Friday, July 10, 2009

This just in: The Detroit Red Wings are Finished!

Or are they? After Juri Hudler announced that he would be signing with Dynamo of the Russian KHL, talk has sprung up all over the league about the Wings being done for. It's not just that the Wings lost players, it's who they lost and where they went. True, Hossa went to Chicago and Samuelsson is off to Vancouver, but lets take a look at the numbers and see if that really hurts. Hossa scored 40 goals last season and added 31 assists for 71 points. In signing Hossa, the Hawks had to unload their other top Right Winger, Martin Havlat, who scored 29 goals and added 48 helpers for 77 points. So Chicago is more formidable now that they have a guy who is older than Havlat and scores less points than him? Now let's take a peak at the playoff stats from last season. Havlat, 5 goals, 10 assists in 16 games. Hossa, 6 goals, 9 assists in 23 games. Havlat was the leading scorer for the Hawks in the playoffs while Hossa fell apart like a game of Jenga in an earthquake. As for Sammy, it all depends on where he gets put in Vancouver. I don't think they'll put him on the power play like Detroit did, which has a lot to do with how he got the numbers he had last season. Also a no-show in the playoffs. And Hudler? Have a good time in Russia. I don't care if he scores 100 goals over there since it has no affect on the Wings. The only actual question mark I see is our goaltending. Losing Conklin to St Louis, has the potential to be bad if and only if Osgood stumbles again and Howard proves to be a liability. I don't see either being the case, but anything is possible.

As a Wings fan, I have had four great summers of celebrating a championship and the rest being told that my team is done. After losing in the first round to the Kings in 2001, all I heard about was that the Wings were done, too old, too slow... So they signed Hasek, Hull and Robitaille and steamrolled their way to the Stanley Cup the next year. The introduction of the salary cap in 2005 was supposed to be their undoing, yet somehow they emerged as the model team under the cap. Then, in the 2006 off season, Detroit had another exodus. After an embarrassing first round loss to the Oilers, the Wings lost Stevie Y to retirement, starting goalie Manny Legace to the Blues and Shanahan to the Rangers. They had the best record in the NHL that year and were expected to plummet in the standings. Well, they dropped a little, I guess, and finished tied for the best record in the NHL. Wow, what a fall from grace!

This is what everyone forgets: The teams management and coaching staff are just as important as the players. Mike Babcock is still one of the top coaches in the league and only gets better as the years come and go. Ken Holland? Best GM in sports. And he's ours! I'm not going to say that the Red Wings are guaranteed to be a contender for the Cup again, or even the playoffs because you never know what an injury or plain bad luck can do to a team during a year, but I do know that Detroit's management will do what it has to do to stay on top year after year.

The way I see it, Detroit got younger. This should be an exciting year with Helm, Abdelkader, Leino, Ericsson and Howard all playing in Detroit full time. So much for the team being old. I believe that those four skaters from Grand Rapids will be able to put a dent in the 80-something goals they lost from Hossa, Hudler and Samuelsson.

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