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Red Wings overnight report: on a smaller rink, Parise and Suter and an incredibly long shift

Perhaps it got lost amidst the leak‘s worth of news regarding the Red Wings’ hiring of an architectural firm to help design their Joe Louis Arena follow-on rink and whatever will be built around it: my eyebrow, at least, rose half a foot when I read that the Wings are looking at an 18,000-seat arena, which would fit in nearly 2,000 fewer fans per night.

The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell allows Wings VP Jimmy Devellano to explain why that is while surveying the various comments Mike Ilitch, Mike Babcock and Devellano have made to the media over the past year—especially regarding the Joe’s status as a building whose amenities for its players aren’t exactly spectacular:

“The challenging thing about the Joe is it’s a building that has one foot in the past and one in the present,” Wings senior vice-president Jimmy Devellano said at the time of the [renovation] studies. “It doesn’t have many of the amenities you’d get in a new building, but for an arena of its age, it has enough suites.”

The JLA, which cost $57 million and opened in 1979, contains 86 suites plus the 181-person Comerica Bank Legends Club. Its seating capacity is 20,066 for hockey. Devellano said any new building wouldn’t have any more than 18,500 seats.

“You want to have it so there’s a demand to buy tickets,” Devellano said. “If you have too many seats, people think it’s easy to get a ticket and they wait. You don’t want to rely on too much walk-up business.”

In addition to lacking the extra creature comforts for fans, despite a renovation last summer that is estimated to have cost the Wings US$10-15-million, the facility is also limiting for the players. The dressing room and small workout area is hardly luxurious. In fact, both pale in comparison in terms of comfort and size to the facilities the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires enjoy at the WFCU Centre.

“We’ve done the best we can for the players with the limitations of an old building,” a Wings official said. “We’ve redone the dressing room and expanded the workout area. When college players come here, they’re surprised because quite frankly they’re coming from big schools with better and more modern facilities.”

 


The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan penned a pair of columns which discuss both the potential of a looming lockout and the identities of two players which might end up inhabiting the Wings’ slightly cramped locker room. Kulfan suggests that Parise and Suter, who played together on the Ann Arbor-based U.S. National Team Development program, want to play on the same team, and his conversations with various “sources” lead Kulfan to believe that the pair are indeed thinking of coming to Detroit as, well..

“Lots of us were at an event last year, and they were taking quite a bit of ribbing about it,” said one hockey official, who asked not to be named for fear of offending the players. “I recall specifically someone walking up to them in the parking lot and saying, ‘Hey, I hear you guys are both with the Red Wings next year!’ They were pretty sheepish about it. You know, smiling, but not saying much at all.”

The Red Wings intend to make a substantial splash in free agency this summer. Parise is the top forward available, and Suter the top defenseman. Amid an increasing sense the Red Wings are among the few teams that have what both players seek, another enticing prospect emerges: Parise and Suter may want the Red Wings as much as the Red Wings want Parise and Suter.

“I am assuming that, at least as of right now, they are a package deal,” said one NHL team official, who is aware of the circumstances. “They certainly seem to have set it up that way, themselves.”

Cue the dissenting voice!

“Despite all of the talk, Suter and Parise are not close friends at all, really,” said one official of that U.S. team, which lost the gold medal to Canada in overtime. “It’s not like they spend time together in the offseasons, or their families hang out. My sense of what they shared when the team was together is a vision of how the game should be played, how they play their game given their talents and ability and how teams should play. I think that is what a lot of this hot stove, rumor-mill stuff is about: They know the kind of hockey they want to play, and they want to play it together, on a team they will help lead. Now, whether that desire ultimately rules the day is something that will be seen, in time.”

And cue the players’ agents, after Kulfan reminds us that they can’t, wink wink nudge nudge, speak to other teams until July 1st (this is not necessarily the case):

“Ryan has not said that he’s not going to sign in Nashville,” [Suter’s agent, Neil] Sheehy said. “He’s never told me that. And he’s with Nashville, so that’s the only thing that’s entertained at this point. Until there is more news, that’s really the only thing to say.”

Parise is still playing, leading the Devils against the Rangers. In the Eastern Conference finals.

