The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: players’ CBA jitters, a prospect trade and a tale of Datsyukian goodness
by George Malik on 08/24/12 at 06:54 AM ET
With the KHL promising to expand its rosters in case of a lockout, Aftonbladet’s Hans Abrahamsson responding to the Swedish Eliteserien’s decision to deny entry to players who won’t commit to balance-of-the-year deals entry into the league by suggesting that the Allsvenskan will gobble up players, and Henrik Zetterberg more or less being given the opportunity to apologize for admitting that he’s going to stay in North America to help the NHLPA by telling Expressen’s Hans Abrahamsson that if the full season is cancelled due to a lockout, he will come home to Sweden, and Tomas Tatar doesn’t seem to understand that any players contracted to NHL clubs with two-way clauses and/or those who are signed to entry-level deals exempt from that “first two years, you’re in the NHL or you go back to Major Junior/European hockey” rule (more on this in a minute)...
Player mobility and whether or not we see the purported mass-exodus of players to Europe and perhaps to the minor leagues (at present, players in the AHL and ECHL are members of the Professional Hockey Players Association, not the NHLPA, and the PHPA has no issues with the AHL or ECHL) will probably “cross the pond” from Europe to North America over this weekend and next week, especially given the very gloomy outlook regarding CBA negotiations.
Nevertheless, the Red Wings’ players and prospects will be slowly but surely making their way back into Metro Detroit over the next week or so, with those not already taking part in pro camps or skating with their former major junior or European teams set to start taking part in player-led practices at Joe Louis Arena by Labor Day at the very latest.
The Wings’ players just don’t know whether they’ll be skating at the Joe after September 15th, or, for the players who either have kids attending school or simply don’t plan on taking their wares elsewhere, how long they’ll have to make due with the Troy Sports Center or Compuware Arena. The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan quotes both Danny Cleary’s comments made after CBA negotiating sessions a couple of weeks ago and he spoke to Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader and Drew Miller about their take on the present situation:
“Some days I’m optimistic, some days I’m not as much,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “I don’t know what to think.”
The Red Wings open the regular season Oct. 12 at home against the Predators.
“For the fans, for the game of hockey, you hope both sides can come to an agreement soon,” said forward Drew Miller, skating Wednesday at Michigan State with teammates Justin Abdelkader and Jakub Kindl, among others. “Everybody wants to play and start the season.”
Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly met with players association director Donald Fehr and his assistant Steve Fehr for approximately two hours Wednesday morning before deciding to cancel a scheduled meeting that afternoon. The sides met briefly Thursday afternoon, with the union expanding on its proposal for rules governing player contracts.
“The proposal we gave them was very creative, and it addressed their (ownerships’) concerns,” Howard said.
The offer included a smaller percentage of revenues for players the next three seasons in exchange for an expanded revenue-sharing program to aid smaller-market teams. The counterproposal by the owners was highlighted by a 24 percent decrease of player salaries along with a five-year cap on contracts and no free agency until players have been in the league 10 seasons.
“It wasn’t the type of proposal you’d like to see, but you understand that’s going to happen in these type of negotiations,” Abdelkader said.
As for Tatar, he sent out a Tweet showing himself taking part in a commercial shoot for Reebok…
And while my Slovak is terrible, I can tell you that he misspoke when he talked to Pravada.sk’s Boris Vanya about his situation, stating that he’d like to play in the KHL if the Grand Rapids Griffins release him. That’s not going to happen, and instead, as Tatar suggested to Sports.sk’s Tibor Vrba, he’s going to be coming over from Slovakia in mid-September to take part in the Grand Rapids Griffins’ training camp, which may or may not be held in Grand Rapids.
The same can be said for someone the Free Press’s Helene St. James profiles today in free agent signing Damien Brunner:
Looking at numbers: 24 goals, 36 assists, plus-17 in 45 games for Zug of Switzerland’s National League A in 2011-12.
Looking at money: Signed to a one-year deal with a base salary of $925,000 that tops out at $1.35 million with bonuses. Two-way deal is worth $70,000 at AHL level.
