The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/22/12 at 03:43 AM ET
Updated 2x with St. James’ assessment of Jakub Kindl’s worth at 3:12 AM: Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg is part of the NHLPA’s negotiating committee, so he doesn’t have the option of returning to Sweden if there is a lockout, but that didn’t stop Expressen’s Mattias Eriksson from posting a somewhat sensationally-titled article suggesting that Zetterberg’s being something of a jerk for doing what he has to do (roughly translated):
Zetterberg snubs Eliteserien in lockout
There’s hardly [going to be] an invasion of stars in the Eliteserien if there’s a lockout. Henrik Zetterberg’s snubbed games at home—and more will follow.
“I think that many of the older players will stay in North America until at least Christmas,” says Zata.
In less than four weeks, it’s believed that NHL teams will begin their training camps for the season. But right now, the parties are so far apart in negotiations that more and more people are starting to believe that the camps won’t take place, and that the NHL won’t start as scheduled on October 11th.
“Far apart from each other”
In the North American media, it’s speculated that if the parties don’t agree [on a CBA] before September 15th, when the current agreement expires, there will be no games in the NHL until after the New Year.
Detroit star Henrik Zetterberg left Sweden last week and flew to Detroit, where he is one of the NHLPA’s representatives in negotiations.
“We’re still very far apart. Both parties have come with their respective proposals, and aren’t close to each other,” says Zata, and continues: “I don’t know if NHL hockey will be played [when it’s scheduled to start]. However, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll have training camp.
If there’s a lockout, the Swedish hockey audience hopes that there will be an invasion of NHL stars, like in the 2004-2005 season. But the Eliteserien can already forget the player who has been one of our biggest NHL stars over the last ten years, and was the Tre Kronor’s best player at the World Championship last spring.
“I will stay in Detroit until negotiations are finished, so regardless [of what happens] I will be stuck here until Christmas. I want to be involved and try to resolve this,” says Zata.
“Then I’ll make another decision after Christmas, it’s appropriate then. If I would go to play in Sweden after Christmas, I’d play for Timra.”
Two of the NHL’s other biggest stars, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, are also reluctant to play in the Eliteserien if there’s an NHL lockout.
“We’re going over to Vancouver next Monday and we’ll stay there this fall. It may be necessary for “Henke” and me to play in the Eliteserien this winter only if there’s a lockout. We’ve informed Markus Naslund and Modo,” says Daniel Sedin to SPORT-Expressen.
“It’s an individual [decision]”
Zetterberg is also one of the older players who will await developments on the ground in North America, and won’t rush home to play in the Eliteserien.
“It’s a very individual [decision]. The younger ones who get to go home will go home and play, but I think many of the older players will sit and wait until Christmas. However, I don’t think that many people will opt out of games for the entire season,” says Zetterberg.
The article also tries to handicap the chances of various Swedish stars playing in Sweden via Henrik Sjoberg, and Sjoberg offers the following about two Wings:
Johan Franzen, forward Detroit Red Wings: Status: Franzen is probably included in the category [of players] that probably wants to take the chance to get extra rest to be ready when the NHL season resumes.
Niklas Kronwall, defense, Detroit Red Wings: Status: Djurgarden wants to go after him, but does Kronwall really want to be in the headlines? His brother Staffan plays in the KHL.
Don’t call them traitors
Los Angeles: I understand Henrik Zetterberg.
Our older NHL’s won’t throw themselves on planes across the Atlantic to play in the Eliteserien if there’s a lockout in North America this fall. Don’t call them traitors. They have their reasons.
We won’t know until September 15th if there’s an NHL lockout. But today, most factors indicate that the team owners and players have been on a collision course for some time. Negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement have gone nowhere since July. It breaks about most regularly—player salaries, the lengths of contracts and how much of hockey-related revenues in the NHL should go to players.
So Zata can detect the negotiations’ temperatures day by day. And right now, the situation is ice cold.
That means many agents, media professionals and industry experts around the U.S. and Canada believe that the NHL won’t be playing until Christmas, anyway. Maybe the whole season.
