When the Red Wings take the ice on Thursday night against San Jose they will be looking back at a team built in their likeness. Following a disappointment in last year’s Western Semis to the Stars, the Sharks retooled over the summer canning current Leafs coach Ron Wilson and replacing him with Wings Assistant Todd McLellan. Entering this game the Wings are comfortably in the lead in the Central with 44 points in 30 games – the same amount of games it took for the Sharks to rack up a league record of 52 points. The team’s current success is owed to the Wings in many more ways than just a defected assistant.
If fans of Dave Lewis have heard this tone before, the Sharks won 60% of their games over the past three years but could not get out of the second round – causing Ron Wilson to be fired. This is the same winning percentage that caused the former Wings skipper Lewis to have the same fate. This team has also been built around a long-time franchise player in Marleau, very similar to the Delvecchio and Yzerman-types who shaped the “C” in Detroit hockey history. While Marleau should not technically be uttered in the same sentence as those guys, he has received a lot of respect from players like Blake and Roenick on this very international team.
So where does this leave the Red Wings? Their hot start has been overshadowed by a freakish start by a city and team whose greatest hockey moment came nearly 15 years ago against Detroit. Until these wins in the regular season begin to carry over into playoff success, the Wings remain the top fish in this pond.