It's rare that I am embarrassed to be a fan of the Detroit Red Wings.
I am 25 years old now and I've been rooting this team on ever since I was 6. I've always felt and been inspired by the heroics of the players on the ice and the personalities in the locker room.
Steve Yzerman, to this day, is my hero. Forget Be Like Mike. I wanted to grow up to Be Like Steve. I wanted to be the last guy off of the floor or ice no matter how tired I was or how bad my legs hurt because of Stevie. I wanted to lead my teams by example and quietly sacrifice the body for the sake of the game. I wanted my teammates to look me in the eyes and feel like lesser mortals if they failed to leave everything out there.
But something is bothering me lately about this Wings team. And I am going to tell you all about it... after the jump.
21 straight playoff appearances.
244 regular season victories over the last five years.
A central division title in eight of the last ten seasons.
At least one Stanley Cup Playoff series victory in seven of the last ten years.
Two Stanley Cups in the last ten years.
And you're telling me... that all it takes to throw the fan base of the Detroit Red Wings out of whack and off their rockers is a 7-6-3 start to a lockout shortened season? Is this some kind of joke? Some kind of farce?
I'm embarrassed to be a fan because of some of my fellow fans. I can't believe how entitled and spoiled some are acting.
I feel like I'm stuck in some kind of HBO version of the Truman Show where I'm the only Red Wings fan that hasn't gone completely bananas, just for the entertainment of the crowd. Am I the only one left here that hasn't lost faith? That believes that this is a team that is going to turn it around during the last 75% of the season that's remaining and make the playoffs?
I can't even believe the knee-jerky, outlandish and shortsighted things I've been reading across Red Wings-land these last few games.
Fire Mike Babcock? He of seven straight 100-plus point seasons with the Wings? What, the .731 points percentage since he came to Detroit isn't good enough for you? And then replace him with who? A shrug and a smile and nothing short of a change just for the sake of making one?
I've heard rumblings of people wanting to see the team's core put on a lift and rotated out of town for more youth. I've seen comments from people calling for Kenny Holland to be relived of his position. That he doesn't know how to run a team anymore and has lost his touch.
The ridiculousness of all the above, I could go on about for quite some time. I know that I'm trapped forever in the "tldr" era, so I'll make an attempt to keep short the reasons why you're zany if you're looking for drastic changes because of what has transpired in 2013.
That's the number of man-games lost to injury the Wings have through 16 games played this season. That means on average this team has been playing without 6.5 (ahhhhhh!!!! A half-hockey player!) regulars per game. I'm sorry, but that's gnarly.
Instead of dogging on this squad, we should be cheering them on and proud that they are in playoff contention at all. They lost two guys during their practice session before taking on Nashville for crying out loud. Mikael Samuelsson took a slap shot to the glove and is now going to miss more time despite only playing in one warm up before going on the IR again.
Has this team looked inspired so far? Despite the heroics of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit is a team that has by and large looked flat during most of their games... and that may or may not have something to do with them icing AHL players in the top-six because, well, everyone else besides the skate sharpener is injured.
Detroit's best players have been just that, and Detroit' in-over-their-heads rookie/youngster core have been just that.
The power play looks awful and that may or may not have something to do with the AHLers... and the rest of the team only having one week of training camp to adjust to life without two of their top five PP players (some guy named Lidstrom and some goon named Holmstrom) and to learn a totally new system.
Even the replacements of replacements can't manage to stay on the ice. I had to laugh when Kent Huskins went down as well.
So if you're freaking out because of 2013, I'm here to tell you to relax. And to support this team while they cope with one of the most viscous and untimely injury bugs ever.
Now is not the time to panic. Now is the time to take note of the efforts that are there and to watch the forced youth-movement take place in Detroit. This is suddenly a younger team with several top prospects playing and showing us what they can do.
If you're snorting and saying "I've seen what they can do, and I'm not impressed" then, frankly speaking, you need a reality check.
Did Datsyuk put up 75 points in his rookie season? Was Zetterberg thrust into a top-six role during his first year? No way! Detroit doesn't do that to players because it gets results like this season so far. Injuries chewing through the depth chart has disrupted the system entirely. These guys are supposed to be easing into their roles as NHL players.
Tomas Tatar shouldn't have any pressure on him to score at this juncture, but he does. That's un-Detroit-like, but they don't have any other options right now.
