Shanahan to Return to Wings

After speculation that he might be looking to leave for the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs, Brendan Shanahan confirmed Thursday that he will return to the Detroit Red Wings for the 2005-06 season.

Shanahan exercised his player option for the coming season. He will earn $2.4 million.

“He can do a lot of things,” said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. “He’s a veteran, he’s a leader, and he can score goals.”

Shanahan had until 5 PM Thursday to exercise his option. Had he chosen not to, he would have become an unrestricted free agent.

Wings Announce More Coaching Changes

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Thursday that associate coach Barry Smith and assistant coach Joe Kocur will not return to the team for the 2005-06 season.

One of their replacements will be Paul MacLean, who was an assistant to new Wings head coach Mike Babcock in Anaheim. The other new assistant will be announced on Friday.

MacLean spent 11 years as a player in the NHL, splitting time between Winnipeg, Detroit and St. Louis. He has been a coach in various levels of hockey since 1993.

“Paul brings a great deal of experience as player and coach,” said Babcock. “The success we’ve had in the past and the relationship we have will help us do great things in Detroit. He’s a former Red Wing and will be a great addition to our staff.”

2005-06 Schedule Announced

The Detroit Red Wings announced their schedule for the upcoming 2005-06 National Hockey League season on Wednesday.

The Red Wings will return to the ice for the first time since falling in six games to the Calgary Flames in the 2004 Western conference Semifinals on October 5 as they host the St. Louis Blues. The two teams will face off again the following night in St. Louis.

The schedule is focused around intra-division matchups, with Detroit facing Central Division foes Chicago, Columbus, Nashville and St. Louis eight times each. The Wings will play at least one “home-and-home” series against the the teams of their division. In the case of Chicago, they will play a “home-and-home-and-home” series starting in late October and leading into November.

Detroit’s opponent for their annual New Years Eve game will be the Columbus Blue Jackets. They face the rival Colorado Avalanche for the first time on November 23 at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings will get a rematch with the Flames in just their third game of the season, as Calgary visits Detroit on October 9.

The league will take a two-week break in February for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy. To make room for the Olympics, no All-Star Game will be played.

The Red Wings final regular season game will be April 18 when they visit the Nashville Predators.

Detroit announced their preseason exhibition schedule Tuesday.

They will play nine games against five opponents starting on September 19.

The complete preseason schedule is as follows, with home games in bold:

September 19, Tampa Bay, 7:30
September 21, Colorado, 7:30
September 22, Columbus, 7:00
September 23, Dallas, 7:30
September 25, Dallas, 5:00
September 27, Colorado, 7:00
September 28, Columbus, 7:30
September 30, Toronto, 7:30
October 1, Toronto, 7:00

Wings Waive Three

The Detroit Red Wings placed three veteran players on waivers today, clearing a way for a buyout of their contracts.

If no other NHL team claims Derian Hatcher, Darren McCarty or Ray Whitney within 24 hours, they will be eligible for buyouts that would render them unrestricted free agents.

As part of the transitional phase of the NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement, a one-time buyout period is in effect until Friday at 5:00 PM EDT. Any player that is bought out in this period cannot play for the team that bought him out during the 2005-06 season.

Hatcher spent 2003-04 with Detroit after starting his career with the Minnesota North Stars and following that franchise to Dallas. He was limited to only 15 games for the Red Wings after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

McCarty broke into the league with the Red Wings in 1993-94 and has been with the team ever since. A member of the famous “Grind Line,” McCarty has been a fan favorite but has had several injuries in recent years.

Whitney joined the Red Wings for the 2003-04 campaign after spending time with the San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets. He finished second in scoring for Detroit during the 2004 playoffs, with his seven points trailing only Robert Lang‘s nine.

Wings to Pick 19th in 2005 Entry Draft

As the National Hockey League relaunched itself on Friday after a 310-day lockout, it was announced that the Detroit Red Wings will pick 19th overall in the coming 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

The 2005 draft order was determined by a weighted lottery, as the cancellation of the 2004-05 meant that no league standings were available to set the order.

A serpentine draft order will be used, meaning that the order will be reversed for consecutive rounds. The team picking first overall – the Pittsburgh Penguins – will pick last in the next round. The team picking last in the first round – the Tampa Bay Lightning – will pick first in the second round.

The first round draft order is as follows:

1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
3. Carolina Hurricanes
4. Minnesota Wild
5. Montreal Canadiens
6. Columbus Blue Jackets
7. Chicago Blackhawks
8. Atlanta Thrashers
9. Ottawa Senators
10. Vancouver Canucks
11. Los Angeles Kings
12. San Jose Sharks
13. Buffalo Sabres
14. Washington Capitals
15. New York Islanders
16. New York Rangers
17. Phoenix Coyotes
18. Nashville Predators
19. Detroit Red Wings
20. Philadelphia Flyers
21. Toronto Maple Leafs
22. Boston Bruins
23. New Jersey Devils
24. St. Louis Blues
25. Edmonton Oilers
26. Calgary Flames
27. Colorado Avalanche
28. Dallas Stars
29. Florida Panthers
30. Tampa Bay Lightning

Lockout Over: NHL Resumes as Owners Ratify CBA

After 310 days, the longest work stoppage the National Hockey League has ever seen has come to a close. With a unanimous vote by the Board of Governors, the league accepted the proposed collective bargaining agreement and ended its lockout of the players.

