Red Wings Offseason Injuries Adding Up

Just hours after it was announced that Red Wings’ defenseman Niklas Kronwall would miss the World Cup of Hockey with an injury, another Red Wing and a Detroit prospect were revealed to have had surgery and could miss the start of their seasons.

Forward Tomas Jurco injured his back while training and prospect defenseman Vili Saarijarvi of the Mississauga Steelheads had wrist surgery.

By losing the start of his season, Saarijarvi will miss his return to Flint on October 14, as well as his only games in Saginaw, Sarnia, and Windsor.

Jurco’s injury – combined with that of Teemu Pulkkinen – could temporarily help clear up Detroit’s logjam at forward.

New Las Vegas Team: Desert Knights?

Since stumbling onto one of the possible names for Las Vegas’ new NHL team – the Las Vegas Nighthawks – I’ve been looking out for other interesting domain registrations that could be tied to the team.

At the time, team owner Bill Foley confirmed that Nighthawks – as well as Red Hawks and Desert Hawks – had been registered by the team and that more registrations were coming. He’s since clarified that Nighthawks is the backup name and that another identity has been chosen, one that also includes the word “knight” or “night.”

Last Thursday, a trio of domains were registered that piqued my interest, containing a new name that hadn’t been mentioned before.

Las Vegas Desert Knights.

Unlike the registrations for the Nighthawks, Red Hawks, and Desert Hawks domain names; lasvegasdesertknights.com, vegasdesertknights.com, and desertknightshockey.com were private registrations. That means that there’s nothing directly tying them to the Las Vegas organization. The team did not respond to a request for comment.

Why do I think this might be the name, then?

The domains are registered through Moniker Privacy Services. While the fact that anyone can use that service means I don’t know for certain that they belong to Foley, Moniker just happens to be the registrar through whom NHL.com is registered. Hardly conclusive but an intereresting coincidence.

More importantly, Foley said that further registrations were coming and this set of domain names is the only one I’ve seen that hits the intersection of hockey, Las Vegas, contains the word (k)night, and is not obviously a domain speculator.

We know the team name has been decided on. It would be bad business for them to not register related domains, as leaks become more likely with more people in the know. They’d be setting themselves up to have the domains snatched out from under them.

It’s possible that this is a domain speculator and either the actual name hasn’t been registered yet or I’ve missed it. I just think it’s more likely that Las Vegas Desert Knights is the new team name. Call this educated speculation.

S/T to Jenny Jensen for noticing that NHL.com also uses Moniker.


Update (8/26, 9:40 PM): Per Amber Dixon of NBC Las Vegas, Bill Foley has confirmed that he purchased the Desert Knights domains.

It’s important to note that while he confirmed the purchase of the domains, he did not confirm that Desert Knights will be the team name.  That said, it’s getting to be very late in the game for registering contingency domains.

Kronwall Out of World Cup

The National Hockey League announced today that Team Sweden has replaced injured defenseman Niklas Kronwall of the Red Wings with Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

The news comes as somewhat of a surprise as, while Kronwall had been recovering from a knee injury, Detroit general manager Ken Holland declared in an interview on NHL.com yesterday that, “I talked to Kronwall the other day and he feels a lot better.”

Obviously “better” is a relative term.  If I were the Swedes, I’d rather have Lindholm than Kronwall anyway, so they might be taking advantage of Kronwall’s past injury to make that switch.

Reviewing Gordie: The Legend of Mr. Hockey

I was recently asked to review the Detroit Free Press’ Gordie: The Legend of Mr. Hockey.  Due out in a couple weeks, the book is a collection of stories about Gordie Howe‘s career and a celebration of his life.

I say “a collection of stories” because it’s not a single, chronological narrative.  It doesn’t read like a standard biography.

Starting with an obituary by Mitch Albom and coverage of Howe’s visitation at Joe Louis Arena and his funeral, it moves on to a brief biography of his playing years in the context of his recent death.

These aren’t new or exciting stories.  If you were paying any attention last June, you’ve already read some version of them.  They are a fitting tribute, however, and a beautiful read.

From there it’s on – somewhat jarringly – to the debate about Howe’s controversially stem-cell treatment in 2014.  Then to anecdotes about Howe from the Freep’s writers and Howe’s contemporaries, and quotes from Howe himself.

