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PHT’s Pressing Questions: How will Detroit adjust to life without Lidstrom?

Jan 9, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT

Nicklas Lidstrom AP

Every day until the season starts we’ll explore an intriguing storyline for the upcoming year.

For the first time since 1991, the Red Wings will open the season without Nicklas Lidstrom on the roster.

Just think about that for a minute.

The last time Detroit had a Lidstrom-less roster, John Ziegler was the NHL commissioner and Dan Quayle was the Vice President. Nirvana released Nevermind. Tim Berners-Lee built the first-ever website, and Dances With Wolves won Best Picture.

Yeah. Long time ago.

How Detroit adjusts to life without Lidstrom remains to be seen, but the general consensus is it’s going to be tough.

At his peak, Lidstrom was the best defenseman in hockey. In his decline, he was still a vital cog. Last year, at 41, he finished second among Wings rearguards in scoring (34 points) and played 23 minutes a game — this despite being hobbled by a foot injury that cost him 12 games.

He was also the team’s undisputed leader.

After inheriting the “C” from Steve Yzerman in 2006, Lidstrom led an amazing stretch of hockey — Detroit went 294-114-60 in the regular season under his captaincy and made two Stanley Cup finals, winning once.

Now he’s gone.

So, what lies ahead?

Many within the Wings organization have offered up “no replacing Nick” platitudes, which are boring but fair. There is no replacing him.

Yet Lidstrom’s departure has a wrinkle to it. Since the last lockout, the Wings have lost vital pieces — Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby — but also acquired them.

GM Ken Holland has been aggressive in replenishing talent via free agency and trades: Dominik Hasek, Brian Rafalski, Todd Bertuzzi and Marian Hossa, to name a few.

This year? Lidstrom leaves, and the response is…Carlo Colaiacovo.

Yes, it’s unfair linking Colaiacovo to Lidstrom — he of the seven Norris Trophies, four Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe — but that’s the nature of the beast.

To his credit, Holland tried to go big. He reportedly offered Ryan Suter a 13-year, $90 million deal to sign in Motown, but Suter opted for Minnesota.

So Colaiacovo ended up as Detroit’s lone defensive acquisition and, as such, had to field the requisite Lidstrom questions — even if everybody already knew the answers.

“I just want to be straightforward: I’m no Nick Lidstrom, but I think I’m a good complement to what they have there,” he told USA Today. “I just want to come in and be the guy that can help in any way possible.”

Oh, and for those thinking a shortened season has left the door juuuust slightly open for a Lidstrom comeback — sorry.

It’s not going to happen.

According to Swedish news outlet Sportbladet, head coach Mike Babcock already looked into that option on Tuesday.

From Google Translate:

“Yes, [Babcock] called yesterday and asked if I was keen to come over and play. But I said I’m pretty happy with life and my decision from last spring,” says ‘Lidas’ to Sportbladet.

“We talked yesterday and the question was whether I was eager to play again. He wondered if his wife was tired of being at home all the time. But she has not tired of me, not yet anyway, haha. Comeback is not an issue,” says Lidstrom.

So with all the great unknowns in Detroit, the one thing everybody knows is perhaps most worrisome of all:

Whenever the season starts, No. 5 won’t be there.

  1. wingsfan13 - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    I think the wings will end up being just fine. Ken Holland always seems to find the right players.

  2. ibieiniid - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    “I just want to be straightforward: I’m no Nick Lidstrom, but I think I’m a good complement to what they have there,” he told USA Today. “I just want to come in and be the guy that can help in any way possible.”

    GREAT answer Carlo. I like that.

    • wingz101 - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      You know of course that Carlo, he of the ridiculous injury history, apparently injured himself at the Spengler Cup and might miss the week of training camp and maybe the first week of the season. Not sure why anyone thinks this guy is better than Kindl – he’s not.

      • shoobiedoobin - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        He hasn’t played one second as a Wing yet.

      • ibieiniid - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:34 PM

        injured himself? odd way to get injured.

        from what I understand, cha boy Brunner is the one who hurt him with a check from behind. maybe he’s on your side in the Coli/Kindl war.

  3. shoobiedoobin - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    As much as I’d want to see this guy play forever, he’s the greatest dman of all time. For him to retire and un-retire would tarnish his legacy and just isn’t his style. 20 years of perfection was more than enough.

