As the New York Islanders embark on a tough decision with the first pick in the draft, John Tavares will likely be heading to Long Island. The pressure on Garth Snow, the Islanders GM, will be great. With Snow being questioned about his qualifications to be a GM plus having control of a franchise whose future in Nassau County is up in the air. So the question is....do you take Tavares and allow a few years for a team to form around him or do you go for the quick fix and trade for Dany Heatley? Enter the Detroit Red Wings for your answer.
Since 1997, the Detroit Red Wings have captured four Stanley Cups and came two goals within capturing a fifth. After the 2002 season when the Red Wings won their third cup in six years, legendary coach Scotty Bowman retired and an already aging roster was one year older. The Wings are done, the pundits said. It was their last hurrah. Looking at Scotty Bowman's history, the teams he departed soon when into mediocrity, see the late 70's St. Louis Blues and early 80's Montreal Canadiens. Everyone thought the same thing was going to happen to those boys in red along the Detroit River, but General Manager Ken Holland had a plan and stuck with it.
At the beginning of the 2002-03 season, a little known player from the ural Mountain area in Russia joined the club as a sixth round draft pick in 1998. His name is Pavel Datsyuk. The Wings had an excellent regular season and finished second in the conference. They were swept in the first round that series was the beginning of the emergence of another goalie by the name of Jean Sebstien Giguere. The next season, the Wings won the Presidents Trophy and before this season a seventh rounder by the name of Henrik Zetterberg joined the club. The Wings lost in the second round to the Flames and hot goaltender named Miikka Kiprusoff.
The lockout then came....and when it ended in the Summer of 2005, you heard the same story, the Wings are done. They won't be able to keep up in the new, fast NHL. That season just brought another President's Trophy to Detroit, but the season ended in disappointment as they fell to the eight seeded Edmonton Oilers in six games. But the Wings proved they don't rebuild, they just reload.
Since that 2002 cup winning season, the Wings track record in bringing in new talent while remaining at the top of the standings has been second to none. Every year they did not win the cup since 2002, they either lost to the Stanley Cup champion or finalist. If they win those series against the Ducks, Flames and Oilers from 2003-2006, which were all competitive(yes, the Ducks swept them but three of those games were decided in overtime), we could be talking about a team that went to six out of the last seven Stanley Cup Finals. It didn't happen, but no organization in the league can come close to having the success they have had in the last twelve years even though this season ended in bitter disappointment.
Justin Abelkader and Villi Leino...who are these guys? They both played well in the playoffs which further proves the Red Wings system works.
So the eyes are on Garth Snow and his first pick. John Tavares maybe a great player but keep an eye on those sixth and seventh rounders too. You never know one of those seventh rounders might hoist a Conn Smythe in several years. I know Ken Holland and the Red Wings are watching. The question is are the other 29 General Managers watching?