The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/10/12 at 04:08 AM ET
Somewhere between posting the news about the Winter Classic alumni game press conference on Wednesday and sharing the Free Press’s Helene St. James’ news about the Red Wings’ overtures to Shane Doan, I kinda got sidetracked and missed Ken Holland’s water-pouring over the Doan rumors due to content-producing reasons.
As someone who’s generally all but plugged into their computer, that was a strange feeling, but I went with my gut and assumed that Holland’s rather mild reaction to Doan’s agent’s pitch had to do with more than simply striking out on Suter and Parise…And as Paul and the rest of the hockey world found out that we might all like to have Terry Bross as an agent in reverse.
“Hello, Terry? This is George. Yeah, I was wondering if I could go out on a date with Sammy Braddy tonight? Yeah. Uh huh. Well, I’m 34…I’m bald, a little on the heavy side, though I’ve lost nine pounds recently…Uh huh…No no, I understand, looks matter, and I can assure you that I do in fact have only one mouth…Uh huh…Job? I’m a professional…blogger. Wait, so that’s not a deal-breaker, either? And she’ll pay? And pick me up at 8? In a big red pickup truck? Great, great, thanks Terry.”
Dear Gord, I wish life worked that way. If we are to believe Mr. Bross, Shane Doan is very interested in playing for every team in the NHL including the Phoenix Coyotes, probably half the teams in the AHL, the WHL, the QMJHL, the Finnish SM-Liiga, the KHL and of course for TMR’s official team, the Djibouti Camel Dung Gatherers.
Let me put it another way: when I was reading the Associated Press’s love letter to the Minnesota Wild (they have a great hockey tradition there in Minnesota, did you know that?), I read the first line, read it again, and started to laugh.
Minnesota has never been “flyover country” to Zach Parise.
Well no, because every God-damn flight in the country has a connecting flight through Minneapolis. And if we are to believe what we read, Bross has called every team in the league, repeatedly, including the Red Wings, as he told the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:
“Yes to both,” Bross said when asked if the Wings have contacted him and whether Doan has Detroit on a list of possible teams to play for next season.
Bross couldn’t talk any further as he was just about to board the plane [to the MLB All-Star Game].
The July 9 deadline Doan set himself when free agency opened was to see if Glendale, Ariz., residents could get enough signatures for a potential referendum on prospective buyer Greg Jamison’s lease agreement to keep the Coyotes in the state.If enough are gathered, the lease agreement would be placed on the November ballot.
“We’re giving the Coyotes a chance to get this resolved with the city and keep the team there and let him finish his career where he started it,” Bross said. “We expect to have an idea (Monday night) if that’s a possibility. It all depends how that goes before he decides if he’ll start entertaining offers,” Bross added. “So that could come as quickly as (Tuesday).”
According to Bross, the Wings are one of 14 teams to have expressed interest in Doan. Bross has also called the Wings several times to gauge their interest.
“They call it Hockeytown for a reason,” Bross said. “They’re committed to winning. It’s a great place to play and a nice city to live in.
“His first choice is to remain in Phoenix,” Bross ended.
Or go to San Jose. Or Phoenix. Or Montreal. Or Vancouver. Maybe Chicago. Possibly Los Angeles. Pittsburgh? I mean, and again, I hate to bang on the Parise/Suter thing, but this man has as much subtlety as Craig Leipold apparently challenging the mayor of Saint Paul to help subsidize a practice facility for his $200 million investments (per the Pioneer Press’s Ben Goessling).
As Paul also pointed out, there’s quite the debate as to whether the ballot referendum on the Coyotes’ purchase will ever reach said ballot box, so who knows what’s going on regarding that motivating factor.
The Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa went into some detail about the legal wranglings…
As the long-running battle over who will own the Coyotes and the role of the municipal government in the process continues, Doan’s judgment will be based in large part on deciphering Arizona law on ballot initiatives, including how many signatures are needed and by what deadline.
Before trying to read perhaps too many tea leaves at the same time:
Bross talked to at least the Red Wings and the Canucks on Monday. Doan’s wife is from Kamloops, British Columbia, 220 miles from Vancouver, and Doan is part owner of the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League.
Among the other teams inquiring about Doan are the Penguins, Rangers and Kings.
The Red Wings could use Doan’s physical presence, offense and leadership. He averaged nearly 24 goals the past seven seasons, and is likely to garner offers of about $5 million or more for several years.
But things get even more technical, though Bross wouldn’t suggest as much initially…
But Doan, who last spring helped carry the Coyotes on their deepest playoff run, to the Western Conference finals, has not yet decided he will leave the Coyotes, let alone if the Red Wings interest him more than any other teams.
“There has been contact with the Red Wings and other teams,” said Bross, whose office is in Glendale, Ariz. “Basically, they have to wait until Tuesday until we all have a better idea of what’s going to happen here at home.”
Yeah, but what happens if the initiative makes the ballot in Glendale but not the August one? Or if, as one might presume, the petition-writers and the City of Glendale go to court? Or the Goldwater Institute finds a way to wrangle themselves back into the proceedings?
“If the initiative takes us to November, obviously, it would be a very difficult,” Bross said.
So while the Wings, who are looking for a goal scorer at an affordable rate, are interested, the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes that Holland isn’t exactly throwing all his eggs into one basket…
Terry Bross said Doan will accept contract offers starting today, and the Wings already have reached out to establish contact with the camp. But as general manager Ken Holland put it, “30 teams would be interested,” in Doan.
If it comes down to it, the Wings are prepared to fly out to meet with Doan in person. The entourage is likely to include Doan’s former Canadian national teammates Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby, both now members of the Wings’ front office.
Doan is an attractive combination of skill, size and leadership. The Wings consider him a prime target after losing out last week on Ryan Suter and Zach Parise—though they remain realistic that Doan most likely will sign with the Coyotes.
The Wings have also explored trading for Columbus superstar Rick Nash, but the Blue Jackets’ asking price has been prohibitive. Trades in general have been minimal, as teams are loath to part with future building blocks.
“A lot of teams are looking at what they’ve got and what they don’t,” Holland said. “I’ve talked to a lot of managers. They’re focused on their kids, like we are. We’re set in goal. We’ve got about 14, 15 forwards. Would we like a different type of forward? Yeah. We’d like to add one more experienced defenseman. See what the next two months brings.”
Therein lies the rub, especially regarding all this Rick Nash talk. As Sportsnet’s Luke Fox points out, the Red Wings may be on Nash’s list of teams to which he would approve a trade, but between an intra-divisional premium and plain old common sense, there’s just no deal to be made:
Detroit Red Wings
Why they could close the deal: Having bid and lost out on Suter, Parise, Sami Salo, Matt Carle and Justin Schultz, the cash-flush Red Wings could be feeling antsy to land a big name, especially after the loss of perennial Norris candidate Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement and forward Jiri Hudler to free agency. Further, the Wings have a few prospects, namely forwards Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, who would see more ice time in Columbus.
What could be a deal-breaker: Three things: Detroit’s biggest void is on the blue line, which is likely where the Wings will devote their discussions and cap space. Second, with UFA Alexander Semin still available, it’s conceivable that the Russian wildcard signs a short-term deal in Hockeytown. (Same goes with Shane Doan.) Finally: Why would the Jackets trade their best player to the Central Division rival? Is the point not to beat the Wings?
Why give up assets when you don’t need to, or when adding “one more experienced defenseman,” even if he’s a band-aid solution until the next CBA is worked out and some more realistic trade possibilities pop up, is maybe your biggest priority?
Or maybe, if we are to believe what we’ve read over the past couple of days, and even over the last day or so, we’re all deluded about the “Hockeytown luster,” as the Free Press’s Jamie Samuelssen suggests:
The first and most obvious [reason] is Nicklas Lidstrom. He’s been the Wings greatest player and one of the very best in hockey. He had to ability to make other players look good and he had the ability to turn average defensemen into All-Stars. As attractive as it may have been to play in Detroit, it was even more attractive to play with Lidstrom. Every season he played, the Wings made the playoffs. Which means every time he played, the Wings had a chance to win the Stanley Cup. That’s pretty enticing.
Secondly was the Mike Ilitch factor. While other owners cried poor and railed against high salaries in work stoppages, Ilitch continued to try to build (and buy) the best team that he could. It worked for years and it led to titles. That style doesn’t work as effectively anymore. Ilitch can still treat his players like royalty and make sure they have first class amenities (other than the home arena) – but being able to outspend the opposition isn’t an overriding factor anymore. And the Red Wings were technically outspent on both Parise and Suter.
