A very dear friend of mine, Kendall, is a fan of both the Detroit Red Wings and the Boston Bruins. She is a modern hockey fan that caters loyalty to those two teams, but her passion and love for the sport render her allegiances null-and-void when the two collide, as they did Wednesday night in the Joe Louis Arena for the third time this season.
Her indifference to the final score made me feel like an obnoxious idiot when I openly laughed at and mocked the Bruins over the internet (where I can’t get punched) after the 6-1 blowout win in favor of the Wings. Why was I so irritatingly happy over this win? Because, frankly, Detroit sports fans haven’t had a whole lot to be happy about the last few years; so I laughed. I laughed about one meaningless, regular season blowout win.
Is this it for the Detroit Red Wings? Are two consecutive wins all Detroit fans are going to have to be happy about?
The Pistons have finally become better than unwatchable, and may be ready to make the playoffs for the first time in five years. The Lions are both leading and may actually win their division. The Tigers came close to another World Series bid, and the Red Wings seem poised to continue their record-setting playoff appearance streak. While all of the above sounds great, Detroit teams are barely meeting even the lowest expectations set by both the media and the fans at the beginning of their respective seasons.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland has put together an incredible franchise. For the past 20-plus years, the Red Wings have made the playoffs without the benefit of high draft picks. They’ve never been known to make big splashes during free agency, nor has a major trade been made in years. The Red Wings have always relied on overseas scouting and talent development to maintain their position as a juggernaut in the NHL, but times are clearly changing. Holland made two major-name signings in Daniel Alfreddsson and Stephen Weiss this year, and made plays for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in 2012. More changes will have to come if the Red Wings hope to remain competitive in the future.
Young players like Tomas Tatar, Danny DeKeyser, and Gustav Nyquist represent a promising core for the future of the organization, but gone are the Steve Yzermans, the Brendan Shanahans, the Dominic Haseks, the Sergei Federovs that made this team so much fun to watch for so long. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterburg are two of the most talented players in the world, but they are getting older.
It kills me to even think about the idea of a major trade, when veteran loyalty has played such an important role in Ken Hollands regime, but I can’t help but wonder: what would a talent like Dastyuk fetch on the trade block? Or Johan Franzen? Or Niklas Kronwall? These three, among others, are looked at as part of the core of a team that will make the playoffs again, but can they win a Stanley Cup?
My guess is no.
There would be no shame in starting to rebuild; starting to look to the future as opposed to just hanging on by a thread. Red Wings fans like Kendall will remain loyal. We’ve been spoiled by this team for the past two decades, but nothing lasts forever.
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