His agent, Wade Arnott, said, “Prior to the start of the playoff run, Zach said he wanted to switch off all of this talk and just concentrate on hockey, and that he could resume all of this talk once that is over with. That is where we are still.”

 


In the participatory news category, the Red Wings’ Twitter account went into overdrive trying to encourage fans to vote for Pavel Datsyuk as EA Sports’ NHL 2013 cover athlete, but given the quips from EA Sports’ Twitter account, it sounds like Datsyuk’s semifinal opponent, New York Islanders forward John Tavares, probably won the race.

Nevertheless, the Wings got both Nicklas Lidstrom and a gentleman who probably met with the captain on Wednesday to endorse Datsyuk’s candidacy:

 


In prospect news, Tomas Juco didn’t register a point but took 5 shots as the Saint John Sea Dogs defeated the Shawinigan Cataractes 4-1

Jurco isn’t mentioned in the Canadian Press, Sea Dogs’ website, the London Free Press’s Ryan Pyette, Sportsnet’s Patrick King or Yahoo Sports Neate Sager’s recaps, but Sager reports that the Sea Dogs experienced a “Dan O’Halloran moment” as they had an obvious goal waived off, and while Sportsnet’s highlights of the game don’t work in the U.S., I found that highlights from the Memorial Cup’s website aren’t “geo-blocked.”

The Sea Dogs’ win allows them to advance to the tournament’s semifinals on Friday. They’ll play the winner of today’s tiebreaker game between the Cataractes and Edmonton Oil Kings, and again, all Memorial Cup games are airing on Sportsnet in Canada and the NHL Network in the U.S.

 


And in an article remembering a fallen member of the Wings’ organization, Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy recalls a Memorial Cup performance for the ages, in which one Brad McCrimmon played a staggeringly long shift in a losing effort for the Brandon Wheat Kings:

It was May 13, in fact, the day that McCrimmon—known as ‘Beast’ to his pals—played the entire game. Well, with the exception of one two-minute penalty. Not only that, the game went into overtime. He played 60 minutes and 38 seconds.

Although the Wheat Kings lost the game 2-1 to the Ontario Hockey League champion Peterborough Petes, McCrimmon’s performance that Sunday afternoon in Verdun, was definitely one for the ages.

This being MasterCard Memorial Cup week, with all the games from the tournament being broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet, I couldn’t help but recall McCrimmon’s unbelievable individual effort that afternoon. McCrimmon’s younger brother Kelly, who is currently GM of the Wheat Kings and was on the team back in 1979, but missed the tournament with a broken arm, fondly remembered Brad’s big afternoon.

“Brad had a successful pro career and did win the Stanley Cup (1988-89 with the Calgary Flames), but I think what he did his final year of junior was made more remarkable by how uncommon it was for a player to play as much as he did,” Kelly said. “It didn’t start with the Memorial Cup final. He had a great relationship with our coach, Dunc McCallum, and Dunc had a lot of trust in Brad. Brad loved playing for him. We played primarily four defencemen on that team and on Feb. 1 Mike Perovich broke his arm and from that point on, Brad played 50 minutes a night right through the rest of the league games, in the playoffs and through the Memorial Cup tournament.”
...
“Brad always had tremendous capacity,” Kelly said. “He always was the hardest working guy at practice; he always had the most stamina. Genetically he was really blessed that way. He was a very good backwards skater and forward skater and I think that, combined with how well he understood the game, allowed him to know how he needed to play. As important as it was for him to play that way for our team, as a young pro it took him some time to get some more pace in his game. I think it was Mike Keenan in Philadelphia who got him playing with more urgency.”

Sadly Brad McCrimmon is not around to watch this week’s MasterCard Memorial Cup tourney. The head coach of Lokomotiv Yaroslaval of the KHL perished in the plane crash that took the lives of 43 people last September. I, for one, will never forget his game that day in 1979. His team lost, but he was a champion.

 


Also of Red Wings-related note this morning: Regarding a free agent of a different kind, the St. Petersburg Times’ Damian Cristodero reports that the Lightining are probably the front-runners in the Damien Brunner sweepstakes:

The Lightning is a “serious contender” for the services of Swiss star Damien Brunner, his agent said.

“I would say Tampa is serious about Damien. I would say Damien is serious about Tampa,” Neil Sheehy said.

