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Like It Or Not, Glendening Is A Valuable Red Wing

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Red Wings still want to sign Glendening
Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening was the NHL's best on defensive zone faceoffs in 2021

If you want to get a visceral reaction from a Detroit Red Wings fan, just mention Luke Glendening’s name. When it comes to Detroit’s checking center, there are two distinctive camps. Either they love Glendening, or they hate him. No one is sitting on the fence in this debate.

The naysayers cite Glendening’s lack of offense. Evidently, they are forgetting that the majority of NHL fourth-line players aren’t on the roster because they graduated finishing shool. The analytics crowd point to his middling puck-possession numbers.

However, there’s other stats that exemplify the value that Glendening brings to the ice. It’s also why NHL teams will pursue getting his name on a contract shortly as he enters unrestricted free agency. Glendening is among the NHL best at the faceoff dot. He was 10th in the league last season in faceoff winning percentage. Glendening won 60.9 percent of his draws.

Defensively and while his team was shorthanded, Glendening was the NHL’s quickest on the draw. He was first in the NHL at winning defensive-zone draws (305-of-490, 62.2 percent). He also finished No. 1 in the league in shorthanded faceoffs won (99-of-182, 54.3 percent). Those are two of the most important times to be gaining control of the puck. When Glendening was on the ice, he assured that the Wings would be controling possession more often than not.

This is not news to Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill. Nor is Glendening’s value to his team.

Working His Way Into A Position Of Value

“Whenever I talk to really any group but specifically younger people, I talk about the two biggest qualities I think are the biggest impact on individual success in anything in life – sports, anything you do in life,” Blashill said. “That’s inner drive and perseverance. Luke probably manifests those attributes better than anybody else.

“His inner drive is off the charts. He gets up every day and he wants to be better than the next person every single day, he doesn’t need a coach to tell him to work. Luke doesn’t need a coach to tell him to get better at this or better at that. He just works at it, works at it, works at it.

“Because of that, and because he’s a good athlete, he’s gotten so much better at so many things over the years, whether it be a long time ago with faceoffs, or whether it be his puck skills. He works at it all summer long.”

Glendening didn’t take the traditional path to hockey success. He was a walk on at Michigan and originally signed a pro contract with Detroit’s AHL farm club in Grand Rapids before ultimately proving his worth as an NHL player.

Working To Be Better

“He’s just got that elite, elite inner drive,” Blashill said. “Everybody in the NHL works hard. To separate yourself, you have to be elite and he’s elite in his inner drive.

“Then perseverance, he’s been kicked a lot. I think success isn’t about how many times you get knocked down, it’s do you keep getting back up, do you keep getting back up, do you keep getting back up? That’s all he did.

“His road to the NHL was not easy and a lot of people would have complained and whined and said, ‘Woe is me,’ and he never did that once. All he did was just keep working.”

Glendening worked his way into a place of value on the Detroit roster.

Some Wings fans may not like hearing it, but those are the facts.

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