Detroit Red Wings Fans, Get Your Towels and Prepare To Throw Them

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IDecember 11, 2009

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 5: Chris Osgood #30 and Jonathan Ericsson #52 of the Detroit Red Wings have a word during a break in the game action in the second period against the New Jersey Devils on December 5, 2009 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Perhaps it's a fine line, but I believe there's a difference between giving up and simply accepting defeat.

Many people confuse being a winner, with never losing.

This is far from true.  Winners lose all the time, but never do so without a fight.

However, there are times when no amount of fight, confidence or belief can overcome the overwhelming odds staring you in the face.

Those odds, are not only staring but laughing and spitting in the face of the Detroit Red Wings.

Beginning with the solid thump the organization heard when it bumped its collective head against the salary cap this summer, the Detroit Red Wings have been hit with one misfortune after another this season.

Let's review.

Sloppy play and/or off-ice distractions saw the Wings give up leads in back to back games in Sweden to open the season 0-2. Their worst start in 20 years.

They played solidly against the frighteningly good Chicago Blackhawks upon their return to the states. This was also the last game Detroit's lone power forward, Johan Franzen, has played this season.

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Optimistic estimates have Franzen coming back sometime in February after the Olympic break, which will see Detroit's best players accumulate additional wear and tear before returning to an already grueling regular season in the NHL.

The Red Wings managed to play .500 hockey for the opening month of the season.

They had designs on turning in a better effort in November, but not before losing second-line center Valtterri Filppula to a broken wrist. 

Again, optimistically, we might see him back early next year.

Filppula's line-mate, Jason Williams, while not exactly a scoring machine looked good for most of the season.  He could have helped to make up for the loss of offense.

Well, that was until he broke his leg in Toronto.  Which was perhaps both insult and injury as Detroit lost to the worst team in the league 5-1.

Shortly after this, Detroit did something they hadn't done in 32 years: fail to score in back to back games.

At this point, they realized defense was their only hope for winning games consistently.

Which of course meant that defender Nicklas Kronwall was done playing hockey in 2009 as he was sidelined by a knee on knee hit by Montreal forward Georges Laraque.

All the while, the Red Wings were doing their best to win with hot and cold running goal tending between their pipes. 

Chris Osgood, while not deserving of the whipping boy status he has enjoyed during most of his career in Detroit, certainly hasn't inspired confidence with any regularity.

Jimmy Howard has looked the better of the two, but what good is allowing only one goal when the team in front of you can't put one past the guy at the other end?

And let's not forget the surprise opponents in black and white.

Detroit's offensive woes have been made even more difficult as NHL refs have inexplicably robbed the Red Wings of no less than three goals this season.

All at home.  All critical to the game's outcome.

While needing their best players to be just that, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk have looked like (very) mere mortals the entire season.

Now, the Red Wings will be without Dan Cleary (who, of course, was just starting to get hot) for up to six weeks with a separated shoulder.

Finally, Detroit has settled into a habitual pattern of beating itself more often than its opponents do.

Giveaways, sloppy play, uncoordinated attacks and just plain old lack of confidence have become hallmarks of the Detroit Red Wings' game this season.

They've been shutout three times so far this season and we haven't seen Christmas yet.

This is already more than the past two seasons combined. Simply put, this just isn't the Red Wings' year.

Continuing at their current pace will put their point total for the 2009-10 season somewhere around the mid-80 mark.

Last year's eighth place Western Conference team had 92 points.

Don't get me wrong here.

I am a Red Wing fan through and through and will continue to watch my team play, win or lose.

But, the ridiculously long run of overwhelming excellence Detroit began in the mid-90's is over.

Truly, honestly, over.

That said, we as Detroit Red Wings fans have little to complain about.

There are fans of other teams in the league that would kill to have their team win one Stanley Cup in a twenty-year span.

Our's one four in almost half that time.

Surrendering the fantasy that the Red Wings' season is going to suddenly turn around is not turning one's back on the team.

It is simply accepting reality.

Be it injuries, NHL officiating, dominating opponents or their own shoddy play, the Red Wings have and will continue to face too many obstacles to realistically expect a mid-season turn around.

Honestly, this is something we should all try to embrace, the way so many other NHL fans have.

When you no longer have expectations, any positives, be they a nice goal, a key save or even the rare win are something to be enjoyed.

These are things Red Wings fans have taken for granted for nearly two decades.

Though the season hasn't even reached the halfway point, the sooner we accept the inevitable and look forward to next season, the happier we'll be.

We've had a hell of a run.

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