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Red Wings overnight report: personnel updates, Nick playing poker, Axelsson’s mentor and other stuff

Okey dokey, as Tuesday met the Red Wings’ average in terms of personnel news and a near regular-season level of talk (we might have a slow day here and there, but from here till after prospect camp in the middle of July—more on that later—things will remain pretty darn busy), let’s review the news of note:

• The Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James reported that Chris Osgood and Kris Draper’s futures with the team won’t be determined until Ken Holland and the rest of the Wings’ front office, coach Mike Babcock and the pro and amateur scouts meet on June 14th and 15th to hone their master plan for the entry draft and free agency. These meetings will probably also determine whether the Wings re-sign Jonathan Ericsson, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, and whether the team plans on trading a forward (Jiri Hudler?) to make cap space to add what Babcock wants in a top-six forward;

• In the coaching category, St. James stated that the Wings won’t look for an assistant to replace Brad McCrimmon or possibly Paul MacLean till after the Cup finals and MacLean’s interviewed for head coaching jobs, and MLive’s Ansar Khan reported that MacLean’s spoken to former Anaheim Ducks GM and current Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray about the Sens’ head coaching vacancy;

• I talked quite a bit about the announcement of Winnipeg’s return to the NHL via the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers and nobody really cared (oh well), but we did get tons of comments about the eventual realignment Winnipeg’s unnamed team to the Western Conference, which has pretty much been talked to death, and we’ll regrettably get into more of it;

• And the Red Wings and every other team’s hockey fans ought to know that Tim Horton’s will give every penny of their coffee sales to the Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation, which sends kids to a kick-ass summer camp. The following Wings Alums will take part in the festivities by signing autographs…

  John Ogrodnick at Lincoln Park location (1360 Southfield Rd ) from 6-7 a.m.

Eddie Mio at Sterling Heights location (37121 Mound Rd) from 8-9 a.m.

Jason Woolley at Troy location (3331 Rochester Rd) from 9-10 a.m.

And if you’re on the West side of town like me, Plymouth Whalers director of communications Peter Krupsky says that two Whalers will also supporting the cause:

The Whalers will be appearing at the following Tim Hortons locations on June 1:

11am – 1pm - Canton (45515 Michigan) – Alex Aleardi, Austin Levi. Call 734-484-0261.

1:30- 3pm - Livonia (33500 Plymouth Road) – Tom Wilson, Garrett Meurs, Max Iafrate. Call (734) 427-0653.‎

Not only are the Whalers supporting the event as waiters and beverage servers, they’ll be passing out a limited amount of Plymouth tickets for the upcoming 2011-12 season. The players will also be available for autographs and photographs. In addition, 104.3FM WOMC will be broadcasting live at the Canton location.

“I think every hockey family I know – in fact, everyone involved in the game of hockey supports Tim Hortons,” said Denise Ronayne, Plymouth Whalers Director of Sales and Marketing. “They are an amazing partner who constantly gives back to the community and actively supports local youth hockey programs. We are proud to get our Whalers players into their stores on Camp Day.”

And now, onto the new stuff: This morning, I’d like to lead off with something completely different, because, as the Associated Press reports, an act of vandalism which is basically sacrilegious took place on Monday:

Someone has written graffiti on Detroit’s iconic sculpture of the arm and fist of famed boxer Joe Louis.

The 24-foot bronze sculpture hangs from cables near the downtown Hart Plaza. It’s several blocks from Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings.

Mayor Dave Bing’s office told The Detroit News on Tuesday that it’s taking steps to remove the markings, which cover a long stretch of the sculpture and may have been made with chalk.

Mayoral spokeswoman Karen Dumas says it’s an “unfortunate incident.”

The monument to the late heavyweight champion was commissioned with a $350,000 grant from Sports Illustrated magazine. It was unveiled in 1987.

Okay, palate-cleansing over. I found this entry from Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom to be…Let’s call it utterly predictable:

Nicklas Lidstrom is thinking about his hockey future. Right now he’s doing so on an island in the Caribbean with his family.

Tomas Holmstrom’s also in the Caribbean on a vacation with his family.

“But we’re on separate islands,” Lidas said during a text message when asked if he and Homer went on a holiday together to plan for their next season in Detroit.

