Expecting Expectations: Taking Stock of Wing Leadership

As a fan, when is it right to start expecting more from GMSY?

I want to thank MNYooper for this comment in our Thursday Quick Hits because I’ve been stuck on it ever since. I responded to this and it led to a good conversation, but I wanted to unpack it a bit and take the opportunity to move forward to really define where the expectations are. As a long-time internet user, the prompt is usually from the perspective of a fan ombudsman asking permission from a generally upbeat crowd to rain a little down on everyone’s parade.

This was not the case with MNYooper’s comment, but I want to have somewhere I can refer to when we start getting the loaded version of this question.

I’ll start by providing some fair context: I’ve NEVER been the first fan to go after someone in a leadership position in the organization. When the first calls for reconstruction rang out, I fought back. When Ken Holland’s ability to lead a team after the 2012 lockdown was questioned, I preached patience. When Jeff Blashill’s team ended the playoffs and mired in mediocrity, I was among the last to lose patience.

I see no reason for anyone to expect anything more than a rosy image of me here with the Red Wings on the precipice of an era of growth. I want to promise now that the time to interview anyone in the organization is anytime. Kill your idols, children; we are in the real world.

Derek Lalonde – Head Coach

What is the feeling right now:

Optimistic? Excited? Cautious optimism?

Derek Lalonde has never coached a Red Wings game. I really don’t want to fan the police here, so I’ll say that if you can’t hope for the new in the situation Lalonde finds himself in, then you and I will probably be better served enjoying the Red Wings separately.

What are realistic expectations:

Lalonde told us what to expect. He wants the Wings to be harder to face. He wants goals conceded to go down. He wants them to be structured. He wants them to win more games than last year. He wants “THE PROCESS”.

How close are you to turning it on:

Except for something coming out that would make me morally incapable of rooting for him, I’m as far as I can get from losing patience with the brand new guy.

Where are the red flags:

Lalonde said setting a public point goal or a strict playoff schedule is a bad idea. I agree with him, but accept that the cynics’ take on this is that it changes the color of responsibility from black and white to grey.

That’s a lot of color metaphors I’ve stuck here.

Steve Yzerman – Managing Director

What is the feeling right now:

This one’s tricky because jealous whiners who aren’t Red Wings fans are full of shit thinking they wouldn’t have the same opinion if it was their team (looking at you, Leafs fans during the game). immediate post-Kessel era). That said, the only useful thing the haters have ever done here is provide two good reminders:

  1. They gon’ say some weird shit about you whether you’re reasonable or not
  2. Blind allegiance to a guy’s past is indeed quite dangerous

Yzerman isn’t perfect, but in my own mental makeup of what “the plan” should have been since he took over, he fits in with what I think a smart GM would do damn well.

What are realistic expectations:

Yzerman will have a lot of work to do this season because the Red Wings are positioned at a crossroads where REAL big decisions are coming to fruition in ways we haven’t had to worry about. So far he has put together a promising line-up which is being built around youngsters who should make them more competitive and the longest deal he has on the team’s books is a five-year deal which pays average six dollars.

Yzerman’s captain and one of his best strikers are closing in on UFA. His other top-performing threats are either two years away from free will or still in development. He has a stud defender currently paired with a guy we all hope will remain reliable, a hodgepodge of guys fighting for more consistent blue line duty, and are waiting for prospects to fill again. For the purpose, we look at the same photo.

Yzerman lacks a track to put long-term commitments for this roster on the books and has over $8 million in unused cap space to play with.

How close are you to turning it on:

I’m not particularly close to turning on Yzerman. I think it would take a colossally obvious ugly misstep to grab a torch, but I’m not that far off that my “trust Yzerplan” is going to be blind and monotonous. So far, the majority of the moves he’s made make sense, even in hindsight.

We’re entering a new season of “we’ve trusted you so far and you brought us here” and I think it’s a reasonable place. The team must keep moving forward.

What are the red flags:

The problem with the cult of personality is that it tends to credit a dubious move like 4d chess and there are few positions like the GM where you have to trust the appeal to authority so much simply due to the lack of knowledge about the alternatives. were even possible for a move. For example, I am uncomfortable with the duration and the salary of the Ben Chiarot agreement. Is there a better option we had? No idea!

Chris Ilitch – Owner

What is the feeling right now:

I don’t trust the guy. In fact, I only brought him into this argument so I could offer what might be my most common defense of Steve Yzerman as a GM.

What are realistic expectations:

I want to believe that when Mike’s heir says how much he loves his dad’s Detroit sports empire, he’s motivated to win because the Red Wings win is cool. My realistic expectation is that his goals of having a winning Wings club align with mine for different reasons.

How close are you to turning it on:

I already told you he’s my scapegoat for the GM.

What are the red flags:

The Red Wings hauled over $11 million in unused cap space last year and currently sit at $8 million. These are inefficient numbers for a team able to convert current assets (cap space) into future assets. There are a number of reasons why a team doesn’t waste unused cap space, especially when the majority of the most attractive salary dumps are also ones that take longer than I’d like; however, tight purse strings are also a potential reason for this.

Dylan Larkin – Captain

What is the feeling right now:

I love Larkins. I think he is a good choice for the captain. I think he takes his job seriously and gives his all. I think he cares a lot about it and makes the distinction between letting it motivate him and letting it hurt him.

What are realistic expectations:

On the ice, I expect a seasonal performance very similar to what he did last year. I expect him not to be suspended for hitting a guy and I expect him to shut him down at the start of last season to get his health back, it will pay off this year.

I also expect him to sign a long-term deal at a rate slightly below the free market rate and give boring answers to the press all year in good and bad games.

How close are you to turning it on:

I know there are already a number of fans who don’t think he should be captain and who think his role as captain is hurting the Wings taking the next step. I absolutely do not agree. Thinking about what it would take for my opinion of him to change, it would probably be a complete change in his attitude on the ice and with the press.

Probably the most realistic criticism I would give Larkin this season is the one I gave him: he can’t let his emotions get the better of him.

What are the red flags:

Larkin enters this UFA age without a contract so far and has spent his entire career with a team that launched a rebuild just as he arrived. There are a lot of potential distractions for a guy in his position and a lot of very short-term decisions that can have long-term consequences.


So there you have it, the eternal apologist’s baseline for questioning the direction of the team. As always, you have my permission to question whether something said or done was truly the best thing for that person and you even have my permission to turn any or all of them on in no time. But, if you ask me when I’m ready to do it, it will be a good reference point to understand where they are.

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