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Red Wings Have Only Themselves to Blame for Record, Not Cap or Roster

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IOctober 27, 2009

DENVER - OCTOBER 24:  Darren Helm #43 of the Detroit Red Wings as Pavel Datsyuk #13, Nicklas Lidstrom #5 and goalie Jimmy Howard #35 follow the play against the Colorado Avalanche during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on October 24, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Red Wings 3-1.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Individuals who go through most of their lives succeeding at school, sports, work, etc., often have a hard time when first faced with adversity.

They've become so used to things going well for them that when trouble does come, they have difficulty even identifying why it's happening, let alone what to do about it.

That's kind of what's going on with the Detroit Red Wings right now.

Off to their worst start in 20 years, fans and management alike are starting to crank out excuses (or reasons, depending on your point of view) for the difficulty they've had to this point.

Just this past Friday, Jimmy Devellano, Senior Vice President for the Red Wings, was on the Fan 590 radio station in Toronto and said that due to players such as Marian Hossa and Jiri Hudler leaving and the salary cap, fans should lower their expectations of the team.

Really?

The cap and losing Marian Hossa are the reasons for the 3-4-2 record?

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I have tremendous respect for Jimmy D and fully acknowledge that he has forgotten more about running a hockey team than I will ever know, but I think he's out of his tree.

Let's review.

The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008.

Among the key contributors to that win were Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Brian Rafalski, Johan Franzen, Chris Osgood, and Conn Smythe winner Henrik Zetterberg.

With the exception of Osgood and Lidstrom, all of these players are signed long-term with the Wings.

With the exception of Franzen, who is out for the majority of the season with a torn ACL, these players are all currently in the lineup.

The core, and most of the supporting cast, of Detroit's championship team from two years ago remains the core of the 2009-10 team.

Now, the Hossa issue.

Hossa was a very valuable piece of Detroit's team last year and fit the team like a glove.

We didn't need him.

Hossa was an indulgence, a luxury item the team could only afford for one year.

Hossa didn't help the team win the Stanley Cup in 2008 and obviously didn't do much to help them win in the playoffs in 2009.

Hossa allowed the Red Wings to win regular season games 6-5.

Now, if that is the recipe for success that the team now says can't be made because a key ingredient is missing, Detroit has more problems than the salary cap and roster losses.

Don't get me wrong—I would have loved if they could have found a way to keep Hossa, but the decision to sign Franzen and Zetterberg to lifer contracts during the regular season was the right one.

These two players gave Detroit a championship and have the ability to give them another.

Aside from Hossa, the losses of Jiri Hudler, Mikael Samuelsson, and Ty Conklin were also large, as a significant amount of secondary scoring and a very solid backup goaltender are tough things to replace.

However, the signing of Jason Williams and Todd Bertuzzi, while not a strict one-to-one substitution, were decent moves that were probably the best options Detroit had over the summer.

Enough with history; let's get to their current record.

So, according to Jimmy D, the Wings' six losses (four in regulation, two in OT/SO) are due to the team's lack of talent and inability to score.

Is that why they've surrendered three two-goal leads and two one-goal leads on route to a loss?

The Wings have proved, with this very group of core players, that they are capable of winning games 3-2 as often as they can win them 6-5.

However, to this point in the season, the Wings haven't been able to do either, and they have only themselves to blame for this.

When you consistently give the puck away in the neutral zone, elect to pass rather than skate it out of your own zone, and make cutesy drop passes rather than rim it around the boards when you have the puck behind your own net, you're going to lose games.

A coach once hammered this phrase into my head: "The basics are forever new."

In hockey, this means don't pass it out when you can skate it out, don't make blind passes in your own zone, and for God's sake, don't stop skating and competing for the puck when you've got the lead.

These are the things that are to blame for their record—not the cap, and not the roster.

The Red Wings are still an amazingly talented team, packed with winners.

If Jimmy D considers this a losing roster, then perhaps it is time to put his amazingly successful career to bed.

This roster, properly prepared and adequately dedicated to the fundamentals, could easily be at 7-2.

However, given Devellano's comments, it seems as though this team might be feeling a little sorry for itself and jumping too quickly into the "salary cap victim" role.

This team can win, and win often.

They've just got to decide when they want to start dedicating themselves to doing just that.

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