The Malik Report
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.
Mike Babcock reflects upon the Red Wings’ season on WBBL: Wings need top-6 forward, d-man to succeed
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to WBBL’s “Huge Show’s” Bill Simonson on Friday evening, discussing the Wings’ playoff run, Brian Rafalski’s retirement and the roster tweaks to come.
Babcock believes that injuries caught up to the Wings in their series against the Sharks, and while he suggests that the Wings’ core remains strong and that the team’s still a Cup contender, he believes that the team needs to both replace Brian Rafalski with a top-pair defenseman, and, unlike Ken Holland, Babcock believes that the Wings must bring in another top-six forward to get over the playoff hump.
Here’s a transcript of the interview:
As SportsBusiness Journal’s Liz Mullen and the Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey reported, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly stated that the salary cap could rise to anywhere between $62 to $63.5 million for the 2011-2012 season, but the final figure depends on two factors: first and foremost, the players’ share will increase if the NHL reaches $3 billion in total revenues, and Daly told Mullen and an audience at the Sports Lawyers Association’s convention that the NHL is going to exceed $2.9 billion in revenues, but he didn’t have the final numbers.
The other issues involves escrow withholdings, because the players can either agree to or choose to decline their right to increase the cap by 5%, but as the Score’s Rick Moldovayni and Forbes’ Mike Colligan suggest, the fact that players have been giving around 10-13% of their salaries back to the league because so many teams spend more real-world dollars than the cap limits them to thanks to long-term contracts whose averaged salaries drop players’ cap hits and LTIR exemptions (mostly the former):
Theoretically, the escrow effect of contracts like these will reverse a decade from now on the tail end of the deals when the cap hit exceeds actual salary paid, but a different generation of players will reap the benefits (assuming the same system is in place and the star players haven’t already retired by that time).
In a sense, the escrow tensions have pitted [Canucks goaltender Robert] Luongo and the ‘haves’ against the ‘have-nots’ of the NHL. This leads to an important and perhaps polarizing strategic choice for the NHLPA.
The Mercury News’s Mark Purdy proffers a Sharks-related column with an only ever-so-slightly-marginally Red Wings-related tidbit, but I’m posting it on TMR because, well…This may be the strangest introduction to a column about a team’s performance that you’ll ever read:
Revelations arrive at strange times. I had mine late one night in Detroit during the Sharks’ six-week playoff run. It was a revelation about repetition and how bad it can be for you, even if it makes you feel halfway good. Throughout the Sharks-Red Wings series, a gaggle of hockey journalists tended to gather in a homey, stained-wood downtown bar called The Detroiter. After the clock struck midnight, the proprietor always brought out a free, large plate of bacon for customers.
“This can’t be good for us,” someone would say as the plate was passed around the joint. Then we’d devour some bacon, anyway. And feel bad about it the next day. Then we’d go back the next night for the same thing.
Eventually, I realized that the Sharks have been trapped in the same ugly cycle. They go to the playoffs every year. They keep consuming the same meal—some early-round success—and feel somewhat satisfied until it ends with another too-early elimination. Then they feel terrible. Yet each spring, they keep going back again for another plate.
Updated with news about former Wing Mike Modano making a charity appearance in the Dallas area on Saturday: Via RedWingsFeed, there’s good news on the Chris Osgood front from the the Sporting News’s Craig Custance. The Red Wings’ back-up netminder is apparently healthy and
“He’s 100 percent healthy. He’s never felt better. He was ready to go at the end of the season,” Thompson told Sporting News.
Since the playoffs aren’t an ideal time to return to action after an extended absence, the Red Wings opted to go with Joey MacDonald as the backup behind Jimmy Howard during Detroit’s playoff run. Thompson is planning on meeting with Osgood on Tuesday to discuss his future and play some golf.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland said he expects to hear from Osgood in the next week or two regarding his possible retirement plans.
“He’s going through the internal process to decide if he has the energy and the desire and determination to play hockey again,” Holland said. “In the middle of June, we’ll look at the goalies that are out there, we’re going to try and figure out a way to be the best team that we can.”
As Custance points out, while Holland knows that his team’s youth has to be served eventually, he’s not exactly planning on letting players who Mike Babcock suggests are “vested in the company” go for change’s sake:
Updated 2x at 1:22 PM—don’t expect to see Almqvist in Grand Rapids this year: Something tells me that Capgeek.com has sources at the NHL’s central registry, because this morning, their Twitter account broke the news that the Red Wings had signed HV71 defenseman Adam Almqvist to a 3-year entry-level contract with a total of $200,000 in signing bonuses, and at 12:30 PM EDT, the Red Wings beat the Swedish press to the punch via a press release confirming the signing, as also reported by The Production Line:
RED WINGS SIGN 2009 DRAFT PICK ADAM ALMQVIST TO ENTRY-LEVEL CONTRACT
… Defenseman Has Played with the No. 1 Team in the Swedish Elite League for the Past Two Seasons …
Detroit, MI… The Detroit Red Wings today announced that defenseman Adam Almqvist has been signed to a three-year entry-level contact. As per club policy, no further details regarding this deal will be disclosed.
