Ken Holland Interview: Legwand Trade, Datsyuk's Injury, and The Olympics.

We like our team and Datsyuk is day-to-day.- What I was probably expecting to hear.

On March 5th the Wings announced that they were shutting Pavel Datsyuk down for three weeks and would re-evaluate him then. Wednesday will be the three week mark so we should be getting some kind of update soon. The Red Wings at the time posted a 28 minute interview with Ken Holland wherein he talked about the trade, Datsyuk's injury, the Olympics, and more. It's a good time to take a look back at what we were told about Datsyuk's injury at the time.

These quotes are not in the order Holland said them, but they make more sense this way. You can watch the interview in its entirety here. Holland confirms some things we already knew, but also gives a more complete perspective on some other topics. All bold in quote emphasis is mine. Let's get down to business.

The acquisition of David Legwand:

The game last night [ March 4th] with Darren Helm, the news today on Pavel Datsyuk, and the news in the last 48 hours on Stephen Weiss, I mean Weisser could be ok in two or three days, but right now there's some uncertainty, and that all factored in to acquiring a center ice man. The center ice man that we've acquired is a local boy, so we think that if we want to keep the player beyond this year, we think it's a very reasonable possibility. The player (David Legwand) had to waive his no trade clause to come here, so obviously he wanted to come home.

A reporter asked: Do you think with all the news in the last day or two, that you needed a veteran center to stay in the playoff race?

Without a doubt. We've got to win some games, and we're hoping to get some of these people back. If we can qualify for the playoffs, we still believe there's a chance in the first round of the playoffs that Z will be ready to play. We're shutting Pav down for three weeks and hoping that sometime late in March that we're going to get news on the Pav front. We're hoping we're going to get good news on Weiss, we're hoping that as we go along we'll get some good news on Darren Helm, but we've got three huge games here in four nights.... Patty Eaves is looking for an opportunity to play every night , so Pat's one of the players we've moved along with a draft pick, so it was a deal that we thought made sense for us. If we can win some games and play our way in, we're hopeful that we're going to get some people back.

With Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Weiss, and Helm all out either long term, or for an uncertain amount of time, Kenny came right out and said that we had to get another center to even realistically make a playoff push.

We went in [ to the trade deadline] and were hoping to do a little something on the back end, because if you have a healthy Helm, if you have a healthy Pav, we think we're going to have a healthy Pav, you look at the way the Mule's playing, and the development of the kids, we thought we had the ability to roll four lines as good as we've had here in a long time. All of the sudden in the last 24 hours we needed an established centerman One of the areas you want to be most deep is down the middle. In the second intermission of the game last night [New Jersey] I got a text from Piete Van Zant saying Helmer's being pulled from the game and from that point on it's been negative news about our forwards. I'm hoping by next week Helmer's in the lineup, Weiss is in the lineup, and the new acquisition's in the lineup and down the middle is one of our strength... We were looking for a certain type of defenseman, a right shot because we have so many lefts. We like our D but we were going to try to have 8 because beyond these 7, the players that we've got are prospects in Grand Rapids. We like them and think they're going to be NHL players, like Sproul, Ouellet, Marchenko now has gotten hurt, Nick Jensen's come back and played very good on the weekend, but they're young players; they're kids and this time of the year you're always looking for experience....As the day went on, I'm starting to think about if there's a center on the market that we think can fit what we're looking for and we think we've found the perfect fit. He's good defensively, he puts up 50-60 points, he's an established, legitimate NHL player that can kill penalties and can play against anyone on the other team. The prospect that we gave up is a good player and a real good prospect and we thought it's a position of strength. You have to give to get, we want to play our way into the playoffs and we feel as we go along here we keep waiting and hoping to get some people back. Unfortunately we got Mule back but we lost Z, now we've lost Pav for a bit.

Datsyuk and Zetterberg Playing in the Olympics:

In Z's case, if there were no Olympics we'd have been playing games here. When we put Z on LTIR in December he went and got some pictures, they could see that fragment floating around but they were hoping we could get through the season and could deal with it in the off season. Unfortunately it caused havoc. If it didn't cause havoc in Sochi, it would have caused havoc in Detroit or Columbus or New Jersey or Nashville or Tampa or wherever we were playing. Ideally you'd probably like to get your players hurt wearing your jerseys versus getting them hurt wearing someone else's jerseys, but [shrugs]....

Oh sure, just a fragment of his spine floating around causing extreme pain. Zetterberg is a beast.

At the end of the day it's not for me to decide... we talk about it all the time. We talked to Mule and he made the decision that he couldn't go. Z played for a month and he played against the Czech Republic and I thought he was fabulous and I woke up the next morning and all the sudden my Russian phone is going crazy with all these people trying to get information. What's the matter with Z? Does Z need surgery? Z played the game and said he woke up the next morning... They saw that fragment and it had lodged itself in a nerve and it had to be handled, but I'm not judging. I look at Pav and Z and since 05-06 they've carried this team; they're superstars. They got the mantle from Lidstrom and from Yzerman and we win the cup in 2008 Henrik Zetterberg is the MVP. These guys are superstars, they're super people, they're warriors, they're competitors, they play hurt, they block shots, they play 200 feet, they're role models, they're great citizens, they're incredible people. For me to tell Pavel Datsyuk "I don't think you should be playing and representing your country in the Olympics, something that as a little boy he's grown up dreaming of representing your country in the Olympics and you're the captain..." I have a conversation with him but ultimately that's a decision they've got to make and I respect the decision. Getting back to Z, he played for us for a month and played in the first game of the Olympics and felt great. I was at the game and I I watched the Czech's play the Swedes and the next day he can't get out of bed, so I don't think that had anything to do with the Olympics. That was something we were concerned about in December and it reared its ugly head when that little fragment lodged itself in the wrong place. Pav gives his heart and soul to the team, to the city, to the franchise , to our coaches. He’s no maintenance, he’s no politics, you can give him whoever you want and he just plays. He’s a superstar.

