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Ken Holland Deserves Our Patience

Give precedent a chance

NHL: Preseason-Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit sports fans have been through all the cliches. The wars, the rollercoaster, the ringer and we have seen (at basically the same time) the pinnacle of sports and the basement. While the Lions have been inept at an all-time great level, the Tigers have gone just far enough to break our hearts, and the Pistons have perfectly embodied the city with the Bad Boys and the “Goin’ to Work” Pistons, while also spending years in obscurity. But throughout all this, the Detroit Red Wings have been on one of the greatest runs in the history of sports. Yes, the argument can be made that the playoff streak has not resulted in enough parades, but damn have they been a consistent source of excitement and pride.

The run for the Wings has been so long that the game has morphed from the hook and hold pre-lockout hockey to the high speed, ultra skilled game we are witnessing now. The team has won championships during the streak with and without salary caps. Now attributing all this success to management is ludicrous, but we have seen how management can destroy a team and set a franchise back for years (*cough* Matt Millen *cough*). The Wings have had some of the greatest scouts, coaches, and players, but it is the job of the general manager to put all the pieces in place.

As the astute and learned fans we are here at WIIM, we know that the game is going through another revolution. Analytics and some “new math” are helping further determine the importance of every player and their usage. Young, skilled, cheaper players are replacing the expensive, veteran ones. The days of two scoring lines, an energy line, and a gritty, defensive 4th line are fading. It looks with the current lineup construction and the offseason signings that the Wings are a step or two or perhaps a leap behind this revolution. But now should be the time for patience, especially with a franchise and management that has shown the ability to adapt.

It is understandable that patience is hard, especially for a fanbase that expects success. The last three seasons have resulted in 1st round exits, a superstar has left for his homeland, and the current big name players are aging or still trying to convince us they will be stars.

Believing in precedent can leave you with a blindspot for the future. It can turn you into a sheep lead to the slaughter by the same man who has fed you for your entire life. But I have trust in Ken Holland and the Red Wings franchise. He has proved to be smart enough to adjust to rule changes and adapted along with the game.

Now very recent history has made it much harder to stay patient. Losing young and cheap players that are new and different, in order to keep older more expensive veterans is certainly frustrating, but there has to be a larger plan. The last 19 years of Holland have me convinced there is a bigger plan that I just can't see yet. But maybe I am the sheep being lead to the valley instead of the Ark when the floods come.

It is frustrating to see players like Frk and Pulkkinen go for nothing. It is the “fear of loss” that makes us think we could be missing out on a real contributing factor for this season and maybe more. The Red Wings have been so good at turning late picks and low level prospects into key contributors and Hall of Fame players, that it adds to the fear because they have been so excellent in the past. But playing hockey is about a lot more than offensive upside and points per minute and I believe that Holland would have kept these guys if they were integral to the success of not only this season, but years to come. Would players like Pulkkinen, Frk, Mantha turn this team into a goal scoring machine that puts up 5 a night? Maybe, but I just do not see it. Is it possible that Helm, Sheahan, Glendening, Miller, Ott are going to help this team stay in close games and cover for a subpar defensive unit? Maybe, I don’t really know, but I think Holland deserves the benefit of the doubt until the floods come.