Eulogy: Remembering the 2015-16 Detroit Red Wings

(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers and fans who hated them the most. Here is Achariya Rezak, hockey blogger and Tampa Bay Lightning fan, fondly recalling the 2015-16 Detroit Red Wings. Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)

By Achariya Rezak, @tanyarezak

Hey, big brother. It’s your 90th year, and you’re looking, ummmmm....

It’s not that you’re getting old. Okay, maybe I did just say that you’re getting old. But anyway, it’s more that your wrinkles are showing. And that hair  -- those shoes -- that arena.

Isn’t it time to give something new a try?

Congrats on your brand-new two-year playoff streak, by the way -- your second year in a row exiting in the first round!

(By the way, you do know that it’s winning the Cup that counts, right, and not playoff streaks? The Blues had a 25-season playoff streak. You don’t want to be the Blues, do you?)

Here’s a handy list of old things that maybe you should get rid of to start afresh in your new year. Your 90th year can totally bring in a new you.

New coach. Okay, you’re doing great here. We checked Jeff Blashill’s driver’s license and he’s very definitely not in his 70s, or even 60s. This is a bold move from a conservative club, and we know Blashill had a learning curve last season when he realized that his new systems wouldn’t work with older, slower players, but surely everyone is happy because he’s bringing a more modern, less conservative coaching style to the club. Wait, you’re complaining? No, come on, don’t complain about Blashill’s rookie year -- he won more playoff games his rookie year than Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper did, after all. In the words of a different coach, there’s bound to be some growing pains!

(Oh, maybe it’s awkward to quote Babcock in here.)

(Oh well, too late.)


New arena. You’re doing great here too! And we noticed something odd. Whenever Red Wings players were asked about why they’d miss the Joe, they became stumped after the words “nostalgia” and “history” -- "There's something about this building, the history, the culture," Niklas Kronwall has said.

OK, but what? Is it the 35 years worth of hockey glove spray odor? The fact that it’s a single-use arena devoted to nothing but one sport, damn the rest? The sagging bits that some call “love handles” and others call “dad bod”?

Or wait, maybe it’s that ripe seafood odor?

"I think (The Joe) is basically a hockey arena, and when you come in here you just feel it, you smell it, and it's a special place to be in,” says Zetterberg.

OK still, I’m not really comprehending WHY… oh never mind, I’m sure it takes a Detroit fan to truly appreciate the communal trough urinals. Your new arena looks nice! And even if the new arena name is probably going to be “The Baddest Bowl in Hockey,” at least you can leave those historic wins behind and maybe get a few modern ones under your Big, Bad Belt!

Red Wings
Red Wings

OK, now we’re getting into the harder stuff. How about a new symbolic item to throw onto the ice?

I understand that the whole octopus thing symbolized the number of wins necessary to win the Stanley Cup back in the 1950s, but guess what: there are now sixteen wins necessary to win the cup. Instead of suggesting TWO octopuses (how do you guys smuggle those into arenas anyway? In your lighters?), why don’t we move away from sticky, smelly sea creatures entirely?

What living creature has sixteen legs?  A swift search says: sow bugs.


Well, that should be easy enough to find in the wild, and if you throw a huge bag of sow bugs onto the ice, you’ll definitely be making a statement!

Red Wings
Red Wings

New development system. As a fan of the team that demoted Jonathan Drouin, I have a ton of sympathy for you guys. On the plus side, the Grand Rapid Griffins are incredible. On the minus side, these guys can already vote and be enlisted in the military, and they practically have kids of their own in college. Shouldn’t they be in the NHL already? Luckily you’ll have a few empty spots in the lineup come August, and maybe Anthony Mantha can slide right into a pair of very big, but slightly old and rusty, skates.

Also, how did the Red Wings let a Russian player like Nikita Kucherov get away? (He’s RFA this summer, by the way, with no contract talks yet.) Surely the Red Wings’ famous Russian scouts didn’t decamp to Tampa with Stevie Y?

Anyway. Time for a younger, hungrier Red Wings lineup. (Or are you still trying to lure Stevie back home?)


Speaking of contracts, I don’t know how to put this delicately, but good luck trading away the 7-year “asset” that is your fine young Michigan State boy, Justin Abdelkader. A swift search of his name pulls up articles entitled things like, “Wings sign Abdelkader to a too long deal,” “How did Justin Abdelkader make Team USA World Cup?”, “No Hearing for Abdelkader hit on Barkov”, “Red Wings Need Justin Abdelkader to Smarten Up”, “Should Abdelkader Be Suspended?”, and these are all from Red Wings fan blogs.

I don’t even need to add my own heap of vitriol -- I just wish y’all the best of luck climbing out from under this one. By the way, I’m not sure he should plan any Florida vacations after what he did to Aleksander Barkov, and what he did to Mike Blunden. Not even Florida Man would want to hang with such a noted chicken.


New playoff streak. Hear me out! No, come on, just listen: Maybe it’s time to tank.

I hear it’s all the rage for aging teams that can’t get past the first round of playoffs to gut themselves, get rid of tough contracts (and don’t claim you don’t have a few), and tank for the sake of fabulous draft picks. Plus, with the concept of tanking under scrutiny at the last Board of Governor’s meeting, maybe it’s time to catch that wave before it dissipates entirely? I know that it’s been 25 years since you guys have even considered drafting high, but sometimes it helps to inject new life into a team that’s been quite frankly held together by the sheer force of Red Wings fans’ willpower.

Seriously -- according to a friend, Red Wings haven’t drafted higher than Dylan Larkin since 1991.

Tanking. Just think about it. It could get you into the top ten overall, or at least a little higher than 15th! Let the word sink in, just like your inevitable descent in the standings if you don’t.

Anyway. Happy 90th! I honestly thought I’d have more time to write this, but I guess not. I’ll leave you with one final incentive for making a change in your coming year.