Hockeytown blues

Off to a slow start, the Wings look for a quick turnaround

Updated: November 5, 2009, 8:54 AM ET
By E.J. Hradek | ESPN The Magazine

This article appears in the Nov. 16 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

In Detroit, where changing times and a sour economy have taken a mighty toll, one city fixture has remained remarkably reliable: the Red Wings. In the past 17 seasons, the team has won its division 13 times, capturing a league-best four Stanley Cups. Last spring, the Wings came within a victory of a fifth title.

Olivier Morin/Getty Images

But thanks to the salary cap-induced, offense-draining free agent departures of forwards Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson and Jiri Hudler, plus early-season injuries to forwards Johan Franzen (knee, out at least four months) and Val Filppula (wrist, out six to eight weeks), the Wings are experiencing a rare bumpy takeoff. Taken by itself, the team's 4-4-2 start is worth only minor concern. But blown leads, inconsistent scoring and spotty defense have Hockeytown faithful wondering if this season will be ... different. "This is a transitional year," Detroit exec Jim Devellano conceded to a Toronto radio station. "Our goal is to try and compete, make the playoffs, then see what happens."

To keep reading E.J. Hradek's thoughts on the possible demise of hockey's main dynasty of the past decade, you must be an ESPN Insider.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.