Rebuilds are never easy on a fan base. It’s aggravating to watch a team that is realistically out of the playoffs before the season begins. The Red Wings have missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. Over the past two seasons, they have won 36 of 127 games. And Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman says it’s still going to take more time to transform this team into a contender.
But for some reason this rebuild doesn’t seem as painful as rebuilding efforts in other cities. For example, there is far less negativity in Detroit than there is in Buffalo.
Here are five reasons why Detroit’s rebuild has been more bearable than some others:
Fan base trusts Yzerman
Yzerman is one of the revered players in Red Wings history. He is The Captain, the man who transformed himself from offensive dynamo into playoff-style warrior and then from Hall of Fame player to respected management figure. There’s good reason to trust him. Most of the transactions he has completed since becoming general manager in 2019 have been wins for Detroit.
Yzerman is entertainingly unpredictable
It’s not intentional. But Yzerman creates a fun atmosphere for fans because you never know what rabbit he will pull out of his hat. Did anyone hear a word about the Anthony Mantha-for-Jakub Vrana and a first and second swap before it happened? He doesn’t draft the players pundits think he will draft. He ends up with better players. He becomes the third team in a three-team swap to get a draft pick. He lands a second round pick for taking Marc Staal’s contract. It’s never dull with Yzerman in charge.
Red Wings had a 25-year run
Detroit fans knew their playoff run wasn’t going to last forever. When a team makes the playoffs for 25 consecutive seasons and wins four Stanley Cups in six Stanley Cup Finals appearances, you expect a period of hard times will follow. Fans may not like this, but they knew it was coming
A town of draftniks
Nobody in Detroit used to care about the draft or prospects. Former Detroit general manager Ken Holland used to say that Detroit liked to keep prospects in the American League until “they are overripe.” The prevailing fan attitude was ‘”tell me about them when they are on the big club’s roster.”
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 2, 2021
Today, Detroit fans are all about the draft and prospect lists. YouTube videos featuring Red Wing prospects are shared among the faithful like they are spiritual revelations. Fans know plenty about Detroit prospects, particularly the potential stars like Moritz Seider or Lucas Raymond. They are concerned more about whether Joe Veleno projects to score as a No. 2 center and whether Michael Rasmussen will ever play in the top six than they care about today’s Red Wing scores.
Rebuilding is easier to tolerate when you have the knowledge to look into the future.
Ken and Mickey still in the booth
Even in hard times, there is joy in having the long-time television duo Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond in the broadcast booth. Redmond and his catchphrases are Detroit institutions. Mickey seems to becoming even more entertaining as he grows older. He seems more unfiltered, more apt to speak his mind. Even when the score is lopsided, it’s still worth hearing Ken’s and Mickey’s on-air banter.