The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/19/12 at 07:21 PM ET
Off-day stories continue to roll in via my ever-updated practice post, and I tend to prefer to keep everything on one place so as to not monopolize KK’s front page, but this story from 97.1 the Ticket’s Jamie Samuelssen merits an entry of its own.
Samuelssen has found that more than a few Red Wings fans are suggesting that the easiest way for the Wings’ organization to remedy their mediocre playoff showings of late involve either firing coach Mike Babcock—who will coach in Detroit until he no longer wishes to do so—or GM ken Holland, and while Samuelssen believes that Holland and the Wings front office’s recent draft record in particular merits criticizing, he doesn’t buy the concept that the answer to the Wings’ underwhelming springs since 2009 involves kicking Babcock or Holland to the curb:
Some of the criticism is certainly warranted. This is not some blanket love fest for Holland and Babcock based only on what they’ve done in the past. Holland’s draft record for the past few years has been pretty empty. The last star to come to Detroit via the draft was Franzen in 2004. Since then, we’ve had promising players like Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist. And there are the prospects that warrant excitement like Brendan Smith and Riley Sheahan. But no studs. No stars. Not yet. The excuse is obvious. First, the Wings are always one of the top teams in the league, so the draft spot is generally late in the first round. And second, Holland has been more than willing to part with number one picks to acquire help at the trade deadline. Both valid points. But both lose a little steam when you consider that Pavel Datsyuk was taken in the sixth round (1998) and Henrik Zetterberg was taken in the seventh round (1999). It’s still possible to find stars in later rounds. Holland just hasn’t done it in a long time.
So the criticism is fair. And I’m sure Holland isn’t thrilled with his drafting record in the past decade. But if we all agree on that – what is the next thing that people want. If we agree that Holland didn’t have a good year as the Red Wings’ GM, are we asking that he have some mea culpa press conference? Are we hoping he gets flogged? Or worst of all, are people saying that he should be fired?
Because that’s where our agreement end. Ken Holland remains one of the top GMs in all of sports. He oversaw the transition from the Red Wings being the Yankees of the NHL to just another team existing under the cap. He purged the roster of excess salaries and players and signed some of his stars to cap-friendly deals. He created an atmosphere where a guy like Marian Hossa was willing to take a one-year deal in his quest for a Cup and Brad Stuart was willing to give the team a hometown discount to sign a four-year contract.
He deserves some criticism this year – no doubt. But you take the good (a lot of it) with the bad (not much of it). Nothing lasts forever. Even the most ardent [Joe] Dumars supporter can’t handle many more years of what we’ve seen since that last run in 2008. But with everyone – you have to look at the big picture. And the big picture with Holland remains very, very positive.
So criticize away. It’s your right as a fan. And by Red Wings standards – this isn’t working. Trust me, Holland feels the same way. But when you’re looking for accountability – be careful what you’re looking for. The roster will change. The players should change. The general manager should not. That’s lunacy.
I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I’d extend that “the GM should not” to the coach. The coach lost his right-hand man in Paul MacLean and someone we all underestimated in Brad McCrimmon, as well as three de-facto coaches in Kris Draper, Brian Rafalski and Chris Osgood, and he’s done the best he possibly can to get his horses to run. The fact that the players haven’t delivered isn’t all Babcock’s fault by any stretch of the imagination.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.