The Malik Report
At 11 AM today, at Joe Louis Arena, we’ll finally start to get some answers as to what contributed to the Detroit Red Wings’ earliest playoff ouster since 2006 from the players themselves, and while this only represents the start of the Wings organization’s self-assessment and postmortem, if you will—the players will undergo physicals and exit interviews with the coaches and management, and then the coaching staff, management, pro and amateur scouts will engage in slates of meetings to determine the team’s off-season strategies in terms of their plans for the Entry Draft, re-signing unrestricted and restricted free agents (and prospects), possible trade acquisitions and, of course, free agent targets, so by the time the team finally determines what the hell went wrong and how the team will try to learn from its mistakes and improve over the short and long term…
According to MLive’s Ansar Khan, the Red Wings actually gave assistant GM Jim Nill permission to speak to the Montreal Canadiens, but in the last year which Nill has a non-competition clause in his contract, Nill declined an invitation to become the Canadiens’ general manager:
The opportunity to become a general manager, especially for a storied franchise like the Montreal Canadiens, was enticing to Jim Nill. But Nill, the assistant GM of the Detroit Red Wings, passed on the chance. He felt this was not the ideal time for the move, due to an illness in his family.
“I had two great talks with Montreal; I was interested, they were interested,’’ Nill said. “But it’s not the right time.’‘
Nill has four years remaining on his contract, with different out clauses each season.
“My goal is to become a general manager,’’ Nill said. “There will be opportunities down the road.’‘
If you thought that NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan would at least take his playoff lumps without insisting on delivering the self-aggrandizing interviews which his predecessor, Colin Campbell, chose to engage in after the fact to insist that he was in fact doling out only mildly-biased discipline, well…USA Today’s Kevin Allen allowed Shanahan to essentially go a #Webering:
“I asked (everyone),” Shanahan told USA TODAY Sports, “Did you ever sit in a dressing room in the playoffs, and say, ‘I was going to play this one straight tonight, but Shea Weber didn’t get suspended so I’m going to go to a completely different planet and go off the rails?’”
Shanahan, in his first season as the NHL’s supplemental discipline guru, doesn’t believe there is any link between his Weber decision and the wild first round that has resulted in him handing out nine suspensions, including a 25-game suspension to the Phoenix Coyotes’ Raffi Torres on Saturday.
“It’s a convenient theory after the fact,” Shanahan said. “We don’t think people are way off base to think it should have been a one-game suspension because we considered that.”
Continued, at some length, including this gem describing his decision to fine Weber $2,500 because Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg did not sustain a concussion:
“If you look at analogies from society’s legal system, there are penalties for conspiracy to commit murder that aren’t as severe as the penalties for murder,” Shanahan said.
Despite MLive’s Ansar Khan’s assertion that “this is the year,” if you will, that Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom will finally retire, I’d prefer to not join that bandwagon until Lidstrom tells us as much. The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff has just penned a more substantial article along the same lines, and while I’m going to post it here…
As a Red Wings fan who’s already distraught about his team’s earliest playoff exit in six years, as a Red Wings fan who knows that we won’t hear a peep from Lidstrom until mid-June, as usual, and as a Red Wings fan who knows that, should Lidstrom actually call it quits, there’s nothing the Wings can do about it until the draft (where they can begin exploring the trade and/or, “We can’t sign our guy, so give us a draft pick or two and we’ll give you his rights until July 1st” markets), and, more importantly, July 1st (and it’s anything but a “sure thing” that Zach Parise, Ryan Suter or any other player will end up not re-signing with the teams who currently hold their rights, so who get so worked up about pre-ordering jerseys in April?).
Updated at 7:21 PM: USA Today’s Kevin Allen reports that Jimmy Howard and Justin Abdelkader will join Team USA: Just after DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose penned the article which this blog entry focuses upon, the Wings’ list of World Championship participants increased: in addition to Tomas Tatar (Slovakia), Valtteri Filppula (Finland), Jonathan Ericsson (Sweden) and the subject of Roose’s article, one Jakub Kindl (Czech Republic), Expressen’s Gunnar Nordstrom reports that Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen will join Ericsson on the host Swedes’ roster.
Zetterberg told Expressen’s Mattias Ek that he’s both very excited about the tournament which he’s leaving for on Tuesday, and that—and this is interesting—he believes he can play for at least nine more years in the NHL, while Franzen told Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman that he hopes to salvage what was a somewhat challenging year by contributing to Sweden’s cause.
