The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: The race to Thanksgiving, Datsyukian hate and grooming Homer’s successor
As of 6 AM this morning [edit: make it 7:15 as this took an hour and change], I haven’t been able to find much information as to what transpired during Joey Kocur and the Red Wings Alumni Association’s charity softball game in Highland, MI, save a few pictures from the Wings’ Twitter account and an instant classic from Jamie Favreau, who posted a picture of Darren McCarty rocking a kilt which apparently included a Detroit Tigers logo...
But the Vernon Morning Star’s Lisa VanderVerde ensures that this Sunday is anything but “slow” in the news category by offering an interview with Wings GM Ken Holland from his off-season home in Vernon, BC. Holland recently held a charity event of his own in a charity golf tournament, but he wasn’t too busy to engage in a cursory discourse regarding Detroit’s lateral free agency moves and his belief that the Wings must get off to a strong start to ensure that they’re playoff-bound by American Thanksgiving:
“Middle of July until the end of August is slow in our industry. Most teams spend their money in the early few days of July, and if you don’t spend your money, then the players are picked over. We like our team. We added a couple of defencemen, we added a back-up goalie. I think a lot of our team is really coming into their prime. We’ve got an older component to our team, but that’s by design.”
Updated 3x at 12:03 PM: Today’s largest Red Wings-related news story won’t take place until 11 AM, when Joey Kocur’s celebrity softball game gets underway in Highland Township, Michigan, indicating that we’ve reached perhaps the second or third “pause” in the summer news cycle.
These pauses haven’t lasted for extended periods of time as of yet, and as Alanah and I are pulling double duty of sorts, I’d prefer to not push too particularly hard against the fact that today brings little in the way of talking about key players who must step up for the Wings to remain a playoff contender or the futures of Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, or, via the Hockey News’s Lyle Richardson, one Jiri Hudler...
The Hockey News has chosen to staff its every-Friday “Ask Adam” column/mailbag feature with other THN contributors as Proteau’s on vacation, and while the staffers’ answers regarding James Reimer’s staying power, the Islanders’ long-term future in Nassau County (which the Hockey News’s Ryan Kennedy also tackles in a separate column) and questions regarding the Los Angeles Kings’ blueline highlight this week’s wide-ranging breadth, I’m a Red Wings fan, so the Typing Monkey in charge of KK for most of the day (why Paul agreed to this, I do not know) would prefer to focus on a Red Wings-related question:
I’m a Detroit fan and with Lidstrom probably retiring after this season, I was wondering if you think the Wings could re-sign Niklas Kronwall (he’s a UFA this summer)? And if they do, will he be able to take that next step and soften the blow from Lidstrom’s departure?
Brett Vandermuren, Amherstburg, Ont.
Hi Brett, Assuming Nicklas Lidstrom retires at the conclusion of next season, you have to believe the Wings will do everything in their power to retain Niklas Kronwall.
Saying Kronwall is no Lidstrom is no insult because, well, nobody is Lidstrom. The hallmark of Lidstrom’s play is his super-human panic threshold. Kronwall is a different beast. He impacts games with a thud, whether it is via a big shot or a crushing hit. He’s an upper-tier defenseman in the league, though probably not truly elite. He’ll also be 31 in January, so I’m not sure how much better he’ll get.
This scenario might be ever-so-slightly unrealistic in 2011, but I suppose it’s worth consideration, per the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper:
n the summer of 1990, a big, mobile two-way defenseman hit the NHL market as a restricted free agent. Scott Stevens of the Washington Capitals became open to an offer sheet. He signed one with the St. Louis Blues for four years at $5.1 million total, and the Capitals let him walk. In compensation, they received five first-round draft picks. Stevens turned into a three-time Stanley Cup winner and a Hall of Fame defenseman.
The Capitals’ general manager at the time was David Poile, the current GM of the Predators. This offseason, Poile faced a similar situation with defenseman Shea Weber. A one-year, $7.5 million deal was reached through arbitration.
Stevens’ deal is one that possibly haunts Poile as he continues his pursuit to lock Weber into a long-term contract. Weber will be a restricted free agent next offseason, and an unrestricted free agent after 2012-13 — in the absence of a long-term contract.
