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The Malik Report

Sunday Red Wings rumors, points of clarification and the end of the playoff beard

From substantive talk to the land of rumors in no time flat: welcome to the off-season, Red Wings fans. After a Saturday’s worth of news about Derek Meech, Dick Axelsson and the Wings’ free agency plans, as well as a belated suggestion from Chris Chelios that the Wings want to keep Jonathan Ericsson in the fold, it’s a jab about the now-wide-open realignment derby that kicks off this morning’s proceedings, via the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons:

The NHL is quietly telling people it won’t realign for next season but it makes sense to move Nashville to the Eastern Conference Southeast division for Year 1 and Winnipeg to the Western Conference Central Division. And then figure it all out after that. Even if it browns off the Detroit Red Wings in the process ... By the way, what’s the point of having divisions in the NHL, other than for travel costs? They don’t really factor in the standings and frankly, they just confuse people

It won’t surprise me one bit if the Wings remain in the Western Conference. It’s not exactly a shocker that Gary Bettman’s promise that the Wings would get first preference to move East if the NHL were to expand didn’t apply to anything else (he was making quite a few empty promises, including one about the second lockout eliminating franchise instability for good)...

On the coaching front, I’m gathering that you might not be in the mood to read Kevin Dupont’s doting praise for departing assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, but the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson’s happy to lend a hand in suggesting that Mike Babcock call an old pal to fill McCrimmon’s spot…

- Chris Chelios, the workout fiend, and Aaron Downey, the former scrapper, will be working with the prospects in Grand Rapids on their conditioning. Chelios would be a candidate for the assistant coaching job, with Brad McCrimmon leaving, but he doesn’t want it. McCrimmon, by the way, was Nicklas Lidstrom’s first defence partner in Detroit in 1991. He taught him well.

- Former Edmonton Oilers farm team coach Rob Daum has a gig to coach Linz in Austria this winter, but there are five NHL teams looking for assistant coaches: Calgary, Detroit, Columbus, Phoenix and Nashville. Would they have any interest in Daum? Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson certainly knows him from his days in Edmonton. Daum has some history with Mike Babcock in Detroit. Coyotes coach Dave Tippett might want to reunite with Rick Wilson (Minnesota Wild), his old Dallas Stars assistant.

If he doesn’t go with the current favorite...

- Nobody would be surprised if Bob Boughner suddenly showed up as Mike Babcock’s assistant coach in Detroit. It’s an easy commute from Windsor, where Boughner owns the junior Spitfires. He quit the Columbus Blue Jackets assistant coach position for family reasons.

I’m not too keen on Matheson’s insistence to stir this one up despite insisting that the Nashville Predators plan on giving Shea Weber a serious-ass long-term contract...

- There is a possibility Shea Weber signs a one-year contract with the Predators and is an unrestricted free agent next summer, which would start a frenzy. You think the Detroit Red Wings might be in the running then? If not Weber, how about Ryan Suter, his partner? He’s an unrestricted free agent in 2012.

As Holland told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan on Saturday (the News posted a photo gallery to accompany Kulfan’s “picks” today), the Wings plan on shopping for mid-summer bargains this time around, and next year, I think that Weber and Suter will be signed long before the Wings get a chance to bid on their services.

And it’s here where we go into “clarification” mode. For reasons I’ll explain later, I had to help helm KK on Saturday, and it was a busy day to say the least. Regarding Chris Chelios’s comments about Jonathan Ericsson? I don’t think that he’s going to succeed Nicklas Lidstrom—there’s a guy the Wings have been calling “Nick Junior” forever in Niklas Kronwall—but the special assistant to Holland does mentor the team’s young defensemen, and I believe he’s making a point that guys like Ericsson, even when they’re error-prone scapegoats, don’t grow on trees.

Unless Ericsson’s salary demands are completely unreasonable, I don’t see the Wings trying to overpay for his replacement.