The book closes with excerpts from Mark Howe‘s book, Gordie Howe‘s Son, and from the 1999 Free Press book, Century of Champions, before a look at Howe’s single-shift appearance with the International Hockey League’s Detroit Vipers and a recap of his career statistics.

The knock on this is that it’s structured like a coffee table book but it’s a paperback, with the result something more like a Sports Illustrated collector’s edition.

Of course, like those SI issues, collectors of Red Wings memorabilia will want this on their bookshelves.

As I said, you won’t find anything new here.  My favorite part was the Mark Howe piece, which was just an excerpt from another book.  These aren’t new stories but the value is having them collected in one place.

Gordie: The Legend of Mr. Hockey, will be available on September 1.

On Las Vegas’ NHL Team Name: Nighthawks?

I was chatting this morning with SportsLogos.Net founder Chris Creamer, spit-balling ideas about the name of the NHL’s Las Vegas expansion franchise, when I stumbled onto something interesting.

On Tuesday, team owner Bill Foley was on Sportsbook Radio and SI (among others) picked it up.

But the name is going to have … Knights somewhere in some fashion, some way. Or, there’s one particular animal, a bird, that we have available to us that we might use.

I ignored it when it first came across my Twitter feed.  Frankly, I didn’t care that much.  This morning, though, I started thinking about it and ran down Wikipedia’s list of birds native to Nevada.

Some of names just don’t make any sense for a hockey team to use.  The Las Vegas Trumpeter Swans?  Las Vegas Wood Storks?  No thanks.

Las Vegas Goldeneyes?  Maybe in the 1990s (looking at you, Toronto Raptors).  Las Vegas Canvasbacks?  Hrm.

Las Vegas Nighthawks?

That’s a little too perfect.  A bird native to the state.  The nickname of the F-117, which was tested at nearby Nellis Air Force Base.  A word for a person up late at night, something Las Vegas is known for.

So I checked to see if the domain lasvegasnighthawks.com was available, thinking that I might squat on it if it was, just in case.  It turned out that it wasn’t available.  In fact, it was registered to Black Knight IP Holding Company, LLC, one of the many realms of Foley’s empire.

Domains aren’t any kind of be-all, end-all – anyone can register one for whatever reason – but it does seem to show that Foley’s organization was thinking about Nighthawks.  Creamer’s further research found a small handful of other names that the team might have been considering.  It seems as though no trademarks have been filed, so they can always switch direction.

That said…  Foley said a bird that also includes (k)night in its name?  Nighthawks seems to be a perfect fit.


Update, 10:45 PM: I was on KLAS in Las Vegas tonight to talk about this.  They confirmed that Nighthawks, Red Hawks, and Desert Hawks have all been trademarked and that two other names are pending.


Update, 8/12/2016 – 3:45 PM: I’ve already discussed this on Twitter but, for the sake of completeness, I figured I’d circle back to this post.

For whatever reason, it would appear the names we found are now off the table.

Shanahan in The Players Tribune

Malik and WIIM already shared former Red Wing Brendan Shanahan‘s mailbag in The Players’ Tribune today but neither touched on the final note of the piece, which I think is absolutely fantastic.

What is the worst attempt at chirping/trash talking you’ve seen on the ice? — u/DrCoconutsss

I remember when I was in Detroit, Sean Avery stood up as Joe Sakic was skating by our bench. Sean was a young, enthusiastic hockey player who was well liked by us old guys, and as you might know, was known for trash talking. But when he stood up and yelled, “Hey Sakic!” Brett Hull grabbed him by the back of his sweater and yanked him down on the bench. Then he said, and I’ll never forget this, “You are not allowed to speak to Mr. Sakic.” And then Sean looked down the bench at the rest of the boys and we all just sort of nodded.

Red Wings Sign Mrazek to Two-Year Deal

Per Elliotte Friedman, the Red Wings have signed goalie Petr Mrazek to a two-year contract.

That’s a $4 million AAV, which is a solid deal for the Red Wings except for the fact that they have Jimmy Howard carrying a $5,291,666 cap hit as a backup.

With the deal, the Red Wings managed to avoid arbitration, something the team takes pride in.  It would have been their first “real” arbitration hearing (the hearing for Jiri Hudler in 2009 was a formality as he’d already bolted for the KHL) in two decades.

Mrazek will still be a restricted free agent when the deal ends, giving him time to prove himself as a starter and the Red Wings time to dump Howard.

