Detroit Red Wings fans had a roller coaster week of emotions. Until Saturday, it was a disappointing week on the ice. Losses to Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose on the road led to a shutout on Thursday to the Winnipeg Jets, and the Red Wings didn’t look very good in any of those games.
Squeezed in through all of it, though, was the addition of Nicklas Lidstrom to the front office. In typical Steve Yzerman fashion, here was another big moment announced in a business as usual fashion. Yzerman simply adds guys that will advance his vision and Lidstrom will do that from Sweden.
It’s the practical approach Yzerman has taken since assuming the role back in 2019. But the patience piece is what he’s also preached, and continues to extoll. From Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News:
I don’t really have a timeline. We’re just trying to improve each year, and use the draft and hopefully draft well, and definitely use the draft to increase our prospect pool. It’s too unpredictable when some of these players will be ready, whether it’s Year 1, or Year 2, or three years from the draft, or even five years later.”
Yzerman defines patience, prudence, and practicality. For nearly three years now, he’s asked for fans to understand that there are no expectations other than allowing things to naturally take its course. It’s not a “hope and pray” mentality. It’s to keep expectations reasonable while drafting, developing, and prudent acquisitions via free agency and trades push this rebuild along.
So when Yzerman says there is no timeline, he means it. Lucas Raymond was added when it was time. So was Moritz Seider. Jonatan Berggren waits as does Simon Edvinsson. Inevitably, when they’re ready they are. And when or if they’re not, he’ll make the necessary adjustments.
Yzerman hasn’t been afraid to make changes. The Red Wings are certainly in the midst of a rebuild (still) and through the ups and downs of the season, Yzerman hasn’t wavered. He’s exactly what the Red Wings need to return to their former glory.
Patience, prudence, and practicality is exactly what Detroit lacked for nearly a half decade and the current turmoil in Edmonton is reminding Wings fans of what once was–and what got them here in the first place.
Patience Above all Else Helps the Red Wings Future
It was in 2016 when I was fully convinced Ken Holland wouldn’t adjust with the times. It was the fifth offseason without Lidstrom and he hadn’t addressed the blue line appropriately. He re-signed his guys to long term deals for too much money, and then went after the role player veterans to try and fill the gaps left by Pavel Datsyuk.
In short, there was no patience, prudence, or practicality. There was panic.
In the post Stanley Cup Contention era, Holland was on an even playing field with the rest of the league’s managers. Detroit fans gave him the benefit of the doubt because of the late 90’s and 2000’s. But his moves in free agency, or via trade became more head scratching. The insistence to make the playoffs superseded the journey to get there. Sure, they’d be a “tough out” but there appeared no plan other than allowing prospects to “over-ripen” and sign or trade for veterans past their prime.
So when Yzerman joined the front office, there was this collective sigh of relief from the fanbase. Weeks later, Holland was in Edmonton, in a market that would scrutinize more, and one that didn’t have three Stanley Cups of goodwill built into a timeline. The same tired storylines from Detroit followed Holland to Edmonton. And amidst another six game losing streak with some of the greatest players in the world on his roster, it’s a five alarm fire in Edmonton.
Our friends over at Oil on Whyte addressed this earlier in the week when Colton Pankiw laid the blame squarely at Holland’s feet. While Oilers fans want coach Dave Tippett fired, Pankiw argues this:
This roster has some serious flaws, which is why if anyone in Edmonton deserves to be taking heat right now, it should be general manager Ken Holland.
The read is worth it because it’s like being in a time portal, seeing the same bad moves just with different names and faces. For his mistakes in Detroit, he apparently hasn’t learned. Panic has set in, and Holland looked and sounded anything but relaxed in a press conference earlier this week.
My intent isn’t to bag on Holland. It’s to present the alternative–that for every bad period the Wings have, the frustration of guys like Michael Rasmussen or Filip Zadina not performing as we think they should, or some of Jeff Blashill’s frustrating decisions–we’re no longer stuck in the purgatory of Holland’s decision making.
One other element of the often knee-jerk reactions of Detroit fans: it has been a brutal run for all four teams, where there hasn’t been one franchise to distract from all of the losing in nearly a decade. It’s been persistent losing across all four leagues, and this only adds to the impatience of wanting to see things turn around.
Yzerman is the tonic to all of this. His cool head, and ability to stay the course amidst the constant noise will get the Red Wings where they need to be.
It’s all about patience, prudence, and practicality. Let the panic reside elsewhere.