The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/04/12 at 04:02 AM ET
This has read like a spy novel for some time now, so let’s get down to brass tacks and do a little comparative literary shopping, shall we?
On Tuesday morning , a gentleman named Brian Idalski let Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika know that Mike Babcock was spotted at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, and after some late-morning chatter about Ryan Suter and Zach Parise taking their time to make their decisions.
Then Phil K in formed the world that Mike Ilitch’s private plane was flying to Madison, Wisconsin, and Wings fans and the media spent the rest of the day chasing down what turned out to be two in-person pitches to Ryan Suter, one from the Red Wings and one from the Minnesota Wild, with little credit given to the fans who started it all and ended up yielding a MSM shuffle down to Metro Airport to try and speak with a Red Wings owner who wasn’t too keen on doing just that.
In the evening, Zach Parise had been both hunted down returning to his family in Minnesota, and he also appeared on Josh Rimer’s non-NHL Home Ice radio show on Nextsportstar.com, and even more tea-leaf-reading ensued.
If you’re interested in what Parise had to say in a non-Twitter update form, Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski engaged in some transcription of the interview’s highlights:
ON FREE AGENCY: “I think it’s been much more than I anticipated it to be. It’s been much more stressful. No one wants this to be dragging out. If anyone knows me … I don’t want this to be in the media, getting all that attention. It’s way more in-depth than I had anticipated.”
“It’s a life-changing decision. You work hard as a player to put yourself in a good situation to make decisions, and I appreciate everyone’s patience. You hope that people understand that it’s not something that, on July 1, you can make that decision at 1 or 2 o’clock on that same day. You gather together all the information, break it down from every possible angle, and then you go from there. You figure out what’s the best possible fit for yourself and your family. You’re going to spend, hopefully, the rest of your career there.”
ON THE LIST OF TEAMS: “Again, I’d like to keep that personal as well, with respect to the teams involved. You entertain the offers from teams that you’re interested in, and you say ‘no’ to some teams that you’re not interested in.”
ON WHO HAS BEEN PITCHING HIM: “I think the neatest part is that you hear from a lot of players. You have a lot of friends throughout the league, that’s for sure, but you hear from a lot of captains from a lot of teams that want to offer advice or answer questions. They’ve all been really good and helpful. They all just want to give you information. ... They’ve been really helpful. Things like that make a big difference.”
ON RYAN SUTER: “We’ve talked. Ryan and I are friends. We’ve definitely talked throughout this thing. With respect to everyone involved, I’m not going to disclose anything on his behalf, but we’ve definitely spoken through this thing.”
ON PLAYING WITH RYAN SUTER, PULLING A MIAMI HEAT FREE AGENT SCHEME: “No. 1, I don’t like when anyone right now is drawing this comparison to LeBron. I’m getting a lot of those texts from friends right now [about that].
“Ryan’s a great player. He’s a top defenseman in this League. Those types of players don’t come around often. They’re tough to find. I would love to play on a team with a defenseman like Ryan Suter. Immediately, you have a power-play guy, you got a shutdown guy. Those guys are hard to find. To get an opportunity to play with him would be great.”
While we’re doing transcribing, the Suter and Parise situations were discussed on TSN, and here are summaries of two non-embeddable clips:
First Pierre LeBrun to Gino Reda about the Suter visits in a 2-minute clip, and he stated that, despite denials by the Wild and Wings regarding their visits (they apparently don’t want to jinx their chances of signing Suter), Detroit and Minnesota are front-runners in the Suter sweepstakes, though he could go back to Nashville…And he feels that Parise will talk to his fiancee and dad as he’s struggling with the decision as to whether he should leave New Jersey.
And Gino Reda also spoke to Mike Johnson and LeBrun as to whether Detroit is the best “fit” for Suter a 3:01 clip.
