What's Going on with Jakub Kindl?

It's been more than a week since Jakub Kindl has been in a game for the Red Wings and the only people who know why aren't talking. While we wait for an explanation that may never come, we'll while away the time speculating.

Jakub Kindl's last shift in a game ended at 9:08 of the second period of the Red Wings' 4-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday the 14th of November. It was a 54-second shift that ended 16 seconds before the expiration of a penalty to Bryan Bickell. On that shift, Kindl had three touches and three completed passes (none missed). He had a zone entry that led to a clear due to a poor decision to drop the puck to a covered trailer instead of pushing it deeper for a keep-in at the far boards. Later, he made a good drop pass in the neutral zone where Tomas Tatar went offsides crossing the blue line. The very end of his shift was a shot from the scoring area by Riley Sheahan that Corey Crawford stopped and then snow-angeled on the rebound to get a whistle.

That's it: 51 seconds on the ice. The puck was in the Chicago zone for 18 of those seconds. The Red Wings had one shot on goal. Kindl looked perfectly normal on that shift.

For whatever reason, he hasn't played since.

The Detroit digger crew has asked about it. The only answer they've gotten so far from Babcock is that he's healthy. We've been told that the Wings aren't going to explain why he isn't playing and he hasn't been made available to the media since his benching.

The last three games, Brian Lashoff has skated in Jakub Kindl's place, averaging about 13:30. In that time, Lashoff has played well enough in Kindl's place, putting up one assist, two penalty minutes, and a plus-3 rating over the one loss and two wins. Still, while they're not the same player, Jakub Kindl is supposed to be the favored defenseman. Kindl's skillset, draft pedigree, and the difference in their cap hits means he should be in the lineup over Lashoff.

Without an explanation, we're left to speculate on reasons. Here's what I could come up with in no particular order:

Babcock simply Wants Lashoff Playing More

Why it works: Lashoff offers a bit of snarl and net-front policing that Kindl doesn't bring. With Danny DeKeyser showing a bit more offensive upside than first thought, it's possible that Babs just wanted Lashoff in to play against some tougher physical teams while other defensemen adjusted to carry the puck-moving load that Kindl brings.

Why it doesn't work: For starters, midway through a game against Chicago is kind of a weird time to make such a decision. Even if he made it later, that's not exactly the kind of call that a coach would act cagey about. Why not just tell the diggers that's the reason?

Healthy Doesn't Mean What we Think it Means

Why it works: Babs hasn't always been the most-truthful coach with the media. Outright lying isn't really his style, but if there's wiggle room in the statement, Babs doesn't mind letting people believe what they want to believe. It's possible that Kindl is fighting off any number of things which could leave him "healthy" but still unable to play, either physically or mentally.

Why it doesn't work: You have to stretch a bit farther than usual to call a person too hurt to play "healthy." That's not really Babs' style. There's nothing really wrong with saying that he's not able to play for health reasons, so why hide it?

Kindl's in the Doghouse

Why it works: We've seen the doghouse in action and we've seen Babcock clam up with the media about a guy we figure is in there (Tatar last season is a very strong possibility). Babs' reputation is for being tough on his players, but he doesn't bench them like this very often. However, Kindl is a special case of a player that we've been waiting a long time to break out and dominate at the level of competition he's been given.

Why it doesn't work: Kindl was playing well. He had three points in his last four games before the benching, including power play goals in two consecutive contests. He hadn't scored in the last game prior to the Chicago matchup and he had an early penalty in that game during which he was benched, but that's not a severe step-back from having been on a pretty good run.

The Pending Trade

Why it works: If a GM has a trade for a guy in the works, he doesn't want to risk it falling apart thanks to a freak injury to one of the trade's pieces. According to the diggers, Kindl's been on the block for some time, so if there's something brewing, this could be the reason Kindl's out.

Why it doesn't work: The longer this benching goes on, the more you have to wonder. Trades can take a bit to come together and there are myriad reasons for delaying one, but we don't often see a guy sit this long while the fine details get worked out.

Wrapping Up

If I have to take an educated guess, I'd rank the possibilities as follows:

  1. Doghouse
  2. Health Issue
  3. Pending Trade
  4. Lashoff is preferable

We've gotten no information from the organization about what's going on with Kindl and neither has anybody else it seems. My guess is based solely on my hockey expertise and what I know about the Red Wings. Kindl isn't a stranger to Babcocks' doghouse and he's the kind of player that has had a lot of discussions centered around the mental aspects of his game. He didn't look hurt in the last game he played and I don't think Holland would tell Babs to pull Kindl in the middle of a game for a trade that's not happening for a week. Finally, Lashoff is a likable guy, but he's not as good at hockey as Jakub Kindl. Recent good play is no guarantee that you can stay out of the doghouse of a coach who demands mental sharpness at all times.

Hopefully we'll get actual answers to this soon, because having a $2.4M defensemen in the Cleary Cabana for long stretches is, well... it's less than ideal.