HOLLAND CAN NO LONGER THROW CASH AT RED WING PROBLEMS
The NHL is returning and now we get to see how good Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland really is.
He's worked before with more ammunition than most of the league. If the Wings had a hole he could throw unlimited amounts of cash. Why do you think the Wings fielded a virtual Hall of Fame roster for many years?
Now the entire league plays on a level playing field. Let's face facts. The only way teams could beat the Wings in the playoffs was through superior goal tending.
When the league returns this fall after a 301-day lock out there is going to be a salary cap. That means teams can spend between $22 million to $37 million on player salaries. Of course the Wings will be at the high end. But Holland won't enjoy the advantages of a $70 million pay roll while teams in Calgary, Ottawa and other NHL outposts spend about half that.
The Wings are no longer the New York Yankees of the NHL. They must do more than show players the Benjamins. They must now outhustle, out think and out do rivals.
Holland has tough choices. He must reduce pay roll, buy players out and then try to sign an elite goal tender. He will smartly part ways with Curtis Joseph and try to replace him.
It is quite the challenge. And we know privately some in the organization have questioned Holland's command for the game. Was he simply the best because he enjoyed the largest war chest?
My guess is the man will remain aggressive and innovative. Remember a number of their young star players were low picks where superior scouting paid off.
The Wings should remain an elite team because we will always demand it and the NHL needs it.
** For the next week we will hear how unnecessary the 301-day NHL lockout was.
When you are in bad shape and in desperate need of a make over, time does not matter. You work on it until you get it right.
The NHL was about to disappear in Canada. In the United States it was about to become professional bowling. Interest in the NHL was shrinking like the evil witch in the Wizard of Oz. It needed to become leaner, meaner and more fun.
This lockout is exactly what the league needed. It hurts in the short term, but long term it may have saved the NHL.
Teams were in danger of folding.
More importantly the league needed to become something more fans could enjoy. No one wants to see men on skates clutch and grab. If you wanted to see guys tug on each other you could watch amateur wrestling.
The NHL was the only league where muckers shined in the playoffs while the stars were hindered.
Now that will change.