I don’t believe that we’re going to hear anything about Nicklas Lidstrom, who Chelios said is coming in on Monday for his exit interview, until at least June 1st. Nick didn’t suddenly declare his intentions in the middle of May last time around, and his “soft deadline” is really the NHL Entry Draft on June 24th/25th.

He tends to let Ken Holland know what’s up by the end of the Stanley Cup Finals, which will end no later than June 18th, and that would make sense as he’s a Norris Trophy finalist and would have to answer some seriously awkward questions at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 22nd.

Those are just my educated opinions and/or guesses, but the Wings and Lidstrom have tended to stick to the same schedule regarding just about everything—whether it’s re-signing restricted free agents and starting negotiations with unrestricted free agents-to-be on June 1st, Lidstrom’s June 2nd-to-12th announcement of his future, the team’s every-other-year willingness to make a slight move at the draft, usually getting two second-round picks for their first-rounder, or waiting until July 20th or so to sign unrestricted free agents—regarding player personnel over the past three seasons. Things might change, but in theory, we have time to take a deep breath here…

And along those lines, I finally got rid of the playoff beard this morning. It’d stuck around due to the 80-hour work weeks, but I was starting to look like a bald Wookiee, so the beard trimmer earned its mettle as I shaved everything off but the goatee (which I haven’t trimmed since 2006 and haven’t been without in some form for…ten years). It feels good to have some ventilation back on parts of my head that aren’t the solar panel. I never missed that, frankly, but that’s another story for another day.

Also of Red Wings-related note this morning:

• The Detroit Free Press’s Kirkland Crawford reviewed Jimmy Devellano’s talk with the Sporting News’s Craig Custance about both real and implied tweaks to the team;

• Speaking of Custance, he believes that Weber and Joel Ward are in line for big paydays on July 1st, which pretty much eliminates them from the Wings’ shopping list;

• The Mississauga News’s Gary McCarthy reports that former Wing and Maple Leaf Red Kelly attended the Memorial Cup on Saturday;

• This has sat in my email inbox forever: as the Grand Rapids Griffins’ website notes, Stadium Journey’s Paul Swaney penned superb reviews of Van Andel Arena and the Toledo Walleye’s home rink, the Huntington Center;

• The Free Press’s Steve Schrader merits a mention for a “Stevie” award:

The “Show Must Go On” award

To the Vancouver Canucks’ penalty box, which now features creepy green men and partial nudity. If they keep this up, they’ll have to put the games on HBO. But the NHL won’t do anything about it unless a green topless woman throws an octopus.

• And Red Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime takes us out by picking his 9th-best Wings win of the 2010-2011 regular season and playoff run, Chris Osgood’s 400th win on December 27th, 2010. I believe the Hockeytown Blog will post game #8 later today:

: More from Matheson:

Joni Pitkanen would be the perfect Detroit Red Wings defender because he can move the puck. But the Wings don’t have the money for the Carolina Panthers unrestricted free agent. Do the Columbus Blue Jackets have enough cash?

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Comments

MsRedWinger's avatar

Thanks, George and Happy Post-Rapture Day everyone!

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 05/22/11 at 09:01 AM ET

Avatar

This is how much I trust what comes out of Gary Bettman’s mouth:

Posted by littlestclouds on 05/22/11 at 09:48 AM ET

Matt Fry's avatar

Simmons makes the most sense for Division changes for next season.  Less movement.  I’d put Winnipeg in the NW, the Wild in the Central and Preds in SE if there was more time.  Just makes as much sense.

I’m not sure how you’d get the Wings into the east.  Makes no sense geographically unless Pittsburgh or Buffalo moves.

And happy Post End-Of-The-World day to you!  Now I need to get my job back… wink jk

Posted by Matt Fry from Winnipeg on 05/22/11 at 12:57 PM ET

christpuncher's avatar

“• The Free Press’s Steve Schrader merits a mention for a “Stevie” award:

The “Show Must Go On” award

To the Vancouver Canucks’ penalty box, which now features creepy green men and partial nudity. If they keep this up, they’ll have to put the games on HBO. But the NHL won’t do anything about it unless a green topless woman throws an octopus.”


