmon. Freshening up is good for a team that lost in the second round to San Jose the past two playoffs.

Standing completely pat wasn’t the plan, and with Rafalski’s retirement, it’s not an option. Jagr was one of the most-skilled players in the game for years, and if he has something left, I have no problem with the Wings trying to pry it out of him.

It’s the “prying” part that worries me.

As the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan suggests, the Wings already have two veterans with hockey left in them that probably won’t be back, as Holland all but confirmed last week. Holland intimated that unless the Wings lose one of Eaves or Miller to free agency, Draper won’t be back, and the team has very real concerns about Osgood’s inability to recover from reconstructive groin surgery last January. It’s not that Draper and Osgood haven’t been fantastic mentors for the team’s younger players or anything less than heart-and-soul players who’ve given their all to the team over the past two-and-change decades, but…

“As things stand, we owe it to ourselves to wait until July 1 and see what’s out there,” general manager Ken Holland said a few days ago, alluding to the start of unrestricted free agency and seeing if the Wings can upgrade their team that way.
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“They’ve been a big part of our success, they’ve won championships, they’ve been a big part of this organization,” Holland said. “You just don’t forget that. They bring intangibles to our team. But at the same time, we have to find a way to make our team better. Time goes on.”

For Osgood, 38, there’s a concern about his durability. Osgood has played 34 games over the last two seasons — 11 last season before hernia surgery kept him out of the lineup after early January.

“He simply hasn’t played much hockey if you go back to the last two seasons,” Holland said.

Osgood’s been nothing less than instrumental in instrumental in Jimmy Howard’s success, but betwen Joey MacDonald leaving and the fact that the unrestricted free agent goaltending market is actually pretty deep, it’s hard to argue with any suggestion that the Wings would be taking a gigantic risk to give Osgood training camp and the exhibition season to prove that he can stay healthy.

And Draper? He’s caught up in a numbers game in more ways than one:

If Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves re-sign (both are unrestricted free agents) and Jan Mursak is brought up from Grand Rapids (as is the plan), that would give the Wings 13 forwards. The 14th, if the Wings choose to keep another forward, could possibly be Cory Emmerton (who is out of minor league options), or that Jaromir Jagr guy, whose name has been in the headlines the past few days. You see where Draper could be feeling left out.

Then there’s the big gaping hole on the Wings’ blueline.

In terms of Wings’ fans’ big dreams about the concept that the team could snag Zach Bogosian or Shea Weber via trades or restricted free agency, let’s make two things perfectly clear:

1. Rick Dudley’s no longer the GM of the moved-to-Winnipeg franchise, and the Winnipeg NHL team isn’t likely to feel the need to trade away marketable talent (so I’m not buying Steve Simmons’ suggestion that Bogosian is in play);

2. As the Free Press’s George Sipple notes, Weber’s unavailable in more ways than one:

Weber is set to become a restricted free agent July 1, but the Predators have reportedly filed for arbitration with their star defenseman, a move that likely ensures he’ll be with Nashville at the start of the 2011-12 season. Weber could elect to make the arbitration a one- or two-year deal. He had 16 goals and 32 assists in 82 games last season.

Weber is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy — awarded to the NHL’s best defenseman — along with Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Boston’s Zdeno Chara. The trophy will be presented Wednesday at the NHL awards in Las Vegas.

Weber and Lidstrom combined for a plus-13 rating as a defensive pairing in the NHL All-Star Game and were on the ice for eight straight even-strength goals during one stretch as Team Lidstrom beat Team Staal, 11-10, in January at Raleigh, N.C.

The issue that Sipple doesn’t bring up is the longer-term bugaboo for those of you who hope that the Wings snag Weber in 2012 or 2013—the Predators still have, as the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper notes, every intention of locking up Weber for a long, long time (and no, while the Boston Globe’s Kevin Dupont has a point about Drew Doughty becoming a RFA, Holland said he’s not tossing out offer sheets, so that’s not gonna happen, either).

In reality land, the free agent class in terms of defensemen is top-heavy but pretty thin. I’m finding it incredibly difficult to believe that Kevin Bieksa is anything other than priority #1 for the Canucks, and let’s just say that Tomas Kaberle didn’t dazzle during the playoffs, so while players like Anton Babchuk, Ian White, Ed Jovanovski, Bryan McCabe and Roman Hamrlik might make the market, I’d argue that there are three real candidates who might both be available and fit the Wings’ criteria in terms of a complete puck-moving defenseman who can take the #3 spot if, as planned, Nicklas Lidstrom comes back and Niklas Kronwall becomes our #2 guy.

The candidates are Christian Ehrhofff, whose offensive abilities and skating are elite (and the Canucks may very well keep him) and two players who will hit the market in Joni Pitkanen, who’s a safe and steady choice, and the high-end guy in terms of his all-round impact (he’s physical, he’s fast, he’s right-handed and he’s got spunk) in James Wisniewski.

Aside from the fact that one could argue that Wisniewski had the best year he possibly could have had in terms of offensive production with the Canadiens, the other problem is that there are probably 15 teams that want to sign him, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, who, as the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle points out, have money to spend and Brian Burke in the mood to toss around like it’s on fire while attempting to sign Brad Richards and a few other high-profile, headline-making signings.

If Wisniewski, who is indeed from Canton and played for the Plymouth Whalers, wants to come to Detroit, he’s also got to know that while he’s in the prime of his earning career at 27, and with Niklas Kronwall earning $3 million and Brad Stuart earning $3.75 million, the team can’t exactly break the bank to bring him to Detroit, as the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson suggests:

People figure the Wings are targeting Habs’ unrestricted free-agent James Wisniewski to take Brian Rafalski’s spot as an offensive weapon/power play point guy because he will come cheaper than Tampa’s Eric Brewer. I don’t see them paying Wisniewski a dime more than Nik Kronwall or Brad Stuart ($3.75 mil). Wisniewski would have a heartstrings tug to play his hometown team. He was born in Canton, Mich.

As for another player who might end up being a Wings target if they don’t go for Jagr—or at least a player I’d like to think they want to sign as Steve Yzerman scouted him in Long Island when he was working for the Wings…

There’s been little progress made on a new deal for Tampa playoff hero Sean Bergenheim, who wants a considerable bump from last year’s $700,000. He deserves it, but the Lightning have major cap issues, serious enough that they are likely letting top six winger Simon Gagne walk away. Looks like Bergenheim will be on the open market in July.

The Bolts will, however, likely sign Eric Brewer, so toss that name off the wish list, and again, I get the feeling that the Wings will end up shopping from the free agent bargain bin for a forward, barring a trade (see: Hudler or Filppula, maybe at the draft?), which would mean that Bergeinheim, Brooks Laich, Joel Ward and maybe even Chad LaRose would go elsewhere. That’s why I think Wojtek Wolski’s a decent pick-up. Between his concussion issues, his inconsistent performance and being bought out by the Rangers, he might be someone who’s willing to take a Detroit-sized discount…

But that’s sleepless George rambling.

On the coaching front, with the Wings supposedly interested in Bob Boughner and/or Pete DeBoer to fill in the vacancies aside Mike Babcock’s shoulders, Matheson believes that Craig MacTavish (dear Hockey Gods: I will be a Winnipeg fan by default, but please, please, please don’t allow Grandma’s Perm MacTavish to end up as their coach) and friend-of-Babs Ken Hitchcock might just choose to sit and wait for the inevitable mid-season firings, if not next summer:

There are only two NHL coaching jobs open now — Winnipeg and New Jersey — and Ken Hitchcock and Craig MacTavish, who have the longest NHL resumes, are still waiting for good news. What’s becoming abundantly clear is this: teams are going younger with coaches because of younger rosters and they’re more willing to hire younger, first-time NHL head coaches in the summer which leaves the inevitable mid-season coaching changes to the more experienced guys like Peter Laviolette (Philly) and John Tortorella (Rangers). It’s exciting for Kevin Dineen (Florida), Glen Gulatzan (Dallas), Mike Yeo (Minnesota) and Paul MacLean (Ottawa), but humbling for Hitchcock and MacTavish, who worked together on Canada’s 2008 world championship team and have had multiple interviews (MacT in Ottawa and Minny, Hitchcock in Dallas and Minny).

It’s a draining exercise. They’re knocking on the doors (MacTavish just interviewed in Winnipeg, too) but nobody’s letting them in, even with close to 1,700 games between the two of them. If teams aren’t ready to win now, they invariably go with younger guys to grow with them. MacTavish is probably thinking the same. As extremely qualified as MacTavish is, he’s probably a long-shot in Winnipeg with first-time GM Kevin Cheveldayoff who may want to go younger with a coach.