LeBrun reiterated that neither team would confirm the meetings as they don’t want to jeopardize their chances, but he thought that Suter’s down to NSH, DET or MIN. Johnson suggested that when one takes out personal ties, Detroit is the better fit due to consistency, the coaching, ownership, the players in place (like Datsyuk and Zetterberg) and the pipeline being replenished regularly. He suggested that Detroit’s the logical decision from a plain hockey perspective…
But Johnson stated that he was very surprised that that both Suter and Parise are taking so long to make their decisions given that they’ve had months to prepare for this, given that they’re probably dealing with similar $. When LeBrun responded that both players are, “Quiet guys who don’t want to be in the spotlight,” Johnson pointed out that once the pair make their decisions, they can go back to being out of the spotlight pretty quickly…
And my response to that is simple: Yeah, right.
In Minnesota, the Pioneer Press’s Ben Goessling trotted out the party line...
Another day went by without a decision from either Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, but that doesn’t mean the Wild weren’t active in trying to pursue the top two players in this summer’s NHL free-agent class.
A person with direct knowledge of the situation said the Wild met with Suter at his farm near Madison, Wis., on Tuesday, July 3, as they try to persuade the former Nashville Predators defenseman to accept their contract offer. Team officials would not comment on the meeting, or divulge whether the Wild have similar plans to meet with Parise, who returned to the Twin Cities on Tuesday still in “decision-making mode,” according to his agent Wade Arnott, after spending the first two days of free agency with his agents outside Toronto.
Wild owner Craig Leipold apparently chartered a private plane on Tuesday morning that went from St. Paul to International Falls, Minn., where Suter’s agent Neil Sheehy is working this week, and returned to St. Paul before heading to Madison. The plane returned to St. Paul on Tuesday afternoon before dropping Sheehy off in International Falls, arriving again in St. Paul and returning to Milwaukee, from where it originally brought Leipold to St. Paul at the start of free agency on Sunday.
The Wild also added a close friend of Suter’s to the roster when they agreed to terms with former Dallas Stars center Jake Dowell on a two-year contract Tuesday night. Dowell and Suter played together for two years on the U.S. National Under-18
team and were teammates for one season at Wisconsin before Suter left for the NHL. Dowell also played with current Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert at Wisconsin.
And aside from exhibiting unabashed glee about Craig Leipold’s willingness to commit “close to $200 million” to two players, the Pioneer Press’s Jim Souhan sniffled at fans who dare to suggest that there are more than a few free agents whose lives are on hold while Parise deliberates, before adding a Drew Sharp-style self-serving bent:
He’s a thoughtful guy who’s taking all of these immense offers seriously and doing his due diligence before making one of the biggest decisions of his life. He has to weigh opportunities to win, money, cities and travel. I don’t blame him a bit for taking his time.
Plus, it’s been three days. Three days! If he had signed on Sunday, that would have meant that he knew where he was going before free agency even started. He spent much of Tuesday traveling.
The people complaining about Parise’s patience are fans who think it’s Parise’s job to make them happy, and media members who didn’t want to be bothered on July 4.
This really isn’t about you.
The longer Parise deliberates, the more you have to believe he’s taking all offers seriously. That can only help the Wild.
By next year, none of us will remember whether Parise took three or five days to make this decision., Only his decision will matter.
The Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo penned a column just before July 1st stating that Craig Leipold and GM Chuck Fletcher were trying to pull off the “sales job of the century,” and this morning, he’s talking about the Wild’s attempt to pull off the “upset of the century”...
The Wild has made gargantuan long-term contract offers to both players. Exact figures haven’t emerged, but teams interested in Parise are believed to be offering contracts worth $100 million and more, and Suter more than $80 million. Now it’s only a matter of the two deciding if they want to play together in Minnesota and be part of package to help shape the future of a franchise or choose other destinations. Yes, there is a likelihood the Wild will either land both or neither.
Accompanied by his fiancée, Alisha Woods, Parise returned to the Twin Cities on Tuesday from his agents’ offices in Toronto and had yet to make a decision as to which team will win the sweepstakes and inherit his services for the next 10 to 13 years. Parise wanted to first sit down and discuss everything with his family, which includes his fiancée, father and former North Stars player J.P. Parise, and his mother, Donna.
“There’s a lot of things to factor into it, and I think that’s why we’re taking our time with the decision,” Parise, the New Jersey Devils captain, said from the baggage claim at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. “It’s not something we can just make at 1 o’clock on July 1. It takes time to make sure you consider everything and you’re doing the right thing.”
