For a variety of reasons that I will get to momentarily, I have already made the decision that I will be rooting against the Red Wings from the second the puck is dropped on the upcoming 2017-18 season. From the moment the national anthem concludes at Little Caesars Arena on October October 5th and some redneck christens the ice with an octopus toss, I will be hoping that the Wings lose.
And not in 3-on-3 overtime or in a shootout. Good, old-fashioned regulation losses. The main reason for hoping my favorite sports franchise monumentally flops this season is the same reason why an oncology patient endures radiation and chemotherapy. Not because high-energy gamma rays are good for your body, but because they are a necessary evil to kill the cancer.
And the tumor inside the Red Wings organization continues to be Ken Holland. And until the General Manager’s person has been excised from the organization, this team will continue to suck. Now, I have no idea if another season in which the team misses the playoffs will cause Chris Ilitch to part ways with his longtime executive, but I do know there is ZERO chance that will occur if the franchise does squeak into the postseason as Wild Card entrant cannon fodder.
Now, we are all fully aware that Holland’s contract expires at the end of this upcoming season and the only hope that this team’s direction and operational decisions will dramatically change is if Holland is gone. Not kicked upstairs where he still can get his tentacles on player personnel decisions. Removed from Olympia Entertainment entirely.
I am not going to spend 2,500 words regurgitating why Holland is currently one of the most inept GMs in all of professional sports or why the Red Wings are currently one of the worst franchises among the Big Four North American leagues. I have done that here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Hell, it feels like I’ve spent half my adult life chronicling the failures of Holland and I am not about to spew out another dissertation.
I will say this though, Holland’s utter fall from grace has culminated in the recent news that the team’s most exciting young player, Andreas Athanasiou, is being lowballed by Holland and the speedy forward is threatening to leave for the KHL.
Now, I fully expect that Double-A will sign with the Wings in the near future — probably while I am writing this screed — but the fact that the negotiations have gotten to this point is an absolute disaster. The team is commencing training camp in Traverse City and one of the most gifted 5-on-5 goal scorers in the NHL is sitting at home while guys like Jonathan Ericsson and Darren Helm get ready for another season in Detroit.
Holland has painted himself into this corner over the last few seasons by handing out ridiculous contracts to substandard players and he now has to play hardball with a fan favorite. Coming off a season in which they tied Arizona for the second lowest number of regulation wins, Holland failed to improve the team this summer and is STILL salary cap strapped.
There is NO NHL team that currently has a worse return on investment than the Wings. $75 million (not including Johan Franzen’s dead space) for 24 wins in regulation last season. And even with those facts on the table, the team currently can’t afford Athanasiou’s demands.
And Holland’s bigger issue is that paying Athanasiou what he is worth now will only further complicate issues next season when he will still have an awful on-ice product plus Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha as restricted free-agents.
As fucked as the Wings currently are salary cap wise, it’s not like it’s going to get any better next season when the only contract coming off the books is Mike Green’s. Holland’s malpractice isn’t missing the playoffs last year for the first time in 25 seasons or even the failure to win more than one playoff round in recent years, it’s the current nightmare we are enduring and the fact that the future is even more depressing.
After putting himself in this position over the last few years, Holland had the chutzpah to tell the useless Red Wings media that he will not negotiate against Russia ….
This comment came with zero blowback from the eunuch diggers who cover this franchise for a living. Ken Holland isn’t negotiating against the KHL, he is NEGOTIATING AGAINST HIMSELF.
It is believed that Holland’s first offer to Athanasiou was the exact deal that Xavier Ouellet received. That was the opening insult which led to this nasty negotiation. It is believed that the offer now on the table for AA is the same money Luke Glendening makes at half the term.
The NHLPA would probably revoke the license of Athanasiou’s agent if he accepted a deal comparable to that of LUKE GLENDENING. Are you fucking kidding me with that shit?
At this point I am totally hoping Athanasiou calls Holland’s bluff, leaves for the KHL, and represents Team Canada during the 2018 Olympics. Take the $3 million this season in Russia™ (Paul Manafort) and pray that Holland isn’t the one making these sorts of decisions next offseason.
I want the Red Wings to STINK this year and that will be easier to accomplish when their best even-strength forward is skating for SKA St. Petersburg or HC CSKA Moscow.
The dream would be this ….
Holland’s team completely bottoming out, AA leading Canada to a gold medal in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Ilitch being embarrassed by both of these events and severing ties with “Kick the Tires” Kenny.
There is only one thing I want out of this coming season. The first pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and the opportunity to select stud Swede Rasmus Dahlin.
A 17-year-old defenseman who is ALREADY playing in a “men’s league” and is drawing comparisons to Erik Karlsson and some dude named Nicklas Lidstrom.
The only way to get better is to hit rock bottom.
The chemotherapy is not being able to watch Double A skate circles around opposing defensemen for a year.
The potential remission is Rasmus.
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