DETROIT (WWJ) — Anyone on the outside looking in would think that 25 straight years of playoff hockey for one organization would be celebrated by the entire fanbase.
However, many unhappy Detroit Red Wings fans believe the team only has its sights set on keeping that postseason streak alive, instead of setting higher goals — a Stanley Cup championship.
Winning a championship every season is something that general manager Ken Holland says fans should not be holding their breath for, despite the team’s history of success.
“I think if you expect Cups, you’re in the wrong league,” Holland told the media at Joe Louis Arena on Monday. “I think the salary cap in 2005 changed the game…there’s 30 teams competing for the Stanley Cup now, so the times have changed.”
Some have been calling for a complete overhaul after the team lost in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season since moving to the Eastern Conference in 2013. Holland insisted that the Red Wings will not be going through a “rebuild” anytime soon — as long as he’s in charge.
“I’m not into a rebuild,” Holland said. “As I looked around the National Hockey League, there’s teams last night playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that hadn’t won a playoff series in 20 and 23 years — it’s a hard league.”
Even with a uneven lineup that’s speckled with aging veterans, free agent duds and talented — but raw — youngsters, the roster might not be getting the turnover that some fans have been clamoring for lately.
“Rebuilds take eight to 10 years, in my opinion, and that’s if you want to tank it and you want to go through a massive rebuild,” Holland said. “I don’t think anyone wants to go through a massive rebuild, so I think that we’ve got to try to marginally get better, maybe change the look of our team a little bit and we’ve got to try to find a way to make the playoffs and give ourselves another opportunity.”
Intentionally missing the playoffs or selling off players to other teams is not something that Holland and the Red Wings are prepared to do.
“When you look at these teams that you might think are the best teams in the National Hockey League, some of these teams made the playoffs maybe once in 10 years before they went into this run,” Holland said, “or they missed the playoffs five straight years.
“I’m not doing that,” Holland said.
Although Holland hasn’t made a high-profile trade in many years, he insisted that free agency isn’t the way to build a winning team.
“We’re going to explore free agency like we’ve done,” Holland said. “Those players that are out there on July 1 — for the most part — are support players, secondary players, they’re not players that carry franchises around.”
The Wings have four pending unrestricted free agents this summer — Kyle Quincey, Brad Richards, Darren Helm and Drew Miller — and the team will also most likely have to replace Pavel Datsyuk, who Holland said is not expected back next season.
“I guess I would probably expect news that he’s not coming back. I’m going to give him all of the time that he needs,” Holland said.
Holland’s plan, it would seem, is to build the team back up through the draft and the trade market.
“I’m going to be more aggressive going to the draft this year and exploring trades,” Holland said. “There are no quick fixes. There’s nobody on the planet that’s going to come in and start waving magic wands.”