The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/22/11 at 08:24 AM ET
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:
• 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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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.