Kronwall A Career Wing?
By Ansar Khan
DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings’ recent history is loaded with players who spent all or most of their lengthy careers with the Original Six franchise.
The list includes Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Chris Osgood and Tomas Holmstrom.
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall would love to join that group. And he sees no reason why his relationship with the team that drafted him in the first round in 2000 won’t extend beyond this season, the final year of his contract.
"As an organization with the history and tradition of Detroit, I think anyone who is fortunate enough to have a chance to play here for many, many years would love to take that," Kronwall said. "Hopefully, I can do the same."
The Red Wings are likely to begin contract talks with Kronwall this month or shortly after the start of the season.
"Everyone knows I like it here a lot," Kronwall said. "I want to stay. Hopefully, they want me to stay as well. So whenever they feel it’s the right time to start negotiating we’ll be ready for it."
Kronwall will earn $3.75 million in the final season of a five-year deal that has a $3 million salary-cap hit. Getting him signed to a long-term deal is one of general manager Ken Holland’s top priorities this season.
Kronwall, 30, is a good puck-mover with offensive ability and a penchant for delivering crushing open-ice hits. He is coming off a strong season, picking up 11 goals and 37 points in 77 games.
He was strong in the playoffs, too, leading the team in ice time (23 minutes, 4 seconds per game) and delivering a big check on Ryane Clowe that gave the San Jose Sharks forward a separated shoulder.
"Last year was a good year for me overall," Kronwall said. "I felt I took a step in the right direction. Hopefully I can build off that, keep getting stronger and keep playing hard out there. Hopefully I can take another step this year."
Kronwall joined a handful of teammates for an informal practice Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.
The highlight of his summer was his first hole-in-one during a weeklong golfing trip to Scotland and Ireland with seven other Red Wings. He used a 6-iron to ace the 206-yard, 15th hole at Turnbery.
"It was kind of surreal," Kronwall said. "We had caddies and he just gave me a club at every hole. I wasn’t really sure about the club, but he said ‘hit this one.’
"I thought it was long at first because I hit it pretty well. The other guys kind of froze for a second and said, ‘I think that went in.’ They heard when it hit the pin and landed in the hole. Unfortunately, I missed that experience because I couldn’t believe it went in."
He was paired with Osgood in a match against Jimmy Howard.
"I’m not a huge golf fan," Kronwall said. "I love going out and just hitting some balls, play a round or two with friends. But this was very intense. We had some real good golfers on the trip.
"By the end of the week I was thrilled as anyone. The courses and atmosphere and everything around it, it was a great experience."
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