Jiri Hudler spent parts of two seasons as Steve Yzerman’s Detroit Red Wings teammate. Today a hockey analyst on Czech television, Hudler watches from afar as Yzerman in in the process of rebuilding the once-great team thet both played for, and he can’t help but be impressed by Yzerman’s work.
Speaking with Czech website isport.cz, Jiri Hudler outlined how Yzerman is steadily turning around the fortunes of the Red Wings as they climb back up from the bottom of the NHL.
“With the departures of (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg, Detroit began a new journey,” Hudler said. “I don’t want to say that they went down, but a big, quite fundamental change started.
“Stevie Yzerman returned home from Tampa, in my eyes a definite guarantee that things will go up with Detroit. Gradually, but one hundred percent.”
New guys. New wallpapers. 🤩
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) July 20, 2022
Hudler likes the moves the Red Wings made whne the NHL free agency period opened up on July 13.
Hudler Sees Bright Future For Yzerman’s Red Wings
Hudler isn’t ready to anoint the Red Wings as being back. However, he certainly is believing them to be pointed in the right direction.
Fresh start. 👊
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) July 14, 2022
“I’m not saying that the era of Yzerman, (Brendan) Shanahan, (Igor) Larionov, Datsyuk, Zetterberg and others will return,” Hudler said. “But I think we can see where the organization will go with Yzerman leading it right now.
“It was he who built the current Tampa Bay team, which has won the Stanley Cup twice in the last three years and this year only fell in the finals to the absolutely great Colorado team. Perhaps up to 90 percent of it is the work of Stevie, who is behind the assembled winning line-up.
“He made a lot of good moves with the Lightning and something similar is in the works in Detroit.”
Detroit’s Czech Quartet
In 1996-97, the Red Wings ended their 42-year Stanley Cup drought. This was thanks significantly to the presence of the Russian Five of Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, Slava Kozlov, Slava Fetisov and Vladimir Konstantinov.
Detroit’s most recent Cup championship sqaud in 2007-08 was featuring five Swedes – Nicklas Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson and Niklas Kronwall.
With the addiition of Kubalik, the Red Wings now number four Czech players on the roster. He’s joining forwards Filip Zadina and Jakub Vrana and defenseman Filip Hronek.
“It’s going to be different for me to have a couple more Czechs guys around me,” Kubalik said. “It’s always helpful, especially from the beginning when you don’t know things. You can always ask somebody. It’s always nice.”
Kubalik, Vrana, Zadina and Hronek were part of the Czech squad at the 2021 IIHF World Championship.
“All the guys I know from the national team,” Kubalik said. “I’m excited about it. I’m pretty sure they’re going to help me.”