Wings sporting new look

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

The sight of Steve Yzerman in a business suit on game night against the Maple Leafs will be a startling one.

And those used to seeing him wearing the captain's 'C' for the Red Wings will also note Brendan Shanahan's empty locker, vacated for a shot with the New York Rangers. And to add to the confusion, there's ex-Leaf defenceman Danny Markov, now stirring the pot with a red and white apron.

But there will be many familiar traits about the Wings when the Leafs faceoff at Joe Louis Arena tonight and back at the Air Canada Centre tomorrow, the final pre-season action for both clubs.

Count on the Wings being able to score goals and, if Dominik Hasek is back in form, being able to keep them out.

Chris Chelios, who it seems was playing in the Clarence Campbell era, is back at age 44, with veterans Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Tomas Holmstrom.

"(Chelios) is even more important now than last year because of the older veterans we don't have," coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit News.

Injuries took Niklas Kronwall and Jiri Fischer out of the picture most of last season, which meant the club had to lean more on Chelios, Lidstrom and Mathieu Schneider than expected.

The Wings are set to debut another fine draft pick this year in Jiri Hudler, a forward who goes into tonight tied for second with Jason Williams in club pre-season points with six.

Though the Czech is not as much an unknown as Pavel Datsyuk (171st overall in 1998) or Henrik Zetterberg (210 in 1999), the second rounder is making an impact in Detroit, as has Matt Stajan, whom Toronto picked one spot ahead at 57th overall in 2002.

Hudler had the hat trick Thursday night in Tampa Bay, a 3-1 win that improved Detroit to 4-1-2 in exhibition play. Datsyuk assisted on all three, while Staffan Kronwall's older brother Niklas had two assists.

Lidstrom has inherited the captaincy from Yzerman, now an advisor in the Wings' front office after 1,755 points and a further 185 in the playoffs.

The Leafs won't miss Stevie Y on the ice, where he racked up 153 points in 111 games versus Toronto.

Hasek, whose groin injury in last February's Olympics helped unravel the Ottawa Senators' Cup chances, is 2-0 in pre-season games with an .848 save percentage. He is hopeful of 50 games this year.

"Play great and stay healthy, that's my goal," the soon-to-be 42-year-old Hasek said earlier in camp.

Hasek's first two stints with Detroit featured a 41-win season, followed by an injury shortened year where he was jammed uncomfortably into one dressing room with Curtis Joseph and Manny Legace.


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