Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings quickies: Grades, Emmys for Fox Sports Detroit and Draper and Holland on Fan 590

Bad timing: the “Red Wings overnight report” fell victim to Ye Olde, “You’ve got to click ‘open’ on the entry options tab for the damn thing to post” boo boo, and I’m about to head out the door for an afternoon’s worth of errand-running, so I’m going to be only to address the following Wings-related stories ever-so-briefly before revisiting them later today.

First and foremost, MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a series of player grades whose preface might be just as revealing as Khan’s assessments in terms of the Wings’ course corrections going forward:

“We thought the team that won that series was going to have a legitimate opportunity,” [Wings coach Mike] Babcock said. “The bitter disappointment also is a driving force. We’ve had it before and followed it up with a good year the following year, and that’s our goal and our focus.”

The Red Wings had plenty of offense (second in the NHL) and so much depth that forwards who would have played every day for many teams were healthy scratches on several nights. Their main issues were goals against (23rd in NHL) and penalty killing (17th in league).

“I think we’re going see some changes, no question,” Babcock said. “I think it’s very important we ask our players to train all summer and get 1 or 2 percent better, and as coaches and management, we do the same thing. We got to improve our team. The bottom line is the final four is going on and this is our second year in a row we’re not involved.”

Players believe they have the nucleus of a good team and will return as Stanley Cup contenders next season.

“We had a good season, it was a good series. It was close,” forward Danny Cleary said. “We look forward to next year and we’ll be a better team.”

Their best players — Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Lidstrom — were their best players, in the regular season and in the playoffs. And goaltender Jimmy Howard took a significant step in the postseason.

• This news comes as no surprise given Fox Sports Detroit’s excellent sports coverage: FSD won ten Emmy Awards from the Michigan Chapter of National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on Saturday night, including two for Wingspan, FSD’s weekly half-hour program spotlighting Wings-related issues—and Wingspan absolutely delivered Datsyuk-picks-the-top-shelf content this past season:

—Sports – Regularly Scheduled Daily or Weekly Program:  WINGSPAN (Lesley Clegg, Denny Iott, Mike Isenberg)
An EMMY-winning compilation of segments from the network’s show about the Detroit Red Wings. 
—On-Camera Talent – Program Host/Moderator:  WINGSPAN – “TREV TAKES ON” (Trevor Thompson)
Interactive features pitting the FOX Sports Detroit reporter against members of the Detroit Red Wings in a series of hockey-related challenges.

• In the radio interview department, I’ll try to give you some partial transcriptions later today, but Wings Gm Ken Holland offered a “big picture” take on the Wings’ performance and changes going forward (he’s not likely to say goodbye to veterans like Kris Draper and Chris Osgood without serious consideration regarding the examples they set for the team’s younger players), saying that the team will determine its potential courses of action over the next few weeks’ worth of exit interviews with players and the coaching staff (and Nicklas Lidstrom will decide upon his future prior to July 1st) in an interview with The Fan 590’s Greg Brady and Jim Lang:

Download file

Draper also happened to speak to The Fan 590’s Jeff Blair this morning, stating that he’s going to engage in off-season training as if he’s going to continue to play, and both Holland and Draper pointed out that the Wings have gone with veteran players to help mentor and bring along the team’s prospects since 1995, when Scotty Bowman brought in Igor Larionov and Slava Fetisov. That blueprint isn’t going to change anytime soon:

Download file

• WBBL’s Bill Simonson offered this assessment of the Wings’ rally against the San Jose Sharks…

This unexpected six days of people believing in their team in America’s greatest hockey state was as good as it gets. San Jose is the new Colorado — we can’t stand those Sharks. The Red Wings had a bad first period in Game 7 that cost them a chance to continue to contend for the Cup. I think everything from this point forward will be a letdown because the Red Wings-Sharks series was the best hockey I have seen in almost a decade.

The Red Wings will regroup in the offseason. They will find some big bodies to sit in front of the net and help protect Jimmy Howard.

Their mix of star power, veterans, young talent, Howard in goal and some salary cap space should make them a better team next year. With strong ownership and a front office that is the best in the business, the Red Wings will hoist another Stanley Cup in the not-too-distant future.

