NHL Free Agency: Detroit Red Wings McCrimmon Leaving...Nick Lidstrom Returning?

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IMay 19, 2011

CALGARY, CANADA - OCTOBER 31: Captain Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings looks up to the scoreboard from the bench area during their game against the Calgary Flames on October 31, 2009 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Red Wings defeated the Flames 3-1. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
Dale MacMillan/Getty Images

Mlive.com's Ansar Khan is reporting that Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon will not be returning to the team for a fourth season behind the bench.

McCrimmon's duties in his three seasons in Detroit largely centered around coaching and managing the Detroit defense.

At this point, let me point out that the following is purely speculative and though it is based on factual Detroit Red Wings' history, it is essentially just spit-balling.

While the coaching staff and players never outwardly expressed any frustration with McCrimmon's work, Detroit's declining defensive dominance over McCrimmon's tenure could indicate that there was indeed a disconnect between him and Detroit's defensive corps.

Now, what could this possibly have to do with Nicklas Lidstrom?

Well, the timing of this announcement is a bit odd for the Red Wings.

GM Ken Holland typically avoids making any personnel decisions public until after the playoffs have ended and often waits until right before training camp begins to announce coaching decisions.

Indeed, last season, the Red Wings didn't announce head coach Mike Babcock's four-year extension until October, though a deal had apparently been reached in principle prior to training camp.

While it is highly unlikely that Lidstrom has anything to do with McCrimmon's departure, it could reveal that the Red Wings are getting ready to not only clear a path for a new assistant coach, but possibly involve Lidstrom in the decision.

As the Red Wings are very publicly hoping that Lidstrom returns for one more season in Detroit, making McCrimmon's departure public at such an early stage in their off-season could indicate that the Wings are prepared to involve Lidstrom in their search process for McCrimmon's replacement.

If so, this would seem to suggest that Lidstrom is in fact leaning towards a return to the ice, as choosing the coach he and his defensive partners would work with would be a perk befitting Lidstrom's stature with the club and one that could sweeten the pot for a man who has all the money and success he could ever achieve as an NHL player.

Again, this is all just guessing here, and I may simply be connecting dots that aren't really there.  Still, the timing of this announcement is conspicuously odd for a team that usually delays such announcements.

Only time will tell if McCrimmon's departure is connected to Lidstrom's return.

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