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1 Detroit Red Wings

Oct. 08, 2001
Oct. 08, 2001

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Oct. 8, 2001

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1 Detroit Red Wings

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.

This is an article from the Oct. 8, 2001 issue Original Layout

"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
resume; 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 defenseman,
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.

--Kostya Kennedy

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO The unconventional Hasek will do everything but stand on his head to secure the Red Wings' leaky goal, and that's the fix needed to bring the Cup back to Detroit.

Fast Fact

The Red Wings are the first NHL team to have three active
players--Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Steve Yzerman--who have
scored more than 500 goals.

Insider

CATEGORY SI RANKING SKINNY

FORWARDS 1 Addition of Hull and Robitaille provides huge
boost
DEFENSE 4 One-two punch of Lidstrom, Chelios hard to
beat
GOALTENDING 1 Getting Hasek a coup, allows Wings to open up
SPECIAL TEAMS 2 Power play should be the most potent in NHL
MANAGEMENT 3 G.M. Holland finds talent; coach Bowman the
best