The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/02/12 at 04:53 AM ET
By early Sunday afternoon, the Red Wings’ front office knew that they’d be waiting until today to find out whether their pitches to Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, and the Wings had already addressed one glaring need in signing Jonas Gustavsson to a 2-year deal and announcing the signing of Damien Brunner to a one-year contract.
Then things got weird.
After Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos suggested that Suter might be leaning toward the Wings, and Bob McKenzie confirmed that the Wings would have to wait until Monday to hear from Parise, Ken Holland went for his every-other-year retread signing in inking Mikael Samuelsson to a three-year deal, likely to help offset Jiri Hudler’s departure and Tomas Holmstrom’s likely retirement…
And soon after, the Wings fulfilled one of Mike Babcock’s long-standing wishes in signing someone to keep the flies off—in the form of someone that Wings fans don’t like very much, a.k.a. long-time Predators pain in the ass Jordin Tootoo, giving the Wings, per Capgeek, sixteen forwards and draining the team’s cap space to about $17 million, with $5 of that likely to be eaten up by Justin Abdelkader and Kyle Quincey.
Why did the Wings overbuild their forward lines, especially given the gaping holes on defense left by Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement and Brad Stuart’s decision to relocate to San Jose? Should we really have a little faith in the Wings’ management, especially given that one of their back-up plans on defense disappeared when Jay Garrison was signed by the Canucks?
Put simply, the Wings are trying to overload themselves with assets, perhaps some of the tradeable kind, while going full out to try and land both Parise and Suter, as highly improbable as that may be. Here’s what Holland had to say to the Associated Press’s Larry Lage about his team’s state of affairs:
“We’ve offered both contracts and we just have to wait and see how it goes,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Sunday night. “If we get the big guys, we’re going to have to move some people to get under the cap when we need to before the season starts.”
Detroit agreed to a $5.7 million, three-year contract with gritty forward Jordin Tootoo after reaching two-year deals with veteran forward Mikael Samuelsson for $6 million and backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson for $3 million on the first day of NHL free agency.
“We’ve added some depth and grit,” Holland said. “I like what we’ve done so far, but we still have work to do.”
“He has some experience in the league and gives us a nice option in net,” Holland said.
“He can play with our top six or our bottom six forwards and really help us either way,” Holland said.
“He’s going to get an opportunity to play with some of our better players in camp to give him a shot to make the team,” Holland said. “He can really skate and we’ve liked what we’ve seen from him so far.”
Lage further surmised on Twitter that, well…
I don’t have any to report. He might be a Plan B for a lot of teams that don’t get Zach Parise RT @kataandr Any news on Semin?
I think Ken Holland has hopes he can get both Suter and Parise because he thinks team can make trades to get under cap if needed @ahayes7
That getting under the cap part is incredibly important: the Wings can exceed the $70.3 million “upper limit” by up to 10% ($7.3 million dollars), and under the current CBA, the Wings don’t need to be in compliance with the upper limit until the last day of the exhibition season.
And from here on out, you’re going to hear a bit of repetition, starting with Holland’s conversation with the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness (who updated his story with the $90 million bombshell at 2:42 AM)...
“Obviously we’re probably not going to do anything more until we know what’s going on with those two big guys,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview late Sunday. “We’re sort of sitting on a cap situation where if they want to come to us we can’t keep adding.”
According to a source, the Wings have offered Suter a 12-year contract worth $90 million.
“In order to have a possibility of being involved in deals for Suter or Parise if we lose some people we lose some people,” said Holland, who confirmed the team did make formal presentations to the representatives for Suter and Parise. “I’m told we’re a consideration for both of them.”
Regarding the free agent signings…
“We thought we signed some depth and we got some ingredients that we’re excited about adding,” Holland said.
The deals leave the Wings with just over $17 million in cap space. However, close to $5 million is earmarked for restricted free agents Justin Abdelkader and Kyle Quincey. The Wings would like to get Abdelkader to sign a four-year deal at just under $2 million a season, but Quincey could be more difficult to sign at the number they want since he made $3.25 million a year ago. They’re hoping to give him at a modest raise.
Again, regarding Samuelsson?
“We wanted to keep (Samuelsson) him three years ago but the salary was beyond where we wanted to go,” Holland said. “Samuelsson can replace Hudler.”
“We know him, we like him, he can skate and he’s got some range,” Holland said. “He can play the right point on the power play. He’s got a shot. We’ve had him and he played well for us.”
And Tootoo? Well, he was something of a backup plan, but a different kind of backup plan:
“We wanted to get some physical play into our game,” Holland said. “We think he’ll provide an element of an edge to our team on the bottom six. We played against Nashville, we know him, he’s physical, he gets under your skin of our players. It’s an ingredient we’ve always talked about.”
“We were involved in a lot of different things,” Holland said. “Some of the guys signed elsewhere and some of them are still sitting out there. All our people were here, which was good, and we made a decision that he would be a good fit.”
Are the Wings in the Parise/Suter sweepstakes? Uh-huh:
“I’m told we’re a consideration for both of them,’’ Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
The Red Wings, according to a source, offered Suter a 12-year contract worth $90 million. Both players will receive huge up-front signing bonuses. Some reports indicate Parise was seeking a $12 million signing bonus this year and next year.
Holland spoke with their agents by phone, not the players. Parise’s agents canceled face-to-face meetings in Toronto because more than 20 teams were interested. And Suter opted not to speak with teams at his farm in Madison, Wis. The agents for both players said no decisions would be made Sunday, since they are sorting through offers.
“We’re probably not going to do anything more until we know what’s going on with those two big guys,’’ Holland said. “We’re sort of sitting on a cap situation where if they want to come to us we can’t keep adding. In order to have a possibility of being involved in deals for Suter or Parise, if we lose some people (other free-agent targets), we lose some people.’‘
That’s right. Both Pleiness and Khan say the Wings offered Suter a ninety million dollar contract. And I believe him.
This is really important, too:
He spoke to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the draft about forward Rick Nash, but the cost was way too high. Columbus also is reluctant to trade their franchise player within the Central Division, especially to Detroit.
So that’s a no regarding Rick Nash, despite suggestions to the contrary. Remember, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson was asking the New York Rangers for a top-line forward, two top-six defensemen, two top prospects and multiple first-round picks. The asking price to trade your poster boy to your self-described “archrival” must be much higher.
And I’ll skip Holland’s analysis of Jonas Gustavsson as being able to “push” Jimmy Howard, his suggestion that Justin Abdelkader and Jordin Tootoo might become linemates, and his take on why Mike Babcock wants to start Damien Brunner among the team’s “top six” during training camp—I can’t quote Khan’s entire article—because this stuff is really, really important too:
If the Red Wings don’t land Suter, they might make a pitch for Matt Carle. If they don’t get Parise, the limited options include Alexander Semin, Jaromir Jagr and Shane Doan, who reportedly won’t decide for another week if he will leave Phoenix.
Holland spoke again to the agent for Jiri Hudler Sunday but said they’re in a holding pattern until they know whether they land Parise.
Holland said if they don’t get Suter, Parise or another high-end free agent, they will explore the trade market this summer.
For the record, Khan was active on Twitter around 11 PM, and he more or less reiterated his story’s talking points in conversations with fans.
And Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan confirms all of the above and adds some sources’ names to the mix:
“We made significant offers to both camps, we’ve expressed interest to both camps, and now we just wait,” Holland said.
In terms of Parise, reports late Sunday afternoon indicated the former Devils forward will make a final decision today on where he will play next season and beyond. TSN analyst Bob McKenzie reported Parise has narrowed his choices to New Jersey, the Red Wings, Minnesota (where Parise is from), Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
“Unless something happens dramatically the decision is in my hands — confident after thinking tonight I will have a decision tomorrow,” Parise told TSN reporter Katherine Dolan.
The Wings were prepared to send delegations to meet with Parise and Suter, but the plans never came to fruition. Parise’s agent, Don Meehan, changed plans when more than 20 teams called to express interest in signing Parise, unquestionably the best forward on the market.
As for Suter, he too is likely to take another day, at least, before deciding on where he will play.
His former team, the Predators, remain in the mix, along with the Flyers, Penguins and Wild.
Where does Tomas Holmstrom fit in going forward? He doesn’t, as Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji noted (and we’ll get back to her in a minute):
The four signings wound down day one for the Wings in their free agent pursuits. What happens next will also determine what current Wings might not return.