Homer has a year left on his contract with the Red Wings, and will make sure to do everything possible to persuade Lidas to continue for at least another season. The guys carpool together from Detroit’s northwest suburbs to the rink at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

Lidstrom has promised to make a decision before July 1st.

Ever the poker player, Lidstrom won’t even tell “Der Alte” (“The Old Man”) what he’s thinking…

The Grand Rapids Griffins merit a main news post mention for a pretty darn remarkable set of 30 “giveaways” to partial or full season ticket-holders over June’s 30 days, and the 30th prize is nothing less than awesome:

June 30 – Griffin for a Day – Sign a Griffins contract for one day and see what it’s like to be a player on game day, ending with you lining up on the blue line in full uniform for the national anthem.

The Griffins will also be affected by Winnipeg’s return to the AHL. The Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema notes that the Manitoba Moose AHL franchise will move to another city, which might mean a divisional shift for the Griffins.

I hate talking about realignment because I believe that it won’t happen for Detroit, to the point that I’ll suggest that columnists who talk about this topic are jerking you around for the sake of generating web hits and radio and newspaper talk about a topic that’s a losing equation for the West’s anchor tenant.

Moreover, we have to remember that both the Detroit News’s John Niyo and the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline have confirmed that there simply is no pecking order, nor does Gary Bettman’s promise that the Wings would move East if the NHL expands to 32 teams does not apply to franchise relocation.

We also know, however, per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun and the Canadian Press’ Chris Johnston that the NHL’s Board of Governors, all 30 of them, will decide which of the teams which present applications to the league by January 1, 2012 will be moved to the East…

And we know that a majority of the Board must approve said relocation, probably in either March of 2012 or at their meetings next June, with politicking galore going on between now and then.

It’s also hard to believe that, as WDFN’s Matt Shepard suggests, the NHL could simply move the Wings and Blackhawks to an Eastern Conference “Original Six” division. The NHL wants the Wings in the West so that two Original Six teams remain, and the NHL wants the Wings in the West because they sell out buildings wherever they go.

Yes, the Wings take a playoff spot away from other teams, but they also generate quite a bit of revenue, and as such, they both give their Western opponents’ bottom lines a boost and have to write a big check when it’s time to share revenue.

The Winnipeg Sun’s Kirk Penton states the obvious...

Sources told QMI Agency three teams — Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators — are going to want to move to the Eastern Conference for the 2012-13 campaign.

“This is going to be a huge fight,” said a league executive speaking on the condition of anonymity. “The only problem for the Wings is they are a huge draw for a lot of the teams in the Western Conference,” another NHL executive said. “They’re not going to want to give up those dates when the Wings come to town.”

Ditto for Pro Hockey Talk’s Matt Reitz...

Just how much power does the Detroit organization have with the NHL? It’s understandable that they’d want to move to the Eastern Conference—just like it’s understandable that the Predators and Blue Jackets management would want to move to the East. All would benefit from better start times and improved travel. But if the Red Wings flip, it has the potential to cost most of the Western Conference teams in terms of revenue and exposure. The struggling franchise in Columbus could gain stability from a better schedule. From a common sense point of view, Nashville just seems like the right market to slide into the Southeast Division. Regardless, let the lobbying begin!

While the Ottawa Sun’s rumor maestro, Bruce Garrioch, cranks the rhetoric up to eleven while offering the usual “league sources” line:

Two league sources told QMI Agency that commissioner Gary Bettman faces a battle in the boardroom with three teams angling to move into the Eastern Conference to replace the Atlanta Thrashers. The Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators all want to move.

Expect the Winnipeg franchise to take Atlanta’s spot in the Southeast Division for now, as it’s likely too late to make changes for the 2011-12 season. Those changes will be discussed over the next six months.

“This is going to be a huge fight,” said a league executive.

The Wings have wanted in the East for more than a decade and many believe the Original Six club is finally going to get its wish. The Jackets and Predators don’t have nearly the history and aren’t as big a draw on the road — facts that could actually work in their favour.

“The only problem for the Wings is they are a huge draw for a lot of the teams in the Western Conference,” said another NHL executive. “They’re not going to want to give up those dates when the Wings come to town. The Predators and Jackets don’t draw nearly as many fans for a lot of those teams as Detroit does. There’s going to be a lot of Western teams that won’t want to see Detroit moved to the East.”