And third is the fact that so many former Red Wings are loyal to the organization because they know how good they have it. Larry Murphy, Chris Chelios, Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper have all stayed with the organization in some capacity because they loved being Red Wings and they want to remain Red Wings for life. But just because past players feel that way about the team, it doesn’t mean that future players will feel the same way. We’ve long believed that the Wings had the best organization in hockey because the players told us that. But it’s those players that make the organization what it is – and that alone may not be enough to attract other players to come here. And remember, every player listed above was either acquired by the Red Wings via trade or re-acquired after they originally left. None signed on their own as an unrestricted free agent from another team.
Again, this is not meant to rip the organization. The last 20 years were as good as any team in any sport. And I still believe that Holland is as good as any GM in any sport. If anyone deserves the chance to reload or rebuild, it’s Holland. He’s done it once. Who’s to say that he can’t do it again? This team won four Cups not because it was an Original Six team, but instead because it had quality men in management drafting, acquiring and developing quality people on the ice. Things change. That formula shouldn’t.
It’s the turning this into a reloading phase instead of a rebuilding part that’s tricky, but hey, he, Jim Nill, Ryan Martin and Mike Babcock have continued to work the phones during the Wings’ developmental camp, and they’re not ordering takeout or checking in on their tee times.
Speaking of Holland’s phone calls, NHL Home Ice’s Josh Rimer offered some intriguing Twitter clips of a later-evening interview with Holland on NextSportsStar.com (the interviews take a few days to archive, so it should be up by…Thursday? Friday?):
Ken Holland on Lidstrom joining Red Wings as Scout,“It’s a little premature, but he’ll join in some kind of compacity.” nextsportstar.com— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) July 10, 2012
More Holland, “Nick wants to remain affiliated with the Red Wings in some capacity.”— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) July 10, 2012
More Holland, “We’ll sit down in august when he’s back in Detroit. He will be a part of the organization.”— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) July 10, 2012
Holland on Parise/Suter, “In the end they obviously made decisions that they felt were in their best interest personally and professionally.— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) July 10, 2012
More Holland on Parise/Suter, “..you have to respect that and we’ll continue to explore the market place either thru free agency or trades.”— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) July 10, 2012
Ken Holland on if he had offers out to both Parise/Suter, “I’m not ready to get into details, but certainly when July 1st comes around at…— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) July 10, 2012
More Holland on Parise/Suter: “......noon i’m sure all the teams are like us, we phone all the players were interested in…...— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) July 10, 2012
More Holland, “.....but they might not have interest in you.”— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) July 10, 2012
More Holland, ” Our Press conference at Comerica will be 2 announce who’s playing in the alumni game, it will be a trip down memory lane.”— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) July 10, 2012
According to St. James, Joey Kocur and Wendell Clark will be on hand for starters…
Shifting gears toward the Wings’ development camp, while I was working on my write-up, the Red Wings’ players were signing autographs at the Cherry Festival in Traverse City, and the Wings’ Facebook page posted a gallery thereof;
• Today is a very important day, as the Left Wing Lock’s Sarah Lindenau has already noted:
Bryan Rufenach, despite his recent tragic and untimely death while traveling through Europe, will continue to be a huge part of the 2012 Detroit Red Wings Development Camp. The 23-year-old defenseman was a seventh round selection of the Red Wings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and signed a contract last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. Rufenach spent a majority of the 2011-12 season with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL where he collected 13 goals and 33 points in 54 games. The Lindsay, Ontario native had previously spent four seasons with Clarkson University where he tallied 21 goals and 55 points over his collegiate career.
Organizers of the 2012 Red Wings Development Camp in conjunction with the Detroit Red Wings, Grand Rapids Griffins and Toledo Walleye have designated July 10th as ‘Bryan Rufenach Day’ with a portion of all proceeds to benefit the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Fund. The event begins at 4 p.m. outside Centre I.C.E. Arena in Traverse City, MI. Food provided by Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders will be available for purchase between 4:00 pmand 6:00 pm. Above the Garage will perform live at the event, while Red Wings Development Camp souvenirs will be sold to help benefit the fund.
Former NHL players, along with members of both the Red Wings’ and Grand Rapids Griffins’ management teams and coaching staffs will be on hand to sign autographs including Dallas Drake, Chris Chelios, Jiri Fischer, Aaron Downey, Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Ryan Martin, Jim Bedard, Keith McKittrick, Jeff Blashill and Jim Paek.
The puck will drop on an intra-squad scrimmage at 7:00 pm that evening at Centre I.C.E. Arena. A brief ceremony to honor Bryan’s memory will be held prior to opening face-off. The family of Bryan Rufenach is expected to attend the July 10th benefit. To view the full roster of players participating in the development camp click here.
