What Does Detroit’s Loss to the Coyotes Mean Going Forward?

Steve Yzerman. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Steve Yzerman. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

There have been quite a few embarrassing losses over the course of the grueling rebuild in Detroit, but you’d be hard pressed to find one much more shameful than the 9-2 defeat at the hands of the Coyotes on Tuesday. What is arguably the worst team in the league marched into LCA and burned the place down, ravaging the Wings in front of a quite displeased home crowd — a jersey was even thrown on the ice. Part of that displeased faction is Red Wings’ GM Steve Yzerman.

This video has been circulating on Wings Twitter, and many are taking their guesses at what exactly Steve is angrily saying.

Lip reading attempts aside, it is apparent to every Red Wings fan that change is coming. This last stretch of schedule has shown that this team is not anywhere near ready to consistently compete at the level it takes to be a contender in the National Hockey League. Frustration at the performance of the team is mounting in the fanbase and in upper management, and the dismal effort against Arizona may be the final nail in the coffin. What does that mean moving forward for the franchise?

Coaching Staff

Calls for Jeff Blashill’s head have been abundant over the course of the last five seasons, but they have not been nearly as widespread and extreme as they have been since the final horn sounded in Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday night. Blashill himself appeared quite uncomfortable on the bench at a few points in the game, making many think that he knows his time as the “man behind the bench” for the Red Wings may be coming to an end. So what does Stevie do?

At this point, it seems there’s no doubt that Blashill will be heading out the door before next season. The effort that the team has put forth under Blashill’s coaching has been unacceptable at times. “Unacceptable” would be an understatement for their performance against the ‘Yotes. When a squad doesn’t come out mentally prepared to compete, it is almost always on the coach.

When does it happen, though?

Hard to tell. It’s not easy to get inside the head of Steve Yzerman — not many people outside of the front office know exactly what he’s thinking. Would it be worth it to let Blashill continue coaching the team through the end of the season and conduct a thorough coaching search over the summer? Does he can Jeff now, and hire an interim head coach for the last 20 games of the season? Does he have a name in mind for a permanent replacement already?

If I had to wager a guess, I would say that Blashill does not make it through the end of the season — or even through the next week of games. I think Yzerman and the other members of the front office staff would like to see a better effort out of the squad as the season winds down (especially on defense and from their goaltenders). They want something to build on going into next year, especially with a team that is most likely going to look much different once game one of the 2022-23 season comes rolling. Every season going forward is about taking another step towards contention.

There’s really no way to know, though. We’ll just have to sit back and watch it all unfold. The luxury of having Steve Yzerman as your GM, however, is that you can trust he will make an educated, thoroughly evaluated decision beneficial to the trajectory of the franchise.

Trade Deadline

With the NHL Trade Deadline just 11 days away, many are also wondering what kind of roster changes we could see as a result of recent play. The effort, as previously mentioned, just has not been up to snuff. There are some pieces on the team right now, never meant to be long-term, that we could see moved in the coming week-and-a-half. We could even see some unexpected pieces moved depending on what Yzerman can get for them. Its hard to believe that anybody that doesn’t wear #71, #23, #53, #15, and (maybe) #59 is safe.

It is so hard to say who will and won’t be moved that it’s almost not worth it — case in point, the surprising trade of Anthony Mantha and acquisition of Jakub Vrana at the trade deadline last season. However, there are certainly some names to watch as the cutoff for trades draws nearer.

Thomas Griess is one of these names.

The older of the two Wings netminders, Griess’s play since his win over the Rangers on February 17th has been abysmal. His season numbers are down to a gross 3.65/.888 split. I don’t think he was ever intended to be a long-term player for the squad — he is 36-years old and on the final season of a 2-year/3.6 million AAV contract.

It may not be the easiest to move him due to his poor performance, but should Steve be able, the Red Wings have a competent NHL backup for Ned in Calvin Pickard, who is currently starting for the Grand Rapids Griffins. Pickard has played in 2 games this season, and is 1-1-0 with a 2.90/.915 split. He is 18-14-5 with the Griffins, putting up a quite respectable 2.47/.923. Pickard has started 93 NHL games in his career.

It is also likely there will be change on the back end. Look for names like Nick Leddy, Jordan Oesterle, Troy Stecher, and even possibly Filip Hronek to be on the move. We could see some lineup time for prospects as the season comes to a close (e.g., Donovan Sebrango).

Other names that could possibly be moved: Robby Fabbri, Filip Zadina, Vlad Namestnikov, Michael Rasmussen, etc.

Possible Offseason Moves

What does Steve do in the free agency market this offseason? Well, it’s quite clear that above all else, this team needs defense. Look for Steve to sign a solid second or third-pair defenseman this offseason, maybe more than one, to relatively short-term contracts. With Simon Edvinsson probably making the leap to the bigs next year, it seems the future top pair is already pretty solidified (Seider/Edvinsson).

The Red Wings also desperately need to improve their depth down the middle, so the front office will most likely go after a 2C in free agency and/or the draft. There will also be minor signings and moves to fill in holes as needed, specifically in the bottom 6.

Yzerman may also sign a backup goalie to a short term deal to account for the time that Sebastian Cossa (who most think is a long-term solution in net) still needs to develop. A tandem of Cossa/Nedeljkovic seems probable going forward.


It’s fair to say that most, if not all Red Wings fans are expecting some heads to roll in the coming days, weeks, and months. Steve Yzerman stressed patience when he first arrived back in Detroit — this year’s team is what he was talking about. Promise has been shown, but now we’re seeing the growing pains. Believe it or not Wings nation, we’re not too far away from seeing Steve’s plan come to fruition.

So close, but yet, it feels so far.

It’s an exciting, albeit a frustrating time to be a Red Wings fan as the trade deadline approaches — you are going to start to see pieces really come together as Yzerman works towards completing the puzzle.

Related Story. What Comes Next for Jeff Blashill after disappointing loss?. light