Classic!!

Posted by christpuncher from Detroit, MI on 05/22/11 at 12:59 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

Sure would be nice if while Pav and Hank are still in their primes iwe could get another impact player (via FA or trade) instead of constantly filling the team with 6-8 bargain forwards every year.  But it probably won’t happen this year, seeing the UFA class is pathetic at best.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 05/22/11 at 01:08 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

There are several awesome, very notable aspects about that video in addition to Osgood winning #400.

The girlish shrieks of the Colorado home broadcast crew when they score, as if any game the Dives play in had meaning.

Their extremely muted, suicidal, barely audible “scores” when the Wings score.

The extremely loud, nearly-home town crowd for the Wings in the middle of Dive City.

How long before the talks begin of the Dive moving back to Quebec?  Oh, that’s right, they’ve already started.

Posted by RWBill from the open bar on The Hasek. on 05/22/11 at 02:55 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Detroit, Chicago, and Minnesota in the same Division has merit, other than Detroit still getting shafted with exhausting, around the world time zone changes every playoff season that no other team comes close to.

Nashville to the SouthEast?  NHL, Inc., has been trying too long to create a Nashville - Detroit rivalry.  If Atlanta leaves, there is no rivalry for Nashville.  Washington? No.  Nashville - Raleigh?  No, there is no rivalry there.

NHL will likely keep Nashville sucking the teats of the Red Wings fans as it has for their entire existence.

Posted by RWBill from the open bar on The Hasek. on 05/22/11 at 03:04 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Avs’ broadcasters are classically whiny. Utterly hilarious, even now that the, “THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU’s” have departed. I wondered why Duhaime picked that over the Wings’ broadcast…The Avs guys and the Predators’ Terry Crisp’s “It’s hard to barf noble zous with all these marbles in my mouth” commentary are the worst…

As for

Sure would be nice if while Pav and Hank are still in their primes iwe could get another impact player (via FA or trade) instead of constantly filling the team with 6-8 bargain forwards every year.  But it probably won’t happen this year, seeing the UFA class is pathetic at best.

I think that the Wings will try to get a top 9 forward via trading Hudler and using the cap space to sign a decent free agent. I really do believe that they’re in the market for one. I think the Wings understand that the need’s there and that this time around, they can’t get away with not filling it. It may take till July 30th but they’ll drop some coin on a guy. I think that we *could* see a draft day trade.

The irony regarding the Predators is that David Poile very publicly stated that the Predators would be happy to stay in the West because of their rivalry with Detroit. They’re that dependent on us, which is kinda scary. Sure, they theoretically belong in the Southeast, despite their Central Time Zone status, as rivalries with Carolina, Tampa Bay and Miami make a little more sense than St. Louis or Chicago, but at this point, it appears that the Blue Jackets might be #1 on the runway.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/22/11 at 06:59 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

To the Vancouver Canucks’ penalty box, which now features creepy green men and partial nudity. If they keep this up, they’ll have to put the games on HBO. But the NHL won’t do anything about it unless a green topless woman throws an octopus.

LOL

Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michigan hometown of Abdelkader on 05/22/11 at 07:47 PM ET

calquake's avatar

a green topless woman throws an octopus.

The Hulk’s wife? grin

Posted by calquake on 05/22/11 at 10:53 PM ET

11B4PF7 in MN's avatar

I think the Wings understand that the need’s there and that this time around, they can’t get away with not filling it. It may take till July 30th but they’ll drop some coin on a guy. I think that we *could* see a draft day trade.

I plan on rocking a Slava Kozlov jersey at the draft in June.  If the Wings actually do make a trade, I plan on making a scene; so look for that on TV, hahaha. The Wings seem to hold on to their 1st round picks, so it would probably mean that this would be a big deal!

On the other hand, how about those Sharks!  I never thought that I would say this, but nice job Raffi Torres.  You are now slightly better than Matt Cooke in my book—slightly.

Posted by 11B4PF7 in MN on 05/23/11 at 12:02 AM ET

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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.