The Red Wings have been through a lot over the last 10 years and more specifically, this past year having lost beloved owner Mike Ilitch, Joe Louis Arena, the playoff streak, and most recently the title to the last team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. The Wings are now closing in on a decade since they have won the cup at all. It is kind of a hard slap of reality to the younger Wings fans who grew up during the playoff streak and seeing them win championships.
Pretty much everyone remembers where they were when the horn went off signaling the end of game 6 with the Red Wings defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 and making Detroit Stanley Cup champions. It was a surreal feeling knowing that the cup was coming back to Detroit for the 4th time in 10 years.
Between 1997 and 2008, the Red Wings won 4 Stanley Cups. That goes to show just how good the Wings were during that 10-year span. The 2008 team really signaled the beginning of the end of the Red Wings dominance in hockey. Sure, they made the finals in 2009, but they could not finish the repeat. While the Wings continued to make the playoffs after 2009, they were never truly competitors after that point.
A lot has changed over the last 10 years since the Red Wings won the Cup and one of the biggest factors between then and now is the leadership on the team. In 2008, the Wings had players like captain Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, Niklas Kronwall, Chris Osgood, Dominik Hasek, Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg leading the team. Today the only true leader the team has is Zetterberg. While Kronwall is still playing, he is not anywhere near the leader he once was.
Younger players are going to have to step up and be leaders if the Red Wings are to be successful this season. A couple weeks ago, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said that he is “100 percent confident of a playoff return”. For this to happen, players like Dylan Larkin, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, etc. will have to be able to prove they are ready for bigger roles on the team. Larkin, for example, as he enters his third year in the league has to show that he can play all 82 games at a consistent level and not slow down like he did last year. This is not a make or break season for Larkin, but it is important for him to start fast and be consistent throughout the entire season.
The Red Wings have been through a lot over the last 10 years, specifically this past year losing owner Mike Ilitch, Joe Louis Arena, the playoff streak, etc. They no longer have players such as Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Chelios, or Draper, but this current group of players certainly has what it takes to be winners. As long as young players step up and take on bigger roles, it is possible for the Red Wings to make the playoffs this year and who knows, if just might be the start a new playoff streak.