I’m going to make no bones about it, when the Red Wings signed Steve Ott to a one-year, $800K contract this summer, we were less-than-thrilled about it.
Oh man I have said so many unkind things about Steve Ott to this point in his career. I don't see a reason to stop now.— Winging It In Motown (@wingingitmotown) July 1, 2016
Ott will be around to help keep the flies off the kids that the Red Wings now don't have any space in their lineup for because of Steve Ott— Winging It In Motown (@wingingitmotown) July 1, 2016
Since then, the logic that Ott’s hit can be completely buried and that it should be a race between Ott and Miller for that space in the lineup has come up and unfortunately died at the hands of the injury bug, to the point where “Ott or Miller” has become Ott AND Miller as the assumption.
If it was any question before, just give it enough time for Ott to start hurting his competition in training camp and you’ll see.
Thomas Nosek admires his pass too long. Steve Ott fills him in. Nosek limps to bench. #RedWings— Bob Duff (@asktheduffer) September 26, 2016
This is from today’s Red & White Scrimmage. Bob Duff is using the standard old tough language to describe a late hit. Guys like Ott don’t go hunting for cheap shots after the play, it’s just Nosek admiring his pass for too long. Problem is that it was long enough after the play that our own Slapshotgoal at camp reported she didn’t even see the hit because she was too busy watching the play develop.
Tomas Nosek (knee) won't play in tomorrow's preseason opener and is day to day, #RedWings Blashill said.— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) September 26, 2016
And that’s the price Nosek pays for trying to play hockey with Steve Ott on the ice. This is the exactly-as-advertised shit the diggers have been trying to cram down fans’ throats recently in looking for a way to sell this signing.
Let’s just take a look at some of the 800+ words MLive’s Ansar Khan dedicated to how much good feeling Ott brings with his excitement about playing for the Red Wings (from the same guy who could barely put up 75% of that for an article combining Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar into one grey blob of “eh, they need to play better”)
TRAVERSE CITY – The Detroit Red Wings signed Steve Ott mostly because he's sandpaper on the ice. But they also like him because he's a glue guy in the locker room.
Both are important elements for a team that needs to be harder to play against and more cohesive off the ice.
Ott, 34, has been one of the NHL's more agitating players during his 13 seasons, getting in opponents' faces, playing physical and fighting on occasion, despite his modest size (6-foot, 189). He also kills penalties and has been one of the league's top faceoff men.
He also is a player who can help bring the team closer together after a season in which the dressing room wasn't as tight-knit as before.
The guy taking late runs at Red Wings teammates is here to bring everybody together. Everybody on board?
How about Ted Kulfan’s piece over at the Detroit News?
The line of Ott, Luke Glendening and Drew Miller provides various strengths that could make them quite formidable.
“We’re not going to be fun to play against,” Ott said. “I really think we have a complete line to be able to shut other lines down, play a lot of defensive zone situations with two face-off guys who can play either side.
“We’re going to bring a strong work ethic that pushes other guys to perform at a high level, as well.”
You catch that one?
“play a lot of defensive zone situations”
This is the common thread of the plan for Ott going forward. They’re basically going to annoy and grit their way to making the skill guys play better. The problem is that Ott is already going into the season expecting to play a lot of defensive zone situations.
How about instead we put together a team that won’t have so many defensive zone situations to play?
Not to be left out, Helene St. James at the Freep got into the damning-with-faint-praise and pumping-the-tires game as well:
He's good on faceoffs (winning 56.3% as recently as 2014-15) and he's an experienced penalty killer. He's the type of player who holds opponents accountable for cheap shots. If Ott disappoints, he can be sent to the minors and his salary cap hit eliminated – but his abundant enthusiasm for playing for the Wings (he played juniors across the river in Windsor) hints Ott is eager to contribute and establish himself as a fan favorite.
Ayyy... don’t worry if Ott sucks, he’s at least expendable. Ott is excited and good at faceoffs though. He’ll also hold players accountable for cheap shots.
No word yet on whether Ott is flogging himself in the locker room for the hit which injured Nosek, but we’ll patiently await an update on that.
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Overall, what we have here is the problem of the diggers looking for a way to put a positive spin on a guy who doesn’t have it. It’s not that intangibles are unimportant, but when literally the only tangible you can add onto the praise for a guy is that he’s good at winning faceoffs and has played PK before, you’re missing a huge part of what gives hockey players value.
Intangibles may not be unimportant, but tangibles sure as shit aren’t either. The problem seems to be that people treat them as mutually exclusive. Tomas Tatar doesn’t have intangibles because he has skill. When skill fails him, he can’t fall back on the mysterious effect of improving morale or “being tough to play against” (despite Tatar’s tangible on-ice numbers for the last four years showing that opponents are much less likely to put a shot attempt on goal or get a scoring chance than they are when up against Ott).
I guess that’s my problem: looking around the rest of the discussions, everybody has something to prove in regards to expectations. Zetterberg has to show he can still contribute in a limited role, Nielsen has to show he can fit in, Tatar & Nyquist have to show they can find their touch again, Mantha and Athanasiou have to show they’re ready, Larkin has to show he can keep improving and play center, Helm has to show he can go back to playing 3C, and Sheahan has to show he can improve his scoring pace. But, when you read the stuff about Ott, there’s nothing to show for him. His contribution is already made.
Sure, you can argue that he has to show he can successfully play defense, but according to the diggers, he’s already hard to play against. Ott isn’t out to prove it, he’s out to do it. If that line gives up a lot of goals, it’s because the chickenshit skill guys have failed him. Ott has already brought sandpaper and glue and leadership and grit, so anything he actually brings onto the ice is immaterial.
So far, after less than a week of training camp, the tangible effect Steve Ott has had on the Red Wings is him hurting one of their prospects. Intangibly, we’re to believe his presence will more than make up for that.