The Raleigh News & Observer’s Luke DeCock, however, offers an alternate theory:

The Red Wings have wanted out of the Western Conference for years, which bestows upon them the worst travel in the league, but the NHL has millions of reasons to keep the Red Wings and the Blackhawks in the same division - it’s one of the matchups Versus and NBC like. And if you haven’t noticed, Versus and NBC are basically running the league right now, which is why we have this wacky schedule for the finals in which the NHL plays one game in eight days.

The Southeast Division teams will be pushing equally hard to get the Red Wings, because that replaces three games against the Thrashers/Winnipeggers with three guaranteed sellouts against Detroit, not to mention Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos’ own personal motivation for being in the same division with his hometown team.

On purely aesthetic grounds, the Predators make more sense. They’re the geographic and spiritual brethren of the other teams in the Southeast Division, and they face many the same travel issues as the Red Wings. Needless to say, you won’t hear NBC make a squeak. Nashville has built some rivalries in the Central, but nothing worth preserving compared to the potential for rivalry development in the Southeast.

The Blue Jackets remain another option if the networks won’t let the Red Wings move and the Predators put up a fight, but that seems unlikely at this point.

The Blue Jackets are actually the favorites in terms of scuttlebutt because they’re losing tens of millions of dollars a year (have we heard about that recently?) and their execs believe that a move to the East would kick-start regional rivalries with Buffalo and Pittsburgh in particular.

If the NHL wants a team off the dole and its owners are both concerned about their financial bottom line and TV ratings—and we already know that NBC wears the pants in the relationship—the Wings stay in the West and either the Predators (who would actually prefer to remain in the Central Division) or Blue Jackets move.

That really is the bottom line—this is about money and TV ratings, and the Wings in the West bolster both for their opponents, so it’s hard to imagine 14 governors in the West and the Northeast Division’s representatives (the Sabres are fiercely protective of their territory and the Leafs, well, are the Leafs) to all sign on with the Wings moving East.

In Swedish, part 2: Modo Ornskoldsvik coach Ulf Samulesson spoke to Expressen’s Nordstrom about his plans for Wings prospect Dick Axelsson:

Samuelsson’s plan is to get Dick to stay

Los Angeles. New Modo coach Ulf Samuelsson hopes that Dick Axelsson will wait for one more year before heading to the NHL.

“I met with Dick, along with Markus Naslund, during my visit to O-vik recently, and we have plans for him,” says “Uffe.”

The plan is to help Dick Axelsson be ready to head to the NHL during the 2012-2013 season.

In the meantime, the hockey star can help MoDo make the playoffs in the Eliteserien.

“We can help each other. Because of my experiences, both as a player and coach in the NHL, I [believe] I can focus on the areas that Dick wants to improve upon to become a good NHL player. I had a very good impression of him during our meeting in O-vik.”

Previously, we only knew that Axelsson met Modo Hockey’s GM, Markus Naslund, and received a call from Peter Forsberg before he chose to play for Modo instead of Skelleftea or HV71.

Had lunch together

But Sport-Expressen can reveal that the former Farjestad forward also had a long meeting with Ulf Samuelsson as well.

“Yes, I had lunch with Markus[Naslund] and Dick, and I felt like we came to an agreement.”

What will you try to help him with?

“I’ll try to help him with everything. I know how NHL teams think and what they demand. And I know Detroit’s management team, so I can keep in contact with them during the season and find out if they have any special requests regarding his development.”

Also of Red Wings-related note: I’m not going to over-saturate you with a bunch of Winnipeg stuff, but Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill told USA Today’s Kevin Allen that he enjoyed his time in Winnipeg, as Paul MacLean did to the Globe and Mail’s Alan Maki and the Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen in a very lengthy article;

• Via Dobber Hockey’s forums, let’s just say that the Wings might snatch up Spokane Chiefs defenseman and Wings prospect tournament try-out Brenden Kitchton if he’s available in the second round;

• If you’re looking for a good place to follow the Entry Draft, I’m bookmarking The Sports Forecaster’s page as their coverage rivals TSN and NHL.com’s best stuff;

