There's no more safety net to call upon, and no more net-front expert available. And coach Mike Babcock can't wait to get started.

He has spent the lockout drawing and redrawing his lines and defense pairings; he likes to joke he makes all his plans on napkins, because that's how much faith he has they'll hold up. He won't get to test his new looks for several more days because training camp isn't likely to start before Sunday. The NHL and the NHL Players' Association still must sanctify the collective bargaining agreement, and that might not happen until the end of the week.

There's nothing official on a schedule, either, but after leaning toward 50 games, the league is now going with 48 and will begin Jan. 19.

What the Wings do know is that Nicklas Lidstrom has retired, leaving an irreplaceable gap on defense; that Tomas Holmstrom will retire within days, which means the power play will need a new stalwart; and Brad Stuart has gone to San Jose, which leaves another opening on defense.

"It's hard to replace people with the quality and leadership and competitiveness of Lidstrom and Holmstrom, there's no question about it," Babcock said. "And Stuart, for that matter, was a real competitor as well for us. But that's part of life. We've got to find a way to fill the holes and keep on winning."

Babcock has plenty of new looks to consider -- and some old ones to keep.

He is, for starters, playing Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together, a move that brings out the best in each of them. Given how well newcomer Damien Brunner has played with Zetterberg during their time together in Switzerland, he'll get first dibs to play with the superstars.