New Year’s Resolutions For The Detroit Red Wings
New Year's Resolutions For The Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings, by all accounts, had a decent year in 2012. The team set a league record for most consecutive home wins, made the playoffs for a 21st consecutive season, and saw the NHL debuts of several promising young players. The year had its down moments as well, as the retirement of NIcklas Lidstrom leaves a gaping hole on the team’s defense, and a speedy first-round exit from the playoffs ended the season on a sour note. For a storied franchise like the Wings, where success is measured in Stanley Cups, not just playoff appearances, there are still a handful of things that can be improved upon in the coming year.
If there is indeed hockey to be played this season, the Wings have the opportunity to showcase two areas they have strengthened: toughness and young talent. With the possibility of a shortened season, the aging lineup at present may run out of gas in a hurry. Letting young players get some ice time will not only let the team evaluate if they are ready for full-time duty, but give the veterans some much-needed rest. After all, these players didn’t get time off during the lockout, they’ve been hard at work in the AHL. Offseason acquisition Jordin Tootoo will hopefully add some grit to the lineup, and keep other team’s agitators away from the Wings’ stars.
Most important of all if there is a season, is for the team to remember the fans. For all the so-called protests, the Ilitch family knows the majority of their fans will never actually turn their backs on their beloved team. Even a short season would provide the Wings with many chances to thank fans for coming back, again.
Play With More Toughness
One of the most frequents knocks on the Red Wings is that they play a finesse game and sometimes lack toughness. The offseason acquisition of former Nashville Predators winger Jordin Tootoo should help in that department, and it would be nice to see Justin Abdelakder and Brendan Smith continue to be willing to drop the gloves. As this team ages, it will be even more important to hold other teams accountable for targeting star players.
Fill The Void On Defense Left By Nicklas Lidstrom's Retirement
The retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom was not a huge surprise, but leaves a very large hole on the Red Wings' roster. A team that has always relied heavily on scoring from its defense will need players like Ian White, Niklas Kronwall, offseason acquisition Carlo Colaiacovo and youngster Brendan Smith to step up and try to fill this void.
Make The Playoffs For The 22nd Straight Season
A successful season in Detroit is measured by postseason success, and last seasons’ first-round exit left players and fans dissatisfied. The Wings need to make a 22nd straight playoff appearance next season, and do their best to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
Sign Jimmy Howard To A Long-Term Contract
Goaltender Jimmy Howard is set to be a free-agent at the end of the season. In his three full seasons with the Wings, he has won 37, 37 and 35 games. He only made $2.25 million with Detroit last season, and was set to make the same this year, a bargain considering his performance. He would likely get a lot more on the open market, so the Wings need to make every effort to secure his services for the future.
Let The Kids Play
Last season Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith showed they were ready for the NHL. This season the Wings would be wise to find them expanded roles, as both have been leading the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL during the lockout. Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson and Riley Sheahan have all started strong as well, and should be looked to at the first sign of a veteran player’s injury or poor play.