Kirk Maltby among Wings pondering fate with team

Kirk Maltby walked into the Red Wings locker room Wednesday as he had so many other times after a practice.

He was drenched with sweat, ready to collapse onto the stool in front of his locker, relax for a little while and then go work in the weight room.

But, for Maltby and several other Wings, including Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom, was this the final practice? And will tonight’s game at Joe Louis Arena be their last in a Wings jersey? Forwards Todd Bertuzzi and Jason Williams, and defensemen Brett Lebda and Andreas Lilja — all potential unrestricted free agents — can ask themselves the same question.

The Wings trail the Sharks, 3-0, in the best-of-seven series and a loss will end the Wings’ season, and possibly Maltby’s Wings career.

“I’d be foolish not to,” Maltby said when asked if he’d thought about the possibility. “At the same time I still feel like I’m going to train with the mind-set this summer of coming back and playing with another year.

“It’s no secret I hope it’s here.”

Maltby, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, hasn’t played since Feb. 13 because of shoulder surgery.

Maltby , 37, doesn’t know if he’d play anywhere else.

“That’s probably a harder decision than just playing another year,” Maltby said. “I have three children and it’s a matter of the situation and if something didn’t work out here.

“I’m going to have the mind-set I’m going to play somewhere next year and hopefully it’s here.”

Lidstrom,
40, is the player the Wings could least afford to lose.

Lidstrom , a six-time Norris Trophy winner, didn’t want to broach the subject Wednesday.

“I’ll address it when the season is over,” Lidstrom said. “I don’t want to get into a discussion about that as the season is still going on. I’m just focusing on what we have to do (in Game 4).”

Lidstrom’s
teammates are unanimous in their hope he does return, if that’s what Lidstrom wants to do.

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