Detroit Red Wings: 5 Ways the NHL Lockout Will Affect the Team This Season
Relatively speaking, the Red Wings are in pretty good position with this lockout as they are still a playoff team, but they are not at the peak of their play so they do not have as much to lose by not playing.
The lockout gives some of their older guys some rest and time to get in shape, while giving their younger players more opportunity to play in the AHL before suiting up for a shortened training camp and season.
Despite these advantages, there are other ways the lockout affects the Red Wings. Some of them aren't so advantageous. Here are five ways this lockout affects the Red Wings.
1. Hockeytown Will Be Without Hockey
Well obviously, but I'll just wait and let you read the title of the slide again.
Red Wings' fans have the honor of calling Detroit "Hockeytown", and rightfully so. Over the past twenty years there has been no other city so prominent in terms of winning in the regular season and in the playoffs.
The rafters are adorned with retired jersey numbers, Stanley Cup championship banners, conference championship banners and division championship banners.
But none of it matters if hockey is not being played in "Hockeytown."
Detroit's ice will be empty (at least from a Red Wings stand point) until a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached.
Ask any Red Wings' fan about the 2004-05 lockout and they'll tell you that Hockeytown without hockey just isn't the same.
2. Detroit's Top-Six Forwards Grow One Year Older
Whether it is Henrik Zetterberg (almost 32 years old), Pavel Datsyuk (34), Johan Franzen (32), Todd Bertuzzi (37), Danny Cleary (33), or even Mikael Samuelsson (35), age is not on the Red Wings' side as far as their top-six forwards group goes.
If a year-long lockout were to occur, Detroit's forwards would find themselves battling for their playoff lives in the 2013-14 season as all of the above mentioned players are signed with Detroit at least for the next season if not two seasons.
Detroit's aging at forward does bring depth and experience, but the hunger and youth that sometimes makes the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs seems to be no where to be found recently.
With all of the Red Wings' talent, it is truly hard to imagine a season that they would not make the playoffs, but if this season were lost due to a lockout, the following season would be truly challenging with the increasing age of the top-six forwards group.
3. Lockout Would Delay the Moving on in the Post-Lidstrom Era
When Lidstrom moved on from his playing career into retirement, it marked a changing of the guard of sorts for the Red Wings.
The model of both consistency and excellence for NHL defensemen was not going to be suiting up for the next season.
This put the Red Wings in a major hole.
A hole which Ken Holland tried to fix by attempting to sign Ryan Suter amongst other top-tier defensemen.
Holland did not end up getting a top-tier defenseman, but instead settled for Carlo Colaiacovo.
To say that Red Wings fans are disappointed in the lack of a more quality signing would probably be an understatement, but any Red Wings' fan would likely give up their resentment of a mediocre move in order to see the NHL and NHLPA come to an agreement and get the season started on time.
As of right now, the "post-Lidstrom era" in Detroit cannot begin until a new CBA is put into place.
When that will be is anyone's guess.
4. Delay the Testing of New (and Returning) Offensive 'Weapons'
The Detroit Red Wings didn't make any big splashes in free agency this offseason, but by and large they made the moves that they had to make.
The Red Wings signed Mikael Samuelsson and Damien Brunner to deals this off-season and both players have different skills that they bring to the 'Wings.
Samuelsson has a great knack for getting open for a one-timer and off the half boards on the power play.
He had 23 power play goals in four seasons with the Red Wings and his right-handed shot will greatly be appreciated on the power play.
By contrast, Damien Brunner's on-ice speed and acceleration would put him in an elite group in the NHL.
Brunner also has "Datsyukian"-like dekes to go with that speed which will put him as a favorite to "replace" Jiri Hudler's scoring (50 points last season) while being a faster option on the wing than Hudler was.
The lockout unfortunately (and this is beginning to be a recurring theme with the Red Wings) will prevent fans from seeing how good this offense can actually be, despite the lack of a marquee signing this offseason.
5. Players That Choose to Play Elsewhere Could See Their Skills Diminish
The best players in the world play in the NHL, and it is the premiere hockey league on the planet.
Anyone who doubts this fact of superiority needs to have their head examined.
But while the NHLPA is locked out, players (including those in Detroit) will play elsewhere to try and stay in shape and not lose their skills sitting at home doing nothing.
Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that while they may not be getting worse, compared to the competition they would face playing in the NHL, their skillsets may diminish regardless because they are not going up against the best in the world every night.
The KHL boasts some pretty good names already and it will not be a cake walk. But the best league in the world (when games are actually being played) is the NHL, and for that reason, the lockout will have inadvertent adverse effects on some of these players.
Whether it is not reaching their full potential or simply getting lazy in a league where the competition is less talented, all NHL players (Detroit's included) face the challenge of staying disciplined and working hard in the continuing "offseason" so that they will be ready come the start of the NHL season.
Whether this is in one month or one year, Red Wings' players face an uphill battle to start what would normally be their hockey season.