It will be interesting to see how things unfold in the east. The Islanders are looking to take that next step. Toronto has something to prove. Pittsburgh has something to prove. Boston is likely to be a contender once again. Columbus is a bubble team. Same with Washington.
I wouldn't be worried about guys like Steve MacIntyre at all. He may not play in an NHL game again. I'd be more concerned about physical players that can play a regular shift and see more than 5 minutes of ice time. We should watch out for guys like Matt Martin, Chris Neil, Wayne Simmonds, etc. Guys like John Scott, Eric Boulton, Matt Kassian, and George Parros likely won't see many games against us.
That said, we're going to have to play more physical. It's just obligatory.
What does Carcillo really provide? He is useless against the top fighters, not the best agitator and coaches hardly trust him against skilled lines. I think the Hawks are starting to realize slowly that letting Scott go, was a big mistake.
If healthy, he's shown he can put up some offense on occasion. He can skate a regular shift and is effective on the forecheck. If he can stay healthy, that is.
Also, I highly doubt Chicago regrets letting Scott go. They're just coming off a Stanley Cup victory.
I think the Tigers and the Lions beat out the Wings. I don't think its always been like this. I'd say the Wings were #1 in the mid/late '90s.
After the core of the dynasty years faded away, I think fan interest decreased a bit. Folks were so used to guys like Yzerman, Shanahan, and Fedorov. Lidstrom, Holmstrom, Osgood, Maltby, Draper, McCarty, Lapointe, etc are all gone. This team had such a great core and team chemistry and had guys that played very long careers in Detroit. It's tough for many fans that grew up with these players (myself included) to see their childhood favorites move on.
Also, I think a lot of people related to guys like Kocur, McCarty, Draper, Maltby, and Lapointe not because of where they were born, but the style of game they played. It's no secret that Detroit is a working class city. People like to see hard work, grit, and snarl that is central to the culture of a beaten up working class city like Detroit. There's a reason Darren Helm got popular so quickly upon his arrival in the NHL.
Having players with ties to the area always helps, but its not necessarily compulsory to gaining the team popularity.
I'd rather see Abdelkader in a bottom 6 role banging and crashing. He's got some skill with the puck, but I just don't see him developing into a legitimate top 6 forward. I think he's a more effective grinder.