The new arrival and “x-factor” on the Detroit Red Wings lineup is Swiss-star Damien Brunner. There is not too much known about the right-handed winger, outside of the fact that teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and a handful of other NHL teams wanted his services as well. So why did the form EV-Zug player end up in Hockeytown? The answer is simple: a passion for winning combined with that irresistible European flavor.
It is unfair to say that the Red Wings are the only international team in today’s NHL. The Sedin twins in Vancouver have surely given Swedish natives a second team to root for in North America. Pekka Rinne gives many young Finnish goalkeepers an NHL franchise in “Smashville.” And there is no doubting the amount of Russians who go crazy for the Washington Capitals or Penguins with stars like Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin on their respective lineups. The game truly has become fully international in all aspects (even some referees are from Europe!).
Hockeytown, however, is home to the infamous Russian 5 in the 90s and at one point had as many as 8 Swedes on its roster. Detroit’s recently retired captain, Nick Lidstrom, was the first European-born captain to ever win the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings next captain is likely a fellow Swede, Henrik Zetterberg. The Red Wings value puck possession and smooth passing, and avoid penalties and fights whenever possible. The Detroit front office has basically written the book on how to draft late in Europe and still come out with extremely talented players. Therefore it is no surprise they were also able to convince Brunner that they were serious about him playing big minutes in Detroit.
Now whether or not Brunner will make a big impact is unseen. One player that was supposedly going to be an instant impact player was Ville Leino out of Finland. Although his first goal was an absolute beauty, he struggled mightily since that point, and the Wings were forced to trade him for a prospect to the Philadelphia Flyers. The belief is that Brunner chose the Wings because he felt he could best adapt his game to their style. Time will tell, but it could be that this Euro-style of play in Detroit may have brought the Red Wings that solid addition they were looking for this offseason.