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Red Wings Flying High
by Rodi Blokh

For years the Detroit Red Wings have been at or near the top of NHL hierarchy, and many have wondered when, or if, this power will start to fade. It is a fact in team sports that powerful teams cannot stay dominant forever and will eventually weaken. Very few teams have been able to escape the jaws of decline, and after last season's pitiful playoff exit, it looked like Detroit was beginning its slow deterioration into mediocrity. The team was old, and not as deep as it once was. Its #1 goaltender, Chris Osgood was inconsistent, and Manny Legace was unable to capture the top position. Age was creeping up on the squad as many key players were getting older and showing signs of it. A team cannot stay good for long without some youth being brought into the lineup. The famed depth of the Red Wings suddenly seemed shallow when the team fell apart without Brendan Shanahan and Captain Steve Yzerman. To summarize, the team seemed ready to abandon its seat as one of the west's Big 4, which also included Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and St. Louis Blues, to a younger squad such as the LA Kings, Edmonton Oilers, or Vancouver Canucks.

 

All chances of this happening have been virtually wiped away with the tremendous players that the Wings have been able to entice to come to Hockeytown. No other team has done more this summer, and has improved as much as the Red Wings, headed by GM Ken Holland. With a large purse and even larger pressure to make changes and get the team back on track, GM Ken Holland signed high-caliber players Dominik Hasek, Luc Robitaille, and most recently, Brett Hull.

Improving a talent-laden offense that includes Sergei Federov, Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman, and others is a difficult task. However, Holland has added even more reason for opposing defensive units and goaltenders to sweat when facing his attackers. He has done this by acquiring RW Brett Hull and LW Luc Robitaille. Both add more depth to the team, and give the Wings' already high-octane offense even more power. With Hull, you get a true sniper that can score at key moments; a winger that has compiled 649 goals and 1183 points over his 17 seasons in the NHL.

And Luc Robitaille, who is an NHL superstar, has, with talented hands and great speed, compiled 1238 points over the span of his career, including 88 points last season which ranked him 11th in scoring. These two wingers will add considerably to the Wings' offensive unit.

However, the biggest acquisition of perhaps the entire summer was the acquisition of phenom Dominik Hasek. The award winning goaltender finally gives the Red Wings something Chris Osgood never seemed to be able to give them, consistency and reliability. Hasek gives the Wings a man that is one of the top 3 in the league at his position, and can easily steal games all by himself.

Something to think about; If Hasek was so dominant in Buffalo, a team with offense inferior to that of the Wings, and defense equal if not worse as well…how dominant will the Dominator be in Motown? With less pressure because of a more powerful offense in front of him, Hasek will be even more potent.

And not only will Hasek be playing better, but the players in front of him will be playing better as well. When the defense and offense can trust the man between the pipes, they can focus less on their end and more on the other one.

These acquisitions will improve everything about the Red Wings, and make them a significantly more powerful and effective squad then last season. They will have a goalie that rules his aspect of the game, and 2 highly-powered wingers that will strengthen the Wings' attack. Despite all of this, the Wings have not gotten younger. Hasek is 36 and no one is really sure how much longer he will be playing. Hull is 37 and is probably sticking around for just 2 more years until he decides to retire. Robitaille, at 35, is no youngster either. With these purchases, the Red Wings have made it evident that they are not looking at the future, but are looking at the present. And what they are looking at right now is the Stanley Cup, and with the current lineup, it doesn't look that far away.

 

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