Detroit — The holiday break will be over Wednesday when the Red Wings travel to New Jersey and face the Devils later in the evening.
Have you missed them?
Three days without games tend to make hockey fans anxious and anticipating the next broadcast.
That doesn’t seem to be the case these days.
The losses are piling up, the position in the standings is seemingly dropping by the day, and Red Wings fans aren’t taking kindly to it.
Most of them probably didn’t think this was going to be a great team, anyway. But actually watching it live this season isn’t making them any more understanding, or happy.
And for all of it — or at least most of it — they’re blaming general manager Ken Holland.
Over the last week to 10 days, judging by the reaction on social media, fans are blaming Holland for the growing number of losses.
Fans don’t like the roster. Don’t like the coach. They aren’t happy. That much is clear in this edition of the Red Wings mailbag.
■ Question: I have been thinking this the last few years that the architect of this disaster, Ken Holland, should be gone! He has made stupid moves with the contracts he has put in place. The salary cap applies to all teams — (but) if so, how come they are doing much better?
Again, not good decisions on Holland’s part. If I were (Chris) Ilitch, I would not wait until the end of the year to make a change in the GM. Those empty seats I see on TV I know are season-ticket holders. However, they might not be renewed for the next season. — Bob Weltman (via email)
■ Answer: Look, every team has a bad contract weighing down the roster — or is playing in the minor leagues collecting his big money.
With the Red Wings, obviously, there are several who look like they’ll be difficult to move and could hinder the future.
Henrik Zetterberg (three years, $6.08 million cap hit), Frans Nielsen (four years, $5.25 million), Justin Abdelkader (five years, $4.25 million), Darren Helm (three years, $3.85 million) and Danny DeKeyser (four years, $5 million), all look today like anchors on the salary cap chart going forward.
Be it age, or underachieving, those contracts look difficult to stomach.
Holland has been very loyal to players who began their careers here, and have produced.
The loyalty has cost him on some deals.
Holland’s contract runs out after this season. There has been no talk of extensions, new contract, etc.
I don’t think it would be shocking to see Holland either bumped into a vice-president’s role — or maybe he decides to take some time off until the expansion team in Seattle is finalized.
Holland has a summer residence in western Canada. He enjoys the area there. It would seem to be a great fit.
■ Q. The fans can use a break from Holland. He assembled this collection of overpaid stiffs. — Bob Stockel Jr. (via email)
■ A. To Holland’s credit, the Jonathan Ericsson deal (two years left, $4.25 million) doesn’t look as bad with Ericsson healthy and playing better hockey.
Before suffering a hand injury, Luke Glendening’s contract looked manageable (three years, $1.8 million), and where would the Red Wings have been the last two seasons without goaltender Jimmy Howard (one year left, $5.2 million)?
When a player is performing well, the contract suddenly doesn’t look as bad.
But on this particular roster, the minuses outweigh the pluses.
■ Q. What a great time to make the Red Wings great again. Let Ken Holland go. He seems to have lost his interest (Coach Jeff) Blashill is over his head. Get Stevie (Yzerman, Tampa Bay’s GM) back and give him the responsibility of rebuilding the team.
A dollar to a donut we’re in the playoffs the first full year. People will be lined up to get in. — Paul Monforton (via email)
■ A. I don’t think Blashill is in over his head. The fact the Red Wings continue to play hard is testament to the fact he hasn’t lost this team.
But this team isn’t winning much at all. It’s my sense that Blashill — who has one more season left on his contract — will get to finish this season. But if this losing streak continues to spiral out of control, it wouldn’t shock me if a coaching change is made.
The front office had expectations for a contending for a playoff spot. It’s not happening right now.