The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/08/11 at 03:32 PM ET
Updated 6x with video at 8 PM: The Red Wings’ organizational meetings on June 15th and 16th may determine whether Chris Osgood and Kris Draper have to play hockey somewhere other than Detroit if they wish to continue their careers. Wings GM Ken Holland has already stated that he’s not sure whether the team should bring back Osgood, and today, the Detroit Free Press’s Paula Pasche fired off several Twitter posts which suggest that the team faces quite a conundrum regarding keeping Draper at the expense of Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller and/or Jan Mursak:
Kris Draper at #Lions said Holland would sign him if he saw today’s workout. Expects to know in 7-10 days if he’ll rturn next season.
Kris Draper at #Lions said won’t sign 2-way contract like Maltby did. Wants to play another year w/ #Wings.
As the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan suggests via an email-answering column, the Wings are in a bit of a pickle:
1)Yes, James, I do believe these negotiations with Chris Osgood will be a bit tricky. Ozzie is a long-time Red Wing who is a part of three Stanley Cup victories. He is a Red Wing through and through. You just don’t discard a guy like this, and what he’s done for the organization. But are there younger, better options on the free agent market? Could be. But maybe not. It’ll be fascinating to watch.
Assuming that Nicklas Lidstrom decides to continue his career, at this point, it appears that , via The Fourth Period and the Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey, James Wisniewski might be the most likely candidate to join the unrestricted free agent market and be courted by the Wings, perhaps this side of Joni Pitkanen, as the Canucks would obviously prefer to retain Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff if at all possible.
If Jonathan Ericsson chooses to test the open market, however, Kulfan does not believe that the Wings would ask Ruslan Salei to reprise his role as a third-pair defenseman:
3) No, winger14, I don’t see Ruslan Salei returning. You can do just as well, or better, on the free agent market. And it sounded as Salei wants to find a team closer to his family in southern California. That particular situation just didn’t work, working here and the family living thousands of miles away. I wouldn’t mind seeing Jakub Kindl getting more minutes in that spot.
There’s a long list of stay-at-home unrestricted free agents-to-be out there, so in that sense, the pool of free agents is actually deep, and as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon suggested in a column discussing Ty Conklin’s future and other points of Blues-related interest, the goaltending pool is relatively deep, with Brian Boucher, Johan Hedberg, Mike Smith, Marty Turco, Conklin and Alex Auld likely to hit the market—though I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wings simply offer their back-up’s position to Joey MacDonald and let Jordan Pearce and Thomas McCollum “sink or swim” with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Also of Wings-related note this afternoon:
• If you missed it, the Sergei Fedorov Foundation did something very cool:
At the age of 9, Nick Torrance was diagnosed with a rare and devastating form of muscular dystrophy called Duchenne. This muscle deteriorating disease progressively weakens its victims for the rest of their lives. There is no cure.
At the age of 16, Nick is now confined to a wheelchair, requiring constant help with every facet of his life, including eating, grooming and all personal care. While Nick sleeps, his family must physically turn him over every thirty minutes, because he doesn’t have the strength to move himself. The nightly ritual is physically and mentally exhausting to his caring family as well as Nick himself.
The solution was found in a bed that repositions its users automatically or by voice control. The Freedom Bed was developed by Vancouver, British Columbia’s ProBed Medical Technologies, Inc. The only problem was the bed costs over $30,000 and Nick’s health insurance denied the claim.
For months, the Torrance family has tried to raise the funds to pay for the bed, but only collected $5,000 in donations thus far. The Sergei Fedorov Foundation, a charity established by Sergei Fedorov that assists children in need worldwide, heard of Nick’s plight and sought to offer assistance.
According to Marc Beginin, attorney and director of the Foundation, “While Nick’s case was compelling, the price tag was out of reach, but together with ProBed we worked it out.” Beginin called ProBed and, at the Foundation’s request, ProBed waived half the payment with the Foundation picking up the rest of the tab.
