Detroit Lions should take Lessons from Detroit Red Wings

  • Detroit Lions could Learn from Detroit Red Wings

Your ‘Lion Eyes’ blogger remembers when the Detroit Red Wings were consistently derided nationally as the ‘Dead Wings’. They were perennial losers in the NHL. Of course that is no longer true. Now they are annual Stanley Cup contenders. The Red Wings just won the 2008 Stanley Cup and now are winners of 4 Stanley Cups in 11 years and are the model NHL franchise. All of us Detroit Lion fans have certainly heard the our favorite team called the ‘Lidowns’ many times and the Lions really have never been considered Super Bowl contenders.  So if the Lions take lessons from the Red Wings maybe there is hope for the Lions to turn it around and become the future model NFL franchise like the current New England Patriots.

  • How the Red Wings became the Model NHL Franchise 

The Detroit Red Wings lost in the Stanley Cup finals at the end of the 1966 season. The ‘Dead Wing’ era started the next season. For 17 NHL seasons 1967 through 1983 the ‘Dead Wings’ made the NHL playoffs just 2 times and were eliminated very early each time.

Current owner Mike Illitch purchased the team at the conclusion of the 1983 NHL season and his 1st order of business was to hire GM Jim Devellano to run the team. Devellano was hired from the New York Islanders where he was the assistant GM and Director of Scouting. At that time the Islanders were the model NHL franchise having just won their 4th Stanley Cup in a row. Devellano set out to create a scouting department within the Red Wings that would be 2nd to none and get the Wings back to the upper echelon of the NHL. One of the people Devellano brought into the scouting department was current GM Ken Holland. The mission was to find NHL caliber players that the Wings would draft because the Wings were not going to trade draft choices under Devellano’s tenure. The results are impressive:

  • 22 Playoffs made in 24 NHL Seasons
  • 17 Playoffs in a row from 1991 through 2008 longest in all of sports
  • 5 times in the  Stanley Cup Finals in 13 seasons from 1995 through 2008
  • 4 Stanley Cup Championships, 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008

Look at the players that were key components to the Red Wings 2008 Stanley Cup Championship and when they were drafted: 

  • Niklas Lidstrom – 1989 3rd Round 53rd overall
  • Henrik Zetterberg – 1999 7th Round 210th overall
  • Pavel Datsyuk – 1998 6th Round 171st overall
  • Chris Osgood – 1991 3rd Round 54th overall
  • Tomas Holmstrom – 1994 10th Round 257th overall
  • Johan Franzen – 2004 3rd Round 97th overall
  • Jiri Hudler – 2002 2nd Round 58th overall
  • Valtteri Filppula – 2002  3rd Round 95th overall

Compare those draftees by the Red Wings with the recent draftees by the Lions that I put in this post back in January. In Summary the Lions have drafted the following players since current GM Matt Millen has been in charge of the draft. These player should be part of the core group that leads the Lions to Super Bowl contention every year. You will notice that none of the players listed are still with the team.

  • Shaun Rogers – 2001
  • Mike McMahon – 2001
  • Joey Harrington – 2002
  • Kalimba Edwards – 2002
  • Charles Rogers – 2003
  • Boss Bailey – 2003
  • Kevin Jones – 2004
  • Kelly Butler – 2004
  • Mike Williams – 2005

As I see it there is quite a difference in the drafting capabilities between the Red Wings and the Lions. Back in this January post I wrote that the Lions needed to improve their scouting organization to improve their draft results to become competitive. The Red Wings have the Blueprint to become the model franchise so now Mr. Ford must get lessons from the Red Wings to become the Model NFL franchise and make the playoffs on a more consistent basis and be a legitimate Super Bowl contender annually.

  • What should the Detroit Lions do?

Red Wing owner started the turn around by hiring Jim Devellano as GM from at the time model NHL franchise New York Islanders. Maybe the Lions should look to overhaul their scouting department by hiring a young hard working resource from the New England Patriots or Indianapolis Colts or Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Lions always have to overpay free agents to come to Detroit because of their long history of losing. Once they start drafting players that become the core group of annual playoff teams, players will be more likely to come to the Lions for a chance to win. Compared to now when players only consider the Lions because the Lions pay them so much.

Your ‘Lion Eyes’ blogger considers himself pretty fortunate because the teams he is a fan of have won often enough that he gets to see Championships often enough to keep being a fan. I don’t know why I still am a fanantic for the Lions when I consider they really are a laughingstock Nationally of the NFL. Look at my teams and how they have done since I was old enough to follow them:

  • Michigan State Football – Rosebowls 1966 lost and 1988 won
  • Detroit Tigers – World Series 1968, 1984 won and 2006 lost
  • Michigan State Basketball – NCAA Final Four 1979, 2000 won, 1999, 2001, 2005 lost
  • Detroit Pistons – NBA Championship 1989, 1990, 2004 won, 2005 lost
  • Detroit Red Wings – Stanley Cup Championship 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008 won, 1995 lost
  • Detroit Lions – NFC Championship 1991 lost

So hopefully the Lions will get the lessons from the Red Wings and turn the franchise around and become the Super Bowl contender we all hope for each year.

Please choose how many wins the Lions will achieve during the 2008 NFL Regular Season:
[poll=16]