Friday Night Number: 11

It's been more than a week since the Red Wings have been eliminated. In that time, the 2nd round has one series already wrapped up and another two with teams playing up against the ropes (that could change tonight if the Rangers can't find a way to beat Washington). I'm sitting here watching the NHL playoffs, listening to the Griffins game, and still trying to get over my disappointment in how the Red Wings' season ended. In my hockey fugue, I've got one number in my brain: 11

11 Cups, right? That's got to be it. The number the Red Wings have been stuck on since 2008. The highest number among all American hockey teams. I'm pissed they can't hit 12 this year, but that's not why I've got the number 11 on my mind. Nope.

11 is the number of playoff victories by the Detroit Red Wings since the end of Nick Lidstrom's hockey career. Three seasons, three playoff appearances, 16 wins in one year means one cup, and the Wings have 11 total. They've been to the 2nd round just once. Every year, their lack of playoff success can be traced to multiple factors. One of the consistent factors in those three years is how much worse the Red Wings' defensive corps has been since losing their #1 blueliner.

Hey if you're looking to feel better, those 11 wins has the Wings in eighth place for playoff victories over the last three seasons (although there are three teams below them still active in the playoffs, including Washington who could notch win #11 tonight). Just 24 more and we'd be in the league lead with Chicago!

Know who else has 11 wins in that time? This asshole


Ryan "whatever you say, Zach" Suter, the biggest free agent defenseman of the 2012 summer. The guy who leveraged all of his lockout-powering bargaining chips into a 13-year $98M contract, matching the exact $7,538,461 cap hit his buddy Zach "no-show" Parise. The Wings wanted him. The Wings needed him. The Wings had money to spend on him. What does the big guy do? He jerks around for a few days before settling in Minnesota of all places.

Here's the thing: the last few years have shown that Ryan Suter doesn't really deserve to be paid like a perennial Norris candidate. It's perfectly defensible to say that Ryan Suter is overpaid. But did Ryan Suter make Minnesota a better hockey team? You bet your ass he did. Ryan Suter made the Wild a good enough hockey team to collect 11 playoff wins in three years.

The team he spurned for the chance to be that disappointing? The Red Wings, a team that, with a desperate and glaring need for a defenseman like Suter has managed 11 playoff wins in three years without him. Would Ryan Suter have made the Red Wings a better hockey team? You bet your ass he would have.

Listen, I don't know exactly how differently things might have gone for Detroit if they had been able to sign Suter. Would they have had to lose a guy like Nyquist? Would they have been unable to sign DeKeyser? We may never know. What I do know is that Ryan Suter chose wrong when he chose the Wild, and he cost himself and the Red Wings playoff wins all because he wanted to play with his vanishing buddy Zach Parise, he with the very-fitting jersey number.

So I'll just sit here on a Friday night watching other teams compete for our Stanley Cup thinking about that number 11 and wondering when we'll get 16 for #12.

At least we're not Blues fans thinking about the number 6.