The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/31/11 at 07:14 AM ET
The, “It’s quiet, too quiet” comment summarizes the crop of Red Wings articles this morning—as we shift toward “Nicklas Lidstrom watch,” aside from the news that the Wings signed Andrej Nestrasil and that Jonathan Ericsson reaffirmed his desire to remain a Red Wing, we’re reiterating the same old, same old regarding the Red Wings and possible realignment, via the Free Press’s Helene St. James—the Wings don’t know whether the NHL will possibly move them East (not for the 2011-2012) season, and the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper’s repeated the Predators’ take on the situation:
“I think we should at least explore it,” [Predators GM David Poile] said. “I think, now we’ve built up 13 years of strong division rivalry. I think our fans identify strongly with teams in our division, but tell me Detroit is going to the East, then that changes things.”
I’m plain old scratching my head at this claim from the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran:
It’s certainly possible the Winnipeg team will simply take Atlanta’s spot in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference, at least until the NHL comes to its senses. But realignment is a touchy issue. Nashville could slide out of the Central into the Southeast, with Winnipeg moving into the Central. But both Detroit and Columbus — Eastern time zone teams, each armed with promises to join the Eastern Conference — would cry foul. Let the infighting begin.
Yeah, and the fans debating the issue. Again, yes, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun suggested that there’s nothing off the table in terms of teams lobbying to be moved to the East, nor are there any “promises” in the equation, and again, we’re talking about the Predators, Blue Jackets and/or Red Wings having to lobby a majority of the NHL’s Board of Governors after submitting an application to switch conferences before January 1, 2012, as reported by the Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston.
I just don’t understand the fuss. The Wings sell out Phoenix, Dallas, Anaheim and other markets that don’t fill their rinks in October and November, especially when they’re competing against NFL teams, and the Wings are almost always a guaranteed sellout, as well as the other Original Six team in the West. The Leafs and Sabres would prefer that the Wings not join their division and compete for regional dollars (or a playoff spot) and it’s the Blue Jackets who are supposedly the most desperate to move to the East due to the money they’re bleeding.
With politics being politics, I don’t see how the Wings could get 16 teams’ owners’ representatives to agree to move them to a different conference. If it’s all about money then it’s about keeping buildings full and getting a struggling team off the dole and the Blue Jackets supposedly believe that the latter might happen with a shift in conferences. In my opinion, the Red Wings won’t move East until Bettman has to make good on his specific promise to Mike Ilitch—that he would move the Wings to the East in the case of expansion teams joining the Western Conference.
He never said anything about relocation, which means that until there are teams in Las Vegas, Seattle or Kansas City—and we’re a good five to ten years away from the NHL expanding, minimum—the Wings will remain in the West.
While we’re in the debunking business, the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson answered a reader question about a certain player who the Sporting News’s Criag Custance informed us will be retained by Nashville at any cost—and Ken Holland told MLive’s Ansar Khan he’s not keen to bid upon:
Q: Do you think the Oilers will take a run at Shea Weber and make an offer sheet for him this summer?
A: No. I don’t think any team will because the Nashville Predators have made it abundantly clear they will match any offer for their captain. I agree with Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who says offer sheets are lots of work and often fruitless exercises. If you’re wondering, here’s the compensation going to teams losing high-end Group 2 free agents, like Weber, to offer sheets in 2011. If a player is signed between $4,701,132-$6,268,175, first-, second- and third-round picks have to be surrendered in 2012. If a player is signed between $6,268,176-$7,835,219, the compensation is first-round selections in 2012 and 2013, a second and a third-rounder. For players signed to more than $7,835,219, it’s four first-round draft picks.
Not gonna happen, either.
As we continue discussing sticky wickets, the Windsor Star makes a note about the referee most likely to waive off a goal when Tomas Holmstrom’s involved in scoring it:
Essex native Dan O’Halloran is US$18,000 richer. O’Halloran earned the bonus after being selected as one of four referees to work the Stanley Cup final between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins. The bonus, which is given to referees for every round worked, is over and above their yearly salaries.
Linesmen Steve Miller, Jean Morin, Pierre Racicot and Jay Sharrers will each earn $12,000 for working the finals.
O’Halloran, who has officiated 740 regular season games, will be joined by Stephen Walkom, Dan O’Rourke and Kelly Sutherland. The Canucks are 1-1 in the playoffs when O’Halloran has officiated.
O’Halloran worked the men’s hockey gold medal game at the Vancouver Olympics, the Stanley Cup finals in 2007 and 2008 as well as the NHL All-Star game in Florida in 2003. He has 74 playoff games under his belt, including the penalty-less game between the Bruins and Lightning in Game 7 Friday.
Okay, enough nose-holding.
RedWingsCentral’s Sarah Lindenau, writing on her Left Wing Lock blog, posits an intriguing theory, suggesting that the Red Wings’ 2009 Entry Draft class may parallel its 1989 class:
With the signing of both Adam Almqvist and Andrej Nestrasil this week, the Detroit Red Wings have inked six of their seven 2009 draft picks. The only remaining unsigned prospect is college defenseman Nick Jensen, who has three years of NCAA eligibility remaining but is also a strong contender for a contract in a couple of years. The other 2009 selections with NHL contracts include Landon Ferraro (32nd overall), Tomas Tatar (60th), Gleason Fournier (90th), and Mitch Callahan (150th).