“We’re going to talk to (Tomas Holmstrom) in a couple of weeks,” Holland said. “Obviously we’re probably not going to do anything more until we know what’s going on with those two big guys. We’re sort of sitting on a cap situation where if they want to come to us we can’t keep adding. In order to have a possibility of being involved in deals for Suter or Parise, if we lose some people we lose some people.”
What does an “expert” think about this business? Here’s a snippet of ESPN’s Craig Custance’s insider-only blog (and the paragraphs I’m leaving out simply state that the Los Angeles Kings dropped out of the Suter/Parise sweepstakes early):
When I e-mailed one general manager to see if he was interested in a secondary free agent defenseman, his response was simply: “Depends.”
Teams are waiting until they know for sure whether or not they’re in our out on Parise or Suter before making the next move. Both players are expected to wait until Monday at the earliest to sign, which means guys like Alexander Semin, Bryce Salvador, Matt Carle and Jiri Hudler might have to wait with them to increase the list of interested teams.
And then there’s the trade market. Teams that miss out on Parise and Suter will no doubt turn to Nash, Bobby Ryan or any other players they think might be available to fill holes on their team. For a guy like Nash, who would love to end the wait in Columbus, it has to be frustrating to have the timing of his future tied to someone else’s decision.
So the jury is indeed out until Parise and Suter make up their minds.
I would like to think that Nick Kypreos is right—I don’t believe that the pair are a “package deal,” the odds are far too high against that—and that Suter is indeed leaning toward Detroit…
But at least half a dozen teams are the “serious” bidders for each player. I won’t try and rain on your parade by suggesting that plans B, C or D are much more likely, which they are…
Because the honest truth is that I have no clue. None.
We’ll have to wait and see, and as someone whose anxiety disorder makes uncertainty interminably annoying, the Wings having to leave the future of their blueline hanging in the air, wafting upon the whims of Suter and Parise into July 2nd, a full month after Nicklas Lidstrom retires…
Sucks. It sucks hard, but we should have some concrete answers as to whether Holland’s a crazy genius or just plain crazy for making these kinds of gambles by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest.
On an individual basis, the Gustavsson, Brunner, Samuelsson and Tootoo entries are jam-packed with stories about said players joining the Wings, but more stories popped up during the evening/early morning, so let’s go on a player by player basis:
• Regarding “The Monster,” I’m going to skip the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff’s bluster (because by now, you’ve ready more than enough talk about what the Wings must do to “avoid a monstrously-disastrous season in Hockeytown”—seriously, Duff says that) and will stick with his assessment of the Wings’ decision to sign a 27-year-old goalie to a 2-year, $3 million contract:
Gustavsson’s addition could prove an undervalued move. Freed from Francois Allaire’s robotic shot-blocking style of goaltending that’s hindered his once-impressive athletic abilities, Gustavsson may thrive under a new perspective presented by Detroit goalie coach Jim Bedard.
In fact, some in the game have suggested Gustavsson could be next season’s version of Mike Smith, a goalie who revived his once-promising career after getting out of Tampa Bay and going to Phoenix. At the very least, Gustavsson will push Howard to be better.
Not good enough to where he can carry them very far in the playoffs without a significant upgrade on the blue-line, however. As much as everyone would love to see the Wings turn a daily double of Suter and Parise, the reality is that Suter is the guy Detroit absolutely cannot allow to get away. There was a time in the pre-salary cap era when the Wings were always the front runners for the A-list free agents.
“It’s a great team with a lot of history and they always have a good roster,” Gustavsson said. “Detroit is probably the No. 1 team for Swedish people to follow.”
Okay, right, some bluster, sorry.
Anyway, the Wings’ press and the Wings reported that Jim Bedard will be going to Sweden to work with Gustavsson, and given that the man is either 6’3” or 6’4” and around 190 pounds, depending on whose stats you’re quoting, the last thing in the world you want a big body like that to be doing is to stand back on the goal line.
That’s what Allaire preaches, and it’s the opposite of Jim Bedard and Chris Osgood’s beliefs about goaltending. They want goalies to be aggressive, come out to the top of the goal crease whenever possible and to use their size to initially challenge shooters before taking the shortest distance to the puck, even if that does mean occasionally dipping back toward the goal line while sliding across the crease.
