The Malik Report
Of Red Wings-related note, and briefly so, before I scurry off to bed and prepare for what will probably be an 18-hour work day on Canada Day:
We learned on Thursday that Jaromir Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, is either a genius, an evil genius, or plain old insane after he informed ESPN’s Scott Burnside and the Free Press’s Helene St. James (who’s still confirming that Jagr’s status is in limbo) that, instead of asking his client to make a decision as to whether he wishes to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins or Detroit Red Wings, Svoboda had instead opened up the bidding and was now speaking to the Montreal Canadiens and a “lot more” other teams, and that Jagr might not make his decision prior to noon today after all.
The reaction from Pittsburgh isn’t exactly stunning—GM Ray Shero told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari that he’s busy trying to re-sign one of his own free agents-to-be…
Updated 8x at 10:39 PM: The Red Wings have re-signed Jonathan Ericsson, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, but his asking price was a bit steep:
DET agrees to terms with Jonathan Ericsson. Numbers not confirmed but believed to be three years at around $9.75M total.
Update: Per the Sporting News’s Craig Custance:
Jonathan Ericsson deal not quite done but close.
So Petr Svoboda, Jaromir Jagr’s agent, has essentially held the Red Wings and Penguins in suspense while, in the words of a probation officer who raised me, [blanking] around with their time, and what does he say on the eve of free agency, to ESPN’s Scott Burnside?
More teams are in the running now, and there are no guarantees that Jagr will decide whether to join them by Friday, which is essentially a drop-dead date for Detroit and is, to a lesser extent, a hard deadline for PIttsburgh:
“There’s a lot more teams now we’re talking to,” Svoboda told ESPN.com Thursday evening.
As for getting a deal done somewhere by the time the free agency period opens at noon EST Friday, that plan appears to have gone by the boards as well. Jagr, 39, will make a decision “in the next few days,” Svoboda said.
“I’m not going to put a time frame on it,” he added. “Basically we have nothing new and I can’t tell you anything,” the agent said.
This will come as disappointing news to the Penguins who have been told by Svoboda that Jagr is definitely interested in returning to Pittsburgh where he won two Stanley Cups in the early 1990s.
The Red Wings remain interested too although they had no new information to report Thursday evening about whether they were still being considered by Jagr.
Unreal. Svoboda claims that Jagr’s in New York and he’s in Montreal, too, but who the hell knows anymore.
Update: Equally silly, per the Free Press’s Helene St. James, the Canadiens are apparently back in the mix:
Updated at 9:23 PM with Pleiness on Ericsson, Eaves, Miller, the blueline and Jagr: Red Wings GM Ken Holland told MLive’s Ansar Khan that he believes he can hold on to most of his unrestricted free agents-to-be, but that does not include Drew Miller, who’s likely to test the market…
“Just had a philosophical conversation (with his agent),’’ Holland said. “I made an offer. Can’t say we’re making a lot of progress.’‘
On the Jaromir Jagr front, Holland plans on treating the could-be Penguin like he will any player who doesn’t sign with his team before July 1st—he won’t save a spot on the roster or in the team’s payroll structure for Jagr:
As for Jaromir Jagr, Holland said, “Touched base again with his agent today. Nothing’s changed. We’re still staying in contact.’‘
Holland said his initial offer of a one-year deal to Jagr, made several weeks ago, hasn’t changed. He said he doesn’t necessarily need an answer from Jagr by noon Friday, but then the player runs the risk of the team signing other players and not having space for him.
But it does sound like Jonathan Ericsson and Patrick Eaves will remain in tow, which is good news:
Updated 3x with Ray Shero at 7:02 PM: It gets curiouser and curiouser—or dumber and dumber. According to MLive’s Ansar Khan, Jaromir Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, continues to delay and deny any reports that his client might have his “heart in Pittsburgh,” Detroit or anywhere else, nor does he seem to have any intention to ask his client to make up mind in short order:
Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, said this afternoon that he’s still in talks with the Detroit Red Wings, as well as the Pittsburgh Penguins and other teams, refuting a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the one-time NHL star had decided to sign with the Penguins.
