That's good writin', Dickie, you really captured the spirit of the thing.
The biggest problem with this team the last 2 years is inconsistency. A lot of that has been brought on because of the injuries and the resulting revolving-door lineup. But even when the team was mostly healthy, it was inconsistent. There's been a drop-off in talent since the 07-09 era, most noticeably on the blue line and in the secondary scoring department. The team's best players in those years are still its best players today, which says a lot about 13 and 40, but not much for the rest of the team. Nobody has stepped up to take over for our aging superstars. We may be seeing the beginning of that process though, with Nyquist and Tatar... and on defense, obviously nobody can "replace" Lidstrom, but nobody is even CLOSE to taking over.
GMRwings, you also have some strong points, many of which I agree with. While it's nice to have loyalty, continuity, etc., that breeds complacency, and I think management and some of the veterans have become very complacent. I'll leave Babcock out of that because he has evolved during his time here, and he seems to have seen the light this year and has stopped relying on his pet players like Cleary while giving more trust and responsibility to younger players who, without the injuries, might not even be in the NHL. In past years, playoff failures resulted in a "we'll get them next year" attitude from management, and underachieving players were not held accountable. Everything stayed the same, no real changes were made. Nobody was shipped out of town to freshen things up and send the remaining players a little wake-up. NTC or not, Holland never trades anyone significant. Not since SLAVA KOZLOV IN 2001.
However, the future looks pretty bright... as long as Holland finally sees that same light and stops bringing in or retaining stopgap veterans and gives his prospects an honest chance to make the team out of training camp or during the season. Based on his comments about Mantha, he could be on that path. (I don't have a link handy, but he said Mantha will play in 5-6 preseason games and have a shot to make the Wings next fall.) The true test will come after the season, when he has to let go of the dead-weight vets, decide on his waiver-eligible RFAs, and explore the UFA and trade markets.
Maybe, just maybe, the days of roster overbuilding and prospect overripening are gone, and proud veterans aren't waived because the team can't find a trade partner, and energetic young players are expected to learn how to play the NHL game at the AHL level. If the performances of Nyquist, Tatar, Andersson, Lashoff, and DeKeyser didn't prove that last year, throw in Jurco, Sheahan, Glendening, and the cups of coffee this year, and the evidence is pretty strong... give the kids a chance.