On Wednesday, Detroit Red Wings blogger Graham Hathway wrote an “open letter” to Wings GM Ken Holland. In this note, available via the Detroit Free Press, Hathway wrote that Holland “needs to prove the Red Wings are still for real.”
We're watching you, Mr. Holland. You have a very anxious fanbase on your hands, one not used to watching a mediocre team that may not be good enough to win on most nights. As the general manager, the buck stops with you, and if you really are as good as everyone thinks, then you will do something that will knock our socks off and remind us just how lucky we are to have you running our franchise. If you don't, then we may start to see actual criticism of you, something I am pretty sure you're not used to.
Prepare to be scrutinized like never before. We will be reading your quotes, analyzing your moves, and questioning your inactivity. You will be under an intense magnifying glass for possibly the first time in years, and it may be very uncomfortable if the season doesn't start out well for the Red Wings.
Can someone say, “Creepy passage?”
I mean what is this?
What is it about people like this who write chauvinistic “open letters” to successful franchise executives?
The way this letter is written, you would think Hathway was anointed Saint Winged Wheel, protectorate of the Red Wings hockey club.
Holland is one of the best, if not the best GM in hockey. He knows when to pull strings. And he knows when to pull back for the sake of not bankrupting the club.
More importantly, Holland knows about the importance of team dynamics. He knows there is much more to assembling a hockey club than simply planting big-name bodies (and potentially team-crippling contracts) on the ice.
Now, before pressing, it is essential I be fair. Hathway does cover his tracks early in his letter to Holland.
Let me start this by saying one very clear and important thing: Ken Holland is one of the biggest reasons why the Red Wings have remained at or near the top of the NHL the last 20 years. He has made moves that have brought four Stanley Cups to Detroit, and he has always sought to do what is best for the team while maintaining the on-ice quality that Wing fans have come to expect. I have always believed he is the best GM in the game.
Very clever Mr. Hathway. Way to butter Holland up before giving him that good old kick in the rear—a kick this unquestionably successful GM really needs, especially from you.
Way to use extreme terms like “inaction,” and “no longer the class of the division,” in your follow on words to describe Holland and the Red Wings.
Looking at the letter, one might think Holland sits on his duff and does nothing to address team issues. I am sure right now Holland has lost sleep over this letter.
I bet Holland is so distraught, that he might be thinking, “You know what, Hathway is right. He is so much in tune with what the team’s needs are, more than I am. Think I will give him a call, maybe pick his brains about the proper direction of our team.”
Of course, it is highly unlikely Holland would ever think this. This is because Holland could care less what people like Hathway (or Greg Eno) think.
This is because Holland has a hockey club to run—a club that no matter how one slices and dices it, is one of the best run organizations in sports.
The bottom line is, while the Red Wings have not had made that big splash acquisition everyone drools over like Pavlov's dog, this team is going to be alright.
Is it a realistic assumption to say this hockey club may take a step back this season?
But for once it would be nice for those who have a voice to address the fact that a Red Wings rebuild is a temporary rebuild—not one of those long, agonizing, “give me some Novocain and make this decade’s worth of pain go away” type of rebuilds we often see in sports.
At the end of shift, I wish people like Hathway would realize the Red Wings are a team not to be taken for granted. Sometimes, when teams perform so well for so long, a mentality of expectancy sets in.
Having high expectations is awesome. But when expectations get so high that people start losing their minds when things go an inch south, well this is called obsessive senility.
Thus, Hathway would be better fit to use his talents for more productive things than verbally stalking a well-proven GM.
This very thought may point to why the Detroit Free Press strapped the following atop Hathway’s letter:
“[Graham Hathway’s] opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Detroit Free Press nor its writers.”
Taking this a step further, not only do Hathway’s opinions not reflect those of this newspaper, but they also do not reflect those of knowledgeable Red Wing fans who appreciate everything Holland has done (and will continue to do) for this hockey club.
Morisette is normally a MLB Featured Writer for B/R. But as a Metro Detroiter it is impossible not to love writing on Detroit-Area sports. You can follow James on Twitter.
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