So, as MLive’s Ansar Khan suggests, the Wings have a Monster renovation project on their hands, and it was Gustavsson himself who suggested as much:
“I feel that was the right move for me to keep my development going in the right direction,’’ Gustavsson said. “I feel I became a better goalie every day and in order to keep doing that I felt coming to Detroit was the best choice for me.’‘
Gustavsson went 17-17-4, with a 2.92 goals-against average and .902 save percentage this past season. For his career, he is 39-45-15, with a 2.93 GAA and .900 save percentage, along with five shutouts.
“We’re hoping Gustavsson can take his career to another level here,’’ Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We’re hoping that Jimmy pushes Gustavsson and Gustavsson pushes Jimmy and we’ll have a good one-two punch.’‘
Khan goes on to point out that Gustavsson’s had two procedures to correct an erratic heartbeat, but it’s telling that the Wings were willing to invest the money, term and probable time in Gustavsson that they aren’t in Joey MacDonald’s back.
Gustavsson knows he’s going to have to earn his starts, too:
“I feel if you just push yourself and you’re moving in the right direction sooner or later you’ll get the chance,’’ he said. “Then it’s up to you to take that chance. I’m here to help the team and it doesn’t matter how that is,’’ Gustavsson said. “If that’s being the backup goalie that pushes the other goalie then that’s the role I’m going to take.’‘
Gustavsson believes he can still be a No. 1 NHL goalie.
“For me it’s all about trying to become a better goalie every day and maybe one day I’ll be the guy that plays all the games,’’ he said. “That’s my long-term goal, to become the goalie that plays a lot of games and helps the team that way. I’m going to push myself and push Jimmy and hopefully we’ll have success from that.’‘
That’s the plan, as Holland told Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji:
“He’s 28 years of age, he’s 6-foot-4 and we’ve had good success with good-sized goalies,” Holland said. “Jimmy Howard is a big guy. We’re hoping Gustavsson can take his career to another level here. We’re hoping that Jimmy pushes Gustavsson and Gustavsson pushes Jimmy and we’ll have a good one-two punch.”
Hell, I don’t need to tell you what Jim Bedard thinks, either, because the Free Press’s Helene St. James spoke to Bedard about the gentleman St. James says will be eating lunch with the Wings’ goalie coach on Tuesday:
“He’s extremely athletic,” Bedard said. “I want to get back to him using his strength a lot, his athleticism, his ability to compete in net, to get square and big. With the travel we have, it’s hard to go with just one goaltender. The difference of two points a month can be humongous.”
What Gustavsson’s signing means for MacDonald in the long haul—remember, he’s on a one-way, NHL-only contract this season—or Thomas McCollum is unclear, especially given that the Wings don’t want to give up on McCollum, nor do they want to leave themselves leaning on McCollum and Petr Mrazek should both Gustavsson and Howard take ill, but for now, the Wings are “overbuilding”...
And I guess that’s what the philosophy for the Wings has always been in July. To overbuild significantly and let training camp and the exhibition season sort out the roster glut.
• We’ll shift to Wakiji regarding Tootoo...
“It’s definitely a great honor to be able to have that opportunity to put on a Red Wings jersey, Original Six team,” Tootoo said in a conference call. “There’s a lot of history with the Red Wings. I obviously played against them the last nine years. It’s always been a great rivalry. I know a lot about the team. It was a great fit for me.”
“We wanted to get some physical play into our game,” Holland said. “We think he’ll provide an element of an edge to our team on the bottom six. We played against Nashville, we know him, he’s physical, he gets under your skin of our players. It’s an ingredient we’ve always talked about.”
The 28-year-old right wing is known as being somewhat of a “disturber” to opponents but Tootoo expects to bring more to the table.
“Obviously, I’ve really grown as a player over the last couple of years,” Tootoo said. “My foundation is being a physical presence but at the same time I know I can contribute offensively. I’ve proven that over the last couple of years but at the same time I still have a lot to work on.”
In 486 games with the Predators, Tootoo has 46 goals and 79 assists to go along with 725 penalty minutes. Last season he had six goals, 24 assists and 92 penalty minutes in 77 games. Tootoo said several other teams were interested but a phone call from Holland sealed the deal.
“It was a pretty spontaneous decision,” Tootoo said. “A few teams were interested and Mr. Holland made a quick phone call. I thought this was the best opportunity for me to win a Stanley Cup. Ultimately, that’s my goal and I feel the Red Wings are right there.”
