Reporting Eric Thomas
By: Eric Thomas
Call me crazy, but I don’t think that a shootout victory over the worst team in hockey means they’ve answered their doubters. John Keating, in the post game, seemed to think that the Wings knocked off the 84 Edmonton Oilers.
For the first time since “Nevermind” came out, the Red Wings don’t look very good. The defense looks especially bad and even more guys got hurt. Bertuzzi doesn’t have mono and that’s where the good news ends.
I suggested the Red Wings were on the downslide when I was on Saturday night. You would have thought I called someone’s mother ugly. One call went like this (slight fictionalization):
“Dude! What’s wrong with you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You think the Red Wings are going to suck this year?”
“Well, YOU’RE an idiot!” [sic]… (Believe me, that’s how he would have spelled it.)
“Because it’s the Red Wings.”
“Lidstrom and Holmström retired. Brad Stuart left. The defense has been devastated and questions persist about Jimmy Howard.”
“Dude. It’s the Red Wings.”
“I understand but why aren’t you worried?”
“Because it’s the RED WINGS.”
(Again, it’s approximated)
Some fans seem to think that the team hit the jack pot in naming the team, while others walked into this season a little concerned. The fans seeking more substance than the sobriquet might have hoped Lidström would reconsider.
The other fans wondered who retired when the lockout was over. They wonder if he was friends with Steve Yzerman. The Red Wings are always good. Always.
Look, I’m only slightly exaggerating and you know it before you bash me in the comments. The Wings have some fans that like them cuz they win. They will head for the exits if things get hairy this year. All signs point to hairiness this year.
What’s the problem? Here are the five reasons (that I’ve overheard) why the Wings are bad.
- Nick Lidstrom Retired - Lidstrom might go down as the most underrated player in Detroit history. His contribution will loom large the further we get away from his storied career. Stevie Y was legendary, but he was around for a decade before the cups started showing up. There is a very good chance that this will be known as the ‘Lidstrom Era’ and most fans in Detroit still say his name wrong.
- They’ve been sitting on cap room – The NHL changed. Owners want to spend money on talent and the Wings have got to compete. This means you are going to have to put that money on the masthead. Have teams overspent? Yes, they have. Was the last free agent period an anomaly because it ran into the lockout? Of course, but fans have to sit through this season because they twiddled their thumbs.
- Loyalty / Stubbornness / Hubris – I stuffed all three under the same awning because they all fall on Ken Holland. Fans are getting restless. Wings front office has been above reproach since I was in high school, but the GM seemed content to let the team grow old. There doesn’t seem to have been a plan in place or the sense of urgency to create one.
- Jimmy Howard isn’t very good – Look, these aren’t my theories, but Howard has looked bad in playoffs past. It’s not always fair. Last year Howard looked fine, but he looked porous next to Pekka Rinne. Many fans want to see someone else play goal. Then again, many fans always want that.
- Mike Babcock is a draconian task master – Not my opinion. I like Mike Babcock. There is a rumor out there that the good veterans don’t want to operate under an authoritarian like Babcock so they skate by the Wings when they’re available. If this season takes a nose dive, maybe some fans might