The Malik Report
Early on Monday morning, the Red Wings officially announced that Nicklas Lidstrom would return for his 20th NHL season, signing a one-year, $6.2 million contract. I had asked Paul to text message me and/or call when the Nick news came about ten days ago, and while Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom tipped Lidstrom’s hand for him, I popped up with a start when my cell phone’s text message alert jingled me from a restless night’s worth of sleep and got to work.
Relieved. Unbelievably relieved. As Ken Holland suggested and columnists pointed out during the mid-day and evening crops of columns, the Red Wings’ off-season renovations hinged upon the fulcrum that was Lidstrom’s future, and as Ken Holland suggested to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, the Wings can weather the storm that is Brian Rafalski’s sudden retirement, but losing both Rafalski and Lidstrom, well…
The NHL’s obviously agreed to move the Thrashers to Winnipeg, the NHL, NHLPA and the competition committee have signed off on tweaking the blind-side hitting rule to better protect players whose heads are targeted, and it certainly appears that the salary cap will rise to $64 million after the NHLPA applied its 5% inflator, but as NHL.com’s Dan Rosen notes, none of these issues will become official until the NHL’s Board of Governors approves these changes today in New York:
While considered a formality at this point, the Board of Governors still has to give its stamp of approval for the Thrashers sale to True North Sports and Entertainment and relocation to Winnipeg beginning with the 2011-12 season. The transfer of ownership from Atlanta Spirit to True North Sports and Entertainment requires a 75 percent approval from the Board while relocation needs a majority approval. True North Sports and Entertainment is purchasing the franchise for a reported $170 million, including a $60 million relocation fee.
If approved, the still unnamed Winnipeg franchise will play in the Southeast Division for one more season with the expectation it will be moved into the Western Conference starting with the 2012-13 season.
Updated at 9:20 PM with Ken Kal and Bob McNamara on WBBL: Given the wars of words in the main Lidstrom post, I must politely and respectfully ask my readers to please give the arguments about the Red Wings’ captain supposedly harming his team by taking his full $6.2 million salary a damn rest. As NHL.com’s Brian Hedger noted via Twitter, the Wings aren’t exactly in cap trouble because their best player still expects to be paid like their best player at 41 years of age:
#Redwings in good shape heading into free agency on July 1. W/Lidstrom back @ $6.2M, they have 17 signed for $48M. New cap $64M
That means Ken Holland will have about $15M in cap space to fill out roster w/6 players. #Redwings in market for 1-2 top D and maybe Jagr.
Those players include a back-up goalie, Patrick Eaves and/or Drew Miller, possibly Jonathan Ericsson, that #1 defenseman and either Jagr or another top-six forward. Lidstrom is not slighting his team, nor is he proving that he’s not as good a captain as the gentleman who took a lesser salary when he was a 3rd-line player in his last season, when the salary cap was down by the cap floor.*
Great news for teams that spend to the cap, via the Canadian Press:
The NHL Players’ Association has decided to trigger the growth factor in the salary cap for next season, pushing the upper limit to roughly $64 million US.
A source told The Canadian Press that the union’s executive board voted via conference call Monday to have five per cent added to the calculation of next year’s salary cap — a decision it gets to make each spring to account for inflation. The NHLPA has chosen to have the five per cent added every year but one since it was brought into existence.
The official number for next year’s salary cap is expected to be announced this week.
Updated 3x at 3:41 PM: Hitchcock won’t join the Wings’ coaching staff: Red Wings fans received the news we’d all hoped for when the team announced that captain Nicklas Lidstrom would return for the 2011-2012 season today (and kudos to Gunnar Nordstrom for scooping everybody, eh?), having chosen to take an extended period of time to weigh his playing future for what he suggested was a simple reason, as noted by the AP’s Larry Lage:
“The reason it took so long was I wanted to make sure I found the motivation,” the 41-year-old Lidstrom said Monday on a conference call.
Lidstrom is a Norris Trophy finalist for the 11th time in 13 seasons. If he wins the award for being the NHL’s top defenseman. It would be his seventh - on Wednesday, he will match Doug Harvey’s total and trail Bobby Orr’s record by only one.
