The Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa and John Niyo have weighed in on the comments made during locker room clean-out day, and Krupa focused on the “state of the rebuild,” which Krupa suggests is plain old stuck–at least in fans’ eyes…
Not all fans are convinced. They might well have tolerated 50 losses in regulation this season better than the Red Wings’ 39 losses, if they could have perceived a clearer path forward.
If the Wings had played younger players more, Joe Hicketts, Dominic Turgeon and Evgeny Svechnikov, and introduced Filip Hronek to the lineup later in the season, when they finally brought up Hicketts and quickly won three games, the rebuild would be farther along.
And if more losses had resulted, the Wings would have improved their odds of drafting Rasmus Dahlin, the most desired player in the draft, touted as a supremely talented puck-moving defenseman likely to have an immediate impact in the NHL.
Instead, in a season in which few, other than the Red Wings, thought they could possibly qualify for the playoffs, they both missed the post-season and failed to hasten rebuilding.
It is the way many rebuilds are accomplished in the NHL.
The Red Wings two great rivals from their recent Stanley Cup years, the Avalanche and the Devils, both made the playoffs this season. Although they started rebuilding sooner because they stopped winning Stanley Cups earlier, some critical moments of judgment allowed them to seize the opportunity to get worse so they could get better.
The Wings are late to those decisions. Holland sounds like he is ready, now.
Krupa continues at length, and Niyo offers a wrinkle in the theory by suggesting that ownership could lend Mr. Holland a hand:
And if ownership is as serious about this rebuild as it claims to be about the family’s other pro sports franchise, there’s no time like the present to show it. The Tigers have made a big to-do about upgrading their scouting and player development operations, investing millions in an analytics department and so on. But with the Wings, even at this critical juncture, it still feels like it’s less action and more talk.
“We’re discussing every day how we can be better,” Holland said.
That discussion includes Ilitch, who took part in the team’s midseason scouting summit in Las Vegas back in January and also spent time with Holland and his staff watching some of this year’s top draft prospects at the Five Nations Tournament in Plymouth in February. But where all that talk leads remains to be seen.
The team added Bryan Campbell as its director of statistical analysis and hockey administration a few years ago, but the Wings still lag behind others on the analytics front. Holland did say Tuesday he has tasked assistant video coach Jeff Weintraub with an analytics project involving the top 10 players in this year’s draft. (“We haven’t done that before,” he said.)
They’ve embraced new ideas in other areas, too, with Shawn Horcoff, the team’s director of player development, incorporating the Power Edge Pro system used by the Nashville Predators, among others, into the preseason training regimen at the AHL and NHL level.
“So we’re trying to do things a little bit differently,” Holland said.
Frankly, they have no choice if they want to make this work. The days of unearthing European gems others don’t see are long gone, and the big-market payroll advantage is no more.
“Forget anything that happened before 2005,” Holland said. “That was a different world.”
Niyo also continues, and