There will be no parade up Woodward this summer.
The Red Wings were eliminated in seven games by the Pacific Division champion San Jose Sharks. We’ll have a full postmortem up in the coming weeks and months, as we dissect everything that was the Red Wings’ brilliant season.
But right now, it’s time for reflection.
Have Drew Miller, Ruslan Salei, and Patrick Eaves played their final games in a Red Wings uniform?
Have Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Osgood, Mike Modano, and Kris Draper played their final games in the National Hockey League?
Every summer, we’re greeted with hard decisions and tears and joy and confusion. And this summer will be no different. If any of those fine gentlemen decide that, yes, they’d like to spend more time with their families, put hundreds of fewer miles on their legs, and enjoy the game as a fan — well, they’ve earned that right.
Nicklas Lidstrom is still one of the best in the game, and if he’s not the best ever to play that position, he’s certainly in the conversation. We’ve been blessed to have him for two decades. Chris Osgood has always been the little engine that could. Love him or hate him, he got shit done and has several pieces of jewelry to show for it. The day he sits behind the podium is the day that the Hall of Fame conversation begins. Mike Modano is a boyhood hero of anyone born in Michigan in the last three decades. Having “one of us” make it to the league meant the world to us, and all he’s done is go on to become one of the best American-born players ever. Kris Draper is my hero, and always will be. It was clear by the time I was 11 that I wasn’t going to be Steve Yzerman. But I could be Kris Draper — working my ass off, making the best of my situation, and leaving people wondering who that was that just blew by them.
Our boys have — for the second year in a row — called it a season after two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs. In Hockeytown, anything less than a Stanley Cup is failure.
But it’s not all bad. There’s much to be proud of this season. By many accounts, 2010-11 was a year of unrivaled successes and beautiful, wonderful memories. The Wings became one of only a handful of teams to rally back from an 0-3 hole to force a Game 7. Alas, they fell just short, but if you’re not proud of these men… perhaps you’ll think differently in the morning.
For the second year in a row, a ragtag group of Wings fans descended upon Detroit: we partied hard, we enjoyed making real-life friends out screennames, and we raised a hefty sum for some deserving, heroic children who need Children’s Hospital to fight – and win – much bigger battles than the ones out on the ice.
We fought the man, or at least “Arby’s,” and got our Curly Fries back, letting anyone that would listen know that — no — we will not go quietly into the night, even when it comes to something as trivial as roast beef sandwiches.
We made noise when the authorities stepped in and said that we can’t toss our octopi onto the ice anymore. Sixty years of tradition cares not for your ridiculous rules, and we’ll throw whatever we goddamn-well please, thank you very much. And if you can’t look the other way and feel the need to fine one of us, the rest of us will band together and happily pay that young man or woman’s bail… and then round after round of Ghettoblaster.
Two players that have gotten a lot of flack from Red Wings fans — this site included — had coming out parties in this playoff season. Niklas Kronwall established himself as a big-game player, chipping in when he needed to and tightening up the defensive mishaps that burned our asses from time to time. Valtteri Filppula solidified his spot on this roster with incredible efforts and dizzying hockey IQ. If casual hockey fans didn’t know their names prior to this week, chances are good they’ve heard of them now.
Jimmy Howard, our very own Tiberius… somehow there were still doubters out there, folks that didn’t think he was a game-changer, or that he wasn’t able to steal one for the hometown Reds. Here’s hoping they’re silent, because homeboy’s the real (fuckin’) deal.
There were Shirtuzzis. There were breakfasts with Mr. Holland. There were horsecops and Disney princesses and two Duffs.
We’ve got a lot in store for you this summer — more partnerships with Winging it, more Draft analysis, more live chats, and you bet your ass more podcasts. Thank you for being a part of our family and we look forward to having you back for a third season of The Production Line.
On behalf of my partners, Chris Hollis and Rob Discher, congratulations to our Detroit Red Wings — the most memorable non-Cup season of all time.
And, just to take the edge off…