Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: on losing Stuart and Fraser, and Schultz and free agent speculation

If last week’s teasers and subtle message-sending by general managers, player agents and even players themselves who may or may not be playing the media to skirt tampering rules whetted your appetite for pre-draft rumors, you’re going to love this week and weekend. With the Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday, the NHL Awards on Wednesday and the Entry Draf…I mean Draft taking place on Friday and Saturday, the sparse mid-June news cycle is about to give way to a week filled with “thought balloons” and message-sending that is as subtle as a brick.

By Monday evening, TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts and the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman were talking about the intertwined nature of Rick Nash and Zach Parise’s futures, players and their agents were speaking up about the kinds of contracts they’re looking for and general manager bluster had returned to, “It’s entirely possible that the hot air issued forth over the next week could be the single greatest contributor to global warming!” (if you believe in that sort of thing) levels.

For the Red Wings, however, free agency’s various forms continued to subtract form the equation instead of adding to it.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the San Jose Sharks had signed Brad Stuart to a 3-year, $10.8 million contract, and while the Mercury News’s David Pollak says that Sharks GM Doug Wilson refused to suggest that the deal was done during a Q and A session, the team wasn’t in out-and-out denial mode, either…

Wilson would not confirm a report from TSN, a Canadian sports network, that the Sharks had signed defenseman Brad Stuart to a three-year, $10.8 million contract, noting the NHL had not signed off on a pending agreement.

Stuart, 32, began his career with San Jose and was reacquired from Detroit this month. If he’s signed, the Sharks must send the Red Wings a seventh- round draft pick in 2014.

And Pollak noted that Wilson was talking about Douglas Murray like his days in San Jose might be numbered:

Makes sense that the signing of Brad Stuart would make Douglas Murray expendable, but Wilson wasn’t ready to go there yet today – though even in refusing to confirm the Stuart contract, the GM made it sound like a done deal.

“Douglas is an important part of this team,” Wilson said before getting into the injuries that slowed the defenseman down last season. “Last year, he fractured his larynx, then he pulled his groin—a big body like that. . . . When he was injured he was a little bit passive, he couldn’t get up on people.

“Stuey has that component. He’s a better skater a little bit,” Wilson added. “But Douglas Murray is a very competitive guy that a lot of top people don’t want to play against.”

Can he still keep up?

“If he’s healthy,” Wilson said. “That’s where the medical reports come in.”


In Dallas, the Stars announced that they’d poached Curt Fraser from the Grand Rapids Griffins to serve as one of Glen Gulutzan’s assistant coaches, and in what seems to be par for the course, Wings fans like you and me always seem to learn more about members of the Wings’ coaching staff when they leave than we do during their tenures with the organization. Fraser described his coaching philosophies thusly to the Dallas News’s Mike Heika…

“I guess if I had to say I was known for one part of the game over another, it would be offense,’’ Fraser said. “I think working closely with Mike Babcock and with all of the coaches in Detroit, it’s something they emphasize. Puck possession, special teams, ways to create scoring.’’

The Griffins struggled a bit this season, as they had to provide a lot of depth for the injured Red Wings. They finished 33-32-11 and allowed the second most goals in the league at 249. However, they also scored the second most goals in the league at 245. That means Fraser has some knowledge that could help head coach Glen Gulutzan and assistant coach Paul Jerrard.

“He has a wealth of coaching experiences in every aspect of the game, and we expect he will fit in perfectly,’’ said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. “He’ll be working with the forwards and Glen, and they’ll put their heads together and figure out the responsibilities. Paulie’s got the defense covered, so Curt will be working with the forwards.’’
Fraser returned [from a stint as Belarus’s national team coach] in 2008 and became the head coach in Grand Rapids. He said he loves being a head coach, but he believes this opportunity is too good to pass up.

“You always want to be in the NHL, but I have had some opportunities to become an NHL assistant, and I didn’t really pursue them because I wasn’t sure they were the right fit,’’ Fraser said. “On this one, so many people I talked to said good things about the Stars and where they are heading, and I just think it’s the right time and the right team.’’

And as is somewhat predictable, DallasStars.com’s Mark Stepenski says that the Wings’ brass encouraged Fraser to pursue the opportunity the Stars presented him with:

When Curt Fraser found out the Dallas Stars had called the Detroit Red Wings seeking permission to talk to him about an assistant coaching position, he wasn’t quite sure what to think. But Fraser got some friendly advice from Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland and Assistant GM Jim Nill.

“They both told me this is a great spot, a great leadership group led by Joe Nieuwendyk,” Fraser said. “They said ‘you’ve got to go talk to these guys.’”

And he did, flying to Dallas for an interview.

“What a great group, just phenomenal,” said Fraser. “I was comfortable with it.”

Fraser returned the favor by gushing about his time spent with the Griffins and the Wings’ organization:

“I was a pretty demanding coach. There are no easy ways to win. You’ve got to push hard. That’s what I did,” Fraser said. “The last four years, working with young kids, developing them, I’ve become much more patient and you’ve got to be a real great communicator. You’ve got to speed them up and teach them to play a much different game than they are used to. I think the experience in Grand Rapids and working with Detroit really helped me.

“I’ve been around for a while but working with a guy like Mike Babcock, he’s a fantastic coach. Ken Holland and Jimmy Nill, there’s not much better than that. I’ve got great memories of the last four years of working with the Wings. I’ve learned a ton, it’s helped me as a coach and hopefully I can bring some of it to the Dallas Stars.”


