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Detroit Red Wings open camp, look to defend Stanley Cup title

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Talented, experienced and deep, the Detroit Red Wings opened training camp Saturday vowing to avoid the complacency that could be the biggest obstacle to repeating as Stanley Cup champions.

"It looks good on paper, but it's got to happen on the ice," general manager Ken Holland said. "Last year's over."

The defending champions went through drills and played a scoreless scrimmage before a packed house at Traverse City's Centre I.C.E. arena.

The four-day training session is shorter than usual, but that shouldn't be a problem for a team just three months removed from beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the finals. The Red Wings will begin the pre-season schedule Wednesday by hosting the Montreal Canadiens.

Detroit's lineup is largely intact, making for little training-camp intrigue. The opening workout was the Red Wings debut for forward Marian Hossa, who left the Penguins and signed a one-year deal with Detroit.

His presence figures to add potency to an already formidable offence. He was the third-leading scorer in last season's playoffs, with 12 goals and 14 points in 20 games. Hossa also brings a hunger for the Stanley Cup that led him to spurn big-money, multi-year offers elsewhere for what he considered his best shot at a title.

"The number one thing is to win the Stanley Cup," Hossa said. "It's going to be a big challenge for me, for the team."

Dominik Hasek's retirement leaves Chris Osgood the undisputed starter in goal. The Wings signed veteran Ty Conklin to be Osgood's backup, but 24-year-old Jimmy Howard is challenging him for a roster spot.

"It's good for the organization. It breeds competition and that's what makes players better," Howard said.

Conklin called Howard "a great kid."

"He's a good goalie and he wants to play in the NHL, too," Conklin added.

Holland, however, made it clear that the job was Conklin's to lose because sending him to the minors would leave him exposed to waivers - from which he could be claimed by another team. The Red Wings would keep the rights to Howard if he is sent down.

"It's pretty clear that Jimmy Howard has to clearly win the backup job," Holland said.

No NHL team has won repeat titles since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. But Detroit has a sense of urgency to get the job done because its experienced, talent-laden roster is likely to lose core players after this season.

Among pending unrestricted free agents are Hossa, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson. Jiri Hudler could be an unrestricted free agent.

"Hopefully we can take advantage of this one-year window and have a great year," Holland said.


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