Work in Sports
CENTRAL DIVISION |
2 Detroit Red Wings
Team Page | 2000-2001 Schedule | Roster
Sports Illustrated Ranking: 6
By Tim Crothers
To hear Detroit's critics tell it, you'd think the Red Wings' first line consists of Methuselah, Father Time and Strom Thurmond. While Detroit is the NHL's most mature team, with 10 players age 30 or older -- including marquee names such as defensemen Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom and forwards Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman -- none of these guys are checking into the perks of AARP. The Red Wings' front office accepts the inherent risk. "With older players we live with the understanding that quickly we can go from a team of wily, experienced veterans to a bunch of old, tired, slow guys," says general manager Ken Holland. "Obviously, with our nucleus, we know we are going to slip sometime, but we hope that's still a few years off."
The 2000-01 Red Wings are essentially the same team that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997 and '98 and lost back-to-back second-round series to archrival Colorado in the past two seasons. While Detroit finished with 108 points and led the league with 278 goals scored a year ago, coach Scotty Bowman is concerned that the club's five highest point producers come from the thirtysomething crowd. He also blames aging legs for last season's spotty defense that yielded a 2.53 goals-against average to rank ninth in the NHL.
The Red Wings need more offense from twentysomething wings Darren McCarty, Martin Lapointe, Tomas Holmstrom and Kirk Maltby, none of whom has yet produced 20 goals in an NHL season. The club expects a breakthrough year from 6'5", 210-pound second-year defenseman Jiri Fischer, 20, whose size and skill have some scouts comparing him with a young Chris Pronger. "I don't think this club's time has come and gone," Yzerman says. "Our younger guys are more than good enough to excel in an increased role."
Fearing his team has become too predictable, Bowman plans to experiment with new breakout plays and coverage schemes, and he hopes to shift more ice time to younger players. However, he and Holland remain believers in experience at playoff time. "They've been saying we're too old since the day we surrendered the Stanley Cup in '99," Holland says. "I think there's a sense of urgency in our veterans to prove that we're not as long in the tooth as people think we are.
Issue date: October 16, 2000
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