That Brunner, 26, a highly skilled, fleet-skating right wing, has been released from his contract with Zug of Switzerland’s elite league should accelerate negotiations. Brunner likely will sign before the June 22-23 draft, Sheehy said, adding that several teams are interested. The Penguins have been reported to be keeping an eye on Brunner, too.

“We have a lot of work to do between now and his decision,” Sheehy said. “But I know Damien was very, very impressed with (Tampa Bay general manager) Steve Yzerman. … They have met, and there’s interest on both sides.”

Yzerman did not respond to several text messages seeking comment.

Brunner had team bests this season of 24 goals, 36 assists and 60 points in 45 games. He also had three goals, seven points in seven games for Switzerland at the world championship this month.

• Habs World’s Michael Tierney looked at the Wings’ successful franchise model over the past twenty seasons, offering this take on the team’s future:

What can we expect from this team in the future?

It could become very interesting the next couple of years for the Detroit organization. The core of this team is growing older every year and it is about the time that they will begin to retire. The heartbeat of the entire back line and possibly the entire team looks set to retire either this season or next in D Nicklas Lidstrom. Meanwhile Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen and Holmstrom are not getting any younger. When the current roster begins to transform it will be interesting to see where the Red Wings get their reinforcements. Will they stick with finding diamonds in the rough on draft day or will they attempt to sign some premier free agent talents. While rumours continue about possible players who are on the teams wish list this summer it is becoming increasingly clear that soon could be the end of this dynasty, at least temporarily. With key players who look to be leaving fast and furious and no immediate clues as to what talent will replace them the Red Wings’ situation will be fascinating over the next couple of years.

Put bluntly: I know that the Wings’ detractors tend to argue that the Wings’ somewhat middling percentage of success in terms of drafting players will catch up with them, but the Wings might offer a simple counter-argument: while fewer Wings prospects pan out because the team tends to shoot for home runs instead of taking “safe bets” to make the team as grinders, the Wings over-invest in skill over size and strength because they believe that finding one Pavel Datsyuk, or perhaps looking at the 2000-2006 drafts, a Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler, Tomas Kopecky, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard out of sixty prospects is better than snagging a dozen grinders. Just as importantly, when the Wings’ skilled picks tend to end up playing those fourth-line roles, the Wings would rather have Cory Emmerton or Jan Mursak contributing to the cause as players who were dominant scorers at the junior hockey level because good workout skills and approaches can be taught, but work ethic and naturally-based skill aren’t as easy to learn.

• I know very little about yacht racing, but DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose penned an article stating that the Wings will be sponsoring/backing “Notso EZ Money” at the Bayview Mackinac Race this July, and there’s a video accompanying the story;

• For the record, part 1: MLive held a poll asking readers where they’d like to see the Wings’ next arena be built, and the majority picked the area behind the Fox Theatre as their preferred location;

• For the record, part 2: According to the Brooks (Alberta) Bulletin, Wings assistant GM Jim Nill once visited his major junior hockey billets to take flying lessons (just an interesting tidbit here, nothing exciting otherwise);

• And finally, for the record, part 3: the Russian sports website F-Sport is reporting that the Russian national team will be feted for their World Championship title with a parade in Moscow on May 29th.

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Comments

redxblack's avatar

JLA routinely sells out. Shrinking the arena is a REALLY bad idea. They can’t magically add seats for the playoffs. This stinks.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 05/24/12 at 09:55 AM ET

journohoff's avatar

@redxblack, While a smaller arena would stink for us fans, it’s actually a great idea for the Red Wings’ pocketbook. Not only will it guarantee more sellouts, it will drive ticket prices up. The Wings brass knows that fans will pay what it takes to see Wings play, and because there are fewer tickets, they’ll be even more willing.

It’s the sad reality of supply and demand.

Posted by journohoff from Detroit, MI on 05/24/12 at 10:11 AM ET

Avatar

No offense to John Tavares, but winning over Datsuk? How can that be?This was not even a Malkin VS Datsuk or VS Stamkos….wow, I know we don’t have all day to vote, but still, I figured this would be an easy win…I guess the PR for Tavares did a good job..