Red Wings Sign DeKeyser to Six-Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings signed defenseman Danny DeKeyser to a six-year contract on Tuesday.  In agreeing to the deal, the sides avoided a potentially-contentious arbitration meeting scheduled for Thursday.

The contract breakdown is as follows:

With DeKeyser signed, the Red Wings’ top concern becomes goalie Petr Mrazek, who is scheduled for an arbitration meeting on Wednesday.

My concern with the DeKeyser deal is that, once again, Ken Holland is giving a player long-term money based on his potential, not what he’s proven.

$5 million per season is #2 defenseman money.  I think DeKeyser is the best defenseman on this team, which isn’t saying much.  I think he could be a top defenseman eventually.  I do not think he’ll be worth $5 million in the 2016-17 season.

Giving out contracts like this is a gamble.  Maybe by the second year, he’s taken a step forward and become a legitimate #1 defenseman and it’s a bargain for the rest of the deal.  If not, though…  This is how you get healthy scratches making $2 million (the now-departed Jakub Kindl).

Former Red Wing Richards Retires

We knew heading into the offseason – and it became even more apparent with Detroit’s moves on July 1 – that Brad Richards wasn’t going to be returning to the Red Wings for a second season.  It turns out that he won’t be returning to the NHL at all.

His final season can only be described as disappointing but it had its highlights.  He’ll forever be the guy who helped the Red Wings punch the Avalanche in the throat in Colorado’s own outdoor game.

Revisiting the Myth of “Playing the Kids”

It was a summer that saw the Red Wings swing and miss on a free agent signing that would have filled a massive hole in their roster.  The team’s blueline corps was looking ineffective.  Fans were clamoring to see more of the exciting forward prospects in the system but there was no room for them on the roster.

It was 2012.

I wrote then about how the team needed defense but instead had a glut of forwards.  Unlike then, now there’s actually talk of swapping some of the forward depth for defensive help.  Maybe they can actually do that, but no trade they do for a defenseman is going to clear up the logjam they have at forward.

On April 21, as the Red Wings closed out their season in Tampa with a loss to the Lightning, they had 14 forwards on the roster.  Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen were healthy scratches.  Andreas Athanasiou was in the lineup.  So were the since-departed Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards, and Joakim Andersson.

Red Wings’ brass implied that there would be a battle for roster spots up front in the aftermath of another early playoff exit.  With two top-six forwards and a fourth-liner gone, there would seemingly be plenty of opportunity.

Then, when free agency opened on July 1, the Red Wings signed two top-six forwards and a fourth-liner.

Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin, and Frans Nielsen are locked in as four of the top six forwards.  One of Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar might be traded but probably not both, so there’s five.  Darren Helm or Tomas Vanek likely makes the sixth, with the other dropping to the third line with Riley Sheahan.  Your fourth line is the returning Drew Miller, the extended Luke Glendening, and the recently-signed Steve Ott.

That’s one roster spot on the third line open.  Athanasiou.  Pulkkinen.  Jurco.  Anthony Mantha.  Tyler Bertuzzi.  Tomas Nosek.  Martin Frk and Mitch Callahan have to clear waivers.  Hell, throw Eric Tangradi and Louis-Marc Aubry in the mix.  That’s ten players (okay, realistically five to seven) fighting for one roster spot.  That’s not even mentioning Dylan Sadowy or Evgeny Svechnikov.  That is not opportunity.

Opportunity would have been letting Helm walk.  Letting Miller go.  Not signing Ott.  Not extending Glendening.

Vanek takes the second line spot.  The third line is Sheahan with Mantha and Pulkkinen or Jurco.  The fourth line is Athanasiou with Bertuzzi and whichever of Pulkkinen or Jurco that’s not on the third line.  Some combination of Glendening (who, without that extension, isn’t as cemented into the lineup), Nosek, Frk, and Tangradi provide your depth/healthy scratches.


Let’s go back to the trade for a defenseman plan.  This is not going to be a fantasy hockey quantity-for-quality deal.  No one is going to take Jurco and Pulkkinen and Frk for a top-pairing blueliner.  This theoretical deal starts with Nyquist or Tatar.  Maybe another prospect forward gets included but more likely Ryan Sproul or Xavier Ouellet or Nick Jensen.

That deal would help solve the Wings’ defensive problems but it does not suddenly clear up the logjam at forward as well.