Today marks 2,000 days since Detroit sports’ last playoff win. Who will stop streak? When?

Detroit Free Press

Here we go again.

It’s another milestone day putting into perspective the tragedy Detroit sports has been for the past half-decade and counting.

Thursday marks 2,000 days since the city’s last playoff win among its four major professional sports franchises.

Go ahead. Laugh. Or cry. Or do both, like Andrew at his first day of pre-K.

You may remember the glorious evening of April 17, 2016, when the Red Wings stopped the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-0, before a packed Joe Louis Arena crowd in Game 3 of a first-round playoff series. The goals that night were scored by Andreas Athanasiou and Henrik Zetterberg, and Petr Mrazek had the shutout in net.

Those players, of course, no longer play in Detroit. And the arena is dust, too.

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As we’ve previously outlined in chronicling this malady, Detroit teams have lost 10 straight postseason playoff games since then — seven by the Pistons, two by the Wings, one by the Lions. (The Pistons are working on an NBA record 14-game playoff losing skid.)

For some perspective on that day in 2016: Jim Harbaugh was coming off his first season at Michigan; Michigan State football had just won the Big Ten and made the College Football Playoff; MSU basketball was stunned by No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee in the NCAA tournament a month prior; newly signed Tiger Jordan Zimmermann was on his way to a 5-0 April en route to winning American League pitcher of the month; and, finally, Barack Obama was president (with Joe Biden as his veep).

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If you’re into numbers, here’s the breakdown of how long the Detroit postseason winless drought has been:

• 5 years, 5 months, 21 days.

• 65 months, 21 days.

• 48,000 hours.

• 285 weeks and 5 days.

As FiveThirtyEight wrote in September, Detroit is in the midst of “an unprecedented three-year run of ignominy.” And over the past 25 years, no city experienced more losing than Detroit in 2020, when all four franchises finished with bottom-seven records in their respective leagues.

2021 has been incrementally better on the field and hope has suddenly sprouted, quite quickly in fact.

The Tigers have played near .500 ball under first-year manager AJ Hinch to produce their best season since 2016. They have a talented, young pitching staff and highly drafted hitters nearing the majors, plus money to spend in free agency this winter.

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The Pistons won the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA draft and selected Cade Cunningham, who looks like an All-Star for the next decade.

The Lions, forever rebuilding, are in Year 1 of a new era under general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell, and have extra first-round picks coming in 2022 and 2023.

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And we will finally see the fruits of GM Steve Yzerman’s first two Red Wings drafts this season, with top picks Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond potentially making the roster. (Seider is a near-lock, while Raymond is a long shot.)

At some point, one of these franchises will be lifted by these injections of new voices and youth to earn a playoff victory.

But you don’t play just to win a playoff game. You play to advance as far as possible in the postseason.

If you’re wondering how long it has been since a Detroit team advanced in the playoffs, you’d have to go back 2,920 days — eight years ago this month — to Oct. 10, 2013, when the Tigers defeated the Oakland A’s, 3-0, in Game 5 of the ALDS. (Thank you, Justin Verlander!)

Detroit teams have failed to advance in the postseason nine times since — the Tigers in the 2013 ALCS and 2014 ALDS; the Wings in 2014-16; the Lions in 2014 and 2016; and the Pistons in 2016 and 2019).

The 2010s were rough, as Detroit went championship-less in a decade for the first time since the 1970s. The current 13-year drought since the Wings’ 2008 Stanley Cup triumph is the longest for the Motor City’s core four since a 16-year stretch in 1968-84.

The other three- or four-sport cities with title droughts longer than Detroit’s: Minneapolis/St. Paul (30), Atlanta (26) and Phoenix (20).

So which Detroit team will break each skid? And when?

When we asked in May of 2020 — after 1,500 days had passed since a Detroit postseason win — which franchise would break the winless streak, readers voted:

1. Lions  39.52%  (767 votes)

2. Red Wings 36.84% (715 votes)  

3. Pistons 18.08% (351 votes)  

4. Tigers 5.56% (108 votes) 

And which team would advance in the playoffs first:

1. Red Wings 47%  (610 votes)  

2. Lions 38.75%  (503 votes)  

3. Pistons 8.4%  (109 votes)  

4. Tigers 5.85%  (76 votes)

Nearly 17 months later, let’s see how the results shake out. Vote in our polls below:

Your turn

Don’t see the poll? Try this link.

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