Archive for June, 2003

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Well, the Wings have done what they had to do. They picked up Dom’s option and made him their property. They had to do it because there was too much of a risk of Dom going to Colorado and they couldn’t let that happen. Dom hasn’t officially announced his return yet but at least now he won’t go anywhere else. The Wings now have to do something about CuJo.

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Some more details on Pavel’s contract: It’s 1 year, $1.5 million with bonus clauses and a club/player option for a second year at the same salary. Pavel turned down a higher offer from Ak Bars Kazan, his old Russian Elite League team who called him constantly, to stay with the Wings. It’s nice to see some team loyalty these days. While Pavel never signed with Kazan, the offer did affect negotiations and the Wings gave Pavel more than they would have. He only earned $650,000 last year. The Wings offered 4 or 5 years at a lower salary but Pavel’s agent pushed for one year at a higher salary to give Pavel a chance to make more next season and leave him free to negotiate afterward. The two sides compromised with the option year. If Datsyuk reaches certain statistical marks, the option will be his and he’ll be able to negotiate with the Wings as a restricted free agent. If he doesn’t reach the mark, the Wings get the option and can bring him back at the same salary. They won’t say what the marks are but Pavel’s agent thinks they are very fair.

— No more real news on Hasek’s return yet. I’ve come to the conclusion that Hasek is the best of the Wings’ two options.

First, he is the better goalie, year off or not. He may be out of shape and out of practice but he will be able to get that back by the playoffs. The Wings don’t need him to play great during the season, they can use Manny if they have to then. As long as he’s ready for the playoffs, that’s all that matters. It’s a gamble but with Dominik’s work ethic, I think it’s a gamble worth taking.

Second, he only has one year left on his contract, this next season. After this coming season, the CBA expires. Most people expect a lockout and a loss of the ’04-’05 season. A lockout alone will tear apart the Wings. The majority of their veteran players will either retire or go back to Europe to play there. The Wings will be a much different team for the ’05-’06 season, even if their isn’t a salary cap. I think having Hasek in net gives the Wings the best chance of winning a Cup before they become that much less of a great team.

Third, a salary cap will further rip the Wings apart. Having a goalie that costs $8 million a year when the salary cap is $32 million is not very smart. The Wings need to get rid of that $8 million now so they don’t have to after the new CBA comes into effect. Keeping Hasek and dumping Joseph will leave the Wings in a fairly good position in ’05-’06. They will have Manny Legace in net and perhaps Stefan Liv or Jim Howard backing him up. The league overall will be a more even playing field, though with much less talent. The Wings will remain competive and still have room for other players that they wouldn’t have if they keep Joseph and his $8 million contract.

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— Well, it looks like WYXT-AM (1270) was wrong. The Wings said yesterday that no deal has been done yet. They haven’t picked up their option on Hasek yet and Holland said “Very little has changed since yesterday. Nothing is done. Nothing is settled. I’m working on it.” Hopefully Holland isn’t just lying because I seriously doubt CuJo will ever want to play here again, after hearing what the deal was supposedly for. If Holland is lying, he’d better hope the deal doesn’t fall through because the Wings will be screwed. See the Detroit News for more of the same.

The Wings are serious enough to send Lewis to Austria to meet with Dom last week for a half a day (as I already said). Lewis said “Mutually we felt it was a good idea to meet. I saw Dominik. He looks good. He’s typical Dominik. He looks the same as he did when I saw him the first time. No, he did look a little different. He had a tan.”

While the Wings won’t say anything on the chances that Dom will play for them next year, Scotty Bowman will. He says “There’s a lot to be worked out, but I would say it’s a pretty good guess. I don’t think Hasek is interested in returning to play in another city. He’ll want a guarantee he’ll return with Detroit.” He also said the Wings obviously will not allow Hasek to hit the open market.

The Free Press has an obviously biased towards Hasek piece that compares Dom and CuJo.

— Apparently, the Wings are pretty close to signing prospect Jiri Hudler. He’s 19 years old, was taken in last year’s draft and was considered a steal by most experts. From what I’ve heard, he isn’t ready for the NHL, not having heard about the “balanced game” yet. He would either play for the Wings or for his Czech team but if he didn’t make the Wings and his Czech team didn’t take him back, he would play for the Griffins in Grand Rapids. Hopefully, if he does make the Wings, he’ll have the same impact Grigorenko was expected to have.

— Some mixed news for the Wings and their fans: Peter Forsberg will return to the Avs for another year, at least. This is good news because that most likely means Colorado will not sign Sergei but it’s bad news because that means Foppa will still be able to make it that much harder for the Wings to beat the Avs. Overall, I guess it’s a good thing because it means one of the best players in the league isn’t leaving in his prime.

