Commentary

Ultimate Standings 2009: No. 4

Detroit Red Wings

Updated: July 1, 2009, 11:29 AM ET
By Jason Catania | ESPN The Magazine

Last Year's Rank: 12
Title Track: 2
Ownership: 1
Coaching: 6
Players: 3
Fan Relations: 1
Affordability: 57
Stadium Experience: 82
Bang for the Buck: 10

These Wings don't require a hard sell. Of course, it helps when the lead pitchman is longtime GM Ken Holland, who has been one of the architects of the most consistently great franchise of the past two decades. The proof: 18 straight postseason appearances, the longest active streak in sports. The team's success made for a mean selling point when it came to locking up the franchise's core -- Pavel Datsyuk (seven years), Henrik Zetterberg (12 years) and Johan Franzen (11 years) -- to what amount to lifetime contracts for less money than the players could get elsewhere. "I love it here, and I want to be here forever," said Zetterberg after inking his deal, in January. Meanwhile, Mike Babcock earned the league's top Coaching ranking for simultaneously handling the homegrown talent and making newbies, such as first-year Wings Ty Conklin (25–11) and Marian Hossa (71 points), feel and perform as if they'd been in Hockeytown for years. What would Wings fans like the team to change? The outdated Joe, which celebrates its 30th birthday in December. Yes, there are whispers of a renovation project or even an entirely new home, but both possibilities pose tricky financial questions for ailing Motown. A decision must be made a year before the current lease ends, in July 2010. If Wings ownership can sell the politicos on either initiative, well, maybe they should try selling cars.