The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: on Jurco’s uncomfortable summer, free agency, the CBA and Bertuzzi-Moore
by George Malik on 07/22/12 at 06:28 AM ET
Most of the NHL’s top prospects have little to worry about in terms of finding a place to play for the 2012-2013 season. If the players have two-way contracts, they qualify as members of the Professional Hockey Players’ Association, and as the PHPA is not attempting to negotiate any sort of collective bargaining agreement with the AHL at the same time that the NHLPA is attempting to negotiate a CBA with the NHL, players on two-way deals will simply head to the AHL.
Tomas Jurco couldn’t speak to the same level of comfort at the Red Wings’ summer development camp, and he looked downright nervous at times—for good reason. Jurco wasn’t signed by the Red Wings prior to the lapse of the NHL’s transfer agreement with the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation, and as such, Jurco remains Wings property until he’s signed, but until the NHL hammers out their new transfer agreement—which happens to be part of the CBA negotiations that aren’t exactly going swimmingly right now.
Jurco knows that he’ll be heading back to HC Kostice if CBA negotiations drag on into the regular NHL or AHL seasons, and I can tell you for a fact that despite assurances by and long talks with the Red Wings’ brass about his playing future, Jurco was worried.
He simply wants to begin his professional career as a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins after the Wings’ scheduled training camp and prospect tournament, but he can’t “get a place” until the CBA’s hammered out. As such, he spoke to the Detroit Free Press’s George Sipple about his plans for the upcoming season in somewhat tentative terms...
“I’m expecting myself to play in Grand Rapids this year,” he said. “I’ll do my best, obviously. I’m going to try to get used to playing men hockey. I hope it won’t be problem for me. Maybe I’ll get a chance for a couple (NHL) games this year, maybe next year.”
Jurco (6-feet-2, 193 pounds) said he hopes to impress management when he returns to Traverse City for training camp in September.
“I want to impress everybody, maybe surprise some people,” he said. “Let them know I can do it. They might not give me chance right away, but during the season when there are some injuries I’ll be playing well in AHL and they will know they can call me up any time.”
Jurco, 19, had his best season in the QMJHL last season, with 30 goals and 38 assists in 48 regular-season games. He added 13 goals and 16 assists in 16 playoff games. He might have been even more productive had he not suffered injuries to both shoulders in the playoffs. Jurco said the injuries happened in the third round “and it still hurts.”
Wings assistant GM Jim Nill had several long conversations with Jurco, and should Jurco be allowed to play in North America this upcoming season, Nill’s preaching caution in terms of fans’ expectations for the YouTube star…
“We know there’s going to be ups and downs like with any kid,” said Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill. “Just gotta go to Grand Rapids and start his pro career.”
Jurco should be a top-six forward for the Griffins as a rookie. “He should be a goal scorer,” Nill said. “He’s got high-end skill.”
Comparisons with fellow Slovak Tomas Tatar are inevitable, but Jurco’s definitely a different kind of player, as Nill told Sipple:
“Tatar is more of a guy who gets on the puck in the corners and stuff,” Nill said. “Jurco’s more the guy who gets it in the neutral zone and can make things happen.”
My best description of the difference between the two players’ respective “upsides” is simple: Tatar’s an undersized but surprisingly gritty forward whose skating speed and fearless style of play might yield the kind of down-low sniper who’s willing to go to the front of the net and chase down rebounds that many Wings fans had hoped Jiri Hudler might become; Jurco’s bigger, faster, and while he also displays little to no fear of charging headlong into traffic to grind his way to the front of the net, Jurco hopes that his skating and his shot will overpower professional players instead of pure will and competitiveness.
Tatar could become a Jiri Hudler-Danny Cleary hybrid; Jurco could develop into a power forward, but even if he doesn’t completely fulfill his potential, he could turn out to be a helluva sniper…
Regardless of whether he plays in North America during this upcoming season.
