Yzerman Steps Down as Tampa GM

Okay, I wasn’t going to even post about this as it’s only Red Wings news if you immediately jump into rumor-mongering, but if you interpret the tea leaves in just the right way, it’s very big news for Detroit.  So here we go…

Of course, if Yzerman is leaving Tampa then he has to be coming to Detroit, right? And HSJ confirms this for us.

But that wording is… Peculiar. So let’s go back to Joe Smith on that take.

Okay, that’s a little bit more clear.

What we know is that Yzerman is stepping down as GM of the Lightning.  We know he has a house and family in Detroit.  It sounds like he’s coming back to that house.

It sounds like he’s going to spend the remaining year of his contract as an adviser to the Lightning.  Which he can do from Michigan, of course.

In the meantime, Detroit has GM Ken Holland signed for two more seasons.  He could always be fired or moved into another position and just get paid to go away, so that contract doesn’t mean too much.  It is worth noting, though, that Holland refused to step aside and allow Yzerman to take over his role back in 2010, leading to Yzerman leaving for Tampa.

Aside from the rumors that have existed since Yzerman first left the Wings that he would one day return to lead the team again, we have no evidence that

The big question for me is timing.  I can understand Yzerman leaving the Lightning.  I can even understand him leaving the Lightning for the Red Wings.  I can’t understand why the eve of training camp is when he would choose to do it.

Then there’s this…

I was already concerned that this isn’t a professional move and that his return to Detroit is for personal reasons.  Pure conjecture on my part.  But that the GM community is surprised by this might lend credence to the idea.

The press conference announcing the move is at 4:00 PM today, so maybe we’ll know more then.

My LCA Center Ice Proposal

I mentioned this on Twitter earlier today but figured it’s worth a quick post here.

We found out two weeks ago that the Red Wings would be removing their “Hockeytown” logo from center ice at Little Caesars Arena.  At the time, center ice on the team’s practice rink still used that logo.  Today, however, we got the first look at that facility’s Hockeytown-less neutral zone.

As I said two weeks ago, I’m absolutely fine with the Hockeytown logo being removed. Seeing the updated practice rink, however, inspired me to draw up what I actually want to see the Red Wings use.

A proposed center ice design for Little Caesars Arena.

Note: Center ice template and base artwork courtesy Frozen Faceoff.

For reference, see their actual 2019 design.

The Little Caesars Arena wordmark is awkward under the best circumstances, as it attempts to blend the serifed, outdated Little Caesars text with a sans-serif, lowercase font for “arena” (followed by the arena logo itself).  Having that wordmark straddle the red line makes it worse.  To fix this, I take the “top” version of the arena wordmark, spin it 90 degrees, then copy that (rotated 180 degrees) to the opposite side of the faceoff circle.

All last season I found the “Little Caesars” text to be distracting, as it’s the brightest thing on the ice at LCA, and my change could help with that by having those two orange blobs of text on opposite sides of the circle.

Inside the circle I go with dual Winged Wheel logos, as the team used for much of the time prior to the Hockeytown logo.  While the logos themselves are enlarged to reflect how a modern center ice is usually filled with paint, I think this still gives a retro feel.  I also think that the Winged Wheel is two short and wide to be used across center ice as the team is now doing.

I don’t expect the Red Wings to do this, I just think that if they’re changing things up, this is what they should do.

Red Wings Abandoning “Hockeytown” Moniker?

With the annual Red Wings Fantasy Camp taking place at Little Caesars Arena today, the world got its first look at the arena’s ice for the 2018-19 season – and it was missing something.

The “Hockeytown” logo that had adorned the center ice circle for the arena’s inaugural campaign (and since the mid-1990s at Joe Louis Arena) was replaced by the team’s standard Winged Wheel logo.

Does this mean that Detroit is no longer Hockeytown?  Well, Hockeytown Cafe remains just a few blocks from the arena.  Hockeytown Authentics in Troy is still open.  However, the “Hockeytown” trademark itself is listed as “cancelled” in the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).

Additionally, the most recent document recorded as part of the “Hockeytown” trademark filing is a courtesy reminder from the USPTO to the Red Wings about required filings that had not been made, dated June 23, 2017.

WARNING: Your trademark registration will be CANCELLED and will EXPIRE if you do not file the required documents below during the specified statutory time periods.