Looking back: Brunner garnered interest from numerous NHL teams after his star turn last season, which culminated with seven points in seven games for Switzerland at the World Championships. That’s where Wings coach Mike Babcock and general manager Ken Holland saw Brunner, then set out to convince him to come to Detroit, beating out teams like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.
Looking ahead: Brunner is a small, skilled European, a description that should sound familiar since the Wings have been importing this model for more than a decade. He also brings speed, and he loves to score, which isn’t always the case with European forwards, who love to pass. Plus, Babcock already loves this guy, and it doesn’t hurt to start camp with the teacher already wowed. And as a bonus, Brunner shoots right, making him a rarity in the locker room.
Brunner, 26, will have to get used to the smaller ice surface, but others have adapted. The Wings can afford to give him time because he has a two-way deal, so at worst, possibly he makes the transition in the minors for a bit. Maybe he ultimately pushes for a spot among the top-six grouping—Babcock said Brunner’s got potential to do so, but the same thing was said of Fabian Brunnstrom last year, and that didn’t pan out.
The beauty of Brunner is that he’s practically a no-risk situation for the Wings financially, and their history of fostering small Europeans puts the odds in favor of Brunner being a success.
Regarding another Wings prospect, Metro London’s Jon Matisz reports that Wings draft pick Andreas Athanasiou won’t be playing for the London Knights this season:
London Knights forward Andreas Athanasiou has been traded, say sources close to the team. Full details are expected to be released at some point over the next few days.
Athanasiou, 18, played in only 11 of the 19 games it took for London to win the Ontario Hockey League title last season. The coaching staff told the media he had the flu for a couple of games, but was a healthy scratch for the others.
At a team appearance on July 31, when asked about rampant rumours of the skilled winger parting ways with the Knights, general manager Mark Hunter told Metro Athanasiou was “not necessarily getting moved,” adding “we don’t know what we are going to do here.”
The next day, the Woodbridge, Ont. native was one of only three players to miss the club’s annual awards banquet and championship ring ceremony.
Training camp for the 2012-13 edition of the Knights opens next Tuesday, running through Thursday. Although the majority of Athanasiou’s now-former teammates are in town preparing for the three-day tryout, the 6-foot-1, 174-pounder has been absent so far.
In a total of 127 games for London, Athanasiou recorded 34 goals and 30 assists for 64 points.
Heading back over to Europe, I mentioned this last Saturday, and Sovetsky Sport took note of Komsomolskaya Pravda’s Vitaly Averyanov and Maria Chepurnov’s report that Pavel Datsyuk congratulated 13-year-old Russian gymnast Marat Mullayarov for his junior world championship with an autographed hat, a MacFarlane Sports figure, an autographed picture and, according to KP.ru, a “wad of money” for Marat’s mother. As such, Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov related a story about Datsyuk’s very quietly charitable tendencies, and, via RedWingsFeed, Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov translated one helluva story:
Some people try to do good deeds and tell the whole world about them. Others just do the good deeds without waiving a flag and pleas for Twitter followers.
Here’s a story for you about one of the most humble people - Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk and how his good deed possibly went further than he thought it would himself.
About 10 years or so ago there was a young boy who lived in the Russian city of Kazan. His name was Alexander. Even though he was about eight at the time, he excelled in hockey. Unfortunately, there were problems with hockey equipment, or lack thereof. So some friends asked Pavel Datsyuk to help. And he did, sending some professional hockey sticks and skates to the boy Datsyuk had never even met.
Right now that boy, who also happens to be a former first round draft pick, is a star forward for the Winnipeg Jets. His name is Alexander Burmistrov.
Who knew this was going to happen?
Datsyuk’s about to engage in a weekend of playing in charity hockey games alongside Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin…
• And in Belarus, per the the Belarusian Telegraph Agency (in their English, not mine):
Minsk Arena will host the first tournament dedicated to commemorate former captain of the Belarusian national ice hockey team Ruslan Salei who was killed in an air crash near Yaroslavl on 7 September 2011 alongside with the entire Russian ice hockey team Lokomotiv. The plane headed to Minsk for the KHL regulation opener, BelTA has learnt.
Apart from Ruslan Salei, two more Belarusians were onboard the crashed Yak-42 jet: forward Sergei Ostapchuk and physical training coach Nikolai Krivonosov.
