There's a phrase, "To whom much is given, much is expected."
Red Wings' players are given a lot. An awful lot. They're treated very well by ownership and management, rewarded with contracts that some of us fans say are for too long or for too much money, especially when a player is past his prime. The players that fit into the team's structure are kept here for a long time, usually only leaving when they choose to retire or to move on. They're largely sheltered from the public, they don't have to do all the appearances that players in less-traditional hockey markets have to do. And they're (for the most part) adored by the team's fans.
What's expected in return is that they give 100%, play well, win more often than not, and do well in the playoffs. Last night's game was a total failure in every way possible. There was no effort, no emotion, no pride, no appearance of any desire to even be there playing NHL hockey. I don't think that's what we will see all season, far from it. But that was no way to start the season, especially after what transpired this summer and fall. Can you imagine if that was a home game? The stands would have (or should have) been completely empty by the third period. It was unacceptable by anyone's standards and especially for a team that says they expect to compete for the Stanley Cup every season.
A couple of you have said the team is due for an overhaul. I couldn't agree more. The locker room seems to have become a country club over the last few seasons, there is no price to be paid for under-performing. Nobody gets traded away, nobody gets let go, nobody gets benched. Helm's line was the team's best line in way too many games last year. Other guys continually disappear for long stretches but continue to play here. Players who don't "fit the system" aren't looked at as possible acquisitions. Now, what we have is a collection of redundant players and a team that can't adapt to an opponent who outworks the Wings or who can shut down their puck-possession style. They couldn't dump and chase if their lives depended on it. An aggressive forecheck is out of the question, 3 or 4 players excepted. And there's no real hope coming up through the ranks. Yes, Nyquist, Tatar, Andersson, and Sheahan are all NHL-ready or very close, but what are those guys going to do when they get here? 3rd line, maybe fill in on the 2nd line? We don't have anyone like Tarasenko, Skinner, Henrique, Andrew Shaw... someone who can quickly step in and produce at an NHL level. Andersson and Sheahan project as 3rd liners and Nyquist and Tatar have talent but are small. Same as the roster we have now. It's time for an organizational shift, this season or this off-season.
Yep. Way too many guys are way too comfortable. You always hear the line's like, "that would've never happened under Bowman's watch" and attribute it to Bowman just being one of the most masterful coaches in the history of sports. But I think in some cases, it boils down to Bowman didn't put up with crap, and if a guy was lazy or half-assing it, he got benched or worse yet, traded the hell out here. If you didn't buy into his system, if you didn't work hard, you weren't coddled. You weren't rewarded with new contracts. You weren't given the same playing time game in and game out. You got benched or traded and all along the way, he was going to be screwing with your head at every opportunity to remind you whose boss.
I've said it numerous times in the last day, and I've been emphatic about it after one game because it's a problem that goes back well before even last season: there are too many guys floating out there and not giving anything close to their best effort. Some say that Babcock's message isn't getting to them anymore, but to me, that just doesn't matter at all. These guys are professionals getting paid a ton of money to play a game. The coach can be an absolute joke as far as I'm concerned and they still should be giving 100% every night. If you're not giving 100% and complaining about the coach, then as far as I'm concerned you can pack your bags and leave. If you give 100% and do what the coach is telling you and it's clear that the coaches strategies just aren't working, then I'll look at the coach. But if you're just floating out there, not even trying to pay mind to the fundamentals, then you have no business whatsoever complaining about the coach. You need an attitude adjustment, and if booting your ass out of town is what it takes, so be it.
I'm really just completely sick of seeing these guys half-ass it. This is not a new problem, and we no longer have the talent to get away with it. Last night was a joke. It'd be funnier if it was a fluke, but when the same old guys make the same mistakes and fail to skate hard, just like the last few years, it really ought to make any fan angry. Again, these guys are getting paid a tremendous amount of money to play a game. There's no excuse for them to play it as lackadaisically as they have the last few years, and now that we've lost the core of our defense, there's no one to hide behind. There's very few guys left on this team that appear to have any pride. The rest are a joke, and to them I say, good riddance. I'd rather have young guys up here working hard, even if it means losing games as they mature, than watch a bunch of underachievers coast and flop around on the ice.