But to act like we just realized this is silly. Its been that way for a while now. Remember the talk about the Devils not being able to ice a full team with the Kovulchuk deal? This "era" didn't just manifest itself yesterday. Holland is not performing. He needs to be replaced.
No one is "just realizing" anything. Acquiring top talent has always been hard, and has become even more so in the cap era. Yet you seem to think that even now a competent GM should be able to replace any that's lost, and add more to compensate for any decline from those still around, all without any drop in team performance.
When the GM you think are good now have all rebuilt their teams on the fly, without any "down" years...then you can say Holland should have done better. For now, you have nearly 100 years of NHL history telling you that your expectations aren't reasonable.
More FALSEness. The Wings play with the same cap as the other teams. Its just that other teams spend money on great players and fill in the rest of the lineup with their low paid young guys. We sign a bunch of old, crappy guys and let our prospects waste away.
I believe what he was saying is that the cap takes away the advantage of spending more than most other teams. In the past we could trade away picks and prospects to acquire proven talent without having to worry about fitting them under the cap, and still go after any UFA we liked. That isn't possible anymore.
Now, we have to keep our young players, since as you say we need them to fill out the roster. Now we have to compete with a lot more teams for UFAs, and there are fewer of them to go around as well.
It's not a matter of how we're spending money; it's acquiring those "great players" in the first place.
Mario fricking Lemieux in his prime would have a hard time with Abdelkader and Cleary playing his wings. To suggest Dats and Z can't score is absurd. These guys are crippled with crappy players because the GM failed the last off season. Franzen and Brunner are average, and their paychecks prove it. Cleary and Abdelkader are 3rd liners at best, and their paychecks prove it. Asking Z and D to score with these guys is a joke. Our top 6 needs a serious overhaul. 2 guys minimum. 4 guys in reality.
I said they can't score goals. By that I mean they both seem to be around 20-25g. And you're kind of proving my point. They're not good enough to turn average players into stars. Nothing really wrong with that; few players ever have been. I point it out because it makes it that much tougher to build a team. If we need four 30g wingers, we're probably out of luck. Couldn't afford it in free agency, even if there were 4 available. Nor do we have the trade assets, even if we completely empty the cupboards (which would leave no cheap depth to fill the rest of the roster anyway).
We need to be able to score, even if our top-6 has a couple of guys that can only pot 15-20. Cleary and Abby have 9g apiece. Franzen has 10, Brunner 11, Flip 7...Tatar, Nyquist, and Bert combined have 9 in what has essentially been the same roster spot. That's pretty good scoring depth. That's 7 players with 9 or more, plus 1 with 7.
For comparison, the Blackhawks also have 7 players with 9 and one with 7. In fact, looking at the entire forward corps of both teams, taking out Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Franzen for the Wings, and Kane, Toews, and Hossa for the Hawks... our forwards have scored just one fewer goal. Paid similar money too; we're a little under a million more. Injuries close to balanced. Bolland and Flip roughly equal out. We've had more injuries, but they've had Sharp out for a while. Our replacements have done better. It's a very minor difference. Add in Franzen and Hossa (both have missed 7 games) and the difference is 8 goals, and now the Hawks spending slightly more.
Pav and Hank have 22. Kane and Toews have 42.
It's reasonable to think we could upgrade one of the others enough to offset the 8g difference there. Not so much the other 20g at the top. We need that depth scoring. Need guys like Cleary, Abby, Bert and Sammy who can fill a role on a top line at a fairly cheap price. We can afford one upgrade, and maybe make one other swap for someone of a similar level but who fits better. No guarantees that we can find either, and no guarantees it would be enough, so we don't want to spend to much (in cap commitment or trade) to try for it.
The thing is that the guys who are injured are the guys you could have predicted would be injured. Old, injury prone, or both. Ever think that maybe the reason Wings fans are always griping about man games lost Is because Holland is always icing a team of old guys and guys that can't stay healthy? We can't stop the Quincy and White type injuries. Accidents happen. But Bert, Sammy, and Colo are a joke. Those signings look so bad right now. Those guys were finished when we signed them. Holland needs to be a bit more shrewd in the future.
Wings fans gripe because they don't follow other teams close enough realize that every team has injuries. In the last four years, we are 11th in man-games lost. And that's with two bad years.
Cola may be "injury-prone", but he's averaged over 67 games the past four years. A bit over 80% of his team's games. Bert's averaged 75, over 90% (78 and 95% in his 3 years with the Wings). Sammy 71, over 85%. To suggest that Holland should have predicted that any, much less all three, would miss almost the entire year is foolish.
More to the point, none of those guys prevented us from signing anyone better. Cola was signed precisely because we couldn't find anyone better. Bert and Sammy were affordable depth scorers, and they're short-term deals. We could have (and tried) signed even Parise and Suter. Would have meant some players would have been cut loose, but the fact that we did try to get them makes it obvious that we would have done so. Neither cap space nor roster space was a factor in who we did or didn't sign.