If Hitchcock is still looking for coaching work next June, maybe he will look at doing something else in management. He’ll be 60 years old in December. Maybe he should get into player development with an NHL team. Knowing Hitchcock, he’s probably got a book on every NHL player and all the free agents. That’s the way he is. Same with MacTavish, who just got his masters in business from Queen’s University.

For the record, I agree with Hitchcock in his conversation with Matheson—the Canucks lost to the Bruins because, between the losses of Hamhuis to an injury, Rome to a suspension and Edler (busted left hand) and Ehrhoff’s (shoulder: will not require surgery, per TSN) injuries, the Canucks ran out of defensemen.

If you’ll let me dilly dally a little more, this part of Matheson’s “Hockey World” column admittedly bothers me:

The Winnipegs may have a new nickname by the draft, but they likely won’t unveil their jersey there because they don’t want any ripoff artists coming out with copies to flog. It will probably be a generic white jersey with Winnipeg across the chest for their first draft pick or something with NHL on it, only. The Winnipeg owners are steadfast that they don’t want Jets or Golden Jets. They want a new identity. New GM, new coach, new name, new logo.

As for the usual bit of Sunday blather, we’ll stick with dalliances and blather that’s not necessarily founded in reality via the Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher’s possibly final Red Wings-Canucks comparison of the season, suggesting that the Canucks are the ones with the harder road to hoe this time around:

While the motivation to get back will be there, having to slog through the early part of the season after so many key guys have had nowhere near enough time to adequately train is always profoundly challenging.

The Detroit Red Wings have done it a few times and had success the next season, largely because during those years they had a weaker division with which to deal. Back when Columbus, Chicago and Nashville were not really that competitive, it was a lot easier for them; as such, much of the Canucks’ early fortunes next season will be linked to whatever improvement may have come about in the Northwest Division. It’s extremely unlikely to be any easier for Vancouver than it was last year.

Funny, I’ve started coughing, and my coughs seem to rhyme with “full writ.”

Okay, back to the Wings: Between now and the Entry Draft, the NHL Awards takes place on Wednesday in Las Vegas, and I hate to say it, but the Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby’s handicapping of the awards winners in the categories where Red Wings players are nominated is probably accurate, Lidstrom’s fantastic season included:

Norris Trophy (best defenceman)
Zdeno Chara, Boston
Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit
Shea Weber, Nashville

It took some digging to find Chara at 19th in scoring among defencemen, but his plus-33 was top of the heap. If he hadn’t won it once already (2009) it would be easier to forget that on the cusp of age 41, Lidstrom played every game and had 62 points. In what could be his last season, Lidstrom will get lots of votes, but not enough to edge Chara and third-place finisher Weber.

It’s that minus rating…

Frank Selke Trophy (top defensive forward)
Pavel Datsyuk Detroit
Ryan Kesler Vancouver
Jonathan Toews Chicago

In the past 20 years, only two runners-up to the Selke later won the award. But Kesler, who lost last year to three-time winner Datsyuk should have his day at the podium. He was such a huge part of the Canucks’ Presidents’ Trophy drive in the dots and with his overall fierce play. Toews had 95 takeaways, but was otherwise closely matched with Kesler numbers-wise. Datsyuk was Datsyuk, impossible not to like, no matter where he finishes.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (high standards/clean play)
Loui Eriksson Dallas
Nicklas Lidstrom Detroit
Martin St. Louis Tampa Bay

St. Louis could and should become the first Eastern Conference player since Mike Bossy to win this award in consecutive years. He has not accumulated 40 penalty minutes the past three seasons in total. Eriksson only had eight minutes to St. Louis’s 12, but the latter had 8.25 points for every penalty minute he was assessed.

The irony of the situation, as noted by the Free Press’s Steve Schrader, involves the broadcast—I prefer watching the CBC’s feed, but the actual awards ceremony will start at 7 PM EDT and the CBC tape-delays it till 8 PM, so if you want to watch it live, Versus is your carrier of choice.

After the NHL Awards comes the draft on June 24th and 25th in St. Paul, and one of the Wings’ scouts told NHL.com’s Mike G. Morreale that the lack of consensus about first-round picks doesn’t mean that the draft isn’t deep. On the contrary…

There’s little doubt the 2003 Entry Draft, held at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, will go down as the deepest collection of future NHL stars ever selected. An entire All-Star team can be put together from the first round alone, which featured Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Nikolay Zherdev, Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek, Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn, Dion Phaneuf and Andrei Kostitsyn as the top 10 choices.

