As the new wave of Detroit Red Wings players are poised to don the Winged Wheel, one of the longest tenured Red Wings appears set to call it a career after this upcoming season.
Niklas Kronwall quickly became known for his thunderous hits that fans affectionately began referring to as being “Kronwalled”. However, as it does to all, Father Time is catching up with the veteran Swede, and he’s being “realistic” about where he is in terms of his professional hockey career.
“I love the game,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about it. But at the same time you have to be realistic.
“I know where I’m at right now. A year from now I don’t know where I’ll be at. I’d love to sign [for] another year but let’s face it. The team’s getting younger. I’m getting older. The game’s getting faster. I’m not the same player I was 10 years ago.
But I’m going to do what I can this year both on the ice and off the ice. And just try to be as efficient as I possibly can.”
With 874 career games played, Kronwall ranks 13th in team history in games played, 11th in assists (325) and 20th in points (405). He was originally selected by the Red Wings in the first round (No. 29) of the 2000 NHL Draft. He helped the Red Wings to the 2008 Stanley Cup title.
Though Kronwall and the team are accustomed to success, it hasn’t been that way of late. Detroit has missed the playoffs for consecutive seasons after 25 straight appearances in the annual dance.
“There’s no doubt it’s been tough times recently,” he said. “A few of us have been around awhile and you get used to playing playoff hockey. You take it for granted. You get spoiled. It’s not until now that you realize how hard it really is.
“We had some years where we pretty much were in the playoffs by January. Now it’s just you’re trying every single night.
The parity in the League with the cap makes it so hard to stay up there on a continuous basis.
“We’ve done everything we possibly can but it hasn’t been good enough. We need to get back there.”