Trying to build a contender around a pair of older, highly-paid centers who can't score goals and aren't good enough to make stars out of average players, while having a huge question mark for a defense, without the benefit of cheap, young, proven, talent, with next to nothing on the UFA market... not as easy as it sounds. Building one to last is even harder yet.
How does 2 recent Cup winners playing each other mean "absolutely nothing"?
Sometimes the blind hate for Sid C and the Penguins gets in the way of good hockey around here.
They can play good hockey inside. It'd make a nice game of the week for NBC.
Much of the appeal of the WC comes from the novelty. Novelty that is eroded with over-exposure. Then you have Pittsburgh in a 3rd outdoor game, Rangers in their 2nd and 3rd, Chicago and Detroit both in a second, Philly's already had two... While it's understandable to want the biggest ratings draws in an event like this, and it's nice that some new teams will be featured, they shouldn't do it all in one season.
There was a preseason game in Vegas back in '91. If they can make ice in September in the middle of the desert, LA in January should be easy. That's the one game that seems like a decent idea. Though it would have been much better to make it the WC in 2015.
I predict that by 2018, Pittsburgh will play their entire schedule outdoors.
Howson was responsible for bringing in Bobrovsky during the offseason, before he was fired. Actually he was responsible for every major move the team has made since 2007 (except the Gaborik trade) including bringing in Dubinsky, Anisimov, Aucoin, Wisneiwski, Johnson, Prospal, Umberger, Tyutin, Foligno, Nikitin, Letestu, and Erixon.
So pretty much their entire team was acquired by him in one form or fashion, and they're playing well right now, so credit where it's due. ..
Odd that he deserves "credit" for taking over a bad team, and in 5 years they managed to do as well as "mediocre" for one year (thanks mostly to a great rookie season from a goalie he didn't draft) before turning back into a pumpkin for a few more years, and now in the 6th year again reaching mediocre (thanks mostly to a goalie performing better than probably should have been expected).
Meanwhile, you wish you had a time machine so you could kill Kenny's mother before his birth because he doesn't know how to stop players from aging...
So he's really good at signing players that were already wearing the Winged Wheel. That's something. But these other signings. Entry level contracts, low risk gambles, and bad trades shouldn't put him above other GMs in this league. Its not hard to look at this list and understand why the team is finishing lower and lower and is now in danger of missing the playoffs.
What puts him above other GMs is the 14 straight years 7th or higher in points, 9th or higher in the standings. 10 of those years (Including 9 straight) 3rd overall or better. None of Chicago, Pittsburgh, or Boston have managed to finish top-3 even two years in a row, and that's with their best players still improving.
That we have struggled to replace some top players and valuable role-players while more of our best players are in decline shouldn't drop him below other GMs. This decline (or even worse) is what should've been expected. Avoiding it would have been remarkable. More than that even, since we already retooled the team twice without any real drop-off. Three times in a row without a glitch would have been near miraculous. Instead, that's what most of you expect.
For the "Best GM in the league" winning now and nurturing the future shouldn't be mutually exclusive. To not make any signifcant moves to better the chances of winning for the current team for the past couple of years and just say "but our farm looks good" is as the above poster said, a copout.
So who would be the best?
There isn't a GM in the league that has faced the kind of losses we have and done any better at staying competetive. Most haven't been around long enough to try rebuilding on the fly and/or never even built a team successful enough in the first place.
I don't buy the "making the team worse" argument, nor the cap argument. First of all, especially last year, when all was said and done, we still had $4.5 million in cap space. But even in years before last, guys that likely would've been moved to make a trade happen would have balanced out most of the cap issues. And while I don't think you could say that making a trade that ships out talent for talent would make the team better immediately, I don't think it'd make them so much worse either. It probably would have been even then, with a stronger defense but somewhat weaker offense. But it'd make the blow of losing your top three defensemen over the course of one year much easier to swallow. Again, I'm not talking about just replacing Lidstrom, but also Rafalski and Stuart. Holland didn't even find a way to bring in a Stuart-level guy. I don't wholly disagree with some of what you're saying, and I'm not trying to suggest that perfection is the only option, but I absolutely am saying that if Holland was a truly great cap-era GM, I don't think he would've had the number and the magnitude of gaffs that he's had since really running up against the cap crunch. And don't take it from me, take it from him! He blatantly admitted that he was shocked and unprepared for what happened in the off-season in the summer of 2009. It's been much of the same drill each off-season since then, only getting worse in some ways as the seasons go by.
And to be clear, I'm fine with having a year or two or even more of struggle to get things right. If we have to field a weaker team in order to sign better guys for awhile as we sort out this transition and evolve, so be it. What bothers me most about Holland's approach is that he's seemed content to change as little as possible because the team with the core of Dats, Z and Lidstrom was generally going to be good enough to at least make the playoffs. But now Lidstrom's gone, and while the core is still strong, it hardly makes the team infallible. If heaven forbid we do lose Datsyuk in 15 months, and three months later we start the season having not addressed yet another hole in any meaningful way, will it still be excusable?
