It's a hard thing to imagine for die-hard Red Wings fans right now, in the midst of a six-game losing streak, that the Red Wings might actually maintain success in the future. But despite the recent slump, the Red Wings remain one of the better teams in the NHL. Since the early 90's, the Detroit Red Wings have risen from the ashes of the "Dead Wings" to become a powerhouse in the NHL and one of the most respected franchises in all of sports.
This streak of dominance has not been a fluke. Despite the ringing criticism of fans and hockey analysts calling the Wings "old" or "washed up" before this season, and now through a late-season slump, they continue to be playoff presence and a threat to win the Stanley Cup. But how is it that the Wings maintain this success while teams like the Blue Jackets and Islanders wallow in continuous mediocrity?
The management brass that the Red Wings have now are the same guys who have guided the Red Wings to four Stanley Cups, 20 straight postseason trips and unmatched regular-season success. By incorporating former players and hockey people into the longtime brain trust of Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Jimmy Devellano and Hakan Andersson, the Red Wings have created a sort of "Management Formula."
This formula has allowed the Wings to persevere through the loss of former Vice President of Operations Steve Yzerman, and transition longtime veterans like Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby into management positions. The management structure's ability to maintain a strong sense of continuity within the organization, while adapting to whatever problems they are confronted with, will help preserve the Red Wings winning ways well into the future.
It could very easily be argued that no team owner, regardless of sport, is more committed to winning than Mr. Ilitch. This fact was very obviously demonstrated by his blockbuster deal this winter with the Tigers, signing Prince Fielder to a historic contract.
With his age an ever-looming factor and the allure of a new downtown arena for the Red Wings in the not-so-distant-future, there is little reason to expect a change of heart. Beyond Mr. I there are many questions, but with Chris Ilitch already holding the title of CEO and President of Ilitch Holdings Inc., it is safe to expect that he is being groomed to take over as direct owner of the team when the sad day arrives.
This summer is one of huge importance to the future of the Red Wings on the ice. The possibility of mainstays Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom looms, and the potential to add All-Star caliber UFA’s Zach Parise or Ryan Suter offer some consolation should the aforementioned Red Wing greats call it a career.
But if Lidstrom can be coaxed into one more year with the team and Kenny Holland utilizes a massive amount of cap space, the team could be considered a Stanley Cup favorite going into next season.
For the first time in ages, the Red Wings boast a deep and talented farm system. Featuring top-ranked players like Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan, the Red Wings farm system is ranked 15th overall by Hockey’s Future.com.
The depth of the farm system acts both as a reservoir for management to tap when they need to infuse talent, and a resource from which they can trade young assets to address current needs if necessary.