Abel to Yzerman
by VooX on 10/02/13 at 10:55 AM ET
As summer drew to its conclusion many around the NHL were finishing up their summer readings at their cottages. Our imp commissioner, Li'l Gary Bettman, was reviewing the classic self-help book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and wondering where it all went so wrong for him. His boy-toy Sydney Rosby was dressing up as a vampire with sparkles and live action role-playing the "Twilight" trilogy.
Up at Lake Kalamalka in Vernon, British Columbia, Ken Holland was settling into a 540-page tome of his own. Entitled "Collective Bargaining Agreement Between National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association" it has become Holland's must-read of the year. And that has Li'l Gary Bettman very worried.
No GM in the league turned Li'l Gary's last CBA inside-out quite like Holland did. The long-term contracts with diminishing annual salaries to reduce the overall cap-hit became known as the "Red Wings Contract". Crazy Lou in New Jersey even tried signing a Russian to a fifty-year deal until Bettman put down his size-5 shoes and said "Niet" to the contract.
This may be hard to admit today, with Nyquist stuck in Grand Rapids and Samuelsson remaining in the D, but Ken Holland is smarter than us and orders of magnitude smarter than Li'l Gary Bettman. People around the NHL know it as well and are waiting for the next loophole the Wings will exploit to make Bettman's salary cap look like the farce it is.
Gary Bettman can read, Ken Holland can read between the lines.
If Tick-Tock had his way Samuelsson would be gone. Yesterday. As it stands today, Holland has to find a place in the marshes of the UP to hide a body. I'm sure that if he had his way Cleary would be gone as well. Neither of those players would be missed around here. But Uncle Mike needed Charlie Buckets on the team for leadership and force of personality. For years Tick-Tock has mostly ignored Babcock's wishlist but not this time. Uncle Mike got his Charlie Buckets and Red Wings fans got indigestion at the thought of sending Nyquist to the minors again.
Criticism towards Holland is warranted. He did very little to replace Lidstrom, Rafalski, and White despite advance warning, he has let decent prosects over-ripen in GR while struggling veterans were signed to contract renewals, he signed Mule instead of Hossa, he ignored Uncle Mike's requests for scoring forwards, etc., yet I believe that much of the criticism has been blown out of proportion.
That is certainly not going to be a popular opinion aboard the Hasek.
We don't really know how trade negotiations went. I am convinced that all trading partners wanted to bend Holland over the proverbial barrel to make any trade and Tick-Tock refuses to be anybody's bitch. While other GMs are throwing handfuls of money at middle-of-the-road free agents, Holland is playing the long game thinking about the future and setting the Wings up for continued success.
It may have taken a slew of Jobu-related injuries last season to give the kids a chance but they had it and proved themselves capable of NHL-calibre play. I am much more confident about our blueline today than I was last season. We are in the process of a rebuild and still made the playoffs and took the eventual Stanley Cup winners to Game 7 overtime. No other teams even come close when rebuilding.
Let's not underestimate how much has been accomplished this offseason. Weiss is an absolute steal. The guy is head and shoulders better than Filppula especially in the offensive zone and faceoff circle. While the MSM may question this fact, they are wrong. Weiss was stuck on a horrible team and performed admirably. He will flourish on the Wings.
If anyone saw the Wings' PP with Alfredsson on the ice last Friday and didn't get tight in the pants, you weren't paying attention. His work and positioning, and that of his linemates, on his PP goal was the stuff that will make the opposition cry every game. Alfie is a beast. He provides us with a top-6 threat unmatched with the exception of a few teams. He will fit into the Wings' system seamlessly and may even pull Mule out of his regular doldrums.
The Wings are heading into a conference and division where defence matters little. Bringing their two-way oriented system to the East will allow the Wings to thrive while they continue their retooling. Make no mistake about it, Nyquist will be back and Samuelsson will be punished. Cleary will continue to frustrate us until the postseason where he will be an impact player so long as he can stay healthy throughout the regular season.
While Tick-Tock has earned his share of criticism over the past few years, this year he pulled his weight and then some. If he could have gotten rid of Samuelsson, as he had hoped to do, his success this offseason would have been indisputable. Let us not forget that Holland found the bargains among the free-agent fray that will set us up for continued success. He provided Uncle Mike with two solid PP units and a young roster of hungry talent ready to prove their mettle.
Agree with me or not, that's up to you. I think the Wings are looking better than they have for years. Just wait until Holland starts reading between the lines of the new CBA and works his roster magic once again.
In Tick-Tock I trust. Bitches.
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