Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Off-Season Brilliance?...

So I got to thinking the other day about Ken Holland’s off-season work. And I came to a conclusion that I wouldn’t have expected a few months ago: Thank goodness the Wings didn’t re-sign Marian Hossa.

Now, I liked Hossa when he was here. I certainly wasn’t happy with his performance in the payoffs, but I liked him and I liked what he brought to the team. I kind of figured he’d be gone this summer and my only real problem with his departure was that he ended up in Chicago. I was kind of ambivalent about the possibility of re-signing him because while I liked the thought of another year of the kind of offensive firepower he brought, I knew it would be tricky to fill out a full roster with the kind of money it would take to keep him. And you know what? In the pre-lockout world, he would’ve been a Wing for life. And I would’ve been okay with that.

I also wasn’t thrilled with some of the free agent signings this summer, although that had a lot to do with my personal dislike of Bertuzzi and Williams. I questioned why Holland signed three bargain-priced guys instead of going after a bigger name with some scoring touch to replace what had been lost. While I still can’t say that I’ve entirely warmed to all of the new arrivals (Yes, Todd Bertuzzi, I’m looking at you.), we’re lucky that Ken Holland played his hand the way he did.

So far this season, the Wings have been dropping like flies (not to mention the fact that Hossa has yet to play a game), as the injury bug that began in the playoffs last season has blossomed into a full-on epidemic. The Wings’ depth has been tested as much as any point in recent memory, and it’s been an issue of having enough healthy bodies to field a lineup every night. Before picking Drew Miller up off of waivers, the Wings were dressing every healthy NHL forward they had. That includes Justin Abdelkader, who everyone expected to spend the majority of the season developing in Grand Rapids.

If the Wings had gone ahead and signed Hossa, it would’ve prevented them from making those additional signings (whose necessity I admittedly questioned back in August). Even with his salary coming off the books while he’s been on IR, the Wings would’ve had to have made more call-ups from Grand Rapids (none of the options are particularly appealing) or it would’ve forced Holland to make a move that probably wouldn’t have been beneficial to the Wings in the long run.

Anyway, whatever ambivalence I might have had at one time about Hossa’s departure has gone, and I’m just thankful that the Wings were able to sign three bodies with their precious salary-capped dollars. Even though Williams is one of the guys down with a long-term injury and Bertuzzi still makes me want to bang my head on a wall on a regular basis, I think it’s safe to say that Ken Holland made some wise decisions over the summer. I know there’s no way he could’ve foreseen the injury situation, but it’s just another example of why we Wings fans continue to subscribe to the motto “In Kenny We Trust.”

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