Friday, August 31, 2012
The Red Wings Will Be Just Fine
The Detroit Red Wings are in unfamiliar territory. People are beginning to talk, and some of that talk is mentioning the unthinkable, the Red Wings missing the playoffs. Most of this talk is stemming from the fact that the Red Wings lost Nicklas Lidstrom, the NHL's prefect human, after 20 seasons in Detroit.
Lidstrom has been a permanent fixture on the Red Wings' blue line, and his departure is obviously going to leave a sizable hole. But to say the clock has struck midnight on one of the most historic franchises in the NHL and that their reign has come to an end is a little much.
The Red Wings may have lost the best leader in the history of the NHL, but the remaining roster has plenty of leadership to spare.
Still on Detroit's roster is Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterburg, Niklas Kronwall, who were all alternative captains last season, Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi. All of those mentioned would provide veteran leadership that would be welcomed with open arms by any team in the league.
Sure, Lidstrom's departure will leave a noticeable gap in the Red Wings' line-up, losing a seven-time Norris Trophy winner will do that. But, to say the end of one player's career with cause a team to drop off drastically is a bit dramatic.
Plus, with the departure of Lidstrom it will give some of Detroit's younger talent the opportunity to blossom and carry a bigger role for their team. Young guns, Jonathan Ericsson and Brendan Smith, are likely to receive a major increase in ice time. While Ian White will have the chance to anchor a blue-line that is in the middle of a major transition.
I don't think there is a team other than the Red Wings that would be able to handle a transition like this and continue to be a dominant force in the NHL. Their locker room has some of the best leaders and players in the NHL, and with a coach like Mike Babcock grounding everyone, don't expect this team to stumble into their new era.