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Morning Line- Mike Harrington

In the big picture, the players and coaches and GMs haven't been good enough but they're not alone. After all that's gone on in this crazy decade, don't forget the owner is the only one who's been here the whole time.

-Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News on Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula.  More on this topic from Harrington.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, | KK Hockey | Permalink



This is what I fear is in play in Detroit.
We’ve changed the coach and GM so we don’t focus on the fact that we’re 10 or 12 years into the suck.

The organization has given itself permission to fail and that monkey gets fed every single game.  That monkey, in my opinion, has made itself comfortable and isn’t going anywhere until there’s a real shake up. 

Posted by Ventr on 02/21/21 at 02:51 PM ET


Already giving up on a new GM, less than two years on the job, who hasn’t even finished cleaning out the old GM’s garbage bins yet?

Red Wings find are nothing if not patient.

Posted by PresidentJoeByzerman on 02/21/21 at 04:38 PM ET


We are loitering in august company of Buf, Ott, Az, Clb, Edm, Col and other lose to win juggernauts.  Most of these guys can’t get past their own culture to win consistently and I fear that we’re well down that path.

The entire organization seems to have permission to fail as long as the kids develop. We’ve got the failing part down, and on the development side, look to Tartar and Nyq to see where that development leads.

If you feel like he’s done enough to set the tone then I’m glad that you’re satisfied.  For me he appears to be too patient, too tolerant.

Posted by Ventr on 02/21/21 at 07:41 PM ET

d ca's avatar

This is what I fear is in play in Detroit. We’ve changed the coach and GM so we don’t focus on the fact that we’re 10 or 12 years into the suck.
Posted by Ventr on 02/21/21 at 02:51 PM ET

I simply disagree with your timeline.

Let’s be fair here. Holland following ownership’s mandate continued to go all in: trading a 1st round pick as recently as 2016 thinking he could clear Dats’ cap number and get Stamkos and have yet another run meant the Wings rebuild hadn’t started. The bad contracts Holland signed (some as a result of team success) meant their was little room to maneuver.

The Wings continued success (as measured by staying out of the NHL draft lottery system) which had them drafting late in the 1st (or having their first draft choice in the 2nd) plus operating in a cap world meant they couldn’t just buy their way out by spending on free agents—which was compounded by missing on those draft picks. This lead to exactly what is supposed to happen in a cap world when a team has a run of unprecedented success: they have to bottom out. Ownership delayed that bottom by mandating a new bar of success (making the playoffs). And Holland ignored all signs that this was not the team’s best recourse of action. That delay in executing what should have been done years before was finally realized at the trade deadline in 2017.

So the Wings aren’t 10 to 12 years into sucking. I put the rebuild start date as trade deadline 2017 so that means this is year 4.

So the question is why are they not getting better? In a nutshell, they are. But they are deliberately going about it in a slow pace so that they shed contracts of bloated salaries and to keep young guns and prospects salaries to a minimum and maximize team control. Doing this allows them to stretch that window of competitiveness down the line. The philosophy is best exemplified by the fact that no team has had more draft picks since the 2017 draft than the Detroit Red Wings.

Now the micro view—it’s bad. Expensive vets still make up the core of the team. They have a coach that is over-matched on the NHL level. Anyone arguing otherwise can be shut up with three stats: power play efficiency, penalty kill effectiveness, and nhl standings point percentage. Think about those in the terms of the salary cap structure world of parity.

Now look at how experts are rating their farm system. The Hockey Writers gives them 3 prospects in the top 100 (30. Veleno, 18. Seider 3. Raymond) moving them from 14th in 2020 overall to 7th. The Sportingnews had them 10th in 2020. The Athletic has them 4th and has Jonatan Berggren ahead of Veleno. All seem to agree that only Raymond and Seider are worthy of 2nd tier ratings (1st tier being the generational talent the Wings simply don’t have in the pipeline).

Given that pipeline evaluation what is Yzerman’s best course of action. The one he is taking. Load up on as many picks as high as possible. Sign short-term contracts and move them for additional prospect/picks and hold back and try to stretch RFA contracts.

Now if you want to talk about coaching philosophy that’s a different animal altogether and my view is that they are holding back the kids development by not playing them during a throwaway season—-but I think that is on Blash and simply being tolerated by Yzerman because it aids his long-term plan of compiling top picks. The Wings are projected to have 45M in cap space this summer. What Yzerman does with it will be my albatross of where the Wings franchise is headed. I suggest waiting until after the COVID seasons finish before rendering any verdict about the state of the rebuild. But adding yet another top 5 draft pick would go a long way to making the team more capable in the long-term. And losing consistently is what that takes. So unlike you, I hope they lose every single game the rest of this Covid season.

