The Malik Report
Bloggers shouldn’t usually say that they get “yelled at,” so I’d prefer to say that Red Wings fans offer passionate debate when it comes to the theory that the Red Wings might move to the Eastern Conference after the 2011-2012 season. With the announcement that the Winnipeg Jets…I mean Manitoba Moose…let’s just got with True North Sports and Entertainment…has in fact purchased the Atlanta Thrashers, the hottest topic this side of Nicklas Lidstrom’s playing future for now, and probably aside from the Wings’ likely roster and bench overhaul, what will transpire with the team going forward is best summarized by the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
With the Atlanta Thrashers officially moving to Winnipeg — the news conference will in Winnipeg at noon Eastern on Tuesday — speculation of realignment will begin. And the Red Wings figure to be in the middle of the discussions, with their hope of moving to the Eastern Conference.
There won’t be any changes soon. The schedule for the 2011-12 season is nearly complete and it’s too late in the process to change. So Winnipeg will simply stay in the Southeast Division for this season but most likely switch to the Western Conference’s Northwest Division in 2012-13.
Jimmy Devellano, the Wings’ senior vice-president / alternate governor, said during the playoffs the team would prefer to be placed in the Eastern Conference. But there’s been talk of possibly Nashville — like the Wings, also in the Central Division — being switched into the Southeast Division, or possibly Columbus being placed in the Eastern Conference.
In the land of jittery talk, MLive’s Rob Otto “worries” about the concept that the Predators or Blue Jackets (and it’ll probably be Columbus) might precede the Wings in the move-to-the-East pecking order:
The heavy-hitters are Tweeting that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly’s in first class on a flight from Toronto to Winnipeg this morning, and that the NHL will make its announcement regarding the Atlanta Thrashers heading to Winnipeg at 11 AM CDT, presumably at The Forks, regardless of whether the paperwork between the Atlanta Spirit’s dysfunctional family and True North Sports and Entertainment is done.
Given my personal ties to Winnipeg (adopted family, having spent six months of my life there and nearly marrying a Winnipeg gal), you’d think that this adopted Winnipegger would be thrilled that, fifteen years after the Jets were ripped from the hearts of Manitoban hockey fans, an NHL team will return to the Peg.
Instead, I feel awful. The NHL and Gary Bettman have spent millions and millions of dollars of revenue-sharing dollars litigating the hell out of Phoenix to ensure that the Coyotes didn’t head back to Winnipeg despite the fact that Phoenix’s NHL future remains uncertain at best—and boy howdy, even as a Jets fan and die-hard Red Wings supporter, the last two years’ of playoff battles against the Coyotes have more than proven to me the tenacity of Coyotes fans…
The, “It’s quiet, too quiet” comment summarizes the crop of Red Wings articles this morning—as we shift toward “Nicklas Lidstrom watch,” aside from the news that the Wings signed Andrej Nestrasil and that Jonathan Ericsson reaffirmed his desire to remain a Red Wing, we’re reiterating the same old, same old regarding the Red Wings and possible realignment, via the Free Press’s Helene St. James—the Wings don’t know whether the NHL will possibly move them East (not for the 2011-2012) season, and the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper’s repeated the Predators’ take on the situation:
“I think we should at least explore it,” [Predators GM David Poile] said. “I think, now we’ve built up 13 years of strong division rivalry. I think our fans identify strongly with teams in our division, but tell me Detroit is going to the East, then that changes things.”
With the Atlanta Thrashers poised to move to Winnipeg, the Free Press’s Helene St. James checked in with Red Wings GM Ken Holland regarding the team possibly moving to the Eastern Conference for the 2012-2013 season, but no news is no news:
“We’ve been told nothing,” Holland said. “I don’t have any information. I know what I read in the newspaper.”
The Wings would welcome a move to the East, which would greatly reduce the wear and tear of travel and re-ignite dormant rivalries with Original Six foes such as Toronto, Montreal, Boston and the Rangers, teams the Wings see at most twice a season. The only other Original Six team in the West is Chicago.
“I’ve gone on record saying we’d prefer to be in the East, but I haven’t heard anything and I’m just worrying about putting together our team for next season,” Holland said.
Should the Thrashers move to Winnipeg, they would, for the coming season, most likely remain in the Southeast Division because the logistics of creating an entirely new NHL schedule grid this late are prohibitive. Although the schedule won’t be released until late June to early July, it has been more or less set for months.
As we already know by now, there is no pecking order in terms of whether the Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets or Nashville Predators have an edge in their desires to move East, and as it turns out, it’s the Blue Jackets who want to move East most desperately.
Thanks to my ISP clunking out after some severe thunderstorms rolled through the Metro Detroit Area, this is essentially an “overnight report” in belated fashion…which is annoying as all hell get out for someone who wants to remain on top of the news. It could have been much worse, however, so my apologies for the delay.
