Well…I didn’t see that coming

Photo Credit: LIFE. Obviously.

I don’t even know why we’re surprised anymore when Ken Holland reveals something borderline-shrewd and otherwise unforeseen.

Earlier today, when the Wings failed to clear the necessary cap space to activate Andreas Lilja, we were all convinced there were two possible options:

  • Option 1 :: Lilja isn’t medically cleared by team doctors, which seemed incredibly unlikely given that he’s played four AHL games (something he wouldn’t be allowed to do if he wasn’t physically fit to play).
  • Option 2 :: A player (one who earns more than $700,000) was waived to make room under the cap. The trade freeze became effective at 3pm Eastern, but teams are still open to waiver movement and IR transactions. This could have been Lilja himself being waived (perhaps thinking no team would take him because of his recent history), with the intention of keeping him in Grand Rapids until further moves could be made. In other words, he’d be full-on jailsexed for another few weeks, while frolicking in Western Michigan. 

We were wrong. We were clued in this morning, by TSN’s Bob MacKenzie, who told us that Ken Holland was going to waive Brad May (which he did) and put someone on Long-Term IR. There were two players – that we knew of – that were battling injuries: Niklas Kronwall, who told NHL Live that he’s healthy enough to play tomorrow, and hopefully for the Olympics; and Patrick Eaves, who doesn’t make enough to create enough space for Lilja. To make matters more interesting, Holland would reveal that Lilja has been called to Detroit — to be checked out by doctors, and the GM didn’t rule him out for tomorrow’s game against the Senators. Hm…

Turns out long-time winger Kirk Maltby has been struggling with a lingering shoulder injury — one that will require surgery at some point, but may have been able to wait until season’s end. If Maltby opts for surgery sooner rather than later, his $883,333 cap hit come off the books for the entire time he’d be on IR – which, from the sound of it, was the rest of the regular season. The salary cap is not in effect during the playoffs.

All of a sudden, the lack of movement before the 3:00 deadline doesn’t seem so fishy. It does seem convenient that today is the day, of all days, that we hear about Kirk Maltby’s shoulder injury. If Maltby does not opt for surgery, however, a player will have to be waived. Jason Williams seems to be the most likely candidate, due to his salary and other factors, but something tells me Maltby will opt for that procedure – perhaps with a wink and a nudge from the organization.

There’s been a lot of talk that this may be Maltby’s last season with the Wings — if not the NHL. He is going to be an unrestricted free agent, and the emergence of players like Justin Abdelkader may have made Kirk Maltby expendable to the organization. If he decides to hang them up, it’s a decision I’d respect because I love Kirk Maltby, and always have, but I sincerely hope we haven’t seen him play his final game as a Red Wing — or that his career ends with an injury.

This is a life and death Red Wing we’re talking about, and if this is the end of the road for him in red and white, everyone should send a stick tap Malts’ way. He’s a legendary penalty killer, grade-A agitator, fifty-goal scorer in major-junior, original Grind Liner, and four-time Stanley Cup champion.

In other words, he’s a Detroit Red Wing. To the bone.

4 thoughts on “Well…I didn’t see that coming”

  1. It would be sad if this is it for Maltby, but on the positive side – he will go out as a Red Wing, and not stashed in the minors to hide his contract or some other such indignity. And he may as well get the shoulder taken care of before he has it destroyed roughhousing with his buddy Draper's three kids or something. 🙂

    Better a dignified end for a beat-up old warhorse then shuffled off to some other uniform (speaking of which, I saw a Devils highlight and Kovalchuk looks odder in that uniform than anyone I've ever seen).

    I also received Marian in the mail, so now I have to figure out what to do with the lovely Ms. Petrella's generous prize for my creativity. 😀

  2. I'd like to see Maltby going out hoisting the Stanley Cup one more time, just like I wish to all hell that Yzerman had been able to do the same. I think it's a best case for everybody involved, Maltby and the organization to let him do this now. He doesn't have to suffer the indignity of being a healthy scratch or being waived and sent to the minors. Better yet, the team takes care of the surgery and probably the physical therapy to follow while he's still under contract, so he doesn't have to do it on his own dime. For the team, it solves the salary cap problem.

    I also think that, if he wants it, there will be a spot somewhere in the organization for him after his playing days. A guy like Maltby who knows as much about what it takes to be a winner, even in a non-winner's role is completely invaluable to an organization that so highly values personal sacrifice. After all, Maltby was a 50-goal scorer in Juniors 😉

  3. I think everyone who ragged on Maltby throughout the past few years need to send him an happy hooker that specializes in kissing his ass.

    Fuch you, it makes sense to me.

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