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.

Red Wings Sign Goalie Pickard

As rumored yesterday, the Red Wings announced today the signing of goalie Calvin Pickard to a two-year deal.

As per club policy the financial terms were not announced.

Until yesterday, I’d been unaware that the Detroit organization wasn’t expecting Patrik Rybar to return, so this deal was not on my radar at all.

Frank Seravalli said yesterday that Pickard should be expected to compete with Jonathan Bernier for the backup role in Detroit while Max Bultman pointed out that seemingly-Grand Rapids-bound Filip Larsson was expecting the team to bring in a veteran to work with him on the Griffins.

Given the money involved, I have to think the Wings have Pickard slotted in for GR, but even that is problematic.  It was just last fall that Pickard was headed to the Toronto Marlies to start the season when he was claimed on waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers.  Another rash of goalie injuries like we saw last year and the Wings could lose whichever veteran they try to send to the Griffins, leaving Larsson alone there.

That said, much has already been made of the free agent goalie-go-round.  It’s possible that whoever gets left out on that ride would be available to a team facing an injury, so this year is a little different from last year.

Red Wings Add Blueliner Nemeth

The Red Wings signed defenseman Patrik Nemeth on Monday, as NHL free agency opened.

The deal was first broken by Frank Seravalli of TSN.

The two-year term gives the Red Wings some depth going into next summer, when much of their blue line corps will hit free agency.  Between now and then, though, it adds to a logjam that already includes Madison Bowey, Dennis Cholowski, Trevor Daley, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Green, and Filip Hronek.  Additionally, free agent signee Oliwer Kaski will look to contend for a roster spot and veteran Niklas Kronwall may choose to return for another season.

This could be a sign that one or more of that group won’t be back with the Red Wings in the fall.  At this time, however, that’s a lot of defensemen for not enough roster spots.

Red Wings Bring Back Filppula on Two-Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Monday the signing of center Valtteri Flippula to a two-year deal.

Financial terms were not immediately available, because of course they weren’t.  According to MLive’s Ansar Khan, who still has us blocked on Twitter, the deal is worth $3 million annually.

I don’t like this move.  At this point in his career, Filppula is a bottom-six center and the Wings have enough of those.  Maybe they’ll shift him (or someone else) to wing and play him on the third line.

I could have been okay with it if it were a one-year deal, giving Evgeny Svechnikov time in Grand Rapids to recover from his lost season and Joe Veleno a year to adjust to the professional game.  Now Filppula will be taking up a roster spot past that timeline.