Detroit enters each draft year with the hopes of finding at least one player with NHL talent and typically the team offers signs players they feel have a chance to play in the NHL. While the jury is still out on which of the 2009 class will develop into NHL players, it is already one of the best draft classes in recent history. In addition to the six contracts already inked by players from the 2009 draft, the class also features Tomas Tatar who already has a handful of NHL games already under his belt.
The Red Wings are often sited for having one of the best drafts on record in 1989 when they drafted six players who had long NHL careers including Mike Sillinger (11th), Bob Boughner (32nd), Nick Lidstrom (53rd), Sergei Fedorov (74th), Dallas Drake (116th), and Vladimir Konstantinov (221st). The only other player from that year to see NHL action was Shawn McCosh (95th) who played in just nine NHL games.
While it will still be a number of years before the Red Wings know what kind of a haul they landed in 2009, it may just be one of the strongest draft classes in recent years. Even if only a couple of these players have long term NHL careers, the depth an
We can only hope, but there’s definite NHL potential in Nestrasil (as Jim Nill suggested, he’s a sort of Tomas Kopecky with a little more goal-scoring substance), Landon Ferraro (a speedy, two-way playmaking center who one could argue has “what the Wings expected out of Valtteri Filppula” potential), Mitchell Callahan (a cocktail of Kirk Maltby in his heyday with a dash of Darren McCarty’s willingness to fight, 80% of Kris Draper’s speed and a Tomas Holmstrom-like enthusiasm for going to the front of the net) and Tomas Tatar (see: what the Wings hoped Jiri Hudler would become + a little Danny Cleary grit)...
And the longer-shots are Jensen, who’s a superb puck-mover, Almqvist, the classically undersized Swedish offensive defenseman and Fournier, who’s supremely skilled and fast as fast can be but as thin as he is gangly (and he’s all arms and legs).
The Wings’ usual rule regarding a draft year is that it’s a success if they find one contributing roster player and fantastic if they get two regular contributors out of the equation, and while that should add a dash of reality to the situation—not all of the above-listed players will pan out at the NHL or AHL levels—but when you might get three or four, well…
We’ll find out whether Lindenau’s a psychic in five to seven years.
Also of Red Wings-related note this morning: The Wings are letting fans know that their annual equipment sale will take place this Saturday, June 4th, at Hockeytown Authentics in Troy from 11 AM till 7 PM.
From my experience at last year’s season ticket-holders’ gathering, you’re probably going to find some very nice sticks available, as well as some skates and helmets, but the STH gathering tends to sweep out the crop of goalie equipment, gloves and visors, and some of the playoff-used jerseys and equipment bags. The latter two are the highest-ticket items, with the equipment bags going north of $500 and the playoff jerseys in the, “Forget about it unless you’ve got a grand to drop” territory.
It’s kind of tough to build up a massive quantity of gear given that both Hockeytown Authentics and the HTA branch inside Joe Louis Arena get regular batches of gear, and I can tell you the truth about where the really good stuff goes—I’ve spotted people who buy an upper-deck, upper-row seat to the game, get in line, get into the building when the doors open, book it for the HTA branch and spend lots of money on gear that they take out of the building, usually before the game begins (seriously!) and re-sell on eBay.
As such, I hate to say it, but given the fact that a good percentage of what you see sold on Saturday will be re-sold, at least last season, the Wings’ prices were at eBay levels, with the exception of sticks. It’s certainly a once-in-a-great-while opportunity to get a game-used Datsyuk stick for less than you’d spend to buy a new one, and if you’ve wanted to snag some discounted merchandise in general (I got a superb knit hat for $5 and a Stanley Cup Final-issued puck for $5 last year, and the Wings’ expensive-but-worth-it picture books are heavily discounted as well), its a great trip, but if you’re looking for a brand new pair of Henrik Zetterberg’s custom-made Warrior gloves, a Nicklas Lidstrom helmet and visor or a game-used playoff jersey (their numbers and letters are super-reinforced with zigzag stitches across every millimeter of surface area), you’re gonna pay through the nose.
• While we’re talking about “things to learn from,” the Globe and Mail’s Rod Mickleburgh posted a superb article about the Vancouver Canucks’ successes at engaging their fans—the Wings are making fantastic progress in that vein but might want to give this article a gander, too;
• And I’m not sure if we can learn anything from Ken Kal’s “Game Day” outtakes via Red Wings TV, but I believe we’re allowed to laugh with him and near him…as long as we don’t laugh specifically at him.
And a few more things:
1. Grades are delinquent. What can I say…former teachers are slackers, too;
2. It’s time to get on Nicklas Lidstrom watch. He usually makes his decision in the first or second week of June;
3. I don’t know how to organize or promote stuff about myself, but I do need to ask if it’s possible to raise some hotel $ so that I can afford to head to Traverse City for prospect camp from July 7-14. It’s open to the public and is apparently going to take place during the Cherry Festival, which means training camp prices for hotels…
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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.