'NHL is not a place to learn': Red Wings believe Rasmussen, Cholowski should develop in AHL
Social media is rarely a place for calm discussion.
But when it comes to hockey, it can escalate real quick.
With the Red Wings again enduring a losing season, there’s plenty of discussion about why forward Michael Rasmussen and defenseman Dennis Cholowski are not in the NHL?
Both were taxi squad to start the season, Rasmussen was able to move onto the Red Wings’ roster after COVID sidelined five regulars and played eight games, but both are now playing in Grand Rapids.
With the way the Wings’ season is trending, it wouldn’t be surprising to see either, or both, get NHL playing time again.
But, for now, the organization would like to see both continue to develop and learn at the American League level.
And, there’s plenty to learn for both former first-round draft picks.
“You can’t just come in and fit in, ultimately, you have to show you’re making us better,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s not good enough to show, ‘I can kind of come in and play and help us lose.’ That’s not what we’re looking for.
“We’re looking for our young players to grow to a level where they come in and help us win. That’s what good players do.”
Rasmussen not being in the Wings’ lineup currently appears to be agitating many fans.
The big center showed glimpses of being the shut-down defensive forward, imposing net-presence, and physical player, the Wings envision.
But there only glimpses, and not enough of them.
“We feel like if he can become a center that can play the other team’s best and can shut the other team’s better players down,” Blashill said. “Similar to what (Carolina center) Jordan Staal does, who is a heck of a player in the league and that’s a mouthful to ask, but if he can become that kind of model, that’s a huge asset.
“He’s not there yet in the NHL, and the NHL is not a place to learn. It’s a real hard league, You’re way better off learning in the American League.”
Cholowski began the last two seasons with the Wings, but was sent back to Grand Rapids both times, as his defensive deficiencies couldn’t offset whatever offense Cholowski would bring.
With a reshuffled, veteran defensive unit the Red Wings brought into training camp this season, Cholowski didn’t have much of a chance to make the NHL roster.
With a long list of Wings’ draft picks soon entering the organization, there are plenty of former Wings’ picks who soon will need to show they can be building blocks.
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“With those two players, any young player, at some point, they have to turn potential into reality,” Blashill said. “That’s a big factor. At some point, you have to show what you have, because at some point you start saying, ‘What are you doing for me today? They both have to be huge impact players in the American League first before we can really expect them to help us win here.”
Forward Bobby Ryan made a huge impact instantly, scoring four goals in his first three games as Wing — something no other player had ever done in the organization’s history.
But Ryan hasn’t scored a goal in the last 11 games entering Saturday’s game, with four assists.
Blashill isn’t concerned, pointing out Ryan is getting quality chances.
“Like everybody else on our team, we need him to finish more,” Blashill said. “I would be more concerned if he wasn’t getting chances and he’s had chances and he’s playing the right way and he’s working.
“He took a penalty on a backcheck (Thursday) but he worked hard to get to that spot. He’s doing a lot of the right things and he’s getting chances. I get more concerned when a guy stops getting chances.”
Forward Luke Glendening (upper body) took part in Saturday’s morning skate and was a possibility to play against the Predators.
…The protocols to fight the coronavirus has kept teammates further apart and limit off-ice interactions. But for defenseman Marc Staal, an offseason trade acquisition, getting to know teammates has gotten easier as the season has progressed.
“It was harder at the beginning, like training camp, because we’re in different groups and we’re spread out and wearing masks, we can’t have team get-togethers,” Staal said. “That part was hard. Now, as we’ve gone along here, you’re with the guys every day and you get to know them.
“It’s one of the things in the world we’re living with and we have to deal with.”