By Jeff Moss
November 21, 2013
If you asked any casual Detroit sports fan which was the worst offseason in recent memory for one of the city’s “Big 4” franchises, you’d most likely get an almost-unanimous answer — The 2009 Pistons.
And don’t get me wrong, the summer of 2009 was a Joe Dumars abomination. After waiting years for ample cap space to get a player on the free-agent market, Joe D. wasted that capital on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. And how disastrously did that work out?
Well, Gordon was eventually shipped to Charlotte, and in exchange, the Pistons received the RIGHT to give the Bobcats their 2013 first round pick in one of the deepest drafts in years. And that was the comparatively good signing.
CV31? He has become one of the most despised players in Detroit sports history. Villanueva’s tenure in Auburn Hills is most associated with the fan base begging Dumars to “amnesty” his ass. That, and the fact that the only time he’s ever gotten physical in his Pistons career was with the opposite sex. Allegedly.
But here is the thing. The Pistons were going to break bad regardless of Dumars’s 2009 spending spree. Free agents don’t want to come to Detroit. Well, not in the NBA anyway. If not for those epically bad contracts, the Pistons wouldn’t have been awful enough to be in a position to draft Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond and to swap Brandons (Knight for Jennings.)
But someone is going to have to explain to me the silver lining in Ken Holland’s 2012 offseason. Or as I like to call it: I Know What You Did Last Summer: Ken Holland’s Bloody Revenge.
If you don’t recall, here is a painful reminder of a free agency period that would make Ben Willis look like Mahatma Ghandi. Or let me put it this way: Holland’s crowning achievement was Damien Brunner, who was the sole decent pickup from that splurge. And he is the only player that the Wings aren’t currently still on the hook for.
Holland signed Jordin Tootoo just a couple months after watching the enforcer’s former team eliminate the Wings in the postseason. While Tootoo was sitting in a press box as a healthy scratch just a few feet away from the Wings GM.
I am not sure if Holland was impressed with Tootoo’s popcorn-eating ability or what, but he insanely gave the talentless psycho a three-year deal for $5.7 million. I mean, if he wanted the dude, I am guessing he could have signed him to a one-year contract. Three years for almost SIX MILLION DOLLARS??!!?!!? Are you fucking kidding me?
Then Holland decided to get the band back together by signing defensive liability and skating corpse Mikael Samuelsson. And what has this albatross provided the Wings for his two-year, SIX MILLION DOLLAR deal?
14 games. 1 goal. 2 assists. 14 maladies.
If those numbers aren’t bad enough, keep in mind that Holland CHOSE to re-sign this bum instead of keeping Jiri Hudler. You might remember Happy Hudler™ (Inebriated Spoon Allergic Announcer.) Jiri ended up inking a deal in Calgary for just $1 million a year more than Samuelsson.
In 21 games this season, Hudler has 7 goals and 14 assists. For you math wizards out there, that’s a point a game. Do you think Detroit could use that kind of firepower? I dunno, let me ask the head coach, Mike Babcock.
“We’re like the Rangers, can’t score.”
I’ll just take that as a yes, Mike.
Like, can you imagine a GM making a decision to sign Tootoo and Samuelsson for $900,000 a year more than it would have cost to keep Hudler? Oh, ya can? That’s right, because this is the same jackass General Manager who, a few years ago, decided to keep Johan Franzen and let Marian Hossa walk.
For all of you brain dead motherfuckers who boo Hossa every time he returns to the Joe Louis Arena, let me fill you in on something. Hossa wanted to stay in town. It’s pretty well known. The sniper who gave up the guarantee of MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of dollars and took the risk of getting hurt for a one-year deal in Detroit actually preferred to stay in Hockeytown.
But the brilliant GM said no thanks, and stuck with the Mule. Incredible.
Finally, Holland also signed backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson to a two-year deal worth $3 million instead of a cheaper alternative until Petr Mrazek was ready to back up Jimmy Howard. Which, as it turns out, could have been last season anyway for a savings of about $900,000 a year.
