I'm really kinda getting tired of everyone blowing up when Howard has a good game, and I'm talking more on the media and coaching front. I don't think it's doing him any favors. He's struggled to have a consistent stretch the entire season and every time he has a good game, people make a big deal out of it and hope for the turnaround. Then he ends up struggling again a game or two later and people make a bigger deal about that. It's not like flipping a switch where having a good game is going to make a consistency problem better, and sometimes the way he responds to it all makes it seem like he almost thinks it is, and then when it isn't, he's just right back to the opposite extreme.
I know it's never going to happen, but I just wish we could leave the guy alone for a few weeks and not focus too much on the ups and downs. Right now his biggest problem is performing consistently, and dwelling as little as possible on the ups and downs might help his mental approach to it all. I don't know if it's possible to ban him from doing media, but I'd love to see that go down. No need to have the media poking and prodding someone struggling when they already have a bit of a polarized personality.
Bottom line, Jimmy Howard needs to get his head clear and find some balance. He's more than capable of being a much, much better goalie than he's been this year. He's not a technically perfect goalie, but not many are and I really don't think the weaker technical areas are ultimately what has caused him to struggle with consistency. I'm really more convinced at this point that it boils down to his mental game, and if he's going to improve in that area, he's got to get better about not getting too caught up on good and bad games and find a way to stay level.
And while we may not have had a great 3rd period, but bear in mind, we've had a lot of bad 3rd periods and we typically end up losing or heading to a shootout to lose. We pulled it off tonight. Ugly as it may be, we found a way to win. That's a positive worth acknowledging despite the issues. They obviously have to improve, but they didn't quit and scored a couple goals to ensure that we didn't lose or head to OT.
I haven't read the article, but if that's the key quote, there's something very important that's missing: "I need to work harder and I need to want the puck more."
He's right in calling out the team's effort as it's been lacking, but he is not a guy who tends to characterize maximum effort. If he wants to be a leader and make statements like that, that's great, we need more of that, but he needs to walk the walk, lead by example, and be the first to admit he needs to be better at what he's saying.
Nothing like a game vs the Hawks to see what this team needs soooooooo badly.
Every single one of their D can move the puck. And they have zero clowns on the back end. We have at least 2.
Talent attracts talent and Chicago has been aggressive at signing talent when the opportunity presents itself. You get enough guys in there that believe they deserve to win and play like it and you keep winning. Everyone loved to criticize Chicago for the moves they've made in the last 5-6 years, declaring again and again how screwed they are as soon as they sign anyone, yet they keep coming back strong, and they've won two Cups in that span of time. They don't appear to be slowing down and will certainly be making a run this year again.
Some may disagree with me, but honestly, I think if we had signed Hossa in 2009 instead of letting him go to Chicago, those two Cups would've been ours and this team would be in a lot better shape than it's in now. Again, there's the whole talent attracts talent angle, but also, some of the fat we'd have to trim to keep Hossa and Franzen wouldn't have hurt us at all relative to what we ended up having to do anyways. Furthermore, staying more competitive while also running a bit more lean and mean with role players would've likely prevented us from having some of the bonehead stupid contract issues we've been stuck with because we were so "smart" to not get in all the "cap trouble" teams like Chicago got in again and again.
Seriously, think about it, we keep Hossa, Chicago's missing an important piece, especially considering he's a big part of their two way game, we're all the stronger for having him, we pick up guys like Eaves and Miller anyways because it's who we can afford, but they play better because there's more legitimate top-tier talent around. Worst case scenario at the time in terms of the roster is that we might've had to deal Flip, but he left anyways for nothing and at least we would've been able to get a return for him if he were traded. But moving forward again, if we win another Cup in that span of time, which I think would've happened, when it comes time to deal with the Lidstrom transition, I bet we'd have a much easier time finding a guy who can make a dent in filling those shoes not just willing but hungry to play for us. We are not a destination team at this point.
Ever since Holland let Hossa go to chase scraps, things have been going down the tubes here and they've been on the up in Chicago. It was a huge mistake to let him go, and again, I really, truly believe we'd have at least one more Cup right now had we kept Hossa and the team and it's status as a destination would still be very well intact. And hell, maybe Lidstrom would've even stuck around another year or two if we were still as competitive. Signing Hossa certainly wouldn't have solved all the problems we've had to deal with, but I can't help but think it'd sure as hell make it a lot easier while helping us stay competitive, and by sheer virtue of the lack of cap space we'd have available, it would've help us avoid some of the utterly terrible signings we've made the last few years.
Ugh, I hate thinking about this crap. It's just depressing.