“No decisions have been made,’’ Svoboda said. “We’re talking a lot. Nothing is going to happen before 6 p.m.’‘
Judging by how this saga has dragged on now for two weeks, there’s no guarantee anything will happen after 6 p.m., either.Asked if he anticipated a decision today, Svoboda said: “I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know.’‘
But, he added, “The Red Wings are obviously one team he wants to play for. There’s a chance (a decision) could come later today.’‘
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Dejean Kovacevic speaks for many of us when he says that this has gotten out of hand, and to the point where at least the Penguins—if not the Wings as well—might want to pass on a 39-year-old who’s acting like he’s 12:
If we are to believe Blesk, as many as 12 teams have supposedly jumped into the Jaromir Jagr sweepstakes, with the Wings supposedly believed to be the favorite, but ESPN’s Scott Burnside provides us with a bottom line, and it’s simple—as TSN’s Bob McKenzie has suggested on Twitter, Jagr’s being Jagr and his agent’s drawing this situation out to ridiculous levels, having informed neither the Red Wings nor the Penguins as to his client’s intentions:
The Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens continue to await word on if Jaromir Jagr will return to the NHL. As of 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero told ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside he had not heard from Jaromir Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda.
Likewise, Red Wings GM Ken Holland told Burnside he had not heard from Jagr or his agent as of early Thursday afternoon.
Sources had told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review an agreement was in place with the Penguins as Jagr flew from the Czech Republic to the United States. Jagr also has a one-year offers from Detroit and Montreal, according to multiple media reports.
Update: According to Christopher Botta, James Wisniewski is all but guaranteed to sign with Columbus: Just as NHL on XM Radio producer Josh Rimer suggests that Patrick Eaves will test the free agent waters on July 1st (per RedWingsFeed), I was looking for Swedish news to compliment Ken Holland’s interview with Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom about Dick Axelsson, and Norrkoping’s Tidingar’s Ulf Strahle and Christer Andersson provide Red Wings-related news in a big way, all but confirming that Jonathan Ericsson will remain with the Wings. Here’s a rough translation of their article:
Updated 2x: with Holland speaking to Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom about Dick Axelsson and free agency at 10:56 AM: On the jitteriest day of the year for Red Wings fans, Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to MLive’s Ansar Khan regarding the team’s free agency plans, and it sounds like the Wings are, like the rest of us, waiting to find out who actually reaches the marketplace on Friday before making their decision as to whether they’ll spend money or make a trade to replace Brian Rafalski:
“We got money, but we got a lot of our pieces in place,” said general manager Ken Holland. “We don’t want to spend for the sake of spending. We will explore the market. A lot of (would-be) free agents have signed, and I anticipate more will (prior to Friday). We’ll work the phones, see what happens.”
The Red Wings will spend up to the cap if necessary, but they won’t overpay. They would like to have some money at their disposable at the trade deadline.
“Part of it is we want to be the best team we can be right now, but we also want to be flexible for the trade deadline,” Holland said.
If Christian Ehrhoff and/or James Wisniewski either don’t reach the marketplace or ask for gigantic salaries, Khan suggests that the Wings have several options, including a trade but excluding an offer sheet (Holland doesn’t believe in employing that tactic)...
Updated 3x at 11:05 AM: Per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi, the Red Wings and Penguins will finally find out Jaromir Jagr’s decision as to which team he’d prefer to play for sometime today, and all indications point toward Jagr ending his NHL career in the city where it began:
The agent for Jaromir Jagr said his client is in New York and said today he expects a decision about Jagr’s NHL future by the end of today.
Petr Svoboda said he was scheduled to speak with Penguins general manager Ray Shero shortly. This was around 9:20 a.m.
“We are going to exchange some things,” Svoboda said, adding that he would also speak with Detroit and Montreal about Jagr. This is obviously a tough decision for Jaromir. His heart is in Pittsburgh.”
Long before the, “Where’s Jaromir Jagr, and which team does he want to play for?” mess began (and let’s be honest, we’re kind of assuming that he’s going to sign with Pittsburgh), two Wings targets in Christian Ehrhoff (twice) and James Wisniewski (once) had their rights traded to teams eager to get a head start on negotiating terms with said players and Jonathan Ericsson began to pop up as a realistic player that other teams might target…
Red Wings fans knew that, as Ken Holland and Jim Nill told the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell, that the team would attempt to re-sign its own unrestricted free agents before July 1st and then survey the marketplace, determining which players they’ll sign to replace Brian Rafalski and reinforce the roster based upon who is actually available at 12 PM EDT on Friday, and not before. We knew we’d have to wait—and that it’d be an uncomfortable wait—for the Wings to get to work.
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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.