Anthony Mantha was a healthy scratch in case you didn’t know.
The Red Wings finally won a game. They got secondary scoring. Givani Smith had a Gordie Howe hat trick. After eight miserable games where everything seemed to go the other way, Detroit was registering a victory.
But hanging over all of it, regardless of the good vibes, was this burning question as to why he was out. Injury? Covid? Is he going to be traded? Or was it to send a message.
Per Jeff Blashill (it’s 4:25 mark if it doesn’t autoset as such)
“I made the decision to go with the group I went with.”
The Athletic’s Max Bultman follows up to confirm it was a healthy scratch to which Blashill answers in the affirmative. The Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James pushed on why he sat but the tightlipped bench boss wasn’t having it. Blashill declined specifics, fairly stating that it was a private conversation between him and Mantha. No different than a boss and subordinate having a closed door meeting.
It’s just this particular decision centers around a player who just signed a four-year, $22.8 million deal with an AAV of $5.7 million. He happens to have 7 points (4-3) in 12 games and until yesterday, was one of four Red Wings responsible for over 75% of the team’s goals. (He was 18% in his own right). To be held out of the lineup–during an eight game losing streak–where goals have been scarce and the team’s leading scorer (Tyler Bertuzzi) was already out is borderline insane.
And yet it somehow worked.
This opens up speculation that falls into about three questions–possibly more–that go like this:
1. Is Mantha falling out of favor with management?
2. Could Mantha be on the trade block?
3. Is it exactly what it is: a wake up call?
Let’s start with the first one: