The Detroit Red Wings have not only been successful as an organization making it to the Stanley Cup Finals 5 times (winning 4) in the past 13 years, but the hockey minds that have helped the Red Wing organization have helped the NHL, the World Championships, and the Olympics.
The most obvious way (and simplest) the Red Wings have influenced the NHL is by winning. If you win, and keep winning, other teams will look at what you’re doing because obviously it’s working. Mimicry is the best form of flattery. The Wings are now the team that all others measure themselves against. When the Edmonton Oilers beat the Wings it pumps them up and they start to think “we just beat a Stanley Cup winner…maybe we don’t suck after all”. Lets look at the ways the Wings are making the world a better place…
After Scotty Bowman led the Wings to 3 Stanley Cups he retired and worked in the front office as a special consultant. He influenced the acquisitions of many of the players that we have on the ice today, as well as some the Wings have in Grand Rapids. He left Detroit for Chicago in 2008 and when he arrived Chicago had posted several disappointing seasons making the playoffs only 1 time in 10 years. Look at where they are now! They made it to the Western Conference Finals last year (beaten by the Wings), they’re one game away from making the Western Conference Finals again, and stand a very reasonable chance of winning the cup. The acquisitions over the past few years (Toews, Kane, Niemi) have paid off ten fold and have turned the Blackhawks into a serious contender and one of Detroit’s toughest opponents in the Central Division.
I’m not saying Scotty turned that team around by himself, but I believe the experience he gained working with Detroit’s front office helped him bring more experience to the table than just his coaching experience. He was a successful coach long before Detroit hired him, but working in Detroit’s front office gave him a golden touch.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks have made the playoffs 12 out of their 17 years in existence. The Sharks could put up great regular season numbers, had high expectations for the playoffs, and then fell flat. Does this sound familiar Red Wings fans? They’re on their third head coach and have had countless player changes. In 2008, Todd McLellan and Jay Woodcroft defected from Detroit for sunny weather and coaching positions. The addition of Todd and Jay didn’t turn the team around, but they gave the Sharks enough oomph to finish first in the Western Conference and made the Conference Finals for only the second time in franchise history.
This is another team that will give Detroit a lot of trouble in years to come and are serious cup contenders.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Since winning the cup in 2004, the Lightning have steadily gone downhill. They haven’t made it out of the first round since winning the cup and have failed to make the playoffs for the last 3 years. The Lightning are in the market for a new GM and rumors seem to point to Steve Yzerman as being at the top of the short list. Stevie has worked in Detroit’s front office since his retirement in 2006 and is the Red Wings’ Vice President. He has been as influential in personnel decisions as Scotty Bowman was. Ken Holland isn’t stepping up to President anytime soon, so if Stevie wants to become a GM he’ll have to go somewhere else. If Stevie does make the move, my money is on Tampa Bay becoming cup contenders in 5 years.
Columbus Blue Jackets
I have no problem with helping the Eastern conference teams, but I don’t like helping the Western Conference, let alone the Central Division get better. That’s just like shooting yourself in the foot! The Blue Jackets have only made the playoffs once in franchise history and just can’t seem to get the right mix of talent and leadership. They made it to the playoffs last year only to get swept in the first round (by the Wings). The Blue Jackets are looking at Paul MacLean to take the head coaching position and are hoping he can light a fire in their hearts (or under their asses…whichever works). A new head coach may be just the thing the Blue Jackets need to turn that ship around. Look for some other big changes if Columbus wants to become serious cup contenders.
Even though Datsyuk and Ericsson are the only Wings going to the world championships this year, this doesn’t mean most of the team wasn’t invited. Most of the team was, but injuries have plagued a lot of Wings during the regular season and post season. The Swedes lost the most with Zetterberg, Franzen, Holmstrom, Lidstrom, and Kronwall (to name a few) turning down invitations. The skill and team ethic the players have developed over the years carries over from team to team.
For team Canada we could call the 2010 Winter Olympics Yzerman’s practice run as a GM. For Mike Babcock we could call it another opportunity to do what he does best…motivate. The outcomes…Canada won gold and the US won silver. Both guys had a lot of talent to pick from and you may think that with enough skill nothing else matters…to that I say watch Miracle and learn about how the US beat the Russians in 1980. We didn’t do it with the best players, we did it with the right ones…and a great coach.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em…the Red Wings have helped elevate the play of all other teams in one way or another.
Topics: Antti Niemi, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Grand Rapids, Henrik Zetterberg, Jay Woodcroft, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson, Jonathan Toews, Ken Holland, Mike Babcock, Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Patrick Kane, Paul MacLean, Pavel Datsyuk, San Jose Sharks, Scotty Bowman, Stanley Cup, Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay Lightning, Todd McLellan, Tomas Holmstrom