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Sidney Crosby and Co. haven't played up to expectations this season. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Sidney Crosby and Co. haven't played up to expectations this season. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With Mr. Proteau taking a week off, we turn the mailbag reins over to the capable hands of THN staffers. Regularly scheduled Ask Adaming will return Feb. 27, so keep those questions coming.

With Pavel and Henrik up front, Nick Lidstrom doesn't always get the credit he deserves, but he is, without a doubt, the best player in that organization, and possibly the best player in the league. Are the Detroit Red Wings even playoff contenders – let alone Cup contenders – without him?
Colin Scarffe, Milton, Ont.


Colin,

Nick Lidstrom has won the Norris Trophy six times and the Conn Smythe Trophy once and has been named a first-team all-star eight times during his career, so I'm not sure you can argue that he doesn't get the credit he deserves. But he is definitely one of the greatest defensemen of his generation and a sure-fire Hall of Famer.

As far as how the Wings would fare without him, I have no doubt they would be a playoff contender without Lidstrom. Their blueline corps is deep, as is the talent on the rest of their roster, and they are well coached. But luckily, the Wings have never had to find out how good they are without him because he has been a remarkably durable player over the course of his career.

Would they have four Stanley Cups in the past 11 seasons if Lidstrom hadn't played for them? It's impossible to say for sure, but my guess is probably not. He has spent the bulk of his career playing all the "hard" minutes – against the other team's top lines, on the penalty kill and while defending a lead in the final minutes of a game – all the while putting up outstanding offensive seasons.

But he'll also be 39 years old by the time this year's playoffs finish and I don't think his impact with the Wings is as pronounced as it once was. He's still a valued member of that blueline corps, but the Wings have done a good job of surrounding him with players who can also shoulder some of the load. – KC

I know the Penguins have been struggling with their season and trying to find the perfect winger to play alongside Crosby. The Pens fired their head coach, Michel Therrien, Sunday after their defeat against the Maple Leafs Saturday. Was it really necessary to fire a coach who was trying his hardest? Who deserves the real blame, the coach or the players?
Nikki, Pittsburgh


Hi Nikki,

While I’m certain Therrien was doing everything in his power to right The Good Ship Penguin, there was no sign of this club finding any sort of traction under his iron-fist approach. GM Ray Shero is hoping Crosby and Co., will respond better to former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach Dan Bylsma, who employs a much more player-friendly style.

The culpability for the Penguins’ struggles lay solely at the skates of the players, but as the old cliché goes, you can’t fire the players. You can, however, trade them and if the rumor mill is to be believed, there’ll be plenty of new faces wearing black and gold after March 4, including, perhaps, that new winger for Crosby. – EF

Being a fan of the Devils I always hear how Lou Lamoriello is great at signing/finding undrafted players. What determines if a player must be put through the draft process or if he can simply be signed as a free agent?
Edward Lugo, Bordentown City, N.J.


Edward,

Thanks for the question and sorry, but the answer is kind of technical: As stated in the collective bargaining agreement, any player at least 21 years old who has played a season in North America in the previous three years and was not drafted is eligible for unrestricted free agency – Boston University’s Matt Gilroy would be a hot example this season. Also, any player 22 or older who has not been drafted is considered a UFA – think Ville Leino with the Red Wings last summer. – RK

I've noticed on Versus telecasts that "the horn" blows once when the visiting team scores. Is this a "special effect" by Versus or do they make the home team blow the horn in the stadium?
Ed, Toledo, Ohio


Thanks Ed,

I hadn’t noticed the horn myself, but called Versus to ask about it. Here’s what Katie Bradshaw, senior publicist for Versus emailed back to me: “The sound effect is created by our scoreboard when a player scores during the game and is used when both the home and visiting teams score.”

So there you have it, the horn is a Versus effect. – JG

Since Montreal just reacquired Mathieu Schneider, I was wondering: if Robert Lang came back in the playoffs (knock on wood) that would put the team over the cap, but does the cap apply in the post-season? Thanks.
Justin D., Ypsilanti, Mich.


Justin,

Because players are not paid in the playoffs, there is no cap issue with bringing back a player who was injured provided he was already under contract with that team. An example of this was Erik Cole returning to the Carolina Hurricanes for Game 6 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final after he’d missed the previous three-plus months with a broken neck.

Of much bigger concern for you and every other Canadiens fan is whether Montreal can make the playoffs at all.

Stay tuned and thanks for the question. – RD

Why do scouts compare Victor Hedman to Chris Pronger? Hedman isn't as fierce and doesn't hit nearly as much as Pronger. Sure they’ve both got offensive skills, but shouldn't he be compared to someone else?
Mike Harland, Kitchener, Ont.


Hey Mike,

While Victor Hedman doesn’t match up to Chris Pronger’s nastiness at this point in time, keep in mind when Pronger was young he lacked the toughness that is such a big part of his game now.

According to a few scouts, the thing about Hedman right now is that he hasn’t been exposed to the North American game enough. The bigger ice he plays on in Sweden makes it more difficult for him to be a daunting physical force (not to mention he’s an 18-year-old playing against men), but it’s great for him to develop other parts of his game.

If he is going to be like Pronger, I think you’ll start to see Hedman play with more of an edge when he settles into the North American game.

In the World Junior Championship we saw a few small signs of this – namely his tussle with Angelo Esposito – so the potential to acquire that mean streak is certainly there.

Remember, we’re not comparing the 18-year-old Hedman to the 34-year-old Pronger. Scouting is all about projecting potential, so based on what the scouts have seen of Hedman so far, it’s fair to compare him to a younger Pronger. – RB

Ask Adam appears Fridays only on TheHockeyNews.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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