This is a team in full damage control-oh shit-scramble mode. I haven't been in love with every moment of the season so far, but I am encouraged by the tenacity the team has shown despite injury. Despite losing arguably the greatest defender of all time in the off-season. And despite parts of the fan base that want to tear the whole thing apart just because of a few bad weeks.
oh frank preach it out. i agree with absolutely every word written here. i thought i was alone in my support of this team. i have raged on so many of my friends for their idiocy on holland and babs. so happy to finally have a good article calling out some silver spoon wings fans
Nope, because I'm hoping .. right along with you .. that they DO make the playoffs. In fact I hope they win the Cup (every year). The difference is I think changes need to be made to get there BUT if they get there with the team as it is .. I will be elated. Besides it wouldn't be nearly the sacrifice for me to shave my hair as it will be for you. At age 68 most of mine is already going. B) You see I started watching the Wings at an early age too .. age 5 in 1950 .. on a round screen black & white Philco TV with rabbit ears. We couldn't get CKLW channel 9 very well out in Northville so it was pretty snowy but I managed. Only got to see them when they played the Leafs on Wednesday or Saturday (Hockey Night in Canada). The Detroit TV stations didn't show the games until a bit later. I am Wings loyal until I die and even after .. as long as my winged wheel tat lasts underground, before the worms get it. Franklin, We have different points of view on the best way to enjoy the game and our team BUT in your article - you chose to belittle us for being alarmists. I happen to feel analyzing and critiquing the play of the team is part of being a good fan. Certainly not unique to Red Wing fans .. check out Toronto and the Habs and Boston .. and really all the teams. It is a fans right to grouse when they are unhappy .. hopefully it will help make the team better. If not .. keep right on shaking your Pom Pons! 3:)
This team makes the playoffs at the end of the season, blowing up all the bull shit that fans like you spew. If they don't I'll shave my head. Real talk. You willing to do the same? -Franklin Steele
Ah... I've been had by the true hockey fans. The TRUE Red Wings fans. The guys that ASK QUESTIONS that I JUST DON'T HAVE THE BALLS to ASK... SOMETHING is wrong with MY CAPS LOCK...... ahem... caps make you correct. And so do overplayed over-concerns from wanna-be fans that want to say they called the downfall first. Fakers. The lot of ya'. -Franklin Steele
This isn't my post but if you haven't seen it - it is worth reading: Mike Mansouri - Hey Wings beat reporters, I know you browse these comments Grow a spine. Ask some questions. Coach, what's up with Niklas Kronwall. He's on the ice for 68 percent of goals against? Is Kronwall struggling? Are the forwards not helping? Is this just adjusting to a new role? HOW MUCH LONGER CAN YOU WAIT FOR HIM TO GET BETTER BEFORE MAKING A CHANGE? Coach, what do you see in Lashoff? He's out there for an enormous amount of goals and for some reason, the team can't score when he's on the ice, either. Why is he playing over Kindl? WHY IS HE PLAYING AT ALL? Hey coach, the kid Tatar looks good and is getting chances with real good frequency. WHY IS HE ON LINE FOUR WHILE ABDELADER SKATES WITH DATSYUK? Why is Dan Cleary third in icetime among forwards? Why is Nyquist still rotting in the AHL? What pictures of you drunk does Dan Cleary have on you Babcock? Why is he getting rewarded when he literally is THE WORST producing forward in the NHL on the powerplay? Why does Holland refuse to acknowledge this team needs a retooling and this current core is too old to win without more impact players, not more Mikael Sammuelsons? How many PPG seasons does Nyquist have to play before getting a shot over players he is clearly better than? Why do we have Bertuzzi and Sammuelson for one more year after this when their ice time can be given to our young prospects so they can actually develop. We aren't going to win the cup or make it past the first round anyways, why not let the young guys play? Why is Howard starting almost every game when he is clearly overworked and fatigued? Is this some bizzare stat manipulation so he can't ask for a good contract as a UFA? What direction is this team going, rebuild or full contender? Decide quick because right now we're heading toward Calgary Flames territory. If we're going to tank, tank. If we want to compete, then make the decisions to allow them to!
@Franklin: Read my post again .. my "decline" comment was referring to our championship team back in the 50s that was allowed to decline and go through 42 years without a cup. The purpose of my post was to point out that you can be a true fan and be critical of the team when you see things you do not like. Discussing weaknesses in game plans and tactics and shorthcomings of personnel has nothing to do with loyalty to the team. Just the opposite is true. The media should be a place to discuss what the fans see is happening to the team. We've earned that by being loyal fans. I don't have a plan for replacing Rafalski, Lidstom and Stuart but that's not my job. It is Holland's job and he didn't have one, even though he knew it was coming (one of the reasons I am criticizing him). Smith (if he is ripe enough) is only one guy. I am criticizing the lack of much behind him .. so bad that Holland had to pull another never-was out of Norfolk. I am concerned about seeing the same kind of short sightedness in management that undid the franchise back in the 50s. I never want that to happen again. As far as "effort" .. it concerns me that it is the kids who are giving the better effort. It concerns me that in spite of that .. they sit when veterans who can no longer do the job are out there playing. I am concerned about the coaching staff's inability to improve the PP and PK over the last 2 seasons. As a fan it is my right to voice these concerns and discuss them with other fans. Teams are moving up .. and our team has to keep up! For whatever reason, all the excuses that you mention above .. I am concerned that the Wings are not. If we can't ice a team that can beat any of the other teams in our division (even on home ice) .. I am worried. You want to just kiss this year good-bye and take the higher draft pick? Count on Kenny's proven success at getting high caliber UFAs to sign this summer? Yeah, he's so good at that. Oh, I forgot .. it is The Red Wings .. everything will be alright. Don't change anything .. just keep doing what we are. Rah Rah Rah!
