Found March 10, 2012 on Detroit Sports 360:

Brendan Smith Some teams never overcome losing a franchise player to retirement. The Detroit Red Wings are near this reality as Nicklas Lidstrom is on the wrong side of 40 and in the final year of his contract with the team. Fans are hoping that Lidstrom, a 7-time Norris Trophy Winner and 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, will still give one more year to lead the Red Wings into the Winter Classic at the Big House in 2013. Regardless, the Red Wings need to retool for when Lidstrom hangs up the skates for good. Many defenseman have passed through the farm system for years. None have created quite the buzz like 23-year-old defenseman Brendan Smith.

Smith, a former Wisconsin Badger and Mimico, ON native, might be the most skilled defenseman to don a Winged Wheel since Lidstrom. His game was groomed by Coach Mike Eaves (father of current Wing Patrick) at the University of Wisconsin to better compliment the two-way nature of the NHL. Smith still amassed the points at UW ( 84 points in 95 games) and even led the Badgers to the 2010 Frozen Four final against Boston College. Some in Detroit were clamoring for Smith to debut fresh out of the college game. Many within the organization agreed to let his game further mature and harness his true potential amongst professionals.

In his rookie season in Grand Rapids, Smith had full reigns on the defense. He would consistently chew up 20 minutes of ice time and be the PP quarterback. His rookie season proved to many that the future on the blueline in the Motor City is all in the hands of the Red Wings’ former 1st Round Draft pick in 2007. GM Kenny Holland was then faced with a similar situation this year. Holland had brought in Mike Commodore to bring the grit the Red Wings were in need of while Ian White was acquired to emulate the game of Brian Rafalski. Smith was stuck in a conundrum: Make the Opening Night roster and learn the best in the world while in street clothes or be the premiere player for the Griffins logging 20 minutes a night.

Related Wings Links  360 Article: Quincy Reunites with Wings  360 Article: Winter Classic  by: Garret K  360 Page: Wings Homepage  Wings Video:  - Talking about Quincy Submit fan article here

Smith was eventually sent to Grand Rapids. He knew though that his opportunity to make the NHL was possible if the event of an injury during the season. He was given that opportunity on the Red Wings roadtrip in late November when the Red Wings were skating against San Jose. Smith logged 19:18 in ice time and went without a point, but remained active with his defensive play. It wasn’t until two nights later, the 19th against the LA Kings, that Smith would record his first NHL point on a nice breakout play that led to a Justin Abdelkader goal 15:38 into the 2nd period. And even though Smith hasn’t put up a point every game he has played in, eating up quality minutes with being active on the defensive front and showing off his physicality have been prime for a team pushing for a Stanley Cup.

Fast forward to March 2nd. Brendan was recalled to the Red Wings after an injury to future HOF defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. The Red Wings were already without star player Pavel Datsyuk and rugged defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. The Red Wings were playing the lowly Minnesota Wild. The Red Wings came out the gate firing as Valtteri Filppula scored with only 35 seconds elapsed in the game. Then it was Brendan Smith who potted his first NHL goal off of a rebound two Red Wings whiffed at. From there, the Red Wings would go on to rout the Wid 6-0 and really send a message that there recent losing ways were a fluke.

The season is on the home stretch. Most teams have fewer than 15 games left in their season. Though the Red Wings are battling numerous injuries, they are in prime position (4th in the Western Conference at the time of posting). Datsyuk’s recovery from a minor knee surgery is almost complete and Jonathan Ericsson’s broken wrist should allow him to see the ice just before the playoffs start. Having a young skilled defenseman like Brendan be thrust into a position of carrying one of the league’s premiere franchises is special.

His skill is paramount to getting the Red Wings into a deep playoff run. And Smith is expected to be the 6th or 7th defenseman in Mike Babcock’s defensive pairings when the real season begins. It’s not every day that a defenseman having only played two full pro seasons can take the role of a 41 year old superstar and flourish. Lidstrom will surely teach Smith all he knows before he hands the keys to the Red Wings over to guys like Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Until this happens, Brendan Smith is still a student to the game. And the A+ accomplishment would be to hoist the Stanley Cup after taking the reigns on a greatest team in the Modern Era in a dire stretch.

Follow me on my Twitter account, @gkolodziej248


DS360 Tags: Brendan Smith, Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk


Trade-deadline day frustrates Wings, fans

DETROIT -- With their abundance of injuries, life for the Detroit Red Wings has been careening down a miserable path. They now find themselves in a battle to finish in the top spot of the NHLs Central Division. Gone are the days when the Wings would cruise through their divisional rivals. Many of the Red Wings' critics always pointed to the weak Central as their playground...

Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi sits down with Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson

Two days after the eighth anniversary of the “Bertuzzzi-Moore” incident, Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi spoke to Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson in a sit-down interview, mostly talking about his renaissance and “reinvention” as a defensively-responsible forward with the team he hopes to win a Stanley Cup with in the Detroit Red Wings: Wings coach Mike Babcock adds some...

Don’t expect the status to remain anything but quo at the GM’s meetings, says Wings’ Ken Holland

Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to MLive’s Ansar Khan before flying to the hockey hotbed of Boca Raton, Florida to attend the NHL’s general managers’ meetings at the economically-priced The Breakers Resort (Don Cherry booked all the hotels in Saskatoon), and while the talk of reintroducing the red line, getting rid of the “trapezoid,” introducing “hybrid icing” and otherwise...

Red Wings-Kings quick take: strong on the stick

The Detroit Red Wings’ long list of sidelined players—Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Ericsson, Jimmy Howard, Jakub Kindl and Nicklas Lidstrom—got a player longer in the form of the flu-addled Justin Abdelkader on Friday night, meaning that, if you count back-up Jordan Pearce, the traded-for Kyle Quincey and the then-injured Jakub Kindl, Detroit faced off against Los...

Cleary Battling Through Injury

Dan Cleary had his knee drained for the fourth time yesterday.The dude has issues.  I think someone recently noted how...not like himself Dan has been looking lately.  It's because he's basically been playing on one leg.  Where high profile guys like Lidstrom and Datsyuk are shelved due to injury - it's the depth guys that are asked to step up in the face of adversity...

Red Wings overnight report: relentelssly optimistic

The injury-depleted Detroit Red Wings have slipped to fourth place in the Western Conference thanks to dropping three of their past four games, and coming off a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night, the Wings doubly re-set their body clocks—losing one hour when first returning from Nashville’s Central Time Zone, losing another thanks to “spring forward,”...

Hornqvist is Preds’ version of Detroit’s Holmstrom

Throughout their years of prominence, the Detroit Red Wings have had two constants. One is defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who owns an NHL-record seven – seven! – Norris Trophies. The other is Tomas Holmstrom, who has set up shop in front of goaltenders his whole career.“He’s always there and he’s been doing that for years,” Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “His...

Red Wings-Kings wrap-up and Wings-Predators set-up: working toward the team they want to be

The Detroit Red Wings’ gritty 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings allowed the Wings to take a midnight flight to Nashville to battle the Predators this evening (8 PM EST, FSD/FS Tennessee/97.1 FM/Don’t forget we “spring forward” this weekend) at least having kept pace with the Blues (2 points ahead of Detroit) and Canucks (1 point ahead) in the Western Conference standings...

Red Wings 4, Kings 3

Darren Helm scored with 1:13 left in regulation, lifting the banged-up Detroit Red Wings to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night. Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg scored twice and assisted on Valtteri Filppula's tying goal with 4:02 left, less than 2 minutes after Dwight King put Los Angeles ahead 3-2. Joey MacDonald made 21 saves for the Red Wings. Jonathan...

Red Wings-Predators quick take: lurking in the weeds doesn’t work two nights in a row

The Detroit Red Wings seemed to be far too content to try to use the same lurking-in-the-weeds game plan against the Nashville Predators which they successfully employed against the Kings on Friday, and in a four-point game against a team far superior to the floundering Kings, the Wings made a huge tactical error, and thanks to some terrible special teams play on Detroit’s part—giving...

Morning Skate: Game 68 vs. Detroit

7:00 PM CT – Red Wings (44-21-3) @ Predators (39-21-7)Players to watch:DET- Henrik ZetterbergZetterberg racked up three points last night while playing banged up. He’s been consistent since the All-Star break.NSH- Patric HornqvistIn 17 career games against Detroit, Hornqvist has never scored a goal. He’s due.Starting goaltenders:DET- Joey MacDonald (2011-12 stats: 8-3-1,...

Game 68: Detroit @ Nashville – Red Vs. Blue = Purple Results

Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images  It was a heart-breaking affair when Nashville last played the Detroit Red Wings. A shot by Pavel Datsyuk, after undressing Ryan Suter in the zone with five seconds left, continued the record-breaking home win streak for Detroit and sent Predators fans reeling. The Red Wings remain at the top of their game despite numerous injuries to...

Bertuzzi, Datsyuk, Lidstrom remain sidelined for Red Wings (and evening gnus)

Many thanks to Paul for the <a href="'>updates. Back from the doc, mom checked out okay, had a few freckles removed by the doc but continues to remain skin cancer free. Anyway, from the Red Wings’ practice in Los Angeles, we’re finding out mediocre news on the injury front. MLive’sAnsar...
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.