At the end of the 2014-2015 season, the Red Wings team faced many challenges. After losing in the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mike Babcock’s contract as head coach was over and he left, becoming the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. What seemed like a minor challenge, the team went downhill from there. In 2016, despite losing their last regular season game, the Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins to have them clinch the last seed in the Eastern Conference. They went on to lose to the Lightning again.
That summer, the team and fans lost their most valuable player. Pavel Datsyuk announced he was leaving the team and going back to play with his home country Russia. The 14-year veteran left behind a team who was barely making a name for themselves.
In 2017, the playoff streak came to an end for the Red Wings at 25 seasons. The legacy of the Joe Louis Arena ended in their last regular season game, winning 4-1 against the New Jersey Devils.
Ever since then, the team has been in the rebuilding process. They have started to look up to the Toronto Maple Leafs as a great example of a rebuild. The rebuild for the Red Wings really started in 2014, when they drafted Dylan Larkin in the first round as the 15th overall pick. He has become a great center for a team who was looking for a one in Datsyuk’s absence.
Other great players to come out of the draft are Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha. All of these players have become regulars in the lineup for the Red Wings. Combined, they have nearly 160 points for the team. The Red Wings want to continue their draft success as they have 11 picks in the 2018 entry draft.
Meanwhile, the Grand Rapid Griffins, the Red Wings AHL team, has been on fire for the past 3 years. In 2017, they beat the Syracuse Crunch to win the Calder Trophy. This season, the team has held a good spot at the top of the standings, as many prospects and rookies have been developing well in order to make the jump next season to the NHL.
Looking towards the future, the Red Wings can return to their former glory after the rebuild. The front office must make crucial picks and free agent signings to bring the life back into the team. Veterans and young stars need to step up and put everything on the ice to get back into the playoffs and have a long run.