Parise also wanted to talk to Suter, sources say, and that was supposed to happen Tuesday night. In fact, Tuesday night, Parise told Josh Rimer on nextsportstar.com that he talks to Suter often.
“I would love to play on a team with a defenseman like Ryan Suter,” Parise told Rimer.
Tuesday morning, Wild owner Craig Leipold, General Manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo boarded a private plane in St. Paul and flew to International Falls, Minn., where they picked up Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy. Also along for the trip was Suter’s financial adviser, Tom Sagissor. The five men flew to Madison, where Suter went to college at Wisconsin and which is 20 miles from his home.
First, the Red Wings were in town to meet with Suter. Then, after Detroit’s brass left, in came the Wild’s contingent. After the meeting, Leipold, Fletcher, Yeo, Sheehy and Sagissor returned to St. Paul before Sheehy continued on to International Falls.
At the airport, the Wild brass cordially declined to comment and appeared optimistic, but Fletcher didn’t want to speculate as to what the decisions of Parise and Suter would be. Both players have no timetable, but indications are a conclusion could come as early as Wednesday.
In Nashville, the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper posited the following...
For the first time in two days Ryan Suter didn’t just sit around his farm in Madison, Wisconsin and mull his options. He had visitors. The Detroit Red Wings came to see him and the Minnesota Wild according to reports. The Predators weren’t expected to make another trip to Madison, though things could change.
Before today, the Predators were the only team that had face-time with Suter. Now he has some level of a personal connection with other teams.
By all accounts, the Predators haven’t been told they’re out of it. And the fact that Matt Carle remains unsigned is a positive for Nashville if Suter bolts. He remains a very solid Plan B.
But you have to wonder about his level of interest in Minnesota and Detroit. Minnesota is owned by former Predators owner Craig Leipold. Say what you want about how he left Nashville, but the guy has money — even if the Wild doesn’t have a winning tradition. The Red Wings can offer a history of success and money. Their core is aging, but that may not have an effect on Suter’s decision.
There’s also the Zach Parise factor. According to a report from Josh Rimer, the Devils star forward has said he and Suter are talking and indicated they would like to play together.
Maybe in the end, he sees that Nashville’s sizable offer is enough to help him return to a place he knows. When an agent goes on record and says it’s a big deal, it probably is competitive with what the Wings and the Wild are offering.
No matter what, my uneducated guess says we’ll have an answer in the next day. The information has been gathered, now it’s decision time.
In Pittsburgh—oh yes, they’re interested in the goings-on in Pittsburgh, of course, the Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari countered these sales pitches with a little manufactured intrigue...
The Penguins did not send a group to speak with him, and there’s no indication they will, but their plans are uncertain because general manager Ray Shero did not speak with reporters.
The Detroit Free Press reported that the Red Wings, who also have been vying for Parise, have offered Suter a 13-year package worth $90 million, up $10 million from their initial proposal. Detroit, looking to replace Nicklas Lidstrom as the cornerstone of its defense, has ample salary-cap space with which to work and has long been viewed as one of the favorites to land Suter, although the Suter camp never has identified a front-runner.
The Flyers, Wild and Nashville are among the Penguins’ competitors for Suter, who they envision working with Kris Letang on the No. 1 defense pairing.
Although Parise and Suter both will be choosing between offers that could set up their families financially for generations to come, Parise stressed that dollars aren’t the only factor that will influence his decision.
“There’s so much more than the money,” he told the Star-Tribune. “That plays a very small factor in it. My agents did a great job. You take the time to consider everything. You consider where you want to be for the next however long and however many years of your life. It’s a harder decision than I thought it was going to be.”
And back here in southeastern Michigan, the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness confirmed the pitch had been made…
On Tuesday, the Wings paid a visit to Suter in Madison, Wis., where he lives in the offseason on his farm. Detroit’s contingent included owner Mike Ilitch, general mananger Ken Holland and advisor Chris Chelios, who played college hockey at Wisconsin and is good friend with Suter’s uncle, Gary.
According to a source, the Wings have offered Suter a 13-year contract worth $90 million.
