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Dead Octupi on the ice year in review


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 I am 54 years old so I grew up remembering the Dead Thing era. Looks like it is back.


PRESEASON OUTLOOK Bleak. The Wings brought in aging vets Bernier and Vanek and resigned Green and Ken Holland finally started using the word rebuild about the team, they promised to take long hard looks at kids this season.


FINAL RECORD 32-40-10 74 points 7th in division, 4th worst record in hockey.


HIGH POINT OF THE YEAR After a miserable 1-7-2 start a few vets such as Green got healthy and the Wing clawed their way over .500 with wins as November turned into December against stud teams like Toronto, Boston and St. Louis they climbed to 14-13-4 on December 10th. Shortly thereafter they began to lose more than they won and never sniffed .500 again.


LOW POINT OF THE YEAR A lot of folks might say the 1-7-2 start which essentially buried the team coming out of the gate but I would disagree, I would say it was the hot play at the end of the year once they were out of it. On March 14th they lost their 12th of 13 after blowing a 3 goal lead to Tampa and actually had the worst record in hockey and the best shot at the Hughes sweeps. The low point IMHO is what came next, they went on a tear winning 8 of 9 meaningless games climbing to the 4th worst record and ended up 6th in the draft because of it.


wHAT WENT RIGHT Larkin established himself as a pure stud with 32 goals and a point a game player with fire in his belly and ice in his veins. Athanasiou gave the Wings two 30 goal scorers for the first time in forever and also established himself as a force. Mantha and Bertuzzi gave the team 4 guys who all scored 20 or more. In what turned out to be a buyers market for players of their ilk Holland got a nice haul for Nyquist and Jensen of both picks and defenseman Madison Bowey who had a solid month and a half with the Wings. Kronwall played surprisingly well, Green was solid when healthy, kid blueliners Hronek and Cholowski were a mixed bag both essentially playing a bit more than half a season with the bigs but perspective, in half a season as rookies both scored more points in half a rookie year than Jonathan Ericsson has ever scored in a single season in his 12 year red Wings career. Howard was strong in net and quietly resigned for another year to stay in Motown. Dekeyser was good, kids Zadina and Hirose both created a buzz and excitement for next year. Unnoticed Glendening had a very solid season killing penalties, winning faceoffs and even scoring a bit.


WHAT WENT WRONG Bernier signed for three years and was pretty bad overall. Green could not stay healthy and his career is in jeopardy. Abdelkader and Helm at this point are both just passengers who re collecting paychecks. Nielsen seems to have hit the wall and is sliding into 4th line territory for 2nd line pay but he does play hard, just not well. Promising kids Rasmussen and Ehn were non entities all yearmore was expected from both especially Rasmussen. They inexplicably resigned Coach Blashill to a 2 year extention. Daley and Ericsson look absolutely done.


FREE AGENTS Vanek and Kronwall are both UFA and both will be accepted back if they want to come back. Witkowski has probably worn out his welcome, a bunch of AHL graybeards such as Cheli, Megan, McLrath and Sateri most of whom saw ice time this year will probably sign elsewhere as a lot of kids are pushing for time in Grand Rapids next year.


 OFFSEASON QUESTION MARKS Can they make a splash going for a big name veteran blueliner in free agency to mentor the kids? Can they find a way to work Zadina and Hirose into the lineup full time and get Rasmussen 15-16 minutes of quality ice time with quality linemates? There is some talent here, they are not going to turn the corner in a year but there are building blocks here but still a lot of salary tied up in players who cant play anymore. Next year Daley, Ericcson, Green, and Howard are all ufa's so all will be used to try to add more picks. They already have 5 picks in the first three rounds for each of the next three years so the rebuild is on its way. 



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Nice summary.


Though you and I agree on a lot of things, I strongly disagree with you about the low point of the season. In fact, the low point, in my view, wasn't either spot you mentioned. It was the sequel to the Montreal Debacle that occurred as a part of the post-trade-deadline slump. The wheels officially came off during that stretch. Green was down for good. Our talent was depleted. We knew the season was over. What to play for? That Montreal game was the low point in that, if there was any game that we should have responded to by playing hard, it was that one. And we came out asleep! Dead! Unforgivable! The first Montreal Debacle was bad enough. But to do that TWICE?! Ugh!


In stark contrast to you, I think the win streak at the end WAS a GOOD thing for this franchise. I understood Lughes for Hughes, BUT look at what Ottawa/Colorado got for all of their losing: 4th. We would have had to lose so many more games, and deal with the mental issues that come when you lose all the time. And for what? Picking two spots earlier. If it had gotten us a MUCH greater chance at a top-2 pick? OK, I buy it then. But it really doesn't as the results of the lottery show you. The difference between the 4th pick and the 6th pick? Not as big a deal, really.


