It's definitely been a thing for at least the past three years. And, actually, as Mickey noted in one of the recent broadcasts, most teams are now coached to play some form of "box-out" defense, where you try to push the other team out to the perimeter and force them to settle for low-percentage shot attempts, usually from the point. The Wings, of course, take it to a ridiculous extreme and treat every d-zone situation like it's a desperate PK scenario. And this, I feel, is a big reason why our transition game is often nonexistent -- and why, in turn, we have such trouble generating offense and scoring goals.
Like, collapsing down low and in tight makes some sense if you're only thinking about defending the net at all costs and swatting the puck out of the zone as soon as it touches your stick blade -- but what happens when you regain possession and you want to move up the ice with possession and force the other team back into their end? By collapsing and boxing out, you're kind of shooting your breakout/transition in the foot straightaway. You're deep in your zone. You've pushed at least two opposing players out to the perimeter, so they're in position to impede your progress when you try to break out and move through neutral ice. Your players are too close together, and they're probably tired (treating every d-zone situation like it's a PK), and they're probably all flat-footed. And this is the only team in the league that can't be counted on to complete simple tape-to-tape passes on a consistent basis. Ugh! The self-defeating "safeness" of it all!