Former Detroit Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler is working for Czech TV as an analyst on the IIHF World Championship games. He took time while watching Czechia advance to Saturday’s semifinal against Canada to look back fondly upon hios days in Detroit.
Hudler was a member of Detroit’s most recent Stanley Cup-winning team in 2007-08. One of his teammates, Valtteri Filppula, is captaining Finland at the worlds. The Finns play the USA in Saturday’s other semifinal.
Back in North America, another member of the 2007-08 Red Wings player, Darren Helm, scored the goal that would move the Colorado Avalanche into the Stanley Cup final four for the first time since 2002.
The game-winning goal from Jiri Hudler in Game 4 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Good times. 🐙 #LGRW
— Tony Dombrowski (@tonydombrowski) April 19, 2020
Yes, Hudler is noting, that 2007-08 Red Wings squad was quite the club. They might not be treasured as fondlly as the Hall of Fame loaded roster of the 2001-02 Detroit champs, or the back-to-back winners in 1996-97 and 1997-98. For Hudler, though, they will always be dear to his heart, because they were his championship squad.
“It was one superstar in Detroit, next to another,” Hudler told iSport.cz. “I was lucky enough to play in Detroit with Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzén or Pavel Datsyuk. Even in the position of defender, here we played Nicklas Lidström.
“They took turns there, they were world-class superstars, all like each other. It was a pleasure to play with them, really.”
Hudler Holds Special Fondness For Holmstrom
Hurdler ended up serving two stints with the Red Wings. He was there from 2003-09. Then, after playing a year with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL in 2009-10, he returned to Detroit from 2010-12.
— Random Hockey Players (@Rand_Hcky_Plyrs) May 21, 2022
Twice Hudler wound up finishing a Red Wings season with more than 20 goals. Even though he stood only 5-foot-10 and weighed 190 pounds, Hudler sometimes found himself working net front on the power play.
The punishment he took in that role allowed him to garner tremendous respect for Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom, both of whom thrived in that role.
“In front of that goal, it’s so different,” Hudler explained. “I had the chance of being able to watch Thomas Holmström in Detroit, who was the best in the world at working in front of the goal. Every training session he worked on it. He knew where every puck went.
“Then Johan Franzén played it and they were big boys. I’m not that big. The goalkeepers had an advantage with me, they could watch over me.”