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Jonathan Ericsson’s job is safe for some reason

Not pictured: the immediate turnover, subsequent flailing, and quitting on the play

I won’t pin Wednesday night’s disaster of a night (solely) on the defensive prowess of Jonathan Ericsson. In that respect, you’ll have to excuse the timing of a post like this. Truth be told, I had it in the hopper as soon as I read the Khan article that is about to be referenced.

Anyone that’s familiar with The Production Line, or has heard me on the podcast — dating back to The Obstructed View days — will know that I’ve never even tasted the Big Rig Kool-Aid. When Red Wings fans were moistening their panties during his playoff debut, I sat in the seats at the Joe scratching my head wondering what the hell everyone else was seeing that I wasn’t. And that was his peak.

In the years since, he’s only devolved — and he’s done so quickly. Yet, on Wednesday morning, MLive’s Ansar Khan delivered some quotes and some information that don’t seem to be in lockstep with what we’ve all noticed by now: Jonathan Ericsson is a completely and totally useless player for the Red Wings.

From said article:

Veteran Ruslan Salei and rookie Jakub Kindl are competing for the sixth spot on defense for the Detroit Red Wings with six games remaining in the regular season.

Well, that was unexpected. Ruslan Salei has missed a few practices — and a handful of games — to be with his wife as they welcomed the family’s third daughter. And, like everyone else that plays our game, I’m sure he’s a little banged up after seventy-whatever games. I chalked up his “healthy” scratches to that, and not a budding competition for the final blueline spot.

Ruslan Salei has more than earned his spot on the roster. And so has Jakub Kindl, if you ask me. The player that’s not included in this competition, and — hence — safe from rotation is Jonathan Ericsson.

I’m sorry, but I’m lost.

I get that Coach Babcock likes Ericsson’s size and we’re all waiting for him to “regain” that playoff form he had, but he is — by far, mind you — the biggest liability on the entire roster. He often loses sight of his assignments, and he flails at loose pucks before giving up and allowing his counterpart to walk right around him. I won’t get into the specifics and the hockey talk, but it’s bad. And it’s often.

If it’s about potential, the scales tip way in the favor of Jakub Kindl again. While Ericsson making the NHL at all after being such a late round pick is nothing short of exceptional, Kindl’s upside is lightyears ahead of Ericsson’s, having been a first round draft pick, etc etc and so on and so forth. Losing a potentially very good hockey player like Kindl, so that a moderate-at-best 5/6 defenseman like Ericsson can stay, would be a tragedy.

For his part, Ruslan Salei sounds pissed. And rightfully so:

I’ve been playing the whole year and now he feels like we have to fight for it, so I guess I have to fight for it.

Frankly, players should never stop fighting for their spots in the lineup. No one should get comfortable and just assume that a role is theirs. There should always be youngsters coming up that nip at the veteran’s heels. That’s called competition and it’s good for everyone — including the guys that lose the battle and spend more time in the Leino Lounge than they’d like.

If we’re talking about which two of the “bottom three” deserve to be in the lineup every single night, Ruslan Salei is the only one that’s a lock, especially if you’re not yet sold on Kindl (although, in that vein, what the hell’s the matter with you? Kid’s good). The Red Wings have always had a way of bringing their youngsters along slowly and if Kindl has to spend the majority of his rookie year upstairs, so be it.

The point of the diatribe is not that Kindl shouldn’t be in this battle. It’s that Jonathan Ericsson should be.

Ericsson will be an unrestricted free agent this summer — as will Ruslan Salei. If the current rotation is to be trusted, Ericsson would be re-signed before Salei. And that just don’t add up, Jim.

Photo Credit: Claus Andersen, Getty Images

26 thoughts on “Jonathan Ericsson’s job is safe for some reason”

  1. Completely agree with you 100%. As a person, Ericsson seems like a great guy that can play with some talent. But, you just can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. He’s always going to be offensively minded rather than defensive. I’d much rather see him as a forward with some sort of small defensive tilt than 100% defensive. He gets scared of what he can do with his big body far too often. On occasion, he will check well and pass well. However, it’s those multiple, small mistakes that end up costing us games. We’ve had at least 8-10 games this year that we could have or SHOULD HAVE won… until we made small mistakes and they capitalized. I think Ericsson should be a Griffin right now, not a Wing… which sucks… I really want to like him… but the upside just isn’t there.

