When the Red Wings finally return to Joe Louis Arena ice Mike Babcock’s line-up will be noticeably green. Gone are 42-year-old defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and 32-year-old Brad Stuart. Likewise, 39-year-old Tomas Holmstrom’s retirement seems almost a foregone conclusion considering the NHL’s current state of affairs. 37 year-old Todd Bertuzzi will be the elder statesman on the club, and at 31 years of age Niklas Kronwall is now Detroit’s most geriatric blueliner. Two 23 year-olds (Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist) are also set to assert themselves as Red Wing regulars. In fact, heading into the upcoming season the average age of a Detroit Red Wings player is 28.3 years old.
This brings me to Tom Renney the Red Wings new associate coach. Added to Babcock’s crew in July, Renney brings a wealth of experience to the coaching staff. More importantly for the Wings is Renney’s proven track record of cultivating young talent. In his first head coaching experience Renney led the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers to the Memorial Cup Championship (the equivalent of the Stanley Cup in Canadian junior hockey). His first NHL head-coaching gig came with the Vancouver Canucks in 1996-1997 and he later went on to lead the New York Rangers for five seasons. For the past two NHL campaigns Renney served as the bench boss for the upstart Edmonton Oilers. Upon hiring Renney the Oilers management were outspoken about bringing Renney into the fold because of his knack for developing unseasoned pros.
The combination of Renney’s 9 plus years of NHL head coaching experience coupled with his recent tutorship of blooming NHL stars such as: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, and Taylor Hall makes Renney the perfect fit for the Wings at this juncture. The Wings are anticipating that Renney will have the same positive impact on Detroit’s fresh faces as he did with the young guns in Edmonton. In particular, Damien Brunner, Jan Mursak, Jakub Kindl, Gustav Nyquist, and Brendan Smith will most certainly be the Wings that benefit most from Renney coming on board. After having worked with Hall and Nugent-Hopkins, two of the best young players in the game, on a day-to-day basis, Renney should have plenty tricks of the trade to show the Wings’ upstarts. Not to mention the fact that the Wings who finished 22nd overall in power play percentage last year (with Lidstrom) will also benefit from the services of a coach who led the Oilers to the 3rd best power play in the NHL last season.
Welcome to the Detroit Red Wings Mr. Renney… a team no longer the most senile in the Central Division.
Central Division Teams By Age (Youngest to Oldest):
Columbus Blue Jackets: 26.9 years old
St. Louis Blues: 27.3 years old
Nashville Predators: 27.6 years old
Detroit Red Wings: 28.3 years old
Chicago Blackhawks: 28.7 years old