Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Stepford Red Wings

Tonight, the NHL Conference Finals begin. I will not take the easy way out and say Sidney Crosby is a diver. He has never been called for a diving penalty, so just shut up already. It's like calling someone who has never scored a goal in the NHL a goal scorer. Enjoy your built in excuse when you lose in 6, Philadelphia. Instead, I will be looking towards the west, specifically Detroit. Which as everyone knows, is in the western part of the United States.

Something that has always struck me as odd about the Detroit Red Wings is that this team has been able to stay very good for a very long time. In the mid to late 90s, they were the most successful NHL franchise winning multiple Stanley Cups and being one of, if not the favorite to win every year. But that's when things got weird. They stayed competitive yet when I would run down their roster at the beginning of every year I would say to myself, "Meh, not that good." Then April would roll around, Detroit would be towards the top of the Western Conference and they would be in contention for another championship. I have finally figured out how this is possible. Cloning. That's right. The Detroit Red Wings have been cloning hockey players for the better part of a decade.

I know what you are thinking. Cloning is not the reason for this amazing string of longevity in being a good hockey club. You can say it's the timely trades, the good work in scouting and the draft, the great coaching/management, and on and on. Wrong. It's fucking cloning. But these doctors up in Detroit have been very good at keeping it quiet. They aren't out saying in their German accents, "Look at us! Look at vhat vee have done vif zee hockey playing men!" by cloning Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk and having a team full of genetic superstars. No, they are building their legacy upon red bearded, second and third line players. When watching the Red Wings play this season, the only thing I could think of was the fact that everyone on that team looked the same. Played the same. Had the same color beard. Something was up.

The man that I have determined to be "Patient Zero", if you will, for the Detroit Hockey Genome Project (DHGP) is Dallas Drake. Now, Drake would never be confused by anyone except for maybe Dallas' mother, of being an NHL superstar. He's had a very long and good career in the league. But he is also the genetic "father" to a large portion of the current Red Wings roster. Drake was drafted by the Red Wings in the 6th round of the 1989 Entry Draft. During the 1992-93 season, he played in 72 games for the Red Wings. The following season however, he was traded to Winnipeg. The reason for this trade is that his DNA had been extracted by doctors in Detroit and they had no use for him any longer. Poof. Gone. This is when Red Wings doctors began their experimentation with the human genome, using Dallas Drake as their base.

While doctors were locked up in their labs somewhere in a cave hidden in the mountains of the Greater Detroit Metro Area, the Red Wings were winning. A lot. With a bunch of Russians. Which is another story altogether. Somehow I think these same doctors and World War II were involved. Anyway, when Steve Yzerman, Igor Larionov and Sergei Fedorov had all left town, it was time for Dallas Drake's "children" to take the ice.

The first was Tomas Holmstrom. He played on all three of Detroit's recent Stanley Cup victories in 1997, 1998 and 2002, making his debut with the team in the 1996-97 season. He was the first success that the doctors had in cloning Dallas Drake and served as a test run of sorts. He was brought out onto the ice while the Red Wings were winning to not only acclimate the public to the upcoming string of clones, but to also see if they could play and win. Next came Henrik Zetterberg, arguably their masterpiece, who made his debut in 2002-03. There was a little bit of a rough patch in Michigan and all the doctors could turn out were average AHL players and lacrosse players with 3 arms. Weird.

Soon enough, the doctors found their mistakes and corrected them. That's when the floodgates opened up and in poured a wave of pretty good but not that good hockey players. In the 2005-06 season alone, the following players, who are still with the team that "made" them, mind you, made their debuts:

RW Dan Cleary (He did play with other NHL teams before the Red Wings. I think it's just a cover up so as to not look suspicious.)

By 2006, the Red Wings had a total of 7 players on their team who were all the exact fucking same. When their postseason ended sooner than some anticipated, the Red Wings made a roster move the following off season to settle their core of clones down. In 2007, the Red Wings signed Dallas Drake to a one year deal. Who better to teach these red bearded grinders how to play the game and keep their minds at ease as they find out who they really are than their "father"? Now, the Red Wings are entering the Western Conference Finals. Again. On the strength of an absurd goal scoring stretch by "The Mule" himself, Johan Franzen. Under daddy's tutelage, Johan has come into his own and accepted what he is.

This year will turn out much like the previous years for the Red Wings in their quest for the Cup, though. They will fall short, losing to the Dallas Stars, simply because in the battle of nature vs. science, nature will always win. But when you watch the Red Wings take the ice in the coming weeks, remember what you have read here today and always be mindful of what the Red Wings are trying to put by the hockey public. You aren't fooling us any longer.

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