The eleven time Stanley Cup champs, the Detroit Red Wings, take the spotlight on Cardiac Cane today. There is no denying I am excited for this post. The Wings are the team I supported before the Blue Jackets, and long before I became a Caniac. Getting to see Nicklas Lidstrom in Vegas was my second favorite encounter next to Skinner.
I am also pumped as Monica McAlister will be providing the insider look at the Red Wings. Monica is a fellow FanSided writer, and heads things up over at Octopus Thrower. Take it away my fellow Winger…
1. Sum up your 2010-11 season in one word: Bittersweet
2. What was your favorite Moment from this past season?
As a huge fan of Norris Nick (Nicklas Lidstrom) I would have to say seeing him get his first career hat trick. For a guy that has broken down so many barriers it was good to see him add one more thing to his resume for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
3. What player(s) on your team would be feared next season and why?
Nicklas Lidstrom – he’s Norris Nick, The Perfect Human, Captain Nick. He’s 41 years young and still having the time of his life patrolling the Red Wings blueline – not to mention he says being washed out of the playoffs left a sour taste in his mouth.
Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk – The Euro Twins are always leading Detroit with YouTube videos and “how the heck did they do that?” both of them have seen their share of attacks from the injury ninja in the last few seasons but still dazzle fans and opponents alike.
4. Going into the 2011-12 season what do you feel will be your team’s strengths / weaknesses?
Weaknesses: Scoring. Detroit tends to put two centers on a line which works out great for playmaking and faceoffs but the Red Wings have been missing a sniper since they lost Marian Hossa.
Blueline: Until less than a week ago the Red Wings only had Brad Stuart, Niklas Kronwall, and Jakub Kindl signed for next season on defense. Now with the return of captain Nicklas Lidstrom some of that pressure has been relieved but with Jonathan Ericsson and Ruslan Salei both unsigned and the retirement of Brian Rafalski has left three spots still vacant heading into free agency.
Strengths: Veteran leadership (Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg) paired with youthful enthusiasm (Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, possible Brendan Smith on the blueline) not only will be a strength for this season but for those to come as the youth become the experienced vets. Skill: Lidstrom’s vision, Datsyuk’s play making and puck handling skills, Dan Cleary’s worth ethic and Darren Helm’s speed.
5. What player/staffing changes have happened/forecasted for the upcoming year? (Please note this article was written before the draft/Free Agent frenzy)
First the Red Wings have lost both Assistant Coaches and those spots will have to be filled.
Secondly, everyone has heard of the Jaromir Jagr talks. Detroit is known for bringing in older players to play along with the system. Yes he’s a goal scorer; but he’s been in the KHL and if anyone knows the disappointment of a player coming back to the NHL from the KHL it is Detroit fans and the return of fellow Czech Jiri Hudler.
Third – Letting go… first retirement. Time to get serious and look at the bigger picture of the organization as a whole and it’s future rather than there here and now. I have as much respect for Kris Draper and Chris Osgood but boys – it is time. Personally I would like to see Osgood head to Grand Rapids and work with our developing net minders. As for Draper – having him behind the bench as one of the assistant coach replacements would be great. Going from an Assistant captain to an Assistant Coach – I’d like to thank the Winnipeg Jets (the first ones not the new ones) for trading him to Detroit for a dollar. Second – Jonathan Ericsson. I was a huge supporter of the 6’5” Swede when he was a prospect and when he made his NHL debut; but he has lost a few steps every season since. Time to send him to Toronto to be reunited with Brett Lebda.
Fourth – re-signings. Lidstrom signed last week for another year; but I would still like to see Patrick Eaves at least signed before free agency starts. Drew Miller I would like to see back as well but in my opinion Eaves is the slightly higher priority at this point. Both players bring experience from other teams with them and Miller even his own Stanley Cup from his time with the Ducks.
*** Since writing this post the Red Wings have re-singed Jonthan Eric$$on to an ungodly amount of money for what he does; therefore, Eric$$on has become the offical replacement for Brian Raflaski whom lead in turn overs at a lovely $6 mil a year (now it will be Eric$$on with $3.74 mil a year). Mike Commodore (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Ian White (San Jose Sharks) have now been added to the blueline; while rumors circulate that the Red Wings may bring back former Chris Osgood back up Ty Conklin who spent his time since wearing a Winged Wheel in St. Louis.
Thanks Monica! Be sure to follow the Red Wings expert on Twittter.