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By the Numbers: Niklas Kronwall

Unwavering determination propels defenseman to lead Red Wings in games played

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner /

By the Numbers will highlight the Red Wings' on-ice accomplishments in the 2018-19 season. Each week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player on the team, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

At the beginning of training camp for the 2017-18 season, there was wide speculation the career of Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall could be over.

Plagued with a chronically gimpy left knee, Kronwall had played a total of 121 games of the Wings' 164 the previous two seasons. After he missed all of training camp and the Red Wings' first three games of the 2017-18 campaign, it was assumed the next story about Kronwall would be a retrospective of his career.

But the fearless Swede had another plan.

With his passion for the game still intact, Kronwall returned to the Detroit lineup in the fourth game of the 2017-18 regular season and he never missed another game, playing in the team's remaining 79 games.

Kronwall also missed the Wings' first three games last season, but returned in game four, and like the season before, played the remaining 79 games of the 2018-19 season.

It wasn't a surprise that Kronwall would give himself every opportunity to leave the game under his own terms as long as he wasn't hurting the team.

His left knee is bone-on-bone and the pain is intense, but Kronwall was determined to honor his contract.

So, he explored any avenue possible to continue his career.

In October 2017, he revealed he underwent stem cell therapy to improve his damaged knee. He's also gone through acupuncture treatments as well as modifying his off-ice workouts, which Kronwall claims has been the most beneficial.

The result of his medical odyssey allowed him to honor his seven-year, $33.25 million contract, which expired at the end of this season.

When the Red Wings cleaned out their lockers in early April, Detroit coach Jeff Blashill told the assembled press corps he wanted Kronwall to return next season, saying he thought Kronwall had consistently been Detroit's best defenseman.

Former Wings general manager Ken Holland was also receptive to having Kronwall return for his 16th season with the Red Wings but indicated it was his decision to make.

Where Steve Yzerman stands when it comes to Kronwall is anybody's guess since he hasn't revealed much of his rebuilding blueprint since being named the Wings' general manager on April 19.

But Yzerman has enormous respect for what Kronwall has endured to extend his career and if there's anybody who can relate to Kronwall's competitive spirit and his tolerance for pain, it's Yzerman.

Ultimately, it may come down to Kronwall's frame of mind whether he wants to put his 38-year-old body through the rigorous offseason training regimen needed to compete in the world's best hockey league.

79 - Total games Kronwall played last season, which led the Red Wings. It was the first time since the 1996-97 season the Wings did not have a player appear in all 82 regular-season games.

3 - He notched three goals, tying him with Jonathan Ericsson for the fifth-highest goal total among Wings defensemen. Rookie Dennis Cholowski led Detroit's defensive corps with seven goals, followed by fellow rookie Filip Hronek with five and veterans Mike Green and Danny DeKeyser, who also tallied five goals each.

24 - His assist total was tops on the Red Wings' blue line. Dylan Larkin led Detroit with 41 assists, Tyler Bertuzzi's 26 ranked second, with Frans Nielsen third with 25.

27 - Kronwall's point total of 27 led Detroit's defensemen in scoring. Green was a close second with 26 points and Hronek was third with 23 points.

-5 - Being minus-5 was a vast improvement from the 2017-18 season, when Kronwall was minus-14.

40 - He was assessed 40 minutes in penalties, which was the third-most penalty minutes on the Wings. Larkin led the Wings with 75 minutes and Madison Bowey was second with 46.

96 - His 96 blocked shots ranked second on the Red Wings. Luke Glendening's 102 blocks was the highest on the team.

84 - Kronwall delivered 84 hits, putting him in a fourth-place tie with rookie Michael Rasmussen. Glendening led the Wings in hits with 198, Justin Abdelkader was second with 185 and Ericsson was third with 98.

19:57 - Kronwall's ice time per game tied him with Hronek for third-highest among Detroit's defensemen. DeKeyser led the Wings defensemen in ice time, clocking in at 21:58. Green was second at 21:40. DeKeyser's ice time also was tops on the team with Larkin a close second, averaging 21:50 per game.

900 - On Dec. 6 against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, Kronwall played his 900th NHL game. In Detroit's 6-5 overtime win, he doled out one assist, was minus-1 in 18:34 of ice time. Kronwall has played in 953 games with the Red Wings. He has 83 goals and 349 assists, good for 432 points. He is minus-5 with an ice time average of 21:42. His 953 games tie him with Pavel Datsyuk for ninth overall in Red Wings history. Gordie Howe leads the franchise in games played at 1,687.

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