Welcome back, Wings fans. Today, I want to talk to you about something very near and dear to my heart. We've already covered sucky defensemen and sucky GMs, but there's a different kind of suck and it's one that has infiltrated our very organization to the core. This bad apple is already spoiling the bunch and I think I can safely say without resorting to hyperbole that every single bad thing that has happened to the Red Wings over the last two seasons has literally been the fault of Henrik Zetterberg.
Unfortunately, we all forgot about that while waiting for the Wings to replace the assistant coaches that he drove off.
Perhaps you forgot this little ditty by our Conn Smythe-winning alternate captain when the Wings were trying to figure out why their home record was so much worse than their road numbers?
“On the road, we don’t have to worry about matchup, you just roll your four lines all the time,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Here, as soon as we have last change, we focus a little bit too much about that.
“Just go out and play. We’re a pretty good team ourselves, and maybe they have to adjust to us once in a while. ... Sometimes it feels like we’re too much about matchup. We can’t get everyone in the game and get everyone going.”
That was from an Ansar Khan article on February 24th.
Keep reading for more.
Obviously, Babcock has lost the ear of the guy who stepped up his game, finished top-ten for scoring in the league, and backchecks as hard as he forechecks. But, just in case Babcock praising Zetterberg on January 24th while implying that Z helps him run drills in practice and outright saying that Z "thinks like a coach" has you doubting, there's this piece (again from Khan) that followed a collapse against the Phoenix Coyotes that's clear evidence of problems in the locker room and not at all a hint that maybe everybody was a little frustrated.
“There's a way to play to be successful, we know it,'' Babcock said. “But until we get our head around doing it, we're not going anywhere.
“There gets to be a point in your season where you got to decide, if you think you're a championship-caliber team, that there's a right way to play. Unless you get 23 guys doing it the same way and wanting to do it, nothing's going to happen.''
“We've been around enough winning that every guy in this room understands,'' Babcock said. “But obviously I got to do a much better job to get them all to do it, because we're not doing it.''
Henrik Zetterberg, however, thinks the way his team played wouldn't have been an issue had they won.
“It's easy to say we were fancy when we're losing,'' Zetterberg said. “If we're winning the game, we're playing well, we're holding the puck. We shouldn't lose it. It's easy to focus on the negative.''
People took this and ran completely off the deep end with accusations ranging from the mildly annoying (and likely partially true) "Babcock isn't getting through to the players" to the absolutely insane "Zetterberg has become a locker room cancer." But, that was March. After that, the Wings played a bit better and worked themselves into a playoff run that, by its end, caused a bit of "Babcock has to go" but very little "Zetterberg is the problem". That is, until this week when the Wings filled both of their vacant assistant coaching positions and Babs told our diggers exactly what the crazies wanted to hear.
"I’ve been in Detroit six years and after a while you start to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher—womp, womp, womp!" Babcock said. "I’m looking for new ideas, new thoughts. We’re trying to evolve our game. The way to do that is change. (Players) have heard the same voice for a long time."
Khan doesn't tell you about it (because he's no doubt in on it), but what you can't hear is the amount of fear and resignation in Babcock's voice. But what does our usually stone-faced head coach have to fear, you say?
Well I just want to go on record and say THEY'RE ABSOLUTELY FRIGGIN' RIGHT. I mean, what's the more likely answer here? Zetterberg is obviously a big problem. What's worse though is that he's too expensive to trade away (even though we should totally do that because he's lost a step). The management obviously doesn't have the guts to get rid of a franchise player because of attitude problems. THE TEAM'S HISTORY IS EVIDENCE OF THIS VERY FACT. They obviously don't want us in on this, so that's why one of the practice squads at the Traverse City prospects camp going on right now is named after him. It's all a big smokescreen to try to appease the biggest ego in the room. We all know that NHL franchises are excellent at hiding locker room strife from the media. Just ask the Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers. Nobody ever had any clue there were problems there.
I heard that there are people who say that the simpler solution is just that, as a leader in the Red Wings locker room, the management simply trusts him enough to where he's comfortable being able to speak his mind like an adult. Well let me tell you that YOU ARE WRONG. Since when has a "simple" solution ever been right? That myth was discredited YEARS AGO and all you're doing is embarrassing yourself. That guy Occam wasn't even a real scientists, he sold shaving supplies or something. Also, and uh... hello
HE WAS SO CRAZY THAT THEY NAMED A MENTAL INSTITUTION IN GOTHAM CITY AFTER HIM. LOOK IT UP. YOU'RE SO DUMB.
But shut up, let me finish. It's obvious that there's this super-serious tension building where Babcock is all trying to talk and whatnot and Zetterberg is just sitting there rolling his eyes and talking shit about how Babcock never won a Conn Smythe and how he should be the coach. The media and the team have never specifically told us that this is not what's happening so it's painfully obvious that it is. WHY DO YOU DOUBT THIS?
Man, I hate July...