Which Detroit team will be next to win a championship?

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Detroit Red Wings

Case for: Of all the Detroit sports team, the Red Wings come with the best track record. Much of the late-90s Stanley Cup champion team had turned over by the time the Red Wings won again in 2002, then again in 2008. The 2008 Cup was particularly important as it showed the organization was capable of staying atop the league after the salary cap was put into place.

Attempts to “rebuild on the fly” while maintaining the franchise’s playoff streak were unsuccessful. That did little more than extend the playoff streak to 25 season and stunt the growth of younger players who were left in the minors or deprived of ice time at the NHL level. Thankfully, that strategy is over as the Red Wings have finally admitted to the need for a true rebuild.

The Red Wings earned a reputation for being a premier organization during their championship years and now with facilities to match, they should be able to re-establish themselves as one of the NHL’s top teams as long as they can stick with a commitment to do the rebuild the right way. A 2018 Draft rich in picks, as well as additional picks in coming years is a good sign.

Case against: Like the Tigers, the other Ilitch-owned team in town, the Red Wings are saddled with bad contracts for aging players. That will eventually work itself out, provided Ken Holland resists the urge to hand out more bad contracts. Over-valuing his own players has been a major problem and one that either Holland will learn from or he will need to be replaced (Many will argue he should be replaced regardless).

The Red Wings are also up against as level of a playing field as there has ever been in the NHL. The salary cap is one thing but the Red Wings were ahead of the game in scouting and securing talent from Europe. The Red Wings built a dynasty in part by finding late-round gems out of countries like Russia and Sweden but can’t count on that advantage any longer.

Next: Tigers?