Posted by d ca on 02/21/21 at 08:24 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

Let’s be fair here. Holland following ownership’s mandate continued to go all in:

A very astute article d ca. cheese

Posted by bigfrog on 02/21/21 at 09:18 PM ET


Good post d_ca.

That’s a more than fair, plausible, balanced assessment of how various conscious priorities and decisions (right or wrong) errors within that and belated corrections to it have set up and fit into the big picture before Yzerman was hired and what his overall strategy, priorities and tactics within that have looked like - what the rationale for those decisions might credibly be.

Posted by lefty.30 on 02/21/21 at 10:20 PM ET

Primis's avatar

My goodness the talent BUF has drafted.  Eichel, Reinhart, Ristolainen, Dahlin, Mittelstadt…

And then the guys they’ve brought in from the outside as well (or have drafted but traded, or just moved on).  And they still can’t seem to make it work and pull it together.

It’s like raw, young talent isn’t everything.  BUF seem to be going through a phase similar to EDM pre-McDavid (and to an extent they’re still in it even now I guess).  Maybe it’s a lack of leadership/winners around the kids.  I don’t know.

I think it’s fair for people like Harrington to be asking the tough questions in BUF now though.  There’s something deeply wrong in the org there at this point.

Posted by Primis on 02/21/21 at 10:41 PM ET

Chip4Pips's avatar

Here, here, d_ca! Couldn’t agree more.

Posted by Chip4Pips on 02/22/21 at 02:05 AM ET

Royal Grand Exalted PooBah's avatar

I am ok with how the rebuild is going. I was hoping to see that one trade every year that Steve would make that would steal a prospect and make us better but so far that hasn’t happened. Maybe I set my hope to high. I was bummed Perlini didn’t work out.

This year is better than last year. The drafting has been much better than in the past.  Part of that is finishing lower but I am keeping my fingers crossed that some gems were selected in the later rounds.

Fixing special teams and player development is a concern. That should be addressed at the end of this season.

Posted by Royal Grand Exalted PooBah from the basement of the Alamo on 02/22/21 at 02:23 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Near the end of the 25 year run, and into LCA opening, I agree that Mike Illitch deepened the hole we were in. The fanbase would have lost its collective bleep, but we should have traded Pavel and Kronwall 2-3 years before they retired, Pavel would have played another year or two in the league IMO if they had. Those two would have returned a haul that done correctly, should have delivered 1 elite piece and 1 staple piece into this lineup minimum.  They didn’t, no need to look back.

Where we are today frankly is an indictment on Holland’s inability to draft talent that can play in the NHL.  It was sort of understandable when trading picks to compete, but frankly, no excuse the last 5 years, he only put 3 players on the club, with 3-5 maybes, none elite, though Larkin is a pretty damn good player, no “finds” out of the late rounds or undrafted rookies, I guess maybe a footnote due to DDK and Evengy injuries.

2014 Larkin
2015 NADA
2016 Hronek     (Smith will be 2/3 liner, Cholo Maybe)
2017 NADA       (Rasmussen will be 2/3 liner, Lindstrom Maybe)
2018 Zadina     (Veleno will likely be 2/3 liner)

This is why Yzerman was brought it. From a roster management style, Yzerman has proven to simply be Ken Holland Jr. maybe even more so, so that said change  will hopefully be coming next year and the year and so on, when Yzerman’s draft picks start making this squad, some of them have got to develop into elite players, looks good right now on Moriz and Raymond but many prospects did/do, you don’t know until they pull a north American jersey over their head.


Posted by MurrayChadwick from YzerHolland2.0's pixie dust fueled bandwagon on 02/22/21 at 08:35 AM ET


Thanks for the post d_ca, and others, I agree with you almost entirely with the exception of how, and how often they lose.

My sense is that the organization agrees more with you than me.

My point, and belief is that we’re becoming more like Buffalo or Ottawa than we like to admit. Losing is okay and that’s a hard habit to break.

Posted by Ventr on 02/22/21 at 09:27 AM ET


A lot of the drafting later in Holland’s tenure was ugly indeed.

It’s hard to know how aggressive Holland would have been
in clearing out players making too much and not contributing.

I don’t think he would have been as aggressive in moving
on from so many players. It’s always harder to move out “your guys”.
But even so Holland was extreme in keeping and resigning too many guys.
Having said that it’s arguable even in the context of the plan dc_a lays out above,
that Yzerman signed or brought back 1-2 too many veteran forwards.

We have a lot of talent progressing over in Sweden and while any dramatic youth
movement is unlikely we should start to see more legit opportunities for younger players.

And Blashill: just play Svechnikov for goodness sake.
Or tell the GM you refuse to. Psychologically alone this is not

Posted by lefty.30 on 02/22/21 at 06:26 PM ET

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