And many of the players could end up in tricky situations. The older Swedes, for now think about them, own a home, have children in North American schools, and have homes and pay taxes in the United States and Canada.
So it’s not easy to suddenly just go home.
I’m thinking about guys like the twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin in Vancouver, Daniel Alfredsson in Ottawa, Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, and Johan Franzen in Detroit.
Zata himself says that he’s an active player representative on the NHLPA’s negotiating team, and would wait until at least Christmas before making any decision about taking a gamble in Sweden for Timra.
Daniel Sedin said the same thing to me about a week ago. That he and Henrik will stop in Vancouver for the fall, and have told Modo’s general manager, Markus Naslund, that they can only talk about playing in the Eliteserien if the entire NHL season is canceled.
Henrik Lundqvist and his wife Therese have recently had their first child in New York, where Henke also owns a restaurant. I’m pretty sure he also wants to lie low during the autumn.
Alfredsson has children in school in Ottawa, so I’m guessing that there would have to be a long lockout before he leaves and moves home with his family to Gothenburg.
The situation’s different for the younger stars, like Nicklas Backstrom, Erik Karlsson, Gabriel Landeskog and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, to name a few. Then, of course, the question is how many temporary guest players the Eliteserien would accept.
If they fail to agree on a restriction this time.
My tip regarding the NHL conflict? As it looks now, they will play first at Christmas. But I don’t think the season will be canceled.
For the record, yes, it’s entirely possible that the Wings’ younger players who are single, like Valtteri Filppula, may play overseas, but as Nordstrom suggests about the vast majority of Swedish players, most of the Wings’ players have kids who enroll in school here in Metro Detroit, and prospects like Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl and Gustav Nyquist have two-way deals, so they’ll be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Ditto for Damien Brunner, whether he likes it or not…
And I just don’t believe that too many of the Wings’ players will head over to Europe. Some teams are keen on snagging NHL’ers, like Farjestads BK, but the vast majority of teams are two thirds of the way through their exhibition seasons, have full rosters, full import quotas and are flush with players who would have otherwise signed AHL deals if there wasn’t a lockout in the offing. The “sense” around the media outlets for the vast majority of KHL, Swedish Elitserien, SM-Liiga, Czech, Slovak and even Swiss teams have offered genuine concerns from teams regarding bringing players in a month or two into the European pro leagues’ regular season (i.e. October) and then saying goodbye to them in December or January—when those teams’ playoff runs begin in early March—so they’re genuinely worried about upsetting team chemistry and finding themselves left without serious-ass star power come the stretch run, when they’re jockeying for playoff spots and need all hands on deck.
Filppula (his brother, Ilari still plays for Jokerit, as does Teemu Pulkkinen) Kronwall (who seems torn about playing for Djurgardens IF or staying in Detroit), Jonathan Ericsson (his brother, Jimmie, plays for Skelleftea AIK), Jonas Gustavsson (because he hasn’t played much at all over the past season) and maybe Pavel Datsyuk and/or a younger player who doesn’t have kids (think: Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves) might try their luck overseas, but judging from what I’ve actually read over the past four months, I think we’re going to see a scattered and inconsistent run on NHL talent if the lockout doesn’t consume the entire season.
Somewhat ironically, DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose penned an “Alumni Reunion” with a certain former Red Wings goaltender who finds himself with good relationships with his players and a jackass of a representative for his side in negotiations in Wings GM Ken Holland.
The Red Wings are already opening Joe Louis Arena’s workout facilities to their players (Roose Tweeted that Zetterberg was back in town on Monday), and the players will be engaging in pre-training camp practices ran by the players starting at or around September 1st (coaches are technically not allowed to interact with their players until training camp, but you can bet that Mike Babcock, Tom Renney and Bill Peters will happen to be in the rink when the Wings’ players are practicing), but if there’s no agreement on September 15th, the players have to clear their gear out and figure out where they’re going to practice.
