Lewis Out as Wings’ Coach

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland announced Friday that Dave Lewis would not return as Detroit’s head coach for the expected 2005-06 season. While no replacement was named, it appears highly likely that the Red Wings will hire former Anaheim head coach Mike Babcock, who turned down an offer from the Mighty Ducks for a one-year deal on Thursday.

Lewis has been behind the Detroit bench since 1987, first as an assistant under Jacques Demers, Bryan Murray and Scotty Bowman, then as head coach. He was on the staff when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002.

As an assistant, Lewis was known as the person players could talk to about coaching decisions made by Bowman. During his tenure as head coach, many questioned whether or not he was too approachable and not authoritative enough.

“I worry that Dave has made the transition as much as he could from assistant to head coach,” Holland explained. “Of course, how could Dave grab their attention? He’s been here forever. I think he did an unbelievable job of making the transition, but you can only go so far.”

While Holland confirmed that Babcock “is not hired,” he did say that he has “had conversations with Mike Babcock and his adviser over the past week” but that “[he has] other people in mind that [he has] not talked to.”

Newly-named Anaheim general manager announced that he had not been contacted by Detroit about hiring Babcock, an unnecessary move as Babcock’s contract – as well as Lewis’ – ended on June 30. He nonetheless declared that if the Red Wings hired Babcock, it would be a “shocking breach of etiquette.”

No announcements were made regarding associate coach Barry Smith and assistant Joe Kocur, whose contracts also expired on June 30.

Report: Wings Eyeing Babcock as Lewis Replacement

A report in Toronto’s Globe and Mail states that the Detroit Red Wings could be looking to replace current head coach Dave Lewis with Mike Babcock, the current coach of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Lewis’ contract expired on July 30th. The Red Wings have stated that they would wait until after the end of the lockout to negotiate new coaching contracts for Lewis, associate coach Barry Smith, and assistant coach Joey Kocur.

New Anaheim general manager Brian Burke made Babcock an offer for a one-year deal with a deadline of Thursday to accept or decline.

The Lewis-led Red Wings had regular-season success in 2002-03 and 2003-04 but couldn’t get past the second round of the playoffs. Lewis took over the team after the retirement of legendary head coach Scotty Bowman.

Babcock coached the Ducks to a first-round upset of the Wings in 2003, en route to the Stanley Cup Finals. In 2004 Anaheim missed the playoffs.

Locked-out Wings Help Honor Larionov

When former Red Wing Igor Larionov retired from the NHL last spring, he knew he had one game left in him. For a year, Larionov had been planning one final game in Moscow, where is Russian fans could see him skate for the last time.

With the NHL locked out and games put on hold, many of Larionov’s former teammates were able to make the trip to Russia with him, to honor the player who last year was the oldest in the NHL.

Larionov assembled a team of Russian All-Stars to take on a team representing the rest of the world, comprised mostly of his former teammates. Retired Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman returned to the bench along side former associate coaches Dave Lewis and Barry Smith to lead the world team while Larionov’s former linemates from the Soviet Red Army team, Sergei Makarov and Vladimir Krutov, coached the Russian team.

New Jersey Devils Martin Brodeur, Patrick Elias, Scott Gomez and Jay Pandolfo joined Red Wings Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Mathieu Dandenault, Kris Draper, Jiri Fischer, Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, Brendan Shanahan, Ray Whitney and Henrik Zetterberg on the World team. Former Red Wings Steve Duchesne, Martin Lapointe, Chris Osgood and Luc Robitaille also played.

The Russian squad was made up of Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Fedorov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Sergei Gonchar, Valeri Kamensky, Nikolai Khabibulin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Larionov, Danny Markov, Evgeni Nabokov, Andrei Nikolishin, Sergei Samsonov and Oleg Tverdovsky.

The World team, most of whom hadn’t played competitively since last season, got off to a slow start and Brodeur allowed early goals to Nikolishin and Samsonov. McCarty responded later in the period and the Russians had a 2-1 lead after one period.

Osgood replaced Brodeur between the pipes for the second period but couldn’t stop Larionov from scoring on a quick shot from the slot, as Larionov capped his career with a goal in his final game in front of his home crowd.

