The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/01/14 at 10:26 PM ET
When Paul texted me stating that the Red Wings had re-signed Kyle Quincey as the team's answer to not being able to land Dan Boyle, Christian Ehrhoff, Tom Gilbert, Matt Niskanen, Anton Stralman or any of their other targets on defense, I had to step away from the computer for a couple hours.
I wasn't kidding when I said that, as a fan, as long as the team didn't sign Ed Jovanovski or re-sign Quincey, I'd be fine. So I thought I'd sleep it off. I didn't sleep at all.
And here is what I have to say: if this team is no longer a "destination" for players, it has nothing to do with the coach who happens to drive his players nuts but is also respected by 95% of those who play for him; if this team is no longer a "destination" for players, it's not about the disparity between Detroit's struggles and the suburbs' resurgence as good places to live; if this team is no longer a "destination" for players, it's not about the fact that the rink is at the end of its lifespan; and if this team is no longer a "destination" for players, it's not that the Red Wings have "lost their mystique."
It's the fact that, in each and every occasion where the Wings' management does not land its target, instead of doing the smart thing--and waiting, pausing to reassess its status and looking for creative ways to get better--it makes a lateral move, bringing back a "known quantity" player (a.k.a. some sort of alumnus) in order to plug a hole.
Managerially speaking, for the last three or four years, save the signing of Daniel Alfresson (which worked out wonderfully well), the team's management has been treading sideways. This team has a problem with its transmission--its transmission of pucks from defensemen to forwards--and instead of attempting to fix the transmission, it's gotten new tires, new brakes, an oil change and tune-up, it's gotten a pair of fuzzy dice and one of those fancy K&N air filters, but it's done nothing to address its damn transmission.
And on a day when you watch the LIghtning, Capitals, Penguins, Blues, Blackhawks and even the Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Sabres make aggressive moves to make their team better, the Red Wings' general manager and the rest of the front office reacted and responded to their inability to make the team better by spending a significant amount of money to make the team "the same" as it was in Game 5 against the Boston Bruins.
Two more years of Kyle Quincey, at a slight raise, do not address the team's need for a puck-moving defensemen. Two more years of Kyle Quincey doesn't address the team's desperate need for a second pairing that can support Niklas Kronwall's scoring. Two more years of Kyle Quincey does not serve as a "bridge" between the present and "the kids," and two more years of Kyle Quincey doesn't address the team's need for a right-shooting defenseman in any way, shape or form.
The move doesn't harm the team too badly cap-wise, and it doesn't harm the team too badly in terms of holding young players back, but it doesn't really change anything for the better. After today's events, there would've been no shame trying to find a way to make a trade, there would've been no shame in simply standing pat and seeing what the younger defensemen can do in the fall to steal Jakub Kindl or Brian Lashoff's jobs, and there would've been no shame in throwing a Bryan Murray-style hissy fit about uncooperative players or throwing up one's hands and saying,"We're not that far off!" in the same way the Edmontons and Nashvilles (who are that far off) have.
Instead, the management--more than Ken Holland, we're talking about Ryan Martin, Kris Draper, Jimmy Devellano, Kirk Maltby and Mark Howe's pro scouts, Mike Babcock, Tom Renney and Chris Ilitch--made an inherently reflexive move, and in doing so, they've helped cement the Red Wings as a team that tries to fill the bottom of the holes in its boat with Flex-Seal instead of fixing the damn boat.
THAT is why players don't think that a team in transition that happens to have an incredibly difficult time mastering the transition game necessary to maximize its present and future crops of speedy but smallish forwards is a "destination."
Because, without fail, if the team fails in free agency, it instantaneously reacts by plugging holes.
Kyle Quincey, who is 28 going on 29, had a superb second half of the regular season. Kyle Quincey had an OK playoff. Kyle Quincey had enough of a positive impact to earn another 1-year deal. Instead, he gets 2 years at $4.25 million per season, and who the *#$%@& knows whether there's a God-dang no-trade clause in there.
Bringing back Quincey doesn't make the team any worse, but he doesn't make the team any better, and aside from bringing Danny DeKeyser into the fold, the Red Wings have not done anything to make their defense better since Brian Rafalski retired.
As a smaller team up front, even with a strong crop of five players who may make NHL impacts in Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, Mattias Backman and Nick Jensen, the Red Wings can't buy their way into becoming a St. Louis Blues or Boston Bruins-style team. They've got to trust in their youth movement, trust in their leadership group and make the kinds of smart, sometimes subtle signings that move the team forward.
Kyle Quincey doesn't move the team backward, but he doesn't move the team forward, and the vast majority of the Red Wings' rivals took steps forward today, while Detroit continued to take steps to the side. And you don't win by skating sideways unless you're Nicklas Lidstrom, adjusting the your angle to the net to get your shot past puck-blocking defenses while on the power play.
Nick's in Sweden, coaching his second-youngest son and serving on VIK Vasteras' board of directors, and the Red Wings really have yet to address his departure.
There's your problem. The fact that the Red Wings haven't been able to meaningfully address it, again, save the Danny DeKeyser signing, is unacceptable. The end.
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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.