Threading the needle

I can only scratch my head at this Ken Holland quote from today’s post-free agent signing conference call, per the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

“We are trying to transition from older people to younger people,” general manager Ken Holland said Sunday afternoon. “We signed some veteran players because it’s important we have some veterans around our kids, but at the same time, it’s important that those kids get an opportunity. We believe we can make both things happen.”

Recent forward draftees Michael Rasmussen and Filip Zadina and defensemen Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski are among leading candidates to grab jobs either out of training camp or early in the season.

“We’re going to give a lot of young players a long look in preseason and the plan is, the hope is, to have two or three kids crack our lineup,” Holland said. “But they have to be ready. And if they don’t make the roster on opening day, that doesn’t mean they’re not up two weeks later. It’s a six-month season, and lots happens. Zadina and Rasmussen were just here at development camp and the message to those players is you have to come in and win a job. We are going to give them every opportunity.”

The Wings want to create a competitive situation balanced with rebuilding.

“The hope is we can hang in and the longer we can hang in, I think the better the environment is for the fans, for our players, especially for our young players,” Holland said. “Ultimately my focus as the manager is probably on this team a little bit down the road. I don’t want it to be way down the road, but a little bit down the road, we can be in the playoff race.”

St. James continues, and if there ever was a single-article summary of Ken Holland’s system of beliefs as they apply to his managerial moves, the above-quoted paragraphs are that philosophy distilled. The man truly believes that he’s threading the needle between a veteran-laden team and a youth movement.

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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.

9 thoughts on “Threading the needle”

  1. You know that quote about how the definition of madness/insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome? That’s Holland’s managerial philosophy in a “nut”shell. Either that, or he’s just a liar. He can’t really believe that adding Vanek is going to be the spark that ignites a goal scoring frenzy. Green is just one of six mediocre defensemen who will all be on the roster opening night. He seems to be chasing the playoffs again and hoping that will sell tickets at LCA. All the talk about rebuilding and adding young prospects to the roster seems to be just that…..all talk. He does seem to be building a Calder Cup contender in Grand Rapids.

  2. There are reasons the Oilers traded away the 2018 MVP and Eberle, another top tier pick. I don’t like the complete tank philosophy. It takes you so far down, that the coaching carrousel and monetary demands compound, unless you have 1-2-1 like Crosby, Malkin, Fleury…and time… Since Pittsburgh was in the oldest rink in the league and bottom dwelling, they were in financial dismay as well, but able to weather the storm. The Wings don’t have that situation. They NEED butts in seats, without giving away cars or trucks.

    Listen, I HAMMER Holland non stop for the HEAVY contracts during the league transition to “Capland”, but his ability to collect over 4 years worth of picks, for 3 drafts is Impressive., AND timely!
    (Especially since Brendan Smith was sent down and Cleared WAIVERS with the Blue, and Tatar was scratched for 70% of the Cup Run)

    Maximum Value in return

    The Wings top 4 picks were first round talent, with a sniper, arguably the Top NHL Ready Forward, included.

    What is Zadina pulls a Laine with Rasmussen and Larkin, or Zetty holding down the line.

    Today, 7-2-2018, I agree with Holland. Greene. Good Value for his 33rd, and 34th years on the planet. He will be fine for 1.5 years. Adding value on the flip in 2020, helping add picks to the crop for that year. Necessary.

    Needed another NHL ‘tender too. Not close to arguable.

    So if you want to argue Vanek, who was GREAT as a Wing 2yrs ago, put up over 50pts between 2 yeams, and still has 50pt potential, as well as an Incredible Attitude. Go ahead. I am not.

    The Wings were DEAD entering the Joe, and Fortune Finally Fell upon the Wings thanks to Mother Russia, the top coach in NHL History, and a Changed Yzerman.

    Example and Expectations from INSIDE the room are Necessary during a rebuild…and for a year….I will take it and congratulations to Holland for getting the #’s of picks necessary to plow through the rebuild and adding known positive components that will bolster the Attitude that is necessary to endure mediocrity.

    1. Agree with RickP. We will be pretty bad this year which is OK as we look to 2-3 years from now. Meaningful assets will have been obtained. Big old contracts will be gone. AND we maintain a professional, success-oriented environment while upholding the Wings high standard of identity. It can be done with some patience. And some luck to accelerate. The kids will get worked in plenty this year.

    2. Finally someone with common sense.
      These shortsighted trolls can’t see past their noses. Green is necessary on the pp. Vanek was 5th in goals scored last yr. 1 yr is fine & will help tutor the kids.

  3. It’s all about depth. If KH knew that there would be no injuries, I truly believe he would feel comfortable going with a more kid-heavy lineup. But he probably does go overboard here since there are around 5 kids that look to be NHL-ready, at least in a limited role. At least KH didn’t sign any bottom pairing or bottom six players.

    1. That does cheer me a bit. He didn’t bring back Drew Miller or anyone like that.

      Of course, it’s only July 2nd… 🙂

  4. I understand where he’s coming from…you can’t just throw guys out there to get their asses kicked. The only thing they learn is how to get their ass kicked. Stay as competitive as you can, teach guys a little bit about winning and continue to build for the future. Look at Bert for example…don’t you think he benefited a lot from his stints in GR making a run at the Calder Cup? I sure do…

  5. There’s definitely a balance to be found between youth and experience.

    I don’t think any of us want, say, the Edmonton mess of a few years ago, where they seemed to routinely stunt younger players by virtue of exposing them to too much dysfunction and losing.

    And there are always some injuries. You never know if it’s going to be a season where you have to go 18-20 deep at forward at points, or one where the top couple prospects scarcely get a look due to the healthy veterans in front of them.

    I think we’re a little tilted to that second end of the continuum.
    And I like Vanek. Not necessarily the signing, but the player.
    Kenny just overdoes it. He’s biased toward vets and biased toward stocking up on quantity in ways that can impede rather than advance the rebuild. Nothing we didn’t know. I won’t say “He lied to us!!” But there are definitely mixed messages in always signing more vets than you need after talking more boldly than before about opportunities for kids. At a certain point, you only have so many spots and minutes and, empirically, we are not talking about a dynamic trader who quickly adjusts and can ease the logjam if necessary. I’ve just read far too many times that he’s stocking up in part to trade excess forwards for help elsewhere. Easier said than done.

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