In terms of this morning’s crop of free agent speculation, I’m starting out by slapping a, “Don’t assume it’s a done deal—fifteen teams are after this guy, and his crazy agent expects any potential employer to guarantee him a spot on the roster” warming on this one:

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan reports that the Red Wings are indeed interested in lining up to court University of Wisconsin defenseman Justin Schultz, who won’t be coming to terms with the Anaheim Ducks and will instead test the open market on July 1st. The Wings are anything but alone in their desire to land the latest, “Best player outside the NHL”:

The Red Wings and every other team in the NHL can’t talk publicly about Schultz, who still is part of the Ducks organization. But the Red Wings and about a dozen other teams are extremely interested.

“The competition for Schultz will be every bit as intense as the competition for Suter and Parise,” analyst and longtime NHL star Ray Ferraro said on TSN radio in Canada. “This kid has the potential to step in and play next year and to be a top 4 guy next year.”

Schultz is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-handed shooting defenseman whose puck-moving skills have impressed scouts. He was selected by the Ducks in the second round in 2008 out of Wisconsin.

“Several members of our staff have had conversations with Justin over the last few years, where he has expressed a strong interest in being an Anaheim Duck,” Ducks general manager Bob Murray told the Orange County Register in April. “We have all had the opportunity to get to know what a great person and player Justin is the last few years..”

Well, not so much. Via NHL Gossip on Twitter, the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens sends us toward the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman, who found Murray hissing about the way negotiations with Schultz have turned since he left Wisconsin:

Bob Murray, the Ducks’ executive vice president and general manager, called the saga a “huge disappointment,” in an interview with NHL Live on the NHL Network.

“Yeah, that’s a sore spot,” Murray said Monday afternoon in the interview. “We’ve drafted fairly well the last few years…. We rebuilt and you have a young man like Justin [Schultz] coming along who gave us every indication he wanted to play for us.

“There’s a spot there for him on the right point on that blue line. You mention the weaknesses. Our power play has been horrible. And Justin is very good at that. So it’s a huge disappointment. You just can’t replace it. You counted on it.

“...There’s a loophole in the CBA. Some things you just don’t understand. You move on. That’s the way it is.”

And the CBA is definitely playing a big role in Schultz’s decision to test the open market. For that, we head back to Kulfan…

No team can offer Schultz more than a standard entry-level contract (roughly $875,000 for two to three years).

Schultz (40 goals, 73 assists, 121 games with Wisconsin) also is reportedly looking for a guaranteed playing time on an NHL roster.

There’s a belief Schultz also wants to play close to home — West Kelowna, British Columbia — or with former Wisconsin teammates. For that reason, Vancouver, Edmonton, the New York Rangers (Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh are former Badgers teammates), and Toronto (Jake Gardiner is his former Badgers defensive partner) are considered the leading contenders. Detroit also has a slight connection — Schultz and Brendan Smith were teammates for one season at Wisconsin.

Mike Eaves was his coach, too, if that means anything.

But here comes another caveat: While Schultz can’t earn more than $875,000 as base salary, signing and performance bonuses can push that figure up to $3.8 million, and that “rookie cap max” deal is likely to take a hit in CBA negotiations, so Schultz is looking for the team that will a) guarantee him a playing spot and b) will pay him a deal that counts against the salary cap for that full $3.8 million amount.

That’s why I’m not so sure that the Wings will end up landing Schultz. With the team’s capgeek-estimated $26.25 million in cap space likely to be spent attempting to fill Nicklas Lidstrom’s spot, attempting to add a goal-scoring forward, probably adding a back-up goalie to the mix and definitely re-signing Kyle Quincey for somewhere between $3 and $3.25 million and Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm to deals that will probably average about $1.25 to $1.5 million per season…

That doesn’t leave much space to take a nearly $4 million gamble on a player who’s played zero professional games, despite his enormous potential.


Otherwise, continuing the moving-from-small-to-large perspective theme:

• If you were wondering about the Wings possibly signing Josh Harding to back up Jimmy Howard, well, I’ve got bad news for you: the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports that Harding wants to remain with Minnesota, but is also seeking a multi-year contract—and the chance to wrest the starter’s job from Niklas Backstrom;

• As Pro Hockey Talk’s Ryan Dadoun noted, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi believes that the Flyers will attempt to land both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter despite their relative lack of cap space, and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren also insisted to Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia’s Tim Panaccio that the team will find a way to keep defenseman Matt Carle in the fold, though Carle, like Jaromir Jagr, will test the waters of unrestricted free agency as the Flyers don’t have the “tagging” space to sign either player until July 1st.

Holmgren told Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia’s Sarah Baker, however, that Jaromir Jagr’s possible return is a coin flip and nothing more. When he was coming back from Russia last year, he waxed poetic in both the North American, Russian and Czech press about playing for Montreal or Edmonton, and Baker believes that the presence of Jagr’s equally mercurial pal Tomas Plekanec may send #68 to Montreal;

• The CBC’s Elliotte Friedman also spent a significant portion of his “30 Thoughts” column addressing free agent rumors, and he believes that while the San Jose Sharks, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers and the New York Rangers are the most likely candidates to make draft day trades and/or go after Rick Nash…

1. Three other teams received several votes: Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago. But, the guess is they will wait to see what they get in free agency before making serious cap commitments. Everyone’s expecting the Wild and Red Wings to jump in with both feet, but it’s interesting that opponents consider the Blackhawks a player, too.
3. Holmgren’s comments about Matt Carle stand out because there is a lot of talk the player’s preference is to move closer to his western-based family, barring the Corleone offer he can’t refuse. His twitter account (@mattcarle25) is the best Alaskan tourism ad in existence and brother David works for the University of Denver’s hockey program. (Congratulations to David on his graduation, four years after his playing career ended due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.)

