The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/21/12 at 06:22 AM ET
The Detroit Free Press’s George Sipple added a twist to an “emptying the notebook” story about Red Wings prospect Ryan Sproul which notes something of a trend going forward: the Wings’ youth movement is pushing the team toward a level of social media activity that the “older” Wings never really cared or care to engage in.
Mike Commodore was the first Wings player to actively use Twitter, but Cory Emmerton, Brendan Smith and now Jordin Tootoo use Twitter regularly, the Wings have a member of the front office using Twitter in Kris Draper, and going forward, the Wings’ official list of players and prospects using Twitter will grow longer and longer as more players utilize what is now, for better or worse, the hockey world’s means by which news, gossip and trash talk travel most readily.
Sproul isn’t controversial in any way, shape, or form, but as he told Sipple—and as many of the Wings’ first-time participants in last week’s summer development camp learned when they were drafted—joining the Red Wings’ family means losing any anonymity one might have hoped to hold onto:
“I probably had a hundred followers,” said Sproul, who has spent the past two seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League. “After I got drafted, I looked at my phone and I was up to almost a thousand. It’s cool to see how many people are really interested in that.”
Sproul, who goes by Sproully93 on Twitter, is up to 2,700 followers. He is one of the most active users of social media among the prospects who attended the Red Wings Development Camp in Traverse City last week. He tweeted pictures of the view of the beach from his room and picked Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder to win the Home Run Derby.
In terms of his on-ice wares, Sproul’s definitely the kind of prospect that has Wings fans talking—he’s very big, very strong, skates well, has a heavy shot and an checks his opponents with enthusiastic aplomb:
Sproul (6-4, 185 pounds) said he felt more comfortable in his second trip to Traverse City for the development camp. The 19-year-old was coming off a season in which he led OHL defensemen with 23 goals. He was third among defensemen in scoring with 54 points in 61 games.
“Real good size, good range and had a good year last year,” Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “Just needs to keep developing the way he is.”
Sproul said he’d like to net 25 goals and 60 points next season, but his biggest goal is to make the playoffs with the Greyhounds.
“It’d be nice to try and get my team into the playoffs,” he said. “It’s a great city. The fans are really great, and it’s a good place to play.”
And as Wings fans root from Sproul from afar, I wonder whether we’ll find out if the NHL and NHLPA end up writing some sort of official Twitter/Facebook policy into the next CBA…
Shane Doan came one series away from the Stanley Cup Finals this spring. So did the Rangers. Perhaps they’d be better off, then, if they just joined forces.
Doan, the 35-year-old unrestricted free agent who has spent all 16 seasons of his NHL career with the Winnipeg Jets-turned-Phoenix Coyotes franchise, made his first official visit of free agency with the Rangers in New York on Friday, the Daily News has confirmed.
Doan’s visit was first reported by Arizonasports.com.
That’s despite the fact that he reportedly has offers on the table from Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver, Detroit, Buffalo and Pittsburgh – one of them reportedly at four years, $30 million.
Doan, who is also in town this week to attend the collective bargaining negotiations between the owners and players, said outside the NHL offices on Thursday of his impending decision on a destination: “I want to make it as soon as I can.”
Twitter also allowed a bit of news regarding another of the Wings’ potential targets to generate some activity during the middle of July, with the Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander reporting that Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford’s still talking to Alex Semin’s agent, Mark Gandler…
Rutherford says Canes still looking to add a top-6 forward. Says still interested in one-year deal with Semin.— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) July 20, 2012
Rutherford has had several discussions in past week with Semin’s agent.— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) July 20, 2012
In perhaps equally speculative news, after the Pro Hockey Talk gents spent a day pondering the offering this self-referencing assessment of the Wings’ current state of affairs:
8. Detroit Red Wings—“They can overcome the loss of a guy like Jiri Hudler rather easily I think, but Nicklas Lidstrom is an entirely different issue, especially if they’re counting on players from within the farm system (Brendan Smith, for example). When you add in a guy like Brad Stuart leaving as well the Red Wings defense is going to have a very different look next season. And it’s not a better one.”—Central Division Progress Report
And as you might expect, much of Friday’s news involved the collective bargaining agreement. With the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle having offered a rather blunt assessment of the truth of the, “Why the hell are we on the brink of another lockout when some teams will always make tons of money and others will lose regardless of how big or small the players’ share of the pie might be?” CBA matter, the NHL and NHLPA wrapped up their meetings in New York having discussed the nuts and bolts of the league’s first proposal, as Donald Fehr told ESPN New York’s Katie Strang...
According to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, the players’ association is still in the process of gathering information, both with regards to the NHL’s proposal submitted last week and beyond. The NHLPA has not yet submitted a counterproposal or a proposal of its own, and it appears unready to do so at this time.
“When we get to the point where we’re going to formally respond to the proposal they made—by description, by counterproposal, or by separate proposal of our own—everybody will know,” Fehr said. “We’re not there yet.”
Following three consecutive days of meetings, the two camps are expected to reconvene Tuesday in Toronto to focus on “non-core economic issues.”
