The Detroit Red Wings recalled Brian Lashoff from the AHL earlier today, much to the dismay of fans - who were expecting Joe Hicketts to be called up, as he is clearly the better player.
Jeff Blashill spoke to the media this morning in regards to the team's controversial decision.
"I think with young players, whether it be Hicketts or somebody else, one, before you bring them up you'd like to know they're playing for sure," Blashill said. "Two, we try not to have a roller coaster with our young players, where they're up and they're down and they're up and they're down. He needs a chance at some point, but you'd like him to get 10, 15, 20 games when that chance happens."
"It has to happen naturally," Blashill added. "You have to be an elite player at that level before you come up here. The only player that's young and had been a contributor on a regular basis to that D down there is Hicketts. So that would be the only one I would see. And he's not at the level to where Mantha and AA and those guys were and (Dylan) Larkin came right here and did a hell of a job right away.
"Let's be elite down there and get your opportunity and when the opportunity opens here, then you come through. You'd way rather have guys learn lessons in the American League than in the NHL. The lessons they (Mantha, Athanasiou) learned last year also were a contributing factor to not making the playoffs. Good for us that AA and Mantha had to learn lots of lessons down there so that it's a year process instead of a multi- year process in the NHL, where sometimes it just crushes your confidence."
His reasons seem sensical - although it could be argued that getting a couple games in the big show could not only serve as a huge learning experience, but as a motivational boost to improve one's game in the AHL.
Hicketts has yet to play a game in the NHL.