DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji reports that the Red Wings are attempting to instill good habits in their young players while embarking upon a grueling portion of their schedule:
“The guys that figure it out are the ones that are the real good players in the league,” Blashill said. “My job is to make sure I’m their mirror and make sure I’m telling them when they’re doing it right, when they’re not doing it right. Certainly after the other night, my job as a mirror was to say it wasn’t good enough. We weren’t determined enough. We went out there, we were OK, we hung on, we had a chance to win at the end but we weren’t determined enough. We didn’t have enough chances. We’ve got to be more determined than that. I don’t care if you’re big or small, you got to make sure you come out with that level of determination.”
Mantha said he and Blashill have kept the lines of communication open.
“For me it’s been a message for four years now,” Mantha said. “I think lately I’ve been playing pretty good. We talked, me and Blash, a lot this year, a lot of video. We got it going a little bit better than in the past. Just to be focused every game, every shift, to do the little details you need to perform. Preparation.”
As Larkin mentioned, the young players do have a lot of good examples to follow in the team’s leaders.
“That’s one thing that I think that we have going for us above other organizations in the league, at least on my knowledge of coaching other teams in the world championships, talking to other people who get traded here or sign here as free agents,” Blashill said. “We have a group of guys that do it right and guys that you can learn from in Zetterberg and (Niklas) Kronwall, but I’d include guys like (Frans) Nielsen and (Mike) Green and (Trevor) Daley and (Jonathan) Ericsson. They do it right every day.
“So there is no excuse. There’s models here to make sure that guys can emulate themselves after in terms of the approach every single day. Zetterberg’s one of the best. There’s no days where he can just skate around the rink because he’s a fluid, easy skater, it’s every day he’s got to be ready. He’s got to be ready to battle and grind and he does.”
Update: The Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa also penned an article about the situation:
Even as they use the current juncture to adapt their games to the NHL, some of the younger Wings soon will be called on to be leaders soon, with Zetterberg likely to retire after next season or in two seasons.
“Guys that are coming up from the American League are generally elite players at the American League level,” Blashill said. “Their talent discrepancy is greater. There is still a discrepancy in talent among American League teams where you can take nights off and win. There is none of those here.”
And that degree of difficulty has heightened in recent NHL seasons, the coach said.
“It’s way different from five years ago,” Blashill said. “It’s way different from seven years ago. It’s years different from 15 years ago. There’s no bad teams. Even teams with bad records are not bad teams. And so, every night, you have to be so much on top of your game.”
Blashill said it takes players time to adjust, some more than others.
“I think it’s a learning process sometimes for young guys to understand, and that’s what separates the elite players in the league from the good players,” he said. “The elite guys find a way to be at the 90-100 percent of their max every single night, because there’s just no way to go out and work yourself into a game and no chance to kind of go out and skill yourself around the rink.”