What a season!
It feels like it has been forever since that trip to Stockholm where the so called "Swede Wings" got swept by the Blues in the Globen. How memorable that trip must of been for the team, especially the mass amount of Swedes that don the Winged Wheel.
It was a rough season for the Red Wings' no doubt about that - I think I heard 50 times a day how the Red Wings are washed up, they are too old, and my 'favorite' that the Dead Wing Era has returned. Though injuries and rookies not living up to potential the Wings pulled it together. Even after having a rough start to the season rookie Jimmy Howard played a huge roll in getting the team to the play offs. Something that had been written off by so many.
One of the most touching things that most hockey fans probably didn't even take not of was that Kirk Maltby took one for the team. A player that has been so dedicated and played a huge roll for Detroit since his arrival in the Motorcity opted to go have surgery (rather than wait until the off season) to free up cap space to allow Andreas Lilja to come back without bumping another player to waiver/trade. To you Kirk Maltby I say THANK YOU. Thank you for all you have done for Detroit and not just on the ice; but your work with charity and just being a great roll model for the next hockey generation.
The Olympic break came and went. Three Olympic medals were given to the Red Wings for their efforts. Coach Mike Babcock won the gold with host team Canada, while defenseman Brian Rafalski played a huge roll for the young Team USA (which no one had any faith in winning anything - so noted by the NHLPA who booked all their flights home to take place BEFORE the gold medal games - thanks for the confidence!) and of course Valtteri Filppula who came out and showed the rest of the hockey world that he is a force to be reckoned with - won the bronze with Finland.
After the Olympic break the battle for a playoff spot was red hot. The Flames and the Red Wings battled it out almost to the last regular season game. However hard the road traveled was they still made it. 19 straight years - and Lidstrom has never missed making the post season.
Now that the season is over you would think that unknowing stressful feeling of 'what if' would disappear. You know that feeling - the one every hockey fan loves but hates about the playoffs. This time that feeling has not gone away, in fact, I think it has only grown more heart wrenching. Now the 'what if' is 'what if Lidstrom doesn't return to the ice' I have never known hockey without Norris Nick - they go hand in hand. My first jersey was a Lidstrom jersey - I have worn it to every game I've attended and they've always won. My two year old daughters first jersey was also a Lidstrom jersey and during the Olympics when he wore the Tre Kronor she ran to the tv and pointed screaming "Lidstrom! Lidstrom!" Could moments like that really be over? Only he can decide.