By: Eric Thomas

I love watching Red Wings fans act like they have been crawling through the sports desert, pleading for water. Please. Hockey season doesn’t start in Detroit until football is over. I don’t make the rules, I just know them. Also, the Pistons don’t exist until the Red Wings get knocked out of the playoffs.

An NHL season that starts mid January works just fine for me. It will serve as a bright and shiny distraction from the crowing UM fans that recently discovered they have a basketball team.

People excited to see the Red Wings come back may not have been paying the strictest attention. The Wings enter the most uncertainty in recent memory. Nick Lidstrom, the man whose name has been mispronounced by “die hard Wings fans” for well over a decade, retired. Whenever you hear how good the Wings were, that was all while he was here. Let’s not forget that the Red Wings had a 42 year Stanley drought before the Lidstrom era. Yzerman was around for over a decade before Nick showed up.

The size of this can’t be overstated. Yes, the Red Wings have Hank and Pavel, but those two have always had Nick. Let’s not forget that the team looked awful after Lidstrom got hurt last year. The team that lost all those games after the home winning streak? That’s your team this year. Minus Holmstrom.

Oh, and other owners are suddenly willing to spent a ton of money. The Minnesota Wild (seriously) landed two of the top free agents before the lockout. The trouble is that in the last few trading seasons, the Red Wings have sat on the sidelines being too choosy, waiting for Mr. Right. Now the winged wheel stands poised to be the crazy cat lady because they waited too long for the perfect suitor.

Oh, and there’s still those questions about Jimmy Howard. The Wings are still waiting for him to take the next step and he must now do that without the best defenseman in history. That doesn’t bode well.

It’s not all bad. The Wings have leaned on a core of players for many years and it’s time for them to shake loose and inject some fresh blood. They are a storied franchise and Holland has proven to be an adept GM. Perhaps when all is said and done, fans will appreciate his decision to sit on his hands for the past two years. It’s also possible that his intransigence will cost the team, as others lock down legitimate stars for their franchises.

It isn’t 2002 anymore. The Wings can’t simply buy another championship. The salary cap brought parity. Every not named the Blue Jackets or Islanders are getting better. The Wings need to keep up.

Then again, all of these suggestions could be wrong. The most foreign thing about the 2013 Red Wings season is we have no idea what this is going to look like. They were old the last few years, but they always managed to pull a rabbit out of their hat. They haven’t relied on draft picks and free agents. They have always been good, looking to be a little bit better.

Again, it’s all speculation until they get on the ice. It’s been so long since the last time we saw the Wings play; it will be nice to see the Joe at all.

Let’s hope that they still have a few more rabbits in that hat. Or Octopi. That works too.

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