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Abel to Yzerman

The Work Begins

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Yzerman may take Sunday off to celebrate: It is his 56th birthday, and it is Mother’s Day. But business beckons.

First up

The coaching situation appears to be first on Yzerman’s list, given that last month he said he’d “sit down very quickly after the season and discuss that” with Jeff Blashill. The perception within the organization is that Blashill has done a good job with what he has been given. The work ethic and culture, of which the Wings are so protective, has been maintained, and it speaks well for Blashill how hard the Wings competed, even as Tyler Bertuzzi, Bobby Ryan, Robby Fabbri and captain Dylan Larkin all suffered season-ending injuries.

Yzerman’s second task includes exit meetings with players, many of which will be conducted virtually. Young players such as Filip Zadina, Michael Rasmussen and Joe Veleno will receive feedback on their performances and what they need to work on over the summer. Meanwhile, the veterans will find out if they fit into next season’s plans.

Who to retain

A number of players are eligible for unrestricted free agency, but it’s unlikely all hit the market. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier figures to top that group, given how well he has played in two straight seasons. There’s no one in the farm system ready to push for an NHL job, and signing Bernier for two years provides a degree of stability. (Thomas Greiss is under contract through next season, as well.)

Luke Glendening is another clear-cut candidate to bring back — he’s a reliable defensive forward who is one of the best faceoff guys in the NHL and a big part of the locker room culture.

Forwards Sam Gagner and Ryan are likely to figure into next season’s plans, too...

read on (paid)

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MurrayChadwick's avatar

Sam Gagner and Ryan are likely to figure into next season’s plans

Why? Why bring either of those two back? Nobody wanted them at the deadline. We do not have room for them, let them go, with all the capspace we have, we need to save a roster spot to acquire a forward (like Johnson/Kilhorn) for a prospect or a pick.

Stevie also said in the interview clip last night that he’s looking at team’s rosters ahead of the Kracken draft. Again, on Tampa, unless they decide to unload McDonagh or talk Stammer into waiving his NMC in exchange for a package back from Seattle, both of which is a probably not the right move, Tampa can not protect all their Dman, and will have to leave really good players available like Cernak, Foote, Gourde and/or Cirelli available, then that doesn’t even solve their cap problem, they’d need to make more moves.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from YzerHolland2.0's pixie dust fueled bandwagon on 05/09/21 at 10:47 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Watching Blashill put the lines in a blender all season long has been frustrating.  He split up the Larkin/Mantha line most of the season, refusing to put our best players on a top line.  It really felt like he was trying to dive the team this season.  Maybe he was.  If that’s the case, job well done.  Otherwise I don’t understand why anyone would have him as a coach.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Somewhere West of Detroit on 05/09/21 at 02:57 PM ET

Alan's avatar

I would argue that the team competed in spite of Blash, not because of him. There was more juggling going on with the lines, you’d think we were watching a circus act, not a hockey game.

As for the return of a couple vets, I think that’s fine. We’re still a couple years out from playoffs, and the veteran presence won’t hurt the up-and-comers… assuming they stay with the team. There’s also that expansion draft, as well as trades to consider, and a veteran or two might be desirable in Seattle,

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 05/09/21 at 04:30 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

I know everyone hates Blashill, but if he was so horrible, then its on Yzerman to make the change. ...or not pick up his option:


He’s been in the Red Wings org for years and years. Is it more likely that he is this awful guy that does nothing for the team and Yzerman is so incompetent that he doesn’t listen to anyone about how bad hBlash is, or that Blash is an average coach that’s trying to do what he can with a crap roster?

Come back to reality. Blashill may not be a good coach, but he is also probably not that bad either.

Posted by ilovehomers on 05/09/21 at 04:52 PM ET

d ca's avatar

If Yzerman has decided to bring back Blash, I don’t get why. It’s time to start the next phase of the rebuild.

The Wings can’t :
score (2.23 goals/gm 30th place),
hit (978 total T-27th but Van & Tor will probably overtake them with games remaining),
stop pucks (3.00 goals against/gm 12th & 78.7 on the PK for 22nd place),
win (19 wins for 28th),
and despite what you’ve heard their goal differential is -0.786 (28th place). That goal differential is exaggerated by the number of blowout the Wings have suffered BUT this is a season of inferior competition (no Boston, Toronto, Washington, NYI, or Pitts).

...and if you want to judge Blash not just on this year—it gets even worse.

He hasn’t proven he’s capable of winning at the NHL level. The next phase in the rebuild is making the playoffs and even that presents an issue for Blash. He already cost the Wings a playoff series against Tampa in his inaugural season by hiring his assistant ( Pat Ferschweiler) in GR to run the power play that went 1 for 25 (with Dats, Z, Larkin, Nyquist, Tatar, Green, and Brad Richards) in a series where 3 of the games were decided by 1 goal. Has the power play gotten better since then (the whole he was just getting his feet wet excuse)?  No, as evident by the following numbers:
15-16 18.8% regular season (13th after a late season boom), 4% in the playoffs
16-17 15.1% (27th)
17-18 17.5% (24th)  21.8% from October to November then 14.5% from December to April
18-19 18.1% (19th)
19-20 14.9% (29th)
20-21 11.4% (30th)

We keep hearing about being a harder team to play against and how the goal was competitiveness—is that really the standard you want for the next phase of the rebuild (we lost most games but the games were close)? That is such a low bar for a coach going into year 7 and a rebuild going into year 5. Especially, when the coaching strategy seems to be playing strangling defense and keep the games low scoring because we can’t score more than 2 on a regular basis.

