The old axiom says, "to the victor go the spoils," but that is not always the case. The Detroit Red Wings lost a heart-wrenching Game 7 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on home ice in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, but the organization suffered no Cup hangover (or in this case near-Cup hangover) when it came to the 2009 NHL Draft.
The drive from Grand Rapids to Detroit is rather unremarkable. Flat land and clusters of trees pockmark the edge of the highway.
It has been a gradual change, but most things associated with the Detroit Red Wings work that way. In a salary-cap constrained hockey landscape, Detroit can no longer simply outspend other franchises; Detroit knew this eight seasons ago and began to stockpile talent through the NHL Draft.
Procuring talent has not been difficult for the Detroit Red Wings over the past two decades, but the way in which they acquire their talent has certainly changed. A prospect pipeline that was once virtually dry is now overflowing with talented players ready to make their mark in the hockey world.
They are not prominent, but if you pay close attention the signs are all there. Cars left out overnight have dew on the windows, a few leaves are scattered beneath certain trees, and school supplies are pushed to the front of most stores; Fall is just around the corner. With Fall comes another hockey season, this time for every level of hockey (NHL included).
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