With the Detroit Red Wings’ streak of 22-consecutive playoff appearances on the line, it seems fans in Detroit can’t help but become overwhelmed with frustration as the season winds down and that frustration has been directed towards just about anyone.
Despite countless injuries this season, the Wings have been able to find a way to remain in the playoff picture. Those aspirations took a major hit following the loss of Henrik Zetterberg for the remainder of the regular season and the recent three-week shut down of Pavel Datsyuk.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland has had his back against the wall throughout the entire season. The signings of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss have proven to be anything but spectacular. Although Alfredsson has been productive with 37 points, he has missed nearly one-fifth of Detroit’s 62 games and Weiss has only recorded four points in 26 games played.
As the NHL Trade Deadline was quickly approaching on Wednesday, Holland knew something had to be done. His team was without it’s two best players and as the injuries continued to pile on, Detroit was running out of players to call-up from the Grand Rapids Griffins.
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Taking a “right now” approach, Holland dealt Patrick Eaves, prospect Cal Jarnkrok, and a conditional third-round pick to the Nashville Preadators in exchange for veteran forward David Legwand.
Just like that, another bandage was placed on the open-wound that has been the Red Wings’ season and fans did not hesitate to object to the decision.
Was it a hefty price to pay for the 33-year-old center? Absolutely, but its what had to be done in order to give Detroit a chance at making the playoffs.
Fans want to argue that Holland no longer cares about winning a cup in the future, he just cares about keeping this streak alive but the first step to winning a Stanley Cup is reaching the postseason.
Let’s take a second to view this hypothetical: With Legwand (and eventually Datsyuk) in the lineup, the Wings make the playoffs and Zetterberg is ready to play. Who’s to say that Detroit couldn’t end the season by hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup?
Then, in another outburst of frustration, following the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom’s number 5 jersey on Thursday night, fans in Detroit became more upset with Steve Yzerman’s absence from the ceremony than the eventual overtime-loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
Really? The Captain?
Now it’s one thing to think that the GM who has brought this team to 22-consecutive playoff appearances isn’t doing his job, but to speak poorly of one of the most beloved players to ever wear the winged-wheel just screams insanity.
Just to be clear, I’m not taking anything away from Lidstrom and what he meant to this franchise. I wish that all Wings fans could participate in and be present during the celebration of his career, but it would be impossible to make that happen.
Of course Yzerman would have liked to be there, but for fans to expect him to put his duties as the Tampa Bay Lightning general manager aside for a night in which his team played is absurd. Not to mention he had just traded his team’s captain to the New York Rangers and is also trying to give his team the best chance to make the playoffs.
Whether these frustrations are misguided or legitimized is based on perspective but one thing is for sure, tensions are running high among fans in Detroit. The itch to become Stanley Cup Champions grows with each year that passes without a ring, and rightfully so, but the first step in accomplishing that goal is reaching the playoffs.