The NHL has set a 48-game minimum for the season this year. Talks have heated up as the owners recently made a new proposal. With a short training camp, will the Detroit Red Wings be ready to start the season?
Many teams have players who are playing overseas right now. The Red Wings have 10 players who have played in other leagues. In addition to that, they have several players who they were able to send down to their Grand Rapids minor league team.
On top of that, the Red Wings have several players who have remained in town that have gathered together for practices. While that is nice to see, it really does not prepare the team for games. It does, however, keep it in shape. This is something that many other teams are doing as well, so it is not an advantage for the Red Wings.
The advantage for the Red Wings is that they have players who are competing in meaningful games. Instead of just playing in pickup games or having practice skates, they are in games that matter, games that they are trying to win. Regardless if they are in Europe or the minors, these players are fighting for conference and division championships, as well playoff spots.
While this obviously will make the Red Wings physically ready to play, more importantly, it will make them mentally ready. A short season makes every game even bigger, as there will be fewer games to make up for any type of losing streak.
With these players already in game mode, they should not start the season rusty. Instead, they should be closer to midseason mode.
Having that jump on the competitive mentality that is needed to succeed will greatly help. The team should not come out flat, as a slow start to this season could doom any team.
Another advantage is that most of the core players are back. Also, Mikael Samuelsson will be making his second run with the team, and Brendan Smith was able to play 14 games with the team last year.
Damien Brunner will be a new addition, but he has spent the lockout playing on the same line as Henrik Zetterberg. While there will still be some adjustment time needed for these players, it will not be as dramatic as what some other teams will face.
This only leaves Carlo Colaiacovo, Jordin Tootoo and backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson as the only completely new players to the organization. In a season like this, this type of stability will help the team.
All of this means that the Red Wings should be able to handle a short training camp and season. They have veteran leadership, players who are well versed in the system and enough players who are in top game form—both physically and mentally—so they should be ready to start the season.
While it remains to be seen if they are contenders for the Stanley Cup, they should be able to continue their playoff-appearance streak.
Hopefully, these talks will lead to a deal very soon.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings, as well as many other sports. He is also taking part in a Polar Plunge for Special Olympics and would greatly appreciate your support.
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