Detroit — They’ve heard it all — the criticism, disappointment and negativity.
Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist were expected to take on larger roles for the Red Wings this season.
They were going score more goals, helping to alleviate the pressure on Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
Instead, they struggled.
And when no one else stepped up, the Red Wings barely got into the playoffs and saw the Lightning end their season in five games.
“We can’t throw everything on Pavel and Hank; those guys need help from us,” Tatar said. “Last season me and Nyke stepped up and helped them. This year was a little bit different, a little tougher for me.”
After scoring 54 points and 27 goals last season, Nyquist’s production slipped to 43 and 17 this year.
And Tatar didn’t fare much better, dropping from career highs of 56 points and 29 goals to 45 and 21.
“It was a different stuff than last year, different positions for me,” Tatar said. “I guess it’s just the way it works with the numbers.”
Nyquist felt the same frustration.
“I have to do better,” he said. “I didn’t score as much as I wanted to. That’s on me, and I just have to find a way to be better.”
After difficult regular seasons, there was hope Nyquist and Tatar would get hot in the playoffs and carry the Red Wings.
But it was just a case of more disappointment.
Tatar had three points (no goals) and Nyquist had one point (goal).
“I want to score goals, obviously that’s what I’m trying to do with other things,” Nyquist said. “I wasn’t able to do that enough this year and that’s disappointing.”
Nyquist and Tatar, along with young players such as Dylan Larkin, Petr Mrazek, Danny DeKeyser, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou, are still seen as significant parts of the franchise’s future. But general manger Ken Holland preaches patience.
“Do we have any young players who can take the team over? I’m not sure,” Holland said. “I don’t want to sit here and say we’re turning the team over to this young player or that young player. It’s not fair to those players.
“I don’t know if they’re ready. They’ve got to grow into it. We’ve got some good young players. Do we have stars? I don’t know. I’ve got to watch.”
And among those he’ll watch are Nyquist and Tatar.
But disappointment usually breeds trade speculation, and Tatar and Nyquist are likely to hear their names mentioned during the offseason, if for no other reason than that they are two young players with trade value on a team likely to undergo a mild overhaul.
“It’s part of being a hockey player,” Tatar said. “This team probably will need some changes. I don’t know who is going to be affected by that. But we have to do something different to get back on track.”