Red Wings fans have made their distaste for the team’s inability to make more than one trade deadline deal quite plain today, and fans have yelled at each other as much as they’e yelled about the fact that Mike Green is still a Red Wing.
I’ve been up and working for the last…it’s been a while since I slept and a longer time since I slept soundly, let’s put it that way, and this afternoon, when all was said and done, I posted the Tweets from and MSM reaction to Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s conference call with Detroit’s Wings scribes.
I spent the time doing so because I wanted you to hear and read the GM’s take for yourselves, and I spent the time doing so because I felt that it was necessary to allow the GM to explain himself.
Now that he’s explained that Mike Green’s neck injury did scare off suitors who had better alternatives (see: Ryan McDonagh, who did get traded, and Erik Karlsson, who did not), he’s explained that Gustav Nyquist did not garner any trade interest, and he’s told the media that he’s trying to balance opening up some room for future prospects with keeping the Wings’ roster together for the sakes of both continuity and leadership (his words, not mine, go ahead and listen to the presser)…
I’m comfortable suggesting that Holland was, as ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski suggests, both a deadline winner and a deadline loser.
Ideally, the Red Wings would have moved more than Petr Mrazek and Tomas Tatar. Ideally, Green would be gone, perhaps Nyquist would have garnered some interest, and maybe even Holland could have off-loaded one of the many albatross contracts which ensure that we won’t see a very different roster on this team for another 2-5 years (as CBS Sports’ Kevin Skriver suggested, the Wings are kind of stuck with their roster for the next couple of seasons, and that’s understandably troubling to the fan base).
None of the “maybes” on that list happened, and instead, the Red Wings shipped a disgruntled goaltender to Philadelphia and a life-long Red Wings fan to Las Vegas so that they may have 11 opportunities to draft prospects at the NHL draft this June.
Red Wings fans are, for better or worse, stuck with a team that is going to find itself on the fringes of the playoff pack for a little while yet, a team that is crossing its fingers that a slow and steady influx of younger players (see: Michael Rasmussen, Evgeny Svechnikov, Tyler Bertuzzi, Dominic Turgeon, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek, Vili Saarijarvi, Dennis Cholowski, etc.) will yield a couple of top-line players who can accentuate the core of Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha.
I’m not thrilled with the fact that Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen may constitute the most expensive third line in hockey, that Danny DeKeyser and Jonathan Ericsson make the money that they do, or that it certainly appears that Ken Holland and Jeff Blashill are going to keep their jobs.
I do still believe in these Red Wings, as mediocre as they may be, and I am not going to abandon them simply because their roster has been built and continues to be built as it is.
I don’t think Ken Holland did a great job today, and I don’t think he did terrible–like his team’s roster, he did a mediocre job with his assets, and mediocrity appears to be the standard while we wait for this “rebuild on the fly” to get to the “building” part.
So go ahead and be angry. Promise that you’re going to root for Las Vegas or Tampa Bay (if you hold onto the faint hope that Steve Yzerman may return after he wins a Cup with the Bolts). Get your butt to some Griffins and Walleye games if you can, because they give me hope for the future.
If you’re particularly pissed about the way today unfolded, vent to whom you are able to vent, throw something soft at something hard, issue a thoughtful lament, or simply shake your fist at the sky.
But don’t trade in your Red Wings jersey just yet. As the GM himself noted, the future is coming, and the Red Wings already have prospects playing on as many as 26 developmental teams, with 11 more to come into the pipeline. Sooner or later, by dumb luck as much as anything else, some of the Rasmussens and Cholowskis and Machovskys are going to develop into good players at an accelerated rate.
And maybe we’ll have something to hope for regarding our hockey team next spring, or the one after that.
For now, things are mediocre (and overpriced, starting with parking at LCA), but it won’t stay that way forever, because Henrik Zetterberg and company will continue to receive reinforcements, and as haphazardly and mediocrely as he runs the team, Ken Holland’s team of amateur scouts is starting to hit in the drafting and developing department.
Trades are hard, perhaps even too hard for you or I to have much solace today, but if I may use a baseball metaphor, Holland hit a solid single, and he hasn’t done that in ages.
Now we can move on and be worried as to whether the Wings have mismanaged Mike Green’s neck injury, and get ready to hear what the players have to say at practice tomorrow. Hockey is a day-to-day process, an everyday business, and we are in the middle of the “rebuild on the fly,” just far enough along to start seeing some flashes of tangible progress.
I think the general manager did the best he could with the assets he had given the constraints of the deadline. I’m not a fan of the general manager, but I am a fan of the team, and I understand that the general manager’s goal today was to make the team better tomorrow.
Hockey gods and Gord Downie in heaven, let’s hope the Wings’ organization gets this right eventually. And in the interim, let’s remain ever willing to critique, to yell and scream, perhaps even to sometimes be optimistic, and to be realistic about the concept that we’re going to have to withstand a little more mediocrity before things get better.