For the third period, Larionov and Yzerman switched teams, complete with Yzerman donning a Russian jersey with his name in Cyrillic on the back. Yzerman, possibly playing in his final game as well, scored twice for the Russians as they held off the World team for a 6-5 win.

Lewis Signs Contract Extension

Detroit Red Wings head coach Dave Lewis signed a one-year contract extension at the NHL Entry Draft Saturday, ensuring that two early playoff losses in two years will not cause him to be replaced this summer.

Since Lewis took over head coaching duties from Hall-of-Famer Scotty Bowman in the summer of 2002, the Red Wings have had little success in the playoffs. In 2003 they were eliminated in the first round by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and in 2004 they fell in the second round to the Calgary Flames. Both seasons, the team that eliminated them advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing in seven games.

“We’ve talked about some of the areas that hasn’t been as good in the playoffs,” said general manager Ken Holland, specifically mentioning a need to get bodies in front of the net. “We need to focus on scoring those ugly goals.”

Associate coach Barry Smith and assistant coach Joe Kocur are expected to return to the bench alongside Lewis next season but their contracts have yet to be worked out.

Wings Shouldn’t Bring Hasek Back

A year ago, Dominik Hasek had just won the Stanley Cup, capping his first year with the Detroit Red Wings after nine with the Buffalo Sabres (and a few forgettable ones in Chicago) in grand style. Having accomplished the one thing he came to Detroit to do, Hasek retired, returning home to the Czech Republic to raise his children.

And now he wants to come back.

Hasek’s retirement last summer left the Wings scrambling to pick up a free agent netminder to replace him. They set their sights on Toronto’s Curtis Joseph and signed him to a three-year, $24 million deal. Two years of that deal still remain.

And now Hasek wants to come back. After taking a year off. To the Red Wings. Who already have a top-level goalie.

This causes more trouble than good for the Red Wings. Should Hasek return, the Wings can excercise their $8 million option on him for next season and attempt to trade Joseph. Or they can let Hasek become a free agent and sign anywhere, including with the arch-rival Colorado Avalanche, who are looking to replace retired legend Patrick Roy.

Either way, the Red Wings will be forced to give up an expensive, world-class goaltender. And it looks like Joseph will be the odd man out.

Detroit’s WXYT-AM reported Wednesday that the Wings had agreed to bring Hasek back, assuming they can trade Joseph. The same report said that Detroit was in talks with the Philadelphia Flyers about sending Cujo to them.

This is all wrong.

Hasek hasn’t played goal in the NHL in over a year. He’s thirty-eight years old. Who knows how rusty he might be?

He’s already claimed the Stanley Cup, the only goal he had left when he came to Detroit in the summer of 2001. What’s to say he’ll play with the same passion he had that year?

Joseph was blamed by many for the Red Wings’ 2003 playoff meltdown, a four-game sweep by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the first round. Joseph complied a 2.08 GAA in those games. He let in some soft goals but he stopped more. Still, he became the scapegoat, nevermind the Wings’ offence that couldn’t score three goals in a single game.

Now it comes down to picking between Hasek and Joseph. And it looks like the Red Wings want to make the wrong choice.

There is nothing that says Hasek is more likely to lead the Wings to a Cup next year than Joseph. Hasek’s contract would last only one year while Joseph’s is for two. It is too much of a risk to bring Dominik Hasek back to Detroit.

I’ll say that again, more strongly: The Wings should not bring Dominik Hasek back.

Scotty Bowman told Canada’s TSN that Hasek would come back only if Detroit would bring him back. That fixes everything, now there’s no need to worry about Hasek jumping ship to the Avalanche.

The Red Wings need to tell Hasek, “Sorry, Dom, you had your chance to stick with us and you didn’t want it.” There is no reason they should bring him back.

Wings Tie Stars While On the Mend

Twenty-four hours can improve a team’s defensive outlook greatly. It might be an exaggeration to say that the Red Wings looked like a completely different team against the Dallas Stars than they did the night before against Ottawa, but they certainly looked like a team ready to put a bad game behind them. The Stars, on the other hand, had an embarrassing loss of their own against the Columbus Blue Jackets to shake off, and the two determined teams skated to a 3-3 tie.