Holland is the GM of the team and has ultimate say in a lot, but he respects his players and treats them like adults, and people, not cattle. This is pretty much exactly how I feel about Pav and Hank playing the Olympics. They give us everything, day in and day out. Playing for the Wings is what they get paid to do, it's their job, but sometimes there are personal things that are just more important than work, and for Pav and Hank as people, especially Pav this time around, this was too important for him to pass up. I understand, and I respect him playing. If I were in his skates I'd probably do the same thing. I'm glad Holland and the Wings organization respects their players not just as "employees" but as people as well.

Pavel Datsyuk's injury and shutting him down for for a few weeks:

This was a couple weeks ago, but we really don't know anything more now than we did then.

Right now there's no surgery or Pavel, I can't tell you that might not be an option in the off season, but right now we're going to shut him down. In January he didn't play hockey but he continued to work real hard off the ice thinking he was a day away... a day away... a day away. We're going to back way off on the off-ice stuff and they're going to do some treatments with him in the next few days, so we've shut him down and then see where we're at in three weeks. Right now surgery's not an option, but we'll see what the future brings.

Here's the where we get some honest insight...

This thing with Pav has come down to the last 24 hours. On Saturday Mike [Babcock] and I met with Pav, Pav was very frustrated at his inability to play the game the way he knows he can play the game and the way he wants to play the game. We talked on Saturday about him possibly playing in New Jersey on Tuesday and going to see the doctor today (Wednesday. I reached out to Pav on Sunday, we met again on Monday and it became pretty obvious to Mike Babcock, to Piet Van Zant and myself that Pav was frustrated and all we were going to do was have an athlete who, in our opinion, was going to get emotionally burned out. When you can't do something at the level you know you can, it just grinds on you, grinds on you, and grinds on you. So we made a decision that he wasn't going to go to New Jersey, he saw the doctor this morning, and the doctor this morning that he saw has a similar opinion of all the past doctors but a little more of an aggressive thinking on trying to rehab. We're going to go with the more aggressive line of thinking and if it doesn't work, then obviously we can have a conversation in the off-season or six weeks from now about maybe having some type of surgery. Right now we're hoping this plan of attack is going to allow us to wake up in three weeks, well three or four weeks, and have Pav practicing and thinking about getting back into our lineup.

First and foremost, Holland makes it clear that the team has Datsyuk's well being as the top priority. It also sounds like Datsyuk has visited multiple doctors, there's no cut and dry solution, and while he' is leaving surgery as a last resort, it's still a very real possibility.

Over the last 10 days since he's come back from the Olympics, some of the things we've been talking about have been is "let's shut him down". Even Pav said in the office the other day, "I was down for five weeks and there wasn't much change". So we can shut him down for five weeks but I don't know that there's going to be a whole lot of change, so we're going to try to do some things with him over the next 2-3 days and then shut him way further down than we did in January. They're going to do some medical procedures a little more aggressively than we did in January and we're going to be a little more aggressive and get him to back off even more off the ice. We're going to try to get him to really rest it. He wasn't playing in January but he'd go back there and he's pushing weights and the way he trains he's one of the most committed athletes we've had here. He's in the lines of the Kronwall's, the Yzerman's, the Drapers and the Chelios's so he needs to back way off on that. I think Pav's feeling in January was " I just won't play and I won't practice but I'm going to keep doing my workouts off ice and I'll wake up in five weeks or a few days and I'll be good. We've seen that hasn't been the answer so he's going to be more aggressive in the sense of being less aggressive off the ice and then we're going to do some of the things we did in January and a couple other things and he's going to need some time. We've chose three weeks and I don't know, maybe it's two weeks but we're going to give him a period of three weeks and that way nobody's asking "where's Pav? What's Pav doing? Why isn't he practicing?". There's no pressure on pav. The team knows, the coach knows, there's no Pav for three weeks. We're going to re-address this thing in three weeks, and that doesn't mean he'll be back, but it allows Pav, in his own mind, to know that his body's got a period of time here and let's see if we can wake up in three weeks and the inflammations and the things that are not allowing him to do the things that he can do and wants to do.. let's see if this is the answer. If it's not the answer, we'll have to look at what's next. I'm hoping that in three to four weeks Pav's out here zipping around and we're having conversations about when he's coming back.

Keep in mind that we're nearing the 3 week mark now, but from what we were told when Pasha was shut down, I don't feel a ton of optimism. We know the issue is in his knee, but it's something that didn't get any better with 5 weeks of resting (at least "resting" by Datsyuk's definition), and it very possibly may require surgery but they're avoiding it if at all possible. I personally get the feeling that the Wings are trying to keep us from all losing hope by not telling us exactly how bad it is. I don't have any concrete proof of this, but my expectations are that at the end of the 3 week period we'll hear some vague stuff about how he's day-to-day without getting any actual useful information. I expect to hear that he's day-to-day until the end of the season, and I expect him to have surgery in the summer. That's not a very optimistic expectation, but based on what I've heard, seen, and know of his knee history, it's what I reasonable expect. I hope I'm wrong but I don't dare hope for more yet.

We should hear something this week about Datsyuk and I'm crossing my fingers and toes for good news but I'm prepared to not hear much.

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