The cost of the event, which includes the intra-squad scrimmage, is $5 and will be collected at the entrance to the Centre I.C.E. Arena parking lot. Fans wishing to make additional donations to the fund may do so at designated areas throughout the arena.
I’ve been told to show up at 5, and between being “media” and the kinda sorta translating the Swiss report about Rufenach’s passing, I’m going to try and give the event a wide berth. That and the social anxiety and all. Talking to hockey players? No big deal. Talking to management? A little intimidating if I don’t know them. Crowds not directly involved with hockey? Well then.
Mike McKee sat through seven rounds of the 2011 NHL draft in St. Paul, Minnesota and didn’t hear his name called by an NHL team. So when it was time for the 2012 draft, he opted to stay home.
“It was kind of tough to sit through it last year,” he said. “When I didn’t get picked, I just put my head down and kept working hard hoping it would happen this year. When it was the Red Wings, I was just as surprised as anyone because I didn’t talk to them until 10 minutes before their fifth round selection.”
The 6-foot-4, 232 pound defenseman doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a typical Detroit draft pick. McKee led the USHL in penalty minutes with 237 while playing for Lincoln.
“I can step up for my teammates if needed,” he said. “But I can play the game too but if someone takes a shot at one of my teammates then it’s going to happen.”
The 18 year old blueliner will play Western Michigan in the fall, which is a decision the Red Wings endorse despite the ban on fighting in college hockey. McKee will have longer development time and the lack of fighting will allow him to improve other areas of his game.
“I spoke to Detroit just before they picked me about my future plans,” he said. “College hockey will give me a chance to improve my game and not fighting will give me a chance to work on things like foot speed, stick handling, passing and shooting.”
• And while Nick Barnowski took a more ecclectic tack in speaking to Babcock, Ryan Martin, Teemu Pulkkinen, Rasmus Bodin and Robert Rooba (and he, like Lindenau, came with a monstrous professional camera, so check out the gallery embedded in his story)...
• The massive, and I mean massive McKee also spoke to the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan about being drafted the second time around…
Last year, he attended the draft with his mother and wound up sitting through all seven rounds — without being called.
“It was pretty tough to get through,” said McKee, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defenseman known as much for his fists as his defensive work. “I was sitting beside my agent and a group of guys he represents. They were all drafted. My mom was there. She was pretty sad. It was tough to sit through.”
Things, however, changed this year. In the fifth round, McKee was selected by the Red Wings, a move that startled the young defenseman as much as anyone.
“I didn’t talk to many teams; never talked to the Red Wings,” said McKee, who was planning on playing at Western Michigan this fall.
Now, however, he’s participating in this week’s Red Wings development camp for prospects and draft picks.
“I got the phone call and I broke down crying,” McKee said of draft day. “They called and congratulated me on being a member of the Detroit Red Wings. I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t talk to them. I called my mom. It was just a dream come true. It’s everything you’ve worked for.”
And he’s a big man in more ways than one, as the Free Press’s George Sipple found out:
“Mike McKee is impressing everybody, not only with his size but just the way he respects and talks to people,” said Aaron Downey, a strength and conditioning coach for the Wings. “He’s way beyond his years. I can’t believe he’s going into his first year of college.”
McKee, 18, from Newmarket, Ontario, led the U.S. Hockey League with 237 penalty minutes last season. He also chipped in two goals and 17 assists in 59 games for the Lincoln Stars. He won’t be fighting in college, and that’s one of the reasons he decided to go the college route.
“The game today, you can’t just be a fighter,” McKee said. “You gotta be able to skate, move your feet and make passes; control the puck, especially the style the Red Wings play. My mom is really big on school. She wanted me to get an education. No one in my immediate family had a college education.”
As it turns out, McKee used to play as a forward, too, which is scary:
“I can play either way,” McKee said. “Whatever is best for the team. I have no preference. If somebody gets hurt and they need me to step up, I’ll play forward. If they need me to play D, I’ll play D. If the two goalies go out, I’ll throw on the pads.”
Jiri Fischer, the director of player development for the Wings, said “time will tell” whether McKee ends up as a defenseman or forward.
“So far in the (defensemen) drills, he’s had no issues whatsoever,” Fischer said. “He works on the agility. We know he’s tough. We don’t necessarily want to see anyone drop the gloves this camp, so he doesn’t have to prove it to anyone.”