The NHL Players’ Association approved the deal on Thursday, with approximately 87% of the players in favor.

“With the ratification of the CBA, let me be the first to welcome you to our new season,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

The new deal includes a salary cap at $39 million for the 2005-06 season. Each team will be required to spend $21.5 million on player salaries. Players will contribute 15% of their paychecks to an escrow fund to limit them to 54% of league revenues.

When the league returns in the fall it will be with a new look – a new silver and black league logo was unveiled Friday morning – and new rules.

Every game played will end with a winner and a loser, as a 3-man shootout will be used to break ties after a 4-on-4 overtime. The red line will be ignored to eliminate the old two-line pass rule. Goalies’ ability to play the puck will be restricted and their equipment smaller. Undoing recent rule changes, the nets will be moved two feet closer to the end boards and the “tag-up” offsides rule will be brought back.

Additionally, NHL players will take part in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, and the 2010 Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Players Accept CBA

The NHL Players’ Association voted ratify the proposed collective bargaining agreeement with the National Hockey League on Thursday, clearing the way for the league to return to the ice this fall.

The league’s Board of Governors will vote on acceptance of the deal on Friday. With the proposal seeming to be extremely owner-friendly, it is highly unlikely that it won’t be ratified.

The results of the NHLPA’s vote were announced at a joint NHL-NHLPA press conference, where league commissioner Gary Bettman referred to the deal as an “important catalyst in bringing us forward.”

NHLPA chief executive Bob Goodenow, who opposed most of the proposed deal but negotiated it on behalf of the players anyway, said that time would tell what view would be taken on the CBA.

“I think history will show that this was an inflection point and a launching pad for all aspects of the game,” he said.

It was clear that many players were unhappy with the deal, as well, but were willing to accept it if it meant getting back to playing the game.

“It’s time to move forward. We can’t drag our feet any longer,” said former Detroit Red Wing Keith Primeau, now of the Philadelphia Flyers. “More than anything, guys just want to return to playing.”

Once the owners have gone through the formality of a vote on the deal, the league will conduct a draft lottery to determine the order of the NHL Entry Draft, to be conducted in Ottawa on July 30. The results of the lottery will be announced at a press conference at 4:00 PM EDT.

Done Deal?: NHL and NHLPA Reach Tentative Agreement

After 301 days of the NHL’s lockout of the NHLPA, the two sides finally came to an agreement on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. The Board of Governors will vote on ratification of the deal on Thursday, while the NHLPA members will vote next Tuesday.

Details of the new agreement will not officially be available until after the deal is ratified but several reports – sometimes conflicting – have announced the major points of the proposal.

The NHLPA’s offer of a 24% salary rollback will be accepted, lowering all existing contracts to 76% of their original values.

A team-by-team payroll range of $21 million to $39 million with player costs (including salaries, bonuses and insurance) not to exceed 54% of league-wide revenue. The payroll range will move up and down, tied to that 54%.

Unrestricted free agency will be granted at age 27 by the end of the deal. In 2005, the existing age of 31 will be used, it will drop to 29 in 2006, 28 in 2007, and finally to 27 in 2008.

One report states that there will be an individual player cap of 20% of a team’s total payroll. This effectively sets an individual player cap at $7.8 million.

The deal could still be voted down by the players, as some players have recently stated that they think that the NHLPA is split evenly or even has a majority that would reject the deal. Other players, however, have declared that they would vote for a deal they knew was bad just to get back to playing.

Wings to Hire Babcock

No formal announcement has been made but TSN in Canada reports that former Mighty Ducks of Anaheim head coach has agreed to become the next head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. Babcock will replace Dave Lewis, who the Red Wings announced would not be returning to the team last week.

Babcock declined an offer for a one-year deal with Anaheim last week and was immediately linked with Detroit.

Reportedly, a contract has not been signed but the coach and the team have agreed to the terms it will include.

Lewis Out as Wings’ Coach

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland announced Friday that Dave Lewis would not return as Detroit’s head coach for the expected 2005-06 season. While no replacement was named, it appears highly likely that the Red Wings will hire former Anaheim head coach Mike Babcock, who turned down an offer from the Mighty Ducks for a one-year deal on Thursday.

Lewis has been behind the Detroit bench since 1987, first as an assistant under Jacques Demers, Bryan Murray and Scotty Bowman, then as head coach. He was on the staff when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002.

As an assistant, Lewis was known as the person players could talk to about coaching decisions made by Bowman. During his tenure as head coach, many questioned whether or not he was too approachable and not authoritative enough.

“I worry that Dave has made the transition as much as he could from assistant to head coach,” Holland explained. “Of course, how could Dave grab their attention? He’s been here forever. I think he did an unbelievable job of making the transition, but you can only go so far.”

While Holland confirmed that Babcock “is not hired,” he did say that he has “had conversations with Mike Babcock and his adviser over the past week” but that “[he has] other people in mind that [he has] not talked to.”

Newly-named Anaheim general manager announced that he had not been contacted by Detroit about hiring Babcock, an unnecessary move as Babcock’s contract – as well as Lewis’ – ended on June 30. He nonetheless declared that if the Red Wings hired Babcock, it would be a “shocking breach of etiquette.”

No announcements were made regarding associate coach Barry Smith and assistant Joe Kocur, whose contracts also expired on June 30.