The Detroit Red Wings once again were sellers this season leading up to and on the day of the NHL’s Trade Deadline, trading goaltender Petr Mrazek to the Philadelphia Flyers and then dealing forward Tomas Tatar to the expansion (and NHL leading) Vegas Golden Knights.
Teams are tight-knit communities, and it’s never easy to see a teammate and friend leave. It was a somber mood in the Red Wings dressing room following Tatar’s departure, as many of his now former teammates have known and played with him for several years.
His upbeat personality and friendship are going to be missed, and the players that now remain behind were quick to indicate as much.
“First and foremost, he’s a good friend of ours,” Niklas Kronwall explained. “He’s been here for a long time. You get that kind of bond between guys. Definitely, his presence, we’ll miss it for sure.”
“Luckily we’ve been in a good situation where we’ve mostly gotten pieces (at the trade deadline). Very few times have we had to say goodbye to people. Tats and Petr (Mrazek) two weeks ago, those are guys that have been here for a long time. Of course, you’re going miss them. Definitely going to miss Tats’ laughter and just the way he is, a guy that everyone enjoyed being around.”
Additionally, there’s also the element of knowing that had the team performed better this season, there wouldn’t have been those trades. General manager Ken Holland attested to this fact during a radio interview the morning after the trade, and Kronwall later echoed his GM’s sentiments.
“There’s no doubt about that,” Kronwall said. “That’s a message to everyone. Had we played up to our potential, he’d still be here and we’d be in a completely different mode. We’d be buyers instead. The past is not something that we can do something about right now.”
Tatar was informed of the trade and soon received a call from both Holland and head coach Jeff Blashill, the latter of whom has coached Tatar not only in Detroit, but in Grand Rapids with the Griffins before he made the jump to the NHL. Tatar helped the Griffins to the Calder Cup championship, and was also playoff MVP.
“Tats is one of my favorite guys I’ve coached. He’s an awesome, awesome person, comes in with a smile on his face,” Blashill said. “I thought he’s passionate, he wanted to win. Always accountable. Honestly, one of my favorites I’ve coached and certainly a popular guy in the room, so there’s a loss there.
Obviously, a loss as a player. But I’ve said this lots, we’re going to have 20 guys good enough to win tomorrow night (Wednesday in St. Louis) and that’s going to be our focus.”
Blashill wanted to be sure and thank Tatar for his efforts both in Grand Rapids and Detroit, and spoke at length at Tatar’s love of being a Red Wing.
“”Tomas loved being a Red Wing and it was hard for him to hear that because he really loved being a Red Wing. It’s hard to let somebody go that loved being part of your organization,” Blashill said. “That has always been one of the key components for me going back to when I was a recruiter is that you wanted people that wanted to be there and he’s certainty one of those guys.
I asked Tomas how he was doing and said he was ‘surprised,’ but he understands it’s part of the business. The sun is usually shining in Tomas’ world, he’ll get adjusted just fine. The biggest thing I wanted to do is just personally thank him for everything he’s done for me. He’s gone to work, he’s gone to battle, he’s gone to war for me time and time again for a number of years, so I just wanted to make sure he felt that sincere thank you from me.”
Tatar joins the NHL leading Vegas Golden Knights, who have already broken the record for most wins by an expansion team out of the four major sports.