Thoughts on the Captaincy

Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill announced today that the team would go a second consecutive season without naming a captain.

The move comes contrary to rumors that flew all summer about Detroit star Dylan Larkin being named as the successor to Henrik Zetterberg, whose playing career is over due to back issues but will remain under contract with the club for two more seasons.  While Larkin may indeed be the Red Wings next captain, that won’t happen this season.

While a new captain will not be named defensive specialist Luke Glendening was added to the rotation of alternate captains (alongside Larkin, Justin Abdelkader, and Frans Nielsen), giving the Red Wings four players wearing the A.

The captaincy is something that is very tradition-heavy in the NHL.  Steve Yzerman‘s retired jersey banner includes the C in recognition of his tenure as Detroit’s captain.  Joe Sakic’s does as well, as the Avalanche have never had an original thought.

It was a big deal when the Vancouver Canucks named goalie Roberto Luongo as their captain in 2008, skirting NHL rules to do so.  Similarly, it was something of a shock when, just five years ago, the San Jose Sharks stripped Joe Thornton of their captaincy.

Now, it seems that some of the gravitas behind the captaincy is gone.

Per the NHL rulebook, only players with letters are allowed to talk to the referees.  That rule is ignored on a nightly basis.  If any player can talk to the refs, there’s no in-game reason to designate one as captain.

The Red Wings showed how unnecessary on-ice captains are during the 2015-16 season.  For 34 games that year they dressed two or fewer captains due to injury, opting not to name replacements on a game-by-game basis, knowing there was no need to.  A season earlier they did that ten times, while also using four alternate-alternate captains.

Compare the current decade to the 1990s.

From 1990-91 to 1999-2000, there were six instances of a team going an entire season without a captain.  Three of those were the first seasons of the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning.

There will be as many cases of teams going captain-less this season, same as last season.  There will be 25 instances of teams not naming a captain between 2010-11 and 2019-20.  Three of those were the first seasons of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

Teams are instead opting to name a “leadership group,” as the Golden Knights called it in 2017 and the Canucks did in 2018 and the Red Wings have seemingly done this year.

It may just be that the captaincy doesn’t carry the importance it used to.  If a letter isn’t required on the ice, and if leaders make themselves known in the dressing room regardless of whether or not they’re a captain, then why name one at all?

2019 Training Camp Jersey Number Notes

With the Red Wings having claimed the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup as champions of the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, the team is ready for their main training camp to begin, and with that comes the release of their training camp roster.

The roster includes 67 players.  Only two players who were on the Prospects Tournament roster will not be appearing in the main camp – Elmer Soderblom and Gustav Berglund.  No NHL free agents will be appearing with the Red Wings as pro try-outs.

There are no surprise jersey number changes revealed by the roster announcement.

Evgeni Svechnikov, who missed the entire 2018-19 season, will keep the #37 he was scheduled to wear last year.  He wore that number for his debut in 2016-17 before switching to #77 for the 2017-18 campaign.

Finnish free agent signing Oliwer Kaski claims that #77, after having worn #7 with Pelicans last season.  Kaski taking #77 would explain why Taro Hirose, who specifically was looking for a number with seven in it, took #67 instead of #77.

I had speculated that #26 might have gone to Thomas Vanek on a PTO but that ended up going to Grand Rapids Griffins’ captain Matt Ford, who was assigned #77 last fall.  Similarly, I thought that #50 might go to someone on a try-out but, instead, it’s been assigned to Dominik Shine, with Ryan Kuffner having taken the #56 that Shine wore in camp last year.

Goalie Calvin Pickard, the Red Wings’ only remaining free agent signing to not have a number announced, has taken #31.  He’s worn #30 in the past but Detroit has that semi-retired for Chris Osgood, it would seem.

The #3 worn last season by Nick Jensen has been assigned to defenseman Jared McIsaacLibor Sulak‘s #47 has gone to Marcus Crawford of the Griffins.

Any other changes are related to camp invitees and/or were already confirmed.

