It's almost too good to be true...the NHL is back!
The NHL is back and the Red Wings play their first preseason game next Wednesday, September 19 at 7:30 against Tampa Bay - and I think it's televised somewhere. It's been a long, long hockey and Red Wing drought. The 2004-05 season was cancelled due to failed negotiations between the owners and player's association; I'm not sure how that ultimately settled itself. The Wings have been back in training camp in Traverse City all week and I'm glad my Wing-free phase is almost over.
It's going to take some adjustment to resume my previous level of Wing fanaticism though. I'm sure I'll adjust, but the Red Wings look a lot different than when we last saw them at the end of the 2003-04 season. Head coach Dave Lewis has been replaced with Mike Babcock who was the coach of the Mighty Ducks. In fact, all the coaching staff is new; Barry Smith and Joe Kocur are gone. Thank goodness Steve Yzerman is returning, as are Brendan Shanahan, Niklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Chris Chelios, Tomas Holmstrom and several other veteran wings. Baby-Wings Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Fischer also remain on the roster. I did notice that Darren McCarty is apparently gone as are Mathieu Dandenault and Derian Hatcher. And Pavel Datsyuk has apparently returned to Russia to play there. Darn it. He was a lot of fun to watch. I also noticed a lot of one- and two-year contracts which is a bit contrary to the Wings' historical arrangements. We'll see how many more changes we fans will have to adapt to...
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