• If you’re interested, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan and the Free Press’s Helene St. James penned de-facto Stanley Cup Final previews;

• According to the Red Wings’ Twitter account, this happened on May 31st, 2002, and by “this,” I mean the 7-1 dismantling of the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. That game officially dismantled Patrick Roy’s mystique:

• And I hate to ask as you know, but I do need help getting to Traverse City for the Wings’ prospect camp from July 7-14. If I had known prior to the middle of May that it was being moved from Joe Louis Arena to TC, I could afford it, but I’ve got $600 pledged to getting the Pacifica ready for and helping with the “gas fund” for the first trip my mom and I will make to our family vacation spot in Grand Marais, which takes place at the end of July, in 2 years, and our second trip over the last seven years.

If I’d known I might have asked her to shorten our stay in Grand Marais as well, but the reservations are in and have been pre-paid, so…

I dunno how else to put it. I’m a blogger. Paul pays me very well but very well in the blogging world doesn’t account for “surprises” like this. You guys were wonderful in helping me get to Traverse City for training camp and if there’s any way that we can do this via Paypal or ChipIn, which would allow us to set a dollar goal for a hotel room (I’m not picky) and gas and some food—and by food, I mean sandwiches, some groceries, Little Caesars pizza and nothing more—I’d obviously try to give you your money’s worth in terms of coverage. The booger involved is that the Cherry Festival is taking place at the same time, so the hotel rates are training camp silly,

When I went to training camp, I basically lived at the rink and the hotel (because Center Ice wasn’t in the mood to share its wireless connection) and I didn’t even do so much as drive through the city till the day I left. I don’t drink (I’m allergic to alcohol) or smoke or party so there’s no real point in me spending time doing much other than work and trying to get some sleep in while manning the blog and despite the fact that a few dozen of you encouraged me to have a steak or a nice meal, aside from the lovely stuff I had at the Wings’ charity dinner, it was sandwiches, yogurt and pizza for me. And lots and lots and lots of writing.

If anybody wants to head up and split a room, of course, I’d be happy to do so, though I’d highly suggest that due to the likelihood of you wanting to sight-see and me doing work, an upset planet included, we’d have to drive separate vehicles. I don’t snore because I don’t have a uvula (surgery removed it and tweaked my sinuses, so no snoring), I’m not a party dude (see above) and my criminal record is limited to speeding tickets, and I’m sure I can provide references.

I’d be honored and humbled if you’re willing to help, and as I’d be missing the A Perfect Circle concert in Detroit on July 8th, I’d give my $65 ticket to whoever wants it.

That’s about it. Let me know what you think.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


christpuncher's avatar

I don’t have much to donate George, but I will give what I can. I would like to buy your A.P.C. ticket too if you end up going to T.C.

Posted by christpuncher from Detroit, MI on 06/01/11 at 10:51 AM ET



Can you get a handle on the total anticipated and maybe some of us would make a small donation. I thoroughly enjoy your camp blogs so would definitely help in whatever way I can.

Posted by newfiewing from robert's arm, nl on 06/01/11 at 11:12 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

George, as soon as you set up a link, I’ll throw some cash in.

Christ, if that meathead Ulf is mentoring Hat Trick Dick, that’ll only be a step backward in his already questionable development path.  MoDo, Dick Axelsson, Ulf…it’s a perfect storm of suck.  Here’s a special request, Ulf: BEAT THE PRIMA DONNA out of the kid!  We all know you can cheapshot, just ask Cam Neely.

Shame about the fist.  At least it’s not a tag, and can be scrubbed off.  Someone probably did it for the prestige among his peers.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 06/01/11 at 12:52 PM ET

awould's avatar

The Blue Jackets are actually the favorites in terms of scuttlebutt because they’re losing tens of millions of dollars a year (have we heard about that recently?) and their execs believe that a move to the East would kick-start regional rivalries with Buffalo and Pittsburgh in particular.[/quote

Terrible logic, and it should have no impact whatsoever on the decision on who to move. Columbus has potential regional rivals already in the Central Division - if they were any good those rivalries might have grown. Also, out of those teams mentioned Pittsburgh is the only team with close enough proximity to really be considered “regional” with Columbus. I don’t think 70 or 80 miles closer is really going to make the difference for a team that sucks on and off the ice. This argument is just a pathetic ‘woe is me’ plea for pity.