Saturday’s crop of Red Wings news seemed to match the day’s CBA news in tone: MLive’s Ansar Khan suggested that the Wings will indeed have to apply some sort of free agent band-aid on the blueline while picking from amongst this summer’s lesser lights and/or leftovers before attempting to make a trade when the CBA is settled and/or the team doesn’t have to worry as much about having to create one roster hole to fill another; the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness took due note of Shane Doan’s visits with the Rangers and Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes’ advances toward Alex Semin while suggesting that the Wings can’t afford to spend themselves to the salary cap simply to out-bid other teams on either player’s services.
The Philadelphia Daily News’s Frank Seravalli took note of Doan’s visit to Philly while pointing out that the Flyers don’t exactly have a ton of cap space to play around with…
Shane Doan visited Philadelphia to meet with Flyers executives and get a peek at the city on Saturday, multiple sources have confirmed to the Daily News.
One league source said that while there is mutual interest between the Flyers and Doan, the visit was more about Doan “just checking his options.” He also spent 90 minutes with the Rangers on Friday, after spending time in New York for the NHLPA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.
Doan, 35, has spent his entire career with the Phoenix / Winnipeg franchise - the only original Coyote still playing in Phoenix. In fact, Doan, Nikolai Khabibulin and Teemu Selanne are the last active players from the final 1995-96 Jets team in Winnipeg. He has been the Coyotes’ captain since 2003.
That history is one reason why many believe Doan will remain in the desert, but not without first considering all of his options.
According to John Gambadoro of 620 KTAR radio in Phoenix, the Flyers and Rangers are the only two teams he has visited in the Eastern Conference. Part of that may be due to the proximity of the negotiations. Gambadoro reported last week that Doan has been sitting on a 4-year, $30 million offer from an unidentified team in the East.
The Penguins, Canadiens, Canucks, Red Wings, and many other teams have also reportedly expressed interest in Doan - who collected 50 points last season, but it was his lowest total since 2002.
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons took note of Doan’s situation as well (and we’ll get back to Simmons in a minute)...
Shane Doan is 36 years old and with all kinds of options. In no particular order, he has been invited to play alongside Claude Giroux in Philadelphia, Pavel Datsyuk in Detroit, the Sedin twins in Vancouver or Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh — and that’s just some of the high-end opportunities for the well-regarded Phoenix captain. But so far, Doan has listened, nodded and remained remarkably loyal to the NHL-owned and forever wonky Phoenix Coyotes. That is gallant of him but at this stage of his career, and as a free agent, Doan owes nothing to the Coyotes. It’s time for him to cut ties, walk away, and take some real shots at the Stanley Cup.
And the New York Post’s Larry Brooks offered a Doan ramble...
Shane Doan took a tour of New York and visited the Rangers’ practice facility on Friday, as reported on Twitter yesterday by The Post.
The Blueshirts are believed a favored landing spot for the veteran free agent left wing if he decides to leave Phoenix, even as he hopes against hope that the Coyotes’ ownership situation will solidify itself in the next week or two so he can sign a multi-year deal, which would allow him to complete his career with the only franchise for which he has played since entering the league in 1995-96.
Know this: It isn’t either Doan or [Rick] Nash for the Rangers. It is, on [Rangers GM Glen] Sather’s Blueprint, Doan and Nash.
Before taking a big swipe at the Wings to close his column…
The Devils lost Zach Parise, the Predators seem to have lost both Suter and Weber, but the biggest hit of all this summer was taken by the Red Wings, who lost their cache.
And the Free Press’s Steve Schrader spoke about Nash while doling out Sunday “Stevie” awards…
The “Untouchable” award: To the Columbus Blue Jackets, who rejected a really big offer from the Red Wings for forward Rick Nash, at least according to some reports. What’s the holdup, did they want Nick Castellanos, too?
(I had to look him up…Apparently Castellanos is one of the Tigers’ best prospects)
Before delivering quite the swipe of his own in his news quiz:
Who got snubbed?
A) Cliff Avril, with the franchise tag.
B) Linsanity. The Knicks are SO over it.
C) Ron Swanson, by the Emmy nominations.
D) The Red Wings, by all those free agents.
