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Detroit Red Wings Veteran Facing Questions on Retirement

Danny DeKeyser retirement

With the season over, fans in Detroit could see a veteran Red Wing retiring soon.  After many setbacks, the longest-tenured player on the roster may call it a career. What began with much promise may end soon as another ‘what if?’ scenario for fans of the Winged Wheel. With his career with the Red Wings all but over, is a Danny DeKeyser retirement announcement coming soon?

Danny Dekeyser Retirement Decision

Dekeyser’s Potential Had Hockeytown Hoping

A decade ago, the fanbase felt excitement around a defensive prospect signed directly out of college. 2013 was the year that had everyone in Hockeytown thinking Danny Dekeyser would be the next best thing to The Perfect Human. An article published by Bleacher Report suggests that Dekeyser’s hockey IQ and calm under pressure had him on a career trajectory similar to Detroit Red Wings legend Nicklas Lidstrom. These sentiments had fans salivating with anticipation. The writer of the piece, Matt Hutter, describes Dekeyser as being able to “…glide across the ice, and he exhibits a control and grace that no Red Wing has displayed since Sergei Fedorov.”

The numbers looked good, as he averaged 70 games per season between 2013-14 and 2018-19, 22 minutes of ice time and 18 points. Dekeyser was as steady as advertised, and the future of Detroit’s defence looked to be in good hands.

No Turning Back for Dekeyser

On October 22, 2019, a back injury sustained playing against Vancouver led to a need for surgery in December after rehab failed. The procedure cost Dekeyser the remainder of the season, cutting his campaign short at only eight games. His absence only added to what was a catastrophic year for the Wings. The team hoped that his return would stabilize the defensive corps. The return was not nearly as successful as anticipated. In the two seasons since returning from his surgery, Dekeyser has not topped his lowest point total (12) from all previous full seasons in Detroit.  On the defensive side, all it takes is to watch and the difference in Danny from pre-surgery to post-surgery is plain to see.

He still has an excellent mind for the game. But his body can’t keep up with or meet the demands of what his brain needs it to do. The drop in on-ice performance on both ends of the ice has led to multiple trips to the waiver wire.  Early on it was to get in conditioning stints with AHL affiliate Grand Rapids. Later it was for opening up a roster spot for returning players. His leadership abilities are valued by the team as he was named an alternate captain for the 2021-22 season, but a veteran presence will not secure his place with the Red Wings.

Options Appear Limited

Dekeyser is now at the end of his contract, and all signs indicate he will not be re-signed. Having cleared waivers numerous times it’s unlikely another team would take a chance on him. Making five million on a new contract with any NHL club seems unrealistic so a reduced salary would be inevitable. It’s possible if no NHL offers surface that he could consider international leagues. But if he’s not able to land an NHL job the alternatives may not be enough to convince Danny to keep going. Hockey players are human beings and chronic pain or injury issues can lead a player to question if it’s worth their long-term health to keep pushing their bodies. Detroit often offers opportunities to players whose careers are ending. If Dekeyser decides to hang up the skates, Wings fans may see him join the organization in a developmental or scouting role.

Perhaps he will still help mentor players like Moritz Seider, just not from the bench. So far there’s been no official word from the Red Wings or DeKeyser about his future. If he joins Detroit in a non-player capacity, he may yet leave the positive legacy that was taken from him.

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