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NHL

Wings must make choices after loss

By Associated Press
Published May 5, 2004

DETROIT - The Red Wings could be in for a major overhaul.

After two straight early exits from the playoffs - and with the possibility of labor problems looming - the Red Wings might decide to part ways with some aging stars and possibly their coach.

"You look around the dressing room, and you have to wonder," center Kris Draper said. "What's the future for this hockey club and for a lot of the individuals that have been a big part of the success of the Detroit Red Wings?"

Another season of high expectations ended in disappointment. Last year, it was a first-round loss to Anaheim. This time, it was a second-round loss to Calgary.

The Flames ended the series in six games Monday, winning 1-0 in overtime on Martin Gelinas' goal. It was a sudden end to the season after the Red Wings led the league with 109 points.

The first decision facing the Red Wings is whether to keep Dave Lewis as coach because his contract is up. Lewis, a former assistant, took over after Scotty Bowman retired the night Detroit won its 10th Stanley Cup two years ago.

Lewis went 96-41-21-6 in two regular seasons, but his playoff mark is just 6-10.

"I have no idea what the future holds," Lewis said. "And I don't think anybody does."

Steve Yzerman (who turns 39 on Sunday), Brett Hull (40 this summer), and Chris Chelios (42) are unrestricted free agents. While Yzerman wants to return if there isn't a long work stoppage, Hull and Chelios might retire.

Detroit is not expected to exercise the $6.5-million option on Brendan Shanahan's contract, but the 35-year-old forward could be back if he agrees to play for less money.

"Going into this whole season and these playoffs, there was a backdrop for a lot of us that this could be it," Shanahan said.

"It's hard to take the sweater off."

The Red Wings probably will try to re-sign two of their top players this season: Draper and defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who are unrestricted free agents.

Still, Calgary showed Detroit money can't buy championships. The Red Wings' payroll of nearly $80-million was more than double what the Flames spent this season.

"A lot of money has been spent on this team, and we're expected to go far," forward Kirk Maltby said. "To lose in the second round after losing in the first round last year, that's not acceptable."

BLUES: Forward Mike Danton pleaded innocent to charges he conspired to kill an acquaintance in a murder-for-hire plot.

Danton, wearing an orange jail-issued jumpsuit, spoke in calm, measured tones in brief responses to questions from U.S. Magistrate Gerald Cohn at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis, Ill. He is charged with conspiring and using a telephone across state lines to attempt a murder.

A pretrial hearing was scheduled for July 12, and a trial was set for July 20.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Panthers' Matt Cullen had two goals and an assist, leading the United States to a 8-3 win over Denmark in a qualifying round game in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Capitals' Bates Battaglia, Coyotes' Erik Westrum, Sabres' Chris Drury and Jeff Jillson, Wild's Richard Park and minor-leaguer Jeff Hamilton also scored for the United States.

The Americans already had clinched a quarterfinal berth against the Czech Republic, whom they face tonight.

In tonight's other quarterfinal, Sweden takes on Latvia. Thursday, defending champion Canada takes on Finland, and Slovakia plays Switzerland.

[Last modified May 5, 2004, 01:00:41]


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