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Editorial: Will the Real Detroit Red Wings Please Stand Up?

January 29th, 2014 at 5:02 PM
By Frank Vajcner

(DISCLAIMER: Views expressed in this editorial are solely those of the editor).

The Red Wings have played 53 games this season, and to say that it has been an agitating season would be an understatement.

I have followed this team since the 1996-97 season, and I have gotten used to seeing them be successful on a consistent basis. These last two seasons have not been good for some fans' blood pressure as they have come close to flirting with disaster and missing the playoffs.

The thought has lingered around in the back of my mind since last season that the Red Wings could wind up playing golf after the regular season.

This year, it has been the most prevalent.

I understand that there have been injuries, but that can NOT be used as an excuse should the 22 year streak of playoff appearances come to an end. There have been more than enough teams who have made it in with big name players out with injuries.

An example is the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011. That was a team that had lost Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to season ending injuries, but still made the playoffs as a fourth seed.

The Lightning have battled plenty of injuries, especially one to Steven Stamkos, but they still sit in second in the Atlantic Division.

So why can't the Red Wings roll along the same way? This is a team that recently beat the Blackhawks and Canadiens without Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, but they then lose to the Florida Panthers and get blasted by the Philadelphia Flyers.

So what is up with the team?

Some fans blame Mike Babcock, but is he really to blame?

Babcock is coaching Team Canada for the upcoming Olympics, which he also did in 2010 and led them to a Gold Medal. And coaches can't score goals or prevent the other team from scoring.

Some wonder if players are getting tired of Babcock. Rifts between coaches and players are usually brought to light quickly via social media. So far, there doesn't appear to be any locker room issues.

There are even those who blame Ken Holland for getting too conservative as a general manager. This is where I think the blame lies.

Holland has had a reputation as being one of the best at landing big name players via free agency or trade. That hasn't been the case in recent years, as Holland has used the "I like this team" schtick way too much. And there have been a lot of questionable signings (see: Daniel Cleary).

With the trade deadline getting closer and closer, the ball is in Holland's court if he believes that this is a playoff team.

With Datsyuk, Franzen, and even Henrik Zetterberg out indefinitely, something is going to have to be done. However, it's highly likely that Holland will do nothing.

The next few games leading up to the Olympic break are critical. If the Wings do well, it probably means no moves will be made. If they go ka-put in all the games, it's more likely that a move gets made.

However, the real verdict as to what will happen with the team will be determined by how the team does after the deadline and whether they make the playoffs. Then at that point we all should get a better idea if Holland will shake the tree.

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, Ken Holland, Mike Babcock, NHL

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