4. Ryan Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, denied similar reports, that his client is not interested in the Eastern Conference. Do think Suter wants to go somewhere relatively quiet and Philly does not qualify. Not everyone is built for daily cross-examination. Some larger markets with good hockey fans and less intense coverage (Detroit, for example) do fit.

It’s nice to hear someone other than me suggest that Detroit is in fact “quiet enough” for Suter to feel comfortable…

5. If you’re Nashville, your best hope with Suter is looking at him like he’s about to get an offer sheet. Whatever someone gives him on July 1, you want to believe, “We’re going to get a chance to match.” It’s a difficult position to be in, because, sometimes a player gets such a good pitch that he just decides to go.

6. Darren Dreger reported that Jaromir Jagr will test free agency. He had a very good season and exposure to him benefited the Flyers’ young players. The only drawback may be that both Detroit and Pittsburgh found negotiating with him last year to be an excruciating experience.

Yeah, I don’t believe that Jagr’s coming to Detroit. Petr Svoboda’s his and Jiri Hudler’s agent, and something tells me that the Wings have no intention to stroke Jagr’s massive ego or to charter a second team plane to take it along on road trips. He’s actually become more arrogant and self-involved as he’s aged, and especially given his chronic groin and hip problems, there’s no point in spending $3 or $4 million on someone who thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips instead of a superb but injury-prone player.

16. There is no doubt Zach Parise’s first choice is to stay. However, when he talked about his future, he was two days removed from the disappointment of a Stanley Cup defeat. In that time, you’re understandably emotional. Before making his final decision, he’s going to need assurances the Devils’ financial situation will not prevent them from being a serious contender. He badly wants to win, and, if New Jersey can’t convince him that’s possible, how can he remain?

This isn’t necessarily Wings-related, either, but it’s a comment worth noting given that the Wings chose to try to, if you will, rehabilitate Kyle Quincey’s game, shedding the bad habits he learned in Los Angeles and Colorado because the team believes his familiarity with the organization and “upside” as a potential Brad Stuart replacement, at a relatively affordable price, was worth more than the team’s first-round pick, especially given that Stuart-like defensemen might land $4-5 million on the open market:

29. Barret Jackman took a lot of abuse during the second-round defeat to LA, but his three-year, $9.5 million extension is a very fair contract. The cap hit is hardly unmanageable. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that it’s hard to replace players who get 20-plus minutes. Unless you know you’re bringing in someone who can fill that time, you’re changing roles for several guys. You have to be very careful because not everyone can adapt.

• While we’re talking about verbosity, I’m not allowed to quote much more from ESPN’s Craig Custance’s insider ranking of the top 50 free agents, as I did during the mid-day thread, but let’s say that you were to send me an email…I may or may not be able to forward the text to you. Shh.

• And because the shoe is on the other foot for a fan base that watched Marian Hossa go to Chicago three seasons ago, I’m going to indulge in a little spite and offer you a chunk of Fox Sports Tennessee’s conversation with Predators GM David Poile, who is more or less having a hissy fit about Ryan Suter’s decision to test unrestricted free agency:

“What I’m going to need to do, if I have the ability to do this, is whether it’s July 1 or July 2 — whatever — and Ryan says something to the effect that he’d like to come back to the Predators, then I need to bring them ([RFA Shea Weber and Suter) both together and they’re going to have to work together so that we can sign them to the correct contract so that we can be within the cap and put a competitive team on the ice that can challenge for the Stanley Cup,” Poile said on Friday at a press conference. “That’s always been their goal. They’ve told me that umpteen times and I said we’re on the same page, so it’s not just a one-off with Ryan.”

So many assumptions underlie that premise and so much of the Predators’ future rests on the outcome of Suter’s and Weber’s situations. Perhaps one of the most difficult is that once Suter hits the market, opposing teams are not only going to gauge Suter’s interest, but they’re going to present terms — actual years and dollars. No doubt Poile has discussed dollars and terms with Suter, but once the player has another offer in hand that could, in effect, make it more difficult for the Preds to match. Poile is a smart man and he obviously knows what it is going to take to re-sign Suter — “and even when I refer to money, I think it’s going to be somewhat equal,” he said on Friday — but getting two deals of such magnitude done at once necessarily complicates matters. Perhaps that’s why Poile said Suter’s impending free agency “worries me a lot.”

It sounds as if one of Poile’s key negotiating points is the chance to play with Weber, which is a negotiation that could prove every bit as trying as Suter’s, if not more. Together, Poile said the two can go down as perhaps the greatest pair in NHL history. Getting both deals done at the same time would ensure that and also could ensure that the Preds would be a playoff contender for the period as long as their Big Three of Rinne, Weber and Suter remain healthy and playing at their current levels.

It’s true that Weber and Suter complement each other almost perfectly and having played together for so long they know each other’s tendencies on a level that must be almost subconscious. Suter’s top suitors are said to be Minnesota and Detroit. If Suter signs in Detroit, his partner is likely to be Nicklas Kronwall, a player with Weber’s penchant for delivering crushing hits, but who might not be able to keep up with Suter in terms of his time-on-ice minutes on a nightly basis and who also, like Suter, shoots left. If it’s Minnesota, it’s likely to be up-and-comer Tom Gilbert. Both are good players, but neither would seem to offer the all-around compatibility of Weber.

