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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Neverending success?

Here’s one thing I’ve never understood. How does this “The Neverending Story” book thing work?

There has to be a last page, doesn’t there? If there isn’t, then it would be the neverending book store purchase because you’d still be hauling it out to your minivan.

I know they made a movie based on the book. Are the initial audience still seated in that theater thinking two things … “When will this movie end” and “Boy, I sure got my money’s worth.”

But German fantasy novels aren’t the order of business today. Hockey is.

And the Detroit Red Wings are about to forward their version of the neverending story, beginning Saturday night (8 p.m., Ch. 4 and Ch. 9) when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.

The Red Wings have become a neverending story of success, the extent of which even a German fantasy novelist could not imagine.

Here’s a quick tally of the franchise’s recent success, which seems to just add one to the plus side every year.

The Red Wings are gunning for their fifth Stanley Cup in the past 12 seasons. Forget that this is four years into a salary-cap era which has radically leveled the ice surface between franchises.

Remember how potent that those Red Wings of Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Terry Sawchuk were? The Red Wings of the 40s and 50s didn’t win five Stanley Cups in 12 years, it took them 13.

You have to go back 19 years – to the Edmonton Oilers of 1990 – to find a franchise celebrating its fifth Stanley Cup in 12 of fewer seasons. (The Oilers won five in seven.)

And while we’re at it, why don’t you ask Red Wings general manager Ken Holland if there is much different between the rules of today’s game and those of the 80s Oilers and listen to him laugh and then cry, longing for the days of uncapped salaries and rare free-agent movement.

Before the Oilers, the Montreal Canadiens won five Cups in fewer than 12 seasons, doing it with several permutations before running dry after 1993. But before that, you have to go back to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1951 to find a franchise that lifted the Stanley Cup for the fifth time in a dozen or fewer seasons.

Perhaps that’s why the NHL is starting this Cup final series with games on back-to-back days, conjuring up nostalgia by scheduling in a way that hasn’t been done since 1955. Perhaps the league and the television networks are hoping that weekend games bring higher ratings. Perhaps they’re all just plain stupid. Perhaps the league figures that the Red Wings need a handicap and these back-to-back games are like weight on their saddle.

For any of the above answer, the league should have announced why it slated games on back-to-back dates for the first time in 54 years. But it hasn’t.

That’s something to debate when this neverending story is finished.

For now, the story continues. The Red Wings have been in eight conference finals over the past 14 seasons, winning six of those eight.

The Red Wings have also won the Presidents’ Trophy six times in the past 14 seasons. Add to that tying Buffalo for the most points one season, but losing the Presidents’ tie-breaker and you’ve got a Red Wings franchise that has been at the top of the league standings half of the time over the past 14 seasons.

So even if the Red Wings don’t beat the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Cup … I didn’t just say that, did I? … it’s ok. (But for the record, I’ll pick the Red Wings in seven games.)

It’s ok because the Red Wings’ story doesn’t end. With so many key players already signed for the next few seasons, the Red Wings should continue to be the premier franchise in hockey and the dominant franchise in all of North American pro sports.

The Red Wings’ story will end some day, but not in the foreseeable future.

Which puts their story one up on this story.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Mac said...

This entry has a real "loser" tone to it.

May 29, 2009 at 7:51 PM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 29, 2009 at 9:46 PM 
Blogger Chris Moore said...

Great article.

May 29, 2009 at 9:53 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce,
I loved the blog's detail and as I read this, there are several thought's that help me understand and formulate the opinion that Bettman and the league have a deep seeded hatred for anything "WINGS".
We can argue the "why" forever, but
the league "Golden Child" should have it all and we (the league) will even slant refs, calls, caps, endorsements etc...and even schedule back to back SCF games to try to embarrass the wings and ensure that the "Golden Child" gets HIS cup...will the NHL in future years change the name of this beloved trophy to the "Crosby Cup"? (How sick is that thought...)
But here is why, I believe, the Wings will win this years Lord Stanley Cup...
The entire Red Wing Organization, is based on the premise that adversity is good and worthy of a work ethic that enables them to overcome it.
From the Ilitch family over to the guy who mops the floor, comes the bright light of human excellence as it permeates the soul of each individual in the organization...player or otherwise.
Thanks for letting me vent my displeasure of Buttman...but I truly believe he is not good for hockey in many ways, including growing the sport in smaller markets in the west and the south.
JCW

May 30, 2009 at 8:12 AM 

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