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Detroit is a team that likes to give credit to and celebrate its role players. That is one reason they always seem to be able to produce top quality checkers. Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader would likely be unknown if they played on any other team.
This year for Detroit I would like to honour defenseman Niklas Kronwall as Detroit's most unsung hero from last season.
You always play in Nicklas Lidstrom's shadow if you play in Detroit. That said, Kronwall had gotten some play as the third of Detroit's big three defenseman behind Lidstrom and Rafalski. When Detroit won the cup in 2008, Niklas Kronwall was certainly getting his share of attention.
The last three years, though, that seems to have faded to the point where I am ready to again call him an unsung hero in Detroit.
Kronwall was second in ice-time for the Red Wings this year and scored almost a half point a game. The nasty hitter was only sixth on the squad this year in hits. Still there is a question of quality. When Niklas Kronwall hits you it is more traumatic than when Darren Helm hits you.
Kronwall was a shut-down guy for Detroit last year, playing against the opposing teams best forwards. He and Brad Stuart and Lidstrom shared the penalty killing duties.
Kronwall lead his team in blocked shots (129).
The retirement of Brian Rafalski will probably lead to another surge in Kronwall's power play time, points and the regard he is given in Detroit.