Ramble time: kudos to the Wings for expressing their displeasure with the damn draft lottery

It appears that Steve Yzerman made the Red Wings’ position regarding a draft lottery which has dropped the Red Wings a total of 8 spots over the past three years known to the rest of the league’s general managers on Friday, because Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the following regarding today’s GM’s “meeting” (via conference call)…

A good chunk of the two-hour discussion was spent on the draft lottery. There are calls to change the format, to increase the odds for teams that finish lowest. While there’s a recognition this was a unique year and not the norm, Detroit was incredibly upset with dropping to fourth after a season where it was clear the Red Wings were not tanking.

The league last tinkered with the odds in 2015, dropping the last-place finisher’s chances of winning from 25 to 20 per cent. Detroit does have support for its position, but the league asked for specific proposals.

And TSN’s Frank Seravalli corroborated the discussion:

In the absence of concrete details, the GMs tabled a multitude of other agenda items during the two-hour call, ranging from the Draft Lottery to the Free Agent interview period to AHL and developmental league issues.

There was lengthy discussion on the Draft Lottery formula, which may be up for a tweak for the second time in six years. There is no question that the Detroit Red Wings left July’s Draft Lottery with a sour taste in their mouth. Detroit finished with 24 fewer points than any other team and – like every last place team since 2015 – had an 80 per cent shot to fall to the fourth overall pick.

Voices that I respect weighed in regarding the Wings’ comments, a couple hours prior to Friedman and Seravalli’s written reports…

Rejigging the draft lottery (again) to be more favourable for teams at the bottom of the table is a bad call, encourages intentional tanking and I hope it doesn’t occur.

Rewarding failure is bad business.— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) October 23, 2020

Thinking out loud here, but I assume the Red Wings are one of the teams pushing for a re-evaluation of the NHL draft lottery after three horrible seasons and not a top-3 pick to show for it.

I mean, one does not drop to a .275 winning % to earn 4th overall.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 23, 2020

In a perfect world, we’re not talking about the Red Wings being in top-four draft lottery positioning again. In a perfect world, the Red Wings’ free agent signings mesh with the team’s top-heavy but promising core, the Wings get way better goaltending and better defense, they score more goals, and the players do a fine job of screwing up Kris Draper’s draft by playing much, much more competitive hockey when and if the 2020-2021 season takes place…

But if “not all goes well,” I’ve been blunt about my opinion as a subjective observer here–I feel that the Wings have gotten jobbed by a draft lottery that was initially designed to prevent the teams that need the most help from a draft designed to replenish struggling teams’ prospect pipelines–and the concept that the man who was once captain of the team, and is now captain of the ship S.S. Red Wings, got politely told by the NHL and his compatriots in GM’s chairs that nobody was going to support less screwing over of the NHL’s worst teams…

Well, DetroitHockey.net’s Clark Rasmussen said it best here:

The only thing the Wings did wrong was not publish a letter announcing that they were going to tank. https://t.co/CAfzf53WIw— DetroitHockey.Net (@detroithockey96) October 23, 2020

The Red Wings’ management chose to tell fans that their GM was going to watch the team perform for a season before making any substantive moves instead of saying, “We’re just going to burn the season off as an experiment,” and perhaps that was ill-conceived given that the New York Rangers got away with the #1 overall draft pick during a year in which they told their fans that they were “rebuilding.”

In my opinion, it’s not Yzerman’s fault that he was the recipient of the final desperate years of Ken Holland’s tenure with the team, or that Holland’s final machinations left the team so very depleted by attempts to lengthen the playoff run when there was no gas left in the tank that there were few prospects or NHL players left on the roster, either. Shit happened under Holland, and Yzerman was given the mop.

His decision to watch what would happen if he made minimal moves was not an explicit decision to “tank” for the sake of tanking–goodness knows the Wings suffered the wrath of injuries, under-performances by players and coaches alike, and a shit-ton of plain old bad execution, a lack of structure and the cumulative effects of snowballing frustration, demoralization and l-o-s-i-n-g…

So I’m going to continue swimming against the punditry’s curve of suggesting that “Tankers Should Not Be Winners Come Draft Day.” The Red Wings did indeed have a shitty season for the shitty ages, but it wasn’t (in my opinion, anyway) the result of executing a plan to suck like a lamprey eel.

And I still believe that the Red Wings and every other team that struggles, be it intentionally or not intentionally, “deserves” to be demoted from top-drafting position to avoid institutionalizing The Tank.

The solution in an NHL whose executive management and executive managers do not plan on making the draft lottery any less punitive is, rather obviously, “Not to tank.”

In the interim, the Red Wings are going to have to hope that Kris Draper’s amateur scouts hit on more picks than Tyler Wright’s staff did, and “we fans” will have to hope that Lucas Raymond and company will do as good or better a job of turning the organization around that Alexis Lafreniere and his fellow Rangers prospects do in Manhattan.

Wings fans and Wings pundits alike are all hoping for a season that doesn’t suck as badly as the last season sucked, and we’re all hoping that there’s a slow but steady upward trajectory from the 20-21 season forward. It’s going to take time to turn the ship around and rebuild the Red Wings’ playoff machine, and it appears that the Wings aren’t going to get any help from the draft lottery, so there’s little point in complaining about a shitty situation.

But sometimes we all need to vent. Consider this my contribution to the, “But they didn’t tank, assholes!” conversation.

Update: Here’s the league’s take, per NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti:

Among the other items on the agenda was a reevaluation of the NHL Draft Lottery. The current format, which gives each of the 15 teams that do not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs a chance at one of the top three picks, was reviewed, and the GMs were asked to submit suggestions for changes.

“We heard on the call from a number of GMs saying they think it needs to be tweaked,” Daly said. “It certainly wasn’t a majority, it wasn’t a large number, but we invited feedback and we’re always receptive and responsive to what the clubs think is the right answer at the end of the day.”

Also discussed:

An update on discussions with the NHL Players’ Association for the seven teams that did not participate in the 24-team Return to Play to have an extended training camp before the start of this season.

“There is kind of an agreement that the seven teams that did not participate in Return to Play should get some extra time in training camp,” Daly said. “None of the details are nailed down, but we certainly talked through what we talked about with the Players’ Association and what the open issues were.”

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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.

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