The full training camp roster is as follows:

Forwards

Num. Name
8 Justin Abdelkader
11 Filip Zadina
15 Chris Terry
23 Dominic Turgeon
26 Matthew Ford
27 Michael Rasmussen
37 Evgeny Svechnikov
39 Anthony Mantha
41 Luke Glendening
42 Mathieu Bizier
43 Darren Helm
46 Chase Pearson
48 Givani Smith
50 Dominik Shine
51 Valtteri Filppula
54 Matt Puempel
56 Ryan Kuffner
57 Turner Elson
58 David Pope
59 Tyler Bertuzzi
61 Jacob de la Rose
62 Cody Morgan
64 Josh Kestner
67 Taro Hirose
70 Christoffer Ehn
71 Dylan Larkin
72 Andreas Athanasiou
73 Adam Erne
75 Troy Loggins
76 Jarid Lukosevicius
78 Gregor MacLeod
79 Thomas Casey
81 Frans Nielsen
82 Tyler Spezia
88 Chad Yetman
89 Owen Robinson
90 Joe Veleno

Defensemen

Num. Name
2 Joe Hicketts
3 Jared McIsaac
17 Filip Hronek
20 Dylan McIlrath
21 Dennis Cholowski
22 Patrik Nemeth
25 Mike Green
28 Gustav Lindstrom
29 Vili Saarijarvi
32 Brian Lashoff
47 Marcus Crawford
52 Jonathan Ericsson
53 Moritz Seider
63 Alec McCrea
65 Danny DeKeyser
74 Madison Bowey
77 Oliwer Kaski
83 Trevor Daley
86 Charle-Edouard D’Astous
87 Marc-Olivier Duquette
94 Alec Regula
98 Owen Lalonde

Goalies

Num. Name
31 Calvin Pickard
35 Jimmy Howard
36 Kaden Fulcher
38 Filip Larsson
45 Jonathan Bernier
60 Pat Nagle
68 Sean Romeo
80 Anthony Popovich

2019 Prospects Tournament Jersey Number Notes

With the Red Wings having released their roster for the 2019 Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, we have a chance to take a look at how the jersey numbers assigned have changed since the team’s development camp in June.

The short answer: Not much.

The Red Wings are bringing many of the same players who were at development camp to Traverse City and most of them are keeping the numbers they had last time around.  That said, there are some changes of note.

Two players will skate with the Red Wings in Traverse City who weren’t at development camp.  Goalies Sean Romeo and Anthony Popovich, both free-agent try-outs, have been assigned the Red Wings’ standard “random goalie prospect numbers,” with Romeo getting #68 and Popovich getting #80.  Try-out Drew DeRidder had been assigned #68 while Keith Petruzelli wore #80.

Given Detroit’s history assigning numbers, these changes are virtually meaningless.

Three players returning from June have new numbers.

Thomas Casey, who wore #50 at development camp, switches to #79, which had been assigned to try-out Samuel Bucek.  No one is assigned #50 for the prospects tournament.

Similarly, Marc-Olivier Duquette switches from #26 to #87, with #26 not assigned.  Charles-Edouard D’Astous, who’d worn #87 at development camp, drops to #86, which was worn by Seth Barton in June.

This could indicate that players wearing #26 and #50 will be in the Red Wings’ main camp.  Those numbers weren’t included when the team announced new numbers for players next season, which would suggest that anyone wearing them in camp would either be a try-out or otherwise not expected to make the Detroit roster.

With that in mind, I’m going to make a couple guesses.

Thomas Vanek remains unsigned and has a good relationship with the Red Wings’ organization, though it was under Ken Holland rather than Steve Yzerman.  As such, the open #26 could be Vanek on a try-out, reclaiming the number he wore last year.

Similarly, #50 could be defenseman Dan Girardi, who usually wears the #5 that is retired in Detroit.  Girardi, coming off of two seasons in Tampa Bay with Yzerman as his GM, might be of interest to Detroit if they were moving one of their current veteran defensemen prior to the start of the season.  Without such a deal, adding Girardi would just contribute to the ever-present blueline logjam throughout the Wings organization.

