After a week long wait, Steve Yzerman finally spoke. The Red Wings general manager made it abundantly clear that this team is now his, and things will be done on his timeline. No amount of fan angst, losing, or negativity will shift his thinking.
He’s not stupid. He built a consistent winner in Tampa and came to Detroit planning to do the same. He’s preached patience. He’s said it will take time.
But there was a telling statement he made when he answered a question from the Athletic’s Max Bultman:
“I gotta be careful what I say because I know you’ll hold me to it.”
The Captain knows the stakes.
Bringing Back Blashill to the Red Wings
It was inevitable. Yzerman chose to extend Jeff Blashill’s contract on Tuesday without revealing term. He indicated that a lack of clarity on the contract length was his way of doing business:
“I’ve made it my own policy to not discuss or announce the term of any of my staff’s contracts. I don’t think it’s anything I want to share with anyone.”
Though the majority of the fan base is aggravated, this truly doesn’t come as much of a shock. I thought maybe Blashill was having second thoughts about embracing another few seasons of losing, but it seems that both men wanted to take their time with the decision.
Yzerman’s choice on having him return was rooted in exactly what he said all season long: Less about wins and losses, more about development and how the team responded each night.
Interestingly, he answered somewhere in the middle when it came to the remaining staff not named Dan Bylsma, who is allowed to seek other opportunities. When asked about the remaining coaches on staff, Yzerman answered as such:
“I don’t anticipate any changes on our staff, but I won’t rule it out, either.”
Though this news isn’t certainly going to move the needle for many fan’s excitement, the next bit of news did.
Yzerman Impressed by Seider’s Development
He pumped the brakes on it a bit, but from all intents and purposes, it sounds like Moritz Seider will have every chance in the world to make the team out of training camp.
Yzerman indicated that he’s very pleased with Seider’s development and talked about how the young defenseman is beyond where the staff had him at this point in his short career with Detroit. It doesn’t mean he’ll be a lock for the 2021-22 Red Wings roster, but he certainly has the inside track on it.
He also indicated that Lucas Raymond will have his chance to show what he can do as well. Will he make the team as well?
One Common Theme in the Questions He Answered
It’s the manager’s job to make the roster better. He answered it in various ways and made it clear when some asked about Blashill’s job assessment, but Yzerman pointed out that it was ultimately his job to bring in the talent that would help them turn the corner.
How long it takes is anyone’s guess. He talked about bumps in the road and spoke about how things would have to go right. When he took questions about trades, it boiled down to not giving up prospects or draft picks for guys who wouldn’t be with the team in 4-5 seasons. That seems the high end of the rebuild timeline.
The one central theme that I found from Yzerman’s press conference is how he will do what’s necessary to make the team better. He can’t guarantee a timeline. He can’t say it won’t have its moments of frustration. But his vision of making the Red Wings better is clear–adding the right pieces and not cutting corners to do so.
Ultimately, it boils down to what expectations are from the fanbase. Losing sucks. I get the frustration with Blashill’s extension, but Yzerman pointed out that he could fire coaches and the results wouldn’t change. I know the low risk scheme is boring. Some of the games this past season challenged my fandom with defensive battles featuring little scoring and slow action. Not only that, the losses can be numbing. We’re all sick of it and we just desperately want something to change.
The change will come with the roster. Whether he said it directly or not, it sounds like Yzerman will be looking at every avenue to have this team take a jump forward. Be it the younger players. a trade or through free agency.
Two years ago when he was hired, the fans, myself included, finally received what they wanted since he left: Yzerman running the team. Though the rebuild has tested my resolve at times, at the end of it all, I watched him win as a player and then again as a general manager with Tampa Bay. The themes from both were building a solid plan, executing it, and not panicking when things don’t go exactly according to that plan.
Trust the Yzerplan. That trust will be rewarded soon enough.