by Eric Fulton
Every year a sports team’s number one goal is to win a championship. No matter what level they are in or where they finished the previous season, winning is the number one goal. In order to get an opportunity to win a championship, a team must qualify for the playoffs. Many teams have had a dynasty that began in the playoffs. Fans who saw these dynasties come to life had high expectations of what would happen to the teams once they got in. The opponents’ goal is to knock them off and end their season. But for the last quarter of a century, there has been one team who has given themselves a chance to compete for one of sports’ biggest prizes every single year.
The Detroit Red Wings is one of the iconic franchises in the National Hockey League (NHL). They are known as one of the “Original Six” teams which include the Montreal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers. They have won 11 Stanley Cup championships in their history. Iconic players who have worn the red winged wheel include Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Nicklas Lidstorm and Steve Yzerman.
Last Saturday, Detroit clinched its 25th consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs even though they lost the regular season finale against the New York Rangers. Thus, the Red Wings have extended the longest playoff run by a professional North American sports team. Each season, Detroit has had talent all around the ice from Pavel Datsuyk to Henrik Zetterberg. They even have a young talent named Dylan Larkin, who has been one of the best rookies in the NHL this season. What’s more impressive about the Red Wings streak this year is they had a first year NHL coach in Jeff Blashill.
The Red Wings have accomplished what no other team has during a 25-year playoff run. Even though, they have only won the Stanley Cup four times in the previous 24 years, they have still found ways to get in the playoffs and play for hockey’s ultimate prize every year. What’s even more impressive is they have made the playoffs every year in both Eastern and Western Conferences. They have become the model of consistency and excellence in the last quarter century. Whether you are a fan of the Red Wings or not, you have to give them credit for making the playoffs and having the right kind of personnel to become a serious championship contender.
Though things have been rough for the city of Detroit in recent years, at least they are happy to see a hockey team with such grit, poise, determination and success in at least providing a winning product the city can enjoy.
The Red Wings will begin the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday (April 13) when they take on last year’s Eastern Conference Champion, Tampa Bay Lightning in a rematch of last year’s first round series won by the Lightning. No matter what happens with Detroit, they have given themselves a chance to win a title for the 25th straight season and that’s one of the greatest and most underrated records in sports.