Dom Lunardo| Aug 24th, 2019
“Just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world. She took the midnight train going anywhere. Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit”. Scintillating set of lyrics that forms a direct correlation with the Red Wings and the die-hard sports fans in Detroit, Michigan.
After qualifying for the post-season for 25 consecutive seasons (1990-91 to 2016-17), a time frame which also included four Stanley Cups, the Red Wings have fallen on tough times recently. The phrase, “these aren’t your father’s Red Wings” can definitely be applied to one of the most historic franchises in the history of the sport. In recent memory, the Detroit Red Wings were easily regarded as one of the most well-run organizations from top to bottom, in all professional sports. But since the end of their reign, there’s been not only roster turnover but also a front-office shakeup as well.
Gone are the days of Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Mike Babcock, and even long-standing General Manager Ken Holland. Times are changing in Mo-town both on and off the ice as the roster begins to rebuild and move towards a different crop of players, led by none other than Michigan native, Dylan Larkin. In addition, the prodigal son, Steve Yzerman has made his way back home serving as the General Manager of his beloved Red Wings, the team that he captained for the better part of a decade.
This past summer saw the hiring of Steve Yzerman and the departure of Ken Holland who was hired for the Edmonton Oilers GM vacancy. Right from his introductory press conference, you could just tell the swagger, confidence, and poise that Stevie-Y had and how much he will relish the role (and challenge) of rebuilding the Red Wings back to hockey prominence. Right from the get-go he openly admitted that there’s lots of work to be done and that this process is going to take some time. In the meantime, there lies their stud centreman, a player who closely resembles Yzerman’s playing style, in Dylan Larkin.
Although he doesn’t wear the “C” (at least not yet), Larkin is coming off an impressive 32 goal season, and easily emerged as the undisputed leader of the Detroit Red Wings hockey club. In addition to Larkin, the team also boasts a good veteran presence with the likes of Darren Helm, Luke Glendening, Justin Abdelkader, Mike Green, Jimmy Howard, and Jonathan Ericsson, who have all been there, done that, to help the future of the roster moving forward with names like Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Michael Rasmussen, and Tyler Bertuzzi.
Team Summary: It is going to take some time, and there will be growing pains along the way, but there is no doubt that the Red Wings are moving in the right direction. They will be a fascinating team to watch over the next 18 months with regards to not only player development but also with the inevitable roster changes which will be forthcoming. Head Coach Jeff Blashill will be entering his fifth season behind the bench and will be looked at to rally this group moving forward as best he can. Veteran goaltender and long-serving Red Wing Jimmy Howard, will also be relied upon to provide a stable and consistent presence between the pipes when the season kicks off in October.
Prediction: With new General Manager Steve Yzerman overseeing all hockey matters, the 2019/20 season will be one where patience is preached from top to bottom. Realistically speaking, it will probably be another year or two before we can consider the Red Wings as a “bubble” playoff team given the competitive nature of the Atlantic Division, and Eastern Conference as a whole. But with the emergence of F Dylan Larkin as a bonafide superstar and a promising crop of youngsters coming through the ranks with the likes of Seider, Rasmussen, Mantha, Zadina, and Veleno, Red Wings fans have an exciting future ahead of them.
Check out our other 2019-2020 NHL Team Previews:
Colorado Avalanche|Florida Panthers|Dallas Stars|Arizona Coyotes|New Jersey Devils|San Jose Sharks|Buffalo Sabres|Los Angeles Kings|Vancouver Canucks|Winnipeg Jets|Carolina Hurricanes|Boston Bruins|Ottawa Senators|New York Islanders|Minnesota Wild|Vegas Golden Knights
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images