Monday, June 02, 2008

Do this long-time Red Wings fan a favor - Do NOT take this team for granted!

I've been trying do come up with a post about the Red Wings chances of taking the Stanley Cup tonight. I don't want to come off as this game being fait accompli, as I'm sure the Penguins would have something to say about it. God forbid I jinx the the Wings.

So rather than talk about the game, I'm just going to say something to Wings fans. Enjoy this run of sustained excellence. Do NOT take this team for granted, as we often have a tendency to do.

I know many fans tend to believe the Red Wings' being one of the best teams in the NHL is a God given right. Many of you younger fans have never known the Red Wings to be anything other than a class organization where nothing short of the Stanley Cup is a serious disappointment.

I want to remind you it wasn't always that way.

As someone who's been around long enough to remember the "Darkness with Harkness" years of the 70's and the "The Dead Things" era which lasted well into the 80's, there was a time where even the thought of the Wings being considered a model franchise was sheer, unadulterated lunacy.

It wasn't all that long ago where any discussion of the Red Wings making the playoffs were laughable. The Wings? In the playoffs? Come on! Never gonna happen! The playoffs are for GOOD organizations. That wasn't the Red Wings.

The Wings were the red-headed step kid of Detroit sports for 15-20 years. A franchise that never made the correct decision, refused to spend money, made short-sighted trades destined for failure, where the playoffs weren't a certainty, but an extremely rare occurrence that was bound to end well short of a title.

Why else would you think Bill Lochead's goal clinching a first round playoff win in 1978, a goal that meant little in the NHL scheme of things, meant so much to this fanbase? For many of us, it was literally the only highlight of our collective misspent youth as fans of the Red Wings. The ONLY highlight.

We're living in a different era now. MUCH different. The Wings are the class of the NHL, and on the verge of winning their 4th cup in my lifetime, and 11th overall. If you had told me such a thing was possible even back back in the mid-80's, when Steve Yzerman's career was just taking off, I would have laughed in your face. It would have been unfathomable to someone accustomed to the Wings long being the NHL's laughingstock.

Hell, I would have been happy if the 1997 Stanley Cup was the only one the Wings won. But on the verge of winning 4 championships in 11 seasons? Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined such a thing was possible, let alone expected.

With the Wing on the cusp of the cup, try to remember this may never happen again. Do not treat a Stanley Cup run like it's an ordinary occurrence. Because it's NOT. It NEVER is...

All that's left to say about tonight is...


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