This will be the first of four all-decade teams for the major sports in Detroit, and the Red Wings team offers some easy choices and maybe a few surprises.
In addition to a first team and a runnr-up, there will be a team of the decade, a player of the decade and a coach of the decade. Since there are no envelopes to open, let’s start.
TEAM OF THE DECADE
There are a few contenders, but the 2010-11 Red Wings should be the winner. It was the only team to finish first in the division, and their 104 points was the most of any team in the decade.
Johan Franzen had a team-high 28 goals, but Henrik Zetterberg had a team-high 56 assists to go with 24 goals, and he led the team with 80 points. Other 20-goal scorers on the team were Dan Cleary with 26 and Pavel Datsyuk with 23. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was late in his career but still was second on the team with 62 points despite posting the only minus total (-2) in the plus-minus category in his career. Justin Abdelkader led in plus-minus with a plus 15. Jimmy Howard had the bulk of the duty in net and was 37-17-5 with a goals-against average of 2.79 and a .908 save percentage. Chris Osgood and Joey MacDonald were the main backups.
The Red Wings swept the Phoenix Coyotes in the conference quarterfinals but lost in seven games to the San Jose Sharks in the conference semis.
Runner-up: The 2011-12 team had a decade-high win total of 48 but finished third in the division with 102 points. It was Lidstrom’s final season in the NHL, and the Red Wings lost to the Nashville Predators in five games in the conference quarterfinals.
COACH OF THE DECADE
The Red Wings had just two coaches in the decade, and only one of them was a winner. Mike Babcock (2010-15) began his run as Red Wings head coach in 2005-06, and he left the team after the 2014-15 season to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs. He won a Stanley Cup in 2007-08 and never had a Red Wings team with a losing record. He had the team in the playoffs six times during the decade.
Runner-up: Jeff Blashill (2015-19) is the only other coach the Red Wings had in the decade. They made the playoffs in his first season but have not been back since, and they have not had a winning record since his first season in 2015-16.
PLAYER OF THE DECADE
The captain, Henrik Zetterberg (2010-18), is the clear choice. He had team-high totals for the decade in goals (154), assists (401) and points (555) and played through the 2017-18 season before retiring. In 2014-15, he won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which is given annually to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.
After battling injuries earlier in the decade, Zetterberg played in all 82 games in each of his final three NHL seasons. He finished his 15-year career with 337 goals and 960 points with a plus-minus of plus 160.
Runner-up: Pavel Datsyuk. See his story as the center on the all-decade team.
Now, the players who made the all-decade team for the Red Wings.
Pavel Datsyuk (2010-16). He led all Red Wings players with a plus-minus of plus 90 in the decade, and he was second to Zetterberg with 143 goals and 253 assists. He also led the team with 49 power-play goals.
After the 2009-10 season, Datsyuk won the Selke Trophy for the third consecutive season. It goes to a forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game. He also was a four-time winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship.
Datsyuk never had a minus number in his plus-minus but was not able to match his career-high of plus 41, which led the NHL in 2007-08. He retired after the 2015-16 season.
Runner-up: Dylan Larkin (2015-19). The former University of Michigan star shot on the scene in the 2015-16 season with 23 goals and set a career-high with 32 goals and 73 points in 2018-19. At the midway point of the 2019-20 season, Larkin was not able to repeat his fine season from the year before, but he was closing in on 100 goals for the decade.
Henrik Zetterberg (2010-18). For more on him, see his write-up for Player of the Decade.
Runner-up: Johan Franzen (2010-16) split time between center and left wing and scored 104 goals with 123 assists in seven seasons. His 44 power-play goals were second only to Datsyuk in the decade for Detroit, and he was plus 36. He combined to score 57 goals in back-to-back seasons from 2010-12.
Anthony Mantha (2015-19). The former top prospect had a bit of an adjustment to the NHL, but he seems to be on his way to his third consecutive 20-goal season at age 25. He scored the first goal in a regular-season game at Little Caesars Arena, and in the 2019-20 home opener, he scored four goals against the Dallas Stars. This pick might be a big premature, but the competition wasn’t overwhelming. He should he a stalwart on the top lines for many seasons to come for Detroit.
Runner-up: Gustav Nyquist (2011-19) might be a bit of a surprise. He totaled 55 goals in his first two full seasons with the Red Wings but never topped 21 in a season after that. Still, he was third on the team among forward in points for the decade with 295. He had 125 goals and 170 assists before he was traded to San Jose for two draft picks.
Niklas Kronwall (2010-19): It seemed whenever Kronwall checked a player into the boards, people would say that player was “Kronwalled.” While tough play was his game, Kronwall was adept as a playmaker as a defenseman as he had 243 assists in the decade. He was a three-time all-star in the decade.
Runner-up: Only Kronwall played in more games in the decade than Jonathan Ericsson (2010-19), who remained with the team as it entered the new decade but was shuffling back and forth between the Grand Rapids Griffins and the parent club. He was a stay-at-home, physical defenseman who didn’t produce a lot of goals or assists. His top point single-season point total of the decade was 15.
An aging Nicklas Lidstrom (2010-12) near the end of his career was still good enough to be one of the team’s top players of the decade. Need proof? His plus-minus of plus 41 in 234 games tied Henrik Zetterberg for the best mark of any player in the decade, and Zetterberg was there for nearly the entire decade. He was an all-star twice in the decade and won his seventh Norris Trophy in 2010-11 as the best defenseman in the game. Yes, he deserves this spot despite just a few seasons in the decade.
Runner-up: Danny Dekeyser (2012-19). The former Michigan State standout was a similar player to Ericsson in that he did not generate a lot of points. He often would draw the opposing team’s best offensive player, and that gave him little time to be active on the offensive end of the ice.
Jimmy Howard (2010-20): Howard played more than 500 games in goal in the decade and had a goals-against just north of 2.5 per game and a save percentage better than 91 percent. He had 109 wins in the first three seasons of the decade and a three-time all-star. He also was runner-up in the voting for the Calder Cup in 2010, which recognizes the best rookie of the season.
Runner-up: Petr Mrazek (2012-18) was the only goalie who was able to wrestle substantial playing time away from Jimmy Howard in the decade. Mrazek started 93 games in back-to-back seasons from 2015-17 with 45 wins. He peaked in 1015-16 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a save percentage of .921.