Friday, March 21, 2014

The most underappreciated athlete in Detroit is...

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall has been with the Red Wings 10 years. It's not like he has totally lacked recognition. He has played in two All-Star games. He has played very well for Sweden in the Olympics, including a key role on a gold medal-winning team in 2006, and a silver medal winning team this year.
Yet, he's only placed in the Top 10 in Norris Trophy voting once, 10th last season.
Niklas Kronwall: Red Wings' MVP this season?
Kronwall's detractors will point out he has been a minus player the last three seasons, and is only plus 45 in his career despite playing on many terrific Red Wings' teams, and that's with a plus 25 one season.
But watching the Red Wings' thrilling 5-4 overtime victory Pittsburgh Thursday, it dawned on me exactly what a tough state the Red Wings would be in without Kronwall.
He is the Red Wings' second-leading scorer with 43 points, his best output since his career-high 51 in 2009. He eats up time on special teams. He is a steady hand on the blue line, who has only missed two games this season on a team that has nothing but injuries.
The Red Wings still have a shot at making the playoffs, even with two great players, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg sidelines with injuries. Without Niklas Kronwall, I'm sure they would have that chance.
Yet, Kronwall's importance to the Red Wings is seldom pointed out.
At least when it comes to this blog, consider it done.

My column: Michigan, MSU pass first NCAA Tournament tests, but March Madness just beginning:


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