And this quip Holland gave the Free Press’s Helene St. James is particularly interesting because the entire management team wanted to add a Tootoo-like presence:
“We’re stepping out of our comfort zone,” Holland said.
Holland called the agent for Tootoo in the afternoon and asked what it would take to get him. “All our staff felt it was something we wanted to accomplish this season, was to try to get a little more physicality to our lineup,” Holland said. “Jordin gives us a little bit of an edge.”
I know Tootoo isn’t particularly big, but he’s a wrecking ball on skates, and what George Parros may have in size, Tootoo makes up for in being a stout 200 pounds that can skate very fast, toss mitts when necessary, and post 20-30 points a year, which is pretty darn good for a third or fourth-line player.
Personally speaking, it’s just going to take a while to get over hating his guts after watching him irritate and instigate against and injure Red Wings players and run the Wings’ goalies. I haven’t been this conflicted about a disliked player join the Wings since the team brought in Chris Chelios and Wendel Clark on the same damn day, and I guess we’ll all have to get used to it…
And NO TOOTOO WHISTLES AT THE JOE. EVER. They’re annoying, Mickey Redmond hates them, and Detroit is so industrial that, well, dammit, if you’re gonna bring something that sounds like a train’s “whistle,” bring a real one to the Joe.
Tootoo’s trying to win Wings fans over on Twitter, by the way:
Very honored to be a Detroit Red Wing. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
• As you’ve already heard the Wings talk up Brunner, let’s read the Free Press’s Helene St. James’ updated Brunner story...
The Red Wings have had too much success integrating skilled European forwards into their lineup to not add a relatively no-risk one. They made it official Sunday that they’d signed right wing Damien Brunner, a coveted unrestricted free agent out of Switzerland. He’d told the team 10 days ago he wanted to join the Wings but couldn’t sign until Sunday. He still has to get out of his contract in the Swiss league for next season, but the Wings say they don’t believe that will be an issue. He agreed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $925,000 plus bonuses at the NHL level.
Brunner, 26, was a star scorer last year in his native Switzerland’s Swiss league, where he recorded 24 goals and 36 assists in 45 games. He isn’t big—he’s listed as 5-feet-11, 180 pounds—but he shoots right, making him a rarity among the Wings. He caught the attention of Wings coach Mike Babcock during the World Championship in May.
“Brunner flat-out flies,” Babcock told the Free Press. “He can skate and he can score and he’s got high-end skill. He loves to score. He can play in our top six. He gives us a player for our top six. Now, the question is, he’s never played on a smaller rink. But I loved him at Worlds. I think he has a chance to be a good player. I’m excited about having him. He gives us a right-hand shot on the power play. For me, it’s a big deal. We sure think there’s an opportunity here for him, now he has to do it. Going from the big ice to small ice, you never know for sure. But others have done it, so why can’t this kid?”
After hearing about him from the team’s European scouts, and then seeing him this spring, general manager Ken Holland decided it was a no-brainer to pursue Brunner.
“We like his skill level,” Holland said. “He has great speed. We like that he can do things at a high level and with a lot of speed. We’re going to give him an opportunity at training camp to play in our top six, to play with our skilled guys. We hope he finds some chemistry.”
As well as MLive’s Ansar Khan’s self-citing version:
The Detroit Red Wings have signed former Swiss scoring champ Damien Brunner to a one-year, two-way entry-level contract.
This move was in the making for more than a week, after Brunner had agreed to a deal with Detroit and negotiated a release from the final year of his contract with Zug of the Swiss league.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was highly impressed with Brunner’s skills while watching him at the World Championships and said during this year’s entry draft that the 5-foot-11, 180-pound right wing will start the season as a top-six forward for Detroit.
Brunner, 26, isn’t big, but he’s a fast-skating, highly skilled winger who shoots right-handed. He led the Swiss-A league in scoring with 24 goals and 60 points in 45 games.
The biggest challenge for Brunner is adjusting to a more physical game in the NHL, in smaller rinks. But the Red Wings view this as a no-risk signing, since they can send him to the Grand Rapids Griffins if he doesn’t earn his spot in training camp.