For the moment, Holland remains hamstrung by CBA uncertainty—he’s unlikely to sign that free agent band-aid defenseman until the new CBA takes shape, especially given that, as ESPN’s Craig Custance suggested, it is at least possible (behind a paywall, sorry) that some of the owners will be total dicks and suggest that another round of buyouts is necessary, or that teams will be charged for the full salary of the players they’ve signed to lifetime deals, which would yield an opportunity for the Wings to “buy” or prey upon buyouts…
And he spoke to Roose about his extremely brief tenure with the Red Wings and his two seasons with the Adirondack Red Wings in Glens Falls, NY:
Question: Do you keep in touch with any of your former Red Wings teammates? If so, who?
Ken Holland: “I don’t talk to a lot of them, but when you do, you pick up where you left off. They have their lives going and I have my life going. But I do bump into guyss like Dennis Polonich, who I see occasionally out in western Canada.”
Question: What was your favorite memory as a Red Wing?
Holland: “I remember I stayed at the Pontchartrain Hotel when I got called up. For me, I had been a career minor-leaguer, so it was awesome just to be in the NHL. There was a goalie carousel between Eddie Mio, Corrado Micalef, Mark LaForest and myself. Nobody could stop the puck and I got my three-week shot at it. I played one night against St. Louis and we tied, 6-6, and went to overtime.”
Question: Which of the guys you played with was the toughest?
Holland: “Joe Kocur. I would say that Kocur and Bob Probert were the two toughest Red Wings’ players ever. The very first game that Kocur played in the AHL – he was playing in Saskatoon – he got called up in the playoffs and went into Maine in Game 4 or Game 6 and when the puck was dropped he was banging around and fighting like 40-seconds in. Then I played with him again in ’84-85 (in Adirondack) and he played with us until Super Bowl Sunday when he got called up and never came back.”
Question: How has the NHL changed since you played?
Holland: “Since ’85 everyone is bigger and faster, but the biggest difference is in goalies. I’m 5-8, Mike Vernon is 5-8. How many goalies are around that size anymore? You have to be 6-foot, minimum now. They’re 6-foot-3 and athletic.”
Question: What do you love most about the game?
Holland: “The speed. I think growing up in small town Canada, hockey is such a big part of the community. When you go put the equipment on and you play and you go up and play pee wee and bantam, it’s fun and fast and it’s competitive. It’s a team sport and I love the camaraderie. … There’s a style and elegancy to the game and I loved Bernie Parent, I loved Sawchuk and Bower and watching them. I loved the trading cards and getting your pack with the stick of gum and looking at all of the players.”
I would highly, highly suggest that you read the article in its entirety, because Holland’s a very thoughtful fellow.
Also of Red Wings-related note:
• From the Facebook and Twitter posts I’ve read, all went well at the Red Wings’ Pure Michigan commercial shoot at the Joe, sans ice on the rink. The commercial will air on September 5th on Pure Michigan’s YouTube channel, or at least that’s what Fox 2’s Murray Feldman reported at noon on Tuesday;
• Speaking of fan interaction, here’s more about the Wings’ fan mural:
• Speaking of fan interaction, the CBC Windsor and the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff report that all went well during Kings enforcer Kevin Westgarth’s day with the Stanley Cup in the Windsor suburb of Amhertsburg, and the Cup will be in London, Ontario today;
• In hockey news of a different kind, from the Wyandotte News-Herald:
The Plymouth Whalers will play their opening preseason game against the Windsor Spitfires on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. at Yack Arena in Wyandotte.
This marks the fourth straight season the Plymouth Whalers have taken their first pre-season game on the road.
Billed as the “Duel Downriver,” the proceeds of the Plymouth-Windsor game will benefit the Wyandotte Warriors Amateur Hockey Association, Wyandotte Bears High School Hockey and the Wyandotte Figure Skating Club.
Tickets are $10 and are available calling by the Wyandotte Warriors Hockey Association at 1-734-341-5893 or Compuware Arena at 1-734-453-8400.
“Playing exhibition games in the community is a great way to help out local hockey associations,” said Plymouth general manager and Coach Mike Vellucci. “The crowds are good and there’s always excitement in the rink.”
