File this one under 'reactionary'. Watching last night's Red Wings vs Leafs game, it was easy to see that the Wings were performing far below expectations. They have won four Stanley Cups in the past 11 years, AND they were facing the self-loathing Maple Leafs. Yet, the powerful Wings managed to lose 3-2 and scraped together a half-hearted effort despite their talent.
Before last season, the Red Wings had not won a cup since 2001-02, when they were coached by Scotty Bowman. The pre-salary cup era of the NHL. As any NHL GM will tell you, when the cap was introduced, the league changed.
The Wings have remained strong for many years now, but the so-called Stanley Cup hangover phenomena did not begin until the 2001-02 season, when it affected the team the Wings beat to win the Cup, the Caroline Hurricanes, who failed to qualify for the playoffs the following season.
In 2001-02, the Red Wings had a combined salary of $66.6-million. These days, they're working with a little more than $56-million. In both instances, they have among the highest payrolls in the league.
The following season, the New Jersey Devils won the Cup, but were beaten out in the first round as defending champions in 2003-04. The Lightning won that season, but have been shit since then. Then the lockout and the salary cap, and no Cups for the wings since that time.
You gotta fall pretty far to lose to the Leafs, and maybe the Wings are feeling the modern-era hangover. Put on your salary cap.
Sorry for the not-Sens-centric post, readers. If the Wings handily beat the Sens on Saturday, all this goes out the window. Just a theory. Like I said, file it under 'reactionary'.