“With all due respect, if he was to go to another team, he could be playing with someone else and not that somebody else isn’t good, but it’s not Shea Weber,” Poile said. “And, I mean, how much is that worth? To me, that’s worth a lot.”

Of course, one shouldn’t solely choose where he will likely play out the remainder of his career based on potential defense partners. In this case, Poile’s other negotiating point appears to be stability. The Preds have won a playoff round each of the last two seasons and appear on an upward arc. The Wild have only won a playoff round once in their history, the miracle season of 2002-03, their third year of existence. With the retirement of Lidstrom and other key players getting older, the Red Wings could be on the cusp of a downward arc – unless they can reverse it through some major free-agent victories (like Suter). The whole thing frustrates Poile, who is generally stoic by temperament.

“Ryan likes it here,” he said. “This is the size of city he wants to play, this the amount of drive he wants to make to the rink, this is the amount of notoriety he wants to have, this is the amount of ice time he’d like to have. It’s a little frustrating when I hear myself saying that because everything fits here with him.”

Snerk. I know Suter may very well sign with the Djibouti Camel Dung Gatherers, but at least Ken Holland waxes somewhat philosophical when he understands that some players who love the Red Wings (if we are to believe Petr Svoboda’s chatter about Jiri Hudler) also love the concept of earning more money than Detroit can offer.


Shifting gears to discuss the draft, TSN has released its top 60 prospect list, and given that the Wings will be picking 49th overall and then using the 80th, 110th, 140th, 170th and 210th overall picks to try and replenish the cupboard, Yahoo Sports’ Kelly Friesen’s list of “draft gems” seems like an appropriate read.

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson also rattled off a list of the draft’s top goaltenders, and with Thomas McCollum facing a make-or-break year and the Wings’ goalie depth after Jimmy Howard, Joey MacDonald (one-way contract included) and McCollum consists of Petr Mrazek and Jordan Pearce, with the latter player seemingly having reached the end of his time as a Wings prospect, I would gather that the Wings might pick one of the following netminders if they slip out of the 1st round

This year, the first goalie to go will likely be P.K. Subban’s brother, Malcolm, who will be partnered with Edmonton Oil Kings’ netminder Laurent Brossoit in the Russia-Canada junior series later this summer (four games: Two in Yaroslavl, two in Halifax). Subban (OHL Belleville) is very athletic, has great lateral movement and reminds many of Pittsburgh Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury with his athleticism. The Chicago Blackhawks need a goalie not just for depth but because No.-1 guy Corey Crawford had such a mediocre season (2.72 avg. Even more telling: A weak .903 save percentage).

The other goalies who could go in round one is Russian Andrei Vasilevski (Ufa), who dazzled in the world juniors here and in Calgary, and Swede Oscar Dansk (Brynas). Dansk has said he wants to play on a Canadian Hockey League team this upcoming season and will be a high pick in the import draft. Brandon Whitney (OHL Saginaw) and Anthony Stolarz, who played in the North American League (Corpus Christi) and is off to U of Nebraska-Omaha, are both 6’5” kids who might go in Round 2.

Coveritlive is a bit of a pain in the ass software-wise, but here’s what USA Today’s Kyle Woodlief had to say about the Wings’ possible picks in his USA Today chat:

Comment From Forever5
Since the Wings don’t have a pick in Round 1, who are some viable options for them in Round 2?

Kyle Woodlief: I think the Wings might look at a local player named Mack MacEachern from Brothers Rice H.S. in Michigan. He’s a really talented sleeper with a lot of upside at 6-3/185 pounds with blazing speed.

• In terms of the Wings’ draft history, DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose looks at the team’s haul of players picked between 1973 and 1982, with John O’Grodnick, Gerard Gallant and Reed Larson headlining the bunch;

• And I had to smile when I read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari’s story about the difficulty of determining which players might become “late-round gems”:

Craig Button knew what he was seeing when he scouted Swedish forward Henrik Zetterberg in the late 1990s. And he liked it. A lot. Most of it, anyway.

“I can go back to notes I had on him,” Button, who was director of scouting for the Dallas Stars in those days, said recently. “‘Good player. Smart. Quick. Size? Good player. ... Size is a concern.’ I got all hooked on the size thing.”

Many teams seemed to have had similar concerns about Zetterberg, who was listed—perhaps a bit generously—as being 5 feet 11, 195 pounds when Detroit claimed him after 209 other prospects had been selected in the 1999 draft.

The Red Wings were guilty of passing over Zetterberg for six rounds, but eventually landed the rights to a guy who has produced 624 points in 668 regular-season games. He turned out to be a nice bookend to a guy they had picked with choice No. 171 a year earlier, a Russian fellow named Pavel Datsyuk, who has been one of the game’s premier two-way players and has 718 points in 732 games.

While it might be years before it’s known whether a world-class talent slipped to—or all the way through—the later rounds of the draft that will be conducted Friday and Saturday at Consol Energy Center, Zetterberg and Datsyuk hardly are the only prospects who weren’t fully appreciated in their draft years.

“At the end of the day, it’s still an inexact science, this drafting,” Phoenix general manager Don Maloney said, smiling.