To me a strong argument can be made that the low moment of the season was when the Detroit Red Wings logo flipped on the card as getting the sixth pick in the draft, even with one team remaining in the hunt for a top-3 pick, dropping 2 positions from the default 4th if they had picked in reverse-standings order. No chance at either Hughes or Kakko. But technically, the season was already over at that point.


BIGGEST SURPRISES: The play of Nick Kronwall. Appropriate I am mentioning this on Easter weekend, because the dude resurrected himself from the dead. If he wants to play another season, he darn well should. If he doesn't, he went out on a higher note that most of us thought he would. He gets the Steve Yzerman award for playing on two half-knees.


The play of Taro Hirose. He made quite an impression in a short period of time. Not just THAT he had all of those assists, but HOW he got those assists. I like his smarts and intuition. Kudos to Jiri Fischer and the gang for getting that young man to sign with us. That was really a nice bit of unexpected hope added for seasons to come.


And as you noted, the play of Luke Glendening. Perhaps one of this best seasons ever. I'm a little surprised he didn't get moved at the deadline.


BIGGEST LETDOWN: OK, I'm gonna say it--the lack of immediate readiness of Filip Zadina. I just got too excited, I think. I was hoping with his pre-draft confidence that he was gonna drive himself to make an immediate impact. Not ready. Too soon. DANG!


MOST SARCASTIC MOMENT: Justin Abdelkader scoring his first goal in half a season. Wooooow! <SMH> 😕 That contract is gonna look worse and worse, isn't it? And it was bad the moment it was signed! Not quite Riley Sheahan, but he's got a heckuva lot better contract than Sheahan ever had.


And I guess I'll disagree about the Dead Things. You can't mention these guys with that era. Not yet. They aren't THAT bad. That era didn't know what parity looked like. The Dead Things were the opposite of parity. As bad as we are comparatively, we aren't NEARLY as far away as we were in the 70's-early-80's era. There's more hope here than there ever was there.

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All valid points. I forgot about that Canadien loss and how god awful the effort was in that one, I think I burned it out of my mind as quickly as possible. The Lightning loss where we were up 3-0 a bit over halfway through the game and lost 5-3 was just as bad.


  Yeah Zadina hit the league with a  ton of hubris and his cockiness made it look as if he were going to take the league by storm but truth is a year spent mostly at the AHL level probably did him a world of good. I remember watching his linemate veteran AHLer Chris Terry look as if he were ready to kill Zadina early in the year after one of his too numerous to count blown defensive zone plays led to a goal for the bad guys, but he worked his tail off and seems to get that the rink is 200 foot long and every inch of ice must be contested. I worry so much about Blashill not being the best at developing kids but I think that unlike Mantha Zadina is the type to respond to the tough love treatment and take it as a challenge.

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The difficulty with the tough love thing is that for it to be accepted takes a lot of maturity. Young kids often don’t have it. But fortunately, I think Larkin gets it, which helps. The young kids see how Blashill treats them, but Larkin is right there to say, “No, he’s doing it to help you.”


Tough-love coaching DOES work with the right group, but in most cases the players have to know who they are to a significant degree. If they don’t, then when the coach rides them for their screwups, they accept that as their identity, and that’s harmful.


That is why keeping veterans on board—and even better, good young players like Larkin—and I can absolutely see Hirose being one very easily too—are there to help “translate.”


For Mantha, I think the smartest thing Blashill did was show him 10 best shifts vs. worst 10 shifts on video. Anthony has to see that the coach didn’t just remember the screwups, even though it can SEEM like that with tough-love coaching. And it worked.


For AA, the challenge of giving him a 2C position which came with more ice time and responsibility worked as well. I think it was all the more meaningful when he did it despite being short on the wing after Nyke’s trade. They weren’t missing a center. But he needed to play it. And I don’t think he would have responded the way he did if he hadn’t been shown how wrong he is when he neglects his defensive role on the ice first. Without the former, I don’t know if the experiment works.


The difficult part as fans—like for me with Zadina—is that we want the growth to happen immediately. But that is rarely true. I’m hoping maybe Hirose can break that mold. I was really impressed with him.


No more excuses for Blash now with Yzerman at the helm. He has two seasons to put up or shut up. Because by the time his contract ends, these kids will be ready for an experienced coach to guide them to greatness if Blash can’t show he can do it.


I hope that you are wrong about him, but I’m not sure whether you are or not. 

Edited by SpikeDDS
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