New Red Wings defenseman Patrik Nemeth engaged in a lengthy conversation with HockeyNews.se’s Mattias Ek, and here’s a rough translation of the Swedish interview:
Meeting crucial for NHL Swede’s team decision: “They want to change things”
Stockholm. After making the playoffs for 25 consecutive years, and winning four Stanley Cup titles during that time, the Detroit Red Wings have missed the playoffs for three consecutive years.
For new defenseman Patrik Nemeth, a meeting with new general manager Steve Yzerman became crucial to his decision to sign with the NHL team in the middle of its transformation.
“As soon as the new GM or new coach comes in, there is a new focus. They want to see some other things, maybe, change some things,” Nemeth tells HockeyNews.se.
Team legend Steve Yzerman has taken over as general manager in Detroit, after Ken Holland, who led the classic NHL organization during the heyday that produced four Stanley Cup titles since 1997.
The leading players during that time, when the Red Wings were a superpower in the NHL, have retired, and it takes time to rebuild a team that holds up to competition.
For 27-year-old former AIK Stockholm defenseman Patrik Nemeth, it might be a good time to join the Red Wings. He’s established himself in the NHL after two good years with Colorado.
This summer he was a free agent, and could sign a two-year contract with the Red Wings.
“It will be interesting, it will be fun. New city, new team, new opportunity. All of it. It’s always different when you get new eyes watching you. There are many good players there and the league is so even so it’s difficult to say much during the preseason. You never know how it will go,” says Nemeth after an ice session at the Globen Arena, where lots of NHL Swedes trained this past week.
When he himself came to Colorado from Dallas in 2017, the Avalanche were in the middle of a generational change.
“There we many younger players, and Colorado almost came from a record-low season the year before, and all of a sudden we had 96 points that year.”
“Nobody believed in us. We had ten straight wins. It’s so that people think and think and don’t want to let go of their previous odds,” Nemeth says, and smiles subtly.
“You can’t read too much into things, but you must believe in what you are doing with the team, and then push it all the way out. Then good things can happen.”
What does Detroit expect from you?
“I think they expect me to play a stable game, and shut down opponents. Play a good defensive game, move the puck in a good way. I think that’s what they want to see. And of course you strive to be better at everything. You can’t stand still in your development. It sounds a bit cliched, but to improve your game, it’s summer, and that’s what it’s for.”
Nemeth had a meeting with the coaches and general manager Steve Yzerman before signing with Detroit.
“They told me what they wanted to see from me, and I thought it sounded good. It’s coming in and trying to do the best you can and playing on your forward foot,” says Nemeth.
Yzerman, who’s been the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning and held the leading position there in recent years, now becomes the key figure for the Detroit Red Wings.
“As soon as the new GM or coach comes in, there is a new focus. He wants to see some other things, maybe, and wants to change some things. Then it won’t be like it was the year before, hopefully a little different. That’s what they’re trying to do.”
As an NHL player, Patrik Nemeth has followed Detroit and, as a young man on the rise in his career, he saw the team’s Swedes, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson, lead the team.
Now Kronwall’s contract with Detroit has expired, and the question now is how he will proceed.
“He’s been the culture-bearer on that team for a length of time, and he’s been playing for 15 years, if I recall correctly. He’s been a top scorer in the league for a length of time, and he was good last year as well. We must see how it feels for him. I haven’t heard anything. It will take the time that it takes.”
According to HockeyNews.se, Detroit maintains contact with Kronwall, and would like to extend his contract, but no decision has been made, and Niklas Kronwall is in a similar situation where he could leave the NHL team and win a Stanley Cup, like Mats Sundin when he chose to leave Toronto for Vancouver.
“Kronwall certainly has the right to decide what he wants to do.”
What do you look at when you see a defenseman like Niklas Kronwall?
“He’s really good, a great two-way defenseman, a really good skater, good puck distributor, a defenseman that jumps up into play. He’s been a very good all-round defenseman for a long time. I’ve followed him when I was growing up and even when I joined the NHL, I watched him. It’s been so with the entire Detroit team and all the Swedes who’ve been there.”
Nemeth looks forward to joining the Red Wings, who have been characterized by their Swedish stars for so long.
“It’s fun. There’s been a Swedish invasion there. They’ve probably laid a foundation as to how to be a professional athlete. Both on and off the ice, how to prepare for the season, and during the season, it’s also how to be a good teammate. I think it’s important to keep the foundation they’ve built.”
Going forward, Patirk Nemeth will face his former team captain, Gabriel Landeskog, with Colorado, and they will be tough meetings.
“He’ll probably try to hit me, but we’ll see how it goes, he he,” says the 100-plus-kilogram heavy and strong Detroit defenseman.