Detroit — An offensively-challenged hockey club would prefer to avoid a hearing in which it would likely attempt to diminish the value of its leading goal scorer, and time presses them both.
The Red Wings and Tomas Tatar will meet with an arbitrator Thursday to determine his merits and devise a new contract unless they negotiate a deal.
According to a report Friday from Slovakia, Tatar said he wants to stay.
And he said he and his agent, Ritch Winter, have “an excellent relationship” with GM Ken Holland, according to a Google translation of a report by Sportklub, a European broadcaster with programming in nine countries.
Tatar also said he thinks he should stop talking to the media about the current bit of critical business between him and his only NHL team.
“Detroit gave me a chance to start the NHL,” Tatar said, according to the report translated from his original Slovak language. “I hope I can continue and improve my (team). Detroit is a super organization full of excellent people.
“Despite everything positive, it's still business, and you will not influence decisions like this. Time will show … There is still time to agree."
The negotiations are continuing, and Tatar expressed some contentment with that.
And, he suggested perhaps less public discussion is better.
“I'll let Ritch and Kenny do magic,” he said. “It's up to them or arbitration
“From now on, I no longer want to comment on the media.”
Tatar expressed frustration with the process last week in Slovakia, according to another report.
He is likely seeking about $6 million for each of several years, and the Red Wings offer is about $5 million.
His agent is a savvy, veteran inside player.
Winter helped lead the effort to oust Alan Eagleson as executive director in 1992, as well as Eagleson’s conviction for fraud.
In 2007, Winter assisted Chris Chelios in a 2007 coup d’état in the NHL Players Association, after director Ted Saskin faced accusations of reading players’ emails.
He then took up the cause of Carl Brewer, a former defenseman for the Wings, Maple Leafs and Blues, and helped restore $50 million in pension benefits for a group of players, including Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr.
The Red Wings are close to the salary cap and casting about for ways to improve the diminished fortunes of the franchise.
The roster has been in flux since Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement in 2012. Given the state of the lineup, the next Stanley Cup contending team is likely several seasons away.
Tatar leads the team in goals with 75 since the end of the 2013-14 season.
Arbitration is disdained because a team is essentially forced to criticize a player to preserve cap space.
The Wings were at the tip of it last year with Petr Mrazek but got an agreement.
The hard bargaining, especially as time wanes, can be upsetting enough for some players. Arbitration is a perceived evil.
“It's business,” Tatar said, according to Sportklub. “When they say something nasty to you, you have to take it.
“I know that Ken Holland likes me, but he is also an experienced manager. Arbitration exists to set a certain bar. The decision will always be somewhere between being fair for both parties.”