Hammond: Wings could be a sleeper during shortened season - FOX 35 News Orlando

Hammond: Wings could be a sleeper during shortened season

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Red Wings coach Mike Babcock will have a much different roster this season. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock will have a much different roster this season.

By Jennifer Hammond
FOX 2 Sports

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -- Let me start by saying, I never expected that there wouldn't be an NHL season.

But at the same time I never anticipated negotiations would take as long as they did - certainly I assumed a struggling league like the NHL would understand the importance of getting a deal done sooner than later. Hey, the National Stage of the Winter Classic would have made a great back drop to make a return, wouldn't it?

With great relief I woke up Sunday to news that a tentative deal had finally been struck by the two sides, which is no small miracle considering Don Fehr was working on behalf of the players. It struck me as odd that Gary Bettman would make the announcement at 5:45 a.m., when just about every sports fan was still sound asleep dreaming about NFL playoffs - but then it was pointed out to me that Bettman finally did one decent thing, he gave the throngs of waiting media outside of the NY negotiations some closure and a positive story to write about.

Here in Hockeytown, the timing couldn't be more perfect - perhaps fans will be annoyed with the way the league has treated its fans, but with an owner like Mike Ilitch that sour taste shouldn't spill over. If anything there will be more anticipation than ever for the race to the playoffs with an abbreviated (48 or 50 game) schedule, with the changes in the line up and the impact of every game fans will get an idea pretty quickly about the Wings chances for the post season. It may not be ideal for Mike Babcock, who likes to spend the better part of the regular season tinkering with his line ups. But with Datsyuk and Zetterberg anchoring the offense and Howard in net, this is a team that could become a sleeper. Who ever thought we'd be saying that?

So it's fitting that we woke up on a snowy Sunday morning anticipating playoff football (sans the Lions) and excited to finally get the real season started.

It's like Christmas morning all over again - and April will be here before you know it!

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