McKee told me that his decision as to whether he heads to Western Michigan this fall or whether he’s going back to Lincoln depends on what the Wings want him to do, but how he controls that big body and whether he behaves in scrimmages will play into the talk he has with the team at the end of the week.
He’s a strange mix: he’s very much an enthusiastic and wide-eyed 18-year-old all of 2 weeks away from being drafted, but because he’s had a fortunate early growth spurt, he’s very comfortable in his frame, and he’s willing to take on challenges and is very attentive.
• The 7 and 4 news posted a clip of the second day’s events minus some commentary about the fact that Dean Chelios, Michael Babcock and Landon Ferraro are all taking part in the camp, with camp director Anne Hayes speaking in the clip:
• And when I’m up and about (I’ve had a late night for reasons not involving blogging or having a good time in any way, shape or form), I’ll post the Traverse City Record-Eagle’s James Cook’s profile of Babcock the younger. The Record-Eagle doesn’t publish online till 6:30 or on its website till nearly 8 AM, regrettably.
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• Jake Chelios is attending the Blackhawks’ developmental camp as a try-out, and he spoke to the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc...
Jake Chelios said there are similarities to his game and that of his father, former Hawks and longtime NHL defenseman Chris Chelios.
“The slashing and cross-checking,” Jake Chelios said with a chuckle Monday after he completed drills at the Hawks’ annual prospect camp in Chicago. “I don’t know if that works anymore, (but) back in his day that was considered a skilled game.”
After two consecutive years at the Red Wings’ developmental camp, Chelios is flashing his wit and showcasing his talents for the Hawks’ hierarchy. He spent part of his childhood roaming the United Center while Chris played for the Hawks and moved to the Detroit area when his father joined the Red Wings.
“The last 12 years I’ve worn red and white when I’ve been going to games so it’s nice to come back here where I grew up,” said Chelios, 21. “Being in the locker room was pretty nostalgic. I remember where almost everything was even though I was only 8. It’s a privilege to be here. This week I’m a Blackhawk.”
Chelios will return to Michigan State, where he will skate on the blue line for the Spartans during his junior year. He said his father, who is working the Wings’ camp in Michigan, has been calling to get a status report on how things are going.
“He’s seen all of my games, so he’s given me his fair share of advice,” said Jake Chelios, who is wearing No. 17 during camp. “(I’m) not going to be the most skilled guy when I go out there, but as long as I work hard usually results will come. It’s just a really good opportunity. I want to take advantage of that to kind of make my own name.”
As well as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns:
Jake Chelios knows he can’t escape the comparisons and questions about his father, Chris, a living legend who starred on the blue line for the Blackhawks and Red Wings before landing a job in Detroit’s front office. But his goal is to make his “own name.”
Chelios, a 21-year-old defenseman at Michigan State, is an invitee at the Hawks’ prospect camp this week. His father is coaching at Detroit’s camp this week, and his brother, Dean, is participating in it. Chelios attended the Red Wings’ camps the previous two summers.
“I thought this would be a good time to get some exposure in a different city,” Chelios said.
Of course, Chicago was home to the Chelios family not too long ago.
“It’s nice to come back here where I grew up,” Chelios said. “Being in that locker room was pretty nostalgic. I remember pretty much where everything was even though I was only 8 [years old].”
Chelios said his plan is to return to Michigan State next season. His goal at camp is to learn from different coaches and hopefully make an impression.
“It’s just a really good opportunity,” he said. “I want to take advantage of that and try to make my own name.”
I’ve seen Dean and Jake—and they are called “Dean” and “Jake,” not “Chelios”—for a couple of years now, and Jake’s actually much better when he focuses on the skilled aspect of his game. He skates very, very well, really almost with a Paul Coffey-style gliding stride, and he can move the puck very well, so I’m not so sure about the hacking and whacking bit.
Mostly, both Chelios boys are growing into their bodies a little later in life, so playing four full years of college hockey maximizes their developmental time;
• If this is your sort of thing, the Free Press’s Evil Drew Sharp will be chatting this morning at 11 AM;
And again, late night + another late night in the making with an early morning chaser means I’ll be getting up at more George-like hours and catching up on some sleep today. From tonight until Friday, especially with the Winter Classic presser at 12 PM EDT on Wednesday (it’ll be streamed online), I’ve got a real grind ahead of me, and the “sleep all night” plan fizzled, so I’ve got to make the most of what I’ve got left.
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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.