Are the Red Wings out of their window for success?


Wings.jpgChicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings
12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 7, 2010
Live on NBC

The Detroit Red Wings have been so good, for so
long, it’s downright scary. They last failed to win a division title in
1999, and have appeared in two straight Stanley Cup finals, and have
only lost in the first round of the playoffs once since 2003. They’ve
found a way to continue to rebuild through free agency, but more
importantly through the draft as they’ve remained competitive for well
over decade.

This season the Red Wings are going through something they haven’t suffered in a very long time: a fight for a playoff spot in March. Detroit started off the season in a hole, as a poor start put them towards the bottom of the conference standings and the team has been struggling to get out it since then.

It’s been a tough road and one has to wonder: If the Red Wings are able to sneak into the playoffs this season will they be able to continue to dominate like they’ve done in the past in the postseason? Perhaps the age and yes, experience, is finally catching up to Detroit. It’s a situation that the team has not faced in a very long time.

The Red Wings players are not getting any younger.

average age of the Detroit Red Wings is 30.5, with the youngest player
on the active roster 23-year old Darren Helm. Every other player is
older than 25 with eleven players over the age of 30. The Red Wings have
built their current team through the draft, with gems such as Pavel
Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg coming in the 6th and 7th rounds. Has the
increasing age of the Red Wings contributed to their struggles this
season, as they fight to maintain positioning just for a playoff spot?

it just a case of injuries?

The Red Wings have had a number
of devastating injuries to key players this season, contributing to a
poor start that has forced Detroit to try and crawl out of the basement
of the Western conference standings. Yet just as it seems as if they
were getting back on top and making a run, as in January, they stumble
and hit another bump in the road. Now that they are relatively healthy,
they sit in 8th place with a one point lead over Calgary and are just
four points ahead of 11th place Dallas. They may be getting stronger as
the season goes along, but how will this older — yet very experienced
— team fare in the playoffs against the younger and faster opponents.
Will their discipline and coaching carry them?

Have to rebuild
at some point.

Every successful team goes through ups and
downs from one season to the next; what made you successful one year
will not necessarily carry over to the next. Somehow, the Red Wings have
maintained a high level of competitiveness for nearly 14 years. Yet
there will come a point when they will stumble, and require a season or
two to rebuild and restock their team. The days of free-agent spending are over and the most successful teams are winning because of the players
they have drafted during the down years.

Is Detroit starting
to enter that cycle? The franchise’s drafts the past few seasons have not fared
all that well, although last year they were able to draft Landon
Ferrarro and standout Tomas Tartar. Are there any mid-round surprises on their way from the 2006,
2007 and 2008 drafts?

Are the Red Wings going to be forced to
restock? Most of the successful teams that are inching towards of top of the conference standings have done so due to drafts that provide a powerful nucleus from which to build around. Most times, these teams can do so because a few years of disappointment and mediocrity have given them high draft picks from which to work.

Detroit is approaching a turning point in the history of the franchise and what happens this spring and this summer will be a clear indication of the direction this team will take.

us to discuss today’s game live!

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”