Let me preface this article by saying I am not saying it is impossible for the Red Wings to make the playoffs. I am also not advocating for a tank. Lately it has been impossible to say anything about the Wings not making the playoffs without it being conflated as “not believing in the team” or “wanting a tank”. Neither of those opinions are what this article is about.
No, this article is for all of those fans out there who are having trouble believing that the Red Wings won’t make the playoffs for the first time in 25 years. For many, myself included, the Red Wings making the playoffs has been as routine as the sun coming up, or Michigan roads having bad potholes, or that one crazy uncle of yours slipping irish whiskey into his coffee when he thought no one was looking (You’re not fooling anyone Uncle Rufus!). It was just another fact of life here in Detroit.
But here we are, snow on the ground a few days before Christmas, and the Red Wings are only 1 point out of last place in the Atlantic, with two games in hand on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Everyone knows the old saying: “In at Thanksgiving, in in April.” Well, we’re long past Thanksgiving. The Red wings weren’t in then, and they aren’t in now. According to Sportsclubstats.com, the Detroit Red Wings have a 3.6% chance of making the playoffs right now. I don’t know how reputable that site is, but judging from the eye test of what I’ve watched this season, that number sounds about right.
This season has been marked with injuries and bad play more so than any season I’ve ever watched. Its been agonizingly painful to watch at times. The Metropolitan Division is basically the Thunderdome right now, and they are crushing the Wildcard spots in the East. It’s looking like the only avenue into the playoffs is through 3rd place in the division. Hockey is a crazy sports with a lot of games, so again I am not saying that the Red Wings are definitely not making the playoffs, but it’s looking like they won’t.
It won’t be the worst thing in the world. There’s some exciting prospects in this draft, though maybe not at the level of Matthews, Laine, and McDavid the past couple years. (2018 is going to be great though, I would love to have both Svechnikovs). Whoever we get from missing will certainly be a higher pick than the Wings have had in a long, long time, and if you think watching Larkin and Mantha is fun what until we have someone who is a bonafide ‘elite’ player.
We’ve had a damn good run too. A quarter of a century is longer than I’ve been alive, hell, it’s longer than we’ve reliably had high speed internet, it’s longer than smartphones have been around, it’s older than HDTV which is already being replaced with 4k. There wasn’t even a trapezoid when we started making the playoffs. That’s something that we can all hold our heads high and look back on with fond memories. Remember the streak? they’ll say. 25 years, what a run. 4 Stanley Cups. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Yzerman. There’s too many legends to even count.
I’m not saying that you can’t get angry at the team for playing badly (Shit, I am), or root for the tank (though I don’t personally like the tanking argument), whatever you gotta do to get yourself through the valleys before the team reaches another peak. We all cope with bad teams in different ways. Personally, I’ve been asking my friends who are Lions fans what to do. They seem to be enjoying this reversal of fortunes. But whatever you gotta do, I think you should know that it’s time to start doing it.
The Red Wings are probably not going to make the playoffs. Might as well put yourself at peace with that fact right now.
Merry Christmas you all from those of us at The Wheelhouse.