Red Wings’ 2011-12 Schedule Released

The Red Wings (along with the rest of the NHL) released their regular season schedule for the 2011-12 season on Thursday.

The Wings open their season at home against the Ottawa Senators, led by former Detroit assistant coach Paul MacLean.

Detroit’s schedule includes a pair of six-game homestands (one in November, the other in February) balancing out four road trips of four games or more. Across late December and early January, they’ll be on the road for nine of eleven games.

There are two home-and-home series on the schedule, against the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Red Wings play on back to back nights 13 times this season. For the first time in recent history, one of those pairs of games is entirely in Detroit.

The annual New Years Eve game will see the Red Wings host the St. Louis Blues.

Other notable games include the only meeting between the Wings and the newly-relocated Winnipeg team in Detroit on December 10 and the season finale against the Chicago Blackhawks on April 7.

Thoughts on the NHL Awards

I don’t think any of tonight’s NHL award winners surprised me except for the one Detroit win.

Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom claimed his seventh Norris Trophy and I have to wonder if it was intended to be a going away present from a media contingent that thought he was going to retire.

I think Lidstrom deserved the award despite his a plus/minus on the negative side for the first time in his career. That said, Zdeno Chara had an incredible year and Shea Weber was a “sexy” pick, I didn’t think there would be enough votes for Lidstrom.

Seven Norris Trophies is incredible. Only Bobby Orr has more at eight, with Lidstrom now having tied Doug Harvey. Elite company, for sure.

I can’t say I’m shocked that Pavel Datsyuk didn’t retain the Selke Trophy, as there were thoughts that Ryan Kesler would take it last season. The Lady Byng was Martin St. Louis‘ to lose so Lidstrom didn’t have a shot there.

As for the show itself… Wings fans have joked about Norris Trophy winner “Niklas Lindstrom” for years so we shouldn’t be surprised when the presenters continue to mangle names. Several “Lindstrom” occurrances tonight, a reference to “Steve Why-zerman” and a mangled “Martin Saint Lewis.”

I complained about that to my wife after the show and I like the point she made. These are the best of the best NHL players. How is it acceptable for the league to show them so little respect?

My thinking was that it was insulting to the fans that the league can’t even pull together presenters who can pretend like they want to be there. If it’s offensive to us, how bad is it for the players who busted their asses to get there?

That said, this has been happening for years, you have to think the players would have brought it up by now if it were an issue. I have to bet we’ll see it next year, too.

Red Wings Announce Preseason Schedule

The Detroit Red Wings released their preseason exhibition schedule Monday.

The team will play eight games – down from the nine games they’ve played for the past several preseasons – against four teams. Three home-and-home series will be bookended by games against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Detroit’s full preseason schedule is as follows:

September 21 – at Pittsburgh
September 22 – at Philadelphia
September 23 – vs. Philadelphia
September 25 – vs. Chicago
September 28 – at Chicago
September 30 – vs. Toronto
October 1 – at Toronto
October 2 – vs. Pittsburgh

Lidstrom Agrees to One Year Deal with Red Wings

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom has agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Wings, remaining with the team for a 20th season.

Lidstrom and general manager Ken Holland announced the deal via conference call from Las Vegas. The two are there for the NHL Awards, where Lidstrom is nominated for the Norris and Lady Byng Trophies.

“I wanted to make sure I was ready. I’m very happy to be back for my 20th season for the Wings,” Lidstrom said of the decision.

The Wings have already lost blueliner Brian Rafalski to retirement this summer. “If we’d have lost both, it would have been devastating. These guys are special players,” Holland said.

Lidstrom’s deal is reportedly worth $6.2 million, the same amount he made last season.

With the NHL’s salary cap expected to reach $62 million, the Red Wings now have almost $14 million to sign two defensemen, two forwards and a backup goalie.

Red Wings Announce Conference Call with Lidstrom

The Red Wings have announced a 11:00 AM conference call today with general manager Ken Holland and captain Nicklas Lidstrom.

As I tweeted at the time, I think this means Lidstrom is returning. It would have been a live press conference if he were announcing his retirement.

Update: Confirmation that Lidstrom will return for one more year from @BComptonNHL and @CraigCustance.

Red Wings Assistant MacLean Headed to Ottawa

Paul MacLean will reportedly become the second Red Wings assitant coach to leave Detroit this offseason, as he his expected to be announced as the new head coach of the Ottawa Senators.

MacLean had been with the Wings since the 2005-06 season, joining the team whem Mike Babcock became head coach. The two had previously worked together for two seasons with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Brad McCrimmon – Detroit’s other assistant coach from the 2010-11 season – left the team to take a head coaching position in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League last month.

Babcock and general manager Ken Holland will work to replace the two departed assistants before the NHL Draft at the end of the month. Early candidates include former Plymouth Whalers coach Pete DeBoer, former Windsor Spitfires coach Bob Boughner, and former Minnesota Wild coach Todd Richards. Rumors also persist about former NHL head coaches Ken Hitchcock and Dave King as possible options.