On the Red Wings’ Next Alternate Captain

With Pavel Datsyuk having departed, the Red Wings are left with an open spot among their contingent of captains.  I brought this up on Twitter a month ago and WiiM did a post on it a couple weeks ago.  I went back through the team’s recent history to see if anything can be gleaned from it to show us who might be picked.

The 2015-16 season was unique for the Red Wings in that captain Henrik Zetterberg and alternates Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall were the only players to wear letters for the team all year.  That doesn’t mean there wasn’t opportunity – both Datsyuk and Kronwall missed significant time due to injury – it means that there were 34 games where Detroit didn’t even bother sewing an “A” on anyone else’s sweater.

Captains are the only players who can speak to on-ice officials but the Red Wings’ going with fewer than the allowed number of captains shows how unimportant that rule.  Of note: Teams may have no more than three lettered players on the roster but there is nothing saying that they have to have that number.

We have to go back to the 2015 season to find replacement captains used by the Red Wings.  Despite ten games with only two captains dressed, seven players still managed to wear a letter throughout the year.  The injured Johan Franzen wore it for ten games, Jonathan Ericsson and Daniel Cleary each wore it for three, and Darren Helm wore it for one.

If he were healthy, I think Franzen would get the A, but he’ll never play again.  Cleary may very well return to the organization and get a letter in Grand Rapids, but I think he can be ruled out in Detroit.  That leaves Ericsson and the recently-re-signed Helm.

Going back one more season to 2014 adds no new names to the list, as the now-retired Daniel Alfredsson was the most-frequent extra alternate, wearing an A for 36 games to Franzen’s 31 and Cleary’s 8.  Five games were spent with only two captains.

The lockout-shortened 2013 – Zetterberg’s first as captain – featured three games with only two captains but no replacement alternates.  It was also the first season since the 2007-08 campaign, when Datsyuk was given an A along with Zetterberg and Kris Draper, that the team had only three captains.

Even with four captains on the books in 2012, Tomas Holmstrom wore the A for eight games.  The team dressed three captains for every game.

Going back further, we see the names of long-departed defensemen Brian Rafalski and Chris Chelios…  Clearly players who won’t be options now.

In the last seven years there have been ten players to wear the C or A with the Red Wings.  Two of them – Zetterberg and Kronwall – still do.  Only two of the remaining eight are still with the team: Ericsson and Helm.

At three games to one, Ericsson has more experience wearing the letter than Helm.  Maybe that gives him an edge.

So can anything be pulled from these numbers?  I think the only thing they show is that it’s time for someone new.  The old standbys are gone.

While newcomers Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, and Steve Ott have all worn letters elsewhere in their career – Nielsen had an A with the Islanders last season while Vanek and Ott co-captained the Sabres back in the 2013-14 season – the Red Wings haven’t given the alternate captaincy directly to a newcomer since trading for Brendan Shanahan in 1996.

By my count, the Wings haven’t had two defenseman with letters since before the Steve Yzerman era, which would seemingly rule out Ericsson or any of the other blueliners, so long as Kronwall wears the A.

Jeff Blashill is not Jacques Demers.  I don’t think Dylan Larkin gets the available letter by virtue of being the team’s best player.

I think – almost from lack of better options – that we’ll see Justin Abdelkader get the A.

Of course, that could change if the mythical “trade for a top defenseman” ever emerges.  We’ll see.

Helm Scores Twice as Red Wings Defeat Stars

Detroit forward Darren Helm scored two goals Thursday night, leading the Red Wings to a 5-2 win over the visiting Dallas Stars.

Helm opened and closed the game’s scoring for his first multi-goal game of the season.

At 3:58 of the first period, Helm threw a shot from the left of Dallas netminder Jussi Rynnas that bounced off the goalie and into the back of the net to get the Red Wings on the board early.

Just 15 seconds later, Colton Sceviour drove to the net to tap in a pass from Jordie Benn, tying things right back up.

Stephen Weiss restored the Detroit lead with 8:46 left in the opening period off tic-tac-toe passing from Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan. Jurco’s pass from the right wing boards found Sheahan in the opposite faceoff circle, where he immediately moved it back across to Weiss at the edge of the crease. Weiss held the puck for just a second before throwing it past the sprawling Rynnas.

With 1:08 left in the first, Pavel Datsyuk‘s backhander from the slot made it 3-1 on a Detroit power play.

Tyler Seguin‘s power play goal with 5:34 remaining in the middle period cut the Red Wings’ lead back to one. Seguin’s heavy shot from the blue line sailed through traffic and past Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard to make it 3-2.

Kyle Quincey‘s first of the year made it 4-2 at 7:39 of the third period. From the right point Quincey ripped a shot that seemed to deflect on its way through a Weiss screen, beating Rynnas.

With 6:53 left, Helm took a feed from Tomas Tatar all alone in close and outwaited Rynnas before throwing a shot past him to wrap up the scoring.

Rynnas finished the night with 24 saves on 29 shots while Howard stopped 22 of the 24 chances he faced.

Each team scored a power play goal on three chances with the extra attacker.

The Red Wings are back in action on Saturday when they host the New York Rangers.


Detroit was once again without forward Justin Abdelkader, out with a shoulder injury… Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff were healthy scratches for the Red Wings… During the pre-game skate, Cleary returned to wearing the #11 jersey he’d previously worn, made available once again by the retirement of Daniel Alfredsson.

Alfredsson Announces Retirement

Former Detroit Red Wing Daniel Alfredsson announced his retirement on Thursday in Ottawa.

Alfredsson, who will turn 42 next week, had been attempting to return to the Red Wings for one more season after a back injury kept him out of the final two games of the playoffs. His rehabilitation efforts weren’t enough, though, and he found himself unable to play without pain.

He made the announcement while signing a one-day contract with the Ottawa Senators, the team for which he played his first 17 seasons and captained for 13 seasons.

Alfredsson signed with the Red Wings as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013 after a contract dispute with the Senators. In his lone season with Detroit, he led the team in scoring with 49 points in 68 games.

After making the decision to retire three weeks ago, Detroit general manager encouraged him to retire as a Senator, Alfredsson said. He will skate with Ottawa in pre-game warmups before the Senators’ game against the New York Islanders tonight.

In 1246 career NHL games played, Alfredsson scored 444 goals and added 713 assists for 1157 total points. Additionally, Alfredsson was a five-time Olympian, representing his native Sweden in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Pregame: Senators @ Red Wings – 11/24

After failing to sweep their three-game road trip, falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, the Red Wings return home to host the Ottawa Senators tonight.

Former Senator and one-time Red Wing Daniel Alfredsson will not – as was briefly rumored – announce his retirement prior to the game. He’s still expected to do so sometime soon, just not now.

As the league gets closer to losing a player, the Red Wings get one back, with Stephen Weiss returning from his successful (two goals in two games) rehab stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Weiss will join Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm on the third line, replacing Daniel Cleary.

Meanwhile, Jakub Kindl gets back into the lineup on the blue line after four games as a healthy scratch, replacing Brian Lashoff.

Jimmy Howard gets the start in net for the Red Wings.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are 63-24-22 all-time in the first game back home after a three-game road trip.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD.

Postgame: Bruins 3, Red Wings 2 (SO)

The word out of the Red Wings dressing room after their 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday was that goalie Jimmy Howard stole the team a point, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who would disagree.

As a whole, Detroit’s skaters spent much of the game on their heels, with Howard bailing them out. Howard especially came up huge in the final minutes of regulation, with several key stops to force overtime and get Detroit a point in the standings.

Of course, Howard looked relatively awful in the shootout, but considering he’s the reason the team got there it’s hard to fault him for the failure in the tiebreaker.

Speaking of the gimmick… Is Andrej Nestrasil an AHL shootout specialist and I just don’t know it? I get that with the team down Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Alfredsson they’re missing a lot of their shootout regulars, but I’ve got six guys (Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Johan Franzen, Riley Sheahan, Henrik Zetterberg) that I go with before Nestrasil. First coaching decision I’ve questioned this season.

So far we’ve seen two games the Wings played well enough to win and one they deserved to lose, and they’ve got a 1-1-1 record. Not bad, not great. We’re not going to see the team get blown up for this loss, nor should we. Even if the Jeff Petry rumors are intriguing.

Looking at the Red Wings’ 2014-15 Roster

We’re all of three days into the offseason but it’s never too early to start looking at next year. I’ve had a lot of side conversations about what I think the Red Wings’ roster will look like next year and what it should look like (which aren’t the same thing) so I figured I’d post my “ideal” opening night roster and go from there.

Henrik ZetterbergPavel DatsyukGustav Nyquist
Tomas TatarRiley SheahanTomas Jurco
Justin AbdelkaderDarren HelmDaniel Alfredsson
Drew MillerDavid LegwandLuke Glendening
Mitch Callahan
Landon Ferraro

Niklas KronwallDanny DeKeyser
Jonathan EricssonBrendan Smith
Ryan SproulXavier Ouellet
Adam Almquist

Jimmy Howard
Petr Mrazek

You’ll notice there are some names missing, and that’s why this may be my “ideal” roster but it’s also pretty much impossible.

The forward lines are build out from the second line. If the Red Wings are really going to embrace the youth movement, even when healthy, I want the Kid Line skating as Detroit’s second line again. It might not be the best possible lineup to start the year but I think it will be by the end of the season and for seasons beyond.

