The Unlikely Comparison: The Detroit Red Wings & Real Madrid

Gregory Shamus

What do a soccer giant and a hockey giant have in common?

So you may be asking yourself, what do a 32 time winner of the La Liga and an 11 time winner of the Stanley Cup have in common? During their immense success, they have both been forced to overcome great adversity. While Madrid has overcome this stage of success and is now back on top, the Wings are currently at this juncture where they will have to continue their championship form or they will collapse into a decade of fear, sorrow, and distress.

In order to fully comprehend what I am trying to get across, one must look back to the 17th of December, 2008. Real Madrid was off to a disappointing start (in their terms) and wanted to bolster their squad in the upcoming transfer window. Due to some injuries in the midfield, Madrid chose to sign Lassana Diara from Portsmouth FC. Diara was a fairly new player in the big world of sports but he had seen some time with the French national squad and was regarded as an up and coming prospect by many.

For those of you who don't know, Real Madrid, along with teams like Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea and Bayern Munich, only sign the best of the best players. Due to this, many fans and journalists were bewildered by the fact that Madrid chose to bring in "Lass", as he is called, to fill in such a huge void on their midfield. One journalist said that it was the most non-Madrid like signing that he had ever seen in his time covering the team.

This is where we shift our attention from Spanish soccer back to hockey. Coming off last seasons disappointing playoff loss to the Nashville Predators, the Detroit Red Wings were sitting in an awkward position. Not only had they been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, but now two of their best defenseman were on the verge of leaving. Sure enough, Nicklas Lidstrom retired and Brad Stuart returned to San Jose. In order to fill the void created by the loss of the two defenseman and forward Jiri Hudler, Wings fans started scheming up ways in which the team would maybe be able to make a run after the top free agents, defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise.

After weeks of thinking, hoping and planning, July 1st rolled around and Wings fans were ecstatic. Early indications said that the Wings were one of the front runners for both players. However, by the time the sun set, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter remained unsigned while the Wings had brought in Jonas Gustavsson, Jordin Tootoo, and Mikael Samuelsson. As the days went on hope turned to dismay as Suter and Parise signed mega-deals with the Minnesota Wild. Months passed and as a lockout seemed like a legitimate possibility, the Detroit Red Wings still had not brought in a defenseman to fill the huge voids left by Lidstrom and Stuart. 3 days before the NHL locked out their players, the Wings signed former Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo.

So, what is the point of all of this? To fully understand what I am trying to get across one must take a look at the current Real Madrid team. A team that includes stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, and Karim Benzema, all of whom have been brought in since 2009. Last season, Real Madrid won the La Liga for the first time in 4 years. This was huge, after years of mediocrity and watching Lionel Messi and Barcelona run away with the title, Real Madrid was finally back on top.

What I am hoping is that the current Wings team is like the '08-'09 Real Madrid squad, a team filled with average role-players and a team that played below its own expectations. If that is true and history were to repeat itself, then within the next few years the Wings would return to their championship winning form, just like Madrid has done.

As shown to us by Real Madrid, there is always new possibility, and hopefully this bump in the road will be just as brief for the Detroit Red Wings as it was for Madrid.

So, do you guys agree with me or am I totally barking up the wrong tree? Leave a comment and let me know!

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