Coach Mike Babcock has confirmed - "not maybe, for sure" - that the Eurotwin superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk will be broken up for the upcoming season. Says Babcock,
"They're not playing together. It would be crazy to play them together. They both want to play center anyway."While I've never heard anything on Zetterberg professsing the desire to play center rather than wing, they were both natural centers, told by Babcock when they were put together to decide amongst themselves who was going to play what, if I remember the story right, it certainly makes sense.
Adding Marian Hossa over the summer, and the breakout performance of Johan Franzen last season are the number one reasons the move is possible - and it's impossible to argue that with the new depth of the team, breaking up the stars isn't smart. Earlier in the summer the rumbling was that perhaps the big line would stay together, allowing for a second line of Hossa, Valtteri Filppula, and Franzen, but the plan for now is that Datsyuk will open training camp on a line with Hossa and Tomas Holmstrom, while Zetterberg will play with Franzen and Jiri Hudler, squashing all speculation of a Franzen-Filppula-Hossa line.
It's an amazing thing to see the team have enough depth to make a move like this, but questions remain. Will the new lines gel in the same way that last year's top line did? Not only that, but will Babcock stick to his guns? It's hard to doubt the man, but Babcock has tried on many occasion to split up the two and still, the standard philsophy these past few seasons has been whent he team struggles, put the Eurotwins back together and things will fall into place. While I hope the new lines succeed, seeing Datsyuk and Zetterberg playing together is something pretty special:
I for one am certainly torn - you always want to see the team succeed however possibly, and creating this much depth and allowing your best forwards to improve those around them is a great way to cement future success. With the talent the Wings have developing, it probably is crazy to put all your eggs on one line. But still, you have to love to see the sort of chemistry the Eurotwins possess. As usual, speculation is practically useless - everyone will have to wait until at the very least training camp to see the new lines, and the new Wings, at work for now.