The memorial tournament will open with a Dinamo Minsk vs. Metallurg Zhlobin match. The game is due at 19h00. The match will be preceded with an opening ceremony of the tournament and a presentation of HC Dinamo Minsk team and coaching staff for the new KHL season. Besides, attending the opening ceremony will be Ruslan Salei’s family including his wife.
The second day of the tournament will see Metallurg Zhlobin vs. Vityaz Chekhov (Russia). The match starts at 17h00.
HC Dinamo Minsk will play Vityaz Chekhov on 26 August (at 17h00).
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• The Wings’ website took note of Darren Helm’s statistical contributions during the 2011-2012 regular season:
200: Skated in his 200th career game on Nov. 23 in a game against Calgary. He delivered three hits and blocked a shot in the Wings’ 5-3 victory.
3: Set a new career-high by recording three points (one goal, two assists) in a single game against Vancouver on Feb. 23. He also had a two point game (two assists) in an 8-2 victory over Los Angeles on Dec. 17.
6: Had a season-high six hits on Jan. 23 vs. St. Louis. Appearing in only 68 games this season, the 5-foot-1 center finished with 97 total hits, fifth highest on the team.
.073: His shooting percentage at the end of the season, up from .068 in 2010-11 and .067 in 2009-10. Out of 124 shots on goal this season, he recorded nine goals, eight of which he scored at Joe Louis Arena.
26: Number of points he had during the 2011-12 season (nine goals, 17 assists), which marks the third consecutive year that he has finished a season with 24 or more points.
• Also from the Wings:
• If the Wings do play the Winter Classic this season, DetroitHockey.net’s Clark Rasmussen’s offering two more concept jerseys;
• As the Detroit Free Press’s Brian Manzullo notes:
ESPN’s Uni Watch is ranking every jersey from the four major pro sports, from No. 122 to No. 1.
The Lions were revealed to be No. 108 on Monday (“Matt Millen may be gone from Detroit, but his ghost lives on in the form of all the black trim on the Lions’ uniforms”). Then the Pistons came in at No. 57 on Wednesday (“Not an unattractive uniform, but not a memorable one either”).
That leaves the Red Wings and the Tigers, with only No. 1 to No. 25 to be revealed (Friday).
Unlike the Lions and Pistons, who have made several tweaks to their team colors and styles over the years, the Tigers’ and Red Wings’ uniforms have remained fairly stagnant for the past few decades. The Tigers haven’t changed their home jersey since 1934; the Wings have generally used the same red & white combination since adopting the nickname in 1932.
• If you’re willing to read more gloom and doom predictions about not only the lockout, but also the Wings, Evil Drew Sharp will be chatting on Freep.com today at 11 AM EDT;
• I will allow you to head on over to The Score if you want to see Chris Lund’s post dedicated to Gordie Howe’s TV appearances, including one on “What’s My Line?” in the 70’s;
• And I’d like to thank SI’s Stu Hackel for quoting me as sharing “Twitter outrage” at the imminent lockout. As this morning’s rhetorical thrust suggests, I’m taking this business perhaps a little too personally…
But I can’t help it. I didn’t have a blog in 2004-2005, when I was able to tell about thirty people on the message board I worked on then (and worked on since 1999; I started making lifelong hockey friends there, and that’s why I ended up doing this) that the “inflationary spiral” BS was just that, and that a hard salary cap and rising franchise equity values were what the lockout was about, not reducing ticket prices. This time I have the same voice but more reach, more readers, and in my opinion, even more of a responsibility to use my voice to do some sort of good or at least help my fellow Wings fans cope with what we’re likely to deal with.
I’m no leader of Wings fans, just a discussion-starter, but I’m not going to pretend that I don’t think that I do a decent job, or that my words don’t matter, so while my defense of fellow fans as more than walking dollar signs and my rants and rambles won’t do shit to affect the course of CBA events, if they can help you get through this BS feeling a little less like the piece of money-spending meat the NHL and the media tends to believe you and me both (as, of course, I’m one of those “bloggers” that even Mike Babcock looks so derisively upon) consist of…
Well, we’ve got to “steak” our territory out and make our voices heard any way we can, even if it’s only to be heard and accomplish nothing else than being noisy together.
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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.