You've hit the nail on the head on most points but I'm not sure how much of a leader Alfie is in the Wings clubhouse. In Ottawa he had status and a real presence; on the Wings he seems to be overshadowed by guys that don't have the same pedigree that he does, but have been here longer. I've definitely haven't seen his presence on the ice these last couple weeks, he might be a good guy in the locker room; but being the new guy and playing on the third line, I'm just not sold on his leadership ability on the current team. Plus with his experience and track record you just know Holland will give him at least 4 mil a year, and that just makes me cringe.
I completely agree with your second paragraph. 100%
I'm not 100% sure as I'm not an insider, but given how he's looked his worst since the Olympics, I'm wondering if he's not a) exhausted and/or b) nursing some sort of injury. And I'm not saying that he's like an Lidstrom/Zetterberg-level leader just because of his role in Ottawa, but a guy like him is going to bring leadership-qualities to any team he's on. Even the fact that he's not relied upon as the most important leader here might be a good thing. The guy isn't going to change the way he works and handles himself just because he isn't being asked to take on a very specific leadership role. He's going to be sharing a role with kids that also don't have leadership roles, but they're going to be able to look at him and see how a guy who has had an incredible career does it without the pretense. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think having a guy like him taking on a lesser role raises the bar for what's possible in that role as well as how anyone on the team ought to carry themselves on and off the ice, and I think it's good for the kids to see that.
But again, my thought process has a lot to do with the thinking that we're going to have the cap space to sign him, and if we're not going to sign anyone else, I think he'd contribute in his final season on and off the ice, and even if it's debatable how much he'd contribute, that kind of guy's presence is worth more than leftover cap space that will never be used.
But if he gets $4 million...unless he signs right before camp and we have tons of money to spare, I just won't get. But I bet he comes back for around $3 million, and with a healthier team, what he might contribute could make the deal look like a bargain.
And in the playoffs, you have to think that guy would be inspired and inspiring...
That's simple - everyone knows already and everyone is tired of repeating it.
As said in my post above, if we'd signed him earlier in the season for a more reasonable amount, say $4 million, I think it would've been better for everyone. Less pressure on himself to play up to his contract, less pressure from management, the fans, and the media to justify his contract, more money to sign help on defense. You've gotta look at it with the perspective that his career has been inconsistent from the AHL on up and acknowledge the fact that you're not likely to just let the guy go, so you get the deal done before he has the time to play his value up. Again, we've seen too many times that he can go from being outstanding to barely even average, and he's yet to have a really noteworthy playoff run. He'd come out looking better in a more balanced system, and his off nights might not come out looking as bad as they do now when he gets little help and has that big contract hanging over his head when everyone wonders why he keeps giving up so many goals in the 3rd.
But my mind has has just been blown again and again by what Holland is and isn't willing to spend too much money on. That's a way bigger problem than Jimmy Howard.
The only positive that can happen with missing the playoffs is the firing of Holland and Babcock.
Of course, it won't happen, because the owner is too old to care (unless it's about the Tigers)
Holland has lost me but Babcock has not. I don't think Babcock's been thrilled with the pieces he's been given. He's expressed as much multiple times in the past, and that's on Holland. I think he's doing more than most would when you consider the adversity he's faced with the injuries to key players, the inconsistent goaltending this year, and a team the last couple years with $5-7 million in salary going to a few guys who aren't playing or are barely playing because they're just not good enough to even beat out AHL guys. He lost his 3 of his top 4 defensemen and got Quincey. Ken Holland's management of this team has done Babcock absolutely no favors, yet Babcock has still found a way to keep them in the hunt, even this year without Dats and Z down the stretch and a Howard (3rd highest paid player behind Dats and Z) that seems to always find a way to give up 2-3 goals in the 3rd period (not all Howard's fault directly, but he's not stopping many to save games or keep it close either...).
Babcock doesn't sign guys. I think Babcock would rather have Samuellson's and Tootoo's $4.9 million combined salary go towards signing a halfway descent defenseman, and imagine the difference that could make on this team right now? Again, when you really look at what's happened to this team the last 3-4 years, it all goes back to Holland dropping the ball again and again. Sure, we've struggled with injuries, but given that we haven't completely crumbled in spite of that, imagine how much better off we'd be if Babcock had a more balanced roster to work with and not too many average forwards and too few even average defensemen.
We also can't be wholly sure who else is hurting more than we know. You have to imagine that some guys are playing through more pain than they might this time of year if not for so many guys with more serious injuries.
Something has to be done about this team's roster, sooner rather than later. It's not going to get easier as Dats and Z age and waiting until they retire to find replacements doesn't aid in a smooth transition nor put us in a good negotiating position. Holland needs to get his act together or they need to replace him. Then we need to get any training issues addressed this summer as a start to trying to sort out the injury issues. Once Babcock has a roster that makes a little bit of sense and has some balance, I think it'll be fair to get back to judging him. Until then, he'll continue to have the benefit of the doubt with me, and more so, respect for what he's managed to do in spite of all the issues.