Of course, it’s “just” the Prospects Tournament, and the players changing are all try-outs, so these number changes could mean nothing.

The full roster is as follows:

Forwards

Num. Name
11 Filip Zadina
42 Mathieu Bizier
79 Thomas Casey
67 Taro Hirose
56 Ryan Kuffner
75 Troy Loggins
76 Jarid Lukosevicius
78 Gregor MacLeod
62 Cody Morgan
46 Chase Pearson
89 Owen Robinson
48 Givani Smith
85 Elmer Soderblom
90 Joe Veleno
88 Chad Yetman

Defensemen

Num. Name
97 Gustav Berglund
86 Charle-Edouard D’Astous
87 Marc-Olivier Duquette
98 Owen Lalonde
28 Gustav Lindstrom
63 Alec McCrea
94 Alec Regula
53 Moritz Seider

Goalies

Num. Name
36 Kaden Fulcher
38 Filip Larsson
80 Anthony Popovich
68 Sean Romeo

Red Wings Defenseman Kronwall Retires

Longtime Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall announced his retirement on Tuesday.

Via a video posted to the Red Wings’ social media accounts, Kronwall stated, “They say every journey has to come to an end.  Well, my journey as a player for the Detroit Red Wings ends here.”

Drafted by Detroit in the first round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Kronwall spent his entire 953-game career with the Red Wings.  He specifically called attention to that in his announcement, thanking the Red Wings’ organization “for believing in me and giving me a chance to stay with the same organization throughout my whole career.  That’s something I always put a big price tag on and I can’t in words express how grateful I am for giving me that opportunity to keep myself and my family around.”

Reportedly the Columbus Blue Jackets had inquired into acquiring Kronwall as a trade deadline rental last season but then-Detroit General Manager Ken Holland didn’t even ask Kronwall if he would be interested, allowing him to close out his career with the team that drafted him.

Kronwall will move into a position in the team’s front office, as Advisor to the General Manager.

Even More Possible Palm Springs AHL Names: Sun, Dragons, Falcons

For the third time in the last week, possible names for the potential Palm Springs American Hockey League franchise have been revealed.  This time they are the Palm Springs Sun, Palm Springs Dragons, and Palm Springs Falcons.

Like the Palm Springs Eagles and Palm Springs Hawks yesterday and the Palm Springs Firebirds last Wednesday, these new names come via trademark applications filed on behalf of Oak View Group.

OVG will own the new AHL team as well as their still-nameless National Hockey League affiliate in Seattle.  Both teams are expected to begin play in the 2021-22 season.

This latest batch of trademarks was filed on August 15.  There is typically a delay between when a trademark is applied for and when that application is made public.

In addition to the trademark applications, the domain palmspringsfalcons.com was registered privately on Monday.  It appears that no Sun- or Dragons-related domains were registered.

The following is a timeline of Palm Springs AHL-related events and announcements thus far:

February 5, 2019
OVG advisor Dave Tippet announces that Boise, ID, and Palm Springs, CA, are being looked at as potential AHL affiliates for Seattle.

April 1, 2019
palmspringsfirebirds.com registered privately via GoDaddy, the same registrar as was used for Seattle-related domains in 2018.

June 26, 2019
OVG and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians announce that they will partner on a new arena in Palm Springs, CA, to house Seattle’s AHL affiliate.

August 9, 2019
OVG lawyers file for a trademark on the name “Palm Springs Firebirds.”

August 14, 2019
DetroitHockey.Net breaks the story of the Firebirds trademark application.

Kate Anderson, Director of Public Relations for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, tells KESQ that trademark applications for other names can be expected in the near future.

OVG files trademark applications for Palm Springs Eagles and Palm Springs Hawks

August 15, 2019
OVG files trademark applications for Palm Springs Sun, Palm Springs Dragons, and Palm Springs Falcons.

August 17, 2019
palmspringseagles.com and palmspringshawks.com are registered privately via Dynadot.