Dallas got the first goal of the game 5:49 into the first period. The puck bounced away from a tangle of players along the right boards. It went right out in front of the net, where Ulf Dahlen was able to flip it past Curtis Joseph and just under the crossbar.

Shortly afterwards, Brenden Morrow was given a penalty for interference against Kirk Maltby, and the Red Wings’ power play extended its scoring streak for another game. Pavel Datsyuk passed the puck from behind the net to Brett Hull. The rebound from Hull’s shot came back to him, and he sent it back to Datsyuk. Datsyuk then slipped a pass through to Nick Lidstrom at the left faceoff circle. Lidstrom took a split second to settle the puck before wristing the shot high past goalie Marty Turco.

Joseph and Turco both made some impressive saves throughout the first and second periods, but Turco blinked first. Jason Williams made a pass which sent Boyd Devereaux and Datsyuk up the ice on a two-on-two rush. Devereaux stumbled slightly as he carried the puck over the blue line, but he got back up and made a clean pass across to Datsyuk anyway, and Datsyuk tapped it right into the net to give the Red Wings the lead.

The Stars began to lay on the offensive pressure then, trying to get back into the game, but Joseph and the reinvigorated Detroit defense held them off until only 8 seconds remained in the second period. Scott Young took a wild shot on net from the right half-boards. Joseph made the save, but the rebound bounced straight out front to Mike Modano. Modano’s shot deflected slightly off the leg of Jiri Fischer and past Joseph to tie the game back up.

The Stars took the next lead of the game 7:30 into the third period while Henrik Zetterberg was serving a penalty for holding. Sergei Zubov took a shot from the right side. The rebound bounced off the skate of Darrell Sydor and over to Dahlen, who had skated around behind the net without attracting attention. He was able to stuff the puck past Joseph before anyone quite realized he had it.

A Detroit power play tied the game back up. Brendan Shanahan faked a shot from his usual power play spot on the left side, but instead he passed the puck to Williams waiting in front of the net. Williams was able to angle a shot into the tiny space between Turco and the goalpost.

The Red Wings dominated the overtime play. Sergei Fedorov had two breakaways, but he shot the puck wide of the net both times. Turco held his ground against the seven shots that did get to him. Meanwhile, Joseph made two huge stops at the other end of the rink, and the game ended with a 3-3 tie.

The game was also nearly equal in terms of total shots on net: the final count was 37 to 35 in favor of the Stars. The Red Wings’ next game will be on Tuesday evening when they host their ancient rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Igor Larionov was a healthy scratch for tonight’s game, allowing Sean Avery to rotate into the lineup. Tomas Holmstrom and Dmitri Bykov are still out with their respective injuries”¦.Head coach Dave Lewis used Scotty Bowman‘s example and rearranged the forward lines to shake up the team after Saturday’s game. What did he come up with?
Line 1: Brett Hull, Henrik Zetterberg, and Sergei Fedorov””A goat, a kid, and Sergei, who is neither goat nor kid, but certainly seemed to match well with the other two.
Line 2: Brendan Shanahan, Kris Draper, and Kirk Maltby””Not sure if it was a demotion for Shanny, or a promotion for Draper and Maltby, but with Shanahan’s innate grittiness and Maltby’s and Draper’s tendency to score goals exactly when no one expects them to, it could work pretty well.
Line 3: Jason Williams, Pavel Datsyuk, and Boyd Devereaux””a high-energy line of three young guys who are excited to be playing. They will make some rookie mistakes sometimes, but this is a line that can make good things happen.
Line 4: Luc Robitaille, Sean Avery, and Darren McCarty“”Leftovers? Okay, they were the three left without anywhere else to go, but a line with the highest scoring left winger of all time and two of the best agitators in hockey is bound to accomplish something. Just let it remind you of Steve Yzerman playing with Joey Kocur and Bob Probert, back in the day.

Habs Spoil the Home Opener

Before the game, the 2001-2002 Stanley Cup Championship banner was raised to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena with all due ceremony. Scotty Bowman, Dominik Hasek, Steve Duchesne, and Vladimir Konstantinov all were on hand to salute the Stanley Cup one last time before it was taken back to its home in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame. It was one last chance for fans, players, coaches, and staff to revel in last season’s glorious ending before settling down to the regular season grind and hopeful road to the 2003 playoffs.

