Monday, July 11, 2005

Ken Holland: We Want Yzerman Back

With all the uncertainties swirling about the 2005-2006 season, the question of whether Steve Yzerman will return for a 22nd season with the Wings hasn't been the focus of many Wings fans. GM Ken Holland hopes to meet with Yzerman, 40, before the end of July and get him to return for one last season. Says Holland:
"We want him back. He's a tremendous leader, we still believe he's got some real good hockey left in him. I think he should go out playing the game on the ice."
Though it is easy to ask Yzerman to return, things will get tougher at the negotiating table. The Captain was slated to make $4.5 million last season. The NHLPA has been fighting to have those contracts counted, but the NHL is unlikely to concede on that and subject teams to even more widespread buyouts than already predicted. When Yzerman meets with Holland, it will take a balance between offering him enough money so as not to insult him and not over-doing the reputation/legacy salary. He will certainly have to take a significant pay cut - probably in the range of $1-1.5 million. Rumor is that Yzerman is unsure about returning, but wants to be guaranteed a prominent role on the team rather than become a Slava Fetisov-like figurehead on his retirement tour. Holland echoes this sentiment:
"He can make us a better team. When you think of the Detroit Red Wings, you think of Steve Yzerman. I think he should go out playing the game on the ice."
Of course Holland is referring to Yzerman's severe eye injury in the Calgary series, which has to be a factor in his return next season. Not only in that Yzerman wants to go out on his own terms, but that symptoms of the injury could affect the return. Reports of his recovering from the injury are always qualified with statements that he is still sensitive to light and still experiencing symptoms, however slight they may be. He has also become an instant advocate of the visor since the incident, and it is unclear how wearing a visor will affect his game. Yzerman is scheduled to participate in Team Canada's Olympic training camp a month from now, which will likely be the benchmark of Yzerman's decision. Having only played in charity games and low-key skates since the injury, this will be Yzerman's first real hockey in almost a year and a half. I expect him to make his decision closer to the camp, when he at least knows he has the legs to get out there and skate. --In other Wings news, we now know that Brendan Shanahan will exercise his $3 million option for next season, as was expected. The $2.28 million post-rollback is likely as good as Shanny can expect coming off a disappointing season, while also considering the top salaries will be in the neighborhood of $6 million. As for Barry Smith, Holland promises to put the good word in for the associate coach:
"I'm going to tell the next head coach that Barry has a great feel for the game, has a passion for the game. He does a great job with X's and O's and can bring to the coaching staff a very valuable trait."
The chances that Barry sticks around are about as good as Lewie accepting his scouting offer. If anything, I'd give a better chance to Joey Kocur taking up his old role as video coach for the Wings...sorry Joey. An interesting note: the Wings still list Barry and Joe as coaches on the team website, but if you check the Mighty Ducks' website they have erased Babcock and his assistants from the site. Could mean nothing, but I think it shows the Wings are still interested in bringing those guys back. If not, Babcock might bring along his assistants from Anaheim: Lorne Henning, committed Islander player and assistant coach, and Paul MacLean, who actually played for the Wings during the 1988-89 season. I wouldn't buy much stock in their arrivals yet, but it's a good time to at least learn their names. And a bit of a surprise from Chris Chelios. Chelios is discussing the possibility that he will have to shop around the NHL for a team that can afford him and his 43 years of age:
"In my position, being my age, with the (salary) cap, that pretty much gets me out. The hard thing is having to relocate the family. I want to play really badly, but it's just going to be an issue of how many teams I can play for; that's a tough thing. It's got to end somewhere...I've played for 20 years, I'm not worried about a thing. I'd love to play, but if I don't, it won't be the end of the world. I still have the (minor league) Motor City Mechanics, so I don't have to leave home."
I guess the biggest surprise is that Chelios sounds like he's not willing to accept a severe pay cut to stay with the Wings, at least if other teams are offering him more - that's my interpretation. Seems a bit early to be talking like that anyways. Also part of the surprise is that I never would've figured he would return after such a long lockout and being so old. I know in my 2005-2006 Red Wings payroll analysis, I didn't mention Chelios at all. UPDATE 7/12 7:59 am TSN:
"There is all sorts of talk that players will have to renegotiate their contracts to get underneath the salary cap...that is not going to be allowed. Players are not going to be allowed to renegotiate their contracts. They are stuck with the deal unless they are bought out."
That would kill the Wings if deferrments/re-negotiations weren't allowed...are players allowed to "donate" their money on the side back to the Wings to avoid buyouts? Unofficial re-negotiations you might say... DetNews: Wings interested in Nikolai Khabibulin and Chris Osgood


At 7/12/2005 02:10:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

UGH. The NHL is crazy if they don't allow contract renegotiations. If that's true, they must really hate the players and are out to screw them over in every way possible. What if players want to stay in their city? Will the League deny them that, even if the team wants the player too? How ridiculous. Next we'll have the NHL making trades for teams and making other personnel decisions for them. "Hmm, this year it's Carolina's turn to sweep the playoffs. How can we stack their team?"

At 7/12/2005 04:31:00 PM, Blogger Brian List said...

The only loopholes I can think of at this point is to have players make gentleman's agreements with Illitch and returning a pay check to, in effect, re-negotiate that contract - bypassing the NHL's rule against it. Like Hasek returned money last season. Or better yet, if we can't get Lidstrom to re-negotiate and are stuck with him at $7.6 million, we could sign guys like Datsyuk and Zetterberg for peanuts and have Lidstrom personally deferr his salary between Pavel and Henrik. In effect Nick paying them. For example, sign Pavel and Henrik for league minimum, and have Nick deferr $1.5 million to each out of his own pocket. This option woud get us under the cap while the first wouldn't. Any other loopholes I'm missing?


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