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Meet the New WIIM Crew: Josh (jpicks19)

As some of the other WIIM writers have done over the past couple of weeks, here is a quick background on me, Josh P (jpicks19), one of the latest additions to the WIIM team. Some of the articles I’ve written so far have included:

Predicting Red Wings 2016-2017 Lineup: Bottom-six Forwards

Red Wings Top 25 Under 25: Teemu Pulkkinen

Red Wings as Olympians

So where to begin; I guess with the fact that I was born and raised in London, Ontario and have lived here all of my life except for a few years away at school. The fan base here is fairly heavily weighted towards the Leafs, but there is a decent sized contingent of us that support the Red Wings, I never have to look far to find another Wings fan.

I have been a Wings fan since before I even fully understood what was going on with the team. I have an older cousin that I followed around a lot who was a Wings fan so I decided I was one too at about 5 years old, with some not so subtle assistance provided by my aunt and uncle sending me home to my parents after a weekend visit with a Red Wings hat and t-shirt. Luckily for me, this happened at just the right time, growing up mostly in the mid 90’s when “The Streak” was just in it’s infancy. Just as I started to track the team and learn the players, the team was forming it’s dynasty years. My first memories watching the team are probably from 1996 as a 7 year old, I can remember being upset when they lost to Colorado and a lot of people talking about the Lemieux-Draper incident. On the flip side, I remember my dad letting me stay up to watch the Wings win the Cup in ‘97 and being so incredibly excited about them winning, without having any concept of how long it had been for the fan base to see the team lift it. By the time they won again a year later in ‘98, I had already become about as die hard a fan as a 9 year old can, reading through stat books my parents had gotten me, memorizing stat lines for my favorite players. I can remember racing home from school the day after the ‘98 Cup win and setting up a shrine of sorts, of all my memorabilia and a sign reading “This one’s for you Vladdy”. I didn’t completely understand the results of his accident at the time, but I knew he must’ve loved playing as much as I did, and if this kept him from playing it had to be bad. Somewhere buried in the family albums, is a shot of my snaggle-toothed face smiling away that day. I remember going to my first Wings game with my dad in Buffalo. We sat about 10 rows from the ice and I was just in awe the entire time getting to see my heroes in person.

From there, I watched more and more games growing up, following every move the team made. Obviously, as a fan I had it pretty easy during that era, getting to watch Yzerman, Shanahan, Fedorov, Lidstrom and others carry the team to amazing heights. As I reached my teens, and that era came to a close I got to see them hand it off to the Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Lidstrom (yes, I’ve listed Lidstrom twice because he’s Lidstrom) leadership and the success continued. The longest gap I had witnessed between Cups was 6 years. The team was never even in danger of missing the playoffs, so really every season was just waiting in anticipation for April. Each year as the playoffs started, my teachers must’ve been aware because I would drag my sorry butt to class every morning after having to watch all those 10:30 starts with the Wings in the Western Conference. But it was certainly a glorious time to be a fan.

We then came to the current era of the team, one that is entirely new to me, with the team no longer being a guaranteed elite contender; but instead having plenty of holes in the armor and a worried fanbase. As we turned the page on the Lidstrom led team, it also came with a newfound ability to watch the team, for me at least. Growing up in Canada, not all Wings games were televised, in fact I could probably watch at best 20 regular season games each season, and instead had to rely on sports tickers and reading stat lines the next day. I discovered the world of online streaming services, and have been watching almost all of the games for the past 5 years or so. This happened to coincide with when the regular season, for better or worse, began to matter again to the team. Being the optimist that I am, I’d like to think this has only improved my fandom, having my heart skip a beat or sink in my chest knowing that each game could be the difference at the end of the year.

If you’re curious about my current views on the team, you can always ask, and I’m sure most of them will come out in any articles I write. But for a quick rundown, I think this team is in a state of flux. I think Kenny needs to pull the trigger on a large scale package for a legitimate anchor defenceman. This team’s scouting has always proven it can pluck depth talent throughout the draft, but as a result of it’s own success, it has not been able to grab elite talent, Dylan Larkin aside potentially. I think this team may have a surprising rebound year, I like what Blashill brings to the table. That being said, to see that success, I think management and the coaching staff need to give the youth a chance, starting immediately, as noted in my proposed bottom six lineup article above. I project this team to once again be fighting for a playoff berth, but I think they need to be fighting for it leaning more on the next generation rather than fighting for it exhausting what’s left of this generation. I will always tend to take an optimistic view on things, and this season could definitely test that optimism.

It was around 5 years ago, about the same time I started watching streamed games, that I became an avid follower of the WIIM site trying to quench my thirst for every piece of information on my team that I could. I’ve always appreciated the opinions presented here, that I can’t find in the mainstream media. I am excited now to be a part of that team and look forward to sharing this upcoming season with all of you. It is bound to be one hell of a ride, and for better or worse, I’m ready to get it started.