The following was written by a longtime reader and dear friend of mine, Nicholas Ozog. You can submit your own articles for publishing by emailing them to us at email@example.com.
With the NHL and players association still far from reaching an agreement on the new CBA, fans can only hope we see a shortened season beginning with the Winter Classic on January first. This shortened season will most likely consist of sixty to seventy games played with fewer days off in between, this format will tax and toll teams with little depth and will push both rookies and aging veterans to their limits.
This lockout is also leaving many fans speculating on what their teams will or won’t do once the season actually starts. As a hockey fan myself I’ve been involved in some heated debates as to the success of the Redwings in the post Lidstrom era.
The Detroit Redwings are a storied franchise, an original six team with twenty-one straight playoff appearances, a perfect example of success, however this was not always the case. Many older fans will remember a time where the Redwings were known as the “deadwings” when the team had little impact on the game of hockey as a whole. This all changed when in 1983 the Redwings drafted Steve Yzerman. Stevie Y’s impact on the team was immediate and under his tenure as our captain the team saw amazing successes, including back to back Stanley Cup wins in 1997 and 1998. In 2006 the Redwings lost both Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan, losses that left many fans questioning if the success experienced in the past ten years was a thing of the past. This doubt ended when Nicklas Lidstrom took the reigns as captain leading the team to the playoffs for his entire tenure as captain and to yet another Stanley cup in 2008. Similarly this offseason Hockeytown said farewell to long time captain and one of the greatest defensemen to ever play the game of hockey, Nick Lidstrom. Much like in 2006 many fans have begun questioning the Redwings management wondering if this is the year the team begins a slow spiral back into irrelevancy.
As it was not to be in 2006, 2012 is not the year the wings fall into a slump, this is not the end of our playoff appearances, and by no means are the redwings in “rebuild mode” as so many seem to think. The redwings are still a playoff team and their offseason moves prove that both the Illich family and Kenny Holland are committed to putting a winning team on the ice at any cost.
Nicklas Lidstrom, Aged 42, Defenseman, LH shot
Brad Stuart, Aged 32, Defenseman, LH shot
Juri Hudler, Aged 28, Left Wing , LH shot
Tomas Holmstrom*, Aged 39, Wing, LH shot
* indicates player not yet resigned/projected retirement
Damien Brunner, Aged 26, Left Wing, RH shot
Jonas Gustavsson, Aged 27, Goaltender, Catches Left
Mikeal Samuelsson, Aged 35, Right Wing, RH shot
Jordin Tootoo, Aged 29, Right Wing, RH shot
Carlo Colaiacovo, Aged 29, Defenseman, LH shot
Tom Renney, Assistant Coach
Players they failed to add
Ryan Suter, Aged 27, Defenseman, LH shot
Zach Parise, Aged 28, Left Wing, LH shot
Rick Nash, Aged 28, Right Wing, LH shot
Many fans look at this list and see two things. One the departure of Lidstrom and Two the list of superstars the wings failed to acquire. These fans then deem the offseason a failure because the team lost a legend and failed to acquire a young superstar to replace him, the most notable being Ryan Suter one of the best young defensemen in the game. These fans would be right on one account, yes we lost a superstar defensemen and did not sign someone of the same caliber. This does not automatically deem this offseason and this season a failure, our acquisitions greatly outweigh our losses, adding both youth and depth to the team.
Jonas Gustavsson is exactly what this team needed, a capable backup behind Jimmy Howard with proven NHL experience with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This will come as a relief to fans, who much like seeing Valverde pitching in the ninth, were filled with uneasiness with either Joey Mac or Ty Conklin manning the pipes.
Jordin Tootoo is personally my favorite acquisition of this offseason. He is also exactly what this team needed. A grinder, someone who unlike Hudler and many forwards on the team will not shy off of hits in the corners and will use his body to his advantage when the team needs a battle won.
Damien Brunner is the wild card this season. He is absolutely incredible to watch and his point per game average in the Swiss A League is outstanding. He is a true sniper something which the Redwings have lacked since the days of Brendan Shanahan and Marian Hossa. If he can translate his successes from the larger rinks in Europe to the smaller NHL sized rinks this will be one of the best offseason signings in the entire league.
The loss of Nick Lidstrom will be felt, both his leadership and offensive flair will be missed. However his point totals did decline this last season and it was wise of him to retire while he’s on top so to speak. In an organization notorious for over-ripening it’s players Lidstrom’s retirement could not have come at a more opportune time The Wings management did fail to land a big name to replace him, however this gives Brendan Smith, one of the highest rated defensive prospects in the NHL, a roster spot. With the signing of veteran Carlo Colaiacovo the Wings have seven defensemen under contract for this season. They continue to maintain a balance of youth, veteran presence, and the depth required for a postseason run.
Lastly but not least, the management signed Tom Renney, a new assistant coach. His tenure as the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers, and Edmonton Oilers will bring more experience and talent to an already impressive coaching and managerial staff.
The Redwings continue to maintain a superstar cast of players with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg leading the offense and Nicklas Kronwall leading the defensive corps. With Chicago still struggling with its goaltending and keeping their players under control (Patrick Kane is a beautiful example of this), Nashville losing several of its key players to free agency, and the trade of Rick Nash that made Columbus even more irrelevant the Wings are poised to take the number two spot in the central behind St. Louis, assuming the Blue’s sophomore success under their new coach rival last seasons. The central being the strongest division in hockey and Vancouver clearly leading the weak Northwest division and the Pacific division going to the LA Kings, the Wings are looking at being the fourth seed in the western conference. With incredible depth and prospects like Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco beginning their career in the minors the Wings will continue to be a Stanley Cup contender for the foreseeable future.
Fear not Redwings fans this season is not the beginning of the end, it’s the beginning of a new era in Hockeytown, all that remains to be seen is which player this one is named after.
The current Detroit Roster can be found here.