• And this is a “quick and dirty” translation for now, but Wings prospect Dick Axelsson told Aftonbladet’s Emil Karlsson that he is in fact leaving Farjestads BK, that he’s not necessarily keen on playing for Skelleftea despite their willingness to give Axelsson a $12-and-a-half-thousand-dollar raise on a month-by-month basis, and that at present, he’s waiting to hear back from the Red Wings regarding a possible contract proposal, noting that even if he doesn’t accept the Wings’ qualifying offer and chases petro-dollars in the KHL, the Wings will retain his rights:

“I’ve had a little bit of contact with Hakan Andersson (Detroit’s director of European scouting), but not much more. I’m waiting to hear from them. If Detroit doesn’t offer me a contract, I could play for any NHL team, but if they do offer me a contract, they’d retain my rights, even if I say no [to the proposal].”

Axelsson essentially issued a Dennis Lemieux’s worth of, “Trade me right ****ing now!” bit of spit when he was underwhelmed by the Wings’ first contract offer, so he keeps on hinting that the team may let him walk, but every indication from the Red Wings over the past year suggests that the Wings will retain Axelsson’s rights and hope that, at some point, he grows up, learns to keep his massive ego in check and decides to commit to competing on a night-by-night basis instead of showing flashes of first-line potential and then slinking back into the shadows that Jiri Hudler tends to occupy on the perimeter for four or five games.

Update: The Hockey News’s Lyle Richardson evaluated this past weekend’s off-season Wings trade and free agent suggestions before stating the obvious:

Holland has done a fine job over the years keeping the Wings competitive despite losing star talents such as Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Fedorov to retirement or free agency, so it would be foolish to bet against the GM’s ability to continue that trend.

Still, the next couple of years will present Holland with his biggest challenge yet.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


perfection's avatar

George, I share in your ‘poor timing’ as I composed a lengthy post regarding the changes for next year at around 3:30AM. It was immediately buried by your next three posts. So, with all due respect, I’m going to repost it here. I’m curious if folks agree with this analysis of our potential squad next year. Thanks!


i agree that the Wings don’t do much… IF Nick Lidstrom returns.

see, while we’re all searching for that magic thing that would have changed game 7, the fact is, we weren’t that far off. we were absolutely a legitimate cup contender. I think with some tiny tweaks here and there, assuming Lids comes back, we have just as good of a chance next year as we did this year.

one note: under no circumstances should Draper be offered anything other than the same two way contract that was respectfully offered to Maltby before the start of the season. while Drapes had far and away his best season in 3 or 4 years and is clearly more valuable than Maltby was last year, it is simply not worth letting a 23 yr old prospect like Emmerton walk for one more season of Drapes playing 8 min every 3 games. he deserves a spot in the organization, but even if he outplays Emmerton in camp or the pre-season, it would be insanely dumb to waive the kid for Draper. I can’t imagine that’s even on the table because it makes zero logical sense. If we happen to lose BOTH Miller and Eaves to higher bids and we have room for Mursak, Emmerton AND Draper, by all means, resign him. But I would sure not let Stevie Y or the Todd or Stan Bowman swoop Emmerton for nothing. We seem to be losing a prospect a year these days to waivers. And while I respect the fact that we are loyal to veterans (and I’d argue sacrificing Ritola last year because Drapes had a contract WAS loyal), but sometimes you have to move on and make strategic decisions for the future of the club. an offer similar to Maltby’s would be enough to ensure Draper is treated respectfully. Even if he spent some time in Grand Rapids, those kids could learn a ton from him. He could hang with Cheli too.

Other than that, I’m a fan who’d actually like to see us resign Ericsson. I think he was much better this year than he was last year and we saw a glimpse of his potential. He’s young still. With his size, shot, and skill, I really believe it’s going to click one day for him. I wouldn’t overpay him of course, so we have to see what his demands are, but I fully support the team’s intent to resign him. And I am perfectly comfortable with Kindl at the 6th spot. I actually wanted to see him in there this playoff over Salei. From the point Babs publicly declared that last d-spot an open competition, I thought Kindl was much better than Salei. I hope he heeds Babcock’s advice and hits the weight room hard, because he could have a breakout year next year. He’s definitely got the raw talent. And while I’d be fine with Janik at the 7 spot, listening to Chelios’ interview yesterday morning convinced me that Smith should play a similar roll Kindl played last year, especially if Lids is back. One year with him up close and personal would be priceless. Cheli talked about how practicing with the big boys day in and day out was exactly what Kindl needed this year to take the next step even if he didn’t get the minutes he got in the AHL. He then said he thought Smith was at that place in his career. There simply isn’t much more he can learn from career AHL’ers. There’s a hell of a lot he can learn from guys like Lidstrom and Stewey.