@Franklin: Read my post again .. my "decline" comment was referring to our championship team back in the 50s that was allowed to decline and go through 42 years without a cup. The purpose of my post was to point out that you can be a true fan and be critical of the team when you see things you do not like. Discussing weaknesses in game plans and tactics and shorthcomings of personnel has nothing to do with loyalty to the team. Just the opposite is true. The media should be a place to discuss what the fans see is happening to the team. We've earned that by being loyal fans. I don't have a plan for replacing Rafalski, Lidstom and Stuart but that's not my job. It is Holland's job and he didn't have one, even though he knew it was coming (one of the reasons I am criticizing him). Smith (if he is ripe enough) is only one guy. I am criticizing the lack of much behind him .. so bad that Holland had to pull another never-was out of Norfolk. I am concerned about seeing the same kind of short sightedness in management that undid the franchise back in the 50s. I never want that to happen again. As far as "effort" .. it concerns me that it is the kids who are giving the better effort. It concerns me that in spite of that .. they sit when veterans who can no longer do the job are out there playing. I am concerned about the coaching staff's inability to improve the PP and PK over the last 2 seasons. As a fan it is my right to voice these concerns and discuss them with other fans and I would suggest that if you want to grow up to be a real sports write someday .. that you have more empathy for the fans, get your head out of the sand and pay attention to what is happening around the rest of the league. Teams are moving up .. and our team has to keep up! For whatever reason, all the excuses that you mention above .. I am concerned that the Wings are not.
Well said! The sad knowledge that I live with is that our superstars of yesterday are aging or aged. Hell, Pavel was on the same team as Shanny, Hasek, Hull, Yzerman... you know, the hall of fame team. What gives me solace is that this organization is grounded in the right principles. Nothing makes me madder than to hear people compare the Wings to the Yankees. Through some of the best talent scouts they find the best. Through an unbelievable farm program they get their players ready. Their coaching has been spot on for years, not to mention their greats and others are willing to take pay cuts to play in this organization. It's a tough year (and not over yet), but I'm excited that we could be seeing the next batch of greats growing up right in front of us now. Tartar, Brunner, etc. They will remain competitive.
http://www.nhl.com/ice/blogpost.htm?id=14339&navid=nhl:topheads Not that NHL.com is a credible source of information, but look at those lines and tell me they are the product of good coaching. Line 1 looks good. Line 2: Cleary-Datsyuk-Abby. You have one of, if not, the, best playmakers of all time, and you have him paired with a has-been grinder and a not-quite-even-a grinder. Line 3- Tatar is still buried here (after his 9 minutes last game) and now Mursak joins the mess.
Couldn't agree more. And hell, we could have landed Suter AND Parise, and both could have gotten injured and we'd be in the same boat. People will always find something to complain about.
Plus I think half of them are trolls just out there to get people riled up anyway.
I agree with everything. But since most of those people you speak of are in the minority, I'm going to bring your attention to something else...
A CONVERSATION WE NEED TO HAVE is about our training staff (or whoever handles strength and conditioning). I don't have the official stat but how many man games has this team lost due to injury over the past 5-6 years? I'm going to take a wild, but very educated guess and say we're probably in the top 5 in the league. Yet, no one talks about it. We all act like injuries are some act of God and can't be helped. BS! Sometimes, yea, it's a freak accident but I'm sorry, this has been going on for too long and too frequent to think it can't be fixed. Am I the only one who see's a damn trend!?!?
Couldn't agree more. This team is by far my favorite Red Wings squad since the great Stevie Y retired. For the first time we, the Red Wings and their fans, are seeing some true adversity with our team. Of course it hasn't been all sunshine and roses, but without having our full roster together for a single game, they are still very much in the hunt for the playoffs. As you stated, we have been so good for so long people have lost focus, the Red Wings organization is NOT NORMAL, no team should be guaranteed for a 100 pt season and a playoff spot every year, but thanks to coaching and management we always have been. Everyone needs to take a step back and relax. This adversity will only make the team stronger, and as long as they stay in contention through these injuries, there is no reason to think that they won't go on an absolute tear once the roster comes together. I have complete faith in the Wings and the management, and there is no reason for anyone to think otherwise
Lets see how tonight goes go wings still don't know the line up or who's starting goal hope we get a win you know earlier I was thinking about that plane crash in Russia when we lost alot salei and mccrimmon , prospects rest in peace but can't go back let go red wings
Thank you thank you thank you. its gotten to the point where ive stopped reading the comments section on all the Wings blogs/forums I follow.
