Daniel Alfredsson made the biggest free agency news Friday, when he left his Ottawa Senators for a chance to win a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings. Given all he’ll bring to the table, the move was excellent for Detroit. (Beauty Playin ‘Eh, Flickr)
The Detroit Red Wings pounced swiftly on the rest of the Eastern Conference Friday as the NHL’s free agency period officially opened for business, which was very good news for the team prior to their big move.
Stunningly, Detroit managed to steal Daniel Alfredsson away from the Ottawa Senators. A 14 year captain, Alfredsson claims to have wanted the best chance to win the Stanley Cup late in his career, and thought the Red Wings would give him that shot. His decision was likely also made easier given his ability to team up with a bevy of fellow Swedes in the Motor City.
Then, the Red Wings jumped at the opportunity to sign Stephen Weiss, an assistant captain for the Florida Panthers. Having only been to the playoffs once in his entire career, Weiss, a former Plymouth Whaler, said the decision was easy to sign in Detroit, given the franchise’s culture of prolonged winning. He’ll replace Valtteri Filppula, who signed for similar money in Tampa Bay.
Just like that, Ken Holland proved to the hockey world that he did, in fact, live. It’s no coincidence that both his early signings are two long standing Eastern Conference warriors with a history of leadership. Though most likely won’t admit it, the Red Wings did need a few battle tested veterans of the east to make their transition smooth next season, and these signings make that statement. Both Alfredsson and Weiss understand the dynamic of playing a different style of hockey than Detroit may be used to, and can lead the Red Wings through any early growing pains within their new divisional surroundings.
Credit Holland, as well, for realizing his young team needed an infusion of veteran leadership at just the right time. Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall all do a fantastic job in that department, but having Alfredsson, one of the most respected players in hockey, around a young nucleus, can certainly only help matters. Immediately upon hearing the news of his team’s newest signing, Patrick Eaves, a former Senator, proved this point quite well.
“Actually, in my first game, I played on the line with him (Alfredsson),” Eaves said. “He took really good care of me.”
Similarly, you can expect Alfredsson to take good care of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson and any other young Red Wing he’s able to nurture in the coming year. Weiss, for his part, isn’t chopped liver in this department either. From a young age, he was referred to as “Weisserman” given his demeanor and play matched that of Red Wings’ well respected captain Steve Yzerman. Naturally, Weiss downplayed any comparison to Detroit’s all-time great, but did admit he does attempt to mimic Yzerman’s game.
“I think it (the nickname) came from playing a two-way game and being responsible on both sides of the puck and that’s something I take a lot of pride in,” Weiss said.
Clearly, anything Detroit will lose with the expected departure of Dan Cleary and perhaps Damien Brunner can be replicated by both Alfredsson and Weiss. Filppula has already been replaced, given Weiss has the ability to exceed him in both leadership and commitment to a two-way hockey game for a slightly cheaper price. Both new additions are leaders and familiar with the play in Detroit’s new division, which means the Red Wings have come out ahead before the veil has been lifted on the new Eastern Conference.
After an extended absence, Holland certainly proved that he is back, baby. The savvy in day one’s moves cannot be underestimated across the board, considering they represent both flash and substance. Not only did the signings help make a statement to the Red Wings’ new league, they will provide the team with exactly what they’ve been missing for the past few seasons.
All this, and the offseason is only a single day old.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax