Steve Ott is the least of our worries. With a detrimental defense, middle-of-the-pact scoring capabilities and a plethora of under-achieving veterans, a sand-paper grit guy with desire should be a welcome addition to this roster.
Steve Ott was not brought here to score goals. He was not brought here to “be a playmaker”. He was brought here to be something that the score sheet does not quantify; Passionate. If you thought he was going to bring anything other than that to the table, then your disappointment should not be a shock.
The backlash that this signing brought has not subsided since free-agency day almost five months ago. Even though his contract is a very minimal and simple one, one year at $800,000, he can’t seem to escape that hatred that this fan base has undoubtedly voiced. But what many people don’t realize is that his contract isn’t horrible. It’s a trial and error type of deal and at this price you honestly cannot go wrong. As an organization we have done worse things *cough cough Stephen Weiss*.
I’ve found that the biggest complaint is that “he’s taking a roster space”, which is a totally valid point, but from who? Anthony Mantha? Someone who we cannot count on defensively and is a minus seven in his 12 NHL games played? Talent in the AHL doesn’t always translate into NHL talent. Or, Tyler Bertuzzi who has spent ONE full season in the AHL? Newsflash, The Detroit Red Wings like their guys overly-ripe.
Outside of that, I think it boiled down to the fact that people disliked him before he even came to Detroit and felt that he was not a piece in our long term plans. But when was the last time that a guy showed his emotion? I may be in the minority here, but I was genuinely excited to see how geeked-up Ott and his wife were to come to Detroit on July 1st. We aren’t exactly “cup contenders” nor are we offering him anything that is flashy. He came here because he wanted to be a Detroit Red Wing.
Looking at the numbers, his cap hit is not nearly as bad at the cap we’re retaining from the Kindl and Weiss deals ($360,000 and $1.06 million), and not to mention Mantha’s entry-level deal is worth $863,000. We are effectively paying more for a guy that this organization has obvious doubt in. A key draft pick that was supposed to be “the next best thing” is getting paid more than an experienced veteran. If the Ott deal doesn’t work out, then he simply walks away whereas if Mantha doesn’t work out we are a lot more disappointed and left wondering what happened.
The stats aren’t staggering, but as previously stated he wasn’t brought here for offensive capabilities. He does boast an impressive faceoff win percentage at 54.9% in his career, and winning face-offs is key to puck-possession time, something we lost when Datysuk left. They put him out on the ice to not only deliver big hits but to ignite the other guys and protect his team. It is very easy to get “down” during a game, and if you enjoy the sport even a fraction as these guys do, you know that one hit can change the momentum. Sure, there have some controversial moments, but most of the players in this league have had a questionable hit a time or two.
It is impossible to deny his love for the game and his desire to keep the physicality alive in this skill-dominated league. Before you write him off as a “joke” or “worthless” think of this: After his previous team The St. Louis Blues were eliminated in the playoffs last season, his teammate David Backes stated in a teary interview that Ott gave him something to help him feel better (from injury) and it was so selfless because Steve knew that if Backes played, he was most likely the one coming out of the lineup. A guy that is so committed to his team that he was willing to be a healthy scratch in a crucial playoff game? That’s dedication. That’s understanding the bigger picture and knowing what is best for your team, not for yourself.
So the next time you want to whine and complain about this “goon”, think again because the passionate, protective, physical Steve Ott really isn’t that bad.