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The Malik Report

The Enduring Detroit Red Wings

from Katie Baker of Grantland,

So, what were you up to in 1991? Me, I can’t be entirely sure, but it definitely involved some combination of gymnastics, slap bracelets, and watching Nickelodeon-produced PSAs about acid rain. If it helps trigger your memory: The Soviet Union was dissolving that year, Super Nintendo came to the U.S., and the ribbon was being cut on California’s first Starbucks. The Silence of the Lambs and “Losing My Religion” were released, and Emma Roberts and Mike Trout were born. And the Detroit Red Wings, one season removed from a pitiful fifth-place division finish, ended their year in the Norris’s third spot to qualify for the NHL playoffs.

That was 23 years ago, and Detroit hasn’t missed the postseason since.

Think about that: There are people, an entire generation of people, who have been born and have grown up and had their hearts broken by high school soul mates and gone off to college and graduated and are now tentatively finding their way through the world. And these people have never known what it’s like to see their favorite hockey team miss the playoffs.

continued and a recommended read...

added 12:25pm, Also, Sean McIndoe of Grantland,

It seems like an odd thing to say about a franchise that came of age with Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, and Alex Delvecchio, and later went on to 23 straight playoff appearances and four Stanley Cups, but my favorite Red Wings team of all time was the 1988-89 edition.

That was the year a 23-year-old Steve Yzerman made the leap from very good player to unquestioned superstar, posting a remarkable 65 goals and 155 points, both Red Wing records. This was in the middle of the Gretzky/Lemieux era, so Yzerman didn’t even make a postseason all-star team, but his fellow players named him best player in the league.

read on

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Comments

Avatar

She basically just described me. Born in Oct 1990, which means I was born during their first season that started the streak. I’m also trying to figure out this whole career thing. I’m posting this from a job that I’m not so sure I want to keep doing… But I got the red wings going for me, which is nice.

Posted by Giberson on 04/15/14 at 11:27 AM ET

Avatar

Same here. September of 90. They’ve never missed the playoffs as long as I’ve been alive.

Also trying to do that whole “life” thing.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 04/15/14 at 11:40 AM ET

hockeychic's avatar

Great article.  Was thinking that my daughter (who is about to turn 18) has always known the Wings in the playoffs. I was at a Western Conference Finals game against the Avs the night before she was born and on the day she turned one, the Wings beat the Avs to go on to the Cup.

It is really pretty amazing.

I enjoyed both articles.

Posted by hockeychic from Denver, CO on 04/15/14 at 11:49 AM ET

SYF's avatar

1991?  I was a full-time student at Madonna University.  Ever talked sports with a Felician Sister?  These girls were into it.  Big time.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 04/15/14 at 11:50 AM ET

JoeyMrk's avatar

It was actually 1990 when the Red Wings last missed the playoffs. The 23 consecutive playoff appearances took 24 years because of the season that wasn’t.

When the 1990 playoffs started, I was just a couple of months away from graduating high school.

Posted by JoeyMrk on 04/15/14 at 11:52 AM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

91 has me as a junior in high school.  gulp

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 04/15/14 at 12:20 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

my favorite Red Wings team of all time was the 1988-89 edition.

Indeed it is. I grew up on 80’s Red Wing hockey. I would always re-assemble that 89 team on my super nintendo and ps1 and tear up the league to win the cup in season mode. Really, the only thing they were missing was a goalie. The playoff streak would have been even longer if not for the ill-advised moves (essentially blowing up the team) coming into the 90 season.

enforcers really did ride shotgun for superstars instead of just vaguely threatening to from the bench. And Yzerman had the meanest bodyguard of them all: Bob Probert… But at the time, Probert was a rare spectacle: the undisputed heavyweight champion of the league, but one good enough to play a regular shift and score 20 goals a year.

Let’s be clear: A team like the Norris-era Red Wings could never exist in today’s NHL. They’d be suspended into oblivion by the league, torn apart by the media

If you ever care to understand my perspective of what hockey should be, envision a hybrid of Demers Wings from 87-89 and Bowman’s Wings 97-00: tough teams with skill and power that could play it any way you wanted.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 04/15/14 at 12:49 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

I love Sean McIndoe’s work on Down Goes Brown and Grantland.  Always an entertaining read.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 04/15/14 at 01:23 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Oh Man!  I remember watching that game against the sabres. That clip is awesome.

I bet Barasso crapped his pants when Bobby glared at him . Would love to know what he said to Probie there?

Ahh the good old days.

Posted by Down River Dan on 04/15/14 at 02:25 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.