The above-identified registration registered on Jun 23, 1998. Therefore, the owner of the registration must file a Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse and an Application for Renewal under §§8 and 9 of the Trademark Act anytime between now and Jun 25, 2018. For an additional fee, the owner may file the documents within the six-month grace period that ends on Dec 24, 2018. See 15 U.S.C. §§1058, 1059. The current fee for a combined filing under §§8 and 9 is $425 per class if the filing is made via the Trademark Electronic Application System (“TEAS”) and $725 per class if the filing is made on paper, and the additional fee for filing during the six-month grace period is $200 per class if the filing is made via TEAS and $400 per class if the filing is made on paper. 37 C.F.R. §2.6.

A “cancelled” trademark is not the same as one classified as “dead,” though it would seem to be a sign that the Red Wings are – at the very least – scaling back their use of the mark.

The Detroit News and Free Press initially reached out to the Red Wings regarding the change at center ice and did not receive a response.  A prepared statement was later released.

At center ice, we will debut a fresh, new look: the Winged Wheel, one of the most iconic logos in professional sports, will be prominently featured. Also, in the coming days, several new initiatives that celebrate the fans and passion of Hockeytown are scheduled to be announced.

In the storefront at Fanatics.com, the official supplier of NHL merchandise, only two items were returned by a search for “Hockeytown” – both discounted.

It’s worth noting that center ice at the team’s training facility still featured the Hockeytown logo as of Thursday.  Additionally, the team’s statement used the word “Hockeytown” even while confirming that the logo would no longer be in place at center ice.


Personally, I would be fine with the Hockeytown name being abandoned.  I’ve written previously about disliking the name and the logo.

That said, I’d prefer to see the team go back to a pair of Winged Wheels on either side of center ice rather than one giant logo filling the faceoff circle.

Red Wings Sign Larkin to Five-Year Deal

The Red Wings announced on Friday the signing of restricted free agent forward Dylan Larkin to a five-year deal.

Per idiotic team policy, the financial terms of the contract were not announced, but The Athletic’s Craig Custance almost immediately reported the deal to be worth $6.1 million annually.

Larkin will be an unrestricted free agent when the contract ends.

With the signing, the Red Wings have 22 players on their roster for next season and $82,772,044 against the salary cap, which is set at $79,500,000.  While Johan Franzen going on LTIR will save them almost $4 million, those numbers include only six defensemen on the roster, leaving the Red Wings in a bit of a cap crunch, especially if Michael Rasmussen and Filip Zadina are expected to compete for roster spots.

Even assuming that Martin Frk and Luke Witkowski are treated as expendable and are replaced on the roster by Rasmussen and Zadina, the Red Wings end up about $44,000 over the cap without resolving their blueline depth issues.

Shifting Witkowski to defense and sending Frk to Grand Rapids could possibly open a spot for either Rasmussen or Zadina but then Joe Hicketts and Filip Hronek are shut out of a spot in Detroit.

Bottom line?  If any of “the kids” are going to make the Red Wings’ opening night roster, more moves are coming, with Henrik Zetterberg‘s health likely to play a large part in that.

2018 Prospects Tournament Jersey Number Notes

The Red Wings released their roster for the 2018 Prospects Tournament in Traverse City today, which means we have new jersey numbers to over-analyze.

As always, the Red Wings’ official stance is that camp numbers are meaningless, so this all needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  But – as I always say – there are a lot of times that we can read something that hasn’t officially been announced from these choices.

There are only six players who appeared at the Red Wings’ development camp in June who will return with different numbers.

Kaden Fulcher, who has worn a slew of numbers in various camps with the Red Wings, switches from the #60 he had at development camp to the #36 that was worn by Filip Larsson.  Meanwhile free agent tryout Justin Fazio, a late addition in June, goes from #30 to #68.

Those are easy to read nothing into as the Red Wings generally assign #36, #38, and #68 to their prospect goalies.

Grand Rapids Griffins signing Jordan Topping takes the #53 that had been worn by Kaspar Kotkansalo, which probably just means that Kotkansalo won’t be in Traverse City this year and doesn’t need that number.

Free agent invitee Nicolas Guay switches from #20 to the #76 last worn by Chase Pearson.  I think this means that one of the Wings’ Grand Rapids-bound summer signings will wear #20 in camp (or on a call-up) but I don’t know which one.