August 19, 2019
palmspringsfalcons.com is registered privately via Dynadot.


There are two curious things about that timeline.

One is the gap between trademark applications.  This can be explained in several ways – either OVG is filing for trademarks as they come up with names, or the trademark application for Firebirds becoming public inspired the additional trademark applications.  A third, less-likely, option would be that all of the potential names were known on August 9 and OVG’s lawyers chose not to file applications for them all at once.

The second is that, as of August 17, when the Eagles- and Hawks-related domains were acquired, the Falcons trademark was already applied for as well.  As such, why wait two more days to purchase a Falcons-related domain?

With those two items in mind, it’s safe to assume that this newest batch of names could be further misdirection by OVG.  Someone had the Firebirds-related domain in April and OVG didn’t start applying for trademarks on other names until after the Firebirds trademark became public.

Of course, it’s also safe to assume that OVG is simply filing for trademarks and domains as they go, and truly no decision has been made yet.  With the team not slated to take the ice until 2021, they have plenty of time to change course.

More AHL Palm Springs Trademarks Filed: Eagles, Hawks

After our initial report that Oak View Group had filed for a trademark on “Palm Springs Firebirds” for use with their pending American Hockey League Franchise, two more applications for trademarks have been filed: Eagles and Hawks.

In addition to the trademarks – filed on August 14 by the same lawyer who handled the Firebirds trademark – domains related Palm Springs Eagles and Palm Springs Hawks were registered on Saturday.  The domains were registered privately so it’s possible that they were not registered by OVG.

Seemingly no domains were registered for the Palm Springs Firebirds name.

In response to the Firebirds trademark application, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians – OVG’s partner in building a new arena in Palm Springs – had stated that more trademark applications would be forthcoming.

Like Firebirds, Eagles is one of the names that was under consideration for Oak View Group’s Seattle NHL franchise, which has yet to be named.  Also like Firebirds, Eagles is a name in use in the Canadian Hockey League.  While Firebirds is used by the OHL’s Flint team, Eagles is the new name of the QMJHL’s former Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

Additionally, the AHL’s newest franchise is the Colorado Eagles, so it’s safe to say that the Palm Springs Eagles won’t see the light of day.

The Hawks name was last used in the AHL by the Moncton Hawks, who folded in 1994.  It is also a nickname of the Chicago Blackhawks.  Interestingly, three Hawks-related named were considered for the NHL expansion franchise that became the Vegas Golden Knights.

With these points in mind, it’s possible that the Eagles and Hawks trademark applications are intended to be misdirection.  If, for example, Firebirds had already been chosen as the team name, adding Eagles and Hawks to the rumor mill would allow for a bird-themed logo to be developed without confirming which name had been chosen.

It’s also worth noting that the Eagles and Hawks trademark applications and domain registrations happened after our initial report on the Firebirds trademark, which could be a coincidence or could be cause for further skepticism regarding these new options.

Red Wings Add Forward Erne in Trade with Tampa

The Detroit Red Wings announced the acquisition of forward Adam Erne from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, in return for a fourth-round draft pick in 2020.

Erne, 24, was selected by the Lightning in the second round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.  Current Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman was Tampa Bay’s GM for that draft.

In 114 NHL games, Erne has scored 13 goals and added 14 assists.  Seven of those goals and 13 of the assists came in 65 games played during the 2018-19 campaign.

Erne is currently an unsigned restricted free agent, though it’s unlikely that the Red Wings would have made this trade if a signing isn’t soon to follow.

The Red Wings did not have any extra fourth round picks in 2020 but they do have Washington’s second round pick and San Jose’s third-round pick.  They now own eight total selections in that draft.

AHL Expansion: Palm Springs Firebirds?

The American Hockey League will be expanding alongside the NHL for the 2021-22 season and we may have our first indication of the new team’s name: The Palm Springs Firebirds.

A trademark was filed last week for that name on behalf of Oak View Group, the company that will own both the AHL franchise and their currently-unnamed NHL affiliate in Seattle.

