Kirk Maltby may not be Wing in '11

The Red Wings cleaned out their lockers Monday, an annual event that always feels like the last day of the school year. After sitting in the same room together for months, everybody is about to scatter for the summer.

The Red Wings cleaned out their lockers Monday, an annual event that always feels like the last day of the school year. After sitting in the same room together for months, everybody is about to scatter for the summer.

This time, the media were understandably preoccupied with Nicklas Lidstrom’s future — Lidstrom said he hadn’t decided whether to come back, and obviously if he retired it would be huge news.

It was easy to overlook the fact that next season, Kirk Maltby might not be here.

Maltby will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Wings are probably not all that interested in restricting him. He turns 38 in December. He scored six points this season and was injured for the playoffs. Maltby, who has been a Wing since 1996, said he wanted to play somewhere next season. But he knows that after he meets with general manager Ken Holland, “somewhere” might mean “somewhere else.”

If that happens, the door will continue to close on one of the most likeable groups of athletes in Detroit history.

Maltby was never the best player on the Wings — never close. Neither was Kris Draper . Neither was Chris Osgood . But the three buddies have formed a bond with the fans that you just don’t see very often, in any sport.

I think part of it was that they are limited. It’s hard for most of us to understand what it’s like to be Lidstrom and go to the office for a month without making a significant mistake. Wings fans are in awe of Pavel Datsyuk’s creativity and Henrik Zetterberg’s all-around skill, but I don’t know how much fans relate to them.

http://www.freep.com/article/20100511/COL22/5110355/1053/sports05/Kirk-Maltby-may-not-be-Wing-in-11


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