|"I'll never let go, Jack. I'll never let go" - Christian Bale to Brad Pitt in, "Inception"|
Well, during the off-season and lockout, Tomas Tatar made a number of comments that demonstrated his desire to play in the NHL. This link and this link are Google translations of some interviews he gave - and a big thanks to George Malik for getting these to me. The translations are rough, but the message essentially comes down to: If the Detroit Red Wings don't want to play me, then they should trade me. Play me, or I want to go somewhere that will. There was also a post on Tatar's Facebook profile along the same lines that has since been deleted.
I'm not so naive as to believe that Ken Holland immediately called Mike Babcock on the phone and said, "Tomas Tatar posted stuff on the Intrawebs demanded playing time or else he's going to leave! PLAY HIM, BABS! PLAY HIM NOW!" You don't get to be Ken Holland if you can be publicly blackmailed by an AHL prospect, even if that prospect is showing a ton of upside. That being said, you also don't get to be Ken Holland if you aren't tuned to what your players are thinking and feeling and are completely deaf and numb to what they're saying. Tomas Tatar's words had to have resonated with Holland a bit. It strikes me as curious that Tatar would be bumped ahead of Nyquist in the depth charts, and I'm convinced that Tatar's ultimatum contributed to that. Now the end game of the decision could be to get Tatar NHL exposure so he can be traded, and this is all Holland being a genius again.
Or maybe he did call up Tatar because he didn't realize how close he was to losing a valuable prospect. It's hard to say.
Maybe Gustav Nyquist needs to do the same. He seems like a ridiculously nice guy, a team player, and you have to respect the fact that he also seems to be ridiculously patient. So maybe it's just not his style. But I have to believe that the guy wants to play in the NHL, and I have to believe he's disappointed and/or frustrated by watching guys get bumped ahead of him. Tatar and Joakim Andersson both got the call, Petr Mrazek (while a completely different position) has as many games this season in net for Detroit as Nyquist has had on the ice. Nyquist has also logged almost twice as many games in Grand Rapids this season than Mrazek, plus he's been there for a few years now.
I want to be clear: I'm not saying Tatar, Andersson and Mrazek shouldn't be on the team. Mrazek and Andersson do have a queue ahead of them. As long as Howard and Gustavsson are healthy and playing well, Mrazek should be in Grand Rapids. Andersson should come up if Eaves, Miller, Abdelkader and Emmerton aren't getting the job done. But I absolutely applaud the Red Wings for giving them both the opportunity to compete at the NHL level. Still, it's troubling not to see Nyquist given the same chance.
|1st of what I hope will be many, many more while rocking the Winged Wheel.|
Ultimately the point I'm trying to make here is that maybe it's time for Nyquist to make his desires and expectations known. Next year, teams lose 6 million in cap sace, dropping from $70.2 million to $64.3 million. The Red Wings have to (potentially) resign Filppula (UFA), Cleary (UFFFFFFFFFFF please God no), Damien Brunner (UFA please God yes), Joakim Andersson (RFA), Drew Miller (UFA), Ian White (UFA), Jakub Kindl (RFA), Brendan Smith (RFA), Kent Huskins (UFA), Brian Lashoff (RFA), Jimmy Howard (UFA) as well as Gustav Nyquist (RFA). That's $17,894,721 dollars in cap space opening up. Some of those guys have to be resigned, some could be resigned, some should be let go. Some will get raises, some won't. They'll be sitting at $44,515,166 in salaries after this season, giving them $19,764,834 to spend.
Goose, if you want the playing time you deserve, and if you want to be a part of that $19 million spent on making this team better, then maybe you need to stand up and ask for it. And if the Red Wings aren't willing to give it to you, then as sad as it will be, maybe it's time to start talking to teams who will.