Despite continuing their status as 'a team in transition' this season, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, shown here during a 2012 visit to DMC Children's Hospital on Michigan in Detroit, said the goals remain the same — entering the playoffs and, ultimately, winning the Stanley Cup. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Detroit — Despite continuing their status as “a team in transition” this season, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said the goals remain the same — entering the playoffs and, ultimately, winning the Stanley Cup.
“It’s such a long process,” Holland said. “I don’t think you’re worried about winning the Stanley Cup in October. Right now, we’re worried about beating Buffalo tonight.”
The Red Wings open the regular season against the Sabres at 8 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena, and Holland spoke Tuesday before the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association at Hockeytown Café.
“Through the years, we’ve been a team in transition with lots of stars that have retired,” Holland said. “And we’re doing a great job of drafting and developing.
“Our kids stepped up and did a great job, last year. With the development of some of our kids down the stretch we were in a must-win situation probably the last four, or five, or six games. And we won our last four in a row.
“We’re a team that’s evolving.”
Scoring is a concern this year, and Holland attributed some of the power outage last season to the loss of Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson to injury for all but a handful of games.
“Those guys are pros, and they know how to be pros,” Holland said. “And the younger guys are still learning how to be pros.”
That said, he credited Tomas Tatar, who is on the 2013 roster at the start of the season but still having difficulty cracking the starting lineup, and Gustav Nyquist, who was sent to Grand Rapids again, with good performances last season.
But this summer, Holland and his staff went hunting for more veteran talent and they hope they accomplished the overall goal of improving the offense.
“So we went out and we obviously signed Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson,” he said. “We’re hoping that with good luck with Helm and with the good moves that we made that we’ll score a little more, and that our young defensemen can play as well as they did last year, and we can have a good year.”
“But lots has to happen.”
Among those things is getting acclimated to playing in the Eastern Conference and getting the roster settled for the entire season.
Like many associated with the Red Wings, Holland is not overly concerned about the bruising reputation of the Eastern Conference, where many believe the game is more about brawn than the finesse and speed of more of the teams in the Western Conference.
Besides, there are tough, physical teams in the west, Holland said, and the Red Wings have had good luck against them.
“I don’t know if there’s many teams in the east that are any better and bigger than L.A. Kings, Anaheim Ducks and the St. Louis Blues,” Holland said before reviewing the Red Wings recent success against them.
“In a cap world, every team has some flaws. The team that has the least flaws will be the last one standing in June.”
Meanwhile, the placement of Helm and Patrick Eaves on the long term injured list merely postpones some further personnel decisions, Holland said. He has said previously that he continues to talk to other general managers about trade possibilities.