It’s time for a wholesale on-ice leadership transformation for the Detroit Red Wings.
In what seems like years ago now, the Detroit Red Wings cut ties with long-time General Manager (GM) Ken Holland, handing the reins over to the legendary Steve Yzerman. We’re just one year removed from Yzerman returning to the franchise that beloved him as a player and now the GM.
Oddly enough, Yzerman claims head coach Jeff Blashill is safe after a wretched performance this past season. It’s odd with plenty of better head coaching candidates available, including Yzerman’s former linemate Gerard Gallant.
We don’t know all of the conversations behind the scenes; perhaps Yzerman had indeed reached out to Gallant, offering him a job. The Detroit Red Wings are not currently a coaching destination at the moment. Things could change quickly if Detroit were to luckily land the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. If that’s the case, coaches may line up for an opportunity to coach a talent like Alexis Lafreniere. Wings fans should be salivating over the potential of deploying a top line of Lafreniere, Dylan Larkin, and Anthony Mantha in 2020.
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The Red Wings have started to overhaul their management team and roster. If the head coach is deemed safe, it’s time to make changes to the on-ice leadership entering the 2020 season.
Yzerman recently claimed the team would announce a captain before the start of the new season, whenever that may be. Surely the announcement will be Dylan Larkin following Henrik Zetterberg in Detroit Red Wings captaincy history, but the organization shouldn’t stop there.
It’s time the Red Wings change their alternate captains as well. I don’t have anything personal against Justin Abdelkader, but I believe his time in Detroit has come to an end. I’d expect Detroit will place the forward on waivers before next season, and I wouldn’t expect him to be claimed. If Abdelkader wants to continue to play hockey, it will likely be for the Grand Rapids Griffins.
As I anticipate that move, it frees up an ‘A’ entering the 2020 season. The Detroit Red Wings should consider nominating Tyler Bertuzzi as one of the teams’ alternate captains. Bertuzzi is a workhorse, his stellar play, and vigorous work ethic translate to great leadership traits.
Last season, Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening shared a letter. I am not opposed to having three alternate captains who share two A’s throughout the season on gameday, but it’s time to strip Nielsen of his. Nielsen is a free agent signing that hasn’t worked out for the Red Wings, and his play has vastly declined since arriving in Detroit.
The Detroit Red Wings should consider nominating a defenseman to rotate an ‘A’ with Glendening during the 2020 season. The first name that comes to mind is Danny DeKeyser, but his inability to remain healthy is a significant concern and removes him from being an option.
Another choice would be Filip Hronek as he’s the Red Wings top defender, but he’s still quite raw, and being an alternate captain could be in his future but not at the moment. If the Detroit Red Wings were able to land a player like Torey Krug in free agency, he’d be a candidate to walk in and wear a letter right from the get-go in year one.
The other choice that comes to mind is a player like Patrik Nemeth. Being completely candid, I was extremely underwhelmed when Yzerman signed Nemeth before last season. He was impressive last year playing a career-high 22:02 minutes per game on a terrible team. Nemeth only recorded nine points in 64 games but provided Detroit with a 47.4 Corsi For Percentage, which grades below average across the league but above the teams average.
Nemeth, a 28-year old is trying to settle in with Detroit after stops in Dallas and Colorado. He appears to be respected on the backend. With veterans like Mike Green (traded), Trevor Daley (pending UFA), Jonathan Ericsson (pending UFA) all moved on, Nemeth becomes an excellent leadership option for Detroit moving forward.