  2. Agreed. If he ends up thriving elsewhere (a la Leino), so be it. And good for him. He’s just not working in Detroit. I remember seeing the Khan statement yesterday and also wondering why Salei or Kindl were the ones on the chopping block, so to speak.

  3. I agree with your article and Josh Howard. I think Babs has made a terrible mistake not making Big E compete for a spot. He has to sit some games and watch and laern. On that note where is McCrimmon on this guy? Kindl and Salei should be in lineup and E alternating as needed with injuries. On the bright sight Smith from the Griffins is a keeper and will take E’s spot. Last pick overall in 2002 and it it is showing, his time is up for this Orig 6 WING Fan, Babs is not the Babs of prior years, either…Leino has made him look selfish, IMO!!

  4. By far the goofiest decision Babcock has made in Detroit. Through no conceivable viewpoint can you justify choosing Ericsson over another bipedal two-eyed creature in a Red Wings uniform. The most telling thing about his game is that he plays almost like a pre-lockout defenseman, except he never played pre-lockout to be overly used to that style of play. So it’s as if he was sent here via time machine from the mid-90’s on a mission to suck the life out of every one of us, and possibly to kill Sarah Connor if he can aim a gun anywhere beside his own foot.

        1. I’m sure this goes without saying, but if you ever have something to say and want to use TPL to say it, I’ll give you your own goddamn login. Of course, The Triple Deke is the best there is, so…

    1. Maybe even a bipedal one-eyed creature would be better. No depth perception, but at least the brain might work better.

  5. Crater from SoCal

    Question for you Mr Petrella:

    Playoff time comes around, Kindl is playing great, Rusty and Big Rig not so much. Do you A, go with Rusty for experience, B Go with Ericsson for youth and size, and potential good play somewhere in that sweedish man box, or C. Derek Meech!

    So yeah, that whole question is a facade to see if you’d trust Meech more than Ericsson. Curious, because I like Meech, just like I liked Quincey. Both meeting similar demises in the organization, obviously Meech outlasted Quincey since it was shit or get off the pot time. Does Meech become a Black Ace in the playoffs and does he come in to steady up the 3rd pair after a strong year in GR?

      1. Funny you mention Meech because Malik and I had a conversation about him yesterday. I wondered aloud if the Red Wings give him a Souray-like “let’s just get this over with without you infecting the younger guys” send-off, but Malik thinks (and I have no reason to disagree) that he’ll absolutely be one of the Black Aces SHOULD THE GRIFFINS NOT MAKE THE PLAYOFFS, along with Brendan Smith (on the blueline) and approximately 4 or 5 other notable guys.

        But, to your question, if Salei and Ericsson are each struggling — I’ll go with Salei because he’s shown in the past that he can contribute effectively as a blueliner. Ericsson has not. I like Meech, too, but I sincerely think that Ruslan Salei and Jakub Kindl are the fifth and sixth best defensemen in the system.

        Would Meech be #7 before Ericsson? I’d think so, but clearly not.

        1. I could see Babcock giving Meech a shot, he liked the kid a lot from what I could tell based on previous actions. It could save him too, get him a contract next year if the wings really do intend to stick with Shitbox Ericsson. Would be interesting.

          Well, that also all bring another question to my brain hole. I know the cap is out the window post season, allowing the call ups of whoever et cetera, but what about waivers? Would Meech still have to pass re-entry to get on the team if we did indeed need to play him?

          1. No, waivers are out the door, too. Once the season is over, you’re welcome to every player you have under contract.

            I doubt Meech plays before any of the guys on the roster, but he (along with Smith and Janik) will be in Detroit — assuming the Griffins are out of the playoffs themselves — ready to go, in case.

  6. The most mind boggling thing about Babcock’s decision is that Ericsson frequently and obviously gives up on plays. Not like momentary loss of assignment before hustling to get back in a play, like slightly losing position and deciding that there’s nothing he can do but spend the next 20 seconds floating aimlessly looking to the heavens for relief.

    The lounge is up that way, so maybe it’s less of request for divine intervention and more of a realization of where he belongs.

    1. You may have actually figured out what Ericsson is doing out there. Lebda shat the bed and got rewarded with a long term lots of money(for the effort put in) contract with the leafs. Maybe Jonny on the spot hopes for the same thing?

