The Unflappable Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings are quite an amazing and unique organization, not just in the National Hockey League, but in terms of all professional sports teams. As of right now there are only three NHL teams that have a longer streak of consecutively making the playoffs than the Red Wings, and they all started in the late 60’s when there were far less teams to compete with. Detroit has made the playoffs for an incredible 24 straight seasons and are poised to make it 25 (knock wood). In this day and age that is a remarkable feat.

However, the Red Wings are in a dogfight for the last wild-card playoff position right now but that is mainly due to the Philadelphia Flyers going 7-2-1 in their last 10, while Detroit remained even at 5-5-0. Nevertheless, there is no denying that the Detroit Red Wings have the ability, experience, and drive to take them into the playoffs for a 25th straight time.

The Team Management
The greatest difference between the Detroit Red Wings and every other team in the NHL is they now have the ability and patience to see the future of their team. They have now been doing this for so long that they have complete control of their future rosters, as well as having a strong contending team in the present.

General manager Ken Holland has been an integral part of creating this 24 year old dynasty. He consistently gives his team the right tools to get to the playoffs year after year and yet still drafts quality players that are needed to keep his team vying for the Stanley Cup the future.
The way the entry draft worked in the past is: the lower the ranking in the previous season, the higher your position was to pick players. These rules have changed in the past few years but the sentiment is the same. However, with the management’s foresight, they have made some great picks late in the draft. For example:

     Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov - taken 53rd and 74th, respectively in the 1989 draft
     Bob Probert and Petr Klima - selected 46th and 86th, respectively, in the 1983 draft
     Petr Mrazek - selected in the 2010 draft, 141st overall

The Detroit Way
The Detroit Red Wings started a tradition 24 years ago that more teams should follow. They are keeping their younger players from their draft in the minor leagues for at least a year, usually more. This is exactly what all teams should be doing with their younger players, whether they are considered a ‘superstar’ or not.

By allowing these young players the time they need to gain experience and confidence in the minor leagues, the Detroit Red Wings have found a way to consistently win without the benefit of a ‘generational’ player.

If you take a moment to think about the draft lottery system and how it favours the lowest ranked teams at the end of the NHL season, Detroit’s organizational plan is quite mind-boggling! How do you make the playoffs every year for 24 years and still put together a Stanley Cup calibre team in each of those years without drafting a Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, or however many more number one picks the Edmonton Oilers need. The Detroit Red Wings have an amazing long-term game plan and the rest of the NHL should follow.