It’s an inexact science, even with the advent of video scouting and bigger, better and more coordinated networks of amateur scouts scouring the globe for players, but Columbus Blue Jackets director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright’s discussion of the difficulties involved in the developing part of “drafting and developing,” while speaking to Molinari, summarizes why I believe that the Wings will most likely promote Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek to serve as Curt Fraser’s replacement, while continuing to utilize Jiri Fischer, Chris Chelios, Chris Osgood and Aaron Downey as player mentors:

“You have to make sure they’re mentally [prepared],” he said. “It’s a grind at the NHL level. Anybody who thinks it’s not ... To play 82 games and travel, you have a lifestyle that you’re not used to. You’re on your own, for the most part. It’s a grind, and you have to be mentally ready to be able handle that on a daily basis.

“There are ups and downs, and you have to have mentors along the way. There are so many intangibles to help a kid out. You don’t just put a first overall kid on the first-unit power play and say he’s going to be a star.

“There are things [on which] you have to work with him, and help them along the way. When you think the time is right, you push it. But if you start pushing and they’re not ready to handle it, I think it sets them back a long way.”

The Wings’ European prospects tend to gush about Fischer’s hands-on approach as the team’s director of player development, the defensemen adore Chelios’s tips, Downey teaches the usually-undersized or underdeveloped crop how to train and eat properly, and in theory, anyway, the Wings believe that having Osgood in the mix as both a goalie coach and amateur scout will help turn around the team’s historically poor record in terms of successfully drafting and developing goaltenders.


In a very different managerial vein, the Ottawa Citizen’s Wayne Scanlan spoke to Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson, St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong and some guy named Ken Holland about the delicate balancing of navigating their day job and attempting to have some sort of semblance of a personal and/or family life:

Ken Holland, Detroit Red Wings: Though he is younger than Murray, Holland empathizes with the Ottawa GM’s decision over when to retire. Holland, 56, has been the architect of four championship seasons in Detroit and, with Yzerman, Armstrong and Kevin Lowe of the Edmonton Oilers, was part of Canada’s hockey management team that delivered gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Still, Holland is driven by a passion for the game and the latest hockey challenge - restoring Detroit’s glory years after the loss of numerous key veterans, most recently legendary defenceman Nick Lidstrom. Managers face their own day of reckoning.

“It’s probably the same decision a player goes through, just at a different stage of their life,” Holland says. “It’s not at 42, it’s later on in your life.  When you’ve been on a job a long time, and you still have the opportunity to stay on the job, when’s the right time to walk away?”

Holland, a husband and father of four - two boys, two girls - doesn’t deny hockey has kept him from some key moments of his children’s lives.

“If you’re going to be in this business a lot of years you’re going to have to miss things with your family because there’s hockey games going on out there every night, and if you’re not out there working, you’re probably losing ground to your competitor,” Holland says. “You get to that point in your life where there are different priorities.”

The Challenge: Making up for lost time: “As we grow older we have grandchildren,” Holland says. “You realize you’ve missed part of your kids’ life, you don’t want to miss some of your grandchildren’s life.”

The Strategy: Delegate: Like Murray, Holland has faith in a strong staff around him. Murray lets assistant GM Tim Murray handle some of the contracts and much of the scouting work. In Holland’s case, Jim Nill eases the burden.

“You have more energy when you’re 30 and 40 than when you’re 50 or 60, but when you’re 50 or 60, you’ve got experience and knowledge,” Holland says. “You hire a staff and they might pick up in some areas where you don’t have the energy you once did.”


Also of Red Wings-related note:

• The CCHA and WCHA conferences will disappear in 2014 as the Big Ten Conference will dominate college hockey, but on Monday evening, the Wings and Michigan Technological University announced that they will continue staging the Great Lakes Invitational through at least 2014;

• In charitable news, part 1: From the Detroit News:

Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch will be among the recipients of a prestigious Brown Bomber Jacket during ceremonies Thursday night at the Doubletree Hotel-Fort Shelby.

The award, named for boxing legend Joe Louis, is given to individuals for their work in Metro Detroit.

Also receiving jackets are Judge Greg Mathis, former Lions player Jim Thrower, community activist Catherine Blackwell, civil rights activist Rev. Joseph Lowery, educator Dr. Stephen D. Chennault and Juanita Moore, president of the Charles H. Wright Museum.

The master of ceremonies will be WDIV sports anchor Bernie Smilovitz. The event begins with a reception at 6 p.m.

This is the 21st year the Brown Bomber Jacket has been awarded.

• In charitable news, part 2: According to Sport-Express, a charity hockey tournament will be held in Ruslan Salei’s memory during the last week of August in Minsk, Belarus;

• In charitable news, part 3: From the Griffins:

With the help of the public, the Griffins Youth Foundation could win $45,000 for a renovation project at Griff’s IceHouse at Belknap Park, through Erhardt Construction’s “Building Our Community” contest.

Erhardt Construction is celebrating its 50th anniversary by recognizing and supporting the work of people and organizations such as the Griffins Youth Foundation that are serving others in our community. Together with its project partners, Erhardt is giving away a construction project and prizes totaling $50,000 to area non-profit organizations.

The Griffins Youth Foundation plans to construct a new 50’ x 30’ community room expansion on the northeast corner of Griff’s IceHouse’s East Rink, to enable it to enhance its educational offerings for the more than 350 kids it serves. Additional hopes are to retrofit the hockey boards in the northeast corner of the West Rink with new doors to permit easier ice access by members of the Grand Rapids Sled Wings, a sled hockey team comprised of physically challenged kids and teens that is sponsored in part by the foundation.