  7. Ok. All showered up after work? Check. Beer in the Bertuzzi Kuzzi? Check. Stoked because it’s my Friday? Check. (That’s right bitches, Thursday is my Friday. Not because of a jacked up Delorean, it’s because I work 4 10’s. Hahas.) Ready to talk shit about a certain industrial sized douchebag. Double fuckin’ check. Ericsson is a gigantic worthless turd. Yes, I know that Mythbusters proved that you can polish a turd, but guess what? It’s still a piece of shit you are holding. I had actually called Ericsson the Corky of the NHL when the phone rang.

    ME: Hello.
    CHRIS BURKE:Yeah hi. I’m ‘Life goes on’s’ Chris Burke.
    ME: What can I do for you?
    CHRIS BURKE: I am going to have to ask you to quit associating Jonny Ericsson with Corky. That guy is a fucking retard. And even though those skate blades are on his feet, I really don’t think he should be allowed within 10 feet of any sharp objects. GOOD DAY SIR. *slams phone*

    Wow. I’m not even going to pull stats or talk “rationally” or with “any semblance of sanity”, I’m just going to talk shit and call him names. I have seriously focused my attention solely on him and seriously does something so bone-headed that he actually gives up about 3 quality scoring chances a game. And one of those usually bites the Wings in the ass. He honestly fucks up so bad that anybody paired with him usually looks shittier because they are trying to do the job of two defensemen. Plus they are worried he might kill them on the ice with sheer stupidity. And Fuckface E, quit trying to emulate the other defensive players, it just makes you look like an orangutan on skates pretending to be human. Like trying to pull off a Rafalski stretch pass. You butcher to the point that it’s like watching a great dane trying to screw a chihuahua. It’s awkward. It never works. Someone’s dick gets broken. Something dies. And all kids in a 10 mile radius feel a part of their soul die.

    I’ve never hid my disdain for Mr. Jonny Ericsson. You could probably search my tweets and find me comparing him to some form of excrement a handful of times. He’s such a liability that I don’t think that he can be Lebda’d up and given away. I could go on about this forever, but why bother.

    He should just quit pretending to be a hockey player and go get a job as a vacuum. Because he sure is awesome at sucking. Bazinnng.

  8. about ericsson: if you’re going to lose your assignment and give up on the play, then take a stupid hooking or holding penalty as he so often does, why not at least burn that minor using your size to punish somebody? poor positional play and compete level aside, he is also super frustrating because he does not play nearly physical enough.

    1. I’m not usually one to get up in arms about people not being physical, because the Red Wings are a VERY physical team — just not in the way that most other clubs are (with big hits, etc). The way that guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula can fight off oncoming defensemen and retain possession is incredible and is absolutely a physical aspect of hockey.

      That said, if you’re graced with the stature of someone like Jonathan Ericsson, it would be great if he played more physically. And again, I don’t mean hitting people into the 7th row. I just mean completing your checks and not (seemingly) being terrified of physical contact. I can count on one hand how many times he’s actually put a body on someone effectively — whether that was separating someone from a puck or finishing a check to prevent them from, you know, scoring immediately after blowing by him.

      1. he won’t even use that humongous body to just protect the puck at the boards. maybe it was because i was so close but it really struck me when they were here in phoenix. i found myself yelling at him over that time and again. he won’t battle at all. even wee hudler will battle at the boards for the puck occasionally. come on, man. it’s like he can’t stand to be touched. look, i get that, i do, but in that case, you’re in the wrong sport, buddy. go play tennis or something. singles, not doubles probably.

        1. so true. if he gets into a puck battle against the boards from the hash marks on down, i mentally count down from 3 seconds until the puck is headed toward our net, likely one-timed from the slot, likely by an opposing team’s fourth liner.

  9. burnside and lebrun talked about 52 today on their podcast, basically saying he’s 27, going to be UFA, but has been disappointing in detroit since showing that early promise. then lebrun says he’d still look attractive to other teams if he isn’t re-signed, but suggests he will be.

    two thoughts:

    1) if burnside does not stop saying “my friend” and “trusted friend” in every piece of media he does, i’m going to start boycotting, my trusted friends and colleagues;

    2) lebrun’s comments are telling, saying he still sometimes looks like a call-up. i guess most of the league must be wise to his shortcomings, so realistically, where does he end up? i think he’ll get offered 1-2 years with crap money from detroit and maybe bounce.

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