Thoughts on Tanking


Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland spoke to the media today at the team’s locker room cleanout and a few things jumped out at me that I feel like I need to respond to.

This is absolutely true.

Tanking is not a guarantee that your team will suddenly turn it around.  You could tank and lose the lottery (Connor McDavid says hi, Buffalo Sabres).  You could tank and completely whiff on the draft pick.  You could tank and pick the consensus Number One, only to have him end up being a bust.

I imagine that this is also true. Add in the internet and it’s harder for a player to go unnoticed.  Had there been a YouTube in 1998 and Datsyuk was pulling off his dekes on there, you can bet he would have gotten looks from more than just Detroit.


So if it’s hard to slip players past other teams, what do you do?  You do everything you can to pick before them.

Tanking is not a guarantee that you’ll get a great player or automatically rebound or anything like that.  It is, however, the closest thing to a guarantee that you won’t have to worry about another team picking the guy you want.

The lottery can complicate everything, of course, but if you finish last, you can expect to get first choice.  At which point it doesn’t matter who anyone else has scouted.

Is tanking palatable?  Of course not.  We all want to win all the time.

Complaining about how the late rounds aren’t a guarantee anymore while simultaneously calling a tank not a guarantee just feels ridiculous to me, though.

Of course, Holland is never going to come out and declare that it’s time to tank.  He needs to sell tickets and it’s hard to do that when you’re admitting defeat.  He can say “We’re not tanking,” though, without declaring tanking as invalid.

Clark founded the site that would become DetroitHockey.Net in September of 1996. He continues to write for the site and executes the site's design and development, as well as that of DH.N's sibling site,

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