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Red Wings ‘sad’ to see ‘awesome’ Tomas Tatar traded

February 27, 2018

Detroit — Somber.

When an NHL team is not challenging for the Stanley Cup and management trades one of its best goal scorers for three draft picks who might be expected to produce something in the league sometime beginning around 2021 or 2022, reality grips.

Things have not gone as had been hoped.

And now, a good friend of long standing is no longer around, either. A stark, even aching fact, tied to your lack of performance.

Facing at least a second consecutive disappointing season, with playoff hopes narrow around Thanksgiving and an extreme long shot, now, the Red Wings now find themselves without Tomas Tatar.

He might have had something funny to say, today.

On the morning of an optional practice, before the team headed over to their annual gabfest with the Detroit Economic Club, and then off to Metro Airport for their game Wednesday, against the fading St. Louis Blues, Tatar’s mischievous, lively personality might well have provided some comic relief.

And, in St. Louis, perhaps one of his more timely goals would have helped keep them within striking distance of what they all profess is their constant goal: Winning, and making the playoffs.

“Tats is one of my favorite guys that I’ve ever coached,” Jeff Blashill said, reflecting how the loss is felt personally, even more than professionally. “He’s an awesome, awesome person.

“Always came in with a smile on his face.

“I thought he was passionate. He wanted to win. Always accountable.”

What seemed to trouble Blashill is what he knows, down deep, about Tatar.

“He wanted to be a Red Wing,” the coach said. “He was proud to be a Red Wing.”

2017-18 DETROIT RED WINGS SCHEDULE

Taking the phone from general manager Ken Holland on Monday, after the trade deadline, when the Red Wings moved Tatar to the Vegas Golden Knights for a first-round pick in 2018, a second-round pick in 2019 and a third-round pick 2021, Blashill said he asked Tatar how he was doing.

Blashill said Tatar admitted the trade surprised him.

But neither the coach or his teammates are likely to be much worried about Tatar, whose buoyant personality seems likely to carry him through any disappointment, the uncertainty of new things and the considerable inconvenience of uprooting from a home of several years.

Meanwhile, Tatar is likely to jump in on the third line for a team that is the toast of the NHL this season. The Golden Knights are destined for the playoffs in their first season in the NHL, as arguably the most successful expansion franchise in history.

And, Tatar will play for a successful coach of considerable reputation as “a player’s coach,” who once scored a good amount of goals himself, skating on Steve Yzerman’s line for the Red Wings, Gerard Gallant.

“As a teammate, it’s always unfortunate to see a guy go,” said Mike Green, who almost “went” himself, until questions about his injured neck, the availability of other defensemen and the Wings desire to keep him trumped any thought of a trade.

“You know, Tats was a great player. I got to know him a great deal over the last three years, myself. It’s always sad. It really is. But on the flip side, we understand the business side of things, and we wish him the best.

“But, yeah, I think collectively, as a group, we’re sad.”

gregg.krupa@detroitnews.com

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