The calendar has now turned to August, which means thoughts of baseball’s playoffs and football’s regular season can finally begin. Somewhere in there, though, thoughts of hockey should at least be lingering.
In Detroit, that’s always been the case. No matter how well positioned the Detroit Tigers may be in the pennant chase, or how much hope fans might maintain for the Detroit Lions, Michigan State Spartans or Michigan Wolverines on the gridiron, there has always been a quiet excitement in Hockeytown about the prospects of the Detroit Red Wings starting once again during the fall. This has been especially true during lockout years.
This year, though, nobody can say that. Tuesday night, I was cheerfully reminded by my wife that there were a mere 66 days left until Pittsburgh Penguins hockey started. I found myself not even motivated to offer reaction to the news while watching David Price’s first Tigers’ start and penning a story about the goings on at Lions camp. To me, the notion of hockey simply didn’t matter right now.
The reality is, that’s where many in Hockeytown have to be at. After a messy first week of July’s free agency period, Ken Holland and company gave up on improving the roster and creating buzz. There’s been rumors, but no moves. Since, the Tigers have been moving and shaking, both in the standings and on the trade front. The Detroit Pistons have signed a few players and looked poised for a change. The Lions, at least thus far, don’t look to be a potential tire fire in the making with a new attitude to beleive in.
What morsel do die-hard hockey fans have? Nothing special, except limited news on Daniel Alfredsson. The 41 year-old forward is either going to retire or play for the Red Wings in 2014, but he doesn’t know which to choose. Holland is no doubt waiting with baited breath to see if another veteran forward in the twilight of his career chooses to stay in Detroit. After all, it was about this time Dan Cleary returned last season.
Otherwise, there’s been no trade to create excitement. Once upon a time, the Red Wings were rumored to be interested in defenseman on the trade market, and most seriously, Mike Green. That fizzled quick. There had been rumors of an additional signing, someone like Michael Del Zotto. Yesterday, Del Zotto signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. Other targets have also gone elsewhere.
This summer malaise will almost assuredly carry over into fall, seeing as excitement for 2014 is at an all-time low. The most exciting thing the Red Wings did this summer was unveil plans for their new arena district, and that’s still three years off. Holland must hope the team he does put on the ice in October stays healthy and performs immediately, or else things could get ugly fast.
There’s no question such early success would prove that Detroit is still Hockeytown, but that notion is teetering more with every heart the Tigers win, every mind the Lions occupy and every move the Red Wings don’t make. The Pistons have work left to be done, but with the cult of Stan Van Gundy’s personality now in town, they could officially become more intriguing winter viewing than the Red Wings.
It’s August 6, and the Red Wings’ home opener on October 9 against the Boston Bruins is now 64 days away. The question is, do you really care? With everything else positive going on, should you?
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax