It was, but go back and look at how much Hudler, Filpulla, Zetterberg, Kronwall, Franzen, Samuellson, and Cleary were on, and look at how much more they got paid on their next contract. Look at how much (or more accurately how little) we were paying Ozzie and Hasek. The fact that we had so many good players on cheap contracts enabled us to sign Rafalski and then Stuart.
I get what you're saying, and I agree. And I don't think it really goes against anything I'm saying about that team. It was a very well-built team; Holland was very smart about it. True, there was some luck involved, and, true, players wanting and getting better contracts can make things dicey. But, overall, I think Holland has just gotten away from the model he seemed to be using with that team, and the goals and expectations and motivations he was working with. This team we have now is...a mess. You wouldn't think it had been put together by the same guy who put together that '08 team.
Granted, it's not all entirely on the GM making bad decisions. He inherited a monstrously good machine in the 90s, and, generally, the more distant the '90s become, the harder it's probably going to be for him. Like, I was talking about The Grind Liners being on the '08 team - that was, I guess you could say, very convenient for him. I'm not saying that in a negative way. It's just, we still had some pieces left over from the '90s and the '02 Cup-winner, and that helped a lot. And now all those pieces are gone, which is gonna make things difficult, even if all your decisions are good ones.
But still, I do think things have slipped. Standards, expectations, the actual talent level on the roster...it's been an all-encompassing, wholesale slide.