Detroit Red Wings: Kirk Maltby Should Really Just Call It a Career

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst ISeptember 2, 2010

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 04:  Kirk Maltby #18 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Four of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 4, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Apparently, if Kirk Maltby wants to remain in the Detroit Red Wings organization, he can, but likely as a member of their AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

On Wednesday, GM Ken Holland sat down with Maltby and explained that, as the Wings already have more forwards under contract than they need, most of them several years younger than Maltby, offering him a one-way, NHL contract just isn't in the cards.

Maltby has been a Red Wing so long that some may forget that he actually started his NHL career with Edmonton, in 1993 and didn't come to the Red Wings until 1996.

Regardless, thinking of "Malts" as a life-long Wing isn't too far from the truth.

After all, he came right at the beginning of Detroit's 11-year, four championship run, became a fan-favorite upon joining the famous "Grind Line," and always showed up in the playoffs.

Kirk Maltby has had a career most other players would kill for, and now it appears that career might be at an end.

Malts has a few choices.

He can accept a two-way offer from the Wings that would likely see him start the season in Grand Rapids and don his No. 18 in red and white only if and when an injury occurs in Detroit.

He can chose to look elsewhere for employment, as there are many teams that wouldn't mind adding a four-time, veteran Cup winner to their fourth-line.

Or, he can call up Ken Holland, thank him for the offer, and tell him that he's more comfortable just calling it a career.

This last one is really the best of the bunch.

Even though the Wings' depth, again, more youthful than Maltby, has essentially pushed him out of a heretofore guaranteed roster spot, Kirk Maltby isn't really an AHL player.

Had the Wings not been able to sign Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, and/or Justin Abdelkader, Maltby would likely have been welcomed back as a Red Wing roster player.

The decision to offer Maltby an option to start in the AHL isn't really indicative of where Holland feels his playing level is, but, as contracts go, it is the only financially viable option he can offer at this point.

As far as looking for a new gig outside of Detroit, if Maltby really considered that a possibility, he should have started looking before now.

It's likely that, even now, he could still sign on somewhere for the league minimum and perhaps help a younger team improve or make a playoff push.

But, his team options aren't likely to be many or all that appealing this late in the summer.

Inasmuch as his age and the Wings' financial constraints have marginalized his role in Detroit, and considering the deep roots he and his family have in the area, retiring is really the only sensible option for Kirk Maltby.

Were he to call it quits, there's no doubt Maltby would be honored by the team in a pre-game ceremony, be presented with a special gift, and likely have the whole night be named "Kirk Maltby Night".

Additionally, while Maltby's career really doesn't warrant a jersey retirement, I'd bet anyone who came to the Wings and wanted to wear No. 18 would be instructed to contact Malts to get his OK first (this is what Derek Meech did with Brendan Shanahan when he wanted to wear No. 14).

In short, Malts would retire with honor, fanfare, and a great send-off.

Additionally, referencing Greg Eno's take on the Wings' practices with regards to retirees, Maltby may also be offered another job in the organization that would keep him close to the game and the team.

You really couldn't design a better scenario for retirement.

The alternative would be to start riding to games in buses instead of private jets, or uprooting his family to play in another city for relative peanuts.

At this moment, Maltby is mulling his future, however, he should do right by himself, the team, and his family and give his career the honorable funeral it deserves.

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