Holland And Company Must Play Call Of Duty, Not Chess
“When troubles come, they come not in single spies, but in battalions.” William Shakespeare
Troubles have come to Detroit, and in battalions.
There are situations where donning kid gloves, is appropriate. Some people, and even some institutions, have reached such a zenith of excellence, that virtually any critique of them, would be fatuous and insincere. But these situations are quite rare, and the consequences of not holding feet to the fire when the fire is burning, can be calamitous. The Red Wings, specifically the front office, stand at such a juncture.
It seems to me, that Detroit is a team that has not been improved in any significant way, since the signing of Marian Hossa in 2008. Replacing Brian Rafalski with Ian White has basically been a wash. A good wash, if there is such a thing, but a wash nonetheless, and Rafalski may have the edge in offensive acumen. Possessing an unprecedented amount of cap space to forge a roster with, and a group with more years behind them than in front, the Ken Holland think tank must now abandon the chess master method of intuiting the next ten moves, and adopt a “Call Of Duty” method of blasting away at what is in the immediate vicinity. A failure to do so, will be a surrender to an unknown number of early playoff exits, and maybe something even worse: A revoking of our golden ticket to the spring dance.
Detroit’s depth is now more akin to a kiddie-pool than an ocean. For many seasons now, Ken Holland has been regarded as the finest GM in the NHL, and rightly so. The man’s discipline and poise have been admirable, and the teams assembled by the calculating manager have been peerless. Never will Holland be seen ranting like a tempestuous adolescent, or denouncing an opposing organization or underachieving player, like we have seen so many other managers do.
Unfortunately, sports are a results based business, and our team’s results have been underwhelming of late, and I fear worse is on the horizon. Now is the time for Holland to once again demonstrate that the colorlessly titled “NHL General Manager Of The Year Award”, should be renamed in honor of Detroit’s artificer.
I suspect that Detroit is in for some growing pains during the 2012-2013 season, and that is putting it mildly. The loss of Nicklas Lidstrom will not be fully felt until the puck drops in October. This will happen regardless of whether or not Ryan Suter becomes a Red Wing. The team, as things stand, simply does not have the pieces in place to compete for the Stanley Cup. What makes the situation more dicey, are the well founded rumors that the Minnesota Wild are prepared to offer Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, the players to be targeted aggressively by Holland, close to nine million dollars per season. At the risk of being called a hypocrite, the “Call Of Duty” method I endorsed earlier should take Detroit to eight million. But nine? Please. Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk are worth nine, and that is pushing it.
While we are on the subject, it needs to be taken into account, that Pavel Datsyuk will turn 34 this season. Considering the way Datsyuk plays the game, it’s feasible that he can remain one of the top five skaters in the NHL for another four seasons. But this is pure speculation, and soon we will be asking too much of number 13. That makes the acquisition of FORWARDS with high caliber skill, of the utmost importance.
While it was frustrating to see Detroit remain stagnant on the D-Day that is the trade deadline, by all accounts, teams were asking our managers to part with the pillars of our future. In other words, the demands were laughable.
Detroit fans should be beyond excited about the potential of prospects Tomas Jurco, Calle Jarnkrok, and Teemu Pulkinnen. Sources in the Nova Scotia area have described Jurco as nothing less than a star in the making. The same has been said of Jarnkrok, a player in the Zetterberg mold, and Pulkinnen, who has been compared to Jarri Kurri. Do we have a new dazzling set of Euros in the system? Let’s hope so. The legacy that started with 19 and 91 was carried on by 13 and 40. New numbers must be made legendary in this next decade.
Compared to what Hockeytown is used to, things are looking grim. Assuming the rumors regarding the Wild offering kingdoms to Parise and Suter are true, Holland certainly has his work cut out for him. What is he to do? He is to be hockey’s finest manager. He is to be Ken Holland. After hearing a pitch on the brilliance of a general, Napoleon Bonaparte responded with a simple question: “Is he lucky?” We know Ken Holland is both brilliant, and lucky. If there was ever a summer to remind us of this, it is this one.
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