The Malik Report
Updated 3x at 2:20 PM: In theory, anyway, Red Wings GM Ken Holland could make some sort of significant player rights-snagging move this Friday or Saturday at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh, and two weeks from today, at 12 PM EDT, free agency begins, likely yielding serious fireworks in terms of the team’s attempts to sign at least a top-pair defenseman and a top-six forward, selling Detroit’s “program” to players and hopefully kicking some doubters to the curb in the process.
I’m pretty sure I’m allowed to quote a couple of paragraphs out of an ESPN Insider article, so we’ll begin what’s likely to be a week of discussing the ways the Wings can “fix” their roster with this from Robert Vollman’s assessment of Central Division teams’ off-season needs:
Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard may believe that his team’s commitment to excellence will still attract marquee talent to Detroit this summer, but even if the Wings land all their unrestricted free agent targets this summer, Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement—and according to Nick Barnowski, official move to Sweden on Sunday—will yield a near-unceasing chorus of, “Ding dong, the Wings are finally dead” from the MSM this summer and likely this fall.
In an NHL where pundits insist that teams must rebuild every couple of seasons to re-stock with those precious 18-23-year-olds that ensure success, the Wings have no intention of doing anything less than keeping their 21-year streak of playoff appearances intact, employing the same cadre of superstars over 30 years of age, up-and-coming prospects and support players in their late-20’s and a smattering of prospects graduating from Grand Rapids from around 23-25 years of age, but we’d better get used to the kind of talk the CBC’s Chris Iofrida used in describing the Wings as one of the most “compelling” teams to watch this summer:
Updated 2x at 6:45 PM: Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard’s at the Michigan International Speedway as a co-grand marshal of today’s “Quicken Loans 400,” and he spoke to the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff about uncertain off-season outlook, suggesting that the Wings don’t need to do much more than be the Wings to attract elite players…
As far as what the future holds for his own team, Howard was less certain. Of retired team captain defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom, Howard said. “You can’t replace Nick. It’s impossible.”
Still, they must try, but Howard wasn’t interested in speculating on the route the team might take to do so. “That’s (GM) Kenny (Holland) and (assistant GM) Jim Nill’s department,” said Howard, who didn’t plan to become actively involved in the process by reaching out and calling any potential unrestricted free agents that the team might pursue. “I don’t feel like it’s up to somebody making phone calls. If they want to be a Red Wing, they will be.”
Updated 2x: You can find the Lidstrom paper doll PDF here: This morning, Mitch Albom delivers a column that reads like he actually cares about sports again, and he does so for a reason: Albom spoke to Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom for almost two hours in what he’s calling an “exit interview” before Lidstrom heads back to Sweden, and among the many highlights, this stands out:
Question: When Yzerman retired, was there any part of you that didn’t want to be the captain? That didn’t want the pressure of that C?
Nicklas Lidstrom: Not really. No, I was hoping they were gonna ask me. I wanted the challenge. You can play all the minutes. You can play against the top players. But when you’re a captain, you’re looked upon as being something off the ice, too.
Question: Did you let them know that you wanted it?
Lidstrom: No. I never did. Kenny (Holland) kind of hinted at it, so I was hoping they were gonna ask me.
On a very strange Saturday afternoon, the Red Wings’ Twitter account notes that we’ve reached the final of four Stanley Cup anniversaries…
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: On this date in 1998, the #Wings won their ninth Stanley Cup title, sweeping the Washington Capitals in DC.
And the Wings posted a highlight clip from said Cup run to commemorate it:
Updated 2x at 10:03 AM: From having to buy out Ray Whitney to inevitably waiving goodbye to Jiri Hudler thanks to the crazy economics presented to this summer’s free agent class by a $70.3 million “upper limit,” the CBA and the salary cap have conspired to take away the Red Wings’ personnel advantages over its opponents. The cap and its goal of enforcing parity make sustaining a Wings-like level of excellence almost impossible, but thanks to superb drafting of some once-a-decade players in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, as well as the lingering presence of a once-a-generation player in Nicklas Lidstrom and some astute “bargain” signings and trades from Ken Holland and the Wings’ management, Detroit’s made the Western Conference finals three times, the Stanley Cup Final twice and have won the Cup once over the past six seasons.
Maybe even more importantly, the Wings have made the playoffs every year over the cycle of the CBA that’s about to expire, which remains an almost incredible exception to the rule, and during a summer which will make the difference between the Wings remaining just ahead of their rivals in terms of keeping that 21-year run of playoff worthiness going, the Wings are finally in position use the CBA to predate upon other teams instead of losing their drafted and/or developed players to lesser lights with more cap space to burn.
Updated 3x at 6:33 PM: I hate following this sort of thing early on in the process, but Smashville 24/7’s Ryan Porth and the Tennessean’s Joshua Cooper noted the following from Predators GM David Poile, who was speaking to reporters on a conference call after trading Anders Lindback to Tampa Bay:
Poile believes [Ryan] Suter will test the market
Poile says its unlikely he trades Suter’s rights. Poile worried about him testing market.
Cooper went and disappeared after posting this quip...
Poile says he thinks Suter will go to July 1
So we’ll see what transpires in terms of context over the next couple of hours.
Update: From ESPN 1025’s Wily Daunic:
Updated 6x at 4:09 PM: As we’ve descended into the land of spurious rumors, Red Wings GM Ken Holland hasn’t exactly been puffing out his chest and making grand promises about free agent signings to be, having only really offered some understated remarks about the team’s future on NHL Live recently.
As NHL.com looks forward to the Winter Classic while looking back at the dueling Brian Burke-Holland presser, bombast simply isn’t Holland’s style:
Red Wings overnight report: welcome to the intersection of lies, rumors, innuendo & thought balloons
We’ve reached the middle of June, and are exactly one week from the first round of the Entry Draf…I mean 2012 draft, and two weeks and a day from the start of free agency, and I would like to posit a suggestion this morning: we’ve reached the intersection where, as the Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd would put it, “Lies, rumors & vicious innuendo” are regularly colliding with what I call “thought balloon” articles.
What do I mean? Well, on Wednesday, Zach Parise’s comments about wanting to remain a Devil resulted in widespread speculation, suggestions that he might join the Los Angeles Kings from Pierre LeBrun of all people (after the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons posited the idea) and former North Stars GM Lou Nanne dancing around tampering rules by insisting that no one would out-bid the Minnesota Wild for Parise (and presumably Ryan Suter’s) services per a dinner conversation with Wild owner Craig Leipold.
Given the comments made by CSN Northeast’s Joe Haggerty that NHL fans must mandatorily begin shaking in their sneakers because Donald Fehr’s clearly going to stare down the NHL’s perfectly reasonable suggestion to hack 7% of a $3-plus-billion business’s proceeds off players’ paychecks, I’m very happy to read the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau not only suggesting that fans might be better-advised to check out the validity of the claims made by the NHL, Gary Bettman and the owners both prior to the 2004-2005 lockout and thereafter when determining whether one should swallow everything Gary Bettman and Bill Daly say about the supposed un-sustainability of the NHL under a business model its owners locked players and fans out for an entire season to essentially craft themselves, with NHLPA sycophant Ted Saskin simply smiling and nodding all along the way:
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.