With his comments of late it sounds as though Babs is becoming more and more frustrated with Holland.
I definitely think Babcock is frustrated. Does he get along with Holland? Sure. I think they respect each other. I don't think it's a huge, tremendously ugly situation. But I don't think things are as rosy as Babcock suggests they are at times. I think he's a professional talking to the media and trying not to go too hard on his boss, but clearly, enough has slipped out over the years to suggest that they have a fair amount of disagreements, and it does seem as if more is coming to light lately.
That said, it might only be because the media is focusing in on the issue more after so many years of Holland dropping the ball in the off-season. Perhaps their prodding has just grown more intense and focused. That doesn't mean Babcock isn't just as frustrated as many others, and on some level, I'm sure he is. Any way you shake it, there's no way he can be happy about how little his team has improved from free agency or trades the last few years.
How frustrated he is at Holland specifically though in reality is something only Babcock truly knows. If he does in fact leave after this year, I think we'll know where he stands. If he stays, then it's likely in the gray area that he occasionally opens up about to the press.
Another thing I've been thinking about lately is how many strong hockey minds we have lost over the last few seasons. It's easy to pin our struggles with acquiring players on Holland, but there is a management team in place. You could say that Nill or Yzerman or Bowman were the brains, but in reality, those were all smart hockey people that were in the fold and helping out on a team. Isolate any of them on this team in Holland's role and they might struggle too. But any way you shake it, at this point, the management team has taken a huge blow in losing those guys, and perhaps it proves not so much that Holland was overrated at one point so much as the entire management team was generally underrated.
I don't want to go out of the way to defend the guy, because I'd still fire him in a heartbeat if it was up to me just to get some fresh blood in to shake things up, for better or for worse. Holland's had enough chances the last 4-5 years to prove he can run the team effectively and I feel like he's failed and continues to fail in too many areas to warrant continuing on with him. But perhaps it's not as simple as him just losing his touch so much as him losing too many top notch minds and not being able to pull the load on his own, especially after so many years of having a wealth of talented people to help out and names like Yzerman and Bowman in the fold, names that no doubt resonate on an emotional level with players more than Holland might, and that's no small thing.
Factor all of this in with Holland having to learn to play within the confines of the cap and it might be fair to say that he was destined to fail. It's a tall order to keep the plates spinning in a transition era when you have to worry about the cap and you don't have as many bright minds to utilize on your management team. I'm not trying to make excuses so much as say, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that he's floundered on his own in a new world.
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