With the Kid Line in place, you can load up on the first line, with both Eurotwins and Gustav Nyquist.

On the third line you’ve got Darren Helm centering Justin Abdelkader and Daniel Alfredsson. I bring back Alfredsson if he wants to come back and put him on the third line to keep his minutes down and add some scoring. It also gives flexibility for the inevitable Line Blender, as you could bump Abdelkader to the top line as Mike Babcock loves to do, drop Nyquist down to the second, and play Tatar on the third.

The fourth line brings back David Legwand simply because I think he has to be re-signed or it makes the deal to trade for him look even more ridiculous. I wouldn’t bring back Glendening but Babcock loves him so he’s going to be in the lineup on opening night.

Callahan and Ferraro are out of waiver options, they stick with the big club out of camp.

Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson? All free agents, all allowed to walk.

Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss, Joakim Andersson, Jordin Tootoo? That’s where this gets messy, as I don’t have a spot for any of them or any player they might bring back in trade and there’s only one compliance buyout left.

The easy answer is that Alfredsson and Legwand don’t return and Franzen and Weiss take their spots. Tootoo gets bought out and Andersson gets the Cory Emmerton treatment. That makes the Legwand trade look awful but is that better than finding a way to unload Weiss (who’d probably just have to be waived with the hope that someone claims him)?

Franzen… Oh Franzen. There are going to be a lot of words written about him between now and the draft. I’ll try not to write too many of them. I say the draft because I think if he’s going to be traded, it’ll be then. He won’t be bought out. It’s not that Franzen necessarily is bad or overpaid (his cap hit is great for his potential). When he’s good, he’s among the best. When he’s bad, he looks like he doesn’t even want to be out there. Combined with his comments about not being paid to score goals, there’s a perceived attitude problem there. The negatives outweigh the positives to me.

On defense, I don’t think the top four are all that controversial. Kyle Quincey is gone. The UFA defense pool is shallow this year and Quincey is going to get absolutely paid by someone.

The third pair, though, is where the youth movement kicks in. Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul looked ready in their limited opportunity this season. I give them the chance to start next year.

I’d like to have a veteran seventh defenseman to back them up but – like Ferraro and Callahan – Adam Almquist is out of options so he stays up by default.

Brian Lashoff? Jakub Kindl? They’re in Franzen/Weiss/Andersson territory. Under contract but I don’t have a spot for them. Lashoff can be buried in Grand Rapids if necessary, the only “easy” decision available.

In goal we’ve got Howard back (of course) and Petr Mrazek making the jump to be his backup. Some (maybe even within the Wings organization) will argue that Mrazek is better served getting starts in GR than as backup, I disagree. A 50/30 split would get Howard some rest and get Mrazek into games.

This doesn’t answer the team’s reported interest in a top-four, right-handed defenseman (unless you want to count Sproul there). It leaves a bunch of players with contracts off the lineup. It doesn’t get anything in return for those missing players and it doesn’t utilize the cap space freed up by their absence. In short, it’s not going to happen. But it’s the starting point that I’m going to look at things from this summer.

Red Wings Eliminated in 4-2 Loss to Bruins

Much like in the previous week of games, the Detroit Red Wings had no answer to the Boston Bruins on Saturday, leading to a 4-2 loss in Game Five of their Atlantic Division Semifinal matchup.

It was the fourth-straight loss for the Red Wings, who were eliminated from the playoffs after only managing to win Game One in Boston.

Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, making his second consecutive start in place of the flu-ridden Jimmy Howard, made 29 saves on 32 shots in the losing effort for Detroit.

The Bruins opened the game’s scoring just 3:27. On a power play, Dougie Hamilton carried the puck down the right wing and threw a pass from the corner into the slot. The puck bounced off Darren Helm and right to Loui Eriksson, who cut to the right faceoff circle and backhanded a chance under Gustavsson’s glove.

Pavel Datsyuk tied things up at 5:19 left in the second period. With Detroit on a power play of their own, Henrik Zetterberg fired a long shot that was knocked down by Boston goalie Tuukka Rask. Johan Franzen was on the doorstep to sweep the puck to Datsyuk, who was driving in from the left wing to snap a shot into the back of the net.

Boston captain Zdeno Chara put the Bruins back out in front with just four seconds left in the period, blasting a shot from the top of the right circle past Gustavsson on another power play.

Milan Lucic made it 3-1 at 4:27 of the third. Torey Krug picked off an attempted outlet pass by Franzen at the Detroit blue line and carried it down low on the left wing before sending it to the front of the net where Lucic was wide open to knock a shot past Gustavsson.