What I am trying to tell you is that Ken Holland has been awful now for a fairly long time. Like, really fucking bad. And Holland’s abortion of a 2012 offseason is the main reason that one of the franchise’s top six forwards has been marooned in Grand Rapids this season.
Ya remember Gustav Nyquist, right? The flashy forward who energized the team’s third line late last season and helped propel them into the second round of the postseason?
Which brings us to that pesky little Blackhawks series. The one where the Wings were up 3-1 against the eventual Stanley Cup champs. And had a one-goal lead entering the third period of Game 6.
If Ken Holland could have done anything RIGHT during the 2012 offseason or just ANYTHING AT ALL at the 2013 trade deadline, do you think that might have made the difference in a series the Wings were THAT close to winning against the powerful and mighty Hawks? I am going to go ahead and guess in the affirmative.
But Ken Holland hasn’t done anything correctly in a long-ass time and even when he did, it was usually at the behest of European Scout Håkan Andersson. Do I need to continue to list off Holland’s horrid recent record?
Well, how about his 2011 trade of a first-round pick for Kyle Quincey? Hell, Quincey’s stats make Mikael Samuelsson look like a real Guy Lafleur. In 76 games since that deal, Quincey has 3 goals and 4 assists.
His -12 this season is so bad that you’d think he was playing for the Edmonton Oilers.
And Holland gave up a FIRST-ROUND PICK for THAT. The same Kyle Quincey whom the Wings could have kept in 2008. But “Boy Genius” decided that he HAD TO HAVE Chris Chelios return as a 7th defenseman at the tender age of 47. So Holland — in another coin-flip moment that backfired — decided to keep Derek Meech instead.
So not only did Holland make the wrong decision to waive Quincey in the first place, he doubled down on that stupidity by bringing him back in exchange for a very valuable draft pick.
And where is Derek Meech these days? Playing for Minsk in the KHL and praying that Dynamo’s pilots didn’t falsify their training time for the team’s Yakovlev Yak-42D plane.
[Please insert your own “Rochelle, Rochelle — The Musical” joke here.]
You want to know why the Red Wings are currently mired in a seven-game losing streak? It’s due to Ken Holland’s stubbornness and lack of creativity coupled with the rest of the NHL catching up to Andersson’s Euro scouting ability.
I mean, the team hasn’t been able to recall one of their better players from the minors because they’ve been at the salary cap ceiling. The Wings are the second-oldest franchise in the league, struggling to score, and they couldn’t find a way to clear the deck of a measly $925,000 so they could recall Nyquist. And they only recalled Gus now due to DeKeyser’s injury.
Well, that is what happens when, at the last minute, you sign the corpse of Dan Cleary when you are already maxed out on your credit card. But hey, where would the Wings be without Danny Boy’s 1 goal and 2 assists in 21 games?
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!???!?!?!? And where have you read a Red Wings autopsy like this one? Who in the Detroit Media has pointed out these disastrous decisions? What columnist has called Holland on the carpet as the Emperor With No Clothes?
No one. All you will hear them blargh about is the playoff streak. And the Cups. Do you think a GM with Holland’s recent track record is the REAL reason for those championships? It would be the equivalent of Ethan Coen coming out with “Madea Goes to Fargo” after Joel Coen dropped dead.
Nope. This franchise was built on the backs of Jimmy Devellano, Andersson, Scotty Bowman and others. Hell, I am starting to think that any decent decision Holland has made in the last few years was due to Jim Nill’s influence.
Remember Nill? Holland’s right-hand man for years? The former Assistant GM is now in Dallas and it would appear that he hasn’t learned anything from his “mentor.”
Why, you ask? Because the first thing Nill did when he got to Texas was draft a RUSSIAN in the first round. Something his former boss has not done in over a fucking decade. Yep, the franchise most associated with RUSSIAN HOCKEY has completely ignored that country since the early aughts.
And not only did Nill select Valeri Nichushkin this past June, the KID is currently playing for the Stars!!!!!!!
Meanwhile, back in Detroit, Holland was telling Matt Dery today in an interview on 105.1 that the NHL is a “men’s league.” Kids need not apply. Valeri Nichushkin is an 18-year old.
