TSN’s Travis Yost penned an article titled, “Red Wings, Blackhawks paying for past glory,” and among his points:
Ten years ago, the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks ushered in a new era of hockey – one built on speed, puck possession and an incredible pool of talent that ensured playoff contention every season.
But hockey, like most things, is cyclical. The state of the organizations in Detroit and Chicago is quite different in 2018. These two historic franchises wrote the playbook on how to build a contender in the modern era. But they also are writing a sequel – one that speaks to the importance of salary cap management and continuous player development.
Detroit’s story has already been written. The Red Wings are embarking on a full-blown rebuild and it may be some time before they come out of it. The Red Wings were naturally going to dissolve first. Their core was substantially older than their Original Six brethren, and so was their window of contention.
The Red Wings now carry the league’s oldest roster by a significant margin – the average player age working against the Detroit cap is 31, which is three standard deviations from league norms these days. Players age 34 and up, a vanishing breed in the NHL, are consuming about $36-million against the cap. Not only are those players relatively unproductive (or, simply not playing, like forward Johan Franzen), but the organization hasn’t been able to replace them with competent young talent. The rebuild is ongoing and will take some time.
Yost continues, and I would argue that the Wings’ consistent misses at the draft over the past half-decade–yielding an inability to build a “next generation” defensive corps and trading away the Calle Jarnkrok and Mattias Janmark for veterans to “continue the streak”–have significantly hamstrung the team, but those are just two of the factors playing into the Wings’ struggles today.