Update: Link fixed, sorry! Building upon last night and this morning’s slate of Red Wings discussion, today, 9.71 the Ticket’s Dennis Fithian and Scott Anderson weigh in, the classic Monday morning gut-punch “quarterback” in Ryan Lambert has offered his take on the old Wings’ old problems because they’re so old, I’m not even going to comment on this, and then…
MLive’s Ansar Khan offers ten takes on where the Wings go from here, and he leads off with a bombshell—a bombshell repeated by Larry Murphy and hinted at by Ken Daniels:
1. Will Nicklas Lidstrom return? My hunch is he will retire. It is the first time I have had that feeling, after expecting him to return for the past several seasons. He has played 20 seasons, a milestone that was important to him. He turns 42 on Saturday and has accomplished everything from a team (four Stanley Cups) and an individual standpoint (seven Norris Trophies). Is he motivated to train long and hard over the summer for another season?
Continue reading if you want to get Khan’s takes on Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, Jakub Kindl, Brad Stuart and the team’s free agency plans.
Despite almost every pundit’s insistence that Nicklas Lidstrom makes their Lady Byng Trophy (most gentlemanly player) ballot as one of the finalists, the Red Wings’ captain was not named> one of the three possible winners of the award, so it appears that Pavel Datsyuk, who won’t win the Sekle Trophy due to the time he missed recovering from knee surgery, will be the only NHL Awards finalist from Detroit. Via NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman:
The truly elite players are the ones who can play—and excel—in any situation. The ones who are used not only when their team needs a goal, but also when it needs to prevent a goal. The St. Louis Blues’ David Backes, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings are just those kind of players, and for that reason they have been named as finalists for this year’s Frank J. Selke Trophy, an annual award given “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”
Datsyuk is a perennial contender for the Selke, and with good reason. Besides scoring at leat 65 points for the seventh time in the last eight seasons, he was 10th in the League in faceoffs, winning 56.2 percent, while taking 32.0 percent of all Red Wings faceoffs. He was third among all League forwards with 97 takeaways. Datsyuk was second among the team’s forwards in average ice time per game at 19:34, but had a plus-21 rating and just 14 penalty minutes, the fewest of his career. He also played 1:13 per game shorthanded.
And according to Behind the Net’s QoC, Datsyuk faced the second-hardest competition among Red Wings players, behind only defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
Update: As the Free Press’s Helene St. James suggests...
Personally, if any defenseman deserved to be a finalist for the Lady Byng, I don’t know how it wasn’t Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom - and it’s a shame that his career likely will end without his ever having been recognized with it. He plays a ton of minutes, always against opposing superstars and almost never takes a penalty.
We’re not used to this kind of wait for the closure that the Red Wings’ players give the media and their fans by offering a week’s worth of quips and quotes during their locker room clean-out. The Wings at least “made a series” of their defeats against the Sharks, so the team essentially headed home and packed up their gear the next day.
This year, the Wings have chosen to delay their locker room clean-out until Tuesday, and at this point, the only definitive player news we’ve got in terms of who’s hurt, who’s not, who wants to improve and who’s still plain old pissed off comes in the form of, “Which players might not be there to speak to the press,” or who might at least be in a hurry to pack up and catch trans-Atlantic flights to join their respective countries’ World Championship teams:
Updated 4x with tons of free agency talk at 11:13 PM, enough that this is now an “evening report”: As news is rolling in via Twitter that Jiri Hudler and Jakub Kindl (per Matt Saler) will play at the World Championship for the Czech Republic, and that Jonathan Ericsson will join Henrik Zetterberg in playing for Sweden (per Matias Strozyk), Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to the Associated Press’s Larry Lage about his hopes for the Wings in terms of off-season moves, and they’re simple (link from RedWingsFeed, which confirmed that Tomas Tatar’s headed to the Worlds to play for Slovakia):
“We have tons of money and if we can use our cap space to get high-end free agents, we have a shot to get right back on top,” Babcock said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, two days after Nashville eliminated Detroit. “If we’re fortunate in free agency, we won’t have to look at going in another direction.“The standard here has always been to chase the Stanley Cup, so as a coach, I’m hoping the free-agent market helps us continue to have those goals.”
The Red Wings led the NHL in points a couple months ago, but injuries to several players led to them slipping enough to be the fifth-seeded team in the Western Conference playoffs with a tough matchup against the fourth-seeded Predators.
Updated 2x at 11:41 AM: Joe Louis Arena’s ice surface wasn’t available on Saturday afternoon, and with “WWE Smackdown” coming to town on Monday (Shea Weber hasn’t asked for tickets yet), it’s incredibly likely that the Red Wings, who flew home after their playoff ouster on Friday night, will assemble today to take their team picture on the ice, and then speak to the media while cleaning out their lockers.
From there, the Wings’ players will spend the next week or two coming to and from the Joe to have end-of-the-season physicals (Henrik Zetterberg’s the first Wing to have all but committed to heading over to Helsinki/Stockholm to play in the World Championships, telling Expressen’s Mattias Eriksson that he can leave town after his physical on Tuesday, as long as the Wings are OK with him playing at the Worlds) and exit interviews with the coaches and management.
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.