DETROIT (WXYZ) - First round exits aren't exactly commonplace in Detroit -- especially before the month of May.
So when the Red Wings cleaned out their lockers Tuesday, the overwhelming feel riding through Joe Louis Arena was understandably, and quite loudly, disappointment.
"Everyone wanted to keep playing. It was a quick exit. We played a good team, but there were things I thought we didn't do," Henrik Zetterberg said.
Mike Babcock harped on the message he's driven home since the Game 5 loss to Nashville: there are no excuses for this franchise to be anywhere but at the top.
"It might feel a little selfish, but I don't mind being selfish. I think we should be there every year, and we think with some minor, well, with some tweaks, we can be better," the head coach said.
Babcock's hesitation at the word "minor" might very well be indicative of the team's direction this offseason. Questions swarm key players' futures.
Will Nicklas Lidstrom retire? Will Brad Stuart leave, as expected, to be closer to his family in San Jose? Will Tomas Holmstrom be resigned? Will Jiri Hudler return?
Babcock balked at talking about a major roster overhaul. He pointed instead to the team's core, and the need for "more depth up front."
"We feel like we've got some room to add. We're gonna do that the best we can and I think that will make us a better team," he said.
Lidstrom provided very little insight into his future, leading only to the same factors that have shaped his decision in the past.
"I don't really have a timetable on (my decision). I've gotta have a meeting with (General Manager Kenny Holland), an exit meeting like all the players have, and go from there."
He said his teammates have already begun badgering him to stick around another season.
"I think he's good enough to play for at least one more year. Once again, it will come down to his decision with his family," Zetterberg said.
"We hope it's going to be a good decision."
Brad Stuart said the only we he'd be back in Detroit is if he "sucked it up" for another season. Stuart's family is in San Jose, and he's spent his time with the Red Wings traveling back and forth between the Motor City and the west coast. The free agent defenseman is expected to leave when his deal expires this summer.
Tomas Holmstrom talked about the bruising he's taken over the years, and how it's led him to where he is now. Holmstrom is another free-agent-to-be, looking at an uncertain future.
"I could play four more years, but a lot of aches and pains on the body over the years hurts the body," Holmstrom said.
The veteran forward said Detroit was the only place he can see himself playing.
"It's either here or retire."
The Red Wings will look different next year. The question is this: just how different will they look?
Time will tell.
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