Red Wings: Colorado’s Success Should Give Detroit Hope

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During my teenage years rooting for the Red Wings, few teams stoked the flame of hatred within my young heart like the Colorado Avalanche. The intense rivalry spanned my high school years and forever cemented my distaste of the organization. Yet the teenage version of myself would be horrified of what I write next:

The Avalanche provide hope for Red Wings fans. Yep. The same organization that gave fans Claude Lemieux, Patrick Roy, and Mike Ricci now give a glimmer of light to a fanbase trapped in the rebuild tunnel of darkness. Colorado, who hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 2001, look pretty darn ready to put that drought to rest.

Their rise to dominance again should give fans hope–because some of it parallels the Red Wings current situation.

Some Parallels with Colorado

Detroit dispatched Colorado in four unbelievably dominant games, continuing on to a Stanley Cup during that 2008 playoff run. Colorado descended into an on-again/off-again performance that saw some lean years followed by some solid years from 2009-2016. Then, it all hit rock bottom in 2017. Think Red Wings rock bottom in 2019-20.

True, the Avalanche had already drafted Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, three players who were supposed to be the foundation of the future. But MacKinnon and Landeskog, after the tumultuous 2016-17 season, were seen as possibly never reaching their potential and being dealt away. Head coach Jared Bednar was seen as a colossal failure, in spite of his success at the AHL level.

And to add insult to injury, Colorado was bumped from first to fourth for the draft lottery in 2017. They’d have to settle on a guy named Cale Makar. Four years later, they’re beating teams to a pulp in the playoffs, already off to a 5-0 start in a league that is supposed to be as even as even can be.

The Red Wings Still Need Time

Despite the parallels, the situation is a bit different. Detroit doesn’t have a talent comparable to MacKinnon, Rantanen or Landeskog, which is no disrespect to Dylan Larkin. Much has been written and talked about regarding Larkin’s regression this season. Many were openly disappointed with head coach Jeff Blashill being retained. Don’t get Wings fans started on the draft.

The Red Wings lack the firepower the Avalanche had during their down year of 2017. They’re a bit behind in terms of having that roster just needs some better players around it to take that next leap.

But the way they’re being built by Steve Yzerman mirrors that of how Joe Sakic put the Avs together.

Smart Trades.

Hitting more than missing in the draft.

Patience.

Ken Holland started the momentum with what is appearing to be a strong 2018 draft. Yzerman has continued with his drafting, and trades. Now it shifts to a waiting game–to see what pans out and what more needs to be added.

If the payoff is even remotely close to what Colorado has done in its first five games this offseason, then it will be well worth it–especially if it comes with a Stanley Cup at the end.

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