“The thing for us is he’s high, high paced, he scored, looks like he has tons of skill,’’ Babcock said during the draft. “Can he adjust and play the North American game? We’re going to give him every opportunity. He’ll be a top-six forward to start with us and see where he goes with us.’‘
• And “Sammy?” Dear Gordie Howe, my friends, we’ve had a love-hate relationship with Sammy since the lockout ended. He’s 35 years old, and basically what the Wings wanted to give Hudler for similar production in a 2-year, $6 million deal, but he’s…
Sammy. Tapes gloves which I can confirm have tight, rock-hard plastic inserts in the wrists because he feels that they’re “too loose,” yes, he can indeed skate hard, play a little physically and snipe away from the point on the power play, as well as from both wings…
But he might be the Uber Johan Franzen when it comes to his confidence coming and going in spurts, leading to Sammy actually suggesting that he doesn’t need to shoot as much when he doesn’t feel right, and between having three players who don’t necessarily play to their full size potential in Franzen, Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi, the Wings might as well find a cardiologist to serve as Mike Babcock’s new assistant coach.
Awood40 on YouTube wants to remind us that when Samuelsson’s on, he’s “on”...
And if it makes you feel any better, Niklas Kronwall told Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom that he’s thrilled with both Swedish signings:
Samuelsson flies back to Detroit again
Los Angeles. Detroit continues to be the #1 Swedish team in the NHL.
During the night they re-signed Mikael Samuelsson, who played for Florida last season.
And from Toronto, they fetched Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson
Both signed two-year contracts with the Red Wings.
“It’s [expletive that means s*** in Swedish but is more like f***ing in English] cool that they’re coming to us,” says defensive star Niklas Kronwall to HockeyExpressen.se.
Both have signed two-year contract with the Red Wings.
Mikael Samuelsson left Detroit before the 2009-2010 season and played the first two seasons in Vancouver before joining the Florida Panthers last summer.
Now he’s returning in a similar way to Detroit. He received a 2-year contract worth 42 million Swedish Kronor.
Spare behind Howard
And he’ll be accompanied by The Monster, who will earn 21 million Swedish Kronor over the next two years with the Red Wings.
“I know from experience that our goalie coach, Jim Bedard, likes Jonas, and that there was interest in bringing him to Detroit, but I didn’t think that it would happen right now,” said Kronwall, who’s at his summer home in Sweden.
For the Red Wings, he’ll back up Jimmy Howard.
“I think this is a great solution for Jonas and the Red Wings Great, put simply, that he signed with us,” says “Kronner,” as his teammates call Niklas in Detroit.
Sigh. Well, maybe not such a great endorsement. Cue the predictable, via the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
The Wings also brought back a face from the past, forward Mikael Samuelsson . Samuelsson split last season between Vancouver and Florida — he was traded by the Canucks to Florida for Macomb native David Booth — and had 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points in 54 games.
Samuelsson signed a two-year deal worth $6 million. He’s expected to replace Jiri Hudler , an unrestricted free agent who isn’t likely to return to the Wings.
“We know Sammy and we know what he can provide us,” Holland said.“He has size, he has a great shot, he can play the point on the power play. He adds size and skill and we know him.”
Hey, Holland has to sign at least one re-tread every two to three years, and…
Well, I hate to say this, but under a $70.3 million cap, somebody who’s averaged about 20 goals and 50 points per season over the past three years, last year’s abbreviated stint between Vancouver and Florida included, is $3.5 to $4 million.
The Wings bit hard on the term for an older player, but given the kinds of deals that will be signed over the next two or three days, the team made a financially sound signing.
Whether Sammy can deliver without driving us all batty remains another matter entirely.
Or, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James put it…
Samuelsson’s signing has a bit of poetic justice to it: The Wings wanted to keep him three years ago but lost him to free agency as they focused on keeping Jiri Hudler, who ended up ditching them for Russia. This time around, they brought back Samuelsson, 35, to offset losing Hudler.
“We need goals,” Holland said. “Sammy can play in the top six, can play in the bottom six. He can transport the puck. We know him, we like him. We’re not sure what’s going on with Parise, we’re not sure what’s going on with Hudler. We think he’s a guy who can help us.”