The Philadelphia Flyers grabbed Jeff Carter (No. 11) and Michael Richards (No. 24), while Anaheim tabbed Ryan Getzlaf (No. 19) and Corey Perry (No. 28). New Jersey drafted Zach Parise with the No. 17 pick; Vancouver took Ryan Kesler at No. 23.

Five of the players taken in that first round captain their teams—Staal (Carolina), Phaneuf (Toronto), Dustin Brown (No. 13, Los Angeles), Getzlaf and Richards.
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Ten players chosen in the first round played in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 26 players are current NHL regulars. Second-round draftees in ‘03 included Loui Eriksson (Dallas, No. 33), Patrice Bergeron (Boston, No. 45), Matt Carle (San Jose, No. 47), Shea Weber (Nashville, No. 49) and David Backes (St. Louis, No. 62).
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In the fourth round Buffalo found Jan Hejda (No. 106) and Detroit drafted Kyle Quincey (No. 132), while St. Louis drafted Lee Stempniak in the fifth round (No. 148). The seventh round saw San Jose nab Joe Pavelski with the 205th choice while the eighth round saw Atlanta find Tobias Enstrom with the 239th pick and Chicago draft Dustin Byfuglien with the 245th pick and Anaheim take Shane O’Brien at No. 250. In the ninth round, Pittsburgh chose Matt Moulson at No. 263, Vancouver selected Tanner Glass at No. 265 and Montreal chose Jaroslav Halak at No. 271.
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Now, there are some who claim the 2011 Draft could produce similar results. Of course, it’s still way too early to predict, but there are some who feel it is possible.

“Depth-wise, I think it’s comparable to the ‘03 draft,” Detroit Red Wings Director of Amateur Scouting Joe McDonnell told NHL.com. “I think maybe the skill level might have been a little bit more on the high end in ‘03, but depth wise, for sure—it’s right along the same path.”

The Red Wings’ website posted a profile of someone who might be available with the 24th overall pick in US NTDP forward Tyler Biggs, and the Free Press’s George Sipple suggests correctly that Brandon Saad won’t last until the 24th pick;

After the NHL awards but before the free agent fireworks, on Tuesday, July 28th, the Hockey Hall of Fame will make its announcement of its induction class for 2011, and aside from the wise choice that is inducting Red Wings color commentator Mickey Redmond for his work as a broadcaster, this year’s class of first-time eligible players is as thin as the free agent class, so there will be a hard push to induct players and coaches who’ve been overlooked during the stacked classes, including ex-Wing and current pro scouting director Mark Howe and long-time Flyers coach Fred Shero, as the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Joe Starkey suggests. I’m not sure who’s going to make the cut, but Starkey lets us know who’s involved in the decision-making process:

One of the 18 members of the selection committee must nominate a candidate, who needs 75 percent of the vote (14 of 18). Only one nonplayer per year—two, if a referee or linesman is not elected—can be voted in.

The Selection Committee, which has changed in composition over the years, meets June 28. Here are the 18 members:

James M. Gregory, longtime team, league executive; Pat Quinn, ex-player, longtime coach and GM; Scotty Bowman, coach; David Branch, president Canadian Hockey League; Colin Campbell, ex-player and coach, recently stepped down as NHL’s chief of discipline; John Davidson, ex-player, broadcaster, current Blues president of hockey operations; Eric Duhatschek, journalist; Jan-Ake Edvinsson, general secretary of the International Ice Hockey Federation; Mike Emrick, broadcaster; Michael Farber, journalist; Mike Gartner, ex-player; Igor Larionov, ex-player; Lanny McDonald, ex-player; Yvon Pedneault, journalist; Serge Savard, ex-player, GM; Harry Sinden, Bruins executive; Peter Stastny: ex-player; Bill Torrey, GM of New York Islanders dynasty.

In the “further reading” category, Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov’s story about a young player who had to give 50% of his salary back to Severstal Cherepovets’s GM to buy his way onto the team is nothing less than fascinating;

And also of Red Wings-related note: From the Hockey News, part 1: If you find yourself in New London, Connecticut this summer, Gordie Howe’s featured as part of a gallery of hockey pictures at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum;

• From the Hockey News, part 2: Adam Proteau plays, “If NHL teams were represented by contemporary films,” offering this take on the Wings:

DETROIT RED WINGS

Movie: Limitless

Plot Summary
: The ageless wonder Nick Lidstrom yet again defies Father Time, and the usual suspects – Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Franzen among them – keep the Red Wings pushing the boundaries of consistency as the NHL’s model franchise.

