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The Malik Report

Some welcome relief in the form of…CBA talk from Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall?

In recovering from a sixty-plus hour…Three-day work week…One needs to hear some comforting news as the aches, pains and spring allergies take their toll. I haven’t even had time to truly wrap my head around the fact that Nicklas Lidstrom, my favorite favorite Red Wing, has retired, but, via RedWingsFeed, I’m hearing something that I desperately need to be told right now, more than any hopeful overnight or Saturday afternoon talk about free agency or draft hopes, and definitely more than watching a team that’s not Detroit compete for the Stanley Cup.

Instead, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan spoke to one of Lidstrom’s successors, Niklas Kronwall, about the concept of the Red Wings’ opportunity to begin the post-Lidstrom era, period, as the CBA is set to expire in September. Kronwall has represented the team as its NHLPA representative, and he at least believes that we’re not likely to have to endure another lockout, at least if the players have any say in the proceedings. Is he worried?

“Not yet, anyway,” Kronwall said.

For one thing, Kronwall says, and it’s a very valid point, there haven’t been any meetings.

“There hasn’t been any negotiations as of yet,” Kronwall said. “So I don’t think you should be concerned about what may or may not happen.”

Commissioner Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, NHL players association executive director, plan on beginning talking before the end of the month. At that time, everyone will have a better idea of what each side wants and expects in these negotiations. Kronwall sees many positives in the game right now.

“The feeling for me, anyway, is hockey is doing real well,” Kronwall said. “There are a lot of fans at the games. We’re getting more fans as every day goes by, it feels like. And that’s the main goal. To make hockey even bigger and a more popular sport. To have more kids play and so forth. I’m still hoping that maybe with some minor tweaks, we’ll making everything (an agreement) happen.”

Back in 2004-05 Kronwall spent the entire season in Grand Rapids, winning the best defenseman award in the American Hockey League. It was his final taste of the minor leagues before graduating to the NHL. Back then, Kronwall sensed the bad feelings between negotiators for each side. The economics in the game needed to be fixed. And sure enough, a salary cap was instituted in the NHL for the first time through those negotiations.

“Back then, there were signs signaling there would definitely be some changes,” Kronwall said. “I don’t see the same (problems) anyway. We’ll see how negotiations take place, but everything is looking good. The players feel very comfortable with the way things are and I’m hoping the owners feel the same way. We can only wait to see once the negotiations get started.”

I’m hoping against hope that Chairman Birthday Boy and the NHL’s owners don’t try to shove proposals they’re sure will convince the players to strike, something that yes, even Donald Fehr of all people understands is simply not acceptable given the fact that there have been two lockouts (1994-95 and the entire 2004-2005 season) and one ten-day player strike (in 1992, over trading card and photo royalties) over the past twenty years…

But too many people with NHL ties seem to suggest that the NHL believes fans will swallow some sort of re-set that involves losing up to half a season simply as a matter of course because the NFL and NBA got away with it, and to that end…

I’m actually very glad that Fehr chose to wait to engage in CBA negotiations until players could get involved in open discussions this summer, because whatever agreement to come cannot be negotiated in a back-room by the league’s resident lawyer goon (Bill Daly) and a pair of sycophants (Trevor Linden and Ted Saskin).

As we know this time around, and I knew eight years ago, fans will receive no “relief” from the “inflationary spiral” of ticket prices—which are determined by supply and demand, not payroll or teams’ on-ice performances—and if the league tries to sell us a line, this summer, at least, we’ll have the players talking some sense into us.

Also: I am in desperate need of assistance in translating a Swedish interview filled with colloquialisms and the equivalent of jock talk. If you’re a native Swedish-speaker or are willing to help, please email me at georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com. Thanks.


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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.