Reports started to circulate Tuesday afternoon that Ilitch’s private plane flew out of Detroit to Wisconsin. According to FlightAware.com, a Gulfstream plane licensed to Olympia Aviation LLC, left Detroit Metro Airport for Madison at 11:17 a.m. Tuesday. It arrived at Dane County Regional Airport in Madison at 12:08 p.m., departed at 3:30 p.m. and arrived back in Detroit at 4:19.
Ilitch and Chelios were seen leaving the private hangar in separate cars. Reporters were not permitted to get close to the hangar.
Messages were left with numerous people within the Wings’ organization and were not returned.
Neil Sheehy, Ryan Suter’s agent, did not return and email or phone message left by The Macomb Daily, but he told Kevin Allen of USA Today that there would not be a decision made Tuesday.
“There’s no blueprint to this time of year,” Holland said in a phone interview Monday. “We have to sit and wait just like anyone else.”
As did the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan…
Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, general manager Ken Holland, and Chris Chelios, an advisor to Holland, traveled to Madison to meet with Suter. Suter and Chelios, a former Red Wings defenseman, both played college hockey at Wisconsin.
According to FlightAware.com, a Gulfstream plane licensed to Olympia Aviation LLC left Detroit Metro Airport for Madison at 11:17 a.m. Tuesday. It arrived at Dane County Regional Airport in Madison at 12:08 p.m., departed at 3:30 and arrived in Detroit at 4:19. Ilitch and Chelios left the private hangar at 29900 Northline Road in Romulus in separate cars — Chelios driving his car, Ilitch as a passenger. Reporters were not permitted to get close to the hangar.
Suter, who is entertaining offers after seven years in Nashville, lives on a farm in Madison.
The Red Wings planned on sending Ilitch and Chelios to meet with Suter last weekend, when free agency began. But Suter and agent Neil Sheehy said no face-to-face meetings would take place due to the volume of offers Suter had received.
Chelios could be a good recruiter in Detroit’s bid to land Suter. In addition to playing at Wisconsin, like Suter, Chelios also played with Gary Suter (Ryan’s uncle) with the Blackhawks. Chelios and Gary Suter entered the USA Hockey Hall of Fame together last autumn.
Ryan Suter reportedly is considering between Detroit, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Minnesota.
Neither Holland nor Sheehy returned messages left by The Detroit News on Tuesday.
And MLive’s Ansar Khan...
Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, general manager Ken Holland and team advisor Chris Chelios boarded a corporate jet in the morning, spoke with Suter and his agent, Neil Sheehy, and returned to Detroit in the afternoon. The Red Wings offered Suter $90 million for 13 years.
The Nashville Predators, with whom Suter has spent his entire seven-year NHL career, and the Philadelphia Flyers also are confirmed to have made offers. Reports indicate the Pittsburgh Penguins also have shown interest.
Red Wings officials did not respond to messages seeking comment. A small media contingent that gathered at a private terminal at Metro Airport was turned away by security.
Sheehy, in an email to The Associated Press, said no decision would be made Tuesday and did not give a time frame. It is unlikely an announcement would be made on the July 4 holiday Wednesday, so Thursday might be the earliest that Suter reveals his decision.
“When a young man is asked to commit for 13 years, why is it considered extraordinary to take a few days to make a decision?” Sheehy wrote in the email. “A deal will happen when it happens.”
The Red Wings have been targeting Suter for more than a year. The interest has been mutual, as Suter, during the All-Star weekend in Ottawa, inundated the Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk with questions about what it’s like to play in Detroit.
The Red Wings also have been using Chelios as a recruiter. Chelios has spoken frequently with Suter’s uncle, Gary. Chelios and Gary Suter were teammates for five seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. Chelios and both Suters are Wisconsin alums.
Khan also talked about alternatives, suggesting that the Wings aren’t too keen to sign Matt Carle or Alex Semin, but are interested in Shane Doan, Carlo Colaiacovo (though Khan admits he’s not exactly a #1 defenseman) or perhaps trading for Keith Yandle.