    • ibieiniid - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      yeah, athletes all learned a lesson in ‘Favrery’ just a few short years ago.

    • valoisvipers - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:04 PM

      Retire – not retire doesn’t really matter as he has not missed a game yet,just like any other NHLer.I think a short season and another kick at the Cup would have been to Nick’s liking. I guess he has a pile of money that needs spending so enjoy Nick you deserve it. Our loss and your gain.

  4. zestypickles - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    I sure as hell hope Kenny has some tricks up his sleeve because the current edition of my Wings doesn’t exactly look like the 2002 wrecking crew.

    • datsyukdominates - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      It would be pretty impossible for the Red Wings to put together a team even close to the 2002 squad you speak of. That team was assembled prior to the salary cap era of hockey. I doubt you’ll see that many Hall of Famers on a single team ever again…

      • zestypickles - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:25 PM

        I wasn’t suggesting it was still possible, just reminiscing on them good times.

  5. wingz101 - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    You lose Nik. You lose Stuart and you previously lost Rafalski. Your defense now includes 2 former Toronto Maple Leafs and a guy in Kyle Quincey that has been on four teams in 5 years.

    Kenny Holland’s master plan was to wait for the cap to be lowered to $500.00 so someone like the Predators would have to cut a guy like Shea Weber and he’d snap him up for free!


    My advice is reunite Pavel Datsyuk with Henrik Zetterberg, play them every other shift and when the trade deadline comes, take a page from the NYRangers and try to fleece some cash strapped team or whatever team employs Scott Howson.

    Oh and if you can, avoid trading a first rounder for a scrub. Not Kenny’s finest moment.

    • shoobiedoobin - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM

      Fans like you, that look like they love hating their own team, are the worst fans on the face of the Earth.

      • wingz101 - Jan 9, 2013 at 9:09 PM

        Fans like me love the Wings but don’t blindly accept that everything the GM does is a stroke of genius. Kenny Holland has had a great run but some of his most recent moves haven’t exactly been game changers. I have a ton of faith in this team but it has really struggled in the playoffs the last three years and Kenny Holland has really had a tough time addressing the issues. Hopefully the ability to trade has returned with the new CBA and that restarts Holland’s touch with getting players because let’s be honest going to the Western Conference Playoff battleground with White, Quincey and Colaiacovo in yourvtop six defense is not gonna cut it.

        Luckily he never lost his drafting touch. The next wave of great Wings is right around the corner with Smith, Nyquist and Jarnkrok coming soon and Ouellete, Sproul and Mrazek not too far behind.
        So don judge too harshly and don’t panic when people have a critical opinion that contradicts yours. In life it is better to trust what you see as opposed to what your leaders tell you you should see.

        I see a team that struggled down the stretch and was easily handled by Nashville in round one. It lost it’s bedrock defenseman and added a few spare parts in the off season. I would say it took a step back in overall skills.


  6. bennywuh - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Better question would be, “How will NHL fans adjust to life without Pierre McGuire”? Oh, I pray for the day……

    • michiganhockey11 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      Add Mike Milbury to that as well.

  7. michiganhockey11 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    How will Detroit adjust to life without Lidstrom?

    Lots and lots of prayer…..

    Quincey better man the F up this year. If he doesn’t perform, he should go.

  8. sjsharks66 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Amazing player, bummer we won’t be able to watch him anymore.

  9. redwingsfan999 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    They will be fine, the team now is solid and if it doesn’t work I have my faith in holland and I know he will make a move

  10. woodstakes - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Wings will be just fine. Of course his leadership and the ability to count on him in the defensive zone are going to be difficult to replace. However between Zetts and Dats they have plenty of veteran leadership. My team being in the western conf I will still be plenty afraid of playing the Wings. The Wings always seem to have the next guy in line just waiting to reload. Not sure who that will be but they always seem to find them.

  11. xjokerz - Jan 10, 2013 at 6:08 AM

    You know … With all this lock out crisp going on I forgot my redwings literally added nobody in the offseason … I besides this scrub in the article and god help us all Jordan too too. Yeah I’m goinng to go puke now. ( and before I’m attacked for saying god help us, I don’t believe in ghost stories )

  12. nvillano - Jan 16, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    This loss is going to be too much for Detroit to take. They didn’t do enough in the offseason to fix this.

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