Members of the public can vote for the Griffins Youth Foundation’s project once per day through July 13 at htttp://erhardtcc.com/community/vote.php. The top five finalists from this first round will advance to a second round of public voting that will take place from July 23-Aug. 17.

• The Detroit Free Press will hold a chat with University of Michigan recruit Jacob Trouba today at 11 AM EDT, and Evil Drew Sharp fielded two Wings-related questions during his chat on Monday:

Should we be scared as Wings fans if Holland cannot sign Suter / Parise?
by Alex 11:01 AM

Drew Sharp: No. What should scare you is the L.A. Kings championship confirms that the NHL is now officially a draft pick league. Regardless of whether or not they add Suter and or Parise, it’s more important that young guys like Brendan Smith step forward and take charge.
Red Wings fan in Chicago here. Just wondering if you think Holmstrom will retire and if so who will take his place.
by GUS 11:08 AM

Drew Sharp: From what I understand, he wants to return. They could use him in limited doses next season.

• The Free Press is also selling a higher-quality version of Sunday’s commemorative Nicklas Lidstrom poster for $7.95 in their “photo store”;

• According to the Chicago Tribune’s Luis Gomez, there’s another reason why Chris Chelios might not want to throw his hat into the ring in terms of spending more of his time coaching:

Is there anyone in Chicago having more fun this summer than Chris Chelios?

The former Blackhawk was standing alongside Eddie Vedder last month when the Pearl Jam singer gave an impromptu performance at Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap in Lincoln Park and he was with Kid Rock Thursday when the “American Bad A—“ gave an impromptu performance at Underground Wonder Bar in River North.

Rock, who dined at The Purple Pig earlier that night and also stopped by The Underground nightclub, performed a mashup of songs and then freestyled for patrons. This wasn’t Rock’s first surprise performance at a Chicago bar. He, like Vedder, has performed at Stanley’s.

Chelios sang, “Take Me out to the Ball Game” during Friday’s Cubs game, and he accompanied Rock on his themed cruise through the Caribbean in May;

• I spoke to Sports.ru’s Vadim Kuznetsov about my favorite memories of Vladimir Konstantinov, and while he published them in Russian, here’s what I shared with him in English:

It’s very important for me to say this: the Russian 5 were truly beloved in Detroit, taken in and beloved as Detroit and Southeastern Michgan’s own. We got angry when Blues fans would chant, “USA, USA!” or people would disparage our team for being “too Russian”—we knew that Igor and “Papa Bear” Fetisov were Soviet legends, but we also knew that they were pioneering players and legends within our midst, too, and we knew that Sergei defected and that the Wings had to move mountains, so to speak, to bring Kozzie and especially Vladdie over to the U.S., so while they played a very Russian, Soviet style of hockey…

The Red Wings still employ the style of play the Russian 5 established, and I can’t imagine the Wings as a team that cared about where a player was from more than whether he could play well after all the Russian 5 did to dispel the myths about “foreigners” being somehow less equal than American or Canadian players.

Vladdie, very specifically, came into the league the same year Nicklas Lidstrom did, and both he and Nick really blossomed into the foundation of the Wings’ blueline during the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals against New Jersey.

What did Wings fans believe Vladdie would evolve into?

The kind of player Chris Chelios was in the mid 90’s—someone who could put up 70 points while wreaking physical havoc and kicking the snot out of everyone who dared to skate into the defensive zone with their head down. People didn’t just appreciate “the Vladinator’s” thundering bodychecks and dirty play—they knew he was incredibly skilled, and before he was hurt, both the Wings’ organization and their fans imagined Konstantinov and Lidstrom as the twin pillars who would form the foundation of the Wings’ defense for a decade or more, and they were seen as opposite sides of the same incredibly skilled coin, with Nick needing to employ nary a bodycheck to do his job and Vladdie raking up a body count.

I don’t know if the Wings have ever recovered from Vladdie’s loss. The numerous “replacements” for Konstantinov, including Chelios, never quite lived up to the player we were so fortunate to watch and hoped he would be from 94-94 to 96-97, and never really replaced him. I don’t think anyone could have because Vladdie was so unique.

And there were and are tons of Wings fans who wore and still wear Konstantinov jerseys because they adored the way he played and his humble, hard-working and “man of few words” personality. Vladdie was kind if like Pavel Datsyuk before there was Pavel Datsyuk in terms of his demeanor and dry sense of humor, and those who did “get” his jokes despite his limited command of English thought he was hilarious—and really smart.

In terms of my favorite stories, I have two. The first one I didn’t see, because it took place during the 1991-92 season, and my parents wouldn’t pay extra to buy the Michigan sports channel PASS on our cable system. During a particularly brutal game against the St. Louis Blues, in St. Louis, Vladdie had apparently gotten in a fight or two and as he went to the penalty box, he managed to uncurl the middle finger of a very stiff pair of hockey gloves and give the entire crowd a big, fat middle finger. He was kicked out of the game for doing so, and flipped the crowd off as he left the ice smile

The other one, I actually saw. I think it was in 95 or 96, and I wish there was a video of it, because it was classic Vladdie trying to bend the rulebook into a pretzel because he was just so brilliantly clever. An opposing player flipped the puck into the Wings’ defensive zone, and Vladdie caught the puck with his right hand, and instead of dropping the puck to his stick blade, he carried it, open-handed and palm up, almost halfway up the ice before the referee blew the play dead and called him for a delay of game penalty.