Real Review: “You almost feel yourself getting smarter as you watch. Remember how you felt sitting through Transformers 2? Kind of the opposite of that.” – Robbie Collin, News Of The World

• It’s just utterly bizarre to admit that I’m learning more about Paul MacLean, with the latest bits of news coming from the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, after he left the Wings than I ever knew about him as a Wings coach.

I know I wasn’t critical of it earlier, but in lack-of-sleep bluntly-speaking-ness, I hate the fact that the assistant coaches are off-limits to the media. They’re fascinating gents;

• And this final story comes with many “don’t click if you offend easily, or even if you don’t” warnings: I don’t ever plan on talking about my political leanings with you, barring my dream ticket for 2012 coming to fruition (Inanimate Carbon Rod-Michael Palin), but “the Daily Kos‘s” Steve Singiser mentions the, “Former Canadian citizen who’s a U.S. Citizen and a former Red Wing will challenge Debbie Stabenow for U.S. Senate” storyline…and I simply don’t believe there’s any truth to it. I can’t imagine that the “Red Wing factor” would mean anything when it comes to a serious election like that.

• Okay, one more thing, and it is political—1. I’m about $100 short and 2. scared as hell about Traverse City. I have just over two-and-a-half weeks to get up there and do a halfway decent job for you and I’m not spontaneous in any way, shape or form, so two months is not a lot of time to wrap my head around this thing and the jitters have set in (I don’t think that I’m a big deal or even a small deal but I take doing a good job very seriously):




Update: iDnes.cz’s Jaroslav Tomas also engaged in an interview with Jagr, and again, he’s kinda wishy-washy about which team he wants to play for and whether money’s the deciding factor or the Cup matters more to him, but this is priceless:

But you have phoned coach Babcock. What how do you feel about that call?

“I felt like it was an interrogation. As if I killed someone. Still missing, with a bright light shining in my eyes.” (Laughter)

He was that strict?

“No, certainly not. But the wonder is that they are still on top. Few teams accomplish that, but it is no coincidence. They can also make a hockey player out of someone who was drafted fifth in the sixth round. It is obvious that they are doing things differently and they are great professionals. Before you make a move, there’s so much that you think about.”

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Comments

Alzy's avatar

George, my next payday is June 24th, and I guarantee you will have the funding necessary for T.C..

Posted by Alzy from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on 06/19/11 at 07:39 AM ET

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Didn’t you write that the Jagr rumor is just a lie of a website trying to generate traffic just a few days ago?

Posted by Tom on 06/19/11 at 08:15 AM ET

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Don’t sweat the T.C. funds, amigo.  We’ll get you there!  Thanks for everything!  You’re the hardest workin’ man in hockey - we love you for it and appreciate it tons!

Posted by Alyeska from Manhattan on 06/19/11 at 09:58 AM ET

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anyone who thinks signing jagr is a waste of money is an idiot. babs said he wanted a top six forward. and while jagr wouldnt be a top liner in detroit, he sure as hell would get consideration as a second liner.

Posted by callmedrw on 06/19/11 at 10:16 AM ET

gusoline's avatar

Any chance the rumor about shopping Bogosian is because the guy doesn’t want to move to Winnipeg?  The team may want to keep him, but if he doesn’t want to go, it is better to get something for him early and keep his trade value as high as possible.

Also, if they really want to bring in another forward, I’d much prefer Laich over Jagr.  Used to live in DC and saw several Caps games where he was the hardest working (or only working) player on the ice.  I think he would fit extremely well into the Wings work ethic and team first mentality - things he won’t find with the Caps as long as Ovechkin is Captain.

Posted by gusoline on 06/19/11 at 10:36 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Yes, I did say it was BS, Tom. I was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

If you can send me some recipes for crow, I’ve been told that it’s not bad at all.

I really don’t know what to think about Bogosian. He’s a restricted free agent-to-be who hasn’t lived up to expectations while earning $3.75 million in salary and signing/performance bonuses, but he was also rushed into the NHL at 18 and still has loads of potential...

And, to some extent, the Winnipeg team has to ask every player if they want to go to Winnipeg. I haven’t heard Bogosian say anything bad about it but that’s all I know.

I would prefer Laich as well, but he’s pretty much the marquee free agent forward out there, and I fear that the Wings would be out-bid in short order for someone who could earn a $3.5-4 million salary from someone willing to overpay for his services.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/19/11 at 10:47 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Rooooooooobbbeerrrrrrrrrt Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnngggggggggg

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/19/11 at 10:58 AM ET

TeamDub's avatar

Wow - a link to scumbag Markos Moulitsas on K.K.