In the gloom, doom and philosophy department, I can’t deny that player agent Allan Walsh’s Twitter rant, as posted by Paul, hits the CBA nail on the head—every seven or eight years, it seems that the NHL and the Board of Governors are completely comfortable with placing new bandages on what are, for many franchises, mortal wounds by digging givebacks from players’ wallets instead of systemically addressing the need for revenue-sharing while allowing big-market teams to pay into the system by a means that doesn’t suck donkey balls in being allowed to exert their competitive spending advantages for the sake of paying into luxury taxes…
• The Ottawa Citizen’s Don Brennan wisely points out that Daniel Alfredsson is the tip of an iceberg of players who may have played their last NHL games if there is a lockout, just as we lost Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis, Mark Messier and, to some extent, Steve Yzerman to the last lockout…
• And whoever wrote the essay submitted to the CBC is an incredibly smart player (who, of course, advocates a luxury tax system):
Can you remember what the last lockout was like?? I can. I was still on my entry-level contract and I will tell you it was horrible from a players’ perspective. I had enough of an understanding to realize that this was going to be harder on the players than it would be on the owners. I was also trying to wrestle with the fan within, craving to watch a hockey game after dinner.
Greedy players and greedy owners ruining my game. But now that I’ve seen it from the inside, I’ll tell you that’s the last thing players want.
Players then were constantly waiting for the inevitable axe to drop. They were told that if they held their resolve and stuck together, all would be fine.
“Save your money, we’ll need that war chest. You’ll be fine with stipends”.
Bullshit. One owners’ war chest is as big as ours combined. The mantra should have been; “Take your medicine and choose what’s really important”.
They want HRR to go from 57 per cent to 46 per cent?! No thanks, you’ve already got parking, concessions, and who knows what else generating income that is not considered as part of HRR.
Owners aren’t stupid, they don’t continue to run businesses that bleed red ink. At a certain point, this just becomes gouging. We are supposed to be partners in this; a working relationship.
It isn’t slavery, players are well compensated and should be for the time and commitment we put in to our craft, combined with the risk that comes with playing a dangerous game. We are highly trained and highly skilled in what we do, and are only asked that we be compensated fairly considered the revenue that doing our job generates.
But we’re headed back to Simmons for the conclusion of an entry as gloomy as my mood for a reason: Simmons tends to write like a sports columnist who expects to be entertained by whatever sport’s games he doesn’t pay to attend, and with a potential lockout in the offing, it sounds like Simmons, who’s staunchly advocated for Steve Moore and against Todd Bertuzzi, expects to be very thoroughly entertained by something that isn’t about entertainment value:
You know we’re getting close to the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore civil suit when mental giants such as former NHL star Scott Parker (seven goals in eight seasons as a forward) crawl out from under some rock to let the world know that Moore got what he deserved.
The multimillion-dollar lawsuit finally goes to court in late September. And of major concern now is the status of key witness (for both sides) Marc Crawford, who was coach of the Vancouver Canucks when Bertuzzi ended Moore’s career in 2004.
Crawford has signed on to coach in Switzerland for the coming hockey season. Whether he returns to testify — or can be forced to return to testify — is a matter yet to be determined.
The Bertuzzi-Moore case is certain to get all kinds of coverage come September and should there be an NHL lockout at the time, this overdue piece of nasty business will be the featured event on the hockey calendar. The league and the sport will essentially be on trial. The testimony, with or without Crawford, should be fascinating, emotional and at times, angry.
Yeah, and it’s about one man who committed a terrible act finding out how much of his career earnings he’s going to pay to a man who’s been stuck in a victim’s suit for eight years because his lawyer wants to put the game of hockey on trial in an “entertaining” civil suit designed to ensure that the NHL, the Canucks and Crawford pay for whatever part they may or may not have played in what Bertuzzi did.
I don’t think that’s “entertaining” at all. I don’t understand why this wasn’t settled half a decade ago so that Steve Moore could be afforded the opportunity to go on with his life, just as Todd Bertuzzi has moved on with his, but Tim Danson’s the kind of lawyer who makes Geoffrey Fieger look like someone who desperately attempts to avoid the spotlight, and he’s certain to put on the best show he possibly can for the Simmons of the world and everyone else who wants to watch.
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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.