Stephen Who?

Most Red Wings fans have had adequate time to deal with the “big” free agent signings of 2014 and hopefully we have all taken a step back from the ledge. We have had our torches out for a couple of weeks now since the resigning of Kyle Quincey and Dan Cleary and Ken Holland has been under an extreme amount of scrutiny from both fans and beat writers in Michigan. Everyone has started to dig and look at all of Ken Holland’s acquisitions, signings and trades in order to try to prove his incompetence. While I share some of the same concerns as most people do, I also have a very optimistic view of this 2014-15 Red Wings team and I think part of this optimism begins with Stephen Weiss.

I admit that it is a bit risky writing my first Red Wings blog here at Detroit Sports Nation on someone who has become so irrelevant in the eyes of most Red Wings fans. Playing in a whopping 26 games last year and racking up a total of 4 points, he is already being penned as one of the biggest free agent busts right behind Uwe Krupp in 1998. Scouring through forums, he is almost non-existent on projected lineups for the upcoming year and the only time his name is brought up is in possible buy-out situation. There was something sad about seeing all the Stephen Weiss jerseys and shirts still on the hooks at the Joe Louis arena as I walked around last year. I have a feeling that this year will be a much more positive experience for the 31 year-old who grew up a Red Wing fan and dreamed of playing for this storied franchise.

You can call me blindly optimistic or even better, a “homer” but I truly believe that Weiss is over the physical hurdles that he has had to endure in the past two seasons first with his wrist and then with his abdomen/groin injury. More importantly I believe that mentally there are hurdles that he needed to clear in order to get back to playing his game as well. He took this step by admitting that he was not totally honest with the Red Wing’s training staff about his injuries and trying to play through them. He felt a lot of expectations to perform after signing his new deal and was trying to be “a little bit of a hero.” This could easily be a way of escaping the wrath of his critics for his underwhelming performance but if you watched him play this year you could tell something was wrong. It was most noticeable in his ability to get up and down the ice. I watched highlight after highlight when I first heard that he signed with the Wings and I was most excited about his speed and his desire to play in the hard areas of the ice. None of this was evident in his play with the Wing’s this season.

Like I mentioned before, Holland has been under the microscope a lot over the last few weeks but let’s not forget that Stephen Weiss was one of, if not the best center available at free agency last year and we got him along with Alfie. Many experts considered these great signings and they were two of the best players available in the 2013 class of free agents. No one could have predicted that Weiss would have such a disappointing year making Ken Holland’s move seem disastrous. He is a former 4th overall pick who in juniors was nicknamed “Weisserman” for his style of play being similar to that of Stevie Y. Granted he is not even close to Stevie (not many are really) but he shined in his tenure with the Florida Panthers for many years as their captain. He has a tremendous amount of speed and skill as well as a proven track record for putting up points. I think that his honesty with the media this offseason has cleared his head and that his injuries will be put behind him and hopefully he will just be able to go out and play for the team that he always wanted to play for growing up. I believe that Stephen Weiss will be a significant contributor to our team this year. He has a lot to prove to all of us after last year but I think he has more to prove to himself and I think that will be more than enough motivation.

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