The Malik Report
If last week’s teasers and subtle message-sending by general managers, player agents and even players themselves who may or may not be playing the media to skirt tampering rules whetted your appetite for pre-draft rumors, you’re going to love this week and weekend. With the Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday, the NHL Awards on Wednesday and the Entry Draf…I mean Draft taking place on Friday and Saturday, the sparse mid-June news cycle is about to give way to a week filled with “thought balloons” and message-sending that is as subtle as a brick.
By Monday evening, TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts and the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman were talking about the intertwined nature of Rick Nash and Zach Parise’s futures, players and their agents were speaking up about the kinds of contracts they’re looking for and general manager bluster had returned to, “It’s entirely possible that the hot air issued forth over the next week could be the single greatest contributor to global warming!” (if you believe in that sort of thing) levels.
The Red Wings already spilled the beans on ticket pricing for the Red Wings-Maple Leafs Alumni game and Winter Classic, and a certain TMR reader I’ll call “Bob Rouse” informed me that the team will officially start selling those tickets to partial and full season ticket-holders between June 25th and 28th, with every STH’er allowed to purchase 2 tickets per 1 season ticket seat they call their own.
As my pal Taylor noted on Twitter, scuttlebutt out of Toronto suggests that the remaining tickets out of the 40,000 allotted to the Wings, 40,000 allotted to the Leafs and whatever other number of the 113,000 total tickets available for the event are gobbled up by the NHL and its sponsors will probably be made available to fans via a lottery later in the summer, so there will probably be some sort of public sale, but we should expect that we’re talking about something like no more than 30,000 seats made available to the general public.
Here’s what the Wings sent “Bob Rouse” (sorry, I’m bad at making up names, and I still miss Bob Rouse):
Updated 5x at 4:10 PM: the deal isn’t “official,” but it’s done. 3 years, $3.6 million per season: This was probably coming, per TSN’s Darren Dreger:
Expect San Jose Sharks to announce an agreement with veteran D-man, Brad Stuart today or tomorrow. 3 year term.
Here’s hoping that he gets a sweet deal and experiences all sorts of success…Except when he’s playing Detroit, both in the regular season and playoffs
Update: TSN’s story about the probable signing doesn’t add much to the mix.
Update #2: It’s official, per Dreger again:
Stuart agrees to 3 year contract with Sharks at $3.6 per. Takes less to sign with a team that’s a good fit.
Updated 3x at 2:31 PM: Pretty stunning news regarding the future of the Grand Rapids Griffins, per the Dallas Stars’ PR department:
Frisco, TX – Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk announced today that the club has named Curt Fraser as its assistant coach.
Fraser, 54, has spent the last four seasons as head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. While in Grand Rapids, he compiled a 146-130-40 record and is that franchise’s career coaching leader in regular season wins (146) and games behind the bench (316).
“We feel that that the depth of Curt’s experience in the game speaks for itself, including a four-year run as an NHL head coach,” said Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk. “That experience will be an invaluable asset to our organization, and his dynamic personality will be a great complement to Glen Gulutzan, Paul Jerrard and the rest of our team.”
Updated 3x at 2:20 PM: In theory, anyway, Red Wings GM Ken Holland could make some sort of significant player rights-snagging move this Friday or Saturday at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh, and two weeks from today, at 12 PM EDT, free agency begins, likely yielding serious fireworks in terms of the team’s attempts to sign at least a top-pair defenseman and a top-six forward, selling Detroit’s “program” to players and hopefully kicking some doubters to the curb in the process.
I’m pretty sure I’m allowed to quote a couple of paragraphs out of an ESPN Insider article, so we’ll begin what’s likely to be a week of discussing the ways the Wings can “fix” their roster with this from Robert Vollman’s assessment of Central Division teams’ off-season needs:
Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard may believe that his team’s commitment to excellence will still attract marquee talent to Detroit this summer, but even if the Wings land all their unrestricted free agent targets this summer, Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement—and according to Nick Barnowski, official move to Sweden on Sunday—will yield a near-unceasing chorus of, “Ding dong, the Wings are finally dead” from the MSM this summer and likely this fall.
In an NHL where pundits insist that teams must rebuild every couple of seasons to re-stock with those precious 18-23-year-olds that ensure success, the Wings have no intention of doing anything less than keeping their 21-year streak of playoff appearances intact, employing the same cadre of superstars over 30 years of age, up-and-coming prospects and support players in their late-20’s and a smattering of prospects graduating from Grand Rapids from around 23-25 years of age, but we’d better get used to the kind of talk the CBC’s Chris Iofrida used in describing the Wings as one of the most “compelling” teams to watch this summer:
Updated 2x at 6:45 PM: Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard’s at the Michigan International Speedway as a co-grand marshal of today’s “Quicken Loans 400,” and he spoke to the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff about uncertain off-season outlook, suggesting that the Wings don’t need to do much more than be the Wings to attract elite players…
As far as what the future holds for his own team, Howard was less certain. Of retired team captain defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom, Howard said. “You can’t replace Nick. It’s impossible.”
Still, they must try, but Howard wasn’t interested in speculating on the route the team might take to do so. “That’s (GM) Kenny (Holland) and (assistant GM) Jim Nill’s department,” said Howard, who didn’t plan to become actively involved in the process by reaching out and calling any potential unrestricted free agents that the team might pursue. “I don’t feel like it’s up to somebody making phone calls. If they want to be a Red Wing, they will be.”
Updated 2x: You can find the Lidstrom paper doll PDF here: This morning, Mitch Albom delivers a column that reads like he actually cares about sports again, and he does so for a reason: Albom spoke to Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom for almost two hours in what he’s calling an “exit interview” before Lidstrom heads back to Sweden, and among the many highlights, this stands out:
Question: When Yzerman retired, was there any part of you that didn’t want to be the captain? That didn’t want the pressure of that C?
Nicklas Lidstrom: Not really. No, I was hoping they were gonna ask me. I wanted the challenge. You can play all the minutes. You can play against the top players. But when you’re a captain, you’re looked upon as being something off the ice, too.
Question: Did you let them know that you wanted it?
Lidstrom: No. I never did. Kenny (Holland) kind of hinted at it, so I was hoping they were gonna ask me.
On a very strange Saturday afternoon, the Red Wings’ Twitter account notes that we’ve reached the final of four Stanley Cup anniversaries…
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: On this date in 1998, the #Wings won their ninth Stanley Cup title, sweeping the Washington Capitals in DC.
And the Wings posted a highlight clip from said Cup run to commemorate it:
Updated 2x at 10:03 AM: From having to buy out Ray Whitney to inevitably waiving goodbye to Jiri Hudler thanks to the crazy economics presented to this summer’s free agent class by a $70.3 million “upper limit,” the CBA and the salary cap have conspired to take away the Red Wings’ personnel advantages over its opponents. The cap and its goal of enforcing parity make sustaining a Wings-like level of excellence almost impossible, but thanks to superb drafting of some once-a-decade players in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, as well as the lingering presence of a once-a-generation player in Nicklas Lidstrom and some astute “bargain” signings and trades from Ken Holland and the Wings’ management, Detroit’s made the Western Conference finals three times, the Stanley Cup Final twice and have won the Cup once over the past six seasons.
Maybe even more importantly, the Wings have made the playoffs every year over the cycle of the CBA that’s about to expire, which remains an almost incredible exception to the rule, and during a summer which will make the difference between the Wings remaining just ahead of their rivals in terms of keeping that 21-year run of playoff worthiness going, the Wings are finally in position use the CBA to predate upon other teams instead of losing their drafted and/or developed players to lesser lights with more cap space to burn.
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.