Detroit’s Original Six rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, were on hand to be the first home opponent of the young season. The Canadiens got a slow start in the game, but their excellent goaltending bought them the time they needed to find their rhythm, and they wound up beating the Red Wings by a score of 3-2.

The Red Wings got a power play early in the game, when Richard Zednik was sent out for hooking, and that was all they needed to jump out to an early lead. Tomas Holmstrom brought the puck into the zone and made a short pass to Henrik Zetterberg on the left side. Zetterberg headed for the goal, drawing the defensemen to himself. Meanwhile, Brendan Shanahan had quietly maneuvered in behind the two defensemen. Zetterberg passed across the goal crease, and Shanahan’s tap-in goal caught all of the Canadiens by surprise, including goaltender Jeff Hackett.

The bigger surprise for both teams was that Detroit only had a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. They applied steady offensive pressure to a Montreal team who looked to be not entirely prepared defensively. Perhaps Hackett sensed a chance at becoming the Canadiens’ starting goalie if last year’s star Jose Theodore is unable to break out of his slump soon; the winner of last year’s Hart and Vezina Trophies has allowed twelve goals in Montreal’s past two games. Hackett came up huge for his team, stopping eleven shots in the first period alone.

The Canadiens regained their rhythm in the second period, their confidence aided by scoring a goal in the early going. Andreas Dackell was able to backhand the rebound into the net after Joe Juneau’s shot just barely trickled free from Curtis Joseph‘s catching glove. The Red Wings continued to put the puck on net at every opportunity, but Hackett remained solid, and the game was tied after two periods.

The Red Wings lost their lead a few minutes into the third period. Zednik and Saku Koivu got away on a two on one rush against Dimitri Bykov, with defensive partner Max Kuznetsov held up in the neutral zone. Bykov tried to take the passing lane away, while Pavel Datsyuk tried at top speed to get to Koivu and take him out of the play, but the pass was released and Koivu sent the shot into the net just as Datsyuk got him enough off balance to send them both sliding into the end boards.

Danny Markov scored what would be Montreal’s eventual game-winner just about midway through the period. The teams were four-on-four, resulting from overlapping penalties to Kirk Maltby and Joe Juneau. Yanic Perreault shot the puck towards the Detroit net. The puck deflected off the stick of Nick Lidstrom, but with Joseph out of the net a little way to challenge Perreault’s shot, Markov was able to get the deflection and put it in behind Joseph before Luc Robitaille was able to get himself properly positioned to cover Markov.

Datsyuk brought the Wings back within one with just over six minutes left to play. Robitaille got the puck from a left side scrum and centered it to Datsyuk, who let fly a fast, hard, one-time shot that Hackett didn’t even see until it was behind him and the red goal light was already on.

The Red Wings went on the attack then. Most of their third period shots on net came in these last few minutes. Hackett was ready. Even when Detroit pulled Joseph to send in the extra attacker, Hackett kept the Canadiens in the lead, stopping shots by Holmstrom, Brett Hull, and Sergei Fedorov in quick succession. Eventually time ran down, and the banner celebrating last year’s glory looked down over the reminder that this season still has many, many games left to go.

Shots on net were thirty-two to fourteen in favor of the Red Wings.

The Wings’ next game will be on the road; they travel to Minneapolis to face the as-yet unbeaten Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.

Boyd Devereaux returned to the lineup tonight. His broken thumb healed more quickly than expected, and his “Two Kids and an Old Goat” line with Pavel Datsyuk and Brett Hull was reunited. Stacy Roest was moved to the Grand Rapids Griffins to make room for Devereaux in the lineup.

Wings Gain Coach, Lose Trainer

The Detroit Red Wings filled one glaring void in their staff only to be left with another. After naming Dave Lewis as their new head coach, they announced that head trainer John Wharton was leaving the team.

Lewis had served as the Red Wings associate coach for the past fourteen seasons before getting pegged for the head coaching job left vacant by the retirement of Scotty Bowman. Red Wings players applaud his promotion.

“Nine years as assistant under Scotty is like getting a degree from Harvard,” veteran defenseman Chris Chelios said. “You know what, everybody’s got a great rapport with him. I think it would have been tough to bring in somebody from the outside with the group of guys we have, and with Lewie, we won’t have to change the system. He knows what page we’re all on. I think it’s going to work out fine.”

