History has taught us about the St. Valentines Day Massacre, which saw seven mobsters murdered in Chicago, casting a pall over a day usually reserved for love. Though Easter is traditionally a time reserved to celebrate the virtues of rebirth, that was impossible for anyone watching a hockey game at Joe Louis Arena yesterday or tuned in live on television.
Sunday, there was a holiday massacre of a different kind. The Detroit Red Wings decided they wouldn’t show up Easter afternoon against, ironically enough, the Chicago Blackhawks. They quickly paid the price on the scoreboard to the tune of a 7-1 embarrassment, which felt more like 107-1. It was arguably the worst loss Detroit has sustained at home. Just call it the Easter Sunday Massacre, which won’t be found in any history books, but should teach as many important lessons to Detroit’s brass.
“Where are all the people? There’s nobody at this game,” my sister-in-law, an impartial observer, proclaimed from the other room as the third period was dragging on. “Just look at the score, they probably all left,” another voice cut across the noise, and Joe Louis Arena’s stunning quiet. The sounds of an execution. Detroit’s favorite hockey team was publicly slaughtered on national television, made to look like complete fools. The worst part? They were the ones shooting themselves over and over again. Al Capone was probably grinning at the calculated precision of all their self-inflicted wounds.
Hopefully, Ken Holland wasn’t sitting down to an early dinner and was forced to watch his team, putrid start to pathetic finish. This performance should be the final straw for Red Wings’ fans. There’s something to be said for supporting teams in good times and bad, but when the front office shows repeated signs of not wanting to change a stagnant product and the product constantly fails, what other option is there other than getting angry and abandoning some hope?
The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday afternoon, and moves had better be made. Excuses about saving money, waiting for next year, stockpiling assets and getting players back from injuries need no longer apply for Holland. This team needs a shakeup in the worst possible way now, and the only solution is an infusion of new plasma. Any creative boss would realize it and start sending a few people packing, regardless of skill level, age, talent, organizational standing or cap hit.
Holland will likely sing his typical trade deadline song about how getting healthy will help the team moving forward, but cautionary tales exist there. How did that plan work out with Mikael Samuelsson, who was comically injured yesterday, the same day he came off IR? How has that worked out for Carlo Colaiacovo, who’s been nothing but a repeated $2 million dollar hospital bill? Don’t forget Todd Bertuzzi, who’s creaky back is capable of giving out at any minute. Players like that shouldn’t be counted on. Nobody should be asking for a new roster at this point, but seeing the Red Wings add a newly acquired player or two would be welcomed. It’s not like things could get any worse from a team chemistry or on-ice play standpoint.
Without anything done at all, though, things could certainly deteriorate further in the wrong direction. The Red Wings are only three points clear of ninth place in the Western Conference. Though the season is short, if efforts like the last two persist, Detroit could still miss the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. Nothing is yet out of the realm of possibility. Even though circumstances are always changing in the hockey world, that would be a scarlet letter Holland, Mike Babcock and company shouldn’t want anywhere near their resume.
Thus, they should be motivated to do something notable and fix a few of the shortcomings on their roster to aid in a run at the playoffs right now. If not, performances like Sunday could become the rule instead of the exception down the stretch.
Should that be the case, everyone may have to get used to more third periods with rows of empty seats at Joe Louis Arena, frustrated fans and crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
Play Of The Week: Pavel Datsyuk makes Logan Couture look like a fool. With a super move, Datsyuk cemented himself as the world’s top deeker once again last week. Couture didn’t have a chance, and fell helplessly to the ice after Datsyuk made him look silly with the stick. Though the Red Wings lost the game, the move was still incredible and not diminished by the result.
Game Of The Week: Colorado at Detroit, Monday. How will the Red Wings respond to Sunday’s whitewash? We’ll get an answer fast, as the Colorado Avalanche visit town a day after Detroit got blasted. From a confidence standpoint, this game is vital for the Red Wings. They cannot afford to have a second straight letdown, or things might get out of control quick.
Stat Of The Week: 1 minute, 45 seconds, the amount of time it took the Chicago Blackhawks to score two goals Sunday and effectively end the day for the Red Wings. Detroit has to do a better job early in games and start getting the first goal again. If they don’t get the first marker on the scoreboard, they should at least try to put a stop to the other team scoring immediately, push back and try to get a response goal fast.
Central Charting: The Red Wings can forget about the Central Division, which is now all but Chicago’s. As previously mentioned, the team is in seventh place in the Western Conference with 39 points, three clear of ninth place.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax