February 17, 2011; Tampa FL, USA; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall (55) during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Kronwall Strong Candidate For Vacant Wings Captaincy

The Lidstrom era is over.  Whether we like it or not, the old guard is out, and the next generation of Red Wings hockey is upon us.

After a string of consecutive early round playoff exits it is painfully obvious to see the Red Wings need an injection of new blood to bring about a climate change around the organization.

Quite simply, Detroit needs an attitude adjustment.

If the Red Wings wish to make a bold statement about the direction the hockey club is headed for the next decade no better tone could be set then to appoint hard hitting defenseman Niklas Kronwall the next Captain of the Detroit Red Wings.

You might wonder what makes Kronwall a suitable replacement for Nicklas Lidstrom? Why not Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk?

It’s simple; Kronwall brings something to the table that neither Zetterberg nor Datsyuk offers… a foreboding presence.

I am not suggesting that Datsyuk and Zetterberg don’t demand the attention of opponents.  It’s just a different kind of attention. Other teams are always aware when Datsyuk hops over the boards because there is always the potential that he will stickhandle around defenders embarrassing them with his skill.

May 8, 2011; San Jose, CA, USA; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall (top) and San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe (29) collide during the second period of game five of the western conference semifinals of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Likewise, Zetterberg is a playmaker.  He can beat you one-on-one and snap it off the bar and in, or set up a teammate on a tic-tac-toe goal. No question, things happen when Z’s on the ice.

However, things also happen when Kronwall is on the ice, the waking up in the hospital after a bone crushing body-check sort of thing.  How many other players in the league have a nickname for their body-checks?  League wide everyone recognizes what getting “Kronwalled” refers to; it’s a term synonymous with the Red Wings and # 55 commands respect.

Yet, there is much more to Kronwall’s game than just his abrasiveness.  He’s a gifted offensive threat who will be in charge of quarterbacking the first power-play unit.  His 15 goals and 21 assists last season led all Wings defenders including Lidstrom.  In fact, I would argue that Kronwall has been the best Wings defenseman the last two postseasons.  He signed a 7-year contract last fall and at 31 years old is entering the prime of his career.

When considering the physical nature of the last two Stanley Cup Championship teams (L.A. and Boston), and the style of play in the NHL, stitching a “C” on Kronwall’s #55 jersey would be a definitive declaration to the rest of the league that a new attitude era has officially arrived in Hockeytown.

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Tags: Detroit Red Wings Henrik Zetterberg NHL Niklas Kronwall Pavel Datsyuk

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