He is also a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
The Detroit Red Wings released their pre-season schedule this afternoon, and it remains both Jam-packed and full of the usual teams that the Wings play, with one exception—the Wings will play the Chicago Blackhawks twice instead of the New York Rangers. Here’s the sked, per MLive’s Ansar Khan:
Updated 5x w/ press release—ESPN’s LeBrun says Lidstrom signed for $6.2 million: Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, Gunnar Nordstrom was right in suggesting that Nicklas Lidstrom will return to the Red Wings for at least one more season:
The Red Wings got their man when legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom told team officials last week that he will return for a 20th NHL season.
Terms of Lidstrom’s one-year contract were not finalized before today when the 41-year-old captain and general manager Ken Holland got together in Las Vegas. The Wings’ pair is in Vegas for Wednesday’s NHL Award Show, where Lidstrom will learn if he won Norris Trophy for the seventh time in his career. He is also a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy and the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
Update: According to the Wings’ Twitter account, the Wings will make things official via an 11 AM news conference; the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness and MLive’s Ansar Khan, who says that the WIngs are still talking to Jonathan Ericsson and plan on bringing Brendan Smith up in a Jakub Kindl-like role; via RedWIngsFeed, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun confirms that Lidstrom told Holland on Sunday, and the AP’s Larry Lage confirms as well.
Updated w/ Khan at 8:27 AM: You know it’s the middle of June when even Expresssen’s Gunnar Nordstrom has to suggest that Nicklas Lidstrom will in fact return to play for the Wings this season based on gut feelings after meeting Lidstrom on Sunday.
Unless your team’s either won the Stanley Cup or just lost in the Final, you’ve been waiting for answers as to which players will return to your team, who’s leaving via free agency, who they’re targeting in the draft and, generally speaking, what direction your team’s going to take since, well…either the end of the regular season or whenever your team was eliminated from the playoffs. Early June and the month of August are probably the most difficult ones for hockey fans in terms of news or the complete and total lack thereof, and even for the Red Wings, we’re still working in hypothetical territory.
All of that changes this week. We’re now amidst periods of time in which teams can file for salary arbitration (as the Devils and Predators did with Zach Parise and Shea Weber, respectively) and buy out players (as the Rangers did with Wojtek Wolski), the NHL Awards are on Wednesday, the Entry Draft and inevitable trades take place on Friday and Saturday in St. Paul, and a week from this Friday, the unrestricted free agency period and its feeding frenzy hit amidst the fireworks of Canada Day.
Awesome news for big-market teams and not-so-super news for small-market teams, per TSN:
With the National Hockey League Entry Draft less than a week away and the potential for trades escalating this week and next with the free agency period looming, the salary cap will be going up by nearly $5 million next season.
Clubs and agents are being told next year’s salary cap will be set at an upper limit of $64 million with a floor of $48 million.
During the 2010-11 season, the salary cap had an upper limit of $59.4 million. The league’s cap - entering its seven season under the current collective bargaining agreement - has risen every year since the end of the NHL lockout when the cap was set at $39-million.
Via RedWingsFeed, Capgeek.com’s Twitter account’s hedging bets, going with $63.5-64 million. The NHLPA clearly chose to allow its 5% inflator to automatically apply here as we could be going into a lockout year, yielding a, “Make the money while you can, escrow be damned” approach.
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom will inform GM Ken Holland as to whether he wishes to continue playing either today or tomorrow in Las Vegas, and Lidstrom doesn’t top his hand—ever—but if there’s anyone who knows the Wings’ Swedes best, it’s Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom, a.k.a. ‘Der Alte” (the old man). Via Chris from Too Many mean on the Site, I headed over to Expressen and then Nordstrom’s blog, where Nordstrom’s taking a big leap of faith (and this is roughly translated), albiet an informed one:
After meeting with Lidstrom here in Los Angeles on Sunday morning, I’m so confident that he’s going to continue that I will dare write it on SPORT-Expressen even if Lidas won’t dare say it himself.
He will have a first meeting with his team’s GM, Ken Holland, today in Las Vegas. But I don’t see hindrances occurring which would prevent Lidstrom from continuing to play in the NHL.
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.