The Red Wings have been eliminated from the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the first time since 2006, Detroit's hockey club will have a chance to hit the links before everyone else. (If this means anything, Tigers fans know what happened in 2006) Here are the major story lines that will likely dominate the offseason of Red Wings fans:
-COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT: The NHL's CBA expires September 15, and we could be staring at another lock-out. I don't mean to worry everyone, but it is my duty to inform. It will be a long offseason for Gary Bettman, NHLPA Director Donald Fehr, and all the owners and GMs in the board room. In all likelihood, we will see hockey next season, whether that includes a new CBA or an extension of the current one. If they can't get this done, it could result the demise of the league itself. Once again, I don't want to worry, just inform the facts.
-RETIREMENT TALKS: For the 3rd straight season, Nicklas Lidstrom's contract is up, and again ensue his retirement talks. At 42 years old, he still has a lot left in the tank, and is still one of the best D-men in the league. If he really wants another shot at the Cup, the best place to do it is where he spent all of his career- right here. He has kids that are playing hockey as well. There are many factors that will play into this decision, but I would much rather see Nick play at the Big House next season than on the Alumni team at Comerica.
-OFFSEASON ACQUISITIONS: Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will be the two biggest names on the market this offseason. These two were great friends growing up and it would make sense that with both being UFAs, they might want to play together next season. Could this mean that Ken Holland pulls a few strings and brings them both over? We can certainly hope so. I also expect Ken Holland to make another trade or two with Stevie Y in Tampa.
-WINTER CLASSIC: The Big House will play home to the 2013 Outdoor game between the Wings and the Leafs on January 1st. We can expect to see some cool new jerseys and a bunch of other stuff leading up to this offseason. Could this be a draw that the Wings need to get a couple of big-name free agents here?
-PHOENIX RELOCATION: Bettman desperately wants hockey to work in the desert, but it seems like he may finally have to give in and give the team up to relocation. Whether this means Seattle, Quebec City, or another city will get a team or not, we should expect to see changes.
-NEW ARENA?: There have been no hints at it this season, but the Joe Louis Sports Arena is quickly deteriorating, and becomes more behind-the-times with every new technological innovation. The Red Wings are a world class organization and should have a world class facility to play in. Don't get me wrong, I love The Joe: the history, the banners, the capacity, the smell of Little Caesars that seems to be forever part of the stadium... but when your stadium is becoming older than most of your players, the time to move on seems more imminent. I do not expect to see an announcement this offseason, nor the breaking-of-ground for a new arena, but it isn't that far away.
Of course you can get the news on all of these topics when they break and in-depth analysis right here on The Checking Line. (Hold [Ctrl] and [D] to bookmark us) For now, sit back and watch the rest of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs without the pressure of your own team being in it.
-Justin Doddie (@93JustinD)