Updated: Per Capgeek, the Wings have signed Adam Almqvist to a 3-year entry-level deal: Aside from mentioning the news of the day—overnight, the Free Press’s Helene St. James revealed that the Red Wings want to keep assistant coach Paul MacLean in the fold, but they do plan on allowing MacLean to apply for head coaching positions…
We continue our conversation regarding the options which the Red Wings can avail themselves of in terms of attempting to “replace” Brian Rafalski’s offensive production. The Hockey News’s Adam Proteau argued that adding grit to the blueline and simply expecting the Wings’ incumbents to fill the void while using Rafalski’s $6 million worth of cap space on a back-up goaltender and a bottom-six forward, and Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji suggested that the Wings may and probably do hope that Brendan Smith can prove his NHL readiness in training camp and join the team, adding a little more offensive pop while working into the lineup as Jakub Kindl did this season.
GM Ken Holland does believe, however, that the Red Wings will use most of Rafalski’s cap hit to pursue an offensive defenseman as the team believes that the best way to play defense remains cycling the puck in the offensive zone, and as such, puck-moving defensemen are foundational players for Detroit. Holland told the Detroit News’s Bob Wojnowski that he plans on spending wisely while acknowledging that the crop of defensemen who will reach the market will probably be a thin one:
The Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James delivers something of a late-night bombshell: the Red Wings have already chosen to part ways with assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, she reports that the team would like to re-sign Paul MacLean as Mike Babcock’s other assistant, but Maclean wants to “test the market” regarding potential head coaching positions:
“We’ve offered him a contract,” general manager Ken Holland said this week of MacLean. “We’re prepared to sit tight for a bit. He’s hoping to get an opportunity to interview with some of the head-coaching jobs available.”
Dallas, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ottawa are all looking for bench bosses. MacLean, 53, interviewed last summer with Columbus, which ended up hiring Scott Arniel. Holland said no team has called to ask permission to speak with MacLean, but it’s not uncommon for teams to wait until June before looking at candidates.
The Wings parted ways last week with assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, who took over when Todd McLellan left to take the head-coaching job in San Jose three years ago. They have yet to interview any replacements.
Okay, we heard the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau argue that the Red Wings need not replace Brian Rafalski’s offensive contributions this afternoon, and while Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji believes that the Wings will probably go the free agency and/or trade route, she also offers the theory that the Wings could simply rely upon Brendan Smith coming up from Grand Rapids and contributing as a regular roster player. Chris Chelios, now the Wings’ mentor to its defensive prospects (Chelios suggested that Doug Janik, Smith and Brian Lashoff are in the call-up mix while praising Jonathan Ericsson on the Sean, Terp and Killer Show last Friday), offered this take on Smith’s progress made with the Griffins:
“At points of the season in the American League there was no one better on the ice,” Chelios said. “Him and Derek Meech were a step above everybody. But then you look at Brendan some games and he looks his age and plays his age. Detroit’s known for bringing guys along slowly to the Wings. Can he play in the NHL? I think he’s got all the tools and skills. It’s just a matter of now with this spot opening up with Rafi, depending on who they try and replace him with, he might get the opportunity now. It’s a big hole to fill. Eventually I think they’re looking at a guy like Brendan Smith. He’s a power play, penalty kill guy, a 25-minute-a-game guy. So maybe this might wake him up a little bit this summer, he’ll work a little harder.”
General manager Ken Holland said no roster spots will be awarded automatically.
“Is Jakub Kindl ready for a bigger role? Is Brendan Smith ready to play in the NHL?” Holland said after Rafalski’s news conference. “These are things we’re going to have to find out.”
As Red Wings GM Ken Holland discussed the implications of Brian Rafalski’s early retirement in terms of building the Wings’ blueline going forward, he never suggested that the Wings would overpay for an Ehroff, Wisniewski, Bieska, Pitkanen, etc., suggesting to MLive’s Ansar Khan that it’s entirely possible that the Wings could sign two defensemen if they wish to spread their salary-capped dollars around. That being said, the Wings do believe that the team needs to replace Rafalski’s offensive production, which kind of makes the theory posited by the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau a moot point:
The Red Wings had no trouble with their offense this year, finishing second in the league in goals-for per game (3.13). On the other hand, their goals-against average was considerably worse (2.89 goals per game, 23rd in the NHL). They don’t need a puck-moving, offense-generating type. They need a defensive defenseman, someone you wouldn’t have to break the bank on and pay the same amount as Rafalski.
I mean, what, are you going to spend $5 million of your cap space on Joni Pitkanen? He’s one of the top unrestricted free agent blueliners on the market, but here’s what one veteran hockey observer recently said about him:
“There’s a bit of a misunderstanding about this player,” said an NHL GM, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I don’t think he’s as much of a high-end offensive player as he is an all-around, puck-moving guy. I guess if he played for Washington or one of those high-powered teams, 40 or 50 points (a season) wouldn’t be out of the question. But if you’re expecting him to carry the load on your power play or be your big point guy, I don’t think that’s him.”
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.