The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell added some cap math to the mix…
Detroit Red Wings’ owner Mike Ilitch and general manager Ken Holland flew to Madison, Wisconsin Tuesday to make their pitch in person to defenceman Ryan Suter. Suter lives on a farm just outside of the state capital.
The Wings reportedly have upped their offer to Suter by $10-million US with an offer of $90-million US over 13 years. That would work out to a cap hit of $6.9-million per season. It’s believed Detroit’s original offer was 12 years for $80-million US.
Ilitch’s private jet returned to Detroit Tuesday afternoon where it was met by reporters staking out Olympia Aviation’s hangar. However, the media was shooed away and the Wings were refusing comment on the trip.
Suter’s agent Neil Sheehy later released the news that a decision wasn’t expected until at least today.
“When a young man is asked to commit for 13 years, why is it considered extraordinary to take a few days to make a decision?” Sheehy wrote in an email. “A deal will happen when it happens.”
The Wings, who are also bidding on free-agent forward Zach Parise, are focusing their most intense efforts on Suter. With the retirement of defenceman Nick Lidstrom and the departure of Brad Stuart, the Wings have a couple of gaping holes to fill on their blue-line. Detroit currently has 23 players under contract on their NHL roster and has just under $17-million in cap space remaining.
And the Free Press’s Helene St. James’ take involves a wider perspective:
NHL free agency reached the July 4th holiday without decisions from the market’s two biggest prizes, Suter and forward Zach Parise. The Wings have made pitches for both, and they increased their offer to Suter from $80 million to $90 million over 13 years. A two-year offer to Sami Salo was made on Sunday, but he went to Tampa Bay.
The Wings see Suter as the best option as they transition from the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement and Brad Stuart to the San Jose Sharks, as Suter is exactly the sort of puck-moving defenseman the Wings like to have to help generate offense.
Wings general manager Ken Holland met with Suter Tuesday at Suter’s farm in Madison, Wis. Holland did not return calls seeking comment.
If Suter spurns the Wings, the next-best options are Matt Carle and Carlo Colaiacovo.
The Wings have $17 million in salary cap space, with $5 million earmarked toward keeping restricted free agents Justin Abdelkader and Kyle Quincey. The priority in making offers is to find a number amenable to the salary cap, which in Suter’s case the Wings would like to keep around $7 million a season. Though the cap for 2012-13 has been announced at $70.2 million, that could change when a new collective bargaining agreement is put into place. The Wings don’t want to wake up and find themselves in a financial bind.
Much as Parise could be a big help, his addition up front is not as crucial as Suter’s on the back end. One option was taken off the market Tuesday when forward Jaromir Jagr signed a one-year, $4.55 million deal with Dallas, but he wasn’t high on Detroit’s list of targets.
Should they not land Parise, the Wings will lie in wait until July 9, when unrestricted free agent Shane Doan is expected to start negotiations. Though at 35 he’s eight years older than Parise, Doan is bigger and brings an intangible passion for competing.
The Wings won’t be the only team interested in him, but they could offer him a chance to play for an Original Six team and a good shot at winning the Stanley Cup, especially if their roster by that time includes Suter. For now, though, they sit back, and they wait.
And St. James is confirming the salary figures in a companion article:
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland met Tuesday with coveted unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter as the team continues its courtship. They’ve made an offer as high as $90 million over 13 years to Suter, 27, but are competing with teams including Philadelphia, Minnesota and Nashville. Suter has been mulling a handful of mega-million dollar contracts since free agency began at noon Sunday.
Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, said his client will take the time needed to make the right decision.
“For a young man who is looking to commit to 13 years, I find it strange that people expect him to make a decision within hours or days. Everything needs to be carefully considered,” Sheehy said.
The Wings also remain in the running for forward Zach Parise, though obtaining his services is less pressing. His agent, Wade Arnott, said Tuesday they’re “still in decision-making mode.”
If you’re interested in any sort of optimism, given that the Wings’ beat writers play it so straight—though that’s not always a bad thing—the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek notes the following in an article mostly discussing the Dallas Stars’ signing of Jaromir Jagr:
Jagr’s signing saved what was otherwise a slow day on the NHL free-agent watch, with both of the primary targets – defenceman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise – pondering offers that could now exceed $100-million. Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, hinted that his client has a 13-year offer in front of him (likely from the Detroit Red Wings), and he needed more time to digest it. The Red Wings and the Minnesota Wild reportedly made face-to-face presentations to Suter.
