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Brian Rafalski’s retiring today, but the Red Wings’ blueline-first blueprint remains the same

At 11 AM this morning, the Red Wings will air a press conference announcing that Brian Rafalski is retiring at 36 years of age on DetroitRedWings.com (if their feed is wonky, the Detroit News and probably Fox 2, WDIV and several other outlets will stream the presser), and while Ken Holland and Brian Rafalski are supposed to make an “announcement” about Rafalski’s “future,” the fact that the Wings’ website has already posted a 62-image gallery stating, “Rafalski Retires, May 25, 2011.”

We know what’s going to happen today, but we don’t know what’s going to happen afterward as the Wings attempt to replace a 45-to-55-point producing, puck-moving defenseman who blazed the trail for every NHL defenseman with loads of talent but sub-5’10” size younger than Rafalski. Three Stanley Cups and two silver Olympic medals proved the mettle of a borderline HOF’er on his legacy alone, and it was writing a blurb about the Wings’ 1997 Stanley Cup championship for KK’s Patrick Hoffman‘s other venture, the Red Light District Hockey Blog, that made me realize that the Red Wings will do one and only one thing with Rafalski’s $6 million in cap space:

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Red Wings afternoon news: Osgood ‘underrated,’ Rafalski and Abdelkader talk, London game details

In case Kukla’s Korner is getting too Red Wing-y, let’s condense talk about Brian Rafalski’s retirement, the Wings’ desire to move to the Eastern Conference and the Wings’ exhibition game in London, Ontario to one place while adding a few tidbits to the mix:

Guism’s Neil Bulson argues that Chris Osgood is the sixth-most-underrated athlete, ever, in any sport:

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Red Wings, Flyers to tangle in London [Ontario] next fall

Well this is different, per Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia’s Tim Panaccio:

This time, it’s not going to be the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Ottawa Senators, but the Detroit Red Wings. The Flyers’ annual preseason visit north of the border to London, Ont., will see them face the Red Wings at John Labatt Centre on Sept. 22.

“London truly is our home away from home,” said Comcast-Spectacor President and Global Spectrum chairman Peter Luukko. “The fan support here in London for the Flyers is outstanding. The John Labatt Centre is a fantastic hockey arena that our players enjoy visiting. To be playing the Detroit Red Wings here in London is a dream match-up for hockey fans in Southwestern Ontario and Eastern Michigan. It’s going to be a terrific night of hockey in the City of London.”

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No news is no news regarding the Red Wings’ realignment hopes

MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the Red Wings continue to hope that the NHL will eventually allow them to move to the Eastern Conference:

The Atlanta Thrashers appear destined for Winnipeg, but the move won’t enable the Detroit Red Wings to shift to the Eastern Conference—at least for the 2011-12 season.

“We’re not moving anywhere next year, that’s a fact,” Red Wings senior vice president Jimmy Devellano said Monday.

Could the Red Wings move to the East in 2012-13?

“We’ve got our fingers and toes crossed,” Devellano said.


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Red Wings confirm that Brian Rafalski’s retiring

Well that’s that, then, via DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose [edit: via RedWingsFeed, the Wings’ website has posted a gallery of 62 images confirming Brian Rafalski’s retirement as of May 25th]:

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and Brian Rafalski will host a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the veteran defenseman’s future with the organization.

The conference will take place at 11 a.m. EDT from inside the Olympia Club at Joe Louis Arena. Fans can watch the conference via a LIVE VIDEO STREAM here on DetroitRedWings.com.

An undrafted player coming out of the University of Wisconsin, Rafalski fine-tuned his skills in Europe before returning to North America where he enjoyed 11 NHL seasons—including four with the Red Wings. He was a two-time All-Star and won the Stanley Cup three times, two of which were with the New Jersey Devils in 2000 and 2003. Rafalski also had an excellent international playing career, winning two Olympic silver medals with Team USA at Salt Lake City (2002) and Vancouver (2010). In Vancouver, Rafalski was named the best defenseman of the tournament, finishing with four goals, four assists and a plus-7 rating in six games.

Rafalski was born and raised in suburban Detroit and attended Southfield Christian High School. He and his wife, Felicity, have three sons.

Update: MLive’s Ansar Khan says that the Wings want to bring Brendan Smith into the fold next season..

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Brian Rafalski’s likely retirement leaves the Red Wings’ blueline in flux

At this point, the determination as to whether Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski is in fact retiring, as reported on Monday, comes down to a roll call:Sportsnet (Nick Kypreos broke the story), TSN, ESPN’s Scott Burnside, the Sporting News’s Craig Custance, USA Today’s Kevin Allen, and, this morning, MLive’s Ansar Khan Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness all saying that Rafalski will retire, citing “a source” or “sources,” with a press conference expected on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan and the Free Press’s Helene St. James are sticking by Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s statement that Rafalski himself had not told Holland that he was going to retire…

Holland spoke with Rafalski last week during season-ending meetings and Rafalski told Holland he “had decisions to make.”