Anyway: Jonathan Ericsson talked about his desire to remain a member of the Red Wings in Swedish on Sunday, and the Free Press’s George Sipple basically offered an English equivalent of his interview this morning:
When the Wings’ players cleaned out their lockers for the season a couple weeks ago, Ericsson made it clear he wasn’t all that excited about testing the waters as an unrestricted free agent. “I really like it here, and my first choice is to be here,” Ericsson said then.
And until he hears from his agent, he said he planned to be back in his native Sweden working on a new summer home.
Via a tip from Chris from Too Many Men on the Site, the Red Wings have signed Andrej Nestrasil to a 3-year entry-level contract. Nestrasil’s agent, Robart Spalenka, tells Hokej.cz’s Vaclav Jachim that that the Wings and Nestrasil’s North American agent, Don Meehan, spent an extended period of time negotiating the deal, but now that it’s done, Nestrasil will attend the Wings’ rookie camp this July and then turn pro with Grand Rapids in the fall.
Spalenka also believes that the Wings will sign Ottawa 67’s goaltender Petr Mrazek to a contract next season, and he tells Jachim that Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer played a huge role in mentoring Nestrasil.
I’d provide a full translation, but aside from Spalenka comparing Mrazek to Marc-Andre Fleury (not quite), talking about the Czechs’ performance at the World Championships and pointing out that the Grand Rapids Griffins are a first-class organization…Czech does not translate well.
Update: Capgeek.com has Nestrasil’s contract details. He has a cap hit of $585K at the NHL level but will earn $50,000, $55,000 and then $57,500 at the AHL level over the next three seasons, and he’s earned salary bonuses of $58,334 for the 2011-2012 season and then $58,333 for the 12-13 and 13-14 seasons.
Update #2, 8:37 PM: The Grand Rapids Press confirms
Aside from the usual international press whopper (Brad McCrimmon will coach Lokomotiv Yaroslavl next year), this morning’s crop of Sunday columnists’ conversations offers good discussions of the respective states of the Red Wings’ blueline and crease going forward—including Jonathan Ericsson talking about his desire to remain with the Wings, albeit in Swedish:
Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson about the Wings’ belief that their blueline should survive Brian Rafalski’s departure because it’s time for Niklas Kronwall to truly shine—and as such, Holland tells Matheson that the Wings might look for a solid #3 guy instead of a top-two defenseman on the free agent market:
“We’re not going to find a Brian Rafalski on the open market but I think we can move (Niklas) Kronwall up to take Brian’s spot on the power play. We haven’t let him be Brian Rafalski for the last four years. Any time we had a No. 1 power play out popped Brian and (Nicklas) Lidstrom. Late in the game, out popped Lidstrom and Rafalski or four-on-four. Those situations now, Kronwall will be there. Nik’s only 30 years of age. He might not be quite the puck-mover Brian was, but he’s got a physical dimension to his game that Brian didn’t,” said general manager Ken Holland.
Lokomotiv is a perennial contender with superb ownership and sponsors who are committed to spending money to win.
Their website confirms the news.
Update: Sports.ru notes that no terms have been released for McCrimmon’s deal as of yet.
Anyway, aside from the fact that the Swedish media still needs a bit of a refresher regarding the NHL’s CBA (Expressen’s Tomas Bjorklund makes it sound like Calle Jarnkrok’s agent’s polite declining of the Wings’ qualifying offer to retain Jarnkrok’s rights—and the fact that teams have to submit qualifying offers to prospects they have yet to sign to retain their rights is news to many people in hockey, including Hakan Andersson—was choosing to “say no” to Detroit and stay with Brynas), it’s been a quiet day…
But the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan cranks up the Sunday columnist machine by discussing the fact that Detroit remains a place where free agents want to play, which is very important given the retirement of Brian Rafalski and the possible conclusions of Chris Osgood and Kris Draper’s careers:
A week ago today, Ian Jenkins’ coach, Mike Hamilton, contacted KK to inform us that the London Knights prospect and Detroit Honeybaked/Belle Tire goaltender, who had suffered a severe head injury, was still fighting for his life at the University of Michigan Hospital. By Monday morning, I received a short text message from Mr. Hamilton, stating that Ian had passed away at 7:54 AM. The family gave Ian two lasting legacies in donating his organs and starting the “Big E” Foundation, and today, Plymouth Whalers director of communications Pete Krupsky reports that Jenkins was laid to rest, and then remembered in a charity hockey game:
he hockey community cares, especially in times of tragedy.
That is the overriding theme of the Ian Jenkins Charity Hockey Game, held Saturday at Compuware Arena in Plymouth Township. Nearly 800 people and players attended the event, which featured games of junior-aged players to 1998 birthdays and younger over a four-hour period.
In case you missed it, Jenkins, considered one of the best 15-year-old goaltenders in the United States, died last Monday morning. He had suffered a severe head injury on May 19 after falling out of the bed of a pickup truck and onto pavement in Milan, according to police.
Jenkins had been drafted by the London Knights in the second round of the 2011 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection and was ready to start another chapter of his career when tragedy struck.
The entire spectrum of the hockey community paid their respects - from Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock and Ontario Hockey League Commissioner David Branch - to teammates of Jenkins. Some families and players came out just to support the event.
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.