Parise, meanwhile, returned to his Minneapolis home Tuesday to consider his future as well and think about how badly he might want to play in his hometown. The Wild have made pitches to both Parise and Suter and it would certainly mark a franchise turning point if one or the other or both said yes. The Wild entered the league in 2000-01, and not since their third season have made it as far as the conference championship. If you think that’s a long time, think about this. When Jagr was drafted in 1990, the Minnesota team was still named the North Stars – and Parise was a six-year-old kid, lamenting the exit of the team his dad once played for. His decision is now expected sometime before the end of the week.
So that’s where we’re at, and at this point, it doesn’t appear that either player will be making a decision today, but instead celebrating Independence Day, though…That tends to change.
It sucks that we don’t have any control over the situation, but if you’re hoping for some consolation, this unimportant person would like to point out that he has to run some very important errands on Thursday (bank, doctor’s office, dry cleaning) that will prevent me from being in front of my computer all day, and on Friday afternoon, I’ll be driving to Traverse City, so those sound like prime decision-making times to me.
For what it’s worth, the AP’s Larry Lage posted this quip at 2 AM, too:
Confirmed Ryan Suter met with #RedWings and Wild in Wisconsin on Tuesday #NHL #SuterWatch
But Sportsnet’s Brian Lawton offered this:
Sorry about late night ...... Just back in town. Not sure yet on Parise but word is Ryan Suter will be playing for the MN Wild next season!
Who the hell knows what that means. He’s no longer an agent, and he’s been wrong before. Let’s hope he’s wrong again…
In other Red Wings news, if you missed the mid-day post, the Wings both announced the signings of winger Marek Tvrdon and defenseman Max Nicastro (the former will go back to the Vancouver Giants and the latter will turn pro with the Griffins), with Wings assistant GM Jim Nill talking about both players’ assets with DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose…
“[Nicastro]‘s a California kid who learned to skate by playing roller hockey,” Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “These kids can’t get to rinks, and that’s how the Mullen brothers, Joey and Brian, learned to skate, and that worked out well.”
Joe Mullen is a Hockey Hall of Famer, who grew up in New York City and later played 16 NHL seasons. His brother Brian enjoyed an 11-season career. Nicastro is projected to be a fifth or sixth defenseman at the NHL level, mainly because he’s a mobile, big body (6-foot-2, 210-pounds), who is learning to play with a bit of an edge. Nicastro, who was the Wings’ third-round draft pick in 2008, will play next season for the Red Wings’ minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids.
“Max has great size and he’s a very good skater,” Nill said. “He’s an average puck-mover, but he can skate and he can play physical.”
Tvrdon, a 19-year-old Slovakian, has spent the last two seasons in the Western Hockey League, where he scored 31 goals with 43 assists last year with the Giants. He was the Wings’ fourth-round pick in 2011. Another big body (6-foot-2, 212-pound) and excellent skater, Tvrdon will play one more season in Vancouver.
“He’s a big, strong, power forward-type of player with a real heavy body and good offensive skills,” Nill said. “He’s got to work on his quickness, but that’s coming. The real big thing is that he’s got a real big, heavy body.”
Both Nicastro and Tvrdon have the potential to reach the NHL, however, their futures will come down to commitment.
“It all depends on how they’re going to work to get here,” Nill said.
And the Wings’ website both provided text and video interviews with the Wings’ first free agent signing, Jonas Gustavsson. He was in town to meet the Wings’ brass, speak to Jim Bedard and stop by Warrior Hockey’s offices in Warren, Michigan:
• In eyebrow-raising contractual news, Capgeek’s Twitter account posted the details of Gustavsson’s 2-year, $3 million contract, which contains a modified no-trade clause, Mikael Samuelsson’s 2-year, $6 million contract, which as a no-trade clause, and Jordin Tootoo’s contract, which breaks down to $1.7 million paid over the first season with a lockout-proof $250,000 signing bonus and then $2 million over the last two years of the deal, yielding a $1.9 million cap hit;
• Regarding Tootoo, the Daily Tribune’s Jim Evans offers a unique name for the 28-year-old disturber:
In recent years, the Wings and Predators have developed a nice rivalry. In fact, it was Nashville that eliminated Detroit in this year’s playoffs.
