The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/02/11 at 05:29 PM ET
According to The Hockey News’s Ken Campbell, in THN’s latest issue (which you can purchase/download/read via Zinio), the Hockey News’s experts have chosen the Detroit Red Wings as the NHL’s model franchise. Here’s an excerpt from his article:
Franchise Rankings: The more things change, the more they stay the same as Detroit reigns in our look at the top organizations in the NHL
Imagine a brand new arena in downtown Detroit. It would have been an outrageous proposition a year ago, but in case you haven’t noticed, the newspapers in Detroit aren’t running an endless parade of gloomy stories about hardworking people losing their jobs anymore.* In fact, it’s more difficult to find work in Miami than the Motor City these days.
Michigan will be lucky to get half the jobs back it lost during the great meltdown of the automotive industry, but things are looking good enough that multiple sources say Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch has quietly been lobbying the State of Michigan and City of Detroit to help him build a new facility to replace the Joe Louis Arena. You can probably expect an announcement within the next year.
Believe it or not, things are beginning to look up in Detroit. The Big Three are making money again and increased their market share for the first time in 15 years. The State of Michigan is expected to add about 60,000 jobs each year for the next three, which would bring the unemployment rate down from a shocking 14.5% to somewhere in the range of 9% by 2012. This year, the state coffers will have more than $400 million in unanticipated revenue. That’s about like finding $20 bucks in an old winter jacket, but it’s a start
That the Detroit Red Wings have managed to stay at the top of the league through some of the worst times the city has ever seen is a testament to how well they’ve been run. NHL superstars and Stanley Cup championships are no longer rolling off the Red Wings assembly line the way vehicles are at GM, Ford and Chrysler, but the Red Wings remain the class of the league. For the third time in four seasons THN has ranked NHL franchises, the Red Wings have finished on top. In fact, last season we decided not to do them simply because we knew the Red Wings would be first and we were getting tired of doing stories continually patting them on the back.
But the numbers don’t like. THN’s franchise rankings are based on largely on objective, statistical factors that take into account both past and present performance and the Wings are still the best. And while the gap between them and the rest of the league has narrowed a little, there is not a single facet of the game in which the Wings are lacking.
“Have we got issues?” asked Red Wings GM Ken Holland. “Sure we do, but so does everyone else. We have cap issues and there’s no doubt we’ll have to do something about our defense in the next 12 to 15 months.”
In order to be perennially competitive in today’s NHL, you need a committed, deep-pocketed owner (check), a top-level GM (got it), an innovative and creative coach (ye), a coulpe of superstars around whom to build (duh), scouts who can find players in the late rounds (duh…again) and a stead ystream of young players who can not only fill out roster holes cheaply, but make a tangible impact (oh yeah).
As long as the Red Wings have those elements, expect to see them at or near the top of our Franchise Rankings for the foreseeable future. With the Pittsburgh Penguins [#2] and Buffalo Sabres [#3] hot on their heels, the Red Wings have some company at the top. But it’s also interesting to note that despite a salary cap that is supposed to level the playing field, the same team has topped the rankings every year and the same half-dozen have been at the bottom.
The * involves the fact that hose jobs are slower in coming than Campbell would lead us to believe, and much harder to earn as there are so many over-qualified applicants that it’s still silly. Metro Detroit and Michigan’s real renaissance, on a worker-by-eligible worker basis, will take another five years to truly germinate.
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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.