Former Red Wing Jiri Hudler Is Tearing Up the KHL

Keith SheltonAnalyst IJanuary 10, 2010

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 09:  Jiri Hudler #26 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Six of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals at the Mellon Arena on June 9, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Its been a rough season for the Detroit Red Wings.

Anyone following this team knows the extent to which injuries have played a part in the team's place in the standings.

At one point this year, there were nine injured Red Wings. Currently, the team is without Jonathan Ericsson, Andreas Lilja, Nik Kronwall, Jason Williams, Johan Franzen, and Tomas Holmstrom.

Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary recently returned from injury and in that same game, the team lost Tomas Holmstrom for a month. There are no breaks to be found on this team.

Which brings me to Jiri Hudler.

Jiri Hudler had a career year in 2008-09, scoring 23 goals. He rejected the Red Wings offer and didn't hang around to see what he would earn in salary arbitration.

It was widely believed that Hudler's decision was largely based on his perception that he was not respected in Detroit. He wanted more ice time, he wanted to be one of the top six forwards.

I wonder if he regrets his decision now?

With the flood of injuries, Hudler would have been bumped up to the top two lines and his ice time would have increased dramatically. The team could really use a forward of his quality right about now.

So I wondered how Hudler was doing with his new team, Moscow Dynamo of the KHL.

Hudler is currently the second leading scorer on his team with 14 goals and 37 points through 39 games.

He is the 12th leading scorer in the KHL.

How significant is that? Well, if Hudler was a Red Wing with those same stats, he would be leading the team in scoring.

On one hand, the Red Wings should be thrilled. When Hudler's contract with Dynamo is up, it is widely believed by the Red Wings management, that he will return to Detroit.

The experience he is getting in the KHL should make Hudler a better player upon his return.

On the other hand though, Mike Babcock and Ken Holland must be lamenting the turn of events that led Hudler to abandon the team.

It does burn a little to see Hudler enjoy success in the KHL, but its best to look at this as an investment for now, as long as Hudler does return to the Red Wings eventually.


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