Those issues include, but are not limited to, safety, discipline, realignment and other areas covered under the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires Sept. 15.
Both Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was reluctant to draw any conclusions from the three-day stretch, which was generally perceived to be constructive. Both sides have characterized the process thus far as civil and business-like, devoid of the hostility that could threaten to derail negotiations.
“I think this week has been a good dialogue,” Bettman said, “but there’s much more to be had.”
Bettman is, of course, pushing hard to get things moving, as he told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen…
“There is a process that collective bargaining entails and we’re moving through that process,” Commissioner Bettman said. “I haven’t put a stopwatch on it yet. There’s obviously a lot of work to be done in a relatively short period of time, but I think we can work toward that goal and accomplish that goal.”
The meeting Friday consisted of small-group sessions.
The League’s negotiating committee included Commissioner Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Boston Bruins owner and Chairman of the Board Jeremy Jacobs, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold, and legal counsel. The NHLPA was represented by Executive Director Donald Fehr, Special Assistant to the Executive Director Mathieu Schneider, legal counsel, and four players: Scott Hartnell (Flyers), Manny Malhotra (Canucks), Kevin Westgarth (Kings) and Shane Doan (unrestricted free agent).
Fehr said the purpose of the meeting Friday was to continue to review information related to the items that have already been discussed, including aspects of the NHL’s initial proposal, which were made last Friday in Toronto.
“We had a fairly good discussion, a frank discussion today,” Fehr said.
“I hope with the issues we talk about we’re able to make some progress,” Fehr said. “Progress can consist of having the discussions and clearing out the underbrush. It could consist of making or withdrawing proposals on either side. It could consist of trying to focus on certain things. It’s hard to say.”
And you can take what Bettman had to say to the Sporting News’s Jesse Spector for what you will:
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that he would be happy to let the union set the agenda for next week’s sessions. While it does not appear that a counterproposal from the union is imminent, both sides continued to sound a generally positive tone.
“My happiness isn’t the issue,” Bettman said. “There’s a process that collective bargaining entails and we’re moving through that process. I haven’t put a stopwatch on it yet. There’s obviously a lot of work to be done in a relatively short period of time, but I think we can work toward that goal and accomplish that goal.”
While there are obvious differences between the league and union that must be reconciled for a new agreement to be made, the continued cordiality of the process has to be seen as encouraging, with the caveat that things can change when the NHLPA puts an offer on the table and the sides find out just how far apart they really are, if they do not already know.
“I’ve been in some negotiations which, from the beginning, were much more verbally contentious than this one has been,” Fehr said. “Whether or not the issues were as large, whether or not we reacted on the players’ side in the same way that you do when you got this proposal, it’s really difficult to tell. The dynamics of each discussion tend to be, I think, self-contained.”
This time around, the only Friday night blockbusters came from the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, who detailed the NHLPA’s first real correspondence with its members regarding the league’s CBA proposal—or at least the first real correspondence that was intentionally leaked to gauge public response:
Post has learned that NHLPA bargaining update to members contains following information gathered in 3 days of meetings in NYC with NHL:— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) July 20, 2012
1. NHL proposal as applied to 2011-12 would have resulted in 24-percent reduction in player compensation;— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) July 20, 2012
2. Under NHL proposal, 2011-12 cap would have been 50.8M with floor of $38.8M— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) July 20, 2012
3. Under NHL proposal, player compensation would be at lowest since 2002-03.— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) July 20, 2012
This information contained in PA memo from Don Fehr to members, obtained by Post.— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) July 20, 2012
And since we’re talking about talking about hockey, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with ending with a bit of speculation from Motor City Muckraker’s Gordie Hall:
As great as the Joe Louis Arena is, it does need improvements.
Take the now-obsolete message boards around the top level of the Joe that used to display out-of-town scores and advertising. It’s now covered by a Belle Tire ad. Other outdated boards in the corners of the arena flash graphics, ads and scores.
This is one area of the Joe that is prime for an update, especially after Comerica Park’s digital renovations, including the high-definition scoreboard and digital ribbons around the suite levels.
Then this morning, I saw an image from the new NHL 13 video game, which shows an updated digital ribbon banner around the top of the Joe Louis Arena, replacing all of the small ads around the top. The dot-matrix boards have been removed. The smaller panel advertising, removed. The large corner boards, gone.
The game maker, EA Sports, strives to provide an accurate depiction of the arena, as evidenced by the true-to-life architecture.
But the Red Wings dismissed the new boards as “just an illustration.” Multiple people within the Red Wings and Olympia Entertainment had no official comment on future renovations at the Joe.
Did EA Sports accidentally leak sensitive information, as they’ve done with uniforms and logos in the past? Or is EA Sports simply updating the Red Wings’ arena before the team gets around to it?
I’d guess the latter instead of the former, because the Wings have tended to announce more major renovations planned for the rink to season ticket-holders, but one never knows.
Addendum: this entry’s admittedly not my best work, but I wrote this while trying to calm down after a lovely combined panic-anxiety attack. I’m sorry for the mediocre quality which resulted from said difficulties.
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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.