The Detroit Red Wings’ impressive 25-year playoff streak is officially over. The team’s quarter-century chase of Lord Stanley’s cherished prize has ceased. Every die-hard Wing’s fan, myself included, could rightfully pen a heartfelt 1,000-word eulogy on the subject. Those same die-hard fans could just as easily propose a 2,000-word theses on the Red Wings need to rebuild and restore the team to greatness.
Now that the streak is finally over in Detroit, it appears that the Red Wings’ brass have swallowed the bitter pill and admitted that the rebuild in Hockeytown is on.
Jimmy Devellano, senior vice-president of the Wings, conceded to MLive on Wednesday morning:
"For some time now, some people have been bugging us to rebuild," Devellano said. "Kenny Holland and I together, as long as we thought we could keep the streak going, make the playoffs, we were going to continue to do that. We just felt we owed it to a lot of people to try to be in the top half of the league. But the truth of the matter is it finally bit us in the (rear) this year.
"The rebuild is on. You saw the first part of that at the (trade) deadline when Kenny wheeled four players for draft picks (the Red Wings have 11 selections in the 2017 draft and nine in 2018).
Bit in the (rear) indeed. You can’t blame Ken Holland and Devellano for trying to maintain the prideful streak in Detroit over the last several seasons while ignoring all the ‘rebuild’ chants, well, maybe you actually can. Ultimately, putting all of the Wings’ woes aside, it’s good to hear that the boys upstairs are admitting it’s time to make some changes.
But what can Ken Holland accomplish heading into the final year of his general manager contract? With the Las Vegas expansion draft coupled with 11 draft picks (including a probable top 10 pick), the answer is quite a lot. One successful offseason isn’t going to immediately remedy Detroit’s numerous problems, but it could prove to be a good step in the much-needed right direction.
The fact of not appearing in the playoffs may come as a devastating blow to some of the Red Wings’ younger generation of fans, and understandably so. To many seasoned, weathered, and sometimes cynical Detroit fans like myself, seeing the streak end makes the fire to return to the glory days of Hockeytown burn even hotter.
It won’t be an easy or quick fix in Detroit. There’s no Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews for the Red Wings to acquire this year in the draft. All of the bad contracts aren’t going to disappear. It’s going to take some time, patience, and a whole lot of Mickey Redmond’s ginger-ales for Wings fans in Detroit, and all around the world. Cherish the streak and buckle up for the future.