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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rebuilding (Another sports post: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!)

Don't get me wrong. I'm still predicting that the Wings will win in 6, and it's setting up for that. But, I was thinking about the Wings' future. This whole post is based on the premise of if the Wings don't get their game up to par and don't win the whole thing this year.

They have some great prospects waiting in the proverbial wings. Guys like Hudler, Filpula, and Igor Grigorenko(sp?) have strong solid futures ahead of them. Then, this goalie, Howard, seems to have some serious potential. But, as you know, it'll take time for them to really come of age to the point where we see a team of serious cup contenders. Also, these promissing young prospects are all forwards. Besides our young bull in Kronwall, with the loss of Fisher (who probably won't ever return), how many promissing prospects do we have on defense? Because of guys like Chelios, Schneider, and Lidstrom taking the bulk of ice time, have we really been able to see any of our prospective defense-men come in to play a few games? Lebda's OK, but I just don't see him as a top 2 or even a top 4 defense-man. I think that worries me the most.

But, I figure that if the Wings don't win the Stanley Cup this year, most of the team we know will be gone. They said they were thinking of keeping Chelli, but I don't think it'll happen if they lose. Yzerman will most likely make his dignified exit. Bye-bye Ozzie and Manny. I don't think they'll keep Shanny. He just hasn't performed in the playoffs like he used when he first came. It doesn't matter if he can get back to scoring 40+ goals in the regular season. If he can't get his game up for over-time and the post season anymore, he's too old to be worth the trouble of another contract. I'm being very cold and emotionless about this, because I think that even if it's subconsciously, I, so far, don't see the hunger that I used to see in Wings teams of the past. I just think it's time, if I was Holland, to bring in more young blood with that thirst and hunger to win something they've never won before. Zetterberg has been looking better and better as these playoffs have gone on, so I think his post-season potential is really big. So far, Datsyuk, except for his rookie season, has really been impotent in the post season. He's looking better this year but still hasn't really contributed. I think if he fails to pay off this year, I don't think management will give him that many more chances to prove his post-season worth. He's a great play-maker and has the highlight reel moves, but if he can't turn it on for the post season, he will be traded. I can't seem to find the contracts for individual players, but I don't expect guys like Mowers to stay around, Wooley is probably gone, and I don't even think Maltby or Draper will be around much longer.

Again, this whole scenario is based on this year's playoff performance. They win the Stanley Cup, and all is well because this group of veterans will have proven that they still have the drive, desire, and passion to win. If they don't win it all, expect to see a vastly different team next year, with many more prospects coming up to play. Everyone thought this rebuilding stage would start after the Wings lost to Calgary in the second round of the 2003-'04 playoffs. It didn't, and I think it was due to the lock-out and salary cap. I just don't think Ken Holland will be able to excuse or justify keeping the same group together if they can't pull it off in the post season. It's very sad for me. I have been watching the same group of guys play for the team since I was a teen-ager. Guys like Malts (Kirk Maltby), Drapes (Chris Draper), Lidstrom, Ozzie (Chris Osgood), Stevie (Steve Yzerman), and Shanny (Brendan Shanahan) have been on the team since the mid '90s and some since the 80s, like Yzerman. I've grown up with them. No other team can claim continuity of players like the Red Wings. If you're good and play well into the team chemistry, you have a very good chance of playing with the Wings for your entire career or most of it. Many guys can say that they've played for this team for more than 10 years. That's extremely remarkable and rare for any sports team to claim in this day and age. Money and trades make most players into journey-men, never staying with a team beyond what the highest bidder can give them, or the lowest bidder can offer the team. But, the Wings instill loyalty into their players. If you're good to them, the organization will be extremely good and loyal to you.

Bottom line is this: If the Wings can't win this year, it will be the end of an era. Listen, most sports analysts out there, even those that write for the Detroit papers, predicted that hockey's supposed version the New York Yankees would no longer be able to compete as an elite team with their payroll slashed more than half due to the salary cap. After they proved every-one wrong about that, winning the President's Trophy as the winningest team, everyone once again started making the predictions that it was Stanley Cup or bust for this team. Unfortunately, they're absolutely right. Had the Wings not been able to be successful under the new salary cap, nobody would have been really surprised, and most of us wouldn't have been dissapointed or surprised to see drastic changes made. We would have all chalked it up to the salary cap and said that this was just an unfortunate reality of the business and new NHL. There was nothing else to be done. We would have cried a bit and said our fond farewells and bitten the bullet as we saw the rebuilding process begin. However, because the Wings have done so well this season in the face of all those who said they wouldn't be able to succeed, it showed that their talent and core was still solid despite not that many high priced players anymore. We said that they still got it and don't need to multi-million dollar salary to survive and thrive. Now, that they've proven every-body wrong, early defeat or no Cup at all will make the bullet that much harder to bite. The rebuilding process will be that much harder to swallow. Why? Because, it will show that the players that we have loved and cherished and rooted for for so many years just don't have it anymore. They get it done in the regular season but no longer seem to want it bad enough to fight through the grueling post season to raise the silver chalice once again. They seem complacent and just not willing to work hard enough or go the extra step to get it done anymore. That will make this year's defeat so much more horrible than early exits past. They won't be able to place their defeat on some hot goalie this time around. Therefore, enabling them to keep the notion that they played as hard as they could, but the other goalie just out-worked them. Effort wasn't the problem in that instance. But, this time around, they won't have that justification to fall back on. Roloson is no Giguere, and he deffinitely aint no Kipprusof. He's an average goalie, with a Detroit team playing in front of him that is making him look really good. He's very beatable, but the Wings have to want to beat him. They will have no excuses this time around, and we can count on not seeing the same team back next year.


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At 2:55 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Well...there goes the series for Detroit...at least the 4-2 win you predicted. As for the Pistons I'm beginning to believe they really do have what it takes to go all the way. None of the better teams have looked very impressive though so far.

At 2:56 AM, Blogger Greg said...

...and Macabbi lost...what a pity, especially to CSKA!

Hope they come back strong next year.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

We are the eternal optomists, aren't we? "Eh, they'll do better next year." I love it.


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