“I don’t think (Washington) was able to foresee what was going to happen and the impact Scott Stevens had on a team,” said former Calgary Flames GM Craig Button, whose father, Jack Button, worked closely with Poile in Washington. “When you look at it in hindsight, Scott Stevens is a Hall of Fame defenseman. He was a homegrown player, he was rugged, he was unique. Just like Shea Weber is unique.”
Updated 2x with Tatar in Slovak at 11:04 AM: In suggesting that Jiri Hudler, Niklas Kronwall, and, this morning, Danny Cleary‘s performances this upcoming season will be nothing less than pivotal to the Red Wings’ success during both the regular season and playoffs, the Free Press’s Helene St. James isn’t exactly telling Wings fans anything that the team’s management hasn’t spelled out either by suggestion or name over the past two seasons, but she’s spot-on in providing August reminders as to which players face significant pressure to live up to their potential, especially given the team’s off-season departures.
In Cleary’s case, providing substance behind one’s hype isn’t anything new, but especially with Kris Draper out of the picture, St. James very wisely suggests that Cleary can both improve upon his career-best 46-point season while attempting to cement his status as a top-six forward:
August runs the gamut in terms of Red Wings news…Yesterday we were talking about Dmitry Chesnokov’s jaw-droppingly awesome interview with Pavel Datsyuk, and earlier this morning, the Free Press’s Helene St. James examined Niklas Kronwlall’s status as the Wings’ #2 defenseman, and now we shift focus to charitable news and, well…news about beer.
As previously mentioned, Joey Kocur and the Red Wings’ Alumni Association are holding a charity softball game against several police and fire departments in Highland, MI on Saturday (you can purchase $10 tickets online here). This afternoon, the White Lake Patch’s Brooke Meier offers a “that’s the facts” slate of details about the event…
Almost a month after the Red Wings’ held a summer development camp for their new and returning prospects in Traverse City, MI, I believe I’ve found the answer as to why the Wings’ amateur scouts and front office, with the exception of capologist Ryan Martin, rotated in and out of the camp, and it doesn’t necessarily have much to do with the flurry of free-agent signings or retirements which took place immediately before and shortly afterward:
Put simply, if the Wings’ scouts wanted a month off, July was it, and this month, they get back to work with a nearly impossibly heavy workload.
A long day on the road yields a mushy brain, so here’s a bullet-pointed list of Red Wings-related news that’s worth noting this evening:
• If you haven’t read Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov’s interview with Pavel Datsyuk, stop what you’re doing and give it a gander;
• It’s only the third of August, but we’re already getting into the prognostication business. ESPN’s asking readers to pick the NHL’s six divisional winners, and, via RedWingsFeed, ESP…erm, I mean NHL.com’s EJ Hradek’s talking about the Red Wings and questioning whether they can stay healthy (that and he all but says, “They’re just not a contender anymore”):
From the parking lot at Clyde’s in St. Ignace: Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov posted his sit-down interview with Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk after Datsyuk picked up the Kharlamov Trophy in Moscow, and the interview’s fantastic.
As I’m about to spend the day with a charming lady who’s both as confused as I am as to why a pair of night owls had to get up at 7 AM to end our vacation and is a little annoyed that her son is writing a blog entry as we finish packing up the Pacifica and prepare to head home, I’m going to keep this Red Wings “overnight report” very brief, and mostly in bullet-point form:
• If you missed it late last night, the Free Press’s Helene St. James offers the following take on Jiri Hudler’s future with the Red Wings after a very sub-par return to the NHL during the 2010-2011 season:
So what’s ahead for Hudler? Expect him to be kept on a short leash. He didn’t lack for opportunity last season; even when he wasn’t on one of the top two lines, he was a regular on the power play, over such options as Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi.
During the Phoenix series a team scout pointed out that Hudler is always a threat to score; unfortunately for the Wings, he rarely finished his chances.
The Wings retain some faith in Hudler because of his history of scoring at various levels, from world juniors to the NHL (he had 23 goals in ‘08-09). He must show from the start of camp he’s going to be that player again, and earn a spot as a top-six forward. If not, given that he’s in the last year of his contract, the Wings will explore moving him while he has value.
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.