Thread: Recalled/Assigned: Tatar sent down, Emmerton staying up
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01-24-2011, 10:50 AM
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The Red Wings system requires all forwards to understand the importance of defense. Detroit understood long ago that strong defensive play begets offensive opportunities and systemically, their best offensive produces as also some of their best defenders. This has been the defining characteristic of the last decade of Red Wings teams (2002 being the exception).

If you look at every Red Wings forward prospect over the last 10-15 years, every single one of them, regardless of their offensive potential, learns to play defense with spot duty in the bottom six - Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Franzen, Filppula - and more recently Cleary and Eaves.

Defense comes first, and when you've proven you can be trusted to protect your own zone, you're given the opportunity to play on the top 6.

This is what Ville Leino never understood. Is he gifted offensively? Yes, of course. Was he willing to put forth the effort to learn how to be backcheck and battle for possession of the puck? No, and that is why the Wings traded such an offensively gifted player. He didn't believe or work in the Detroit system and they weren't willing to compromise.

Tatar was given a quick opportunity to see where he stood developmentally and showed he could score and had the tools to succeed at the next level. The Wings saw all that they needed to and would prefer he continue developing in the AHL with 18+ minutes a night. Emmerton is being given a "spot" check as well to see where he stands developmentally and if he is capable of making the next step. Emmerton does not have the same upside at Tatar, but can still distinguish himself if he can prove to the organization that he can play aggressive, fundamentally sound defense. The Red Wings prospects need to "earn their stripes". And this is exactly why the Wings have been so successful with such limited options in the draft and how we avoid the offensively gifted - defensively lazy - superstar. Once that player makes themselves invaluable to the offensive system, it's hard to reprimand them for weak defensive play. It's too late and you've already compromised your system. Character and hardwork.

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