Oak View Group had previously announced that they would be building a new arena in Palm Springs, CA, to house their AHL team.

The trademark filing was made by a lawyer with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which was the same firm that registered domains for possible Seattle team names on behalf of Oak View Group back in January of 2018.  “Firebirds” was one of thirteen nicknames seemingly under consideration at that time, so there is an additional connection between this filing and that list.

It’s worth noting that during the NHL’s previous expansion process, the Las Vegas organization registered trademarks on several names, so this filing may be only the first of many.

Also of note is the fact that the Ontario Hockey League currently fields the Flint Firebirds.

Finally, the timing of this filing is somewhat interesting as no marks for the Seattle NHL team have been filed.  Prioritizing the branding of the AHL team over the NHL team would be somewhat surprising, though it could simply be a matter of the AHL team name being an easier choice.

That said, the fact that this trademark was filed for at all shows that that Palm Spring Firebirds is a strong enough contender for the team’s name that Oak View Group felt they needed to protect it.

An Alternate Rebuild

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big alternate history fan, and have posted a few hockey-related alternate history timelines here before.

The Athletic’s Max Bultman took a look today at what the Red Wings’ roster might look like if they had embraced the rebuild sooner. I think it’s a fun piece with a really solid premise and point of departure but I’d love a look that included alternate draft choices.

Bultman specifically mentioned that he left them out on purpose, which I get it as they’re a pain.  I’m going to spitball a little, anyway, and riff off his idea. I should note that this was originally going to be a comment at The Athletic but it got to be long enough that I didn’t feel like it was fair to dump there.


Let’s say the Red Wings not trading for David Legwand in 2014 and Erik Cole in 2015 costs them just a single win for the remainder of those respective seasons. Neither player did much for Detroit so I can’t see them being that much worse without them. Now they pick at #14 in 2014 and #16 in 2015.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I think it’s safe to say they still take Dylan Larkin at #14, with Julius Honka on the board. The next year, though? You could be looking at Mathew Barzal at #16 instead of Evgeny Svechnikov.

And the streak stays alive even without those deals.

Assume it’s Larkin and Barzal and that Larkin debuts in 2015. The only difference on the roster at this point is that Justin Abdelkader has a shorter contract, so 2015-16 plays out as expected.

Summer of 2016, the Pavel Datsyuk contract trade still happens; the Red Wings don’t sign Frans Nielsen. I’d also say that the Wings don’t sign Darren Helm, giving his minutes to Andreas Athansiou, because that’s what I called for at the time and I don’t feel like I should go back on that.

The streak ends on schedule but the team is slightly worse for the 2016-17 season. This is where the butterflies really come in, though, because – for the first time in this scenario – the Red Wings are in the draft lottery and we can’t say the lottery will go the way it did in reality.  Wherever the Wings are slotted based on the standings, it’s harder to know exactly where they’ll end up. I’ll have Colorado win the lottery, Detroit pick seventh instead of ninth, and the Wings get Cale Makar instead of Michael Rasmussen.

Does Barzal still have his Calder-winning performance if he’s in Detroit? Not sure but these 2017-18 Red Wings might be better than ours were. Lets say, since the butterflies have pushed us pretty far off course at this point, by the 2018 draft the Wings aren’t in position to draft Filip Zadina but get Quinn Hughes instead. I can’t see Barzal making the Wings so much better that they’re out of that range but it might be a reach.

However the Wings do in 2018-19 doesn’t really matter because the players selected in the 2019 draft aren’t going to be on the roster today, unless they manage to win the lottery in this alternate world. That said, I question whether or not Taro Hirose would sign in Detroit in this scenario. I’ll assume that he does.

With Makar and Hughes in the fold, I don’t see Patrik Nemeth getting signed this summer. I also think the Wings would be less likely to have taken Madison Bowey back in trade for Nick Jensen, but I’ll allow it. However, I don’t see Oliwer Kaski signing in Detroit in this scenario.  Bowey and Kaski might be interchangeable for this exercise.