Vladdie was FURIOUS and skated to the penalty box yelling at and arguing with the referee, insisting that, because he didn’t *close his hand on the puck,* he didn’t break any rules. I mean, hell, his palm was open, so anybody could have whacked it right out of his hand, and everybody could see what he was doing, so it wasn’t cheating, right?

Well, kind of. Technically speaking, you’re supposed to drop the puck to your stick as fast as humanly possible, and you’re not allowed to carry the puck up ice with your hand, period. That’s American football, not hockey. But Vladdie was so smart, clever, and plain old deviously sneaky that he always found ways to bend and twist his way around the rules, and he wasn’t so much angry about the fact that he’d get caught breaking them than he was angry about simply *getting caught.*

That’s Vladdie in one story for me. Sneaky. Clever. Devilishly devious and dirty. And able to play the game in ways that only few teammates, with the kinds of on-ice vision, anticipation and skill sets of the Lidstroms and Larionovs of the world could.
I’ve seen a discussion thread pop up on Hockey’s Future and it made me remember something that might be of interest (or not)...

The thread is about whether Vladimir Konstantinov could have won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman, and some people forget that Vladdie was named a finalist for the award in 1997. I can tell you for a fact that both Red Wings fans and the organization were very upset when Brian Leetch was awarded the Norris while Vladdie was still in the hospital in serious condition. The vast majority of Wings fans fully believed that Vladdie’s 1996-1997 was Norris Trophy-worthy, and it just seemed…silly that he didn’t win. It was as if that damn bias against Russian players reared its ugly head.

If he had continued to play, I fully believe that Vladdie would have won multiple Norris Trophies, and I need to say this, too: the vast majority of Red Wings fans who play up Konstantinov’s Norris-worthy status and the whole, “The Wings could have won 5 or more Stanley Cups had Vladdie been healthy” stuff, those people tend to have actually watched Konstantinov play, and they make those kinds of statements based upon the player he was in the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals, not some idealized version of Konstantinov. He really was that good.

• And finally, I’m going to be out of the office from 2:45 till sometime after 5 PM as I have to take the mom to one more MRI in Southfield. The appointment’s at 4, but we have to show up at 3:45, and given that traffic on that hideous 696/M-10/Telegraph interchange moves at a snail’s pace at 4:30 in the afternoon, and that the 275/96/696 interchange is an equally ugly obstacle course, I’m probably going to putter along 10 Mile from Lahser to Farmington Road, and then use 12 Mile to get around the 275/96 cluster-you-know what.

If anything big breaks—and I’m assuming that the Sharks will make Brad Stuart’s signing official, but the Wings’ sked for the 2012-2013 season won’t come out until Thursday—Paul will cover it, and if worse comes to worse, I can always offer some sort of modicum of blog-y quips from my smartphone.

• And here comes the button: If you can lend a hand in helping me to defer the costs of staying up in TC from July 7-14 so that I can attend the Wings’ summer prospect camp, I’d appreciate it.

You’ll have to use my personal email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate, and if you want to aid the cause by some other manner or means, fire me an email at that address or at georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink



1. Please don’t shoot me (I donated), but editor police: David Pollak’s report should be fractured “larynx” for his injury, not larunx.
2. Curt Fraser being encouraged to move up never hurts the team’s reputation down the line, including good words about Dallas. Jim Paek, I hope you’re staying… with a promotion.

Posted by Bugsy on 06/19/12 at 07:00 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

1. Pollak also spelled Douglas “Douglass,” so I did some editing but didn’t fix it all.

2. Paek seems to be the logical choice, and after three or four hard-charging coaches, I think the Griffins need Paek’s more supportive voice.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/19/12 at 07:06 AM ET

NIVO's avatar

that totally blows about Harding, but I guess it is what it is. On another note I can’t help but keep laughing at Poile and his antics. Anyone have his phone number? He needs a wakeup call real bad because Suter is all but out the door. Ahh the humor of Radulov screwing up at playoff time, and now some of what he needs to keep is bolting as well. What comes around, goes around.

Schultz would definitely be an interesting piece to the puzzle, but to have a guaranteed roster spot with ) NHL games under his belt? I just dont think we have the kind of management that does that kind of thing. But then again, perhaps going against the grain and shaking things up and simply “going for it” is what they need to do.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 06/19/12 at 08:52 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

If I was Suter I would be getting a little annoyed with Poile constantly telling reporters what I (Suter) like. The guy should shut his feckin’ yap if he wants to retain him.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 06/19/12 at 10:30 AM ET


But then again, perhaps going against the grain and shaking things up and simply “going for it” is what they need to do.

I’m fairly sure that getting a guy with absolutely zero experience to replace Lidstrom or Stuart is not the right way to “go for it”.

The Wings didn’t lose in the playoffs the past three years because they didn’t have enough entitled, inexperienced defensemen demanding to play consisten minutes.  There are already enough guys who are on the roster because they are out of minor league options rather than because they earned their spot.

Posted by Garth on 06/19/12 at 10:37 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

(if you believe in that sort of thing)

C’mon George, seriously? wink

On hockey though, smile, too bad there’s only about a snowball’s chance in hell the Wings could land Douglas Murray. He’d be a nice replacement for Stuart’s role in the Wings’ lineup (albeit, Stuie always had a better and underrated offensive upside). Perhaps Kenny can call Stevie Y. and see if they can wrangle a Quincey-style trade?

