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How to build a winning hockey team in the modern NHL: Detroit Red Wings
How to build a winning hockey team in the modern NHL: Detroit Red Wings(2012-05-22 21:06 posted by Mitchell Tierney)

The new National Hockey League format with the new salary cap restrictions was meant to kill dynasties. Teams can now win the Stanley Cup one year and then completely disappear from contention the next couple of years. However, the Detroit Red Wings are the closest thing that the NHL have had to a modern dynasty. Since 1989 the Red Wings have been one of the best teams in hockey. Since 1989 (a span of 21 years) they have won 14 division titles, 5 presidents trophies, 6 conference championships and 4 Stanley cups. Not to mention they have made the playoffs all 21 of those years. To put that in perspective the Montreal Canadiens since that same year have won 2 division titles, 0 Presidents Trophies, 1 conference championship and 1 Stanley Cup. So how do the Red Wings win every year even post lockout? Ahead we will take a lot at the different pieces that make the 2007-2008 Stanley Cup Champions just that and why they are still an annual title threat to this day.

2007-08 club win record:

54-21-7 (115 points)

Place in conference (league):

1(1)

What method did they use to build their team?

For the most part the Detroit Red Wings used the NHL Entry Draft to build their team and relied on loyalty of the players to build their team. While trades and otherwise did play a certain part in the building of the Red Wings it was some savvy drafting that built this team. As we will talk about many times in this article the Detroit Red Wings have built their team off modest, hard working yet talented players, often in the later rounds of drafts. The talented scouting of the Red Wings has been the main reason why they continue to be one of the best teams in the NHL.

Why was this method effective?

This method was specifically effective because the Red Wings didn't need to sacrifice position in order to draft talented players. They were able to find talented players later on in the draft that other teams passed on and convert them into NHL caliber players. In some cases they even converted some players into world class talents. This ability to produce high end talented that was acquired at little cost has made the Red Wings into the best managed team in modern hockey. That management has continued to transform into success on the ice year after year.

What experience did the General Manager have going into his position?

Ken Holland, like many of the other managers in this league got into hockey management because he was first a player in this league. During his playing days as a goaltender Holland spent time as a Red Wing and a Whaler. After his playing career was over Holland took over as a scout in the Western Conference with the team. He was soon promoted to Director of Scouting and has 3 years experience of assistant GM. He finally took over as full time general manager in 1997 and has been considered one of, if not the best General Manager in the National Hockey League ever since. In many ways he has been one of the most integral parts to the Red Wings' success.

What can we expect from this team in the future?

It could become very interesting the next couple of years for the Detroit organization. The core of this team is growing older every year and it is about the time that they will begin to retire. The heartbeat of the entire back line and possibly the entire team looks set to retire either this season or next in D Nicklas Lidstrom. Meanwhile Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen and Holmstrom are not getting any younger. When the current roster begins to transform it will be interesting to see where the Red Wings get their reinforcements. Will they stick with finding diamonds in the rough on draft day or will they attempt to sign some premier free agent talents. While rumours continue about possible players who are on the teams wish list this summer it is becoming increasingly clear that soon could be the end of this dynasty, at least temporarily. With key players who look to be leaving fast and furious and no immediate clues as to what talent will replace them the Red Wings' situation will be fascinating over the next couple of years.

How was the core of this team put together?

I would say the core of the current Detroit Red Wings consists of about 8 players. The forwards would be Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen. Defensively the team core consists of Jonathan Ericsson, Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall. In goal American international Jimmy Howard seems to be the goalie prepared to lead the Red Wings into the future. As for how they were acquired it is fairly similar. Pavel Datsyuk was drafted 171st overall by the Red Wings in 1998. Henrik Zetterberg was drafted 210th overall by the Red Wings in the 1999 draft. Johan Franzen was drafted 97th overall by the Red Wings in the 2004 Entry Draft. Tomas Holmstrom was drafted 275th overall by the Red Wings in 1994. Jonathan Ericsson was drafted 291st overall by the Red Wings in the 2002 draft. Nicklas Lidstrom was drafted 53rd overall by the Red Wings in the 1989 Entry Draft. Niklas Kronwall was drafted 29th overall by the Red Wings in 2000 and goaltender Jimmy Howard was drafted 64th overall in 2003. The common factor with all the acquisitions made by the Red Wings? They were drafted in the late rounds of each of their respective entry drafts, none of them selected earlier than 50th overall. Also they have all been incredibly loyal to the Detroit Red Wings organization. So the core of the team and the underlying reason why the Red Wings are so successful is because they are built from within.

Average Age:

29.9

Average Time Player Has Been With The Team:

Since 2006

The Detroit Red Wings are the first Case Study that we look at in this series. They also may be the best example of a what any team in the National Hockey League is trying to recreate. The Red Wings management and team also reinforce the importance of scouting and drafting players. The reason the Red Wings have been the most consistent team in Hockey is because they have been able to draft incredible talents looked over by all the other teams more than once. They have also been able to instil a sort of loyalty that has been essentially unmatched by any other team core in this league. If teams in this league are ever changing the Red Wings come to closest to remaining the same. Many lessons are to be learned from the current best team in hockey and how they deal with the next couple of years could reveal even more. For all hockey teams trying to build a championship team in modern hockey the Red Wings provide the perfect blueprint.



Also Read
- Introduction: How to build a winning hockey team in the modern NHL posted by Mitchell Tierney
- Part 2: How not to build a winning hockey team in the modern NHL posted by Mitchell Tierney

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