Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. The Detroit News’s John Niyo lamented the “lack of star power” on the Detroit sports scene, saying this about the rebuilding Red Wings:
The other Ilitch-owned team in town seems a bit further along in its retooling. But considering the Red Wings’ last two All-Star representatives were 34-year-old Frans Nielsen and 32-year-old Mike Green, there are no sure things here, either.
Dylan Larkin, a homegrown talent who made a big splash as a rookie All-Star and expects to sign a contract extension after an impressive 2017-18 campaign, is the best bet to grab the torch carried by Henrik Zetterberg the last several years. And the most recent first-round pick, 18-year-old Czech forward Filip Zadina, a goal-scoring winger brimming with confidence, probably carries the greatest hopes.
There’s also strength in numbers, and with 21 draft picks the last two years — including four of the top 36 overall this summer — and 11 more penciled in for 2019, Red Wings GM Ken Holland figures the odds are in his favor when it comes to finding the next Pavel Datsyuk or Nicklas Lidstrom. Or at least the next bona fide star.
“I’m trying to put together lots of young players that give our franchise — and give our fans — some hope,” he said.
Hope is in longer supply than Niyo thinks given the performances of Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou up front, but the Wings could definitely use some prospects stepping forward on the blueline and/or in goal over the next couple of seasons to round out the rebuild…
2. At the low end of the star spectrum, but very strong in the “folk hero” vein, the Holland Sentinel’s Chris Zadorozny spoke with Luke Witkowski as the Wings enforcer continues to coach young players at the Great Lakes Hockey Camp in Holland, MI:
Witkowski will continue working out and skating in the Eastside Elite League, which includes Dylan Larkin, Vlad Namestnikov, Igor Larionov, Dan DeKeyser and Tyler Motte, before training camp begins in September.
“It’s a really competitive summer league, best summer league I’ve ever played in and it’s helping me stay in good game shape,” Witkowski said.
He’s planning on coming in stronger next season and says he wants the Red Wings to be in the playoffs, to see Little Caesars Arena with a playoff atmosphere.
But giving back to his community and putting smiles on kids faces was a great way to spend three days in his hometown.
“I enjoy doing it, it’s not my first time doing it, I don’t expect it to be my last,” Witkowski said. “For it to be in Holland, kids growing up in Holland like myself, it’s very special for me.”
3. Finally, in the multimedia category, the Red Wings asked Joe Veleno to play a game of “This or That”: