Detroit sports New Year's resolutions

Dana Wakiji comes up with a few resolutions for each of the Detroit professional sports teams.

It's that time of year again, when we all make our annual resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier and get better organized.

I thought it might be fun to come up with a few resolutions for each of the Detroit professional sports teams.

Detroit Red Wings

1. This one's easy — the Wings and the rest of the NHL should resolve to play games in the New Year, preferably starting in January. No one wants to lose another entire season, especially considering how much damage has already been done.

2. This one's not easy at all — find a suitable replacement for Nick Lidstrom, who retired in May after 20 seasons with the Wings. Brendan Smith has a lot of promise but his game is nothing like Lidstrom's. Then again, whose game is?

3. Another tough one — stay away from the injury bug. The Wings were on top of the Western Conference last season until they were beset with injuries. They can't afford any serious, long-term ones if they play this season.

4. Find a good way to honor the late Budd Lynch, who died in October at the age of 95. Lynch worked for the Wings for 63 years and deserves something special. Perhaps they could name the press box after him or have a statue of him made.

5. Incorporate some of the younger players into important roles. Someone like Gustav Nyquist, who currently leads the Grand Rapids (AHL) Griffins with 27 points (10 goals and 17 assists) in 29 games, would be an obvious candidate.

Detroit Pistons

1. Tayshaun Prince said it the other night after the Pistons beat the Heat. If the Pistons can play a solid game like they did against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat, they should be able to play that way against every team.

2. Get Brandon Knight back on track. The second-year guard is slightly better in most statistical categories except field goal percentage but there are some areas where he still needs work, like passing into the post without turning the ball over.

3. Find some more minutes for Andre Drummond. Drummond is averaging 7.1 rebounds in 19.5 minutes a game. He's raw in a lot of ways but the best way for this athletic young big man to learn is by being on the floor.

4. Make sure this Charlie Villanueva lasts the rest of the season. Villanueva was out of the rotation, collecting DNP-CDs a few short weeks ago. But in each of his last four games, he's shot 50 percent or better and scored in double figures. He's also rebounded as well as he has since he's been in Detroit.

5. The Heat don't visit again this season but it would be nice to see the Palace have those sold-out crowds again. Having MC Hammer and Gladys Knight perform at halftime is great but winning games is the only thing that will really get the fans to return en masse.

Detroit Tigers

1. Ignore the hype. With the return of Victor Martinez, the signing of Torii Hunter and the re-signing of Anibal Sanchez, the pundits will all be picking the Tigers to repeat as Central Division champions. The Tigers can't afford to let preseason prognosticating affect how they prepare.

2. Make sure Justin Verlander knows that David Price won the AL Cy Young Award last season. The ultra-competitive Verlander doesn't need a lot of motivation but it can't hurt to have him see other players winning awards that he believes he should have.

3. Unless there's a deal out there that significantly improves the Tigers, keep Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly. You can never have enough pitching. Smyly is their only left-handed starter and Porcello has already won 48 big league games by the age of 24.

4. It's impossible to control, really, but if the Tigers make the ALCS again, they should resolve not to sweep their opponent. Having too much time off has not served them well the last two times they made the World Series.

5. Get off to a good start and stay healthy. The Tigers got behind the 8-ball a bit last year when Doug Fister had to leave his first start of the season. It upset the rotation and subsequently threw off the entire team and they didn't get back over .500 until July.

Detroit Lions

1. While it's always a nice luxury to pick the best player available in the NFL Draft, the Lions absolutely have to address the secondary. While injuries decimated them this past season, they did not pay enough attention to this area last offseason, especially considering they had to release Aaron Berry after two arrests.

2. To that end, the Lions should do everything within reason to re-sign cornerback Chris Houston. You could see the difference in the defense when Houston missed time with a high ankle sprain.

3. The Lions have to keep their noses clean this upcoming offseason. The last thing they want to be known as is the new Cincinnati Bengals with multiple arrests every year. While it's good to have some players who play with an edge, they can't go over the edge, especially off the field.

4. Get back on the plus side of turnover ratio. The 2011 Lions who went 10-6 and made the playoffs finished the regular season plus-11 in turnovers. The 2012 Lions who went 4-12 and lost their last eight games finished minus-12. Coincidence? I think not.

5. Get quarterback Matthew Stafford back on the right track. This goes hand-in-hand with the turnover ratio. Last season Stafford had 41 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions. This season he had just 20 touchdowns and 17 picks. His passer rating fell from 97.2 to 79.8. Perhaps Stafford had an undisclosed injury, perhaps he was just off. Either way, the Lions will go as he goes.

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