Those types of fans ruin the fun of the season for me.
I'm still pretty confident we can make the playoffs and then who knows. anyways thank you for articulating what I've been thinking for the past 2 weeks.
LETS GO RED WINGS!
They looked really good last game despite the loss!! For how many injuries they got they still can pull it off!! Once they get some key guys back and in key guys I don't mean bertuzzi or Samuelson I mean helm and smith and even Franzen they will be unstoppable!! I say this because of the adversity they will have overcome and a lot of weight will be off there shoulders!! I'm still predicting a top 4 in the west!!! Pavs the man he will take us to the promise land one more time for sure, he showed how dominant he was in the Nashville game ( unreal how dominant he was ) go wings go, go wings go!!!
Edd Austin, this is going to be fun. A cheerleader? Are you kidding me? I'll hold back on insulting you back and just get down to the meat of your post... which means my response will be short. We're not even a week into a rough patch in 2013. A decline? What's your genius idea for replacing Rafalski and Lidstrom? Sell the farm for Suter? I guess we've already forgotten about Smith who's played all of 8 games because of (gasp) an injury? You're an old timer, clearly, so that means that you understand that this game ebbs and flows. There are ups and downs, and there are some seasons where your team is better, some when it's growing. The team that is out there on the ice is growing and learning. After twenty-plus years in the playoffs, top-end draft picks have been a bit hard to come by... yet this team continues to be competitive. As a "true fan" I am proud of the effort most of these guys are leaving out on the ice. If being a true fan is hitting the ceiling every time the team loses three games then I'm fine off being a cheerleader. -Franklin Steele (or the guy that wrote that article)
Geez Edd. No one is praising them just sayin it's not time to start talking about a Lindy Ruff type change!! We end the year under .500 and then it's time to have some serious talks about major changes. It's not 85-86 just yet!
Best article ever! Could not have even tried to say it better myself. So glad I'm not the only one! Keep the well written articles coming. I enjoy reading them.
Hogwash! You're not a fan .. you are a cheerleader. Rah Rah .. no matter what happens on the ice. Keep cheering .. it will be alright. You are 25 years old .. oh .. so your lifetime Wings experience has been mostly good times! Rah Rah Rah! Watch what was once a championship Detroit Red Wings team decline and go 42 years without seeing the Stanley Cup and then see how your Rah Rah Rah holds up. True fans have the knowledge and the right to criticize when they see something going on that they do not like. A true fan will not turn a blind eye to lack of effort and poor team management just because it is "The Red Wings", Rah Rah Rah! It is a true fans responsibility to get involved and insist the team management, coaching and personnel are of high talent and give top effort. You just go ahead and keep cheering a losing team, accept whatever is out there .. keep smiling and Rah Rah Rah!
I think a lot of the fans are still bitter over the lockout, as we should be. There was once a time when I would never miss a game, I would cheer them on till the end, even when it seemed all hope was gone, but now.....well, I have yet to watch a game this season. The NHL and players turned their backs on their "bread and butter" all over the all mighty dollar. It's a shame that there are not as many players out there today that there once was, that have the passion for the game, the passion that is needed, to want to win, and not created by the drive enhanced by dollar signs.
Meh, let the bandwagon fans fall off. If someone doesn't understand that having 1/3 of the regular roster out every game is going to mess up the way a team plays, I don't have the patience to explain it.
The upside to all these injuries is that it's getting the prospects good playing time, plus once people start coming back from injury they'll be more rested than the rest of the league that's probably going to be taking injuries. And if people do get injured their replacements will know their place.
Behind you 100% .... The team needs some fan inspiration! Everyone does from time to time. They have given us fans a helluva ride for a LONNNNG time. Lets give something back to help them out!
DUDE, they've lost over 100 games to injury, what do you expect?? It's amazing that they've played this well so far.
@marti783 I've thought the same thing. They talk about how it's because we're an "old team," but it's rarely our "old" people getting hurt. Franzen, Mursak, Fil, Helm, etc. over the last few years aren't getting hurt because they're old.
I think if fil isn't producing or clearly that is if Frankenstein plays tomorrow to put eaves in and sit one or got play Tatar in place of clearly he hasn't produced the way we have seen him with helm if he got scratched maybe it will open his or fils eyes and start playing better hockey I mean fil can't even finish his checks along the boards they need to wake up I love the guys but their a team need to start playing like one take some pressure off dats and hank yes they played good against Nashville but need to be better sit Howard tomorrow and see what the monster can do its worth a try I would scratch clearly before fil just to get a win and go from there