What can you say about the Detroit Red Wings? This team keeps its core together every year and seems to never be fazed by any depth changes. This will likely frustrate teams yet again in 2011-12.
Defensemen: Mike Commodore, Ian White.
Goaltenders: Ty Conklin.
On the outs
Forwards: Kris Draper (retired), Mike Modano (unsigned).
Defensemen: Ruslan Salei (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl)*, Brian Rafalski (retired).
Goaltenders: Chris Osgood (retired).
Finally, the Blues named a captain that we can all agree on.
The Blues have been without a captain since they traded Eric Brewer near the NHL trade deadline in February. He served as the Blues’ captain for three years.
The Blues franchise and their fans never truly saw eye-to-eye as Brewer being the choice for captain. He was booed on home ice and was berated by fans on any St. Louis Blues message board.
Things will be different this season. David Backes, a true fan-favorite, will wear the ‘C’ as the Blues’ 20th captain heading into their 44th season in the NHL.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong was not shy in talking up his new captain.
“It’s someone that we truly believe can lead this franchise, not only this year but in the future,” Armstrong said, “someone that has a great relationship with Davis [Payne], an excellent relationship with his teammates [and] has the qualities we want in a captain.”
The hockey community lost many great men today in one of the biggest tragedies to take place in sports history. Two of these men are former Blues.
Pavol Demitra and Igor Korolev boarded a flight in Russia’s Yaroslavl airport this morning. Sadly, the flight never reached its destination of Minsk, Belarus. The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, one of the top KHL teams, were aboard the flight that crashed near a river, killing at least 43 people and leaving one in beyond critical condition.
The St. Louis Blues released the following statements about the tragic events today:
“The St. Louis Blues have lost two members of our family, Pavol Demitra and Igor Korolev, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families as well. Pavol and Igor were both incredibly passionate and dedicated players and their influence in St. Louis was not only felt on the ice, but throughout the community.”
Korolev, drafted by the Blues in the 2nd round, 38th overall of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, spent 12 seasons in the NHL, including his first two with the Blues. He left the NHL during the lockout and continued to play in Russia. He spent his last years playing with the Magnitogorsk Metallurg of the Russian Elite League and Mytishchi Atlant and the Lokomotiv of the KHL. After playing in his final game in 2010, Korolev stayed with Yaroslavl as a coach. He just turned 41 years old on September 6.
The left-handed Demitra was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 9th round, 227th overall, of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. He was acquired by the Blues in possibly one of the best trades for St. Louis in their 43-year history. Christer Olsson, the Blues’ 11th round selection, 275th overall, was dealt straight-up to the Senators for Demitra on November 17, 1996. Olsson went on to play in 25 more NHL games. Demitra played eight seasons for the Blues and 788 total NHL games after the trade. He left the Blues as their 5th all-time leading scorer with 493 points.
One of the most interesting teams to watch this off-season has been the Columbus Blue Jackets. After making a splash to start the summer, acquiring superstar Jeff Carter from Philadelphia just before the NHL Entry Draft, the Jackets stayed out of the headlines for the rest of the summer.
Nonetheless, the Jackets will be a completely different team in 2011-12.
Forwards: Jeff Carter, Vinny Prospal.
Defensemen: Radek Martinek, James Wisniewski.
Goaltenders: Mark Dekanich, Curtis Sanford
On the outs
Forwards: Chris Clark (unsigned), Nikita Filatov (OTT), Ethan Moreau (LAK), Andrew Murray (SJS), Scottie Upshall (FLA), Jakub Voracek (PHI), Kyle Wilson (NAS).
Defensemen: Mike Commodore (DET), Jan Hejda (COL), Rostislav Klesla (PHO), Sami Lepisto (CHI), Anton Stralman (unsigned).
Goaltenders: Mathieu Garon (TBL).
We all know what changes the Blues have made and we have already begun our predictions for how it will work out for them. Remember, there are four other solid teams in the Central Division.
In a five-part series, I will take a look at the Central Division and hammer out some statistics and news that may be helpful to you in determining where the Blues will stand at season’s end. Up first: the much hated rival of the Blues, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Forwards: Andrew Brunette, Daniel Carcillo, Jamal Mayers, Rostislav Olesz.
Defensemen: Sami Lepisto, Steve Montador, Sean O’Donnell
On the outs
Forwards: Troy Brouwer (WAS), Jake Dowell, (DAL), Ryan Johnson (unsigned), Tomas Kopecky (FLA), Fernando Pisani (unsigned).
Defensemen: Brian Campbell (FLA), Chris Campoli (unsigned), Jassen Cullimore (Iserlohn Roosters; DEL, Germany), Jordan Hendry (unsigned).
Goaltenders: Marty Turco (unsigned).