Monday, January 4, 2010

A Season for Tomorrow?

Kris at Snipe, Snipe, Dangle, Dangle put up an awesome post yesterday (okay, several awesome posts, but I'm specifically talking about one of them) about the Wings' season so far and how it measures against fan expectations, and asked some amazing questions that really got me thinking. How should we feel about this season so far? Disappointed? Pleasantly surprised? Homicidal? Suicidal? Or should our brains have long since exploded in frustration?

Of course, the only reason for having this conversation is the injury bug. Without it, this season would have seen an entirely (or near enough to excuse the expression) different roster on the ice. I don't think many people would argue that with the roster we were all expecting, we wouldn't be clinging to the 9th position in the West by the skin of our toenails. We'd be looking back at the rest of the conference over our shoulders, that comfortable old smile of smug superiority plastered on our faces.

But here's my argument du jour: we still are superior. Let's examine the evidence, shall we?

We've spent the bulk of this season so far skating our frickin' farm team against the best teams in the NHL and we're one spot out of the playoffs. ONE SPOT. Take a moment to ponder that. I'll wait.

*crickets chirping*

I know it's been said before, but for God's sake, where would any other NHL team in our situation be at this point? The answer: Cellar city, sweetheart. Most teams would have thrown up their hands, written it off, and be waiting for next year. We're not even waiting for the next period. We're out there every night battling in the playoffs 4 months before the playoffs are ready to start (thanks, Chief, for pointing this out). Has it been pretty? Hell, no. But pretty can go faux itself. We're the girl with the "great personality" right now--not the belle of the ball, but damned if we won't entertain you better than a supermodel if you let us get a word in edgewise. And we're damned good in bed, too.

But to my mind, this here is the real kicker: We're skipping about 17 steps in preparing the next generation of Wings to kick ass and take names.

The Wings are never the young whippersnappers of the NHL. We prize experience and skill over youth and enthusiasm. Now I'm sure as heck not going to argue with that system, but it does tend to leave us icing more players who are closer to retirement than most other teams, so we take the risk of having more players retire at the end of any one season and leaving us with big holes to fill.

For most other teams, an exodus of experienced players brings about that dread creature, the "rebuilding year." I'd like to argue that this year is as close to a rebuilding year as the Red Wings are likely to get in a while, and we owe that to the injury bug. Instead of having this season in 5 years with a bunch of inexperienced players trying to pick up the slack left by retired stars, in 5 years, we'll have a squad packed with guys in their prime who've already paid the dues, learned the ropes, and can step right up into greatness. I call that a win. we might not like having to develop our players this fast, but I'll be damned if we're not going to benefit from it in the long run.

So how bout them apples?

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