“Being hockey fans ourselves, and working with many clients with muscular dystrophy, we were very excited to work with Sergei Fedorov’s charity and to help out Nick and his family,” said Stephen Plummer, president of ProBed.
Today, The Sergei Fedorov Foundation will present a $10,000 check on Nick Torrance’s behalf for the bed. With the payments already made by the family and ProBed’s generous donation, the bed will be bought and paid for.
• Oh dear, Stan Fischler actually praised the Red Wings today…
he Red Wings were named the league’s “Best Franchise” by The Hockey News. That Detroit has managed to stay on top of the league through difficult economic times in the Motor City is a testament to how well the organization is run.
“Last season,” says THN’s Ken Campbell, “we decided not to run anything on the Red Wings simply because we didn’t want to continuously pat them on the back. But the numbers don’t lie.”
• i won’t post it, but you can check out the Medicine Hat Tigers’ website to see a picture of Jim Nill as a strapping 18-year-old with no facial hair in a re-posting of the Hockey News’s Mark Malinowski’s Nill profile;
• And it’s reader survey day here at TMR regarding potential “player grades” and other content you’d like to see as I attempt to raise the rest of the $ I need to head to Traverse City for the Wings’ summer prospect camp from July 7-14.
Update: Here’s a Draper report from the Free Press’s Dave Birkett...
Detroit Red Wings forward Kris Draper, a regular workout partner of Lions linemen Dominic Raiola, Stephen Peterman and Rob Sims, showed up at the football team’s player-organized workout today at Birmingham Detroit Country Day.
He went through a heavy-rope and kettle-bell circuit, and at the end of the session, he even donned a Lions jersey and caught a pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Draper said a final decision on his future is seven to 10 days away. He wants to play another season and already has met with Wings general manager Ken Holland twice. In one meeting, Holland raised the possibility of Draper taking another position with the team, but Draper said he cut short that talk until he decides about his on-ice future.
“I’ve played out a lot of different scenarios in my mind, to be honest with you,” he said. “For me to go and play hockey somewhere else for a year would be pretty selfish on my part. I know that my wife and my family would support anything that I do moving forward. You ask my 9-year-old son, there’s no way he thinks his dad’s finished playing hockey. So it’ll be a tough decision, no doubt.
“I love this organization, I want to play here. I told Kenny Holland that. I’ve been here so long, so it would—I guess you never say never in professional sports, but I couldn’t see myself playing for another team and wearing another team’s colors. To me, it just wouldn’t be right.”
And here’s the Detroit News’s Chris McCosky’s take:
“I just turned 40 (on May 24) and I felt great this past year, I really did,” he said. “That’s why I feel I can still play. That’s why I have been training as hard as I have been. I feel really good. I want to play. I think I can play. But I need Kenny Holland to believe in me.”
Draper, who has already met twice with Holland, the Wings general manager, expects to know his fate in seven to 10 days. One way or another, he said, he plans to be part of the organization — if not on the roster, then in some kind of front-office capacity. The one thing he won’t do is go through what his longtime teammate and friend Kirk Maltby went through last year. Holland offered Maltby a two-way contract and essentially told him he’d have to win a job in training camp. Maltby subsequently retired and worked as a scout last season.
“With what Malts went through last year, I said to myself, ‘I’m not doing that,’” Draper said. “It was tough for me to watch a good friend, a great hockey player and a great teammate go through something like that. To me, my decision will be made long before training camp starts.”
“I have played out a lot of different scenarios in my mind,” Draper said. “To be honest, for me to play hockey somewhere else for a year would be pretty selfish. I know my wife and my family would support anything I do, but I know that if you ask my 9-year-old son, there’s no way he thinks his dad is finished playing NHL hockey. But it would be a tough decision. I love this organization and I want to play here. I told Kenny that. You never say never, but I don’t see myself wearing another team’s colors. It wouldn’t be right.”
