Wings’ Richmond gives team high marks for 2013-14

MARQUETTE – Mickey Redmond gives the Detroit Red Wings generally high marks for the 2013-14 season, but says there’s still work to be done for the NHL team to get back to Stanley Cup contention.

“(The season) was pretty successful given the number of young and inexperienced kids (used),” the former team great and current Red Wings analyst for Fox Sports Detroit said Thursday during the Fourth Annual Beacon House Golf Classic at the Marquette Golf Club.

“They began to grow up right in front of our face throughout the season.”

Despite a slew of injuries to numerous players, including star veteran forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, the Wings still qualified for the NHL playoffs for the 22nd straight season.

“It’s pretty difficult for anybody when you have players like Zetterberg and Datsyuk who aren’t healthy. They’re your leaders,”Redmond said. “You don’t replace guys like that.

“It made a huge difference. It opened the door for some kids to show what they could do.

“But that doesn’t get over the fact when you’re without two superstars, it’s hard to win in this league,” he added.

Redmond, the first Wing to score 50 goals in a season when he notched 52 during the 1972-73 campaign, said several young Wings impressed him last season.

“(Tomas) Jurco, (Tomas) Tatar, (Gustav) Nyquist for his ability to finish and (Riley) Sheahan, the big center who got just a sniff as to what’s going on. I like the way he looks,” he said.

“I had never seen much of them. But they were forced in here because of injuries and they did very well.

“They were fun to watch and very impressive for young kids who haven’t been around (the Wings) much,” he added.

Redmond said those young players should be even better this coming season.

“Because of that experience (they gained). It’s a growing process that should help these young guys,” he said.

Another key factor for the Wings this coming season will hinge on goaltender Jimmy Howard’s return to prominence, Redmond said.

“He needs to get back to being Jimmy Howard of two seasons ago,” he said. “He had a tough year.”

Redmond said the Wings also need to get a righthanded-shooting defenseman and to become “grittier.”

“It’s hard to get bigger if you’re not going to change a lot of personnel.” he said. “It’s hard to (get players) who are bigger with skill in the game today.

“(The Wings) also need to be better prepared to play someone like the Boston Bruins (who beat the Wings in five games in the first round of the 2013-14 NHL playoffs).

“The Bruins are just a big bunch of bullies, really. They’re a very good hockey team and we had a hard time with them.”

The NHL draft begins tonight and will also be held Saturday; athe league’s free agency period starts Tuesday.

“You don’t find (biger, grittier) players growing on trees, but we’d like to find a goal scorer, if we can,” Redmond said. “We struggled to score, though a lot of that had to do with Datsyuk and Zetterberg being out of the lineup, too.

“Both are great setup guys and when they’re gone, the chances of scoring diminish.”

Redmond said he’s an avid golfer.

“I’m nursing a bit of a bad back right now, but normally, I like to play as much as I can,” he said. “If I’m playing normal, I score an 83-85.

“A couple of years ago, I took some golf lessons and really enjoyed the process of learning the mechanics of the game. It has been fun.”

His NHL career stats show 538 games played, 233 goals, 195 assists and 428 points.

In six seasons with the Wings, Redmond scored 177 goals, drew 133 helpers and finished with 310 points. He notched 26 game-winning goals with the club.