Pittsburgh landed Iginla tonight. Doesn't guarantee them anything, but we weren't even on Iginla's list according to most. No matter what you think of the deal or the other teams or how it might play out, that we weren't even a real part of the conversation is very telling of the status of our team. And again, I'd be fine with that status if it actually felt like we were building to something. But it doesn't, at all. We're just getting old and tired. As opposed to paying dues, we're just eeking by.
You're very obviously nowhere close to "fine" with struggling.
Being a weaker team is typically how you land those better players. Getting superstars to build around typically requires being very bad for a time. It's not that Holland is content or doesn't want to change anything. It's that you can't spin straw into gold. He could spin some straw into some different straw, and maybe that would make you happy as it would at least be something to talk about, but it wouldn't make any real difference.
Yes, when Rafalski retired we got some cap space, after having none for two years. In hindsight, Holland might have given up a pick for a chance to talk to Wisniewski or Ehrhoff. Would either really make us any better? Make the future any brighter? Knowing he wouldn't get Suter, he probably goes harder after other options. Would Wideman or Carle really make that much difference?
To build, you need something to build on. The struggles we're having now and will likely have in the near future is how we'll find that foundation.
Since we were really feeling the cap when we were still paying Zetterberg around $2.5 million/season?
But all in all, the "you could do better" thing hangs over the last four years like a cloudy sky on the verge of rain.
That is a ridiculous standard, and if you were to apply it to any other GM in the history of any sport you're not going to find even one you think is adequate.
In the span of a few seasons we lost Yzerman, Shanahan, Hull, Robitaille, Fischer, Larionov, Hasek, among others, plus maybe the best coach of all time. Chelios went from a Norris candidate to depth player, Draper and Maltby from invaluable role-players to guys filling out the roster. We'd lost in the first round, second round, and first round. We had a lot of good prospects and could afford to lose some. Plus we made the transition to the cap era.
Holland made some moves, some were decent, some not so much. We signed some cast-offs that no one else wanted, brought up some young guys, signed one big UFA. It worked and we won a Cup. It wasn't luck that we had a bunch of cheap guys. It's what you have to do in the cap era. Then we had to start paying guys and trying to fill the rest of the roster with bargains. Some of those guys were decent, some not so much.
It's just not reasonable to expect that we should have had a replacement for Lidstrom before he left. The only way to get that is to get lucky, either with a prospect or someone else's cast off. If you want someone already proven, you would have had to give up a lot to get them, and we couldn't have fit them under the cap. We would have had to make the team worse in previous years. Maybe in hindsight you can say they should have, because we haven't done much in the playoffs anyway, but really you all would have just been bitching about mismanagement back then.
Some people are completely backward in thinking that the biggest needs, the biggest losses, should be the easiest to fill. Fact is, those holes have the fewest available options and the least margin for error. That's why almost no one, in any sport, in any era in history, has much success filling them without a hitch.
Nothing Holland could have done would have been better than landing Suter and Parise (particularly since we wouldn't have had to give up anything), and he put us in position to make a strong play for both of them. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. But we're still in a good position to add more, and we still have a well stocked prospect pool. Maybe, probably even, things will get worse before they get better. That's the nature of the beast. We need stars and those almost always come through the draft. Once we have our next generation of stars, then will come the time to start making trades and looking for a good UFA or two to put us over the top. Hopefully at that time, some of the young prospects we have now will emerge to fill some roles at bargain prices.
Sure, we could make a move or two now and it might work out. Or not. Look at the Rangers, Philly, San Jose... Maybe Holland could have done better. But who actually has?
Pittsburgh? Cup winner, last three years lost in the 2nd, 1st, and 1st round. Found some nice fits at forwards, including one absolute steal of a trade, wrecked their defense. Looking good this year, maybe they'll go somewhere, maybe not. Their best players can't stay healthy, probably going to have cap troubles again in a couple years.
Chicago? Cup winner, sat watching the TV hoping for Dallas to lose to put them in the playoffs the following year. Two first round losses. Looking good this year... Likely cap trouble again next year.
Boston? Cup winner, lost in the first round last year. Looking good... maybe some cap trouble next year.
LA? Cup winner, had to fight down to the wire to make the playoffs, likely the same this year. About $15M to fill almost half their roster next year...
Anaheim? Doing great this year after plenty of struggles since their Cup win. Big commitments to their stars likely to create some cap issues down the road...
Pretty much all that separates us from any of them is they have young stars while ours are aging. Most of them were irrelevent not long ago, and will likely end up back there before too long. Come back when their stars are aging and see how much better they do than Holland. I bet none of them do half so well.
What Holland has already done proves that he's a great GM. He's had some luck, and a great staff to work with, but he's still been great. No matter how successfully we make it through our current transition or the next.