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Changes coming for Red Wings

Monday, 06.15.2009 / 4:40 PM ET / News
By Brian Compton  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Changes coming for Red Wings
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock met his team one last time before it parted ways for the summer, one that certainly would be a lot more enjoyable had they found a way to close out the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Wings held a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series before losing a pair of 2-1 games -- including Game 7 at Joe Louis Arena on Friday night. Two days later, the players cleaned out their lockers -- some of them for the last time in Detroit.

"It's just an opportunity for me as a coach to give thanks, to be honest with you," Babcock said. "The guys played hard and competed as hard as they could. Three years in a row, we've had outstanding runs. We're disappointed not being able to get it done. In saying all that, we've got to get ready and cranked up for next year. We plan on being good again."

Detroit General Manager Ken Holland will have some work to do this summer. For starters, Marian Hossa -- who bolted Pittsburgh last summer to sign a one-year deal with the Red Wings -- once again is an unrestricted free agent. Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Kopecky, Chris Chelios and Ty Conklin also are free to sign with any club on July 1.

Samuelsson, 32, was asked if he feels he'll be back in Motown this fall for a fifth season with the club.

"I'm not going to say anything about that ... it's not obviously up to me," said Samuelsson, who had 19 goals and 21 assists in 2008-09. "Let's see."

The biggest question this offseason for the Wings is whether they can lock Hossa up long-term. The 30-year-old made $7.45 million this season and scored 40 goals.

"I'd love to have him back ... I think he's a great man," Babcock said. "This is going to be something that bugs him. I was very impressed with his contributions to our team and his commitment to his teammates and how hard he worked. I've also got a lot of respect for a guy who makes a decision and stands by that. He's got to carry his head high and go about his business like he always does -- with a lot of pride." 

With changes come different looks, and Detroit is bound to have a different look in 2009-10. Up front, Darren Helm has all but locked up a permanent spot in Motown after another tremendous postseason. Justin Abdelkader showed poise and the ability to play a physical game, although the Michigan State product could play for the Wings' American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids next season. And 25-year-old left wing Ville Leino is waiting for his time to shine after tallying 9 points in 13 games during the regular season. Jiri Hudler, who scored a career-high 23 goals, is a restricted free agent and due for a big raise from the $1.15 million he earned this season.

Defensively, Jonathan Ericsson assured himself a spot on the Wings' blue line by filling in tremendously for the injured Brian Rafalski during Detroit's second-round series against the Anaheim Ducks. The teams' defense core of Nicklas Lidstrom, Rafalski, Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall is signed at least through next season, when Lidstrom's contract expires.

"All we do is we keep trying to get better," Babcock said. "What happens is there's only so much pie to go around. As you win more games and your players get better, they get bigger contracts. You need guys like Helm and Leino and Ericsson and (goalie Jimmy) Howard to come in and make a difference. We're in the winning business, so they only get the jobs if they're good enough to have the jobs. We'll try to figure that out and try to add to our team if we possibly can.

"Let's not kid ourselves ... we've got to be a pretty good team to be better than we were this year -- or the previous year or the one before that," Babcock said. "I always feel if you get to the final four in hockey, you've done an outstanding job, and that's three years in a row for us."


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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 51 18 19 25 37
H. Zetterberg 52 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 51 15 17 -2 32
G. Nyquist 52 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 52 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 37 6 20 11 26
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 38 5 10 6 15
D. DeKeyser 48 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 19 10 4 .932 2.03
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89