The apocalypse is nigh.

Posted by TeamDub from The gratch. on 06/19/11 at 12:32 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I have no frickin’ clue who that is, thus the warnings and stuff. It’s just a rumor and I don’t buy it. I’m not a political blogger and I’m a registered independent so I do not subscribe to eather party.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/19/11 at 12:40 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

As a fan I am able to write / say anything completely outrageous one day, and totally contradict myself the next.  I’m unaccountable and no one pays me, in fact, I pay them, indirectly.

So I am still wary of a Jagr sighting.  There are just so many ways this probably cannot work and would not make sense or be consistent with Detroit’s approach.

Unless he’s not slow, not unwilling to skate hard on a turnover to get to a defensive position, has no desire for and will shun the spotlight in the locker room, and has no desire for one last big payday in North America but is motivated by being one cog in a big machine whose only objective is the team, the team, the team, winning a Stanley Cup.

All that is possible, I have no clue, and if so your optimistic side sees some potential windfall gains here…  a bit slowed but still very strong skater, someone able to protect and hold and hold and hold on to the puck in the offensive zone, creating havoc for a defense with Wings teammates swarming in front of the crease, a natural born goal scorer with wicked finishing techniques, and highly skilled, visionary passing and assist abilities.

My gut still thinks the latter is fantasy and wishful thinking, but I have fantasized about Jessica Alba, and Jagr as a favorable outcome is more likely than those things I was thinking, so it doesn’t hurt thinking about them, to the point of becoming chafed.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 06/19/11 at 01:35 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

This is a random topic I’ve thrown out occasionally for 4 or 5 years, and seeing the title to the video “Lidstrom Destroys Cloutier’s Career”  from the 2002 season prompts me to bring it up again.  After all, we are still several days and more from the rapid fire draft and free agency news.

The 2002 Wings team was sometimes cited as maybe the greatest ever, with 8 or 9 sure fire Hall of Famers.

Enter the highly controversial Sergei Fedorov.  At one time he was considered a lock for the HOF.  I disagree and have offered this opinion as soon as the year he left Detroit for Anaheim.  He led a Ducks team that had made it to the SCF the year before straight to the golf course in April, missed the playoffs, at a cost of $10 Million.  He showed no leadership and no ability to bring out the best in his teammates.  He went to Columbus to provide leadership and mentor a Nikolai Zherdev and was an epic Fail.  He went to Washington to complement a young, developing team and was a non-factor.

No sour grapes here, for some flak he took from Detroit fans,  he averaged well over a point per game in Detroit and continued to do so in the playoffs.  His highly regarded reputation as an elite player was well earned.

However, without looking up statistics,  without the surroundings of the deeply talented Red Wings teammates,  his offensive production for the rest of his NHL career was more like one-half point per game, and rarely did any of the next 3 teams he played for show any positive effect of his presence.

The last 6 or 7 seasons of Fedorov’s career were merely average at best, to the point that I think that more than offsets his brilliant 12 or 13 seasons with Detroit, from the perspective of a HOF election.

Sergei Fedorov, #91,  HOF Yes or No ?  I say No.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 06/19/11 at 01:54 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

anyone who thinks signing jagr is a waste of money is an idiot.

Well that all depends on how much he earns….

IF he displays more competitive desire than MoDo did last season, IF he’s willing to take a similar payday, And IF the Wings are convinced he’s not going to be a disruption in the room, then sure. Bring Jagr on board.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 06/19/11 at 02:04 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Jagr sounds like a prima donna to me:

When the offers from the NHL are all on the table, then I’ll decide,” he says.

Really?  He’ll decide?  He alone?  And after describing his telephone conversation with Babcock as “an interrogation,” I can’t help but feel like he believes he’s just the sweet fruit on the vine that everyone is dying to pick. 

If Jagr comes to the Wings, at his age and having been out of the NHL for three seasons, with all the question marks involved, Kris Draper would have every right to be royally pissed.  And I’d be right there with him.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 06/19/11 at 03:20 PM ET

Avatar

Even considering signing Jagr is BS. Draper has given everything to this organization, and with this Jagr-talk he’s on the outside looking in. Discard any offer to Jagr; extend the strength and conditioning position to Drapes; sign James W. (and maybe another dman); and go after Laich or Simon Gagne. I’d prefer Laich, because of his ability to muck and grind - which we need more of come playoff time. However, Gagne has more talent and he’s not going to fetch the 5+ million that he made last year with only putting up 40 points. Plus, Babs coached him on Team Canada.