Posted by Nat from MTL on 05/24/12 at 10:19 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Glad the Wings’ arena will be downtown, but I wonder how many working class fans will be able to afford to go and see them.  I guess this is the way all pro sports have gone.  Too bad.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 05/24/12 at 10:45 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

the Wings would rather have Cory Emmerton or Jan Mursak contributing to the cause as players who were dominant scorers at the junior hockey level because good workout skills and approaches can be taught, but work ethic and naturally-based skill aren’t as easy to learn.

I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/24/12 at 10:59 AM ET

yzer19man's avatar

If Pav didn’t win the cover vote, im going to have to print a cover like Kenny had in the video and insert that. I thot for sure Pavs was going to pull it off. Tavares??? Lame

Posted by yzer19man from Chicago, IL on 05/24/12 at 11:21 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

I think there must be a lot of corporate season ticket holders that do not often show up in the bottom 8 rows, those that are always in the tv shot.  From the tv perspective it seems laughable that they announce another sell out.  In person however, those bottom eight rows are a tiny part of the arena as you scan across a full house from rows 9 to the rafters.

They will probably have more expensive suites, and not have to wonder if the final 1100 seats are going to sell out, because they won’t exist anymore.  It would be a shame and a drag for the fans if the prices were jacked up a bit on the 18000 to more than make up for loss of revenue from the other 2000, but that may happen.  I expect they’ll make more on the suites as well, maybe they won’t increase individual seat prices (ha! how stupid does that sound?).

If the Wings want to attract elite talent to long term commitments then they have to build that thing soon.  Small work out and locker room facilities may not matter to Wings draftees that work their way up, but UFA studs who have their pick of half a dozen franchises will take that into consideration when deciding where to play the next 12 years of their career.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 05/24/12 at 11:34 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Tavares??? Lame

Posted by yzer19man from Chicago, IL on 05/24/12 at 09:21 AM ET

Dedicated Canadian vote.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 05/24/12 at 11:36 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Although it hasn’t quite gotten there yet, as the playoffs finish up, and especially if the Devils are eliminated, the daily speculation of Suter/Parise to the Wings may match or exceed the ridiculous fiasco of last year’s non-stop “Jaromir Jagr to the Wings” stories.

The beauty of this is that each of us can skip stories we don’t want to read, which I eventually did last year.  When July 1 comes, then things will begin to have meaning.  Until then, Anonymous Sources have no significance or credibility.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 05/24/12 at 11:48 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I can explain why those seats are empty pretty easily: some of ‘em are seats that are reserved for teams or sponsors that are solid but not filled, some of them are eBayed or tossed onto that Ticket Exchange website but aren’t re-sold on the secondary market, and, mostly…

There are still people who either get the seats from a big business or law firm and show up for a period, and others…Are just ultra-wealthy people who are jerks. More than a few of the people buying those seats end up spending a period or more in the Olympia Club, mingling and buying drinks, because that’s what they’d rather be doing, and during the few times I’ve had the privilege of buying lower-bowl seats, I’ve been stunned at the amount of paying customers who either bring their friends or plain old come themselves and get bored and decide to go to a casino or attend another event like a concert, more or less showing up to say hello to their friends and maybe to grab a drink before heading out for the evening’s main entertainment focus.

They show up late, leave early, and spend good chunks of the game on their phones because they’ve bought season tix as a status symbol and don’t really give a rat’s butt about hockey. It’s bizarre but true.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/24/12 at 11:55 AM ET

WingedRider's avatar

I have watched most of the Memorial Cup and Jurco hasn’t got it going ,yet. And Huberdeau gets ALL the attention on the Sea Dogs team.  He has shown moments of Magic with the puck but not consistent yet!  I think he is going to be a very good Wing, I think he is the only Wings prospect playing in the Memorial Cup, disappointing and surprising!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 05/24/12 at 02:17 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

It’s not a reality of supply and demand, it is a constriction of supply to affect price. If the wings can sell all 20,066 slots for most (or all) 82 games, but they wish to make tickets more of a status object, they slash supply to give the illusion of greater demand. If they move to a smaller arena, I’ll likely not bother with making the trip 3-4 times a year (I live 3 hours away). That’s the shady kind of decision I’d expect from the Leafs front office.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 05/24/12 at 03:23 PM 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.