Red Wings GM Ken Holland wrapped up his Tuesday workday with about seven minutes’ worth of conversation with WJR’s Mitch Albom, and…Had WJR posted this clip, you and I wouldn’t have needed to listen to today’s quips and quotes.
Cliches flowed while he declined to buy into Albom’s suggestion that the Red Wings need to follow the young-players-and-only-young-players model:
The Red Wings cleaned out their lockers in early April for the second straight year.
“The Stanley Cups, the great players… as a young player in this organization, I want that,” Dylan Larkin said. pic.twitter.com/vzTXRbO9Kk
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) April 10, 2018
When I start getting frustrated with the GM’s rhetoric (he’s not my favorite person, nor is his managerial style my favorite method, but I respect the dude), it’s been a long day…
And if I have a locker room clean-out day message, it’s pretty simple: the rhetoric has to meet the road over the next couple of months.
While I was encouraged to hear Holland tell the media that the Wings are going to scout and analyze the top 10 prospects via video and analytics, while I was hopeful when Holland said that the Wings would try to bring in 2-5 young players on next year’s roster, and while I was encouraged to hear the players, both young and old, as well as the coach suggest that this summer is about working their asses off to get better…
The rhetoric from the GM is still the same, still talking about the salary cap changing the game and the team trying to ride out the slow decline of Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Kronwall as the team’s go-to superstars in 2015 as if it were something that the team never truly planned for, just like it feels that the team never truly planned for the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom if they didn’t land Ryan Suter, which they didn’t do despite the last free agent recruitment visit from Mr. Ilitch himself.
I wondered whether the brain drain that Holland acknowledged has occurred–the departures of Yzerman, Nill, Bowman, and diminishment of the role of Jimmy Devellano as an advisor has left the Wings with an absence of voices in the front office, and I was encouraged (again) by Holland’s suggestion that the braintrust is somewhere that the team may add, like it has bolstered the player development department…
But where does the rhetoric hit the road?
When and where do Blashill going out west to watch Dennis Cholowski and Michael Rasmussen, Holland going to Grand Rapids to watch Hronek and company this weekend, the Wings’ scouts coming together to talk about their draft options and Holland and Daniel Cleary going to Toronto at the end of this month to take part in the draft lottery all yield forward movement in “the rebuild?”
When does the team truly prepare to accommodate younger players on the playing roster, not just the list of healthy scratches? When does this “value for value trade” that Holland says he’d love to make actually happen? When do the Wings peruse the list of free agent back-up goalies and restrict their spending to the guys around or south of 30 instead of bringing in in another 35-year-old veteran? When does Mike Green out-live his usefulness for the sake of eying and recruiting a John Carlson or someone like him–or not making a move at all and giving Hronek, Cholowski, Joe Hicketts or Vili Saarijarvi a realistic chance to make the team?
The rhetoric is one thing. The moves this team makes this summer will tell the tale, and for once, I’m hoping that Holland’s words and the front office and coaching staff’s deeds do not match the literally and figuratively tired, old expectations.
For the Red Wings to move forward, everybody has to challenge themselves to learn how to do their job more efficiently and to get better at what they do, the general manager included, and that might include letting some old tenets of the business as he currently knows it go by the wayside.
Here’s hoping, because I really care about this team and I will be seeing enough of its prospects this summer to continue to really believe in the future of this team, and the promise of its prospects…
I just don’t know if that future will ever be given an equitable opportunity to get here while players like Zetterberg and Kronwall are still here to mentor them.