Lang, who shares the league lead in points, was acquired by the
Red Wings from Washington on Friday in a deal that sent Tomas
Fleischmann, a first-round draft pick this year and a fourth
rounder in 2006 to the Capitals.
The 33-year-old Lang is enjoying one of his finest seasons. He
has 29 goals and 45 assists and is tied with Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis with 74 points.
"We felt it was a move we had to take and couldn't pass up,"
Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. "And it's at a price we
could live with."
Detroit is the second-highest scoring team in the NHL and is
tied with Philadelphia for the best record in the league heading
into Friday's games.
Lang's $5 million salary is reasonable, Holland said, especially
with the player averaging a point per game.
"To have a guy locked in at $5 million a year made sense for us
financially, made sense for us competitively," Holland said.
Even with a talented lineup, the Red Wings still felt the need
to add a big forward, preferably a center, and Lang fit.
Lang had been rumored to be heading to Detroit for months
because the Capitals were rebuilding and trying slash payroll.
"This is no offense to anybody in Washington, but it's always
great to go from team that doesn't really have a bright future to
go to a team with bright horizons," Lang said.
Holland said he had talked with Capitals general manager George McPhee about Lang as early as August.
"We could not have asked for more from Robert Lang over the
past two seasons," McPhee said. "He has been a terrific player
for our club, and we consider him as the best free-agent signing in
the team's history."
Washington acquired Lang from the Pittsburgh Penguins two years ago and, at the time, he was given the richest free-agent contract
franchise history: five years for $25 million.
Lang, in Florida for Washington's game with the Panthers on
Friday, was expected to practice with Detroit on Saturday morning
and play in Sunday's game against the Flyers at Joe Louis Arena.
Holland said he was pleased to get the deal done before the
March 9 deadline, giving Lang more time to get used to his new
teammates before the playoffs begin.
Lang and All-Star Pavel Datsyuk are expected to give the Red
Wings a solid center combination for years.
With the Penguins, Lang was often paired with Mario Lemieux, so he is used to playing the fast-paced style favored by Detroit.
"Everybody's been watching them for a while now," Lang said of the Wings. "If you're a player, you feel like you want to go and
play that style."
Lang has 173 goals and 289 assists in 640 games. The native of
the Czech Republic won a gold medal at the 1998 Olympics, and he
had a career-best 80 points in 32 goals and 48 assists in 2000-01.
Lang spent four seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. In 1996-97, he played in a Czech league and then played for Boston and
Pittsburgh in 1997-98.
The 19-year-old Fleischmann is playing in his second season with Moose Jaw of the WHL. He ranks second on the team in goals with 28, assists (41) and points (69) in 53 games.