Midway through Dave Lewis's first training camp as coach of the
Red Wings, the Detroit city council passed a resolution honoring
Scotty Bowman, who had vacated the post moments after winning
the Stanley Cup in June. The council proclaimed that Bowman's
career "set a new gold standard for future generations of
coaches to dare to strive to achieve." The first to take the
dare is the 49-year-old Lewis. "Every coach in the league has
pressure on him," Lewis says of replacing Bowman, a Hall of
Famer whose nine Cups are the most by a coach in league history.
"The teams that didn't make the playoffs have pressure to make
the playoffs. The teams that have a chance to win it all have
pressure to win it all."
Though weakened by the retirements of Bowman and goaltender
Dominik Hasek, the Red Wings remain in the latter camp. In Lewis,
who's been on the Detroit bench since the 1987-88 season, and
free-agent signee Curtis Joseph, who had a 2.23 goals-against
average for the Leafs last season, Detroit has found excellent
replacements. Like Hasek, Joseph is a ceaselessly competitive
netminder capable of making game-turning saves. "He's similar to
Dom in that he's got a unique style," winger Brendan Shanahan
says of Joseph, who has yet to win the Cup. "He never quits on a
Little has changed up front, where the Red Wings have a deep
forward group led by 30-goal scorers Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov,
Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille. The absence of center Steve
Yzerman (sidelined until January following knee surgery) means a
promotion to the second line for 24-year-old Pavel Datsyuk, who
had 11 goals and 24 assists as a rookie. He is an artful passer
and unflappable stickhandler, especially in traffic.
Twenty-two-year-old Henrik Zetterberg, the rookie of the year in
the Swedish Elite League last season, is an outstanding playmaker
and could flourish on the top line with Shanahan and Fedorov.
Major progress is also expected from 6'5", 225-pound defenseman
Jiri Fischer, who was +17 last season while paired with Chris
Chelios. Like his partner, Fischer plays with an edge. The Wings
won't dominate as they did last year, but a repeat run isn't out
of the question. "We're cocky," says winger Darren McCarty. "We
know we can win." --D.G.H.
Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios were one-two in the voting for
the Norris Trophy last season, the first time in the award's
49-year history that teammates were so honored.
CATEGORY SI RANKING SKINNY
OFFENSE 2 Rookie Zetterberg will make impact; watch Datsyuk
DEFENSE 1 Lidstrom's tops and supporting cast is better
GOALTENDING 4 With talent in front of him, expect Joseph to
SPECIAL TEAMS 4 Skill on PP scary good; PK will miss injured
MANAGEMENT 3 G.M. Holland keeps talent in full supply