I peruse the message boards on Wings sites and NHL sites as much as anybody, and let's be honest, EVERY contract that is signed is decried as a terrible by about half the fan-base. And Wings Fans are no different.
By all accounts, Kenny is in a tough spot. Wings fans primarily have two free agents on their mind as 'must-have's' during this years free agency bonanza and of course they are both universally regarded as the top two players available. There are really only two outcomes possible for Kenny and the Wings: either he signs em' or he don't.
1) Kenny Manages to sign both Parise and Suter and the Wings troubles are over -
Well...not so fast. Should he somehow manage to pull off signing BOTH of the premiere free agents in the league fans will still be at his throat. I mean publicly there are probably at least 10 teams with heavy interest in either or both of Parise and Suter, and that doesn't count the Dark Horse teams that are sneaking in under the radar. This means a bidding war of epic proportions will drive up the price of both, to the point that when Kenny signs them they will both be overpaid and on loooong contracts. Sure the amount they're overpaid may not be as much as say Minnesota would have thrown down, but we're not getting these players on the cheap and UFAs testing the open market will nearly always be paid more than they are worth by whatever standard you judge them. Sure there's the 'luster' of the Winged wheel that could loan itself to a slight discount, and that the Wings are a perennial contender is a draw, but that's not really enough to save all that much cash. There are plenty of other (younger) teams in the hunt that can wave the perennial contender flag, and while the luster of the Winged wheel is as bright as ever, plenty of other teams have their own draws.
And with this over-payment comes a new salary structure for our organization. Prime time players like Filpula and Howard will be looking for commensurate raises (Howard isn't even making top 25 money for tenders...you think he's gonna stay there?). Datsyuk may be exiting his prime, but still deserves to be the top paid player on the team. Holland will be lambasted for inflating our pay structure and leaving us with insufficient cap-space to lock up any of the future Nyquists, Smiths, Jurcos etc...
2) Kenny doesn't sign either one or both and the Wings are screwed -
I probably don't need to go into as much detail as to why Kenny will be torched for this. His unwillingness to spend money has left the Wings in the lurch again, and now without Lidstrom at the helm the inevitable decline of the Wings will finally see us miss the playoffs...blah, blah, blah.
Look: Hopefully by now, we all realize that there's no way to win on the first day of free agency, and Holland shouldn't be judged for it. I don't think Kenny or any GM has more control than any other on this day. More than any other during the calendar year, this is the day that gives the players the most control. In the end, they will end up where they want to be it for monetary, family, ego or any other reasons. Kenny has the dough and will be willing to spend it to the point where he feels it won't damage our finances for the future. If we get the players, I say great. Even if we slightly overpay, hometown discounts taken by Franzen, Zetterberg and Datsyuk are for hometown players. They're taken so we have the money later to sign the non-hometown players and bring in some talent. If we don't sign them, so be it...there's likely little more that could have been done.
What we really should be judging Kenny on is Plan B. If he does sign them...how's he going to manage the contracts of our impending free agents and keep us laden with talent. If he doesn't, how's he going to keep this team from taking a huge step back. In other words...In the Red Wings' biggest off-season in recent memory, let's judge him on the full 2012-2013 season and not just the first day.