I guess Nill didn’t get the memo when he was working side-by-side with this buffoon.
And Holland’s answer about the NHL being a “men’s league” was in response to a query about the defending Calder Cup champion Griffins not supplying the big league team with any help.
I’ve got news for you, Ken. Gustav Nyquist is 24. He isn’t a kid under any definition of the word — unless you are Hertz, Avis, National or Obamacare.
After last night’s debacle at the hands of the Nashville Predators, I went on a Twitter tirade about Holland’s abject refusal to call up prospects until they have fully “matured.” For those who missed me losing my shit, here are some of the highlights:
— Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) November 20, 2013
If Ken Holland was the Athletic Director of Kentucky, John Calipari wouldn’t have a roster. — Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) November 20, 2013
If Ken Holland was the GM of the Tigers, he would have traded for Jose Iglesias. And then sent him to Lakeland. — Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) November 20, 2013
If Ken Holland was Doogie Howser’s father, he’d still be in medical school.
— Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) November 20, 2013
Ken Holland thinks Mozart’s parents were reckless to allow him to start composing music at the age of 5. Should have waited until he was 30
— Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) November 20, 2013
The most ironic part about Holland’s “No Wine Before Its Time” philosophy is that it hasn’t helped anyone but Jimmy Howard, who sucked in his first few years in the AHL and wasn’t ready anyway.
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg didn’t spend four years in Grand Rapids. They never played there. (Holland famously wanted Pavel to spend the 2002 season in the minors, but was overruled by Bowman who insisted on #13 making the roster out of camp.)
Did Brendan Smith develop in Grand Rapids? If he did, I can only imagine how awful he would be if he came to Detroit sooner.
The good teams in this league aren’t afraid to play the kids and it has actually become a requirement in the Salary Cap Era. Recent Cup winners have utilized young, cheap, fast talent to augment their older, more expensive star-laden rosters.
Holland is still stuck in a time capsule with his plan of filling out the 3rd and 4th lines with slow has-beens. Mehmet to Ken: Igor Larionov and Luc Robitaille aren’t walking through that door.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks — who have won two of the last four titles — have had no problem with inserting “kids” into a “men’s league.”
The best example being Brandon Saad, who was the 43rd pick overall in the 2011 draft. Saad is no superstar, but he has been a key contributor to the Hawks success. And he made Chicago’s roster as an 18-year old.
Yet the Red Wings continue to refuse to audition talented players like Tomas Jurco or Ryan Sproul. Because it is a “men’s league.” Just don’t tell that to the 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings or to Slava Voynov or Dwight King.
Holland has already waived Tootoo and Patrick Eaves this year and NO ONE wanted either of them. You wonder how many more players are on the current roster that Holland could release with not one other team putting a claim in for said loser.
Not only is the team lousy, but they are an absolute chore to watch. If the Pistons are on at the same time as the Wings it is a no-brainer who I am going to watch. I have access to second row, lower bowl tickets on the blue line and I have come up with excuses as to why I don’t want them.
I mean, at least if you recalled the Nyquist-Calle Jarnkrok-Jurco line en masse and made that the third unit, the team would be somewhat entertaining.
But that isn’t possible. Because unlike when the Wings waived Tootoo, you don’t get salary cap space freed up by releasing geriatric skaters like Samuelsson or Todd Bertuzzi. The CBA protects against that because Gary Bettman didn’t want teams giving players long-term deals to ease the cap hit only to bury the players in the AHL when they were older and no longer productive.
I bet Franzen’s ears are burning after that last paragraph.
It would appear that the only measure of Holland is the playoff streak, which will most likely continue even this year when the team sucks, thanks to the move to the pathetic Eastern Conference. At least that is the only way he will be judged by the neutered media in this pathetic city.
Once again, the Ilitch family will be saved by location. Between the Tigers and the Red Wings, Mr. I should be very thankful for latitude and longitude.
Maybe if Tom Wilson wanted to fill some of those empty red seats down at the Joe he could hold a Garmin GPS Giveaway night to commemorate the MVP so far of the 2013-14 season.