Mike Vernon: I recall even having a conversation with Patrick Roy, in Montreal, at the little breakfast place there, the spot we always used to go to. And uh, I just walked in by myself and I was early to the rink or something like that, and he was there like "Mike, come here, I want to talk to you." He goes, "The pressure, the media, the fans..." he was just... I knew he was thoroughly upset about all of this, and it was really bothering him. And I said, Patrick, you just have to get traded. I said I got traded, I'm enjoying it in Detroit and everything else, and lo and behold that game was the game where he went up to the president.
Adds a neat little wrinkle to the Wings-Avs rivalry.
Saying Tatar's unproven isn't necessarily knocking him. It's just a fact, really. We don't yet know what Tomas Tatar the NHLer truly is, or, maybe more correctly, what he will be. It's a very small sample size.
Another concern - and this isn't Tatar's fault either - is that we have a wealth of up-and-coming young talents, any one of whom might be The Next Great Red Wing. Already we've got Nyquist and Tatar and Sheahan and Jurco looking like they might be Players. So, cost controlling is essential, especially if we're thinking about making a run or two at the Cup in the next three or four years.
There is one team in the Eastern Conference that is unequivocally better than the Red Wings. That team is the Bruins. Otherwise, it's wide open; the Wings, if healthy and humming, can go toe-to-toe with any EC team in a playoff series. If you disagree, you are wrong.
Last year we were hyped for a big comeback season. Then injuries beyond devastated us. Now we're a dark horse. I think that's good for this team. We are more than capable of proving were still contenders
The big thing, at least from where I stand, is the conference. I asked this recently and I'll ask it again: How many teams in the East would be a really bad matchup for the Wings in a best-of-seven? If you point to our "five year drought," look at how it's actually gone for us. Two very good Sharks teams. A decent Preds team. A very good Ducks team, which we beat. The eventual Cup champs in the Blackhawks, who we came so soul-crushingly close to defeating. And, finally, the Boston frickin'Bruins, who we had to face without Ericsson, mostly without Zetterberg, with a hurting Datsyuk, with a banged up Alfredsson, with a bunch of rookies, and with the ghost of Jimmy Howard.
The East appears to be wide open. The Bruins, Penguins, Rangers, Canadiens, and Lightning are considered the teams to beat, and, of those teams, there's only one I'd pray the Wings avoid in the postseason. If our core can stay healthy and our youth is for real, I think the Cup Finals are in reach, as crazy as that sounds.
Not getting all the affection for Joe Louis Arena.
It's the place where our team plays and has played for a long time. I've never been, but it holds sentimental value and then some for me, simply by virtue of its association with the Wings and my devotion to them.
I like where your head is at with Mantha on the third with Tatar and Sheahan. I don't know if Jurco is ready for the top 6, but if we're doing a ten game experiment with Cleary, why not not see if Jurco can pull the piano for Datsyuk? I also like the idea of Jurco, Sheahan, Mantha, as a third line, just because of the size on that line. I don't know where Tatar would go, though.
I dunno, I feel like if Z and D are his linemates and his job is mostly to create space and drive the net, Jurco would be just fine on the top line. That's the thing, though - I'd want him with at least one of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. I wouldn't put him with, say, Franzen and Weiss.
I think I'd take Tatar-Sheahan-Mantha over Jurco with Shahan and Mantha because 1) Jurco and Mantha are both best suited for the right side while Tatar is best suited for the left, and 2) Tatar is the possession driver that makes the whole thing (keeping the puck in the o-zone) work. Jurco's size and strength might make things easier for Mantha, though, and I like the idea of Tatar in the top six, as long as he's with at least one of Datsyuk and Zetterberg.
Of course, this is all probably moot. Mantha is likely spending most of the season on the farm (a good call) and Cleary's a lock for the first line and Hall of Fame (duh).
"I think we need to let our young people grow. We signed enough players to buy our kids time in the minors. We have four d-men who are going to play here eventually and probably be upgrades on our roster. How much time do they need? We don’t know the answer. [ . . . . ] I didn’t like us in the playoffs last year against Boston, but we like what we have coming. And we like our kids. So the biggest thing is not to rush it. We could really use some puck-moving D. Well, we just happen to have some puck-moving D in the minors. Big guys that can skate. When are they ready? We’re sure not going to rush them, but if they’re capable of taking jobs they’re getting the jobs." - Babcock, from the interview
Let's be honest - the Wings aren't in really bad shape. We've spent the past few seasons "retooling" in the sense that we've kept our core intact and kept the streak alive while also building up a very impressive stable of very promising young players like Nyquist and DeKeyser and Mantha and Mrazek and Sproul and Ouellet and Jurco and Athanasiou. The "youth movement" we've been waiting for is already happening; it's a slow drip rather than one great big swell. We're not rebuilding, not looking to tear everything down and ice a roster with 20 kids. We want what every Cup contender boasts these days: quality veteran leadership (with at least two elite franchise players at the top of the totem pole) and a small army of young studs on early, affordable contracts. And we're in a position to have that very soon.
I hate the Quincey and Cleary re-signings. I hated that we brought back Samuelsson. I hated that Nyquist was stuck in Grand Rapids at the start of last season and that Jurco's going to get the same treatment this coming season. But, all things considered, this stuff isn't a big deal. What's important is that we're steadily building up to that kind of roster that can truly compete for the Cup. Again, I think that roster is within reach, we just have to be patient and not do anything really, genuinely, hugely, dangerously stupid. For example, as much as I want a Mike Green on this team, I do feel that moving, say, Nyquist for him would be really, genuinely, hugely, dangerously stupid, or at least close to it. Even if he were to have a great season, do you suppose he re-ups with us? I wouldn't be surprised if he were to re-sign with the Caps, giving them both Nyquist and Green.
But I digress. Point is, it's going to be ok, maybe. I'm generally extremely cynical about the state of the Wings, but if I'm being objective, I like us, and I think we're only going to get better over the next two or three years. Mantha will save us all.
That piece I linked to also mentions Tatar, and that he's a possession monster. That's what makes him so valuable - the kid lives to own the puck and drive the attack and make stuff happen. Granted, he faced relatively weak competition and sheltered usage for a high-end forward (and probably for good reason, i.e. his shortcomings on the D side of the puck), but, if we're going to be the kind of team I think we want to be, one that owns the puck and is always on the attack, then Tatar's golden. I don't believe he's going to be a prissy, entitled holdout, but even if negotations go that way, he's worth slightly overpaying. If we weren't struggling to attract top-end talent, it might be a different story.