With an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night and a regulation loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday, the Detroit Red Wings have fallen to 12-33-4 on the season. The team’s points percentage now sits at an abysmal .286. At this rate, the 2019-20 Red Wings will not go down in the history books as bad, but rather the worst.
Well, at least the worst of the 21st century. Detroit is now on pace to fall short of the previous century low, set by the Colorado Avalanche in 2016-17. That year, the Avalanche finished 22-56-4 with 48 points, but even that ugly mark was a points percentage of .293. Barring an improvement in play in Detroit, Colorado looks like they will be able to remove the title of worst single season since 2000. As it stands, the Red Wings are on pace for only 47 points on the year.
Fortunately for Detroit fans, they at least don’t have to worry about being the worst ever. In fact, in the salary cap era of the NHL, it would be next to impossible for any team to ever have the worst record in league history. Should the Red Wings finish the year with their current .286 points percentage, it would rank just 43rd-worst in the league’s record books. The 1974-75 expansion Washington Capitals will likely always sit alone in the bottom spot with an 8-67-5 record and .131 points percentage that is almost inconceivable at any level of the sport.
However, the Red Wings and their supporters would probably like to avoid the “worst” title, even if it limited to this century. Luckily, there is a glimmer of hope. In 2016-17, the Avalanche traded away Jarome Iginla, one of their top-six forwards, and struggled even more down the stretch as a result. By all accounts, there is no equivalent for this year’s Red Wings. Detroit’s roster is mostly made up of promising young players that they do not want to trade or overpaid veterans that they cannot trade. Either way, the team is not expected to lose a major piece via trade this season – unless you count Mike Green or Trevor Daley as a key contributor – and what you see is likely what you get for the rest of the year from this team. If they are just consistently bad instead of becoming even worse as the year wears on like 2016-17 Avalanche, they may just have a chance of avoiding the title of worst team of the century.