• Sometime today, ESPN’s “Uni Watch” blog will talk about what makes a great NHL jersey, focusing on the Original Six;
• “Going gluten free” is something of a fad as most of us can process wheat gluten, but when I see all the new-fangled gluten-free stuff on the shelves at grocery stores, I think of Mickey Redmond. He’s battled Celiac disease for ages, and as Dan from “Gluten Free Celebrity” notes, the Mickster’s professional life has been affected by his dietary needs in a big way:
Mickey also faced a lot of problems with lung and was also diagnosed with celiac disease – intestinal disorder related to intolerance to gluten that requires a special diet. At the early stage of treatment against celiac disease Mickey had to adhere to a strict gluten free diet which in its turn left an undesirable trace in his professional career forcing him to either bring his own hot plate, utensils and gluten-free food and prepare it himself or not travel with the team on their road trips.
In spite of all these difficulties he came across during life, the celebrity still kept believing himself, and due to the optimistic and positive attitude towards life he still keeps a smile on his face, has fun, loves his job and most importantly is blessed by the respect and love he gets from his fans.
And now he can eat a hamburger with a bun on it and drink a slightly less rare gluten-free “ginger ale,” and that’s got to feel good.
And in the programming department: I will be “in and out” today, so Paul will be your source for the blow-by-blow coverage of CBA news. After getting little sleep thanks to an early mom doctor’s appointment, the new doc in Royal Oak decided he liked us so much that he wants mom back today, so we’re heading out at 9 AM and won’t be back till noon-ish, and I’m also taking part in a focus group for my mental health care provider at 6 PM, so I’m gonna be in, out, and sleep-deprived and grumpy all day. Fun fun fun.
Update: Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros spoke to Swedish Ice Hockey Federation president Christer Englund about the possible “nightmare” that would be an extended NHL season that overlaps with the World Championships (a la the 1994-1995 season), and along the way, Ros stopped at the rink in Huddinge, where Niklas Kronwall and other Swedish NHL’ers are skating.
Kronwall—who we should hear from via Marie Hallman sometime today or tomorrow—suggests that things ain’t pretty in CBA terms:
“It looks gloomy. We stand at a distance from each other, and I’m more pessimistic now than [I was] before,” says Detroit player Niklas Kronwall, who’s close to the negotiations.
Update #2: And of course the Free Press publishes something important at 3 AM. The Free Press’s Helene St. James offers the following assessment of the Red Wings’ current #5 defenseman, one Jakub Kindl:
Looking at numbers: 1 goal, 12 assists, 13 points, plus-7 in 55 games in 2011-12.
Looking at money: Salary for 2012-13 is $1.05 million, last year of three-year, $2.65-million contract.
Looking back: He responded to pressure well at the start of the season and had a good, solid stretch of games, but he trailed off in the second half and didn’t make any appearances in the playoffs.
Looking ahead: The Wings drafted Kindl, 25, 19th overall in 2005. He hasn’t developed into the physical guy they were hoping for and remains a bubble player. Right now, he’s in the lineup for the coming season, but that’s because there are only six defensemen on the roster. The Wings are unlikely to go into the season without adding a blue-liner, or at least go very far into the season—if it even starts on time.
One of Kindl’s best periods of hockey last year came on Feb. 21 at Chicago, hours after the Wings traded for defenseman Kyle Quincey. Knowing another guy was going to be added to the group, Kindl played with an edge and made good decisions the few times he touched the puck. That’s the player the Wings need to see regularly.
Kindl has good size at 6-feet-3, 215 pounds, but if he isn’t physical, he might as well not be out there. As it stands right now he’ll be on the third pairing, but once the Wings have restocked, Kindl is more likely to serve as a reserve. He is playing for a future job, though, which should help with the motivation.
Kindl isn’t going to ever be a particularly nasty defenseman, but given his size, he has to use his body effectively to stop his opponents. He needs to emulate Kjell Samuelsson a bit and stick those long legs and arms in the way without obstructing ‘em unnaturally.
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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.