Steve Yzerman represents new (and only?) hope in Detroit sports title drought

From left, Christopher Ililtch, president of Ilitch Holdings, Ken Holland, senior vice president, Marian Ilitch, Red Wings owner and Steve Yzerman, executive vice president and general manager of the Red Wings during a news conference, Friday, April 19, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

So when does the Stanley Cup parade down Woodward start?

Hey, no pressure, Steve Yzerman.

All we’re expecting from the Detroit Red Wings’ new general manager is three or four Stanley Cups and a perennial playoff contender.

Is that so much to ask?

It better not be, because I’m asking for it. And I’m pretty sure everyone around Hockeytown is. So are the good people at the Big House. And the Izzone. And Comerica Park and Ford Field.

Because right now we need someone to save us from our playoff pathos. If not for the deep runs of the Michigan and Michigan State basketball teams this season, we would have little to celebrate around here.

Sure, the Pistons grabbed the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, only to play Washington Generals to the Milwaukee Bucks’ Harlem Globetrotters. Kudos to the Pistons for returning to the playoffs for the first time in three years.

But without Blake Griffin, the Pistons didn’t have a chance. On Wednesday night, as the Pistons took a 59-58 lead into halftime at Milwaukee in Game 2, I thought: Is this happening? Are the Pistons going to even the series coming back to Detroit? What will Little Caesars Arena’s first taste of an exciting playoff game feel like?

Then Giannis Antetokounmpo happened in the second half. So did another blowout, followed by two more in Detroit.

And that leaves us with a Tigers rebuild and a death march toward 90 losses. Year 62 of the Lions rebuild continues in earnest with the draft this week.

So we turn to St. Yzerman, who was delivered unto us on Good Friday so that we may have many Great Aprils and Mays and Junes for years to come.

U-M and MSU’s basketball teams should be good again, but they’re 11 months away from our next March Madness. ESPN used something called the Football Power Index to predict that Michigan will be among the four teams in this season’s College Football Playoff, which is great … but also months away.

For now, we’re left mostly with wishful thinking. And some soul searching.

How did this happen? In the late 1990s and the 2000s, it seemed a Michigan team was winning a champion every time you turned around.

The Wolverines’ 1997 national football championship was sandwiched by the Wings’ Cups in ’97 and ’98.

In 2000, Tom Izzo and Mateen Cleaves led MSU to the hoops title.

The next year, the Wings won another Cup.

Two years later, Chauncey Billups and the Pistons went to work on the Los Angeles Lakers and won the 2004 NBA title.

Four years after that, the Wings hoisted their fourth Cup in 12 years. And the Tigers played in the 2006 and 2012 World Series.

We hosted a Super Bowl and a Final Four and an All-Star Game in the 2000s.

It seemed it would never end.

And then it did.

Now? Now we’ve gone from Motown to Notown. From the Motor City to Idle Town. We can’t even land a lousy MLS team. We’re suddenly not good enough for soccer? Really? Soccer?

So I spent the last week living vicariously as I flipped around the Stanley Cup and NBA playoffs. There was Keith Tkachuk sitting in the Pepsi Center stands rooting on his son, Matthew, as the Calgary Flames and their 37-year-old goalie, Mike Smith, went to overtime against the Colorado Avalanche.

I watched the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs do battle in an Original Six matchup and could only think about a dark and quiet Little Caesars Arena and an even darker and quieter Joe Louis Arena.

I watched the Los Angeles Clippers stun the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 with the largest comeback in NBA playoff history. I watched the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons play better than “average” and score 31 points to torch the Brooklyn Nets and shut Jared Dudley’s mouth.

I love it all in the playoffs. The trash talk gets trashier. The moments, mic drops and the memes are magnified. Give me some cotton-mouthed, end-to-end overtime playoff hockey. I want the urgency of the baseball playoffs with managerial shenanigans like having a starting pitcher face one batter.

For now, I’ll settle for Yzerman coming back home. How soon Stevie Y. and Wings bring the Stanley Cup back to Hockeytown is anyone’s guess. But I’ll be waiting. After all, haven’t we all gotten pretty good at that?

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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