UPDATE – 4:54 PM The Wings and Pavel Datsyuk have agreed to terms. One year with an option for a second. I’m surprised it’s only for one definite year. I would have expected the Wings to lock up Pavel for longer than that. They’re just making it harder for themselves, what happens if Pavel gets even better and demands more after the two years?

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Some big news today. I heard about it by e-mail so I will just post the whole thing here:

just heard on WXYT-AM 1270:

The Wings just announced that they had reached a deal with Hasek to bring him back contingent upon moving Cujo. It was also reported that they were in discussions with Philly to move Cujo there.

This is according to Art Regner, WXYT's ace Red Wing reporter...

nothing else was announced...

Wow. Who would we get from Philly, I wonder? Gagne, maybe? Poor Joseph. I hope Holland knows what he’s doing. Dom’s been out for a while…..

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Some more details on the Hasek situation. The Wings apparently told other teams during the draft that Joseph would be available. That’s according to other teams’ officials, the Wings have made no comment to that effect. Also, Dave Lewis is known to have met with Dominik in Austria after the Wings lost to Anaheim. These are just some indications that the Wings could be leaning towards Hasek instead of Joseph. Ted Kulfan has a good overview of the situation in the Detroit News. Something I didn’t know: Hasek has a no-trade clause too. The Freep says the Wings don’t know how open Dom is to playing for other teams and that there is almost no chance that the Wings will let him become a free agent.

If Hasek does return, the Wings would have to exercise their option no later than Monday to keep him or else he’ll become a free agent. Rob Parker of the Detroit News says the Wings should take Hasek over Joseph, hands down. I’m beginning to agree with him. Having a goalie that’s already won a Cup in net for the Wings’ last real chance at the Cup would be great. CuJo played very well but couldn’t win games for the Wings when they needed him to. Keeping Hasek all hinges on Joseph waiving his no-trade clause, which is possible. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to stick around in Detroit to back up Dominik so he hopefully would allow himself to be traded to New York or some other team out East. I’m starting to like hearing about Hasek’s return a little more but I think it would be better overall if he didn’t come back.The Detroit Free Press asks some good questions about Hasek’s possible return. It does raise some concerns.

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— Once again rumors of Hasek’s return are starting up. Supposedly, he and the Wings have been talking along those lines but no definite decision has been made. This puts the Wings in a tough spot because Joseph has a no-trade clause and they can’t just trade away Dom to anybody in the league. Not many teams can afford Dominik and his price in a trade would be too high for most also. I say, stay retired, Dom. I’d like to see you back but only in a Wings sweater and since that isn’t very likely (I doubt Curtis will waive his no-trade clause), I think you should just stay in the Czech Republic. Why Dominik couldn’t just come back after we won the Cup, when millions of fans and his whole team begged him to, I’ll never know. It’s pretty hard to forgive you for that, Dom.

The other choice the Wings have is to let Dom return to the league but not exercise the option they hold on his contract. Then Hasek would become an unrestricted free agent and free to go to Colorado and the Wings would get nothing in return. Wouldn’t that be great? I just hope the Wings don’t end up trading Hasek to the same team Sergei signs with. Meeting those two in the playoffs wouldn’t be very fun at all. Stay retired Dom!

A little more on Joseph’s no-trade clause. Word out of New York is he would be willing to do allow himself to be traded to the Rangers. That rumor is from the New York Post and Larry Brooks so it probably doesn’t have much truth to it. Cujo would be a moron and I’d lose all respect for him if he let himself go to the Rangers. He wants to win a Cup, doesn’t he? The NYP story says they’ve been “…told that should Hasek return, it would only be to play in Detroit…” Yeah, right. The Wings can’t let that happen. It’d be too much of a mess. Think Hasek-Osgood only on a much bigger scale.

UPDATE – 6:36 PM – The Stars will not offer Derian Hatcher a new contract before July 1. This is much like the situation two years ago with Dallas and Brett Hull, though Hatcher would cost the Stars more than Brett would have. Hopefully the Wings can steal another Stars player away from a team that doesn’t want him, just as they did with Hull. The Wings can only really afford Hatcher if Sergei leaves but maybe Derian will take a pay cut to come home to Detroit. We’ll see what happens but I wish the Wings could get a hold of that guy. They need some toughness and he would definitely bring it.

UPDATE – 10:25 PM – Although the Wings would not comment on the rumor before, Ken Holland confirmed today that the Wings have heard from Dom regarding a possible return to the NHL. Says Mr. Holland: “If Dominik comes back it probably will be a sticky situation.” Probably? I think it would definitely be a sticky situation, Mr. Holland.