The Malik Report
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.
Red Wings fans, here’s a “pro tip”: familiarize yourself with Capgeek.com’s Red Wings salary cap chart. Under both the economic constraints of this CBA and the one which will hopefully be negotiated without any sort of lockout on the owners’ parts, the Wings will remain tied to the some of the decisions their management team has made going forward, and between the fact that the Wings will not tear themselves down to rebuild (would you pay to watch the Detroit Red Wings tank it for a year or three for the promise of something better half a decade from now? Me, neither) and the fact that the Wings believe in their prospects’ potential, it’s hard to believe that Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Mike Babcock, the team’s pro scouts and player mentors will sit down over the course of the next month and agree that the team needs to pawn off half a dozen players, tell Nick Lidstrom to retire (the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman told the Satellite Hotstove panel, at the 8:09 mark, that he believes Lidstrom may retire due to familial reasons as Holmstrom will retire and Lidstrom’s 2nd-oldest will go to Sweden to play hockey) and go wild in terms of making tons of trades and free agent signings.
The Red Wings’ GM seems to suggest that a combination of cautious decision-making, prospect promotions and perhaps a significant tweak or two might be all that’s in the offing for the Wings this summer in his first comments of the off-season, made to MLive’s Ansar Khan, but he is lock-step in his agreement with coach Babcock regarding his team’s relative depth:
Guest commentary: a journalism professor grades the 2011-2012 Wings’ players, coaches and management
Every once in a while, it’s good to change things up, and when readers ask me if they can weigh in with commentary of their own, I’m more than willing to oblige them. I know professor Steve Klein well, and his credentials speak for himself—as do his outspoken opinions—and here’s his take on the Wings’ disappointing 2011-2012 regular season and playoff run, including player grades (I’ll weigh in with my own in a day or two: I need to calm down, grieve a bit and pen something a little less emotionally charged than what you’re about to read) and recommendations in terms of necessary changes. His column comes with the usual blogger’s disclaimer: these opinions are his, not mine, and they stand on their own merit:
Steve Klein was sports editor of the Lansing State Journal from 1985-95 and is a life-long Detroit Red Wings fan. He coordinates the Journalism program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
Here’s the thing I like most about Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. He’s brutally honest.
Like my old Michigan State friend, Ron Mason, the all-time winningest college hockey coach, Babcock is a zero-sum guy. It’s not, “What did you do last shift for me?” Its, “What did you do at the end of the last shift for me?” And the answer better not be that you were dragging your ass to the bench because you were on the ice too long.
If this morning’s Red Wings-Predators wrap-up, posts about Mike Babcock’s take on his team’s off-season to-do list and takes on the “rebuild/reload” equation from TSN’s Bob McKenzie and the National Post’s Michael Traikos haven’t sated your desire for some closure and/or space to vent, a few more stories and videos have popped up this afternoon.
The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness leads us off by offering player and coach’s takes as to why the Wings, who Pleiness duly notes never spent that $5 million or so in cap space they possessed to add free agents and/or make trades which may have included roster players at the trade deadline, fell short against the Predators:
Regardless of whether you agree with Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s assessment that scoring and depth up front doomed the Wings—and as Shark Circle points out, Babcock had hoped that the Wings would land a top-six forward as well as a top-flight defenseman to replace Brian Rafalski when he retired last spring—or whether you believe that the Wings might be better served to not spend their summer out-spending their rivals because of CBA uncertainty, or perhaps because you believe that sacrificing some of the Wings’ roster players and/or top prospects might serve the Wings’ needs better than dipping into the free agent pool…
It’s hard to suggest that the Wings need anything less than some significant personnel changes after last night’s loss to Nashville marked the third time in three years that the Wings have failed to meet their playoff expectations in at least making the Western Conference Final.
Nick Lidstrom is going to do what he always does, which is take some time off, and when it comes time in late June or early July when it’s time to get back in the gym and have to start working again, that’s when he’ll determine whether or not he’s fit to play for next year. It comes down to how much work he’s willing to do in the off-season. He’s capable of playing. The level he played at this year, he’s still a top five or six defenceman in the NHL. For that reason, nobody thinks he’s going anywhere, but it’s possible.
If he decided to go, people would say ‘that’s it for the Red Wings, their window closed. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are getting older along with a lot of other players on their roster.’ Even if Lidstrom left, the Red Wings have something this summer they haven’t had for an awfully long time, and that is cap space.
It’s almost like the old days for Ken Holland and Mike Ilitch, and there are guys out there for Detroit to target. Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, some big name free agents. The Detroit Red Wings, whether Lidstrom is back or not, are going big-game hunting this summer, I believe.
The Detroit Red Wings boarded Red Bird III for one final flight back to Detroit after dropping a devastating, heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, earning the uncomfortable status as the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs while failing to meet their Western Conference Final-making standard for the third straight year.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock didn’t pull any punches about his team not being deep enough to make deep pushes into the playoffs anymore in his post-game press conference, and in the quick take, I know that many of you weighed in as to the direction you believe the team should take going forward, but while the Wings will clean their lockers out today or on Monday (probably today), and then undergo exit interviews…
In Nashville, Predators put second round playoff tickets on sale and, well, after slaying their dragon and self-made arch-rival in the Wings, they talked about their long-time franchise idols in the way a teenager who tore the poster of his favorite athlete off the wall when he succeeded him would: in the past tense, as Fox Sports Tennessee’s John Manasso noted:
George’s ISP has been acting up all night long, and while George is a good worker bee who wants to write the God-damned recap he’s trying to cobble together, he wants to let you know that it’s entirely possible that it might not come until the morning if his internet service provider conks out yet again, he may punt his modem all the way from Southwestern Oakland County to Barry Trotz’s backyard.
George would also like to stop talking about himself in the third person. I just want to do my thing, stay up all night and give you guys something to chew on and/or vent grief by reading and commenting upon. :shakes fist at sky:
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.