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1 DETROIT Red Wings
Kostya Kennedy
October 08, 2001
If the administrators of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto get an urge to expand a few years hence, they might look westward to Windsor, the Ontario city that's just across the river from Detroit. Windsor would be an ideal location for an annex devoted to those Hall-worthy players who are members of the Red Wings during 2001-02. Consider the potential inductees: defenseman Chris Chelios (a three-time Norris Trophy winner and a 10-time All-Star); center Sergei Fedorov (one MVP, two Selke Trophies); goalie Dominik Hasek (two MVPs, six Vezina Trophies, one Olympic gold medal); right wing Brett Hull (649 career goals); center Igor Larionov (two Olympic gold medals); defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (one Norris Trophy, three-time Norris runner-up); left wing Luc Robitaille (590 goals, second behind Bobby Hull for most by a left wing) and Steve Yzerman (1,614 career points, one Conn Smythe Trophy and a nine-time All-Star). They'd join Scotty Bowman, who has won more games (1,193) than any NHL coach ever and who has already been inducted.
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October 08, 2001

1 Detroit Red Wings

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Isider

CATEGORY

SI RANKING

SKINNY

FORWARDS

1

Addition of Hull and Robitaille provides huge boost

DEFENSE

4

One-two punch ofLidstrom, Chelios hard to beat

GOALTENDING

1

Getting Hasek a coup, allows Wings to open up

SPECIAL TEAM

2

Power play should be the most potent in NHL

MANAGEMENT

3

G.M. Holland finds talent; coach Bowman the best

If the administrators of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto get an urge to expand a few years hence, they might look westward to Windsor, the Ontario city that's just across the river from Detroit. Windsor would be an ideal location for an annex devoted to those Hall-worthy players who are members of the Red Wings during 2001-02. Consider the potential inductees: defenseman Chris Chelios (a three-time Norris Trophy winner and a 10-time All-Star); center Sergei Fedorov (one MVP, two Selke Trophies); goalie Dominik Hasek (two MVPs, six Vezina Trophies, one Olympic gold medal); right wing Brett Hull (649 career goals); center Igor Larionov (two Olympic gold medals); defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (one Norris Trophy, three-time Norris runner-up); left wing Luc Robitaille (590 goals, second behind Bobby Hull for most by a left wing) and Steve Yzerman (1,614 career points, one Conn Smythe Trophy and a nine-time All-Star). They'd join Scotty Bowman, who has won more games (1,193) than any NHL coach ever and who has already been inducted.

"I called up Chelly in the off-season and said, 'Man, get me to Detroit!' " says Hull, a former member of the Stars who signed as a free agent with the Red Wings in August. "You walk in here every day and you can't help but get pumped up."

This is a team with offensive players who may have accomplished more cumulatively than any other group in NHL history ( Detroit's top five career scorers have combined for a staggering 2,683 goals), but nothing has sent more juice running through the Red Wings' practices than the sight of Hasek stoning those snipers on breakaway drills. When Detroit snatched Hasek from the Sabres on July 1 for left wing Slava Kozlov and a first-round draft pick, the Red Wings emerged from a pack of worthy Western Conference candidates as SI's choice to win the Stanley Cup. "How can you not get excited?" says right wing Darren McCarty. "He's the greatest goalie in the world."

Yes, even at 36, Hasek remains that. He carried the Sabres last season with a superb .921 save percentage and a league-best 11 shutouts en route to that sixth Vezina. As McCarty says, "Hasek can win a playoff series by himself." He won't have to do that in Detroit. The Red Wings have been loaded with talent for years and still employ 10 players from the team that won back-to-back Cups in 1997 and '98. The reason Detroit hasn't advanced past the second round since then, and last spring bowed to the Kings in Round 1, is largely traceable to inconsistent play by its goalies. "This team can win the Stanley Cup, and I am here to help us win it," Hasek says. "That's the goal. Nothing less."

Winning the Cup is the only achievement missing from Hasek's r�sum�; and before the trade, it seemed that his best chance to hoist the chalice had passed in June 1999, when the Sabres lost to the Stars in the finals. Dallas's Hull had the controversial Cup-clinching goal, scoring in triple overtime of Game 6 despite his skate's appearing to be illegally in the crease. Hull never got that close to Hasek again until the Wings' five-day training camp in Traverse City, Mich.

"They put me and Dom together as roommates," says Hull. "It was fun. I didn't bring up the goal once. No way! Why would I do that? I want Dom concentrating about this season and nothing else. Also, I wanted us to get along."

Which brings us to the issue some doubters believe will undermine this team: internal discord. On a club with so many highly paid stars and conspicuous new faces, will these Wings devolve into dissension? Not likely, not with men like Yzerman, Detroit's captain, and Chelios, the captain of the U.S. Olympic team, as heads of the household. Both are classic leaders who arrive early to the rink, stay late, train hard, bark at lazy teammates, leave pieces of themselves on the ice in every game and are deeply respected by their peers.

Yzerman, 36, and Chelios, 39, have taken to skating together before practices, conveying a singularity of purpose that is the flip-side benefit of an aging team. Eight Red Wings are 35 or older and Bowman must be careful to save his team's legs for the playoffs. No coach is better at utilizing players and conserving their strength. "Are we older? Yes," says Yzerman. "But it's hard to say we haven't improved by adding Hasek, Hull, Robitaille and Fredrik Olausson." A 35-year-old defense-man, Olausson signed with the Wings last May after playing a season in Switzerland. (He played 14 NHL seasons before that.) He's a deft passer who lends even greater skill to Detroit's already formidable power play. The Wings could get further help on the blue line with the return of defenseman Uwe Krupp, a former All-Star who has been sidelined for nearly three years with back injuries. A solidified defensive corps is another reason the Wings will be poised for a successful surge to the title—a development that would guarantee the team an exhibit in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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