Most NHL teams are now past the quarter mark of the 2019-2020 regular season and for the Detroit Red Wings, sitting in dead last place in the entire league is not something anyone hoped for.
That being said, Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman is not down on the team. In fact, Yzerman seems happy with the progress his team has made since training camp.
On Tuesday, Yzerman was at the NHL general managers meeting and he said he is not so much focused on the standings but on the progress of his team under the coaching of Jeff Blashill.
“How much we're going to win and lose, where we're going to finish in the standings, I'm not going to predict that,” Yzerman said at the NHL general managers meetings Tuesday. “But I think [coach Jeff Blashill] and his staff are doing a really good job of preparing the players, of practicing. I like to think we're improving from training camp to the start of the regular season.
“As we speak here today, I think you're seeing good progress in our team.”
Even though the Red Wings when through a big rough patch early in the season, Yzerman said it is not because of his team competing.
“Even during that stretch where we lost a lot and gave up a lot, I can't say it was because we weren't competing,” Yzerman said a few hours before a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators. “I'm encouraged by the speed of play and the enthusiasm and the work ethic that the team has, and I think we're seeing progress. … I think collectively as a team, the team plays fast, the team plays hard, and it's a competitive group.
“So obviously we've got a long way to go, but I like the atmosphere within the locker room, within the coaching staff. I think it's very good.”
Though Yzerman is excited about the future of some of the Red Wings' prospects, he knows bringing them along will take time.
“We like to think they have some upside,” Yzerman said. “How high that goes, time will tell. But they're young players, offensive-minded players, and we'll see if they can't kind of grow with our core of young players.”
“The message to them all at the start of the season was, ‘Go get a place in Grand Rapids. Get focused on playing, and don't worry about being called up. And having said that, doesn't mean you won't be called up,' ” Yzerman said. “There's nothing set in stone. …
“It's where we feel at the end of training camp or at this stage of the season where they're all best suited to play. We want all of those young kids playing in a league where they're improving, where they're playing, where they're having some success but it's hard for them. So, you kind of decide: Is that in junior? Is that in Europe? Is that in the American Hockey League? Or in the NHL, for that matter? So, I don't want to say it's by design. We're just trying to figure out, where's the best place for each of these players to play now and develop and get better.”
“It's not easy, but they're all progressing and all improving and having varying degrees of success,” Yzerman said. “I think they're all in a really good spot, because the league is a real challenge for them and most of all they've all kind of embraced it that, ‘Hey, we understand this is a hard league, and there's good players, and I have to work hard.' So, I think it's good for them.”