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Wings are victims of longtime success

April 29, 2012
Craig Remsburg - Senior Sports Writer ( , The Mining Journal

All Detroit Red Wings fans knew it was coming, though it took some time.

The team has become a victim of its longtime success.


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Craig Remsburg

The Wings have made the NHL postseason in each of the past 21 seasons and have won four Stanley Cup championships (2008, 2002, 1998 and 1997) during that span.

The franchise also won six Western Conference titles and 32 playoff series victories in that stretch. This season, the Red Wings set an NHL record, winning 23 straight at home.

The trouble is, the Wings have been so good, they've been unable to replenish the roster lately with high-end draft picks.

They have three superstars - Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg - who are 42, 33 and 31 years old, respectively.

Jimmy Howard (28) and Niklas Kronwall (31) are good players and may be considered stars. Inconsistent Johan Franzen (32) might be next in the Wings' player pecking order.

Notice how all but Howard are in their 30s. Most - if not all - have some serviceable years left, but they're slowing down a little.

A lot of NHL teams have youth and speed, something the Wings don't. And it has hurt the Detroit team the last two to three seasons in the playoffs.

Especially this season.

The Nashville Predators ousted the Wings in the first round of the playoffs, four games to one, behind sizzling goaltender Pekka Rinne, younger and quicker players and more talented depth.

The Wings have a lot of role players, from Todd Bertuzzi (37), Thomas Holmstrom (39) and Dan Clearly (33) to Drew Miller (28), Brad Stuart (32) and Patrick Eaves (27).

They don't have a Steven Stamkos, a Sidney Crosby or a Claude Giroux, all players under 30 who are stars now and should be for years to come.

That's because the Wings' No. 1 draft picks over the years, if they even keep them and don't trade them for veteran players, have always been at the lowest end of the first round.

That's due to the fact the Wings have been so good over the past two decades.

Losing to the Predators should show Detroit General Manager Ken Holland the Wings need an overhaul. Maybe not a major overhaul, as some critics are calling for, but an overhaul, nevertheless.

Lidstrom may retire and Holmstrom should do the same. He's mostly relegated to standing in front of the opposing goalie during Wings' power plays.

Unrestricted free agent Stuart won't likely be re-signed and another UFA, Jiri Hudler, might go elsewhere. Reserve goaltender Ty Conklin likely won't be back, as well.

Holland's No. 1 priority during the offseason is to sign a top-end free agent forward or two to bolster the front lines, if such players become available.

Young defenseman Brendan Smith should be moved up permanently to the Wings' lineup if Stuart doesn't return and especially if Lidstrom retires.

The Wings might also be forced to make a trade or two to add some depth, especially up front. Speed will be a prerequisite in any deal for a forward.

Holland must make some moves to assemble a team that will go further into the playoffs.

Failure to do so during the summer will relegate the team to another decent season, but an early playoff exit, again.

Red Wing fans want to be watching their favorite team well into June.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is



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