So, yeah, I’m definitely in the ‘small tweak’ camp and frankly, I’m OK with it. I think that this season the Datsyuk injury really bit us in the ass. He doesn’t go down, we almost certainly don’t give up that second seed home ice to the Sharks. Maybe things end differently. Or if we don’t give up all of the first three games, maybe things end differently. Or if that puck doesn’t go in with a minute left in the first period in game 7 maybe things end differently.

Basically, we were a bounce away from winning that series. No need to trade Z or Helm (or Cleary or Bert as he goes on to suggest). Hell, I’d even give Hudler to the deadline to show what he’s made of.

of course, if Lidstrom retires all bets are off. an era will end and while we won’t fall into total rebuild mode with Dats, Z, and Kronner in their primes, we definitely will require a major shake up. maybe then you trade someone like Filps or something. as much as I drool over Shea Webber in 2012, I just can’t imagine Nashville would ever let their franchise player get to that point. it would probably take a trade to get an immediate top 2 d-man.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/16/11 at 03:20 PM ET


the fact is, we weren’t that far off. we were absolutely a legitimate cup contender.

To me, the fact is that a legitimate cup contender doesn’t take take four games to put up a W against a team that was 1 point ahead of them in the standings.

Last year it was fine to slough it off because the team had a rough go all year and had to play their asses off to get decent playoff positioning, THEN had a hard seven game series against Phoenix so by the time the San Jose series started, they were simply out of gas.

This year, they coasted to a third seed and swept the first round.  It’s inexcusable that they couldn’t pull out a win until it was “lose and you go home” time.  A legit cup contender doesn’t put themselves in that hole.

I do agree with you 100% on Draper.  He DID have a great year, but he’s no worth losing a prospect over.

I disagree with you 100% on Ericsson.  Remember when Detroit was a defense-first organization?  Ever since they won the Cup they’ve turned their back on that philosophy.  The following year, picking up Hossa, they became a team that was satisfied winning 7-6 games, which was fine when there was a 40-goal scorer on the roster on top of the likes of Datsyuk, Z and Mule.  Detroit needs to either somehow pick up another 40-goal scorer in order to go back to that game or ratchet up the quality of the defense.  And in order to ratchet up the defense you can’t have Ericsson and Kindl as a pairing (and you also can’t just shuffle the pairings….and to me, it is imperative to have Lidstrom/Rafi and Stu/Kronner as the other pairings) and you also can’t just dig down to the bottom of the UFA barrel and throw $500K (jesus, I just checked NHLnumbers and was reminded that Salei made over a million this year!!!) on a warm body to play everyday defense.

I would be happy to trade Hudler in even a Leino type deal or shit, even pay him his salary to play in Grand Rapids.  There is no way he’s worth the contract and he is, in my mind, a completely failed experiment.  Go back to Russia, Happy.

Then you can take his salary and put it towards defense, which would go a long way to cover some of the secondary scoring issues they have.

And while we’re at it, I’m happy for Joey MacDonald that he played well in his limited appearances, but how about a backup that insures the team isn’t going to be worried every time Jimmy’s not between the pipes?  ie. NOT the guy who was signed to be the backup in Grand Rapids and definitely not the other guy, the one who has completely lost his game in the past two years.

I don’t think the team needs to be blown up and I think it’s admirable that Holland believes in his team even though it’s been two years in a row now that they can’t get past the second round, but changes need to happen.  Not major, but there needs to be some shakeup.  Mere tweaks aren’t going to get this team to the Finals next year.

