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How To Handle The Rookies

from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,

After the last pre-season game last fall, the Detroit Red Wings were faced with a vexing decision. Dylan Larkin had not only proved himself to the best rookie through training camp and the exhibition games, he was their best player. Rookie coach Jeff Blashill went to GM Ken Holland and told him that if he was going to have a chance to succeed as the Wings new coach, he needed Larkin in the lineup.

Holland complied, but told Blashill in no uncertain terms that if Larkin was either seeing spot duty on the fourth line or sitting up in the press box as a healthy scratch, the young man would be immediately sent to the minors. And when Larkin approached the Red Wings about leaving college and signing with them in the summer of 2015, essentially going all in and betting on himself, Holland told him that if he were looking out of the window of a bus going from Grand Rapids to Rockford in the middle of December, to remember that it was his decision to turn pro.

That, ladies and gentleman, is how you handle a young NHL player. It has obviously all worked out rather well for Larkin, but if it hadn’t he’d have joined fellow prospect Anthony Mantha grooming himself in the American League. The Red Wings have long been identified as a team that allows its prospect to become overripe and it seems to have worked out pretty well for them.

Let’s contrast that with the Vancouver Canucks. Faced with the decision on two 19-year-old players – Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann – the Canucks opted to keep both players. (Keeping in mind, of course, that the Canucks did not have the option to send either player to the AHL. Both had to either stay with the Canucks or go back to junior hockey.) Just over a year later, McCann has already been traded and is seeing fourth-line duty in Florida and Virtanen, after playing 10 games in the NHL and registering just one assist, was recently sent to the minors for a two-game attempt to try to have him find his game.

read on for more on Virtanen and the Canucks...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jake+virtanen

Comments

Nathan's avatar

It’s a fair point for the very specific case that he’s cherry-picked. There are other examples that prove the opposite point. Ultimately, no two players are alike and no two organizations are alike. There are other examples in which the Wings seem to have been too hesitant to give young players opportunity, and it has cost them talent going out the door for nothing.

Posted by Nathan from wasting perfect passes from my teammates on 11/11/16 at 04:04 PM ET

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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