Well, for starters, Kesler only wanted to go to Anaheim or Chicago.
Vancouver took what they could get for him under the circumstances.
So part of it is that none of these guys ultimately want to play in Detroit. As painful as i may sound, would you rather live in Detroit playing for a bubble team or live in Anaheim, playing for a contender?
I know you always get worked up about threads devolving into anti-Holland disasters, but as one who has become quite anti-Holland in recent years, I just wanted to point out that you're touching on one of the reasons I've lost faith in his ability to be an effective GM in Detroit.
Five years ago this team was still a destination franchise, and that afforded us an advantage in signing guys and leverage in trades. We are no longer a destination franchise, and we haven't been in several years. And given that we seem unwilling to overpay and still haven't proven that we're anything more than a playoff-maybe team that'll likely exit early, we seem to becoming less attractive of a destination every year.
Perhaps more than ever in the cap era, it's important to maintain that draw if you expect to be able to build from outside your organization. Despite the cliche line people drop nowadays about the importance of building from the draft, it's next to impossible to really put together a contender without making outside moves, especially if you don't plan on tanking for several years to hopefully get the chance to land even one guy who qualifies as truly elite talent in the draft amongst other core needs.
I get that we weren't going to land Parise and Suter. I gave Holland no s*** about that and still don't. I certainly don't care about not getting Kesler, as I've never been a Kesler slappy and it's obvious that we had no chance, so it'd be silly to get mad. What ultimately bothers me is that Holland had plenty of time early on to do more to shore of the core of this team, especially knowing Lidstrom was nearing the end and Stuart was likely gone at the end of his contract. When Rafalski retired, Holland should've done a lot more to immediately plug that hole, not because it's a hole that in and of itself needed to be plugged, but because in a year, you're losing at least one more core defenseman, and potentially your captain and one of the beat defensemen in the game, even past 40.
It doesn't take a genius to realize when you're in the best position to make a deal, and Holland let that time go by, like he's let other great opportunities slip by. He talks endlessly about prices being too high and not wanting to overpay, yet time and again, he's made bad deals for less effective, oftentimes older players, seemingly because of having a history with them. So instead of overpaying for stars that can make a difference, we overpay for mid-level talent that literally more often than not has been useless to us. And all the while, our image sinks further and further down.
I don't like the idea of overpaying any more than the next guy, but we wouldn't have had to if Holland had done more to maintain the core of this team when he was in the best position to do so. Furthermore, had we been more aggressive early on in our dip and gone harder after another guy that helps the team and raises your status, we'd likely be in a position to still be getting the better end of some of these trades and free agent signings.
It's not one thing that Holland's done that's caused me to lose faith in him, and truly, most of what shaped my perspective on him currently happened several years ago now. He's simply been in a free fall of bad decision-making since about 2009, and he seems completely unable to find a way to turn it around let alone slow it down. Has he been the victim of bad luck too? Sure. I don't think anyone expected the Weiss situation for example to go as poorly as it did, for example, but even with that, we ultimately made a good sized bet on a guy who we knew wasn't out of the woods on the injury front, so on some level, you almost have to question the signing, even if it's clearly in the hindsight category. Holland hasn't really done enough to buy the benefit of the doubt in recent years.
In the end, to me, I look back and I see that Holland clearly did absolutely nothing to maintain the status of the team when we lost three important players, and he's done nothing since to improve matters, and if anything, he has only made the situation worse with numerous blatantly embarrassing signings. Barring a home run of an off-season, now that we've been continually slipping for five years, I'm really at a point where I can't see Holland keeping his job past this season. Maybe the guy could still be great on another team, and maybe he'd be best taking on another role in the organization, advising someone who's more capable of making tough decisions and taking some chances that might have the potential to turn things around.
But any way you shake it, I just don't get how one can't objectively question on some level Ken Holland's current effectiveness given where we were five years ago and where we are now. When your status falls as far as ours has and we're as weak of a team as we are despite having a killer offensive core in Dats and Z, you've got to stop and ask what went wrong, and I don't see any way of not acknowledging Ken Holland's utter and complete inability to even come remotely close to maintaining the status we had for over twenty years.
When you can't even come up with a Stuart-level replacement after several years and you also lost Lidstrom and Rafalski, you're doing something wrong.
When you essentially throw cap space into the fire to burn by signing guys like Cleary and Sammy and Tootoo among others in recent years, when your defense is still in shambles after losing 3 of your 4 top guys, (not to mention the roster issues you create by having too many forwards) and you're still talking about not wanting to overpay for guys, you're doing something wrong.
It does suck that we aren't in a position to land favorable deals. It's a bummer. It is what it is now and there's no easy way out of the mess we're, and also no way that doesn't involve taking risks that my or may not come close to paying off, but we are in this position because Ken Holland's failed to stop, let alone even slow down the free fall this team is in. At some point you have to get serious and call a spade a spade and stop making excuses just because you can find a way to minimize the impact of individual deals or missed deals.
We're talking about a 5-year old trend of one way or another failing to slow the free fall.
This is something that can't really be argued, and however you spin it, there's really no way to defend against it without suggesting that you're content to be mediocre. If that's enough for you, congratulations, but you shouldn't be shocked when Red Wings fans of all fans expect a little more out of their team than to limp into the playoffs on the weakening backs of Pav and Z or the adrenaline-fueled overachievements of Grand Rapids. I called the Holland naysaying crazy talk 4-5 years ago too, but at this point, you're just not being objective at all about the big picture if you're still defending Holland's current effectiveness.