Wah wah the Red Wings aren’t the class of the league, wah wah wah Detroit is still the class of the league. Wah wah wah the team isn’t going to make the playoffs wah wah this team is definitely going to make the playoffs.
I feel like I’m listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher right now. I’m sure every argument makes some sense and one of them is definitely right, but I just can’t separate all the different words and syllables into something that my brain can process coherently.
Fortunately, my years of schooling have provided me with the ability to find the main takeaways, which seems to be this: the Red Wings aren’t as good as they used to be and right now they’re not a cup contender.
As the last remnants of Detroit’s cup teams retire and no free agents stepped in to replace them, the Red Wings have begun a slide from perennial contending status. Ken Holland might be faced with a question that happened upon him sooner than everybody thought. Just how far should he let the slide go? Is it time for a (controlled) explosion of the franchise?
(PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Before continuing, remember there are still high-impact free agents unsigned and trades do indeed happen in the NHL. If either of those two things happen, it could change the course of argument here. I could wait to write this, but the internet is all about speed, and what’s faster than raising a problem before the actual situation presents itself?)
Keeping the Red Wings in the playoffs in the next few years, wouldn’t take much expanded effort from the front office. They may make it with the roster they have now. Doing get non-fans excited for a couple of week and more importantly, keep the streak alive. The slide would be minimal, and for the most part, people would be satisfied holding onto the streak while always assuming the next year would bring bigger and better things.
But every player, coach, general manager, zamboni driver, concession stand manager, and ice-shoveler says the goal is to win a championship. Spending a few years sneaking into the seventh and eighth spot in the West doesn’t put you in a good position to do so.*
How much is keeping the streak alive worth?
Enough to put you in the space between the grenade and the fox hole as you watch the dwindling years of Pavel Datsyuk’s prime (he is 33) waste away?
It’s time to consider a quick renovation project. This wouldn’t be an Edmonton Oilers or Pittsburgh Penguins pre-Crosby type of demolishment, more like a less disastrous Philadelphia Flyers one-year suckitude before an appearance in the playoffs again.
The plan would essentially be to utterly fall flat for one season instead of falling in slow motion — Inception bus-style — for three or four.
Basically, all those young guys you’ve been hearing about finally get their shot. Brendan Smith is put in the lineup across from Kronwall. Nyquist and Brunner are top six forwards. Tomas Tartar sees an increased role. Hell, sign Ryan Sproul and bring him up.
In the meantime, you cut your losses on Jakub Kindl and trade him to a team that will give him a chance for a mid-level pick or a bottom pairing defenseman. If you can get rid of Franzen’s four million cap hit until 2020, you do it for some prospects.
Flip Todd Bertuzzi, Drew Miller and Danny Cleary to teams needing veterans at the deadline (OK maybe not Miller and Cleary) for a couple of decent players and/or prospects.
Then take that high first-round and second-round pick, you’re newfound stash of decent pro/prospects and restock with a few high-end players through a trade or two, pick up one more in free agency and all of the sudden you have another solid core that could make a few more runs at a cup before the time to truly rebuild comes.
And that time is coming. In a salary cap world it’s inevitable. The Red Wings can get worse and then get better, or slowly fade into the twilight while extending the streak for another couple of year?
On the internet, those are your only options.
Now back to your regularly scheduled wah wah wahing
*(This wouldn’t be a Kings situation. They had all the talent to be good but never really found out how to put everything together until the end of the season.)