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/19/12 at 11:11 AM ET

DocF's avatar

Schultz’s agent is probably doing what a good agent does - asking for the moon and the stars.  I would think he could easily play for Detroit next year, but a year in Grand Rapids would do his game a world of good.  The transition from college to NHL is actually jumping two huge jumps in one leap and few do it very well.

Carlo Colaiacovo has sort of gone under the radar in Detroit, but the way he has played against the Red Wings should make him a viable player to pursue.

Now on to the thing I really wanted to say.  Back in the day, Scotty would sometimes play Konstantinov and Fetisov together.  The character of the game changed.  It almost seemed as if the ice got black and very soft for the opponents as their forwards skated on tip toes as they approached Detroit territory.  They knew nothing good awaited them.  The young, sneaky, edge playing guy and the old treacherous guy made life miserable for any forward who was not more interested in self-preservation than in moving the puck toward the net.

Can you imagine a rookie forward coming down the ice and having to face Konstantinov and Kronwall?  The mind boggles.


Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 06/19/12 at 12:08 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Schultz would definitely be an interesting piece to the puzzle, but to have a guaranteed roster spot with ) NHL games under his belt? I just dont think we have the kind of management that does that kind of thing. But then again, perhaps going against the grain and shaking things up and simply “going for it” is what they need to do.
Posted by NIVO on 06/19/12 at 06:52 AM ET

I remarked once I do find this a little bizarre.  I wonder how much of that is actually him and how much is his agent.  The Wings certainly won’t guarantee a kid a spot on the team or so much playing time.  And if I was a promising prospect and the Wings were interested but only promised me the chance to prove myself and earn playing time, I’d jump on it.

But even if the Wings were inclined to court him, would they commit $3.8M of salary cap to him this year when we want to spend big time money?

$26M should go a long way however.  Then hope you don’t get penalized two months later after a new CBA.

Posted by RWBill on 06/19/12 at 12:10 PM ET


Perhaps Kenny can call Stevie Y. and see if they can wrangle a Quincey-style trade?

I’ve been wondering if Holland dealt Stuart’s rights as a gesture of good will with the idea that he might have the inside track on whichever defenseman the Sharks deem is expendable.

Posted by Garth on 06/19/12 at 12:13 PM ET


The Wings certainly won’t guarantee a kid a spot on the team or so much playing time.

Which is exactly why I don’t understand Wings fans thinking there’s a chance they land him (nevermind why in hell you would want to), because there are probably 20 teams who will guarantee him a spot.

$26M should go a long way however.

It should, but one top-six forward and a top-two defenseman would eat a lot of that up, but you’ve got at least probably $2-$2.5M to cover Helm & Abdelkader, plus whatever Quincey gets and a backup goalie, and that’s most of your $26M.

Posted by Garth on 06/19/12 at 12:16 PM ET


So the rumor is 3yrs / $10.8 mill?  Stuart is worth a little more than that, don’t ya think?

Posted by cementslinger from Midland MI on 06/19/12 at 12:45 PM ET


What’s hilarious to me are the 2 following items…

Poile saying Suter and Weber could be the greatest pairing in history....  Lidstrom and Chelios would have lots to say about that, right off the top of my head.  Multiple others could argue that claim as well…

Poile insisting they are a Cup Contender....  Never have been, nor are they close.  The continued rants by Poile, along with those of Josh Cooper concerning what Suter wants, are comical.  How this guy received a nomination for GM of the year is beyond me, but it goes hand in hand with the respect this org gets from the media and I honestly have no idea why.  Always thought in sports you had to achieve something to get respect, and I’m still waiting for the first significant achievement besides beating a Wings team that was finished before it started.

Posted by @TheJimPl9 from Nashville on 06/19/12 at 12:52 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

Jim, we need to hang out.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 06/19/12 at 01:02 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Poile’s other negotiating point appears to be stability. The Preds have won a playoff round each of the last two seasons and appear on an upward arc.

So winning a playoff round in back-to-back seasons now constitutes “stability.” Good to know.

It’s also good to know that:

1) Kronwall “might not be able to keep up with Suter in terms of his time-on-ice minutes on a nightly basis,” and

2) “With the retirement of Lidstrom and other key players getting older, the Red Wings could be on the cusp of a downward arc.”

This Manasso guy should quit writing sports articles and get a gig writing for Saturday Night Live.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/19/12 at 01:09 PM ET


@Chris In Hockey Hell

That has a good possibility of happening…

Posted by @TheJimPl9 from Nashville on 06/19/12 at 01:20 PM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

Chelios sang, “Take Me out to the Ball Game” during Friday’s Wednesday’s Cubs-Tigers game

Fixed (I was there—unless he did Friday’s vs. the Red Sox too)

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 06/19/12 at 01:21 PM ET

SYF's avatar

When Curt Fraser found out the Dallas Stars had called the Detroit Red Wings seeking permission to talk to him about an assistant coaching position, he wasn’t quite sure what to think. But Fraser got some friendly advice from Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland and Assistant GM Jim Nill.

“They both told me this is a great spot, a great leadership group led by Joe Nieuwendyk,” Fraser said. “They said ‘you’ve got to go talk to these guys.’”

And he did, flying to Dallas for an interview.

“What a great group, just phenomenal,” said Fraser. “I was comfortable with it.”

Why the Wings remain the classiest of class act professional sports organ-I-zations…EVER.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 06/19/12 at 02:58 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.