What I loved about the change from 1995-96 to 1996-97 wasn't simply the toughness. It was the fact that we had all our other bases covered before we invested in toughness. We could score with the best of them. We could defend with the best of them. Goaltending was always being questioned, but it wasn't a serious issue with the lineup we had. We went for toughness that season, 1996-97, because it was pretty much our only weakness. And even then, when we did go for toughness, we didn't just desperately grab the first four bruisers who came to mind. We traded for a dynamic first-line power-forward in Brendan Shanahan and brought back a familiar, reliable friend in Joey Kocur. We were smart about it.
Today, we can't score, we can't defend, and our #1 goalie is somewhat on-and-off. While it's true that we're not a tough team, I'd much rather we address our glaring problems up front and on the back end before saying we need to trade for Colton Orr and Brian McGratton. We need more scoring depth and an actual top four. If we have that and we're still getting shut down by even the basement teams of the league, then maybe we should look to the past, specifically 1996-97. But, as things currently stand, we're just a mess of a hockey team on all fronts, even when we're healthy (see: shootout losses, thousands of blown leads).
(Again, though, I'm not saying we don't need to get tougher. I'm just talking about priorities, i.e. What are our most pressing concerns?)
Callahan is exactly what the Wings need. What I wouldn't do to see a Wings team with Ryan and Mitchell on it next season. With Helm injured, it's even more noticeable that we need a Callahan/Dustin Brown type that can do it all, like a younger Iginla if you will.
Oh man. Any time I think of "Guys I'd really, really, really like to see in the Winged Wheel," Ryan Callahan and Dustin Brown always spring to mind. Either one would be wonderful. Both, and I'd take back all the bad things I've ever said about Ken Holland.
Another guy along those same lines: Wayne Simmonds.
That's how the NHL sees it but that doesn't mean it's right.
Oh, I totally agree. I'm just saying, it's an "unfair fair" system. If two similar crimes are committed, and only one guy is seriously punished...chances are, one guy is a Thornton and the other guy is a Neal. Is that right? Nope. Is it the way it is? Yup.
Another thing bothers me is when it's one of the Swedes getting hurt, the other Swedes are right there to defend them but you don't see them in there when one of the other players get hurt. I don't know if anyone else has noticed this.
Didn't Ericsson take a flying leap at McLeod immediately after he'd nailed Kronwall? (Honest question, because I'm not sure I'm remembering it right.)
And, in fairness, we almost always have about 15 Swedes on the ice at all times. So the lack of response doesn't necessarily make it a Swedish thing.
(Actually, the way I phrased it sort of does implicate the Swedes, doesn't it? Oh well. I guess we're finally too Swedish.)
Man, you guys. It's not even that I necessarily disagree. But you're just so predictably silly about this.
Yeah, no one ever takes a run at your guys when you've got a tough guy in your lineup. (Lemieux-on-Draper, McLeod-on-Kronwall.)
And yeah, a fourth line with Orr and Westgarth and McGratton on it is definitely something we should do. Then, when the offense dries up even more and opposing teams exploit that unholy clusterf*** of a "line," we can all get on Holland's case because ZOMG WE'RE NOT SERIOUS ABOUT WINNING. WHAT OTHER TEAM HAS THREE ENFORCERS AS THEIR FOURTH LINE?
Dressing a fighter, in this day and age, is pretty much a waste. I get the argument for it, and I don't totally disagree. But, if John Scott is gonna take out Loui Eriksson, he's gonna do it. If James Neal is gonna knee Brad Marchand in the head, he's gonna do it. Having an enforcer just means you get to respond after the fact and make some kind of silly "statement" that doesn't really need to be made in the first place and isn't going to do much good. (ZOMG! Our guy who gets paid to take issue with transgressions takes issue with your transgression! What a statement!) Because, honestly, in all our years of not dressing an enforcer, how many times has a guy taken a clear-cut "run" at one of our soft Euro stars and badly injured him? We're talking, what, maybe five incidents? Which is probably at or below the league average over that span of time. Because, again, enforcers don't really deter. They just make "statements" after the fact. And then it happens again, and they get to make another "statement," after the fact.
This isn't the '80s, guys. This isn't the Norris Division. There aren't 18 fights per game. Today's game is not nearly as rough-and-tumble and dirty. It's won mostly with speed and skill. Why are the Avalanche winning so much this season? Because they're fast and they can score in bunches (and their goalies have been great). We can't score to save our lives, so, if anything, we might actually need more skill. Certainly we need to be more fleet of foot.
Not that I don't think we need to get tougher. We do. But we have to be reasonable about it. It has to be a change that'll help us win more games and ultimately win a Cup. Not something to make us feel like bigger men, because, ho ho ho, now we have a face-puncher to hide behind! That's how a man takes care of business! He hides behind a hired gun! I'd rather have more overall team toughness - though, again, we need to find a way to score more. So there has to be a balance. Not saying the two - skill and toughness - are mutually exclusive. I'm saying, basically, you can't just load up on one-dimensional tough guys and think it's going to make things a whole lot better, on any front.
If it were up to me, I'd take a good look at Ott and Westgarth this summer. I'd almost never dress the latter, but I'd have him just in case things get ludicrous and an actual statement has to be made. Or I'd play him with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Because that'd be awesome. (Not being sarcastic.) As for Ott - he's a pain in the ass who's not afraid to mix it up, throw his weight around, drop the gloves. Ott and Westgarth. That might be a nice first baby step on the road to getting tougher as a team.
I think most of it actually comes down to Babcock. He needs to preach a tougher, more aggressive and intense style. We generally play with no life, no oomph. Or, we'll have little flashes of intensity, but that's it. That has to change. We, as a team, have to bring it. Every shift, every game. We have to push the pace. We have to play to win, not to "not lose." We have to win those little battles that add up over 60 minutes. We have to be engaged and electric. I'd take all that over throwing three fighters into the mix.
We're playing passive. Playing not to lose. We have no heart, no jump, no moxy. No life. Some of it is the injuries, but that's not a valid excuse for what I'm talking about. We're not bringing it, and, though I hate to say it, that's a coaching issue. I'm not saying we need a new head coach and staff. I'm not necessarily saying Babs is doing anything wrong. But we need to come to play, and then play, and then do that for 60(+) minutes. We're not doing that. Why? How does that happen with a team and organization and franchise like this one?