Sorry, gang, but when I joined here people were lambasting Kronner at $3m/year. I don't think that by the end of this we'll be sorry.
I think Kronwall was always a different player though. Kronwall has always had the potential to be a number 1 defenseman and he showed that he was capable of living up and growing into it when healthy. The issue was certainly the injuries, and it's still a reasonable concern heading into his next contract. Plus, the injuries were more out of his control than his development and play on the ice.
Ericsson hasn't had the injuries. Ericsson has had nothing but plenty of opportunities and ice time. What has he done the whole time he's been a regular on this Wings team?
Sloppy mental game. Far more than occasionally terrible in our zone with the puck. He doesn't use his size. His offense hasn't come through as many expected it to.
Even accounting for potential, he has done absolutely nothing to deserve $3.25 million a year on this team. It's a slap in the face to too many guys and it's a message to anyone on the outside that the days of taking a discount to come to Detroit are over. The Red Wing product has been devalued by this deal.
Think about that point from another perspective entirely.
Consider Apple. Yes, the computer company. Their products are expensive, but arguably considered to be among the best in many classes. Apple products rarely if ever go on sale, and it's never for long or for too steep of a discount. Even if you don't like Apple, you cannot argue that there is a huge demand among consumers for iMacs, iPhones, iPads, etc...with that kind of demand, they don't need to have sales, and more and more people don't care because they still are getting the most value for their dollar.
What would happen if Apple had sales every other week and sold $499 iPads for $299? How many people would buy an iPad while priced at $499 when they know that they can get one for $299 if they just wait a little? Suddenly the product is devalued. The willingness to spend top dollar is gone because now they know that they can get the product cheaper. It's now worth $299.
Furthermore, when you devalue your product, you anger your loyal customer base who paid top dollar for the same product. Remember when the iPhone first came out? It was $599. A few months later they marked it down to $399. What happened? Everyone who bought the iPhone at $599 got pissed. Apple ended up issuing them all $100 gift certificates for anything Apple sold in an effort to make amends, and they learned a lot from that mistake and have yet to come even remotely close to making it again.
Apple's smart enough to never devalue their product. They do not compromise on this, and they make no apologies for their higher prices particularly with computers. After all, they make a great product that consumers want, so why devalue it, and in doing so kill your profits all while also adding some serious stank to the exclusivity associated with owning products that are so highly valued? It would make no sense.
So what I'm getting at with all of this is that signing Jonathon Ericsson is a lot like Apple having a sale. When Ken Holland is negotiating with a defenseman in the future, he can no longer point to Brad Stuart as an example of where the Wings bar is at. Holland would point at Brad Stuart like Apple pointing at a $499 iPad one week while the defenseman is going to say, "yeah but..." and go on to point to Jonathon Ericsson like when Apple had the same iPad on sale for $299. This single signing more than any other signing Holland has ever made has surrendered a tremendous amount of leverage to the players. It shows weakness. It shatters exclusivity. How great can this team be if they're stuck having to pay Ericsson $3.25 million? Again, no one's going to be anxious to take a huge pay cut to play here after this signing. Count on it.
And to address the "furthermore" from the Apple example, you have to ask, how does Jimmy Howard feel about this? How does Dan Cleary feel about this? What about Brad Stuart? Guarantee you that each and every one of them scratched their heads and got a little (or a lot...) pissed tonight. Also, what does this say to Eaves and Miller now? What about Helm, Abdelkader and Kindl? Every last one of them is thinking one thing that is the same: next time around, I'm going to get mine too.
More and more it seems that Ken Holland is dragging the Red Wing brand through the mud. This signing is by far the clearest proof of that. If he can't pull it together in the next year, I'm going to be more than ready to join those thinking that it's time for him to move on. He's smart enough to still be effective, hopefully here, though if not, certainly somewhere else. At this point though, I think he may be too entrenched in the familiarity and loyalty that goes along with it to make the right decisions. He's compromising too much when he shouldn't, not moving fast enough when he needs to and he just seems wholly unwilling to take risks or deal anyone away to try and make the team better or set the team up to be in a better position to sign guys to make the team better.
Again, I've never been a Holland basher. I've rarely critiqued deals much past occasionally raising an eyebrow. I've given him the benefit of the doubt time and again. But too many negative patterns have been emerging the last 3-4 years that have brought to the point tonight at which I'm for the very first time questioning whether Holland still has what it takes to manage this team.