Wings Claim “Few Superstars” Among Prospects: Truth Or Tactics?


Shaun Sheep/Flickr


“Never interrupt an enemy while he is making a mistake”  Napoleon Bonaparte

Oh, Napoleon.  So wise in the ways of war, but have you any wisdom regarding friendship? We, in Detroit, have a friend whose recent history is tainted.  Do we interrupt this friend while he is making a mistake?  Are we duty-bound to discipline this friend? Do we simply hope that he learns from his mistakes? You are a master tactician, dear emperor; an expert in the utilization of friends and the annihilation of foes.  Answer me!

The “friend”, in this case, is the Red Wings’ management and the “mistake” is its claim that “few if any superstars” exist among the prospects.  This is an odd claim given the evidence to the contrary and makes one wonder if the management is employing a Napoleonic tactic of its own.



Tomas Tatar (Calder Cup Playoffs MVP)



Gustav Nyquist



Tomas Jurco


Martin Frk


Teemu Pulkkinen


Calle Jarnkrok


Only an extreme cynic, or a euro-hating bumpkin, can immediately mumble “not superstars” after watching these videos.  The cautiousness of men like Ken Holland and Jim Devellano is well documented, but there is no reason to think that these men are cynics.  So why the cynical language?

Red Wings fans are devout students of the game, not imbeciles.  Look at the comments section for each clip.  “Most impressive” has been the general reaction to these young men in the fan community.  The front office, however, and some in the media, have had a different reaction.  This raises several questions:  Are we (the fans) mistaken? Is the front office mistaken? Or, and most importantly, is this a tactic employed by a savvy group of team-builders?

Ken Holland and Brian Burke
Ken Holland and Brian Burke may look to take advantage of compliance buyouts (Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)


While the recent acquisitions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss strengthened the team, and faith in the management, Detroit has achieved little on the ice since the nightmare of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.  The management secured a perception of infallibility because of past achievements.  Until this month’s signings, the management, and again, some in the media, displayed a downside to this perceived infallibility:  the managers were immune to criticism.  Their jobs were more than safe.

The fans were being told, tacitly, to “have faith because of the past.”

Our response:  “We have won nothing since 2009. Setting the record for home-wins in a row was pleasant, but corrupted because of shootouts.”

In other words, our trust was shaken.

Let’s, for the sake of optimism, assume two things: Detroit’s management is still a savvy group of team-builders and the “no superstars” line is a tactic.  The tactic is designed to get the prospects to think, “f*** that…I AM going to be an NHL superstar.”  If this is the case, then I say “bravo” to Holland Incorporated.  Star-caliber players need to be challenged not just by opponents, but by their teammates, coaches and managers alike.  The players featured in the videos above seem to want for nothing regarding confidence.

Take Tomas Tatar’s showmanship (34:50)

An in-house challenge to this machismo could be healthy.


Men who achieve great things do not do so without encountering the wisdom of great men from the past.  It’s reasonable to assume that Detroit’s managers have quote-books in their homes where Napoleon’s wisdom can be found.

The principle of Occam’s Razor states that all things being equal, the simplest answer is often the correct one.  If we apply Occam’s Razor to the situation I have been discussing here, then the situation is clear: Detroit possesses no superstars in the amateur and minor ranks.

But all things are NOT equal in this situation.  As we have seen, the management’s recent history is muddled, and while will does beat skill, chance is God in hockey.  Who knew Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg would be superstars when they were twenty-one? Nobody.

So, Napoleon.  I believe I have answered my own question since you are unable to answer it.  Watching and waiting is not a specialty of warlords, but maybe that’s what you should have done before attacking Russia, you bungling, Bilbo-ish, Basque-killing bastard.  And that is what we in Detroit must do, unexciting as it is…

Watch and wait.

13 thoughts on “Wings Claim “Few Superstars” Among Prospects: Truth Or Tactics?”

  1. That is great to hear about Jarnkrok.

    Concerning Tatar and Nyquist, I agree with you. I expect it from Goose before Tatar. I think they will both have solid years, but nothing spectacular…especially considering the slim chances of either of them being in the top 6 (unless Datsyuk gives up on Abby). Plus, neither have played very much in the NHL. I think the points will come in bulk, just not next year.

  2. I also think, first and foremost, we need to remove the prospect tag from Gustav Nyquist. He is now an NHL player, and soon to be 24-years-old.

    I think we have differing opinions of the term “superstar”, as well. When I think of a superstar, I think of Pavel Datsyuk. I think of Sidney Crosby. I think of Steven Stamkos.

    While the prospects you mentioned are probably on their way to successful NHL careers, I feel it is irresponsible to label them as superstars. Nobody can assume they will reach that level.

    I do understand where you are coming from, though. The automatic trust in the management is frustrating. However, I think saying that the team has not accomplished anything since 2009 is also unfair. Injuries have handcuffed the team in recent years. Holland’s stand-still at the deadline was brilliant. The team turned around, and made a run in the playoffs.

    While I don’t agree with every decision the management and coaching staff makes, I think it seems to work out more often than not. They are smarter than me. When the Red Wings stop making the playoffs, it might be justifiable to question them.

    • Fair enough, Mark. Gus was prospect/rookie until this season. Same goes for Tatar. I’m assuming Holland shopped Fil to a degree at the deadline. He had a HUGE assist with 14’s gwg in game 2 vs ANA. A goal in game 7 of that series as well, but I still would have liked to get something in return for him. As I say above, bringing in Weiss and Alfie has restored some faith in KH among the fans who were growing frustrated and skeptical. Thanks for reading.

    • And…while it is true no one can know whether or not these players can reach “superstar” status, my point is more to take a look at the lukewarm language coming from the organization. I’m more excited for this crop than I was for 26, 51, 55 and Grigorenko. They all turned out fairly well (I think Grigor would have). I expect as much and more from Tatar, Jurco etc.

      • I agree. This current group of prospects is exciting. GR won the Calder Cup, after all. Now, I realize there was some help from guys who still have two-way deals, but still. Only three of the players you named were a member of that squad, anyway.

        There’s always the argument that Jarnkrok was not impressive in his stint with GR, but that was also his introduction to North American hockey. Most players transition slowly. Damien Brunner is not only the exception to that, but the complete opposite.

        Only time will tell what these guys can do, but there is reason to be optimistic.

        • Yeah. Jarnkrok’s GR visit concerned me as well, but someone who was at the games said that while he was off the scoresheet for the most part, he was all over the ice. Most important is that Nyquist and Tatar become serious contributors asap.

Comments are closed.