The hockey world was shocked when a blockbuster trade between two struggling teams was announced last week.
Perhaps "shocked" and "blockbuster" are a bit overblown, but people were definitely talking about the trade between the Rangers and Wild that saw Mike Rupp head to Minnesota in exchange for Darroll Powe and Nick Palmieri.
None of the players involved are superstars or will turn the fortunes of their teams around, but the trade provided forward depth for both teams, most notably the Wild who are woefully thin beyond their top line.
It was the type of move that might or might not help a team in the long run, yet there were some Wing fans who questioned why Ken Holland had not made some similar type of deal.
I've been critical of Holland in the past. I still believe that the defensive depth within the organization was too thin to require the services of a player like Ryan Suter, but I'm not ashamed to admit that the defense has been adequate so far. The emergence of Brian Lashoff as a young player who can hold his own at the NHL level and the emergency signing of Kent Huskins have strengthened a defensive corps that has played exactly one game with everyone healthy.
However, the Red Wings continue to struggle, dropping back-to-back games after impressive showings against the Blackhawks and Blues. That leaves them exactly at .500 after 9 games, and already the fanbase is starting to get a little restless.
We saw this first with P.K. Subban, where many wondered why Holland didn't throw an offer sheet at him to try and lure him to Detroit. Knowing that the chances of it actually working were slim, fans wanted to see Holland make some sort of effort that signified he was attempting to improve the team both now and in the future.
Despite my past criticism of Holland, I have always understood that he just can't wave a magic wand and make a superstar player appear out of thin air, especially in the middle of the season. It's not enough for him to say "I would like to have P.K. Subban play for us. I'll go out and get him". There has to be consideration on his side.
It's almost like people forget that in order to trade for a very good player, the Wings will have to give up something of value. Too many times I see a trade proposal that involves Detroit getting a star for Johan Franzen, Jakub Kindl and a third round draft pick. It's as if people think that other teams are going to want the players that they believe are not that good or have very long and expensive contracts. Those players (and any others that don't fit in the Wings plans but could be part of a trade) could certainly have value to other teams, but their worth as related to acquiring a new player gets vastly overrated.
On the other side, teams tend to hold on to their good players because it allows them to be a better team. So if a Wing fan is out there wondering "I wonder what it would take to get Keith Yandle from Phoenix", know that the answer is more than a roster player, an underachieving prospect and a draft pick that isn't even in the first round. You have to spend money to make money, and in this case, you have to give up good players to get good players.
Wing fans aren't the only ones who do this, but we are so used to Detroit being a premier destination for free agents that when something like this past summer happens, we have our faith shaken a little bit. That's when Holland is going to have to work extra hard to improve this team, but the armchair GMs that exist out in cyberspace think it should be a quick fix.
This is not to say that we shouldn't want the Wings to be better, or that we shouldn't put pressure on management to ensure that this team is as good as it can possibly be. What needs to be remembered is that there are forces well beyond the control of the people running this team, forces that we can't possibly know or understand. Making moves solely for appearances sake doesn't help anyone, and is like putting a picture over the hole in the door that you made when the Wings lost in 2009.