Top Ten Detroit Red Wings Stories of 2012
Top Ten Detroit Red Wings Stories of 2012
As 2012 winds down, there is still no NHL hockey being played, leaving Detroit Red Wings fans with nothing to focus on besides the development of prospects. After a busy year that saw the retirement of two beloved Wings (Nicklas Lidstrom and likely Tomas Holmstrom), several records set or added to, and favorable debuts of future stars, there seems to be little to look forward to in the coming year for Detroit fans until the lockout ends. This year also saw the cancellation of the much-anticipated 2013 Winter Classic at University of Michigan Stadium and a first-round playoff exit.
Top Red Wings prospects will continue to hone their game just two hours away with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, thanks to an extension of the two teams’ affiliation that will last until 2017. Former Wings assistant coach Jeff Blashill is in his first season of leading the Griffins, who currently sit in first place in the Midwest Division. Young talent such as Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson continue to lead the team, and fans have been treated to what they hope is the future of Red Wings goaltending in rookie sensation Petr Mrazek. The NHL debuts and first goals of Smith and Nyquist were among the memorable moments for the Wings last season.
A league record 23-game home winning streak was the highlight of the season for the Wings, who also kept extended their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 21 seasons. A first-round loss to the Nashville Predators saw the season end on a sour note.
Here is a look at the top Red Wings stories of 2012 - the good and the bad. Let’s hope 2013 can be a memorable year for one of the league’s Original Six teams as well.
First NHL Goals for Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist
Red Wings fans got a glimpse of the future when Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist saw their first NHL stints during the 2011-12 season. Both also scored their first NHL goals, with Smith getting his Mar. 2 against the Minnesota Wild and Nyquist netting his Mar. 26 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Tomas Holmstrom Calls It A Career?
While there has still been no official announcement for the retirement of Tomas Holmstrom, the Wings are unlikely to re-sign him and he has said he has no desire to play for another team. His absence also leaves a hole in the Wings lineup moving forward, and his presence on the power play will be sorely missed. His numbers had declined in recent years, but his play in front of the net in all situations will be missed. He logged his 1,000th NHL game in February 2012. He was a part of four Stanley Cup championship teams with Detroit.
Affiliation With AHL Grand Rapids Extended Through 2017
In March, the Red Wings announced they had extended their affiliation agreement with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins through the 2016-17 season. Of the 30 players who skated for the Wings last season, 19 had spent time in Grand Rapids (including Gustav Nyquist, pictured above). The short distance between the team also allows Wings personnel like Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Chris Osgood, Jiri Fischer, Kirk Maltby and Chris Chelios to frequently visit and work with the team’s young prospects.
Red Wings Make The Playoffs For 21st Straight Season
The Wings finished third in a tightly contested Central Division, yet still made the playoffs for a 21st straight season (currently the longest active streak in the four major professional sports). They were matched against the Nashville Predators, who dominated most of the first-round series, sending Detroit home for the season after just five games.
Offseason Acquistitions Include Samuelsson, Tootoo, Gustavsson
The offseason saw the Red Wings lose out on prized free-agent defenseman Ryan Suter, but add forwards Jordin Tootoo, Damien Brunner and Mikael Samuelsson, defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to the roster. Defenseman Brad Stuart and forward Jiri Hudler left town in free agency and Tomas Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom retired.
Plans Move Forward For New Arena In Detroit
In early December the Michigan Senate and House approved a bill giving Detroit’s DDA control over future tax revenue, directly allowing the plans of Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch to build a new arena to move forward. A location for the new arena has not been announced, but it seems fairly certain that Joe Louis Arena will only house the Wings for a few more seasons.
A First Round Playoff Exit Ends Season
Despite reaching the playoffs for a 21st consecutive season, the Wings were handed a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the Nashville Predators. The Wings managed just one win while bowing out in five games, and were unable to take either game at home after a season that saw them win 23 straight games at Joe Louis Arena.
Lockout Forces Cancellation Of 2013 Winter Classic
The excitement surrounding the Winter Classic and all of the festivities surrounding it had Hockeytown buzzing - not only would the game be the University of Michigan Stadium, there would be alumni games at Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers) as well as high school, OHL and AHL games. As the lockout wore on into its second month, the Classic was axed, taking away the most anticipated game of the season for an entire state. The Wings have been told they will still have the next WC whenever the NHL resumes play, but rescheduling the entire weekend as it was set to go down will likely be impossible.
Red Wings Set NHL Record With 23 Consecutive Home Wins
The Red Wings could not be stopped at home for nearly four months during the 2011-12 season, as they reeled off a league record 23 game home winning streak. Joey MacDonald stepped in for the injured Jimmy Howard and kept the streak going, until the Vancouver Canucks got a shootout win at Joe Louis Arena after Howard returned.
Nicklas Lidstrom Retires
The retirement of Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was by far the biggest news of the season. It gave fans a chance to reflect on an amazing career, while it also leaves a rather large hole to fill on the blue line. As he has done with everything in his career, Lidstrom handled the entire process with poise and grace, making his decision shortly after the season and giving the organization ample time to move forward. Four Stanley Cups, seven Norris trophies and the Conn Smythe in 2002 are just a small bit of his career hardware, and he can expect to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.