Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Detroit Red Wings.
The Detroit Red Wings haven’t missed the playoffs since 1989–90, but there were reasons to believe that streak might end in 2013.
The team was attempting to rebuild on the fly and their defense was a huge question mark due to the retirements of Brian Rafalski and Nicklas Lidstrom in consecutive summers, along with the departure of Brad Stuart.
Detroit didn’t exactly defy expectations in the regular season, but they did manage to make the playoffs thanks to a strong effort from goaltender Jimmy Howard and the offensive contributions of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
The Red Wings took things a step further in the postseason, first by upsetting the Anaheim Ducks in the first round, then taking a 3-1 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 2. Eventually, the Stanley Cup winners turned the tide, winning the Western Conference semifinal in overtime of Game 7.
Detroit tends to be conservative in the free agent market, but they did take a chance by signing forward Stephen Weiss to a five-year, $24.5 million contract despite the fact a wrist injury limited him to just 17 games last season.
The Wings also managed to surprise the hockey world by luring longtime Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson to their side.
Forwards Damien Brunner, Danny Cleary, and Valtteri Filppula were all allowed to walk as unrestricted free agents, although the first two still haven’t found new homes yet.
Most importantly though, the Detroit Red Wings inked Pavel Datsyuk to a three-year, $22.5 million extension this summer, thus ending the rumors that he would head to Russia after his contract expired in 2013-14.
Oh and they also drafted Anthony Mantha in the first round. He’s just 18, so he has never known a time when his new organization has failed to make the playoffs. For that matter, he’s also almost as old as Alfredsson’s NHL career.