The retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom will be felt in Detroit for years to come.
Somehow, someway, the Detroit Red Wings will get it done.
Those are not just the thoughts of passionate fans who have seen the Red Wings hold on to their position at or near the top of the NHL for most of the last two decades.
Those were also the words of general manager Ken Holland when the team hired Mike Babcock prior to the 2005-06 season.
Holland told Babcock that the team always finds a way to get it done. He said it was not always following a plan that gets drawn up on the blackboard and followed to the letter, but the team finds a way to make things happen when it matters most.
As the 2012-13 looms on the horizon—if a work stoppage can be avoided—Babcock is taking it on faith that the Red Wings will once again be a prominent team. He has to take it on faith, because there are at least a few holes to fill.
“That’s what I think now," Babcock told MLive.com. "I don’t know how we’re going to do it, we’re just going to do it.''
But once you put blind faith behind, the Red Wings clearly need some help on defense. Not only for the upcoming season but for the future as well.
The retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom is the primary reason.
While Red Wings fans are used to looking out and seeing Lidstrom play a dominating game up through the 2011-12 season, it couldn't go on forever. Lidstrom will no longer don his familiar No. 5 uniform, and that means the Red Wings have a tremendous void to fill.
Babcock also has to cope with Brad Stuart signing with San Jose, and the team had not done enough following the retirement of Brian Rafalski at the end of the 2010-11 season.
“On the back end, we don’t have enough depth,'' Babcock told MLive.com. “You got (Brian) Rafalski and Stuart and Lidstrom all leaving the club in just over a year, that’s a chunk of cheese leaving. Now we have to replace them with people that step up. There’s opportunity for others."
Babcock said that Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall will have a chance to do more on the back end following the Lidstrom retirement and that the Red Wings are hoping to get more from Kyle Quincey, who was acquired last year prior to the trade deadline.
But just depending on the available talent won't be enough for the Red Wings at the start of camp. Babcock knows that the Wings will either need to make a trade or get active on the free-agent front when training camp starts.
If training camp is shortened by a work stoppage, that will make it even harder for the Red Wings to develop a cohesive defense because there will be less time for the unit to get used to playing together.
Babcock is quite confident in his forward group.
Any team that has Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to start the discussion is going to be in good shape. In addition to those stars, Babcock is pleased with the productive nature of his forwards.
Babcock also loves hard-working forward Darren Helm, whom he sees as a difference-maker. When Helm suffered late-season injuries (knee and lacerated forearm), the team was only 5-8-2 without him. Helm does not add big numbers from a statistical point of view, but he makes things happen for the Red Wings.
So, it's quite clear that Holland has to bring in more quality defensemen for Babcock to work with before the start of the season.