The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan filed a locker room clean-out day article regarding Andreas Athanasiou, duly noting that Athanasiou’s inconsistency clouds the restricted free agent’s future in Detroit:
“This is one of the greatest organizations in the NHL,” Athanasiou said. “If I get the opportunity to play here, it’s unbelievable. The main thing is trying to get this team back to a playoff position, so you’re a contender for the Stanley Cup.”
The opportunity to play more has been an issue for two seasons. Athanasiou saw his ice time slightly increase this season (15 minutes, 19 seconds, from 13:28 last year), but the inconsistency of playing time mirrored his production and overall play.
After a good start to his season, especially coming off a contract holdout (17 points in 31 games), Athanasiou struggled mightily the second half of the season (16 points in 40 games). Athanasiou also had a team-worst minus-15 plus-minus rating.
“You have to be ready; it’s that type of business you’re in,” Athanasiou said. “Whether it’s nine minutes, or 10 or 15, or 20, you have to be to try to do the best you can. Obviously you want to play a lot, and if I do play, I think can produce more and give the team a better chance of winning.
“(But) there are a lot of guys in this room that have to play. There’s a lot of things that go (into it) and you can’t really look to much into it. Whatever line combination (coach Jeff Blashill) puts out there, he’s trying to win hockey games. You have to respect that and be ready with whatever you got.”
Kulfan continues, and I’d peg the chances of Athanasiou being a Red Wing next fall at 60/40 “for.”
He and the coach disagree regarding the concept that ice time should be awarded based upon performance (or vice versa), and there really are games that Athanasiou dominates, and then stretches in which he disappears.