Zetterberg would give the Red Wings hope with 3:52 remaining, fighting off Chara and getting to a loose puck at the bottom of the left faceoff circle, then lifting a no-angle shot into the far corner past Rask to make it 3-2.

With 16 seconds left, Jarome Iginla would close things out with an empty net goal.

Rask finished the night with 31 saves on 33 shots.

The Red Wings scored on one of their seven power play tries while Boston scored with the man advantage on two of six attempts.


Defenseman Xavier Ouellet made his NHL playoff debut, replacing Jakub Kindl in the Detroit lineup… Goaltender Jake Paterson was a healthy scratch as Howard was well enough to back up Gustavsson… Daniel Alfredsson returned after missing two games with a back injury, replacing Todd Bertuzzi.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Bruins – Game 5 – 4/26

The Red Wings’ season could end this afternoon, as they face a 3-1 series deficit heading into Game Five in Boston.

Jonas Gustavsson will get the start in net for Detroit, as Jimmy Howard still has the flu, though rumors abound that he may have actually been concussed from a knee to the head in Game Three. Howard won’t even be available to serve as backup as he nominally did in Game Four, so Jake Paterson has been called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins.

In another lineup change, Daniel Alfredsson is expected to return after missing two games due to a back injury. There’s no word on who he would replace.

If the Red Wings were to lose Game Five, it would just be the second series in their history that they lost in five after winning Game One.

Stupid stat of the day: In the nineteen previous times Detroit has gone down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series, the Red Wings are 7-12 in Game Five.

Game time is 3:00 PM on NBC.

Pregame: Bruins @ Red Wings – Game 3 – 4/22

The big news as the Red Wings’ first-round series with the Boston Bruins shifts to Detroit is that the Wings will be without forward Daniel Alfredsson, whose back issues have flared up again. Joakim Andersson takes his spot in the lineup, making his first appearance of the postseason.

Coming off a 4-1 loss in Game Two, the pressure is on the Red Wings now. They won Game One to “steal” home ice from the Bruins but if they lose either of the next two, they’ll just have given it right back.

I half-expect a split of the next two games, which gives us a three-game series with Boston having home ice. I think a longer series benefits Detroit, though, so that may not be a bad thing.

As I said in the postgame on Sunday, it’s going to come down to which team plays their game more. Detroit controlled Game One (and it was still painfully close) while Boston ran Game Two. My concern for Detroit is that Boston can win a Detroit-style game but the Wings can’t win a Bruins-style one.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are 4-4 all-time in Game Threes played on a Tuesday where the series is tied.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD and NBCSN.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Blues – 4/13

There was something ridiculously frustrating about the Red Wings’ regular season-ending 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday: The question of “Where was this team on Friday?”

Two days after dropping a 2-1 decision to the lottery-bound Carolina Hurricanes, the Red Wings – minus the resting Daniel Alfredsson, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, and Danny DeKeyser and starting third-string goalie Petr Mrazek – smacked down the Blues in a game in which St. Louis could have claimed the Central Division.

Okay, some of that is the Blues’ complete implosion. They had maybe two good scoring chances all game. Without Ryan Miller, it would have been even worse. In fact, Detroit’s goals required a bit of luck (two deflections by Justin Abdelkader and a snipe by Riley Sheahan that redirected off former Red Wing Carlo Colaiacovo), so it’s not like the Wings’ offense was entirely clicking. Detroit carried the play, though, and did it missing some big names.

And if they’d gotten a single point against Carolina, they’d be playing the Pittsburgh Penguins this week instead of the Boston Bruins.

But speaking of missing big names, defenseman Ryan Sproul did a fantastic job of stepping up in his NHL debut. I feel like I heard his name every minute or so. Aside from a rookie mistake early and maybe committing early on a St. Louis three-on-one, he looked like he belonged. Moved the puck well on the power play, good positionally, even threw a big hit. Based on one game, I’d say put him in instead of Brian Lashoff, but it’s too small of a sample size to actually make that call.

I didn’t hear Xavier Ouellet‘s name as much but in that good way that means he didn’t make any mistakes. Sproul got the flashy power play time, Ouellet got the penalty-kill time.

Of the other fill-ins, we may have seen Todd Bertuzzi and Joakim Andersson as Red Wings for the last time. Bertuzzi is a free agent who probably won’t be brought back this summer and Andersson has been replaced by Luke Glendening, making him a tradeable asset (not that I expect him to actually be dealt).

Mrazek ends up with a strange stat line this season, as both of his wins were by shutout (and were both on the road, against teams wearing blue). He looked confident, coming out to cut down angles. He made a big stop on the three-on-one I mentioned earlier, where Sproul may have gone down early, getting his leg up to knock down a shot after sprawling out to take away the bottom of the net.

Now it’s on to Boston.