“I don’t really have much comment after that,” Holland said. “I haven’t talked to him since then. I know there are a lot of rumors out there, but he hasn’t told me he’s retiring. I expect to hear from him this week.”

Ditto for St. James, who noted that Holland was willing to at least suggest that the team understood that Rafalski and Nicklas Lidstrom might not return:

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Former Red Wing Domink Hasek is ‘taking a break’ from hockey—for this season

This morning, former Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek told Dennik Sport’s Miroslav Horak that he is going to take this year off from playing hockey after receiving no “interesting offers” as a 46-year-old coming off a disappointing season with Spartak Moscow of the KHL.

However, as Dominik Hasek remains Dominik Hasek, he plans on sticking with hockey, seeing where his connection with goaltending can lead him, and preparing for a comeback…during the 2012-2013 season.

The full interview’s apparently only in the print edition of the magazine, but CTK reports that Hasek says that he feels just as good physically as he did during his last season (2007-2008) with the Red Wings.

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WXYZ profiles Ian Jenkins, offers more information about charity game

WXYZ’s Tom Wait provides further information regarding the passing of Belle Tire goalie and London Knights prospect Ian Jenkins (update: the Detroit News’s David Goricki ad the Free Press’s George Sipple spoke to members of Jenkins’ immediate and extended family as well):

Here’s the text:

At just 15 years-old Ian Jenkins was rated one of the top hockey players in the country. But just a day after signing a contract to play the game he loved professionally tragedy struck. Last Thursday Ian was with some friends in Milan where the teen went to High School. He was riding in the bed of a friend’s pick-up truck when somehow the 15-year-old fell out or jumped and hit his head. Doctors at the University of Michigan Health System did all they could to save him, but on Monday morning Ian passed away.

“Friday I stayed at the hospital for six hours and all my teammates came up. We gave each other big hugs. We all had tears in our eyes,” said Trevor Hamilton, one of Ian’s closest friends and his teammate.

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More cap talk

On Saturday, SportsBusiness Journal’s Liz Mullen provided the most notable NHL-rleated “Tweets” in a long time by stating that NHL deputy commissioner BIll Daly informed the audience at the Sports Lawyers Association’s conference in Washington, DC, that the salary cap would rise to somewhere between $60.5 to $63.5 million next season, depending on whether the NHL’s revenues exceed $3 billion and/or whether the NHLPA applies its 5% cap inflator. Today, the Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey confirms the news:

The cap is based on hockey related revenue and Daly told the group, which included a number of salivating agents, that the NHL is expecting to post record revenue of close to $3 billion for the 2010-11 season. That’s an increase of more than $200 million from the previous season.

Since the CBA was reached after the 2004-05 lockout, league-wide revenues have increased by $750-800 million and the cap has increased by more than $20 million a team. The salary cap last season was $59.4 million and Daly said that it could jump to between $60.5 million and $63.5 million for next season.
But the salary cap increase won’t be good news for all teams. As the cap goes up, so does the floor. That’s the minimum amount of money a team has to pay for its players and that will create a burden for some of the NHL’s have-nots. While overall revenue is up, we continue to hear stories about major losses in Columbus, Atlanta, Long Island, Florida and, of course, Phoenix which has been kept on life support by the NHL. You might recall that the NHL owners said the lockout was necessary because the average salary had reached $1.8 million. The average salary is currently more than $2.3 million.


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Things get interesting as Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski hints at retirement

Updated ix at 11:47 PM: Per Pleiness:

A source told The Macomb Daily late Monday night that Rafalski is expected to announce his decision Wednesday during a news conference at Joe Louis Arena.

Well I hope that Nicklas Lidstrom’s going to stick around…As Paul noted, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos Tweeted that Brian Rafalski may retire from the Red Wings at 36, leaving a year left on his contract (which wouldn’t count against the cap as he signed it prior to 35 years of age, negating post-35 years if a player retires).

In a surprise if not shocking move sources tell Sportsnet the #RedWings will announce retirement of D Brian Rafalski as early as this week.
What’s more surprising #Redwings Rafalski walks away from 6M he was scheduled to earn next year. With the news look for Lidstrom to return.
Injuries the main reason #Redwings Rafalski shuts down a great career. He played throughout the play-offs without a ACL in his knee.

If that’s the knee that hasn’t had an ACL since he was 17, that’s not a surprise, but his other knee was bothering him, and his back issues have become a persistent issue.

Sportsnet has collected Kypreos’s Tweets in a report stating that Rafalski will indeed retire, and TSN says that its sources confirm that Rafalski is retiring [edit/update: the Sporting News’s Craig Custance says Rafalski will retire on Wednesday].

MLive’s Ansar Khan says that the Wings have not confirmed the news, the Detroit News is repeating the report and the Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James spoke to Wings GM Ken Holland, who suggested that Rafalski is at least considering retirement, though Holland insists that nothing’s definite by any means:

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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.


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