Kronwall (way) ahead of schedule

January 9, 2006

Ahhhh, to be 25 again.  Niklas Kronwall, the kid we’ve all been pointing to as the final piece of the Cup puzzle this year (well…maybe some of us have said we need a goalie upgrade and maybe a heavy dose of grit up front) claims he’s just about ready to join the fray.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Niklas Kronwall, a top-four defenseman, is close to returning — in fact, he plans to be playing before the Olympic break begins Feb. 13, which should enable him to join Team Sweden at the Turin Winter Games.

“Oh, I’ll be playing before then for sure,” Kronwall said Monday. “I have no doubts about that. I hope by the end of the month, or the first week of February, I’ll be playing again.”

Murmurs of Kronwall’s speedy improvement have been coming out of the Wing camp for weeks now. And when the Swedes named him to their Olympic roster, initial reaction to his selection was hesitant, understandably so, from Wing management.

As for Kronwall, he’s been tactful. 

Freep, 4 Jan:

Kronwall said he “absolutely” would need to play for the Wings before considering the Olympics. “I need at least a couple of games just to get into the pace of the game,” he said. Doctors told Kronwall he’d need four to six months’ recovery after undergoing surgery Oct. 10. “Since Christmas, I’ve felt better and better every day,” he said.

It’s a tough call for everyone involved, from Kenny Holland to Kronwall to the Swedes, themselves. 

CBC, Dec 22:

Among the surprise picks was forward Mika Hannula and Red Wings prospect Niklas Kronwall.

Hannula has been one of the best forwards in the Swedish Elite League this season for HV 71, while Kronwall has returned to the ice after undergoing knee surgery in October.

“He is back in training,” Gustafsson said of Kronwall, a 24-year-old defenceman whom Detroit picked 29th overall in 2000. “The question is if he’ll be ready for the Olympics.

“We have done this (selected Kronwall) to avoid eliminating another player from the squad if Kronwall can play. If he can’t play we’ll pick another player.”

Well, it appears he can play. Now it’s a question of if.  Not much has been said by Holland, Babcock or Wing official blow hard Jimmy Devellano.  But you have to know the team is nervous about Kronwall, arguably one of the three players anchoring the team’s future, seeing his first real action on a Turin rink rather than the ice of Joe Louis Arena.

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