The Malik Report
And now things get really weird, even by TMR standards. Half of the Detroit Red Wings' players took part in the NHLPA's player meetings in New York on Thursday night, and the re-signed Justin Abdelkader and his teammates will engage in one final practice at Joe Louis Arena today. After they're done, they'll bag up their gear, their skates and sticks, say goodbye to the equipment managers, trainers, coach Babcock and eventually the man who rubber-stamped the organization's vote to lock its players out in GM Ken Holland.
After today, a little under half the Red Wings' players will attempt to pursue playing options in Europe, and will find a hard road to hoe, while the other half-and-change will skate in Troy or other Metro Detroit rinks for the foreseeable future (probably starting on Monday), hoping that this lockout is a short one. Whether they'll hire their own equipment staff, trainers, or PR people is uncertain, but as soon as Saturday comes, they're on their own.
Amongst the many, many, many columns I've been reading regarding the impending lockout this morning, there's bluster (if you really want to read Ken Dryden being Ken Dryden, go ahead, but yoy...) and there's fluff, reiterating of quotes and genuine prose, and then there's something both Red Wings-related and quite thoughtful from the Globe and Mail's Bruce Dowbiggin.
With NBC broadcast money in the bank thanks to Ed Snider and other TV and online committments likely to float the owners a substantial, "We're not playing hockey games but we're still making money" bone, Dowbiggin wonders aloud whether the Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs, and the HBO 24/7 series which precedes it, might be the one "pressure point" upon which the owners might feel a teensy, weensy bit of pressure to hammer out a deal, lest two of their marquee franchises lose a crapton of money (and the league loses those 110,000 seats' worth of $, sponsortship money, etc.):
[T]he real pressure point in this argument comes much earlier, around the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, which falls on Nov. 22. That’s typically when HBO cameras are gearing up for anther season of the critically acclaimed documentary series 24/7 . This year, HBO will follow the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs as they prepare for the Jan. 1 contest. To say it is hotly anticipated is like saying the Leafs are struggling a tad to win a Stanley Cup.
The format is a four-week tease leading into the Winter Classic that creates story lines and introduces personalities (tell us you’re not looking forward to Toronto president and general manager Brian Burke chewing on the scenery). When the game rolls out, viewers are onside with the characters.
I'm not looking forward to one second of Brian Burke doing anything. Mike Babcock, on the other hand...And nevertheless...
Over the next couple of...Um...probably weeks to two months, we fans are going to have some time on our hands, and while there's quite a bit of time to think about the possibility of organizing protests at NHL rinks to support local and "average" rink, team and broadcast employees and businesspeople who'll get most acutely screwed by this lockout, possibly showing up at negotiations in Toronto or New York to be annoying, perhaps engaging in the creation of lockout merchandise (my favorite idea remains, "I went to my NHL team's rink, and all they refused to do was take my money) or other forms of positive fan insurgency--knowing full well that it won't affect negotiations, even if we show up in persno to remind Gary and co. that we're people and not walking dollar signs whose discretionary income the NHL and NHLPA are arguing over (Wings fans and Penguins fans, chanting together, mass hysteria), but knowing that protest will at least help us cope and maybe give us some sense of hope during what is likely to be a painful time without hockey.
In that spirit, Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski provides us with a wonderful inspiration for an entry I hope will encourage you to throw some ideas on the wall and see what sticks, or what's meaningful to you, via Arun, an incredibly talented YouTube user who turned a Jason Mraz song into a rallying cry, encouraging fans to hang up their NHL teams' jerseys, t-shirts and merchandise while also agreeing to not purchase a damn thing from shop.nhl.com until the lockout is over:
Via RedWingsFeed, I'm sure the signings of these actual contacts will be quite awkward given that Ken Holland voted on behalf of the Red Wings to lock the following two players out, and aside from informally assigning Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner to Grand Rapids, MLive's Ansar Khan notes that the Red Wings made some final personnel moves on Thursday night:
The Detroit Red Wings took care of some pre-lockout business Thursday, signing free-agent defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and re-signing forward Justin Abdelkader.
Colaiacovo received a two-year contract worth an average of $2.5 million per season. Abdelkader inked a four-year deal, believed to be in the neighborhood of $1.7 million per season.
The moves will be announced on Friday.
In terms of the Wings' cap situation, Khan offers the following caveat...
As noted by several Red Wings beat writers yesterday, after the Wings' players engage in their final practice at Joe Louis Arena tomorrow and pack their bags, we know that players like Jakub Kindl, Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak will head to Europe, as they told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, with some of the Wings' equally young, single, inexpensive-to-insure and, well, interchangeable players sure to follow.
