It was never a matter of if, but rather a question of when Justin Abdelkader would sign with the Detroit Red Wings this summer. Abdelkader signed for 4 years and 7.2 million dollars. This comes just two days before the NHL owners are likely to lock out the players and postpose the 2012-2013 season. It is hoped that Adbdelkader will get the chance to play for his new contract sooner than later.
The 25-year-old Muskegon, Michigan native has been a solid 3rd or 4th line option for the Red Wings the past few seasons. Many remember Abdelkader’s debut in the 2009 playoffs, where he scored his first point in his first game and his first goal in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since then he has played himself into the hearts of the Detroit faithful as both a fighter and a grinder.
If there is one type of player Detroit fans respect, it is the grinder. Abdelkader embodies the same spirit that players such as Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, and Kris Draper had before him. He pins the opposition into their own zone, provides speed, hits everything in sight, and when necessary will drop the gloves and protect teammates. There is something about such players that encompasses the Detroit culture and drives fans to their feet.
Whenever hockey begins again this season, it is comforting for Red Wings fans to know that Abdelkader will be in the lineup. Even the penalties that he sometimes takes are worth the physical aspect he and now fellow Red Wing Jordin Tootoo will bring to the ice. This physicality should help the Red Wings push farther in the playoffs, and not be pushed out themselves by the likes of the tough Western Conference.