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• The Free Press will be hosting a chat with Wings prospect Jake Paterson sometime on Tuesday afternoon;
• Speaking of prospects, it’s been too long a day to translate Slovak so very roughly, but Tomas Jurco told Sport.sk’s Ondrej Hutan that he still intends on signing with the Red Wings, and will both attend the summer prospect camp starting Saturday in Traverse City and will take part in the main training camp in the fall, all after being named the best Slovak player under 20 years of age at the “Zlaty Puk” awards;
• In prospect news of a very different sort, Red Wings executive Kris Draper didn’t spend July 1st at the Joe as he’s coaching a group of 10-year-olds at the Brick Super Novice tournament in Edmonton, and he confirmed as much on Sunday night:
In Edmonton for the 23rd annual Brick Invitational for 10 year olds. Looking forward to starting tomorrow. Proud of my team #Jr Red Wings
• Also in the alumni department, DetroitRedWings.com’s Zack Crawford spoke with former Wing and Maple Leaf Mike Foligno about his “dual citizenship.” This makes me cringe:
Foligno’s move to Toronto [from Buffalo] proved to be unfortunate for the Wings when the two teams met in the first round of the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs, a hard-fought series that was deadlocked until the Leafs won in overtime of Game 7.
“That rivalry catapulted the Toronto Maple Leafs at that time,” Foligno said. “You talk about the importance of one round, you try to figure out why is that so. It seems like you’re trying to find yourself in that first round, you’re trying to find that chemistry, you’re trying to gain that self-confidence.”
It took a few games for the Leafs to discover that confidence. Detroit took a 2-0 series lead, prompting Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher to rally his squad before Game 3.
“Cliff Fletcher actually had a meeting with our team because we were getting so wrapped up in retribution and retaliation that we were allowing Detroit to have so many opportunities, whether it was power play or momentum on the power play,” Foligno said. “And I remember Cliff Fletcher coming in and saying, ‘Guys, we’ve got to start playing hockey here. We’ve got to start coming together as a team and showing that discipline.’ ”
By Game 5, the series was tied 2-2, and it was Foligno who decided the outcome of the game when he scored on Wings goalie Tim Cheveldae, a moment almost as memorable for Foligno’s leaping, post-goal celebration as it is for the goal itself. Despite how poignant the memory of that game-winning goal is, Foligno still hasn’t forgotten how many chances Detroit had to win the game before he scored, including one opportunity that Wings defenseman Paul Coffey had that nearly changed the series.
“Before I scored my overtime goal, I got caught up ice with a bunch of my linemates,” Foligno recounted. “Paul Coffey was going the other way, and I’m chasing Paul Coffey like my life depended on it. And I couldn’t catch him because he’s not one of the slowest guys in the league. Being such a fluid skater, he was just taking off and took a shot and I remember the puck hitting the outside of the post. And in that same shift we ended up going back down to score a tying goal. It’s moments like that you say to yourself, ‘It was meant to be for us that year.’ ”
In a repeat of Foligno’s goal, Leafs forward Nikolai Borschevsky scored an overtime goal in Game 7 of the series that propelled Toronto all the way to the conference finals where – in their third Game 7 of the postseason – they lost to the Los Angeles Kings.
• If you are willing to look through VLT.se’s gallery of Vasteras’ CityFestivalen, there are pictures of Nicklas Lidstrom’s family looking on as Lidstrom and Curre Lundmark, his former coach and friend, speak to the crowd in what was more or less Lidstrom’s public debut after moving back to Sweden;
• You’ll tell me if it’s ironic that the Free Press posted an archived article penned by Keith Gave and Jason LaCaforna from way back in 1997, when Scotty Bowman was going to allow Ken Holland to succeed him as the Wings’ GM;
• And again, I’m still trying to raise funds to cover the cost of food and gas to get to and stay in Traverse City to cover the Wings’ summer prospect camp from Saturday the 7th until July 13th, and I could use all the help I can get:
You’ll have to use my personal email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate, and if you want to aid the cause by some other manner or means, fire me an email at that address or at georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com.
Update: Of course there’s an update. It’s only 3 AM. I’ve got to get up early as Paul believes that today will be the busiest part of the free agent period—and it’s obviously the most important for the Wings—but the Windsor Star’s Jim Parker penned a more balanced version of Bob Duff’s story, talking about each and every one of the Wings’ free agent signings, minus the bluster.
Update #2: I will get to Henrik Zetterberg’s interview with Dagblaet’s Erik Lofgen when I can. If there are any Swedish-speakers who can help, by Gord this is a long one. Enjoy the translation if you wish.
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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.