Jan 9, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT
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.
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.
Aug 21, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT
“He has instructed me to do all I can to facilitate a return to the Twin Cities.”
Aug 21, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT
He was quite good.
Aug 21, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT
“Nor is he very smart to have made untrue defamatory statements such as these.”
Aug 21, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT
“I talked with Todd today, and he never mentioned anything about captains or assistant captains.”
Aug 21, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT
All the first-time NHL head coach has to do is get Pittsburgh to the promised land. No biggie.
Aug 21, 2014, 10:40 AM EDT
Or until a successor is found.
Aug 21, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT
The 23-year-old defenseman may get a real shot this season.
Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
They were teammates in Calgary for two seasons.
Aug 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
The pressure is on Sid and Geno now after a summer of change.
Aug 20, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
And it was all The Great One’s idea.
Aug 20, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
He can be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Aug 20, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT
Recovery from offseason wrist surgery put things in doubt.
Aug 20, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
He missed most of last season with a torn ACL.
Aug 20, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
Giroux and Voracek will need someone new to run with them.
Aug 20, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT
Patrick Marleau can coach him through it.
Aug 20, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT
It’s not as good to be the worst anymore.
Aug 20, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT
No real surprise here.
Aug 20, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT
How will he handle the weight of expectation?
Aug 20, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
Another dramatic development.
Aug 20, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT
“I’m confident in myself and confident I can get back to where I used to be.”
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