Today was locker room clean out day at Joe Louis Arena, perhaps the final time some of these players will ever set foot in that building. The team took part in a team photo and gathered their things in preparation to say goodbye for the summer. And just for the summer, as it seems most of the same players and coaches on this roster will be returning next season. But why?
For the first time since 1990, Detroit isn’t in the playoffs. Not only that, but the team has been in steady decline over the past 6-7 seasons, having only 1 playoff series win since 2013. The lack of success around this team lately is almost unheard of, and fans are calling for change. But according to team management and the players themselves, very little of that will be forthcoming.
Detroit appears to be ready to send out the same exact lineup next season as the one they did this season, when they finished 2nd to last in the division and 6th from the bottom in the NHL. In a results driven business, you’d think results would speak volumes, but not in Detroit. This is incredibly maddening.
On Tuesday, Ken Holland was given a vote of confidence as GM by team ownership, Jeff Blashill was told he “should return” as coach by Ken Holland, and many of the players expect to return next season, citing the change needs to come from within. How the hell are the Wings going to do that with 0 top prospects, picks in this years draft that’s considered well below average, and no changes from this past failed season? After a horrendous season by Detroit, somebody needs to be held accountable. Keeping the same coaching staff and not making any organizational changes would be the equivalent of giving the fans the middle finger.
As far as players go, Niklas Kronwall said he plans on returning, and due to Ken Holland’s inept use of the salary cap, they don’t have much room to bring in any new talent. The one thing Holland does worse than any other GM in the NHL is over value his team. Far too many of the moves he’s made lately to re-sign players is due to their character, and not their skill level. I’m sure all these guys are great human beings, but they’re not great hockey players. The contracts he’s given to players like Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, and Riley Sheahan are absurd. Every single one of those players isn’t playing anywhere near their paygrade. The only real change we’ll see is when one of the current roster players is taken in the expansion draft by Las Vegas.
The Wings have good young talent in Athanasiou, Larkin, and Mantha, but they’ve yet to be given the keys to the kingdom because the organization looks more at what players have done in the past rather than what they can do now.
It’s going to be a long summer in Detroit, and the change fans are hoping for won’t take place. Get used to more of the same from your Detroit Red Wings.