I get the Wings were being relatively cheap this year because of the uncertainty with COVID plus because of the time-frame of the rebuild they didn’t want to make a change during this season….but his contract is up and what shinning light for re-hire is there (Zadina becoming less offensive and more defensive than expected? Perhaps Ras and Erne making strides? Does that make up for the plateaued players like Larkin, Mantha, AA, and even Hronek)?

Next year the team is expected to be a bottom 10 team (with the expected improvement from bottom 5), but there will be significant additions to the team: Jonatan Berggren, Moritz Seider, and Joe Veleno. With even more in the years that follow.  Does Blash really develop guys as was him mantra when he was hired?

It’s time to move on from Blash….just as it’s time to move on from most of the free agents.  MurrayChadwick is right, there should be no way either Gagner or Ryan should be brought back. But you can also add a few more players to that list: Helm, Filppula, Svechnikov, Djoos, Biega, or even gasp 34.5 year old Marc Staal. You want to call 29.5 year old Nemeth or Merrill and go with a short term deal I am better with that than keeping Staal.

If you can convince Glendening to come back fine he fills a 4th line center role, but why would he when he’s likely the final piece of a championship roster. Beyond that the problem then becomes development of two young centers (Ras and Veleno)—Larkin fills the top line & Glendening the 4th line with Ras, Veleno, Namestnikov, Fabbri, and unfortunately Nielsen all penciled in as centres. This is where an interesting point gets thrown in: the Seattle expansion draft and who gets protected Givani Smith or Namestnikov. My hope is Smith. In the end it may not even matter given the Wings having to expose Cholowski or Lindström (who is better according to the analytics). But the possibility of losing Naestnikov exists.

On the flip side that expansion draft should pose real opportunity for the Wings to acquire talent. When faced with the Draconian possibility of losing a player for nothing vs a pick a team like Detroit can easily afford due to their plethora of picks. If Vince Dunn or Brady Skjei get moved because otherwise they are left exposed and the Wings aren’t among the teams inquiring then it doesn’t even matter who is coaching.

Next is getting a player from a cap crunched team. Tampa is the obvious choice. But, for that reason I am willing to bet the MNTC get submitted this summer with protection against a move to Detroit and a few other teams that have cap room. Baring getting one of these guys to waive their NTC, the only other possibility would be Stamkos so I am not holding my breath on this one. But there should be another team out there (Toronto, Edmonton, etc) that will either pay the Wings to take a bad contract or make available an expensive contract for a discount.

Finally, the draft. Those 3 points this weekend against Columbus hurt.But the damage appears to be minimized so the Wings will still get a top 8 pick.  The issue then becomes how quickly the draft falls off talent-wise vs the cost of using the extra picks to move up (in any round).

So it’s a loaded off-season and one where patience is not going to be Yzerman’s friend. This is the summer where the Wings rebuild either inflects or sputters. I just hope other fans realize this too.

Posted by d ca on 05/09/21 at 07:20 PM ET

jhpcarrier97's avatar

You can see the teams already telling their coaches we are not resigning and that’s fair for them to land another team.  In Blas world I think it will be the end, most other pro teams don’t know his name.  He may be able to go back and coach college hockey.  I believe with the right coach who can put together a power play they can challenge for a playoff spot next year.  I have heard a lot of Stamkos, why would we want a broken down hockey player who is hurt more than not?  You want the name?  That’s the Kenny throwback, sign a named free agent to a big contract and he sits out half the season, Stephen Weiss.

Posted by jhpcarrier97 on 05/09/21 at 08:22 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

The work ethic and culture, of which the Wings are so protective, has been maintained, and it speaks well for Blashill how hard the Wings competed…

HSJ didn’t finish that correctly. It should read: “...how hard the Wings competed in the final month of the season.” This year. Last year. And the year before that.

For whatever reason, Blashill can’t seem to motivate guys to play at 100% until the season is almost over and there’s really nothing left to play for. He’s had six fricking years to prove he’s an NHL-capable head coach. As far as I’m concerned, he’s failed miserably at doing that.

I’d be shocked if there was one player on the team who’d be disappointed if he was let go. And that probably applies to Bylsma and Houda as well.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/09/21 at 10:52 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

most other pro teams don’t know his name.


Posted by RWBill on 05/10/21 at 12:13 PM ET


He’s had six fricking years to prove he’s an NHL-capable head coach. As far as I’m concerned, he’s failed miserably at doing that.

Posted by MZ2215 on 05/10/21 at 12:36 PM ET


I’m with you OTC. It seems the best arguments that can be made for bringing him back are “well we’re not going to compete next year anyway” and “well maybe he could not be so terrible with a good team.”

“Maybe he’s not as bad” isn’t an argument to bring him back. What does he excel at as a coach? What can we point to over the last 6 years and say “he really handled this well” other than making stupid faces behind the bench while the wings get shelled. I’ve seen enough. Not enough improvement, too much regression, only consistency is bad hockey. Next.

Posted by MZ2215 on 05/10/21 at 12:39 PM ET

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com