Draper said Holland has brought up the idea of him staying in the organization in some capacity after he retires.
“But I always just cut him off,” Draper said. “Right now I still want to play hockey. If I am not going to be given a contract then we can talk about what my future holds.”
Update #2: Per the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff, here’s some ratings talk…
According to Nielsen, the company famous for supplying television ratings, this season, the Detroit Red Wings suited up two of the top players in the National Hockey League in terms of public awareness, according to the Nielsen Sports/E-pool N-Scores, which evaluates name, image awareness, appeal and attributes such as sincerity, approachability, experience and influence, all designed to determine a player’s endorsement potential.
Topping the list among current players was Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who posed an N-score of 26. Surprisingly, Red Wings centre Mike Modano (20) rated second, followed by Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin (16). Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom tied with Chicago captain Jonathan Toews for fourth overall, each with an N-score of 14.
Among retired players, Wayne Gretzky was the runaway leader with an astonishing N-score of 203. Next was Red Wings legend Gordie Howe, who scored a 45. Former Wings captain and current Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman polled sixth (20) and ex-Wing and former Windsor Spitfires captain Adam Graves came home 10th overall with an N-score of seven.
And the full text of Tim Thomas’s complimentary comments regarding Tomas Holmstrom:
Talking about net-front presence, Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas offered an interesting assessment of the work of Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom, comparing him to Neo, the character portrayed by Canadian actor (and former goalie) Keanu Reeves in the film trilogy The Matrix. “Tomas Holmstrom, he’s very good at actually getting out of the way of the puck,” Thomas said. “He gets right in that lane. If you watch him, he’s like the guy in Matrix. If it’s a high shot, he rolls out of the way. That’s one of the talents that he has, is getting out of the way. That’s what makes him so good. And he’s willing to just stand there and take any punishment whatsoever that you’re willing to dish out.”
“No decision has been made,” Holland wrote in a text message Wednesday from the NHL general managers meeting.
Hernia surgery led to Draper playing just 47 games last season—the final year of his three-year contract—and he scored six goals and had 11 assists.
If Holland doesn’t offer Draper a contract to return as a player, he probably won’t look to play elsewhere because that would be a burden on his wife and kids, who have developed roots in the Detroit area.
“I have played out a lot of different scenarios in my mind,” Draper said. “To be honest with you, for me to play hockey somewhere else for a year would be pretty selfish on my part. ... But it would be a tough decision. I love this organization and I want to play here. I told Kenny Holland that. I’ve been here so long. You never say never, but I don’t see myself wearing another team’s colours. It wouldn’t be right.”
And WXYT’s Jeff Riger took note of Draper’s comments:
“I just turned 40 a couple weeks ago and I have felt great this year, that’s why I feel I can still play.” Draper was asked if the Wings did not want him back would he consider playing for another team and the forward all but said no. “For me to go play hockey somewhere else would be pretty selfish on my part” said Draper.
“I guess you never say never in professional sports but I couldn’t see myself playing for another team and wearing another teams colors, for me it just would not be right” Draper continued.
The longtime Wing expects to know his future for certain in the next 7 to 10 days and admitted that he has talked to General Manager Ken Holland a couple of times and has made it clear that he would love to return to Hockey Town for at least one more season. In the meantime, while Draper waits on his long term future, his short term future was catching a pass from Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Draper threw on his number 33 Lions jersey and ran a single route where he corralled a tight Stafford spiral.
Draper also made his feelings clear on the NFL lockout clear saying “I couldn’t even imagine not playing hockey and then to not even have my NFL Sundays, I mean, my wife wouldn’t like me one bit. I need both those things to get resolved real fast.”
Update #4: Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji sums things up perfectly:
“I hope to know within a week to 10 days on what’s going to come about with my future,” Draper said. “If Kenny (Holland, Wings vice president and general manager) could have seen me working out here, I think he would have made his decision right away. I think they wanted you guys out (media asked to leave during football drills). I wanted you guys to stay, I’ll be honest with you. I wanted Kenny to see exactly what I was doing.”
