At 37 years of age, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall is about ready to hang up the skates. In fact, it has been speculated that this will be his final season in the NHL.
But that doesn’t mean that the hard-hitting Swede is quite finished dishing out punishment to the opposition just yet.
During Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Little Caesars Arena to the visiting New York Islanders, Kronwall gave the fans a flashback to the past when he absolutely laid out Islanders forward Anders Lee with a perfect body check, sending Lee to the ice and the home crowd to their feet. Of course, New York wasn’t pleased with the hit. Josh Bailey immediately went after Kronwall, prompting forward Dylan Larkin to drop the gloves with him in defense of Kronwall.
Despite the immediate retaliation, Lee himself didn’t have a problem with the hit, simply saying afterwards that it was a hockey play.
“I just got caught with my head down, the puck at my feet, and he just put a nice shoulder into me,” Lee said. “That’s hockey.”
Kronwall has several huge hits on his personal highlight reel, including a massive check during the 2009 Western Conference Finals against Chicago Blackhawks forward Martin Havlat.
“The hard part when you’re coming north-south is to not touch the head at all, I think,” Kronwall said. “When you’re skating you’re in a position where you’re head is the point of your body that is the most forward. You try to go through the chest or shoulder, but sometimes you end up catching them near the head.”
Speaking of Larkin’s fighting Josh Bailey, Kronwall definitely appreciated the gesture.
“You love seeing stuff like that, guys sticking up for each other,” Kronwall said. “Larks is our best player and we need him on the ice as much as possible, but awesome to see him show his emotions out there.”