Athanasiou and the chicken or the egg

CBS Detroit’s Will Burtchfield penned an article wondering whether the latest benching of Andreas Athanasiou. Burtchifeld wonders aloud whether the relationship between coach Jeff Blashill and Athanasiou, who has handled his benchings with team-first answers, is already beyond repair:

“There’s other guys that some nights their minutes are diminished a little bit and we don’t talk tons about it,” said Blashill, “… but obviously because of the profile of Double-A we talk lots about it.”

The erratic nature of things fuels further frustration, as does this: Athanasiou’s pending free agency. The Red Wings might consider him a key piece of their future, but is the feeling mutual? Athanasiou’s numbers the past two seasons have no doubt been suppressed by inconsistent playing time. He might decide this summer — or maybe he already has — that he’d be better off in a new environment under a different coach.

The Red Wings’ fledgling rebuild is desperate for players of Athanasiou’s ilk. His talent is that of a 30-plus goal scorer. But the strained relationship between the two sides doesn’t bode well for a long-term partnership. Even in the short term, Athanasiou’s status as a restricted free agent matters little if he already has designs of leaving. A change in the GM’s office, where Holland’s contract expires after this season, and/or behind the bench, where Blashill is under contract through next season, may be the only way to salvage the situation.

For now, Athanasiou will “get back on the horse,” as Blashill said Wednesday, and put Tuesday behind him. The coach believes he’s played well over the past month, even if points have been hard to come by and ice time has been as volatile as ever. Athanasiou was bumped back up to the second line with Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar Wednesday at practice, and Blashill plans to call his number often Thursday night.

“He’ll get another chance against Tampa to have a big impact,” said Blashill.

Burtchfield continues

I’m probably in the minority here, but I don’t think that Blashill’s relationship with Athanasiou is unusual given Athanasiou’s potential…

And I don’t believe that Athanasiou’s talent, nor his pre-season, end-the-hold-out discussions with Ken Holland or Jeff Blashill have somehow earned him deference from the coach. I fall in the, “If you perform well, you’ll play more” side of the argument as to whether ice time merits performance or performance merits ice time. As such, and as far as I’m concerned, AA’s inconsistencies in terms of his performance merit the occasional kick in the ass by planting his ass on the bench.

Mind you, I wish the entire team was treated in a more egalitarian manner, but given that Athanasiou tends to respond to these benchings with bursts of performance, I can’t suggest that Blashill is doing something that doesn’t work in #72’s case.


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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

10 thoughts on “Athanasiou and the chicken or the egg”

    1. IF, IF he played more consistently, I could see him posting 20. He’s a rich man’s Darren Helm right now.

  1. Not all players can lay it on the line for 82 Games straight. The young kids seem to not get injured often if at all. Vets seem to get boo boos from time to time but that is just me, too early for me.

    I don’t like the way Blashill handles any of the players.

    I think AA/Mrazek are smart and always happy with Blashill’s dumb ass decisions.

    They will be gone after this season. They are probably the only 2 roster prospects that hold the hammer when it comes to contracts this summer.

    Even if the clown coach leaves, he has already pissed these 2 young players off and they will leave for a fresh environment. I say good for them, I like them and a new team is the right decision.

    Anyone that has played the game knows being publicly disciplined and ice time taken away on a whim (mostly only prospects mind you) is not how they like to be treated.

    Coach must go as I feel he can’t handle young players, look at Babcock the tyrant and see a different approach and good results.

    AA can be a handful, I think, but how many Wings can bring Fans out of their seats. Even people are complaining about his skating and cross overs, I think he is fast enuf with his own style.

  2. 45GP, 10G, 14A, -11
    ‘talent’? 30G ‘talent potential’ maybe, but also needs significant improvement on defense.

    1. It’s funny to look at the “fancy stats.”

      Athanasiou is consistently poor defensively, even when compared to his teammates. He relies heavily on Larkin to produce. He is absolutely expendable. While it may hurt, and hey, in a lucky year, he could get 25 goals, if we can get the right piece….

  3. Does anyone think the top 20 scorers have 200′ D Skills. Surprise!

    Even if AA doesn’t score he has the opposition chasing him and he usually causes mayhem. I enjoy his play and that of the line he sometimes plays on. Sometimes???

    1. 1. AA is not a top 20 scorer. He isn’t even a top 50 scorer.

      2. Patrice Bergeron would like you to look at his goal totals, then back at him, then back at his Selkes, then back at him, then look at AA, then back at him.

      3. For someone to be poor defensively, you had better outscore your opponents. If he can’t do that….

  4. My long winded ramble did not get posted, if I said something that was over the top please let me know. This topic with Mrazek added just hit a nerve, actually 2 LOL.

    1. I’m looking, it looks like it didn’t get posted. Can you cut and paste again? If it’s flagged, I’ll approve it.

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