Before I’m made public enemy number one, I should begin by saying that I fully expect the Red Wings playoff streak to hit the quarter century mark in the 2015/’16 season, but in what fashion will a postseason run come about? Personally I’m tired of waiting until April 5th to be able to put my feet up and enjoy the winged wheel flying up and down the ice, without worrying which goaltender will show up, or which superstar will continue their slump. Speaking of which, for those who forget, Johan Franzen is still in-fact a Red Wing.
This offseason could be one of the most important we’ve witnessed in a while with this Detroit team. With a glaring issue on defense, most noticeable the top defensive pairing of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, and a rag-tag fourth line that includes has-beens such as Stephen Weiss, and Drew Miller. The fans are looking for big moves this summer, and in bunches. It became apparent around mid-December you could really start to see the god like play-making of Pavel and Hank diminish, and with Tatar and Nyquist in unreal slumps, it was obvious that our offense was going to struggle mightily throughout the season. With back to back seasons of what is considered mediocrity in HockeyTown, we should feel lucky that we were moved over to the east, or this streak would surely be history.
Finishing under .500 in the ’13/’14 season (39-28-15) and a deceiving Third place finish in the division, just getting to the playoffs can’t be the goal anymore. The streak means nothing when the Red Wings haven’t been back to the finals since 2009, and fail to get out of the first round three of the last four years, this coaching change may be a blessing in disguise.
I’m not knocking what Mike Babcock accomplished in Detroit, because he’ll go down as a Top-5 coach in Red Wings history, but there’s a buzz around anticipated new coach Jeff Blashill to see what he can do here, since he coached half of these young stars to the 2013 Calder Cup, and just lead his Grand Rapids Griffins to the AHL Western Conference FInals, losing to the Utica Comets in six games. With a storied career as an assistant coach all across the midwest, and a career record of 134-71-23 as the Head Coach in Grand Rapids, we can assume he’ll keep winning with this team, that’s not something fans should concern themselves with this season. It’s more bout who he can bring in during free agency, or through trades. How he utilizes the young talent on the Wings, or his soon-to-be former team in Grand Rapids, on the ice, or in the market, is what’s most intriguing in this transition period for Detroit.
All Detroit fans know that eventually this streak has to come to an end one day, but for Blashills’ sake, I pray it’s not for a while. This city has been groomed to expect success throughout the hockey season, so if Blashill take the Wings back to glory, the seat under him will start to get hot. In this city though, keeping that streak alive will grant him all the job security he needs. It’ll take a couple years under his leadership before the fans can start to expect greatness, but for now everyone is just looking to make sure this time next year, the Red Wings have made the playoffs yet again, and are still streaking.