Bultman’s takeaway was that his alternate Wings would be simlar to the existing team, simply younger and cheaper. With these draft adjustments, they’ve got a better blue line as well. You’ve swapped out Svechnikov, Rasmussen, and Zadina for Barzal, Makar, and Hughes, giving a lineup that looks as follows:

Tyler BertuzziDylan LarkinAnthony Mantha
Andreas Athanasiou – Roope Hintz – Mathew Barzal
Mattias JanmarkCalle JarnkrokTaro Hirose
Justin AbdelkaderLuke GlendeningChristoffer Ehn

Danny DeKeyserFilip Hronek
Cale Makar – Mike Green
Trevor DaleyQuinn Hughes
Jonathan EricssonMadison Bowey

Jimmy Howard
Elvis Merzlikins

2019 Free Agency Thoughts: Day One

I noted my thoughts about each of the Red Wings free agent signings yesterday as they were announced.  Since then, Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has spoken and explained some of his plan.

I’m not sure I buy it, so I’m going to revisit those thoughts a bit.

Calvin Pickard

Yzerman confirmed that Pickard is bound for Grand Rapids, not competing with Jonathan Bernier for the backup role in Detroit, as was suggested when rumors of the deal broke on Sunday.  That makes significantly more sense.

My only concern is how Pickard (along with Curtis McElhinney) was claimed on waivers at the start of last season, leaving the Toronto Marlies without any goalies.  That said, veteran goalies make it through waivers every year, it’s last year that was the outlier.  I think it’s safe to blame my concern on recency bias.

Patrik Nemeth

I honestly don’t know much about Nemeth.  At first glance he seems like a good fit for the Red Wings.  Yzerman specifically mentioned that he could play with either Mike Green or Filip Hronek.  I imagine that whichever of those two doesn’t pair up with Nemeth gets Danny DeKeyser and, while not great by any means, that could be a solid top four.

The problem is the ever-present logjam.  Assuming a third pair of Trevor Daley and Jonathan Ericsson with Madison Bowey as the seventh defenseman, that means there’s no room for Dennis Cholowski or Oliwer Kaski or anyone who might surprise in training camp.

I’ve seen a lot of people saying that it’ll be okay because there will be injuries, which was the case to start the season last year.  In all likelihood, yes, players will get hurt.  If you are counting on that, though, you have to count on someone getting hurt badly enough that they go on injured reserve, otherwise their roster spot isn’t cleared and no one can be called up to fill in.  So to get significant time for anyone outside that top seven, you have to hope for significant time lost due to injury to someone, which doesn’t sit well with me.

By the end of the season things might be different.  Ericsson and Daley and Green could all be gone.  Of course, there’s most of a season to play between now and the trade deadline and the last time the Wings expected to see a veteran defenseman moved in February, he got hurt and ended up signing an extension.

Valtteri Filppula

Oh, here’s the big one.  Yzerman says that Filppula was brought back to give the Red Wings depth at center, allowing them to shift Andreas Athanasiou back to his natural position at wing.

Obviously the organization thinks Athanasiou’s try-out as second-line center to end last season didn’t go well enough.  That’s fine.  I don’t think it was enough time to tell but I’m willing to accept their conclusion.  The issue is that I don’t accept that Valtteri Filppula is a second-line center.

The Wings now have a top line center in Dylan Larkin and bottom-six centers in Filppula, Frans Nielsen, Luke Glendening, Christoffer Ehn, and Jacob de la RoseDarren Helm can fill in at center and Yzerman mentioned Justin Abdelkader as well, which I think would be awful.  Helm and Abdelkader can be ignored anyway, though, because that’s six centers for three lines, none of which is the second line.

If the choice is between playing Athanasiou out of position and seeing how it goes or playing Filppula up a line, I’d pick Athanasiou.

I have nothing against Filppula as a third line center.  If Yzerman were to find a way to move Nielsen and slot Filppula in there, I’d be all for it.  Especially with Filppula coming in cheaper than Nielsen.  But that’s not the move that’s happening.