(Hold your salvos, let me explain first, not trying to pick any fights here)
I started this discussion on Al Cimaglia's blog a couple of days ago, and received a few insults from a guy named "Steve" over it. And yes, a few others on the blog, chimed in that I was being overly optimistic. "Steve" challenged me to blog this subject. So I am. And I can't wait to start reading and commenting on the World according to "Steve from Chicago."
Well, before I get into a player by player breakdown, let me also add the caveats that "Steve" apparently couldn't read. Or couldn't wrap his mind around.
I believe the Wings have the best defense, and the best defenseman in hockey: Nik Lidstrom.
As much as fans of other clubs, and many truly over-exuberant Hawk fans go on and on about our young defense, I have felt (and stated, Steve) all season that they are a work in progress and lack a needed veteran top-four defenseman. Their break-outs have gotten better, but they used to stink. And the point platy on the power play has been pretty bad.
I also think the Wings goaltending tandem is (a fair amount) better than the Hawks.
Finally, I've watched the Wings play a lot over the years, having lived in the Detroit area from 1992 to 2006. They don't have Shanahan, Hull, Robitaille, Lang, Fedorov, Whitney, etc. anymore.
Datsyuk and Zetterberg are great creative offensive players, but neither of them is winning the Selke anytime soon. I believe Pat Kane can and will be the equal of either of them. And, yes, I believe Jonathan Toews is a better player, yes today, because of his leadership, his impact on a game and his play in all three zones.
No, the Wings don't have Yzerman anymore either. In fact, the Hawks do. And Wings' fans know the value of that kind of player better than anyone.
After that, I think it's highly debatable whether Lang, Havlat, Sharp, Ruutu, Bourque, Byfuglien and Williams aren't equal to (or even better than) Draper, Maltby, Franzen, Filippula, Holmstrom, Kopecky, Samuelsson, etc.
It's certainly worth debating.
Many of you might disagree with me on Toews. So be it. I'm very comfortable in that belief.
Finally, I have the utmost respect for the Wings organization on and off the ice. But a dare's a dare, and I never back down from a challenge.
Good enough, Steve-o?