So what's next for the Wings?
Many have called Detroit the 'measuring stick'...but there were questions this year about a squad that is the oldest in the NHL. And the questions Ken Holland, Mike Babc0ck and the Wings Brain Trust will face include new challenges.
Having gone to the SCFs two years running, the wear and tear on the team which manifested itself this past season, will logically have an exponential effect next season.
Key players like Holmstrom, Draper, Maltby, Rafalski, Lidstrom and Osgood, are over 35...and NHL hockey is becoming, increasingly, a 'young man's game'.
Who replaces the stars, and who carries on the definition of excellence that has come to be equated with Detroit?
Among the issues: free agent signings and the rotation of personnel.
Staying at the top of the slippery slope, not to mention winning successive championships, is becoming more and more difficult.
With the resurgence of the teams in the Central Division, notably Chicago, St. Louis, and Columbus, the immediate competition is more intense. Had Nashville managed to sneak in, all five Central teams would have made the post season.
Perhaps significantly, all four of these teams gave the Wings trouble in their season series in 2008-09. Will these opponents be tougher next year?
The Wings' hated rivals and Cup Champion predecessors, the Anaheim Ducks, have already begun to re-tool and gave the Wings a protracted and debilitating battle this year in the playoffs.
So...changes to come in Hockeytown?
Yahoo Sports gives us this initial snapshot:
INSIDE SHOTS: DETROIT RED WINGS TEAM REPORT, JUNE 13 2009
It could have been a storybook ending for Marian Hossa. Instead, his worst nightmare unfolded.
The Pittsburgh team he spurned for greener pastures last summer defeated the club he hoped would lead him to his first Stanley Cup championship. And to make matters worse, Maxime Talbot, the most outspoken Penguin regarding Hossa’s departure, was the hero, scoring both of his team’s goals to lift Pittsburgh to a 2-1 victory in Game 7.
After leading the Wings with 40 goals during the regular season, Hossa struggled in the playoffs, scoring goals in only three of 23 games (two each in Game 4 of the first three rounds). The Cup finals were an absolute disaster for him as he failed to score a goal and tallied only three assists.
Hossa was particularly ineffective the last two games, when his team needed him the most. The Wings scored only two goals in those two games, allowing the Penguins to complete an improbable comeback.
“That’s life. Sometimes you make choices. … That’s the way it goes,” said Hossa, who signed a one-year, $7.45 million contract with Detroit last summer. “I couldn’t get anything done during the series. You try not to let things get to you, you block it. But everyone’s human.”
Hossa said he doesn’t regret his decision. He was non-committal when asked whether he still wants to re-sign with the Red Wings. The club has a difficult choice to make. If it signs Hossa, it will lose a few other players because of salary-cap constraints.
Penguins 2, Red Wings 1: The Wings ran out of steam. For the second straight game they were lackluster during the first two periods, and their late flurry fell short. The Wings could not sustain much of a forecheck as the Penguins won puck battles and did a good job of moving it out of their zone quickly. Mistakes also cost Detroit. Brad Stuart was the goat on both goals, both scored by Maxime Talbot. Stuart turned the puck over on the first one and pinched on the second one, leading to a two-on-one break. Still, the Wings had an excellent chance to tie it in the waning seconds, but Marc-Andre Fleury made a chest save on Nicklas Lidstrom’s close-range shot.
• D Chris Chelios, 47, was a healthy scratch in the Stanley Cup Final and is not expected to be re-signed. But Chelios is not prepared to retire. He hopes to play next season for another club. He played in parts of 10 seasons with the Wings, appearing in 578 games and winning two Stanley Cups.
• D Andreas Lilja is not sure if he’ll be ready for the start of next season because of concussion-like symptoms that have gotten worse recently. Lilja, who was punched out by Nashville Shea Webber on Feb. 28, said his headaches have gotten worse.
• The Wings became just the third team to lose a Game 7 of the Cup Final at home.
Quote To Note: “It’s hard coming up short one game; you’re so close to the Stanley Cup, you’re fighting hard the whole season to put yourself in this situation.”—Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom.
• D Jonathan Ericsson scored his team’s only goal, his fourth of the playoffs. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound rookie had a strong postseason with eight points and a plus-9 rating in 22 games, securing a spot in the lineup next season.
• LW Tomas Holmstrom had a dreadful postseason, failing to score a goal in the last 19 games. He didn’t provide his usual net-front presence and wasn’t as strong retrieving the puck, which hurt the power play.
• C Darren Helm had six hits Friday and finished with a team-leading total of 118 in the playoffs. His speed, aggressive forechecking and physical play were vital for the team.
• D Andreas Lilja was diagnosed with a bleeding vein in his head, which is causing his headaches. He missed the rest of the regular season and the entire playoff run after getting punched in the chin by Nashville’s Shea Webber on Feb. 28.
• LW Tomas Kopecky missed the remainder of the postseason after undergoing surgery to repair a broken orbital bone, sustained during a fight with Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin in Game 4 of the second round.
Much discussion to be had, and the thoughts of GM Hockey Members are sure to varied and passionate.
Over to you...
Last edited by davetherave on Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:23 pm; edited 1 time in total