Tootoo is a guy you love if he’s on your team, and absolutely hate if he wears the opposition’s jersey. He’ll leave a welt in the corner. He’ll deposit a contusion and an abrasion during an altercation in front of the net. He’s no pinky up kind of player. The Lady Byng won’t be heading his way.
While he is not shy about dropping his gloves, Tootoo is no NHL heavyweight. The game has changed anyway. A combination plate of Kocur and Probert will never again be served, at least not in Detroit.
Still, he is exactly the type of guy the Red Wings have needed for quite some time. Goodbye, Ice Capades. Hello, Tootoo the Tattoo.
• The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff revisited Mikael Samuelsson’s press conference comments:
From the moment he left Detroit following the 2008-09 season, forward Mikael Samuelsson always hoped that at some point, there would be a reunion with the Red Wings. “Definitely, the time that I was there we were in two finals (in 2008 and 2009), and one of them we won (in 2008), it is hard to leave, but that’s what the salary cap does to you,” said Samuelsson, a Red Wing from 2005-09, who signed with the team as a free agent on Sunday. “Some players have to leave, but I definitely have a strong feeling toward the guys in the locker room and the organization as well. I knew what I wanted when I hit the market and I’m happy that they wanted me too.
“This doesn’t feel right now like I’m changing teams again. It feels like I know what the organization is about, and I think I know how we play, or are supposed to play, and I know the guys. It’s not going to be one of these situations where you have to take some time to adapt in a couple of weeks to learn the new guys. I know a lot of the guys in the locker room there.”
His old teammates were happy to welcome him back to the fold as well. “I talked to (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Niklas) Kronwall,” Samuelsson said. “I actually talked to Hank yesterday before I signed and Kronner texted me after I signed and said that ‘This will be great, it’s so nice to have you back.’”
It’s also an easy adjustment for Samuelsson’s family. “Definitely, we know the area, and everything isn’t just about me and hockey anymore,” Samuelsson said. “Obviously, we want a great situation, too, but there’s more to life. I have a family, so there are some small things like the doctors and the schools, so small things like that aren’t small anymore for us.”
That comfort zone made Samuelsson’s decision an easy one when the Wings came calling. “First of all, it’s a contender to win the Cup, that’s the main reason I came back,” he said. “The other reasons are that I’ve been there before and really liked it. It was a hard time when I left, but I know that I will like it again because they have a good team with hard practices and good coach and a good group of guys.”
• In another case of the MSM being scooped, the Left Wing Lock’s Sarah Lindenau has known the details of Bryan Rufenach Day at the Wings’ summer prospect camp—the Wings will hold a scrimmage in his honor—for some time, but the Grand Rapids Griffins didn’t release those details to the general public until today, and the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner posted them:
The Detroit Red Wings organization will honor Bryan Rufenach, the defenseman who was electrocuted last month, by designating July 10 in his honor.
The Red Wings, along with Grand Rapids Griffins and Toledo Walleye, will have special events planned for the day during Detroit’s development camp in Traverse City.
Beginning at 4 pm, there will be food, beverages and entertainment outside Centre I.C.E. Arena. followed by an intrasquad scrimmage at 7 p.m. A brief ceremony to honor Bryan’s memory will be held prior to the start of the scrimmage.
Rufenach, 23, who played last season with the Griffins and Walleye, was electrocuted June 4 while touring with a friend in Switzerland.
Tickets will be available at the door for $5. A portion of all proceeds from ticket sales, merchandise and concessions will benefit the memorial fund set up to help fund the operation of the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Skills Camp.
Additionally donation cans will be available throughout the arena for fans who would like to make direct contributions to the fund..
The schedule of the development camp is at http://www.centreice.org
• In the alumni department, part 1: DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose had a sit-down chat with former Wing Manny Legace:
Q. What was your favorite memory as a Red Wing?
LEGACE: “Winning the Stanley Cup in 2002.”
