As a die-hard Red Wings fan, I was more than a little excited to wake up last week to the news that the NHL lockout had ended. Casting aside any feelings I may have towards NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, it was a relief to hear that the “hockey” will soon be back in Hockeytown. With the NHL schedule fresh off the presses, find out a little more about the NHL lockout, with a quick preview of the Wings’ 2013 season here.
After 113 long days and 625 cancelled games, the NHL and National Hockey League Players Association, or NHLPA, reached an agreement on January 6th that would salvage at least a portion of the NHL season, and the games can’t start soon enough for fans of hockey.
About the Lockout:
About a month before the first puck was set to drop, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the players would be locked out after a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, or CBA, could not be reached. The owners hoped to renegotiate the amount of Hockey Related Revenues, or HRR, that was previously distributed to players as part of the previous CBA. Owners also wanted to change the prior structure of free agency, salary cap, and salary arbitration. From the players end, changes to revenue sharing, salary cap and non-player spending were desired.
With the legal matters settled, fans and players alike can focus on what really matters; the pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup. For players, that means reporting for a shortened training camp at Plymouth’s Compuware Arena. For fans, it means waiting just a few more precious days to see their Red Wings on Joe Louis ice.
Despite the loss of one of the best defensemen that hockey has ever seen in Nicklas Lidstrom, the Red Wings are poised for a 22nd consecutive playoff appearance behind new captain Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg became the second consecutive Swedish-born captain of the Red Wings early last week, and only the third captain in the last 27 years. The Red Wings are chasing the all-time playoff appearance record of the Boston Bruins, who played in 29 straight, while winning 2 Stanley Cups during that time.
Notable offensive returners for Detroit include the wizard himself, Pavel Datsyuk, “The Mule” Johan Franzen, speedy Darren Helm, and bruiser Todd Bertuzzi. On defense, the Wings welcome back Niklas Kronwall, Ian White, and netminder Jimmy Howard, who became the first Red Wings goalie to win at least 35 games in his first three seasons in 2012.
New faces at The Joe include forward Damien Brunner, who spent his lockout alongside Henrik Zetterberg playing for Zug in the Swiss Elite League, former first round draft-pick Carlo Colaiacovo, and former Nashville Predator Jordin Tootoo. Mike Babcock will once again be at the helm, entering his 8th season with Detroit.
What we do know about the upcoming season is that it will be comprised of 48 games, with all games being played in-conference. Key factors for a successful shortened season are the health of the players, the ability to create chemistry, and most importantly to get off to a good start. With only 48 games to be played, every loss becomes much more magnified. Wings fans can be confident that the players will be in game-shape, as most have continued to play in different leagues across Europe.
The Red Wings kick off the 2013 season in St. Louis this Saturday, Jan. 19th
. Their first game on home ice will take place Tuesday, Jan. 22 against the Dallas Stars. Check www.detroitredwings.com
for complete schedule.