Finally, there’s David Pope and Christopher Ehn.  Pope lost his #11 to Filip Zadina for development camp this year and wore #45 there but will wear #58 (worn by Griffins forward Luke Esposito last year).  Ehn had worn #45 at last year’s development camp and will now wear the #70 that Jack Adams wore in June.

Both players switching numbers seems to clear the way for goalie Jonathan Bernier to wear his usual #45.  Bernier was originally listed on the Detroit roster with that number but currently does not have a number assigned.

Speaking of July 1 signings, it looks like Thomas Vanek will wear his usual #26 this time around with the Wings.  That’s the number he’s listed with on the team roster but he wore #62 last time around as #26 was taken by Tomas Jurco.  Vanek’s former #62 was worn by Trevor Hamilton in development camp and Hamilton will keep it for the prospects tournament, so it doesn’t look like Vanek needs it.

Red Wings Sign Mantha to Bridge Deal

The Red Wings announced on Wednesday the signing of forward Anthony Mantha to a two-year contract.

As per annoying policy, financial terms were not announced, however MLive’s Ansar Khan immediately reported that it carries a $3.3 million salary cap hit.  From the term and salary, this qualifies as a “bridge deal” under which Mantha will be expected to further prove himself before cashing in on a bigger contract.

With Mantha signed, Dylan Larkin is now the Red Wings’ lone remaining unsigned restricted free agent.

Red Wings Re-Up Athanasiou

The Detroit Red Wings announced a two-year contract extension for restricted free agent forward Andreas Athanasiou on Thursday.

The deal reportedly carries a salary cap hit of $3 million.

I think that cap hit might be a little high but otherwise this is a pretty solid deal.  Term and salary are low enough that, if Athanasiou doesn’t work out, the Wings should be able to deal him away.

With Athanasiou wrapped up, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha are the Red Wings’ only remaining restricted free agents.

Thoughts on Day One of Free Agency: 2018 Edition

I actually said most of what I wanted to say about the Red Wings’ efforts on the first day of the 2018 free agency period earlier in the day, but I want to highlight a bit of an unintentional rant on Twitter.

I feel like that rant could have come from any offseason since about 2013.

Every spring when the Wings go their separate ways, we hear from Ken Holland about how they’re going to give “the kids” a shot in the fall.  Every summer the team goes out and fills their open roster spots with veterans.  Then we hear that all the kids have to do is beat out the veterans.

Michael Rasmussen was the Wings’ best player in the preseason last year and didn’t even get his nine-game look during the regular season.  He was sent straight back to juniors.  I’m not saying he was definitely ready for the NHL, I’m just saying he earned a look that he didn’t get because there wasn’t a spot for him.

So lets look at the Wings’ roster.  These were their lines heading into the final game of last season, per Winging it in Motown:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Henrik ZetterbergGustav Nyquist
Anthony Mantha – Dylan Larkin – Darren Helm
David Booth – Frans Nielsen – Justin Abdelkader
Luke WitkowskiAndreas AthanasiouMartin Frk

Jonathan EricssonTrevor Daley
Danny DeKeyser – Xavier Ouellet
Niklas Kronwall – Nick Jensen

Jimmy Howard
Jared Coreau

Okay, now lets look at it with the players who have departed the Wings removed:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Henrik ZetterbergGustav Nyquist
Anthony Mantha – Dylan Larkin – Darren Helm
<open> – Frans Nielsen – Justin Abdelkader
Luke Witkowski – Andreas Athanasiou – Martin Frk

Jonathan EricssonTrevor Daley
Danny DeKeyser – <open>
Niklas Kronwall – Nick Jensen

Jimmy Howard
<open>

So that’s one open spot up front, one on the blueline, and the backup goalie job.  And who did the Red Wings sign (or re-sign) today?  A forward, a defenseman, and a goalie.

That leaves the lines looking like this:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Henrik Zetterberg – Gustav Nyquist
Anthony Mantha – Dylan Larkin – Darren Helm
Thomas Vanek – Frans Nielsen – Justin Abdelkader
Luke Witkowski – Andreas Athanasiou – Martin Frk

Jonathan Ericsson – Trevor Daley
Danny DeKeyser – Mike Green
Niklas Kronwall – Nick Jensen

Jimmy Howard
Jonathan Bernier

That’s a full lineup.  I don’t think it’s their best possible lineup, though.  Let’s assume that Frk and Jensen are either gone or in the press box.  We’ll do the same for Witkowski, even though I highly doubt he’s going anywhere.

