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At What Point Do Red Wings' Youth Problems Reflect a Blashill Problem?

 06/22/2017 - 02:20

So, Petr Mrazek is the latest problem child.

The Detroit Red Wings exposed the 25-year-old goalie, who was viewed as the team's goalie of the future when the season began, in the expansion draft list. The Wings chose instead to protect 33-year-old, injury prone Jimmy Howard.

As the Red Wings exposed their goalie, the local beat writers immediate chalked it up to Mrazek's arrogance, his attitude and work ethic.

These predicatable stories are why I believed the Red Wings might expose Andreas Athanasiou and protect Riley Sheahan, despite Athanasiou's vastly better performance.

Let's assume that the writers haven't overblown the Mrazek attitude issues.

Last year, when the season started, if I asked you to tell me the four most important players, 24-and-under, under contract with the Red Wings, I'm pretty sure you would have said Petr Mrazek, Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou.

Mrazek's decline last year was notable.

Dylan Larkin's decline was just as steep.

Athanasiou produced at about the same clip, but he played in more games and got more icetime.

Mantha also had a good rookie year.

Both Mantha and Larkin received criticism from coach Jeff Blashill in the press at various times in the last year.

Mrazek was also harpooned in the press, although nobody in the organization would put a name to it.

Larkin's attitude has never been questioned in the media or by Blashill. At the same time, it's not hard to see he's picked up nasty habits (diving, whining to officials, whining after hits).

Riley Sheahan is another U-25 player who experienced a huge decline last year. Tomas Jurco was frustrated when he left the organization for Chicago. Blashill couldn't find a way to make Teemu Pulkkinen work in a Red Wings jersey - even though this team desperately needed a powerplay shooter.

Danny Dekeyser (over 25) showed a massive decline.

Analytics guys lay a lot at the feet of the departure of a 38-year-old oft-injured Datsyuk. But how much of this is coaching? Teaching? Motivating? Communicating?

How can a team trying to rebuild afford to go backwards with its youth so frequently?

It can't.

Jeff Blashill is not the man for this team.

 

Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is operator of RedWingsNow

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