Now that I finally had time to read Jgraham's last post and to write up this little response, I figured I'd post it here in a Fanpost and save you all the potential wall of text that it would be if I decided to make this a comment.I've been a Red Wings fan for a long portion of my life, and even if I had been born into it from my first day on earth, I still would not be old enough to have seen the Red Wings miss the playoffs. Considering that phenomenon hasn't happened in my life, I don't quite know exactly what I'd feel besides anger, frustration, and a fuck-it-all attitude, at least for a few days (or months).
I begrudgingly agree, however, that a time will come that this playoff streak will come to an end. Be it next year or some other time in the next decade, the Red Wings will miss the playoffs, hopefully for only a short while, and we can appreciate a trip to the postseason that much more after our hopefully brief absence.
I generally consider myself to be an optimistic person when it comes to sports and my favorite teams. Until the Red Wings are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, I refuse to think that they will miss, despite how likely it would be based on projections. So while I can see Jgraham's point about the kind of situation I'd rather see the Red Wings in if we did miss the playoffs, I still can't quite agree with ever being ok with missing the playoffs.
Think about the different kinds of teams. You have the Calgary Flames nightmare where the ceiling is only so high as maybe making the playoffs and possibly winning a round, but never anything more. If the Red Wings don't do anything to improve the current lineup (even after possibly adding Carlo Colaiacovo--I'm probably the only person who likes typing that name out), that's potentially the nightmare scenario this kind of lineup is headed for based on quality.
But what if the Red Wings do miss the playoffs?
Honestly, should that nightmare occur in real life, I think the situation we'll find ourselves in as fans would be supporting a team that fell off the wayside. It would be like if the team last season, the team that won 23 straight home games (should have been at least 24 if not for a terrible icing call--still bitter), missed the playoffs. On paper, it's a lock, but in reality, we're locked out of the Stanley Cup tournament.
I don't think Red Wings management is incompetent enough to bring in a slew of players past their prime, up to and including the trade deadline, and create a roster that won't at least make the playoffs, even if the age factor means they don't make any noise. Of course I'd be disappointed to see veterans past any semblance of being worth keeping around and projects that don't pan out, but I just don't think, with the trade deadline and the possibility to bolster up for a stretch run to make the playoffs or potentially correct early season poor streaks, the Red Wings would ever see that kind of situation.
Consider the opposite scenario: the Red Wings missed the playoffs, but they have a bunch of young kids playing who give us a glimpse of the future and what they could do with some experience under their belts. But what exactly leads to this scenario? I think of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the constant end-of-season runs they've gone on that made them think that next year will be a better year. But how does something like that happen? The team goes on a terrifyingly bad run and loses all hope of a playoff spot. That's not a team I want the Red Wings to become. Whether it's the players or the coach or the GM who swings a trade, while it's still possible, I want to be gunning for that playoff berth. I never want to see the Red Wings resign the season just to bring up a bunch of young talent so they can get experience. If the trade deadline passes, and there's no hope and the Red Wings are mathematically out by February or March, then I can cope with it then, maybe (it's not exactly easy to deal with missing the playoffs), but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Also within the youth concept, I think of the Edmonton Oilers who've been stockpiling youth and talent and are just waiting and hoping for it all to come together. They're the more recent and more talked about example, especially since they've had three straight first overall draft picks. But if the Red Wings ever do decide to go with a youth movement (or rebuild), then I would definitely prefer to go for a Los Angeles Kings model: have a GM with a vision (Dean Lombardi) and acquire players and assets to build around. Not just players like Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, but also acquiring picks like crazy to draft players and acquire needs in trades. Building up assets is the name of the game.
Of course, this also puts scouting on notice. Player projections are incredibly difficult to project, and acquiring impact players when the Red Wings never pick in the top 10 piles on even more challenges. But thinking of the Red Wings current situation, how much better would you feel if more than just Brendan Smith could step into the lineup and make an impact? Even more, think of how much better the situation on defense would be if another player had been projecting to be a solid top-4 coming into this season. Hopefully it's Ericsson or Kindl or both.
Whatever it takes, I sure as hell don't want to miss the playoffs.