Tyler Bertuzzi – Henrik Zetterberg – Gustav Nyquist
Anthony Mantha – Dylan Larkin – Filip Zadina
Thomas Vanek – Frans Nielsen – Michael Rasmussen
Darren Helm – Andreas Athanasiou – Justin Abdelkader

Jonathan Ericsson – Trevor Daley
Danny DeKeyser – Mike Green
Niklas Kronwall – Filip Hronek

Jimmy Howard
Jonathan Bernier

That’s getting a little better.  But where is Joe HickettsDennis CholowskiEvgeny Svechnikov?

Also, that only removes the players who I deemed most expendable from the Wings’ roster.  What if Svechnikov outplays Nyquist or Vanek this fall?  What if Cholowski is better than Ericsson or DeKeyser?  Do we really see any of those vets sitting in favor of the kids?  Of course not.

So Detroit’s lineup is relatively set.  At best, one of the kids is going to make the Wings’ blueline, because it makes no sense for them to be up as the seventh defenseman.  I’ll say it’s Hronek.  What does that mean for the Griffins?

Here are the defensemen who were dressed for the Griffins’ season-ending loss to the Manitoba Moose in Game Five of their first-round series:

Joe Hicketts
Robbie Russo
Filip Hronek
Brian Lashoff
Dan Renouf
Dylan McIlrath

Since then, the Wings have sent Russo to the Arizona Coyotes and let Renouf walk.  We’re also assuming Hronek makes the Detroit lineup, so that’s three open spots.

Well, it was three open spots.  Detroit signed Jake Chelios, today, so we’re back down to two spots for Vili Saarijarvi, Libor Sulak, and Dennis Cholowski.  Or the Griffins could just roll seven defensemen, as they reluctantly did for part of last season, all the while admitting it was less than ideal.

The bottom line is if the Red Wings actually want to have spots available for Svechnikov or David Pope or Dominic Turgeon or Saarijarvi or Cholowski, they’re going to have to move players out of the way.

Ken Holland has never proven able or willing to do this.  He’s proven content to wait for injuries, which haven’t always happened.  He wouldn’t have to hope for that without some of today’s signings.

Wings Continue Depth Signings as Free Agency Opens

After announcing the signings of backup goalie Jonathan Bernier and forward Thomas Vanek as soon as free agency opened on Sunday and confirming a one year deal with third-string goalie Harri Sateri shortly after, the Red Wings announced a slate of deals aimed at providing further depth to the franchise.

A little reaction from Tony Androckitis of Inside AHL Hockey

Undoubtedly they’re good moves for the Griffins.  Terry and Megan make up for the likely departures of two of Matt Lorito, Ben Street, and Eric Tangradi.  Chelios is an upgrade over the departing Dan Renouf, who wasn’t given a qualifying offer by the Red Wings.

That said, I praised letting Renouf go because it helped clear out the organization’s logjam on the blue line.  Unless Chelios is bound for Toledo, his signing seems like a bad sign for Vili Saarijarvi and Dennis Cholowski and Libor Sulak, all of whom would be battling for playing time with the Griffins (unless Cholowski manages to leapfrog Filip Hronek and go straight to Detroit, but that still doesn’t open up a roster spot anywhere).

So, yeah, these might be good deals for the Griffins, but they feel like bad ones for the Red Wings.

Red Wings Sign Goalie Sateri, Likely Bound for Griffins

It looks like the Red Wings have found their replacement for Jared Coreau, signing Finnish goalie Harri Sateri.

Originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks in 2008, Sateri spent last season split between the Florida Panthers and the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds.

The move restores some of the organizations depth in goal, with the departures of Jared Coreau, Tom McCollum, and the move of Petr Mrazek at last season’s trade deadline.

Sateri is likely to be the Grand Rapids Griffins’ starter next season, behind Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier on the organizational depth chart.  He could be backed up by Patrik Rybar or Kaden Fulcher, with the other bound for the Toledo Walleye.

The deal is for one year.