The Runner Sports

Is It Time For Red Wings To Reboot Their Defense?

Complaining about Jonathan Ericsson is a favorite past time of Detroit Red Wing fans.  When Ericsson was drafted he looked like everything that Detroit wanted. He is a big Swede who should be able to use his body to knock people around. He had a few goals and assists in his home country and during his last season in the AHL he had 10 goals and 24 assists. He looked like he was going to be a good addition to the team and add the toughness that every hockey team needs.  However, it didn’t work out and now most fans consider it a good game if Ericsson stays out of the way or doesn’t create opportunities for the opposing team, or somehow deflect the puck into his own team’s net.

Last season, I tried really hard to like Ericsson, not because of anything he did, but at the home opener, people didn’t really cheer for him when he came out of the tunnel. In fact, there were a few boos and he looked so sad. He had just had hip surgery during that off-season and I was kind of hoping that since he wasn’t in pain he would play better. It might not have been the best reason to try and like a player, but he looked like he was trying and I thought that was something.

I wasn’t going to go out and buy myself an Ericsson jersey but I was at least going to give him a chance. If he had been in as much pain as it was reported he was that could have affected his playing.  For about a month I got to feel like I made the right choice.  Ericsson was playing like the big enforcer he could be.  He wasn’t letting people get bad hits on his teammates and he was getting into fights and winning them. He got into it with Dion Phaneuf in the 2016 home opener and after that the Wings were fired up and got a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

The honeymoon period was short. Most fans say that Ericsson was decent until mid-November, but then he started going back to his old ways. He was moving slowly and during the outdoor game against Toronto he deflected a puck right into Detroit’s net.  Then in February, he was taken out for the rest of the season because of a wrist injury.  That was the last everyone saw of Ericsson for the year.

Ericsson wasn’t good during the 2016-2017 season, but not a lot of Red Wings were so maybe the 2017-2018 season could be a redeeming one for Ericsson, at least that was what the optimist in me thought. If he could have a few good weeks he could just keep doing it and become the enforcer Detroit needs.  I was wrong.

The beginning of this year has been going smoother then anyone thought it would. The young forwards have been making plays and getting goals and even if Detroit has only played two games they won them both. The defense still isn’t great, but the goaltending and the forwards have been saving it.  However, after the game on October 7 against Ottawa, I think I am done giving Ericsson chances.

Ericsson had two penalties during the game against Ottawa. Now penalties happen, especially in a game where the refs are sensitive, so that could have been forgiven. However, what shouldn’t be forgiven is the give away in Detroit’s defensive zone, which led to Dion Phaneuf scoring and tying up the game. The Wings ended up winning in a shootout but it shouldn’t have gotten to that point. If Ericsson could have just held it together for less then two minutes then they would have just won the game.

This season Detroit seems to have embraced what fans have asked of them for seasons and are giving the young players a chance, and it is working out. The forwards have had a good start to the season and now the defense needs to go under a similar makeover. I think they should start with sending Ericsson down the Grand Rapids and letting Joe Hicketts have a chance.

Hicketts maybe smaller but during the pre-season he played like a much larger person. He was throwing himself around and making big hits and just generally doing what an enforcer should do.  Ericsson’s contract isn’t up until 2020, which isn’t great news for the cap space, and it might be a waste in the AHL but the Red Wings are paying for bad contracts for a few years now. His is going to be one that haunts the team until it’s gone. It’s going to be just as wasteful in the AHL as it would be in the NHL and it would be nice to see some young talent, like Hicketts, get a chance instead of letting Ericsson continue doing whatever it is he thinks he’s doing.

Allison Barbersek
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Allison Barbersek

Writer at The Runner Sports
I love animals and hockey, espeically the wings. I live in the Great Lakes Bay Area of Michigan.
Allison Barbersek
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