The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/24/12 at 05:36 AM ET
This morning, the Free Press’s Helene St. James is confirming a story from the general manager’s mouth: as MLive’s Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness reported, the Red Wings did indeed attempt to make a very strong push to acquire Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but GM Scott Howson demurred, not wanting to see his franchise’s poster boy play for the Blue Jackets’ self-styled arch-rival.
Ken Holland did indeed make his pitch, but what was probably a better return than the one the New York Rangers sent to central Ohio went over like a practical joke at a funeral:
“I talked to Scott Howson a number of times; we did make an offer for Rick Nash,” Holland said.
The problem for the Wings was this: In order to sell the Blue Jackets on moving their franchise superstar within the Central Division, the offer would have had to be much better than New York’s. The Rangers gave Columbus centers Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round pick. Holland didn’t want to talk names, but at the very least, a trade would have had to start with Johan Franzen or Valtteri Filppula, and from there also include Brendan Smith or Gustav Nyquist, two young players the Wings consider building blocks, plus at least one more player, and a first-round pick. The combined average salaries of the players the Rangers traded adds up almost exactly to Nash’s $7.8-million salary cap hit, but the Wings have more financial flexibility and wouldn’t have needed to worry about that aspect.
Holland said the Wings “talked and explored.” Nash, 28, has reached 40 goals twice in his career and has contributed at least 30 goals each of the past five seasons. At 6-feet-4, 220 pounds, he has the size and skill the Wings sought.
And according to a source it was a “hell of an offer.” Instead the Blue Jackets dealt Nash, who requested to be traded last January, to the Rangers in exchange for forwards Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky, defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round pick.
The Wings were one of the teams reportedly on Nash’s list that he would waive his no-movement clause, along with the Rangers, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Philadelphia and Boston. Detroit’s offer generated zero conversation. It’s not known what the Wings offered, but the source said it was “four pieces.”
And then Holland went and did the thing that seems to be sending all of you batty in suggesting that, minus Shea Weber (didn’t want to sign with an “arch-rival,” either) or possible signings in Shane Doan (still making up his mind, wants a multi-year deal), Alex Semin (see: it’s hard enough to negotiate with a former 40 goal-scorer and convince him that all the red flags surrounding his commitment mean he’s not going to get a huge payday; it’s even harder to negotiate with his agent, crazy Mark Gandler, who’s sent players like Evgeny Artyukhin, Alexander Svitov and yes, Alexei Yashin to Russia because Gandler believes that every client is worth half a gabillion dollars) or any of the potential unrestricted free agent forward (Petr Sykora, Knuble, Jason Arnott, Jochen Hecht, Andrei Kostitsyn and Eric Fehr) or defensive (Scott Hannan, Pavel Kubina, Carlo Colaiacovo, Milan Jurcina, Cam Barker, Jaroslav Spacek and Matt Gilroy) band-aids…
Holland is OK with his team in its current guise…
“As I look at our team today, we’re real excited about our goaltending. We’ve got a 27-year-old guy in Jimmy Howard, who has three years of NHL experience under his belt. We have a 28-year-old guy in Gustavsson that’s got a couple of years in Toronto in him. I believe as a goaltender your best years are probably from 27 and 28 years of age all the way up to 34, that’s when you’ve got your combination of skill and experience. As I look at our team upfront we’re happy with the addition of Tootoo and Samuelsson,” Holland added. “If (Gustav) Nyquist was on any other NHL team in the league they’d give him a chance. We’re going to give him a chance.”
He harbors no regrets regarding his team’s attempt to land Ryan Suter…
“I feel fine with how free agency has gone,” Holland said. “We went in with a game plan. We’re very happy with what happened on July 1.”
And yet, at the same time, Holland does indeed plan to aggressively pursue each and every avenue by which he can improve his team, which probably includes both playing the waiting game with Doan—and as I posted while writing this entry, it now sounds like Doan will be making visits to the serious suitors for his services with perhaps more urgency over the next week or two—Semin and other free agents, as well as exploring trades for Keith Yandle, Jay Bouwmeester and, thanks to yet another player not wanting to play in Long Island, Lubomir Visnovsky:
“We made a decision to target some high profile players, we pursued them and unfortunately we weren’t able to make it happen,” Holland said. “There were circumstances involved. We’re going to continue going forward drafting, developing and expecting to be a playoff team. We’ve got to give some young kids an opportunity.
“We’re going to explore, either through trade or free agency, making a move or two between now and training camp,” Holland continued. “We’re going to see over the next six weeks if we can make something else happen.”