Just do not sign Jagr, unless, the CBA allows teams to sign “power play specialists” without taking up a roster spot smile

Posted by Jesters Dead on 06/19/11 at 04:55 PM ET

thethirdcoast's avatar

One additional possibility is that Holland is using this Jagr-talk and its high visibility as a smokescreen for his true intentions with regard to new signings.

I have a pretty clear mental image of Kenny and the gang sitting around the office chuckling and rolling their eyes over some of the quotes from Jagr of late.

Posted by thethirdcoast from Algiers, DZ on 06/19/11 at 05:27 PM ET

Avatar

Really?  He’ll decide?  He alone? 

Well…yeah.  I mean, if five teams offer him a contract, who else would decide but him?

Posted by Garth on 06/19/11 at 07:31 PM ET

monkey's avatar

However, without looking up statistics,  without the surroundings of the deeply talented Red Wings teammates,  his offensive production for the rest of his NHL career was more like one-half point per game, and rarely did any of the next 3 teams he played for show any positive effect of his presence.

The last 6 or 7 seasons of Fedorov’s career were merely average at best, to the point that I think that more than offsets his brilliant 12 or 13 seasons with Detroit, from the perspective of a HOF election.

Sergei Fedorov, #91,  HOF Yes or No ?  I say No.

In his prime he was the best in the world: in 1994 he became the first and only player to win the Hart, the Pearson, and the Selke all in the same season.  That same year he was second overall in scoring, finishing just behind Wayne Gretzky, and was a finalist for the Lady Byng.

He was past his prime when he left Detroit; his most productive regular season was 1993-94, and his best postseason was 1995.  However,  his first year with Anaheim was statistically identical to every full season he played dating back to the 1996-1997 season.

It wasn’t until after the lockout that he saw obvious signs of decline.

He did average over a point per game with Detroit but I would consider it spite to use his decline after he was past his prime as a knock against him.  Almost all players decline as they near the end of their careers.

Personally my complaints about him are the holdout in 1997-98 (the word petulant comes to mind) and the fact that he saw an obvious increase in performance in 2002-03, his last year in Detroit (aka a contract year).

His Hall of Fame credentials include three Stanley Cup wins, four Finals appearances, 483 goals, 696 points, 1,179 points (all NHL totals).  If it weren’t for the short season in 1995, or his ridiculous holdout, both of which came right at his peak, that would be well over 500 goals and 700 assists.  He is a lock.  There is no question.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/19/11 at 07:42 PM ET

monkey's avatar

Well…yeah.  I mean, if five teams offer him a contract, who else would decide but him?

Well, he is a Czech.  Maybe a hooker?  Or a Ouija board?

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/19/11 at 07:43 PM ET

monkey's avatar

Sergei Federov:  the third player in NHL history to have four consecutive 20+ point playoff campaigns, along with Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/19/11 at 07:46 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I am complete agrement with those of you drawing parallels between Jagr, Fedorov, and Robert Lang.  I remember back in the ESPN when Jagr was with the Capitals and he criticized the team as losers while sitting on the bench.  This guy is a prima donna, and as far as Hudler and Hasek trying to talk him into joining the Wings I say, “Haven’t you two done enough already?” 

I agree with Jesters Dead, bring Wisniewski back to Red Wings country and Brooks Laich if he can be afforded.  Let Jagr poison some else’s locker room.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 06/19/11 at 08:04 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I am in complete agrement with those of you drawing parallels between Jagr, Fedorov, and Robert Lang.  I remember back in the ESPN days when Jagr was with the Capitals and he criticized the team as losers while sitting on the bench. 

Sorry, I normally let typos go….

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 06/19/11 at 08:07 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Fedorov.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/19/11 at 08:14 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

Let’s let Chelli put Jagr through his “conditioning” test along with some real “interrigation” from Dats, Hank and TPH and to inform his what it takes to be a teammate of this organ-i-zation. Even money says he will stay in Russia with the tax free shekels and ability to just coast along as usual.

Looking forward to the next 3 weeks to see what the future beholds for our team. In Kenny we trust.

