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Life after Lidstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom is second in defensemen scoring in the NHL with 46 points. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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Nicklas Lidstrom is second in defensemen scoring in the NHL with 46 points. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

We’re 10 days away from the NHL trade deadline and I’m being deluged with questions proposing this deal or that deal. Many, if not most, are too preposterous for me to answer. So you’ve got one more week to come up with some decent ones that I’ll take a look at for next Friday’s mailbag - and remember, you can always measure how decent they are by putting yourself in the shoes of both GMs who’d be involved.

Until then, here are some inquiries that are a wee bit more rational. 

Hey Adam, Sidney Crosby has been out for quite some time now. Watching the replay and also seeing as how he played a game the next day, do you think the Penguins organization is being a little too careful about this? I know he is the face of hockey and that whole organization, but I'd like to see Crosby back in the lineup and I feel the Penguins are being a little overprotective.
Mark Delisi, Newmarket, Ont.


Hey Mark,

When it comes to head injuries - and especially when it comes to head injuries suffered by the NHL’s best player and primary meal ticket - there is no such thing as “too careful.” Would you prefer the Penguins rush him back, then watch him suffer another concussion that pushes him out of the game for years, if not forever? Or would you rather be patient, follow the advice of medical professionals and have him around for the next 10 to 15 years?

I know my answer - and I’m sure most fans feel the same.

Adam, are the Islanders building a winner or is this just smoke and mirrors?
John J. Nauke, New York


John,

The Islanders? Building a winner? A 21-game winner, sure, but a winner? If that’s what you mean by smoke and mirrors, I’d say, yes, I guess there’s one guy on Long Island with a single cigarette and a hand mirror concealing the truth.

The truth is the Isles are no closer to the playoffs than they were when Garth Snow took over as GM in the summer of 2006. Yes, there are more promising youngsters in the system, but until management and ownership can augment that group with some veterans of real impact, I can’t imagine anyone thinking they’re going to scare teams anytime soon.

Adam: Love the column. It seems like this (or next) season will be Nicklas Lidstrom's last. While Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith both appear to be promising defense prospects, neither is ready to step in and play big minutes next year.

My question is: Assuming Lidstrom retires after this year, what are the Wings' options for this off-season to try to offset the loss? There will likely be some cap room to make some moves. Are there any UFAs or even RFAs that could possibly be pursued? Maybe a trade? Knowing the Wings, it may be most likely they just forge ahead with their current stable of defensemen. If that's the case, how does their defense corps compare A.L. (After Lidstrom)?
Patrick G. Wixson, Detroit


Patrick: First of all, let me get the cliche out of the way and say there is no way you can adequately offset the loss of a first-ballot Hall of Famer, the best European to play the game and arguably the best defenseman since Bobby Orr. Can’t be done.

As for potential replacements if Lidstrom retires, the choices aren’t that enticing, particularly when the Wings are projected to have only $14.8 million in cap space (and just 14 players under contract).

I suppose if a D-man such as Andrei Markov, Tomas Kaberle or Joni Pitkanen were to temper their contract demands Wings GM Ken Holland could get creative and find a way to bring them in. But even with no big-name acquisitions, Detroit still has Niklas Kronwall, Brian Rafalski and Brad Stuart signed through next season. That’s a good-to-very good base upon which to build and one many teams would pay dearly to employ.

Hey Adam, What do you think of Mario Lemieux's statement on the game with the Isles. Personally I think he's a hypocrite. Funny how he's never spoke out at any of Matt Cooke's hits, but now it’s OK to speak up because his team is affected.
Carson Blackstock, Regina, Sask.


Hey Carson,

I think we have to stop focusing so much on the messenger and instead look at the message. In Lemieux’s case, the message was unassailable; the NHL game has gotten out of control and threatens the long-term well-being of some of its best players. If Lemieux’s self-serving statement results in more of an impetus to change that status for the better, I don’t care how many Cookes are spoiling his broth.

Hey Adam, The Atlanta Thrashers have been on the playoff bubble this season, but they are in the midst of a slump. Can they best Carolina and make the playoffs? And if they do, how do you think they will fare against either the Flyers or the Lightning? Is the experience of players such as Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and Andrew Ladd going to be the deciding factor?
Nick Arial, Ottawa


Hey Nick,

The Thrashers’ slump has erased their strong start to the year and put them smack in the middle of a tough race for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. For that reason alone, I think it’s far from certain they’ll have enough collective backbone and spark to outlast the likes of the Hurricanes, Sabres and Rangers.

However, that’s not to say it won’t happen and the franchise will finally stop being a safe bet to fold down the stretch. They’ll definitely need Ladd and Byfuglien - as well as underrated blueliner Tobias Enstrom - to make that a reality.

Given the sense of urgency that surrounds a search for new owners for the franchise and more fans in the stands, there’s no time like the present for them to do so.

Follow Adam's hockey tweets at twitter.com/TheHockeyNews, and his non-hockey observations at twitter.com/ProteauType.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.

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