First and foremost, up front, I want to know what you all think of this regular season. It only ended on Saturday, and with the playoffs beginning Tuesday it seems there is no time to reflect. Playoff mode, where this team tries every year to find their STFU switch in the complete inky darkness and flip it, is here.
But since this team cannot look back on how this season went, allow us to do that for them. What really will we be saying about this season, years from now? I think I will remember the disappointment the off-season free agent signings brought about. And Mikael Samuelsson proving the point of everyone that criticized Ken Holland. I will remember our namesake was injured essentially the entire season. Jim Howard, slow out of the gates, turned it on when we most desperately needed him and finished the regular season with a 0.964 Save Percentage in April.
Then there was the rise of the young guns, guys like Nyquist, Brunner (who fell off the pace once people “caught on to his tricks,” as Mick would say), Andersson, Kindl, Lashoff, and even Abdelkader. A career year in a 48-game season? I guess moving a third line grinder to Datsyuk’s line will do that.
I will also look back favourably upon our farm system. It’s not enough to have these young guns step up. But to also sign a kid like DeKeyser, then to have Mrazek step in for a game and play so well before heading back to Grand Rapids so we can pretend the Gustavsson deal was a good one again. Then, to have the Griffins dominate the AHL the way they have and hear so many people talk about how talented our prospects and draft picks are…it’s really encouraging.
These are of course the things I’m consciously choosing to remember. I cannot, for some reason, think about first season without Nick Lidstrom. It just doesn’t sound natural, or right. I hear that and I refuse to believe whoever is saying it is being factual. He can’t leave. He has always been there. But Zetterberg is a hell of a captain, so it hurts less to think of 2013 as “Zetterberg’s first year with the C.”
Lastly, I feel like I have to address the fans. No, that is not quite right. I feel like I have to address the issue of the fans. That reads slightly different but what I mean is wow, what a polarizing year for fans. Friends I have had beers with yelling at each other over the twitters/Fbooks on their disappointment at the Trade Deadline. On how Babcock is "over-rated, on a power trip, and could use a 'change of scenery.'" And the pain, the actual, physical pain fans felt as they blasted each other’s knowledge of the game and the team in complete frustration is something I hope I do not have to experience again for another 22 years.
In other words, let us try and look at the positives from 2013. As conceited and elitist as we are, this team still gave us plenty. Playoffs are here though, so take only a quick glance in that rearview but let me know what you liked best.
Should we have expected this to be a normal season? We are without one of the greatest two-way Defenders ever. Not to mention the anchor and captain of a team that's had continued success for 20 plus years. To assume you could replace that without a dip in play discounts how truly great and significant #5 was. We are left with a team that is trying to find how to pick up that slack. You cant trade into another player like that. That player needs to be nurtured and grown into that role. The REDWINGS are the best team on this planet to cultivate another Legend as they've done so many times before. Perhaps the perseverance and will that was displayed this season, just to make it in to the post season, is evidence that this team and its fans should take nothing for granted and make no assumptions that the Winged Wheel logo is what gets you to our goal. Through all adversities, we BELIEVE and we PERSEVERE. That's how so many legendary players before have set the benchmark of excellence. The issues faced this year weren't because of a couple of transactions that didn't go as planned. Injuries on the blueline have plagued us. Lack of a power play didn't help either. It's hard to replace Homer in the goalies face. They had 1/2 a season to learn to play as a team, yet still they got it done. It wasn't pretty, but they got it done. Playoffs once again. The Real Season Begins!!! LGRW
This will be the year that I remember in two ways: individuals overcoming mismanagement and the wave of young talent breaking in. Pav, Hank, Jim, and Co. carried this team. Even when nothing the team did made sense, they carried us to wins that turned out to be exactly what we needed to make the playoffs.Brunner, Nyquist, Tatar (especially Tatar...), Andersson, Lashoff, Danny D... that's a long list of newbies. There have been times when the goalie was the only non-rookie on the ice. And they didn't look bad. In fact, they have looked brilliant at times. I'm not sure if I put Smith on that list though. He was the #1 disappointment for me during the season. Too hestitant, afraid to make mistakes, at times. Too reckless others. He reminded me of a bigger, younger Quincey. Part of me says trade him this summer. We have so many young guys coming up who look great that it wouldn't be hard to replace this season. Plus, most of the league looks at him as a great prospect, so there should be good value. Another part says we need to let him develop. Not my decision to make, and I assume he'll be kept; however, I really hope he steps it up in the playoffs and stats on some Xanax in the off-season.
"This will be the year that I remember in two ways: individuals overcoming mismanagement and the wave of young talent breaking in."
Z beating a lone defender to score on an empty net...from his stomach, Pavs going coast to coast, dekeing every Predator on the ice to score, Abs getting a hat trick...against Anaheim...in Anaheim! Yeah, plenty of good stuff to remember I'd say.
Rough year for sure. But I think the real coupler was the fact that we couldn't get any consistency to the lines. No camp, and injury after injury. It's hard to build chemistry with so many new faces so quick. Danny D was a god send and the boys are finally clicking. Bottom line, with the streak in tact I'm a happy fan! LGRW!
I watched as we struggled and the fans lost their marbles.
The same week Holland was ranked as the best GM in the league the "true fans" were demanding his head on a pike.
@Crevek The "ranking" has f*ck all to do with anything. The fact that this team was/is getting extremely stagnant for much of this season and the fact that we just barely scraped into the playoffs speaks volumes. Where's the evidence that he's the best GM this season? I mean seriously, this was the worst performance from this team in two decades!
Sorry but I guess us "real fans", whatever that means, know mismanagement when we see it.
I love the fact that Detroit keeps building their own players. Smart drafts and good enviorment around the young guys, as you say in this post. As a Swede I really like how well our young players have evolved in the school hockey and the AHL. Sadly I think that Red Wings will sell some of this players as they all have great potential.
But it always better to build your own players as they will be more loyal too the team and have more heart!
Now go and dig deep in the playoffs, so the young guns get really good experience! Let's go Red Wings!