Red Wings will regret demoting Tatar

Though he’s young, Tomas Tatar is effective on the power play and deserves a chance to develop in the NHL.

So let’s get this straight: Gustav Nyquist was relegated to AHL duty for most of the past seven weeks, a call for development in the eyes of Red Wings management. And now Tomas Tatar, who has proven he is more than capable of playing in the NHL, is sent down to make room for Nyquist?


Or perfect sense, when you consider the recent history of Ken Holland and Mike Babcock, who have become a modern-day version of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne.

Tatar was fantastic in every corner of the rink – and he’s being sent to Grand Rapids. He’s twice the finisher of Nyquist, five times the quickness of Dan Cleary, 10 times the player of Justin Abdelkader, yet today’s he’s a minor-leaguer.

That’s not right.

The Wings, who are 24th in the NHL on the power play, should really take this opportunity to develop Tatar, who has demonstrated gifted hands in his 18 games.

Bench Cleary and Abdelkader
Holland and Babcock believe Cleary is a top-six forward. Everyone in Detroit sees Cleary lose the puck in the corners, lug through the neutral zone and irritate Pavel Datsyuk, who is probably cursing in Russian every shift.

Strikingly similar in the nuisance category is Abdelkader, whom we like to call “vanilla.” He’s plain. There’s nothing to his game. He doesn’t help, nor does he hinder. In the plus-minus category most nights, he’s not a plus, nor is he a minus. He’s just even. And for you fighting fans, Abby has dropped the gloves once. So where’s his value?

On the power play, according to Babcock. Add Cleary to that miserable category, too. And that’s about as painful as listening to a TMZ tiff between Justin Bieber and Lindsay Lohan.

Please tell me: Why does Babcock fall in love with this “net-front presence” scheme? Is he unable to let go of the fact that Tomas Holmstrom retired?

Hockey IQ? Who needs it?
Back to Tatar, who is arguably the Wings’fourth-best forward at this juncture. He made the third line click with Patrick Eaves and Joakim Andersson. He’s a big reason why the Wings were hovering on the positive side of a Western Conference logjam, rather than pinned at the bottom.

Forget it now. The Wings go back to being a two-line team. Good luck making the playoffs if Tatar is stuck in Grand Rapids for an extended period of time.

He probably will be. If Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson are healthy, they’ll be in the lineup. Forget the fact that they’re past their prime, painfully slow and lacking the smarts of Tatar, whose hockey IQ is off the charts. They’re “veterans” in Babcock’s eyes, and will thus get NHL minutes.

Look. It’s evident the Wings are not a contender. They’re in a transition and will not be a legit force until a slew of prospects develop. Tatar is one of those prospects, and the Wings just slowed the growth process.

One reply on “Red Wings will regret demoting Tatar

  • Nineteen

    Mr. Mason,

    I just read your March 2013 piece on Tatar, and wanted to say you were bang-on in regards to the young star. I felt the same way about the vets, despite my loyalty to the Wings. Good eye sir.

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