Lewis is a former NHL defenseman who spent time with the New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils and the Red Wings before retiring in 1987.

“Being a former player is one of his biggest strengths,” Detroit captain Steve Yzerman said. “He knows where guys should be on the ice, and if he sees a player do something, he can break it down instantaneously and explain what happened. He knows everybody’s responsibilities.”

While Lewis was named head coach, trainer John Wharton decided to leave the team to pursue other options. Assistant Piet Van Zant has been promoted to fill Wharton’s position.

“It’s just time,” Wharton said Tuesday. “When I first got into being a trainer, I told myself I would do it for 10 years. They flew by. I stayed another year. We won the Stanley Cup. It would be really easy to be Johnny Wharton, Red Wings trainer, forever, but I just feel like I’m not growing personally or professionally anymore, so it’s time for a change. I might want to write a book. I have a couple of screenplays I’ve thought about. There are a lot of things that are inside me bottled up, and sticking around being a trainer is not going to let them out.”

Wharton doesn’t have any definite plans for his future, but looks forward to having more time to spend with his family.

A Tale of Two Signings

In a matter of hours on Tuesday, the Red Wings brought back their number two defenseman by signing Chris Chelios and replaced retired netminder Dominik Hasek by coming to terms with former Toronto Maple Leafs Curtis Joseph. One busy day of free agency filled almost all of the Red Wings’ needs.

Joseph, 35, was signed in the early morning. He annaounced his signing with Detroit at a press conference in Toronto, where he bid a tearful farewell to the fans of his hometown team. He was introduced to the Detroit media later in the day at a Joe Louis Arena press conference.

Cujo turned down a bigger offer from the Leafs to come to Hockeytown, saying he was “excited about the Red Wings organization” and that “everyone knows what the Ilitch’s are about.”

Chelios, 40, remained the Red Wings’ oldest defenseman by signing a two-year deal later Tuesday evening.

His brief time as a free agent was the first time in his career he was without a team and he said he hated it. “But I guarantee you one thing, I’ll never be a free agent again. It’s no fun. I felt I was doing the right thing by the Players Association, plus, I’ve never done it before. I’m just glad everything worked out.”

Cheios is high on Joseph despite reports that he and Brett Hull pushed for the signing of Ed Belfour. “We were fortunate to have Dominik here, and to replace him with a guy like Cujo is great,” Chelios said. “He’s been one of the best goaltenders over the past decade. It’s a great job by the organization to get him.”

Following Tuesday’s signings, the Red Wings have only unrestricted free agent Igor Larionov left to sign, as well as a group of restricted free agents including Mathieu Dandenault, Jiri Fischer and Darren McCarty. Scotty Bowman‘s replacement as head coach is expected to be named next week.

Done Dominating: Hasek Retires

After months of speculation and weeks of rumors, Dominik Hasek, superstar netminder brought to Detroit for the lone purpose of winning the Stanley Cup, is hanging up the skates.

Hasek, thought by many to be the greatest goaltender in the NHL, came to the Red Wings from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade last summer, part of Detroit’s reloading effort after their first-round loss to Los Angeles in previous spring. Along with summer acquisitions Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull and Fredrik Olausson, chose to come to Hockeytown for the chance to win the Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup was the lone remaining goal for Hasek, who had already claimed six Vezina Trophies and two Hart Trophies with Buffalo. Speculation reguarding his return to the Red Wings began during the Winter Olympics in February and heated up after the Red Wings claimed the Stanley Cup two weeks ago.

With Hasek’s retirement, the Red Wings are left without a starting goaltender. They are expected to sign any of the free agent netminders available this summer, a list that includes Curtis Joseph of the Maple Leafs, Ed Belfour of the Stars, Byron Dafoe of the Bruins and Mike Richter of the Rangers.

Hasek’s announcement, which was made at an 11:30 AM press conference at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday, comes on the heels of the retirement of longtime Detroit coach Scotty Bowman.

Hasek said that the Red Wings knew when the came to Detroit that he would play for one more year, and that he would decide about his future after that. He also said that he made the decision five days after the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, after sitting down with his wife to talk about their options.

Hasek will return to his native Czech Republic to raise his children.