Two takes on the Red Wings’ future foundational players, and Blashill on learning by losing

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

  1. Pro Hockey Talk’s Adam Gretz weighed in on the state of the “Red Wings’ decline” as a preface to this week’s power rankings, and if you were wondering what the “outsiders” think of what’s going on in Detroit right now, here’s what Gretz thinks of the post-2009 Red Wings:

The team was clearly starting to descend down the mountain. That descent has now turned into a complete collapse, and they may have hit rock bottom over the past couple of weeks.

At least for this season. Who knows how much deeper this can go in future seasons. After being systematically dismantled by Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, the Red Wings enter the week having lost 10 games in a row, have one of the worst records in the NHL, and just look … bad.

The most concerning thing of all, though, is that this is not just a bad team this season, it is one of the oldest teams in the NHL, one of the most expensive teams in the NHL, and 15 of the players on the roster are under contract for next season with more than $58 million in cap space committed to them.

Even worse: Who on this team is a player that can be the centerpiece of any sort of a rebuild or offer legitimate hope for the future?

Dylan Larkin is still only 21 years old and has shown flashes of being an impact player at various times in his young career. But he has also 23 goals … over the past two years. Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou look like they could be useful players, but they are not franchise building blocks. Gustav Nyquist is going to be 29 next season and has topped 50 points once in his career. There is not one player on the defense right now that is under the age of 27 and other than Mike Green all of them are signed through at least next season.

2. USA Today’s Kevin Allen disagrees with Gretz’s suggestion that Larkin, Mantha and Athanasiou are merely “useful” while offering a list of 31 teams’ “standout players”–but Allen does not deny the fact that the Wings’ best youngsters are struggling (along with the rest of the team):

Detroit Red Wings: Four key forwards to the Red Wings’ rebuild are Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi. In the Red Wings 0-9-1 losing streak, Larkin has three points and is minus-7; Athanasiou has three points and is minus-3; Mantha has five points and is minus-6; and Bertuzzi has seven points and is minus-four.

3. Among the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan’s off-day notes is the following quip from coach Blashill:

“How hard every game is as you get to the end of the year,” Blashill said. “Understanding how to fight through adversity. Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl-winning quarterback) talked about it after they won the Super Bowl, how much adversity he’s had to fight through. You hope to come out stronger on the other side. That’s what life is all about.”
This streak, Blashill said, is a perfect lesson for the younger players to experience the not-so-easy life of the NHL.
“This isn’t supposed to be easy, this is the National Hockey League,” Blashill said. “Sports aren’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard. That’s why it feels so good when you win. So we have to find a way to keep fighting here.”
“Our guys have done an excellent job of staying with it. Our competitiveness has been great. We have to make sure we’re fighting through that frustration at the end of the game. We can’t have that. We have to keep playing the right way and focusing on 60 minutes of playing the right way.”
This present winless streak — the Red Wings have lost nine games in regulation and one overtime game — is the longest winless streak since an 11-game stretch in 1983-84 (nine regulation losses, two ties). The last Red Wings team to lose more games than this one was the 1981-82 team which lost 14 consecutive games from Feb. 24-March 25.
“Very frustrating, for sure,” said forward Justin Abdelkader, who earned a misconduct late in the third period for voicing his displeasure at an official over a crosschecking penalty. “Lose 10 in a row, that’s not fun. It’s a learning experience for everyone. For sure not a lot of guys have been through this, certainly I haven’t, and it’s not fun. It’s not a fun position to be in. But we can learn from it and be better and continue to go out each night and work hard and win our battles.”

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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.