I remember talking to my dad one morning while I was getting ready for school in what must have been early spring of 1990. Just a kid, unaware of the schedule or the standings, I asked him if the Red Wings won the night before and if it was the playoffs yet.
He laughed a bit and said, “Clark, the Red Wings aren’t going to make the playoffs.”
I understand that laugh now. The “Playoffs? This team?” laugh.
This season’s been a disaster. The Red Wings weren’t mathematically eliminated until tonight but we knew it was coming months ago. This team wasn’t going to make the playoffs.
Perhaps it’s better that way. No heartbreak in the 82nd game, just a disappointing grind through the entire season. The longer you stay in contention, the more you find excuses for hope. But this team wasn’t going to make the playoffs.
Hope? I’ve been calling for a tank all season. My hope isn’t for this year. It’s not even for next year. My hope is that the new streak, the losing streak, is short.
There is opportunity in this disappointment. The Red Wings’ playoff miss in 1990 netted them Keith Primeau in the draft, who was flipped for Brendan Shanahan. We’ll see what their loss in 2017 brings.