Q. Which of the guys you played with was the toughest?
LEGACE: “No question, Darren (McCarty). He just grinded it out every night. He wouldn’t back-down from a soul, and would fight any heavyweight. But he would never fight a lightweight. … He had respect for the game. He probably was the toughest.”
Q. Who was the funniest?
LEGACE: “(Chris) Osgood and (Kirk) Maltby liked to play practical jokes. But that was just in a little click; you never saw them picking on the big guys.”
Q. Who had the biggest heart?
LEGACE: “Probably (Kris) Draper or Malts. They just gave 100 percent every night and would stick their heads in front of slap shots. That’s why they were the Grind Line; there was a reason for it.”
• In the alumni department, part 2: the Edmonton Sun’s Trevor Robb took note of Kris Draper’s presence as the coach of Michigan’s entry in the Brick Invitational Super Novice tournament for 10-year-olds, a team being called the Red Wings:
Taking in the scene at West Edmonton Mall’s Ice Palace on Tuesday, you’d almost swear you had stepped back in time.The Brick Invitational super novice tournament was well underway and the game featured the Detroit Red Wings versus Toronto Pro Hockey, with both teams donning retro NHL-style uniforms.
And out from the Red Wings bench skated No. 33, with ‘Draper’ on the nameplate. Sure enough, that was Kris Draper coaching behind the Detroit bench. But the little Draper out on the ice was his 10-year-old son, Kienan. For Draper Sr., who spent 22 seasons playing over 1,000 NHL games with the Red Wings, there has never been a prouder moment than watching his son don the red and white.
“It’s pretty special to see my son throw on the No. 33 Red Wings jersey,” says Draper. “Right now I’m a really proud dad. To be able to coach my son and be out there on the bench and share this with him is very special.”
This is only Draper’s second season coaching with the Little Ceasars AAA hockey club, the Red Wings’ parent organization, but from Day 1 he has hearing all about the Brick Tournament in Edmonton.
“When I started coaching with Little Ceasars I started hearing about this Brick tournament and I looked it up online and was really fascinated by it,” said Draper. “This whole event is something that we’ve been looking forward to all year.”
With all the amenities of the world’s largest shopping at his fingertips, Draper decided to bring the whole family, with the exception of his eldest daughter who is away at summer camp.
“We’re having a blast. We turned this into a family event and we’re all enjoying it,” he said.
• I do want to confirm that CSKA Moscow GM and former Wing Sergei Fedorov spoke to Sport-Express’s Igor Larin in a 2-part interview, and Fedorov does say that he’s negotiating with Alex Semin’s agent;
• And yes, I’m still trying to defer the cost of getting up to and eating during my stay in Traverse City. If you can lend a hand, I’d be grateful:
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.
Update: In international news:
• From Helsinborgs Dagblad’s Linus Ahlin, Fabian Brunnstrom says that he hasn’t heard from the Wings yet, and while he knows they wanted to bring him back, he says that he just doesn’t give a damn about what happens, save that he wants to play in the NHL;
• In Slovak, Marek Tvrdon expressed joy about signing with the Wings to SITA, and, via SME.sk, Tvrdon told Hokejportal.net’s Tomas Kyselica that his agent told him to meet him at a gas station on Saturday night, and that’s where he signed his contract;
• Cas.sk posted a picture of Tomas Jurco and his Olympic hockey-playing sister, Petra, at the Zlaty Puk (Golden Puck) awards, where he received the Pavol Demitra award as the best Slovakian player under 20 years of age. He expects to sign with the Wings this summer;
• And you can head over to Blick.ch if you want to read German confirmation that yes, Damien Brunner signed with the Wings, and there’s a neat photo gallery attached to the story, but be careful. As is very typical of Swiss or German tabloids, a few clicks will send you to a front page that’s got NSFW pictures on it. I know you might think that Germans, Swiss and Austrians would be snooty, but when it comes to NSFW material, it’s very common to go to a newsstand and see pornography in plain sight and easy reach for younger people…It’s just not as big a deal over there. Go fig.
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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.