By Michael Caples –
It was another wild season of Red Wings hockey in 2013. Even with a lockout taking away 34 regular-season contests, the Wings managed to produce another memorable season for the Hockeytown faithful. Here are our ten favorite Red Wings moments from the past five months. Think we missed one? Leave us a comment or drop us a line on Twitter or Facebook.
No. 10 – Tuesday fight night with Tootoo
It didn’t take newcomer Jordin Tootoo long to endear himself to Hockeytown. On Jan. 29, just two weeks into the shortened regular season, the Red Wings forward dropped the gloves twice in the first period. The first bout was with former Wolverines standout Eric Nystrom three seconds into the game, and the second was with Brenden Dillon 16:08 later. “I think when you’re physically into the game, the guys on the bench get more involved,” Tootoo said. “That’s part of my DNA; bringing emotion to the game, having guys feed off of that.” It wasn’t his first fight in a Red Wings jersey, but from that point forward, Tootoo was a new fan favorite in Hockeytown.
No. 9 – Abdelkader’s hatty in Cali
After struggling through the start of the season, on March 22, Justin Abdelkader figured everything out. The Muskegon native recorded a hat trick on the road against the Ducks – his first professional three-goal night. Abdelkader, who also picked up an assist in the 5-1 win, scored once in the first and twice in the second to make the hats rain down on the Honda Center ice, thanks to the loyal Red Wings’ following out in California. Here’s a look at all three of the goals:
No. 8 – The Winter Classic is announced…again
Better late than never. The announcement that the Winter Classic and the Hockeytown Winter Festival will take place in Ann Arbor and Detroit next season was expected, but we still put it at No. 8 for relief more than excitement. We can’t wait for all the outdoor hockey to take place in our state, and the lockout cancelling the event this past winter was something hard to swallow. However, the NHL has reassured the people in our state that we will still get a month-long celebration of hockey…and it can’t get here fast enough.
No. 7 – Datsyuk embarrasses the Predators
We really wanted to just give a number to Datsyuk and call it a day, because it’s hard to pick just one moment to highlight. We decided to go with the play below, because it was simply remarkable, but then we decided to include another more-recent highlight, just because we can.
No. 6 – The Wings invade Compuware
The Red Wings held a ‘Red and White’ game at Compuware Arena in Plymouth on Jan. 15, and the fan reception they received was tremendous. The rink was packed, the fans were loud, and the Red Wings/Griffins played their final tune-up before a shortened regular season began. It was great to see such a great turnout – there was quite a line to get into the building – after a difficult time for fans in which they lost their professional hockey for the third time in less than 20 years.
No. 5 – The Game 7s
It’s one of the most exciting things in sports, and while the Red Wings went 1-1 in their Game 7 appearances this spring/summer, it was still fun to watch. Detroit’s 3-2 win over the Ducks out in Anaheim made staying up on a school night well worth it, and while it was a disappointing finish, the Game 7 with the Blackhawks sure was exciting.
No. 4 – The Wings head East
The Hockeytown faithful rejoiced on March 14 when the NHL’s Board of Governors made realignment official. The league’s new structure means the Red Wings finally get to move back to the ‘Eastern Conference’ – their new division will keep them playing teams in their own time zone. Detroit will now share a division with Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto. That means 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. puck drops, more visits to Original Six barns, and some trips to Florida. The one downside? The Wings won’t see as much of the Blackhawks. Still a good trade for less late-night games.
No. 3 – Zetterberg takes the lead
The conclusion of the lockout meant it was finally time for the Red Wings to announce the man who would replace Nick Lidstrom as captain. While it came as no surprise that Henrik Zetterberg was chosen to replace Lidstrom, the announcement – held at Compuware Arena before the team’s Red and White game – was still a historic moment for the Original Six club. Zetterberg, the Red Wings’ seventh-round pick in 1999, guided a younger-than-usual locker room to yet another playoff appearance, while still recording 48 points in only 46 games. Hard to forget his hat trick plus two assists against St. Louis, either, in which Zetterberg made sure the Wings avenged a rough outing in St. Louis to start the season.
No. 2 – Detroit wins the DeKeyser sweepstakes
One of the Mitten’s own was one of the most sought-after college free agents in recent memory, and the hometown team locked him up. Western Michigan defenseman Danny DeKeyser made all of Hockeytown sweat a bit, but the Clay Township native ended up picking his childhood favorite team, and immediately made an impact on the Red Wings’ blue line. Despite being injured in the second game of the 2013 playoffs, DeKeyser was still the talk of the Wings’ locker room at the conclusion of the postseason, with Dan Cleary saying he will “play in this league until he wants to quit.”
No. 1 – The streak lives on
Can’t top this one. From the way the Red Wings had to scratch and claw to make it into the playoffs, and for what they did after they reached the postseason, the Wings preserving their playoff streak takes the No. 1 spot on our list of top moments. Twenty-two straight playoff appearances is a remarkable achievement, and this year the road to the postseason wasn’t as paved as others. The Wings had to fight through injuries, adjust to a constantly changing roster, and handle the ups and downs of a NHL season without Nick Lidstrom for the first time since the streak began. Yet they found a way through all of it, and played deep into the postseason once again.