Red Wings Season Preview
Team Name: Red Wings
Stanley Cups: 10
GM: Kenny Holland
Coach: Mike Babcock
Key players: Nick Lidstrom, Dominik Hasek, Henrik Zetterberg
Another very painful first-round loss haunted the Wings again this offseason, after bowing out to the eventual Western Conference Champion Edmonton Oilers. Fans in Detroit have grown quite impatient with this recurring theme, and with the Tigers currently dominating the local scene, the Wings Training Camp – normally front page news – is barely a blip on the Detroit sports fan’s radar. Combine this with the exodus of several key players, including Brendan Shanahan to the Blueshirts, and Hockeytown is off to a shaky start before even playing a game in this 2006-2007 season.
However, the Wings’ immediate future faces a bigger test than simple marketing issues. The retirement of Steve Yzerman, a living legend in Detroit and the face of the franchise for two decades, leaves a massive hole in the organization, and filling it is not as easy as sewing the captain’s “C” on Nick Lidstrom’s sweater. Yzerman was the glue that held this squad together, both on and off the ice, for the last 10+ years of heavy success (7 division titles, 4 Conference Championships, 3 Stanley Cups). There are also huge question marks in goal – with the return (again!) of the Dominator, the 41-year-old Hasek will test his much maligned groin for yet another season.
Prediction: Detroit makes the playoffs for the 17th straight season, but as a very low seed with little hope of contending.