The Detroit Red Wings have certainly gone through the vicious growing pains of a rebuild, where there have been moments where it feels like it might never end.
But it could be worse.
The Buffalo Sabres showed Ralph Krueger the door after its 12th consecutive loss. It’s another in a long line of coaches who haven’t been able to turn things around, and makes what is a very passionate and knowledgeable fanbase wonder if they’ll ever climb out of the seventh circle of hell.
The talent seems there. They got the right bounces in the lottery to grab Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin. But the finished product has yet to bloom into the next level, which has caused damage to the organization at levels that many have written about at length and has to be corrected before it really gets bad.
A Cautionary Tale for the Red Wings
Ken Holland couldn’t stomach a rebuild and tried to avoid it at all costs. We know the end result, but there was valor in his argument–once you go down that rebuild road it might be even more laborious to find your way out. There are more than enough examples to the opposite, but there’s still wisdom in his words.
Fortunately for Detroit, the Hockeygods brought Steve Yzerman back, someone who understands the culture, built a team into a contender (and eventual champion), and has the patience for the rebuild. (This isn’t a knock on Holland–some managers have different thresholds than others). As the rebuild has worn on, so too have the moments of doubt. From Jeff Blashill’s philosophies to whether or not the NHL has it out for the organization during the draft lottery, the fan base’s snipes turn within as the losing mounts. Meanwhile, it’s a crapshoot just as to how long it will take to escape the doldrums of the rebuild and into winning again.
Buffalo is Exhibit A. It’s been 10 seasons (and counting) since they’ve made a playoff appearance and they’re now cycling through another new staff. The lack of continuity has hurt them along with a culture of losing has suffocated their hope.
Holland is right there. But maybe the issue is they have yet to find that right voice, the one that finally helps them turn the corner.
Red Wings Should Have a Better Outcome
Not to jinx it, but the Wings appear in a better position. The ownership situation is far more stable and Yzerman being at the top of the front office makes things even more capable. Though Blashill has been chided significantly, he’s doing more with less than Buffalo in the past three seasons. That might be a bitter pill to swallow for non-Blash fans, but it’s true. That doesn’t mean Yzerman won’t make changes–but there’s a case to be made that this team hasn’t given up and has looked better than last year.
I truly hope Buffalo figures it out. Their tortured fan base deserve better. But in the meantime, when Red Wings fans begin to lament the situation, it could always be worse.