The decision to head to Europe isn't so simple for the vast majority of the Wings' players, however, for both family reasons, because of obligations to the NHLPA and, put simply...
Red Wings mid-day news: on the inevitability of Colaiacovo, waiver and alumni news and a Kindl video
Updated at 2:05 PM: Today reminds me of the Parise/Suter Watch days: we're all essentially in, "Wait-and-siege" mode until the NHLPA's player meetings are breaking up presently, and the NHL's Board of Governors rubber-stamp an impending lockout later this afternoon, pondering the respective culpabilities of both sides (Sportsnet's Stephen Brunt and Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski offer more on that subject this afternoon), there is some Red Wings-related news trickling in.
First and foremost, MLive's Ansar Khan spoke to WDFN's Matt Sheppard this morning, speaking of the potential signing of Carlo Colaiacovo as if it was just as inevitable as the Wings' eventual re-signing of Justin Abdelakder to a 4-year contract extension (see: the overnight report).
Khan also touches upon the Wings' potential ability to predate upon teams that may find themselves in personnel and cap trouble if there's an across-the-board salary cap rollback, the lockout's potential damaging effects and the state of the Wings' defense in a 12-minute interview...
If the Red Wings do sign Justin Abdelkader to a 4-year contract extension today, or Ken Holland closes a deal with as-yet-unsigned UFA target Carlo Colaiacovo prior to this weekend, he will do so in the most awkward of circumstances. One of the most player-friendly GM's in the game from one of the league's supposedly players-as-family-oriented organizations is in fact attending the Board of Governors' meetings today, where he will presumably rubber-stamp Gary Bettman's lockout on behalf of the Red Wings (whether they are doing so as a "good citizen," for the sake of pure profit and greed or due to circumstances beyond the team's control is unknown)...
While Abdelkader, Coaliacovo and half the team's roster are attending the NHLPA's final player meetings in a hotel not too far from the Mariott Marquis, which is hosting the Board of Governors.
So this morning, the Free Press's Helene St. James revisits some of the comments the players made before departing for New York...
Updated 4x at 12:12 AM on Thursday: A little over an hour ago, okay, more like 90 minutes ago, Andy Strickland Tweeted the following...
But I'm not allowed to go on one tip, so I waited. The Free Press's Helene St. James posited the following Twitter reply...
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness suggests that things are...fluid...while speaking to On the Wings' Matt Saler...
Good news for Justin Abdelkader? Probably, regardless of how much of his contract he'll actually be paid under the new CBA. MLive's Ansar Khan reports that Red Wings GM Ken Holland plans on signing Abdelkader to a 4-year deal:
"I anticipate we'll get something done before Saturday,'' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "We're down to the short strokes. We've been close for a few days, just finalizing some things.''
Holland confirmed that it will be a four-year deal, which buys into two years of Abdelkader's unrestricted free agency.
Red Wings sound the players line before departing for NHLPA meetings; Holland to attend BoG meetings
Updated 3x at 2:14 PM: I know that we're talking about billionaires versus millionaires, arguing over how to divvy up $3.3 billion dollars of fans' money, but as the NHL prepares to announce that its Board of Governors has voted to lock out the players at a presser scheduled for 3:30 PM EDT on Thursday, and over half the Red Wings' players will later make comments to the media when 300 or more NHLPA members meet not too far from the Crowne Plaza Times Square (players will be at the Mariott)...
But the players are the ones who are essentially being told, "I'm altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further" despite the fact that the NHL and one Bill Daly essentially authored the current CBA by themselves (at least once Bob Goodenow left the room), so I for one understand where the Red Wings' presumptive captain-to-be is coming from when he spoke to the Free Press's Helene St. James about his take on what's to come:
"Everyone is hurting if there's going to be a lockout," Zetterberg said. "Us players really know that. A lot of us went through it in '04. And it's not just the players that are hurting -- the fans, everyone around the buildings, all the businesses that are around hockey, is going to hurt. That's what us, as a union, really tried to have not happen. We're really trying to solve the problem and find a fair deal."
Note to Wings players, btw: tell fans where you're practicing, at least occasionally. Charge $5. Donate to charity. Goodwill and all.
Anyway, Ian White agrees with Zetterberg, and he told St. James that the players are much more resolute about the concept that a second owners' "bailout" over the course of eight years makes no sense if the league isn't going to address the disparities between teams that stand to profit way, way more from lower payroll costs--like the Wings--and those that won't profit regardless of how low salaries go:
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.