“To be honest with you, for me to go and play hockey somewhere else for a year would be pretty selfish on my part,” Draper said. “I know that my wife and my family would support anything that I do moving forward. You ask my 9-year-old son, there’s no way he thinks his dad is finished playing hockey. It’ll be a tough decision, no doubt. I love this organization. I want to play here.”
Draper said watching what happened with good friend Kirk Maltby last season was a wake-up call for him. He doesn’t want to have to decide whether to go to Grand Rapids, the Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate, or retire, as Maltby chose to do.
“With what Malts went through last year, I said to myself, ‘I’m not doing that,’” Draper said. “It was tough for me to watch a good friend, a great hockey player and a great teammate go through something like that. And to me, my decision will be made long before training camp starts.”
Draper is a realist. He knows the Wings have several young forwards—Jan Mursak, Cory Emmerton and Tomas Tatar among them—who will be pushing to make the team. If Holland tells Draper the Wings don’t have a spot for him, Draper won’t be at all bitter.
“When I got traded here for a dollar, if somebody said that you’d win four Stanley Cups, you’d play over 1,000 games as a Detroit Red Wing, come on,” Draper said. “So I know that this game’s been really good to me. So now we’ll wait and see. I want to continue to play. I feel I can continue to play. I’ve had little self talks with myself to prepare for what can happen. Honestly, I’ll accept either way this goes out.”
Update #5: Fox 2’s Woody Woodriffe took note of Draper’s presence at the Lions’ players’ unofficial workout:
It’s usually tough times that reveal the true character of a person and that view is evident in the Detroit sports community. How else to explain seeing athletes where they’re not usually seen?? Case in point, Kris Draper. Draper was at Detroit Country Day for the Detroit Lions player workout, where he took his turns going thru the reps that the football guys were doing. Now let’s be clear, Draper is trying to avoid a “forced” retirement from the Red Wings and the only way to do that is to be in shape and ready for next year, so it benefits him to be in front of a little positive publicity- but Draper is the kind of guy that would show up anyhow…. and that’s the point—many Detroit athletes will show up at other sporting events not only to enjoy the games, but to show support for other players too- and that mindset has created a “brotherhood” that I’ve seen get closer and closer during my time in this town.
I think it’s also allowed for players to see what other players are dealing with on the business side of sports. Draper went through a lockout with the NHL, and he’s a great sound board for those who might have a question or a concern that would be embarassing to take to union leadership. There’s also a “city comraderie” that’s being built up, and I like the idea that guys like Matthew Stafford might hang out with Ben Gordon or that Justin Verlander could be close friends with Henrik Zetterberg… The idea that the Detroit sports world is a close knit one where guys will support each other- is a great scenario, and just serves to bring the city closer together.
• For the record, the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau named Paul MacLean the tenth-best Jet ever;
• WDIV took note of the Sergei Fedorov Foundation’s attempt to help a young man suffering from Duchene’s Disease;
• And to finish on a more positive note, via the Associated Press:
Leopard print patterns may not dance around the Detroit Renaissance Center’s towers, but city officials are looking into revamping a zoning ordinance to allow tiger stripes and local sports logos to shimmy and shimmer atop the downtown building.
Detroit City Council Planner Gregory Moots says the Planning Commission and RenCen’s property manager are looking at amending the city code so that themed, multi-colored bands can join the recently added solid rings of green, blue and red.
General Motors Co. owns the towers, which also serve as its world headquarters.
Moots says GM wants to use the display and huge electronic signs to highlight city events. Logos of the Detroit Tigers baseball team and hockey’s Detroit Red Wings have been featured but aren’t part of the zoning agreement with the city.
Update #6: From WXYZ’s story about Draper (nice throwback jersey):
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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.