The countdown to the new NHL season has officially begun with training camps starting to get underway. The Detroit Red Wings take to Joe Louis Arena for the home opener against the Boston Bruins in 44 days. And, for the die-hard fans, just 27 days until the first preseason game takes place in Pittsburgh.
After all the talk and evaluating the Red Wings offseason activity (or lack thereof), I find it rather amusing to read predictions that hometown fans make before the season begins. From my point of view, the general public census for the Red Wings is that they wasted this offseason and are destined for another mediocre year.
On the surface, I completely agree with that assessment.
The Wings are going to be running out virtually the same team from a year ago with no new faces. Nonetheless, this wasn’t Ken Holland’s intention going into free agency. The front office wanted to make some major changes, but they all came at too high of a cost for Holland.
So, here we are with a new season approaching and basically the same team.
What’s a realistic expectation for the Red Wings this season?
I’d like to think that when judging how good or bad a season was for any sports team that we’d go back to the initial expectations the fans set even before the new campaign got started.
For example, remember at the start of last season when the expectations for the Wings were quite high after nearly taking out the President Trophy winning and arch rivals Chicago Blackhawks in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Those expectations set up what turned out to be a rather disappointing 2013-14 season which was plagued by injuries and ended with an early 1st round exit.
So, back to the question at hand: Where are we, Hockeytown folk, setting the bar for this season?
Making the playoffs? That’s too easy. The Wings have history to keep alive. Making the playoffs for 23 consecutive seasons adds a lot of extra pressure but breaking the longest ever streak of its kind would be an automatic failure of a season.
Setting the bar here would make you a pessimistic fan.
Advancing past the 1st round? That’s more reasonable. It’s only a small step forward from last season, and with this team I would consider this expectation to be most common.
Setting the bar here would make you a level-headed fan.
Advancing past the 2nd round? Okay, getting a little bit greedy.
Setting the bar here would make you an optimistic fan.
Advancing past the 3rd round? Now we are heading towards the point of no return. Take a deep breath.
Setting the bar here would make you an ambitious fan.
Winning the Stanley Cup? There it is, the Holy Grail of expectations.
Setting the bar here would make you a crazy, delusional, and comical fan.
But, at the same time, it also makes you a passionate hockey supporter. Expecting the unexpected is what makes the offseason so fun. The fact that anything is possible is what not only makes hockey great but all sports in general.
However, by saying the Detroit Red Wings will win the Stanley Cup this year is just plain foolish.
I will remain level-headed. Making it past the 1st round of the playoffs will make this season a success in my book. Anything less will be a disappointment and anything more will be a bonus.
What’s your expectation for this upcoming season?
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