I believe Feds will eventually make the HOF but, not in the first few years of elligibility. His leadership on the Wings was dimminished by not only Stevie, but his production also went down after Larionov came here.I kinda feel sorry for his poor decision in leaving here. It does take iron cahones to try and be the man on your own. Feel bad it didn’t work out for him.

Posted by cigar_nurse from Greenville South Cakalakee on 06/19/11 at 09:33 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

And on a completely different and totally unrelated note, my 19 year old daughter, about whom I talk aboot too much and I appreciate you all letting me do so without criticism, but WTF we’re all Fake Friends here,  Friday night completed a 3 day, 2 hour cross country trip driving herself and 9 month old cat Bam Bamm, 7 months removed from the pound, from Costa Mesa, 2 miles from the Pacific, to Chesterfield, VA.

Her plan is to move to downtown Detroit circa August 1, sort of completing a very loose circle of life.  Considering she never has lived in Michigan and only exposure to Detroit was H2H2,
.


.

it’s a remarkable if not frightening and questionable turn of events for dad.  In fact she will probably end up living within 3 to 6 blocks of where I lived for 4 months attending a now defunct law school just off Grand Circus Park.

I am proud and petrified at the same time.  A confident and independent female child is a blessing and constant worry all at the same time.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 06/19/11 at 09:45 PM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

Posted by RWBill from Imported from Detroit, Land of Todd-Ber-Tuz-zi !! on 06/19/11 at 07:45 PM ET


awesome!!!

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 06/19/11 at 10:10 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Bill -she made that drive in just over 3 days?!?  That’s unbelieveable. My husband and I drove from Florida to Seattle and it took 4 1/2 days - and we put in some long days!  I think it’s great that she plans to live in Detroit. I would like to see lots more young people decide to do that.

Garth -re: Jagr… It was his egotistical assumption that he will have numerous offers to choose from, as if it’s a given that every team will want him.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 06/19/11 at 10:28 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

If Lidstrom returns, Kenny can offer Milller and Eaves pretty handsome performance bonuses for signing, since that would not hit the cap until next year.

Jagr is poison.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 06/19/11 at 10:40 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by MsRedWinger from Florida, wishin’ I was back in the Mitten on 06/19/11 at 08:28 PM ET

I get what you’re saying, but in all likelihood he will be the one with the choice to make.  I’ve read of up to five teams who have shown interest in him.

It’s possible that the only choice for his is to turn down an offer for less than he wants, but truth be told he’s the one holding the cards, being that he will likely be taking less to play in the NHL than if he stays in Europe.  Any team who offers him a contract pretty much needs him more than he needs them.

Posted by Garth on 06/19/11 at 11:23 PM ET

SYF's avatar

The Winnipeg owners are steadfast that they don’t want Jets or Golden Jets. They want a new identity. New GM, new coach, new name, new logo.

Understandable.  When Vegas got an ECHL team, there was no real movement to retain the old IHL Thunder team name.  New owners, new team, new direction, new identity.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 06/20/11 at 01:42 AM ET

SYF's avatar

completed a 3 day, 2 hour cross country trip driving herself and 9 month old cat Bam Bamm, 7 months removed from the pound, from Costa Mesa, 2 miles from the Pacific, to Chesterfield, VA.

Posted by RWBill from Imported from Detroit, Land of Todd-Ber-Tuz-zi !! on 06/19/11 at 07:45 PM ET

She had a Corvette.  It was easy.

Like all the rest of us, Bill, I’m happy she made it safe.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 06/20/11 at 01:46 AM ET

CC Moor's avatar

George I may have missed this, but what is your opinion of the decision to jettison Joey Mac as back-up tender?  I am assuming the club has given up on Osgood…..groin injuries at that age finish people.  So they are being polite about it and not stating that he is gone.

But I thought Joey was fine in the net when he played and he is a good guy and would be fine for 20-25 games next year at a very affordable price. 

I’d rather have him at $750k than some of the guys out there at seven figures plus….. your thoughts on why they did this and was it smart?

Posted by CC Moor from Washington DC on 06/20/11 at 08:03 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

It’s not the Wings’ decision. I think they would have happily had Joey back, but he wants to be a back-up in the NHL with a one-way deal.  I would have assumed that MacDonald would at least have been the team’s #2B goalie, if not winning the back-up’s job outright.

Ansar Khan said it was Joey’s decision and that he may head to the KHL.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/20/11 at 08:17 AM ET

monkey's avatar

Fedorov.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/19/11 at 06:14 PM ET

Should I write it on the blackboard 500 times?

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/20/11 at 09:53 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.