Hitchcock sees lots of hard roster decisions lying ahead for Detroit

DETROIT – St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock brought up quite an interesting point when asked about the Wings’ rash of injuries.

What will the team do once all these guys are healthy to come back?

“He’s (Babcock) going to have some interesting problems because what started out as adversity for them, if you look at the last two games they’ve got young players who are really playing well right now,” Hitchcock said after the Blues’ morning skate Monday. “So when all these guys come back, it’s going to be interesting to see who they keep and who they let go back down to Grand Rapids.”

Detroit did get back Darren Helm, who has missed 18 of the past 19 games due to injury, Monday and Jonathan Ericsson (ribs) is expected to return Wednesday at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.

That still leaves Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body), Daniel Alfredsson (lower back inflammation), Johan Franzen (concussion), Joakim Andersson (lower-body), Jonas Gustavsson (groin) and Stephen Weiss injured.

“I see some real bite in their team from some of the younger guys like (Tomas) Tatar and (Luke) Glendening and (Riley) Sheahan,” Hitchcock said. “These guys have got bite on the team now. It will be interesting because the younger guys are looking at this as a real opportunity. And you never know what happens.”

Hitchcock hasn’t had to deal with Red Wing type numbers of injured players, but he did lose leading-goal scorer, Alexander Steen, to a concussion for 11 games.

“Alex Steen went out and it forced us to play the heck out of (Jaden) Schwartz and (Vladimir) Tarasenko both on PK, special teams, everything,” Hitchcock said. “They all of a sudden went from 14-minute players to 18-minute players and they’ve turned out to be really good players for us.

“I don’t think you really know that until you’re forced into that environment and Mike’s been forced into it,” Hitchcock continued. “I think if you look at it from a realistic standpoint, he’s got to have some really positive feelings about some of the younger guys now.”


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