Posted by awould on 06/01/11 at 01:47 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

Gretzky was just on the Dan Patrick show. Dan asked Gretz if he could come back as any player in the league, who would it be? Gretz replied Zetterberg or Datsyuk. He said not only are they incredibly talented, they work really hard.

He also referenced Stevie

Here is a link to the interview

Stupid DP Show staffer thinks the NHL team in Vancouver is the Grizzlies, the former VAN NBA team that is now in Memphis.

George, if you post a paypal link, I’ll kick in a few bucks.

Andrew, How is your mom doing?

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 06/01/11 at 01:57 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

The Z/Pavs comment is aboot 10:30-10:45 into the interview.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 06/01/11 at 02:01 PM ET

All American in MN's avatar

Wings might snatch up Spokane Chiefs defenseman and Wings prospect tournament try-out Brenden Kitchton if he’s available in the second round

Maybe I am looking at this the wrong way since I am not an NHL front office associate.  But doesn’t it seem odd that the Wings would use a high draft pick on a player that was a prospect tournament try-out the year before?  I mean, the Wings could have signed this guy for nothing; just a hit against the total number of contracts allowed for a franchise.  This seems to be a waste of a high pick to me.  It seems uncommon when a player who gets passed over at a draft gets selected the following year.  Here is an example of what I am stammering about.  I am pretty sure the Wings signed Trevor Parks last summer after a try-out.  Again, I am pretty sure that Parks was a try-out with the Blue Jackets the off season prior.  Parks was not selected in back to back drafts.  So, unless Brenden Kitchton really tore it up, don’t you think that he would again go unselected at the draft this summer?  Caveat, I have yet to do any research on the upcoming draft yet, so maybe Kitchton did do amazing things.

Posted by All American in MN on 06/01/11 at 02:08 PM ET


I mean, the Wings could have signed this guy for nothing

Stands to reason that they didn’t think it was worth signing him to a contract last year and he’s improved over the course of the year.

And it also stands to reason that he’s got potential, but they’re not sold on him, so if he’s available in the 2nd round they may choose to pick him.

Think about it this way: if they signed him to a deal last year, they’d have to pay him and if he doesn’t progress to where they want then it would be money wasted, but if they pick him this year they have two years before they have to sign him.  That means that if they signed him last year to an entry-level deal, they would have to pay him for three years versus if they draft him this year.

Posted by Garth on 06/01/11 at 02:42 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

I’ll suggest that columnists who talk about this topic are jerking you around for the sake of generating web hits and radio and newspaper talk about a topic that’s a losing equation for the West’s anchor tenant.

I thought that’s what .. never mind.

We’ll bide our time, besides if Phoenix moves, an entirely different look to the league could be drawn up that would render any 2011 discussion overcome by events.

Posted by RWBill on 06/01/11 at 03:29 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Nashville to the SE Division?  So that 41 road games will come on TV at 6 pm?

Contrary to a columnist above, Nashville has no cultural bonding with the District of Columbia, Tampa Bay, Miami, or Raleigh.  That franchise has benefitted mightily from the NHL scheduling Detroit into Nashville the 2d game of a back to back against a rested home team.  Replace the Wings in Nashville on a Saturday night with Florida and listen to the echoes in the arena and see the short lines for beer.

Posted by RWBill on 06/01/11 at 03:49 PM ET


I’ll throw in a donation for the coverage. Paypal preferred.

Posted by BR from Det on 06/01/11 at 05:17 PM ET

Lucce's avatar

Dick is useless, try to trade for some decent draft picks…. Maybe for some vintage hockey cards….

Posted by Lucce from Kingdom of Zweden on 06/01/11 at 06:58 PM ET

Sunday's avatar

Trot out that PayPal or ChipIn button, George, and I’ll be very happy to contribute.  I get a lot out of TMR, and it’s time to help support you.

Posted by Sunday from somewhere else on 06/01/11 at 10:08 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

GEORGE you’ve done so much for us Red Wing fans over the years,  we owe ya ... SO STOP FEELING GUILTY

Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michgian on 06/02/11 at 07:41 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.