Also, Ken Holland did have a plan to replace Lidstrom. It was signing Ryan Suter. The fact that he and Parise were going to tag team at the last minute and make themselves a package deal took everyone off guard. They really didn't have the room to sign them both and from my recollection, Minnesota wasn't even considered to be in the mix originally. That seemed to have come out of no where and surprised most of the hockey pundits. Should he be blamed for putting all his eggs in one basket. Probably. But, after Suter was signed, there wasn't much left on the Free Agent heap after that. He was kind of stuck. They didn't have much in the way of young players or draft picks to part with to get anyone of quality. While it's easy to say he should have "planned ahead", Lidstrom was talking about returning to Sweden for at least 5 years before he ultimately did. It also wouldn't have surprised anyone if Nick had played another 2 or 3 years. At what point do you bring in a replacement for him? Then if he doesn't leave you have cap issues.
As I said before, when Holland was signing all the "old guys" before he was considered a genius. They were crafty veterans, not worthless old guys. Holland could be accused of going to that well too often and not realizing that it isn't as effective when those guys have to play more prominent roles instead of being depth guys. But, trying to strike that balance and keep under the cap probably isn't as easy as it sounds.
I do agree that the blind loyalty has to stop at some point. I will go postal for sure if Cleary gets any kind of a contract to return as a player. I got the Samuelsson signing at the time, in that he had experience on the point and was RH and he was somewhat serviceable in VAN and FLA, but the 2 years at 3 million+NTC was insanity.
I realize a lot of the under 30 fans are totally spoiled rotten and don't remember a time when the Wings weren't good and that it's inconceivable that they aren't challenging for the Cup every year. That Holland was able to keep this team competitive and re-tool and get a Cup in 2008 is quite the accomplishment. Teams like the Red Wings, the New England Patriots, the San Antonio Spurs, the St. Louis Cardinals, that are able to be competitive year after year for extended periods are the exception not the rule. It's those teams that are able to find diamonds in the rough, the late round draft picks, the other teams rejects, etc. The system is set up to discourage dynasties and encourage parity.
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