There's no way anyone can say this team is playoff-ready even if they find a way to make the playoffs, and that's really more important. If a lot of things go right and we avoid major injuries, we certainly have as good of a shot as a lot of teams in the West to make the playoffs. Any way you shake it, this schedule is going to lend itself to fluky happenings and the Wings could easily end up on the right end of that given our offensive talent. But again, given that we haven't done much at all come playoff time the last couple years with a far, far better D, it's next to impossible to imagine us making it out of the first round if we are lucky enough to make it in.
What's going to be really interesting to watch this season is how the team responds to losing Lidstrom. Will it be a wakeup call for a blatantly underachieving bunch of skaters, or will they flounder further without his leadership and the safety net his insane talent provided? Will Howard elevate his game and find a way to be as strong as he has in the past with a much weaker defense, or will his technical flaws become more glaring and problematic? If skaters and Howard can come out on the upside of change, than this team as a whole could potentially make some noise. There's a lot of talent, but it's been profoundly unrealized for awhile. Whether that boils down to motivation or mental issues or age or injuries or coaching, who knows? Again, optimistically, they do have a lot of potential thanks to a lot of talent, but that talent is going to have to be all in and running at close to 100% consistently for this team to have success this year. Hopefully the shock of having to adapt to a Lidstrom-less team will help them elevate their game. It'll be very interesting to watch play out, especially over this weird schedule.
And as much as I've been frustrated with Holland's handling of things the last 3-4 years, it's very, very, very highly unlikely that he'll get the boot after this year. If everything goes as poorly as possible and he has another rough off-season and then another poor Wings season, then you've got to wonder, but we're not there yet, and it's not impossible that all of this change won't be a wakeup call to him as well. I mean, like the guy or not, I think we all can say, let's hope so.
And I don't think Babs would get axed before Holland if things went down the tubes this season and next, including the off-season. Babcock's been pretty vocal to the media about his dissatisfaction with the makeup of this team and Holland's lack of movement on quality guys that have been available. It's hard to imagine that he's not far more vocal behind the scenes about that matter. If Holland gets booted, it's going to be for the same things that Babcock's been complaining about, and if ownership holds an opinion strong enough to fire a GM, why would they fire a successful coach who agrees with them? That is, of course, if that's what it comes to for Holland.
And correct me if I'm wrong, but even as far as coaching and Holland are connected, wasn't it "sorta-kinda" the Holland and Jimmy D camp that went with Dave Lewis over Barry Smith despite what Bowman suggested? Early signs of a pattern, perhaps? Lewis was the "friendlier" choice as he was the "friendlier" coach, and many in upper management seem really caught up in preserving the whole Red Wings family thing, or something...it's a really nice idea, but in the cap era more than ever, it's not really realistic. From what I've seen, I think Babcock has the mind to know what a successful team needs, and I think he has the stomach to handle the change necessary to make it happen. Holland may have the mind for it, and his good sense has lead to a lot of success, but when push comes to shove and you've got to make some changes, he's yet to prove he's willing to go out on a limb and make some tough decisions. The only time we've seen him be aggressive is when he was completely backed up against the wall this last off-season, and he failed to close any meaningful deals. Whether it was his fault or not doesn't matter if it continues to be a pattern. Like I said, it's almost certainly not going to happen after this year even if all goes as poorly as possible, but if the trend continues, then possibly sooner rather than later, his time as GM here will be up. "Survival of the fittest" isn't a contest of strength (or past success), it's a contest of adaptability.
The fact of the matter is that I will be on these forums no matter if they make the playoffs or not. I will just have to sift through the utter crap posts that have a combination of 2 of any of these words in the subject....
That should eliminate 75% of the threads on this forum if a disaster strikes.
I'm waiting for someone to say we need new owners. Has that been done yet?