#5 "I'm going to retire." #13 "Seriously, don't, kay?"

There’s a great post up on the Detroit Red Wings blog “Winging it in Motown” today by “Amerinadian,” who writes ” The Inevitable Is Coming, But I Don’t Have To Like It.”

In a nutshell, it’s a completely reasonable musing on their long-dominant team, wondering if they can overcome losing players and aging, and still find ways to succeed.

Who’da thunk the Red Wings – their own bloggers, no less – would be wondering not if they have a Cup contender on their hands, but if they have a team that could crack the West’s top eight?

From Winging it:

The Red Wings have been on amazing run for the last 20 years, making the playoffs 21 straight seasons, the last 12 after earning at least 100 points in the regular season. We have been witness to the highs and the lows as hockey fans, but knowing that the Wings will at least have an opportunity to make a run and possibly win yet another Stanley Cup year after year is something that Wing fans may take for granted.

Given what has transpired this off-season, I think it’s fair to say that no one is guaranteeing that a playoff appearance for the 22nd straight season is a foregone conclusion. No team can overcome the loss of one of the greatest players of all time, even if he was replaced by a star free agent or heir-apparent already on the team, and not avoid some sort of decline. Factor in that the core is another year older and the obvious holes on the roster, and the 2012-13 season could potentially be a long one in Detroit.

The core being older is a great point – each and every one of the Wings best players is 30-plus: Pavel Datsyuk (34), Henrik Zetterberg (31), Niklas Kronwall (31), Todd Bertuzzi (37), Johan Franzen (32) and…I dunno, Mikael Samuelsson (35)?

30-plus isn’t exactly “old old” in hockey, but considering the youthfulness of the teams that have won Cups in recent years, they’re still to be considered “older” (especially since those names are mostly forwards, whose production tends to taper off right around, oh….where they’re at, exactly). And with that “older” tag comes a closing window. It means you need help, and with all due respect, I’m not sure it’s coming from guys like Abdelkader, Clearly, Eaves, Emmerton, or Drew Miller. Though good, I’m not Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson are good enough to boost them up while the sand continues to fall through the hourglass.

Part of me thinks that a couple of the more quiet GMs – Ken Holland and Ray Shero alike – were savvy in not signing a myriad of deals before finding out what the new CBA looks like, especially considering the track record of those two. Maybe they’ll start their wheeling and dealing after once they better know the parameters. But a big part of this Red Wings team was the cornerstone of Nicklas Lidstrom, and they face the prospect of losing their long-time crease presence in Tomas Holmstrom too. The old guard is moving out, moving on.

Couple all that with a blue line that gets a “meh” rating from Standard & Poor’s, and it’s easy to understand why there’s some hand-wringing in Hockeytown.

Again, from Winging it:

What I hope against hope, though, is that when the streak does inevitably end, it’s because the Wings took a chance on the kids rather than the veterans underachieved or hung around too long. I don’t want the Wings to become the Brett Favre of the NHL, refusing to acknowledge that their time has passed and trying to hold on to their former glory despite the fact it’s as faded as the poorly-constructed jeans that old men wear.

They’ve been incredible for so long now it’s easy to just assume that they’re always a playoff lock. Good for the Red Wings faithful for noting that won’t always be the case. Their team is still good, and still has some top-end talent, but if they don’t get some holes filled soon they’ll continue marching towards that “inevitable” season where they find themselves on the outside looking in.