Behind Detroit's dual decade dynasty

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There are plenty of ways to build a great sports dynasty. Some teams simply buy the best talent with their impossibly deep pockets; others luck out by losing their way to a host of No. 1 draft picks or absurdly one-sided trades. But few teams have done it just about every way imaginable like the Detroit Red Wings, a franchise that has dominated hockey for close to 20 years now.

Leagues are designed to strengthen the weak and paralyze those who seem too powerful, but the Red Wings have been so far ahead of the curve that it didn’t matter. Smart teams tend to unearth gems and no hockey club has done more with sixth round draft picks (two nobodies like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk) than Detroit.

Their almost unfair dominance really began in the ’90s when the Red Wings made major investments in European scouting. The team took a chance on Sergei Fedorov when a Russian even being able to play in the U.S. was far from a sure thing and went to comical (but necessary) lengths to keep players such as Nicklas Lidstrom a secret, as Michael Farber of SI wrote.

” … [Detroit scout Neil] Smith was afraid that Meehan would raise Lidstrom’s profile by talking him up to G.M.’s or parading him around the Twin Cities during draft week. Smith even stopped mentioning Lidstrom to other Wings staffers for fear someone might drop the name in conversation. “There was a blackout,” Holland says. “Neil told me about Lidstrom when he got back from Europe that January-we were best friends at the time-but he saw no need for anybody else in the organization to [scout him].”

The Red Wings would need to be great at finding gems, because they’ve never had the chance to stockpile quality draft picks. In fact, because of aggressive trading and a perennially strong finish, the Red Wings only had two first round draft picks from 1997-2004 (Jiri Fischer in ’98 and Niklas Kronwall in ’00). Then again, when you win 13 division titles, earn 6 Presidents’ Trophies, make it to 6 Stanley Cup finals and end up with 4 Cups since 1990, you’re probably not going to get good draft picks.

Bad picks couldn’t stop Detroit. The salary cap only highlighted their savvy. So, yes, maybe Detroit isn’t as dominant this season but I wouldn’t count them out just yet.

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    Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

    An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

    Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

    Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

    Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

    “It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

    Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

    People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.

    Video: Beagle’s perfect shot dogs Murray for early Caps lead

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    Matt Murray was just on another level in Game 3, giving the impression that the Washington Capitals would only beat him with perfect shots.

    Jay Beagle got that memo … and maybe added a little element of surprise on top of that.

    As you can see from the video above, Beagle beat Murray from an unexpected angle with a pretty resounding goal. It was one of those “Wait, did that just happen?”-type moments.

    The Capitals saw their lead go away moments before this post was completed, so it’s now 1-1.

    WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 4

    Washington Capitals T.J. Oshie (77) tries to slide the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) during the third period of Game 3 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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    The Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 3 thanks to Matt Murray‘s heroics, but now they must face the Washington Capitals without Kris Letang in Game 4.

    (And the Penguins were overwhelmed for much of that last contest with their best blueliner.)

    The Capitals, meanwhile, acknowledge the baggage – perceived or not – of the past as they try to tie this series.

    It should be a fascinating Game 4, and you can soak in all the drama and action on NBCSN and also stream it via the link below.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    To be young: Coyotes to hire 26-year-old as GM, give Tippett more say

    Arizona Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett watches his team play the Detroit Red Wings during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.  (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
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    It sounds like the Arizona Coyotes’ youth movement won’t merely be seen on the ice.

    ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the Coyotes will promote 26-year-old assistant GM John Chayka to GM. The team teased a major press conference for Thursday, when that news is likely to be made official.

    The presser could be useful for more than the usual quotes and mission statements, as the Coyotes seem like they may parallel the Toronto Maple Leafs in combining an experienced executive, a young up-and-coming thinker and a more empowered head coach.

    Dave Tippett is expected to have more of a say in personnel decisions while the Coyotes hope to bring in a Lou Lamoriello-type to assist Chayka, according to Custance.

    (Custance’s ESPN Insider article [subscription required] goes in much greater depth, including a comparison to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors rather than the Maple Leafs.)

    It’s possible that Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson might come in to help Chayka, although an earlier report suggests that Jackson might stay in Dallas.

    Multiple reporters including Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper back up Custance’s report.

    Considering Chayka’s age – he’s primed to become the youngest GM in NHL history – it’s no surprise that people are churning out jokes.

    (This post’s author comes with six more years of [life] experience and a resume stacked with impressive video game and fantasy hockey team-building, by the way.)