The Fischer Learning Curve

There has been some chatter about the Red Wings possibly moving Jonny “Big Rig” Ericsson today.  After a very promising NHL play-offs last Spring, Ericsson’s development has really slowed this season.  I remember hearing the TV crews (not FSD) talking about how #52 would be an All-Star in just a few short years.  No one is saying that anymore…at least right now.

Matt Saler from On the Wings provided this little tidbit on Twitter:

On Jonny, I stand by my assertion that he’s on the Fischer Development Curve. He just has misfortune of having set bar too high with stellar playoff performances that can’t be carried to full-length regular season, particularly one this rough for team.  Had the Wings not been in so much trouble as a team, he could have had a more leisurely dev this year. As it was: into the fire & it’s a coin flip on how a young D’s going to respond to that situation. He happened to go south. Shld pull out of it, tho.

You’ll have to excuse the “Twitter-speak”.  But his point is pretty clear.  So in response to the “Fischer Development Curve”…of course referring to Jiri Fischer, let’s do a little show and tell comparison:


Just looking at these raw numbers, you can see that it took Fischer, a 1st Round Draft Pick, about 3-4 years before he started finding his groove.  Unfortunately, it looks like he was on his way to his best season yet in 2005-2006 when his heart stopped during a home game against Nashville.  The incident revealed a heart condition that forced Fischer to retire as a player at the young age of 25 years old. 

Jiri was a unique case in that at 25 years old, he already had 5+ years of NHL experience under his belt in the Detroit organ-i-zation.  It’s been a long time since a teenager has had any sustained time with the Red Wings.  Fischer was slated to be the future of the defensive corps.  He was big, he was strong, he was learning the ropes as a fighter.  All of that promise was cut short, however, by means uncontrollable to anyone.



Obviously the plus/minus rating hits you right between the eyes.  But you have to remember that this has not been a normal season for Detroit.  Ericsson, who had only 27 NHL games under his belt, was looked to help log some major minutes on a team that wasn’t scoring goals.  Fischer, on the other hand, carried a much lighter load in terms of playing time, and was on some of the greatest Red Wing teams of all time…before Gary’s Cap screwed everything up. 

Ericsson hasn’t been without faults, however.  He has a tendency to do some silly things with the puck in the defensive zone that always seem to end up behind Chris Osgood or Jimmy Howard.  He’s still young, however.  Ericsson is still only 26 years old and has less than an entire season collectively spent in the NHL.  He’s also big, he’s getting stronger, and he’s learning the ropes as fighter as well.

I think the stats can be interpreted as “patience will pay off”.  Ericsson can definately have more of an offensive presence, but he needs to work on taking care of the puck in his own end.  What better way to learn than play with guys like Stuart and Lidstrom? 

Are Fischer and Ericsson comparable players?  You make the call.