Posted by Garth on 05/16/11 at 03:42 PM ET


I agree with ‘perfection’ on the Draper and Brandon Smith situations but can’t see how Ericsson would help us going forward. As big as his body is, he plays a ‘small’ game just like “jumbo” joe thorton.  If Ericsson learned to use his size and start hitting people like Kronner & Stewie then he’s a keeper, but its not in his nature ... he’s just a timid soul.

Looking at the list of UFA’s, i’m tempted to say the time is now to start looking for a Lidstrom/Rafalski replacement.

Kronwall / Stuart—pair #1
Rafalski / UFA signing—pair #2
Lidstrom / Kindl and Brandon Smith rotate in & out

I also agree with Garth ... Hudler’s got to go.  Too small, not quite fast enough to play with Helm & Eaves, doesn’t have Datsyuk-like hands ... he’s close but not going to get any better than he is now. Maybe if he did some off-season schooling with Dino Ciccarelli ..... hmmmmm

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 05/16/11 at 06:14 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

If we can just all start praying to the hockey gods to keep the injury plague away next season…

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 05/16/11 at 06:14 PM ET

Crater's avatar

Posted by perfection from Chicago on 05/16/11 at 01:20 PM ET

Ericsson supposedly turned down the Wings offer of 2mil. He is not worth more than 2mil right now. I don’t know if that was a multi-year deal or not. Maybe he’d be smarter to take a 2 mil 1 year contract and prove to Kenny he is worth more next season. Show he can play better than he has for stretches this year.

Posted by Crater from SoCal on 05/16/11 at 06:37 PM ET

perfection's avatar

maybe Ericsson wants to kick some tires before he takes $2mil? I’d take him at 2 for sure but agree he’s not worth more at this point.

if he doesn’t understand by now that TRUE red wings take slightly less to play for the best org. in the league than they would get on the open market, than I agree, he can piss off.

otherwise, I think it’d be a huge mistake to get rid of him. I still look at that ‘09 playoff series and don’t see it as an anomaly. It’s not like his career peaked with his first taste of the NHL. He’s played all of two full seasons in his career and made huge strides in consistency from year one to year two. If he has a good summer in the weight room and makes equal strides from this year to next, he’s going to be WELL worth $2 mil a season. If I were GM (and this of course is assuming there’s nothing behind the scenes we don’t know about like he’s unlikable or lacks work ethic or something… but I doubt it because Babs’ is notoriously intolerant of that stuff, meaning there’d be NO offer on the table), I would try and get him for 2 more seasons. That would be his window, though I would expect tangible improvement to continue next season. I look at a player like Franzen or even Kronwall who had very up and down first halves of their careers only to find some luck, some maturity, some coaching and BAM…. it clicked. Ericsson has that potential IMO. I also think trying to peg him into the “he’s tall so he should be a bruiser” category and using that as the success/failure standard is not only a mistake but VERY un-red wing like. If he’s able to play positionally sound and use his long reach to break up plays, that’s just as effective as rolling over people… often more effective. The guy also won the AHL hardest shot competition a few years back. Though we don’t see a lot of that. If he started shooting a lot more, that too could be his ticket to success. Either way, checking isn’t the only measuring stick.

While I don’t particularly care if Huds stays or goes, his value is really minimal now and he only has one year on his contract. It’s about risk analysis, meaning you’re probably better rolling the dice to see if he improves after a summer with TR Goodman and a new season not readjusting to the American game. Maybe it works maybe it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, we trade him at the deadline for the same we’d get now (or more if there’s a playoff bubble team with a struggling PP or something) or we let him walk after the season. Even you think that’s the likely scenario, it’s worth the risk IMO (much like Modano was worth the risk even though it didn’t work out). He’s shown that he can put up numbers in the past so who knows.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/16/11 at 07:31 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Ericsson supposedly turned down the Wings offer of 2mil

$500,000 more than I would pay him. Let him walk.

His occasional spurts of skill are drowned out by his consistent errant passes and general cluelessness in the defensive zone.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 05/16/11 at 07:32 PM ET


$500,000 more than I would pay him. Let him walk.

Agree 100%, if he wants to make more than $2M then I hope he enjoys his stay in Toronto.

Or maybe Edmonton.

Posted by Garth on 05/16/11 at 10:32 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

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.