Although I believe every Detroit Red Wings fan still cringes when he or she thinks about it, nothing can change the fact that Nick Lidstrom has retired from playing. It does comfort many, I am sure, to know that he is still fully involved in the organization. Currently as a scout in his native Sweden, we can be sure that he will be doing his best to assist the organization in landing many more Swedish blueliners in the future. The fact that the Red Wings have been unable to land a solid defenseman (see: Ryan Suter) through free agency this summer has not quelled any fears, either.
Do Wings fans remember what it was like without Lidstrom in the lineup? I imagine that many have blocked out those few days of sickness or injury that plagued the Red Wing captain, but I feel it is necessary to maybe relive one example: Montreal, Jan. 25th, 2012. The final score was 7-2. Now had this been in the 70s I would not think much of the result, however in 2012 the Habs were anything but formidable. Detroit coach Mike Babcock summarized this game best, “I’m not going to watch any video of this, at all, I’m going to have a drink. Actually, it is what I’m going to do.”
Any other Wings fans feeling like having a drink (or two!)??
Now one team cannot simply replace “the perfect human”, but there has been speculation about a trade for the young and talented Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes or possibly a move that would bring Calgary Flame Jay Bouwmeester over to Detroit for a few offensive prospects. The trades sound good for both sides, as Detroit has many young offensive talents waiting in the AHL or still playing abroad and both Calgary and Phoenix could use a bit more firepower. Don’t buy too much into these rumors, however, as GM Ken Holland seems quite convinced that the defensive help is already in the organization.
Ken Holland stood up at the most recent press conference, looked each reporter in the eyes, and gently said, “picture this: the clouds part, the sun shines, birds sing, and through this magic moment steps the backbone of Detroit Red Wing success for the next 15+ years : Brendan Smith.”
OK, so maybe not quite that dramatic, but I think it is fine to have a little faith. After all, the Wings’ GM has not led them astray for two decades, including a trip through an unknown new salary cap, new coaches, and new captains. We saw glimpses of Smith’s greatness last season. He skates well, he can hit, good vision both passing from behind his net and the power play, and he’s not afraid to throw down when called upon. He is not Nick Lidstrom. No one is Nick Lidstrom. He is Brendan Smith, and barring injury he is going to be a Wings’ top-4 D-man all season long.
So now the time comes for us to see – Brendan Smith: Big hit or big hype?