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Being a Seller at the Deadline: A Fan Retrospective

Wings fans still adjusting to being on the other side of the trade table

Detroit Red Wings v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Heading into the Trade Deadline this year, Wings fans were well aware of the status of their team. To be frank, we knew what our position would be well before the puck dropped on opening night in October. This roster is far from ready to be a contender and it’s plainly obvious. The Red Wings were and are definitive sellers. It’s not a position this fan base is used to yet. Arguments can be made about when the shift in philosophy should have been made, but management has really only adopted this role in the last two seasons. Times have changed and Ken Holland has to do his best to move out assets with current value for assets with future value. That is the pure business explanation behind any transaction that was and is going to take place.

We as fans knew it and were in fact begging for it. Dating back to last year we saw pending UFA’s Brendan Smith, Thomas Vanek, and Steve Ott dealt. This year it was Mike Green at the top of the sale list with his expiring deal and likely having the most value to contenders around the league. In the end Green wasn’t moved but we know Holland was trying to. These pieces are the easy ones. You know they are likely moving on following another 20 or so games anyway. Some were with the team barely long enough to remember them in a few seasons time. You would be hard pressed to find anyone too upset about these players being moved out unless it was over a disappointing haul in return a la Vanek.

But what happens when the players made available start to include those you’ve grown attached to. Players that have grown and developed through the Red Wings system and captured our hearts. Ones we could have seen still having a future here even through these rough waters; enter Tomas Tatar. His name has been involved in rumours for months so it is not as though we were completely blindsided. But when the Vegas Golden Knights swooped in at the eleventh hour offering a bevy of picks in exchange for his services, some of us may have been caught off guard slightly. This is not to imply it was a poor deal, in fact the return was more than almost anybody would expect, even for a goal scorer of Tatar’s ability. From a pure business perspective, Holland made a great move to maximize a current asset for future ones. Yet a common sentiment you can find online among the Red Wing faithful is mixed feelings, a bittersweet view.

Sure, we netted a great return but it’s Tomas. He’s a fan favourite. An offensive spark plug that this roster is missing far too many of. He’s one of the those players that wears his heart on his sleeve as they say and that’s why we love him. He’s the locker room prankster...

It’s not just fans that are going to miss him, Tatar was a favourite among teammates, coaches, and management alike. The games are going to be significantly less exciting without him.

Therein lies the rub of it. We knew moves like this were going to have to happen. Tatar is likely the first of several dominoes to fall as far as players we’ve grown attached to being moved along. It’s a necessary evil of being in the position the team is in. But that doesn’t make it hurt less. Giving up a bonafide scorer in his prime with a terrific personality for potential one day players doesn’t leave much to be excited about in the present. Patience is critical at these times, to allow the ship to make its turn back up. Excuse us if we’re just not used to it yet and need a moment. We’re certainly going to miss Tatar, but hoping he finds success in Vegas for all that he’s given us. Good luck Tomas!