Again, Holland has a couple of tricky challenges ahead of him given that:
1. Shane Doan appears to be the main domino here in terms of the only real “plan B” on the market for the teams that struck out on Parise, and until Doan makes his decision as to whether he’ll remain with Phoenix or sign with another team, not much will happen, especially given that Semin is “plan C”;
2. The honest truth of the matter regarding all the other remaining free agents is that they’re not “alternatives” as much as they are “leftovers,” but given the fact that so few of them have signed, it’s painfully obvious that their agents are insisting that now the two five-pound lobsters are gone from the casino buffet, the Fillet Mignon isn’t sure whether he wants to be served, or to which table he’s going, and the slightly questionably smelly whole salmon comes with a requirement that you eat the whole damn fish, scales, bones and all, there are miles and miles of yesterday’s Swedish meatballs left, but that’s all, and the casino’s still expecting you to pony up $25 for said reheated meatballs;
3. As noted yesterday, with Valtteri Filppula, Jimmy Howard, Ian White, Danny Cleary, Drew Miller and Damien Brunner qualifying for unrestricted free agency next summer and Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Jan Mursak, Jakub Kindl and a host of other prospects coming off their entry-level deals and becoming restricted free agents under what is almost certain to be a lower cap and a much more restrictive environment in terms of contractual flexibility, the Red Wings cannot afford to overspend this summer to find themselves without the cap space to re-sign a 65-point-scorer in Filppula, their starting goalie, someone who is, at this point, their #2 defenseman, the organization’s two top NHL-playing prospects or any other player the team plans on retaining a year from now;
4. It also bears saying, perhaps for the first time, that nobody’s going to do anything until they find out what the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators do about the Shea Weber offer sheet.
If the Predators match, that’s one thing; if the Flyers work out a trade, that’s another entirely, and if the Flyers just surrender draft picks?
Well, then you’ll have a team with no cap space, even given Chris Pronger’s likely cap relief as he may not start the season on a blueline already populated by seven other defensemen on a team that currently has to re-sign a restricted free agent in Jakub Voracek and round out the rest of its roster with $7.8 million in cap space sans Weber. And you’ve got a team that will have defensemen and possibly forwards available on the trade market;
5. Whatever happens to Lubomir Visnovsky, whose agent, Neil Sheehy (yes, Ryan Suter’s agent) has filed a grievance with the NHLPA insisting that his client’s trade to the New York Islanders violated the no-trade clause Visnovsky had with Anaheim, will also perk GM’s ears’ up;
6. And the fact that the NHL’s first proposal was met with, “Okay, so how would this work as applied to current players?” instead of, “Okay, well you’ve forced our hand, here’s our counter-proposal” from the NHLPA has clearly put a damper on things, and with CBA negotiations slated to take a full week’s break after the meetings today, tomorrow and Thursday in Toronto (I believe the CBA negotiations resume during the first full week of August), we might find even less impetus from NHL teams to pick through the leftovers.
Long story short?
The Red Wings will continue to examine their trade options and will be talking with the agents of each and every one of the UFA players they’re interested in, maybe on an every-day basis given how incredibly thorough Holland, Jim Nill and Ryan Martin tend to be, but there is absolutely no need for the team to make a move until Doan makes his decision, the Weber offer sheet plays out, we find out whether Visnovsky’s going to be another pissed-off Islander and, very possibly, whether this week will tell us if there’s a lockout in the offing (though that is doubtful).
This has led to a November gale’s worth of Sturm und Drang from Wings fans as we are terrible at waiting and are worried as can be about the team’s ability to recover from the losses of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, Jiri Hudler (Mikael Samuelsson’s more or less a wash there) and, most likely, Tomas Holmstrom, with St. James offering updates on both Holmstrom and Doan...
The Wings still haven’t talked to Tomas Holmstrom regarding his future, but there really isn’t room on the roster for Holmstrom, 39, and he’s expected to retire this summer. .... The Wings remain in waiting mode on unrestricted free agent Shane Doan, whose top choice is to stay in Phoenix.
And with all of that being said, and admitting that yes, I am also scared about what the team I support is going to do, what that team will look like when the season starts, whether that team may have to wait until the regular season begins to sort out a deal (the Wings don’t have a whole lot of leverage right now), or how well the team as it currently stands will manage to compete for the Central Division title and a playoff spot this season…
Y’all need to calm the f*** down.
Given the statements made in the comments section of this blog over the past month, I’ve done my best to remove all sharp objects as many of you seem to want to impale yourselves on whatever’s handy, and I’ve invested in some virtually padded floors as many of you have sprained or broken your ankles jumping off the bandwagon—at this point, I’m honestly surprised that the more virulent and militant Holland critics, who suggested that the Red Wings forfeited every game until the 2022-2023 season and won’t make the playoffs ever, ever again when the team didn’t make a move at the trade deadline, haven’t burned your Wings gear in protest, and more and more of you seem to be joining the ranks of the, “Wings are old and busted, I quit, I want to watch a winning team, when does Lions season start?” club each day.
But despite everything that the more steadily-constituted Wings fans have said, despite anything I’ve said, the vast majority of you are beginning to genuinely scare me.
And I don’t make that statement lightly.
I’m not going to tell you where or when or why, but I have seen the psych ward. I have seen the padded room, albeit from the outside. And I’ve seen the kind of people who need to be in the padded room, and have witnessed the behavior that consigns them to spending hours in a room that is essentially four walls, a ceiling and a floor full of the kind of padding used in kids’ gym classes, with nothing more than a waterproof mattress and no window save the one in the door locked from the outside.
That’s a scary place. Frankly, the psych ward is a scary place, and just going as a visitor is the kind of thing that leaves a stark impression. And there are times I genuinely worry about some of you, because the amount of virtual waling, gnashing of teeth and foaming at the mouth is just utterly ridiculous right now, to the point that some of you genuinely sound not just disturbed about a sports team, but disturbed, period.
It’s got to stop. It’s one thing to vent your frustrations and passionately disagree and even argue, but if being a Wings fan without Nicklas Lidstrom is this damn painful for you, and you’re going to do more than just turn into trolls and bullies, instead choosing to do your best to slam-dance along the four walls of the comments section when anyone dares suggest that the Wings might win a game?
You either need to count to ten before you write, take a five-minute break, throw something soft at the wall or, in some instances, find another team or another sport. This s*** is getting utterly stupid.
While I am well aware of the fact that the wait is intolerable, and that this is a scary, scary summer for fans who live vicariously through a sports team they have passionately followed and expected nothing less than Stanley Cups from on an every-season basis, and simply will not pay to follow if that standard should slip minus Nicklas Lidstrom, especially if the team dares to “settle” for second best…
I know crazy. I know crazy very well. Mental illness runs in my damn family, I deal with depression and an anxiety disorder and I probably narrowly averted a depressive episode over the last week, and am in a lot of plain old physical as well as mental discomfort right now because of it.
And when I venture into the comments section, some of the more fatalistic members of this community are making me sound well-adjusted.
Put simply, if you’re going to spazz out like a rabid monkey or a little kid throwing a tantrum for every second that the Wings’ management land the Ryan Suters, Rick Nashs, Shew Webers, Bobby Ryans, Alex Semins, Shane Doans, etc. of the world?
Calm the f*** down or get off the God-damned bandwagon for good, hawk your Wings stuff on eBay and find something else to occupy your discretionary time and income.
This is probably the hardest summer Wings fans have faced since 2006, and maybe I’m going to regret not just posting the news and my opinion, but also offering, “Y’all got to check yo self before you wreck yo self” suggestions…
But Jeebus Monkey, people, this is getting out of hand, and as much as these entries go out and become yours, and as much as dissent and faith with doubt are all part and parcel of being passionate sports fans, and as much as this summer seems like a long wait in a packed Secretary of State office without any air conditioning, and as thick as my skin’s gotten to personal attacks over the six years I’ve been doing this professionally and the twelve years I’ve been writing about hockey in one way or another on message boards or blogs, you’re certainly allowed to yell at me all the damn hell you want to, because it’s my job to take it.
If you’re going to continue to take it out on each other, however, especially as virulently and viciously as some of you have of late, you need to go and find something else to do with your time, because this level of dripping venom from bared fangs s*** is just borderline nuts.
Or, as some of my friends like to say, there’s the “good crazy” and the “bad crazy,” and the “bad crazy” is both spreading and not particularly healthy for anyone.
I knew more than a few people who got off the bandwagon for good when Sergei left. Even more who decided that the Wings without Stevie and Shanny weren’t the Wings. And if Nick’s the turning point for something that has perhaps become a fading passion or pastime for you over the past couple of seasons, there is no attendance taken on the bandwagon and there is no rule compelling you to stay.
I’m here for the duration of the ride, as uncomfortable, bumpy and certain as it’s become this summer. You don’t have to be if you don’t want to be. I certainly won’t think any less of you if it’s your choice to leave. But if you’re going to stay, you’re going to have to find a way to use the comments section as what it’s supposed to be—a coping mechanism for a community following the ups and downs of a team they follow with a passion and care for and care about very deeply.
We’re all intelligent adults here, and this padded room stuff is unnecessary. If it’s come to that for you, decide what you want to do as is best for your own sporting and personal well-being.
Those of us who will be around till the end understand if you need to take a break, or if you want to make a clean break entirely. And in the interim, we’re gonna keep trying to find a way to cope with this maddening uncertainty while gently peeling each other off of the walls and ceiling.
I’m sorry to go off on a rant like this, but the tone and content of some of what I’ve seen has genuinely disturbed me, and I while I can deal with being disturbed, I don’t want to see any of you having to deal with that kind of discomfort. It’s an awful feeling and I don’t wish it upon anyone.
Addendum: I don’t mean to sound like a schoolteacher or something, but I feel a responsibility to step into discussions I generally try to avoid (again, once something’s posted, it’s yours to do with as you wish; I’m just a discussion-starter hoping that my peers as Wings fans and people I respect as intelligent and well-informed individuals want to engage in a discussion about what’s going on with their favorite team) if I feel that the community I hope this blog creates is in danger, and this community seems stressed and strained to the breaking point this morning. I neither want to see you in the kind of pain many of you appear to be in, nor do I want to see you act said discomfort out upon each other.
Me, yell at me all you want, that’s my job. Don’t take it out on each other, please. I’m going to shut up now and try to keep it as “news-y” as possible for the next little while, but if things start getting to be like a psych ward, I will not hesitate to do this again. That’s not the kind of atmosphere I want in my blog’s comments section, and it may be my job to tolerate that kind of tone and rancor, but it should not also be the community’s burden.
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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.