POSTED ON Monday, 11.28.2011 / 1:48 PM
|The hockey careers of Steve Yzerman and Mike Babcock have crossed a few times over the years, including the 2010 Winter Olympics as Babcock coached Team Canada for GM Yzerman. (Photo by Getty Images.)|
But instead of wearing a Red Wings’ lapel pin on his tailored suit, the Hall of Famer who won three Stanley Cup championships as Wings’ center will be sporting one with a cobalt blue lightning bolt when he accompanies his Tampa Bay squad into JLA Wednesday night.
Like Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay, who eventually left the organization to play for other clubs, Yzerman will forever be a Red Wing for helping build a hockey renaissance that brought Stanley back to Detroit after a 42-year dry spell.
But for the last year and a half, Yzerman has been the vice president and general manager for the Lightning. He also served as executive director for a Team Canada squad that won the gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
While Yzerman will likely receive a lot of media attention this week, Wings coach Mike Babcock, who coached the 2010 Canadian team, said he’s looking forward to it.
“I’m a big fan of Stevie’s, obviously from coaching with him, from working with him, from working with him in the Olympics,” Babcock said. “I talk to Steve – regularly would be too much – but quite a bit. And I think they do a good job there. I’m a fan of the coach (Guy Boucher) there and they have good players and it should be fun.”
Tampa Bay plays the Minnesota Wild tonight in St. Paul and will travel to Detroit right after the game. The Lightning are taking the unusual approach and staying in suburban Birmingham and practicing at the Troy Sports Center. Tuesday the Bolts will stake from 2-4 p.m. EST, and they will have a morning skate Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.
“We get to watch them on TV here tonight and see what they’re more about,” Babcock said. “We went through quite a bit of it today already, but we’re excited to play them.”
POSTED ON Sunday, 11.27.2011 / 4:37 PM
|Ron Duguay was a fan favorite in Detroit, and he's still No. 50 in all-time franchise scoring with 90 goals and 127 assists.|
Now that the league has instituted a senior game, Wings’ fans get a chance to see a handful of old-timers with ties to Hockeytown back on the ice when the puck drops on the Winter Classic Alumni Game set for New Year’s Eve at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.
The New York Rangers and Flyers each have six former Wings on its rosters or acting as coaches, or in the case of 72-year-old Hall of Fame goalie Eddie Giacomin, who is representing the Rangers as an ambassador.
The game, which can be seen live on Versus, will feature a pair of former Wings’ draft picks in Rangers forward Adam Graves (second-round, 1986) and Flyers center Keith Primeau (first-round, 1990). Of the dozen former players, Primeau lasted the longest in Detroit, amassing 97 goals, 133 assists, 781 penalty minutes and a plus-61 rating in 363 games in a Wings’ uniform.
Primeau will be an assistant coach on the Flyers’ bench, while former defenseman Colin Campbell will be on the Rangers’ bench. Campbell is among three alumni participants whose final NHL games were played with the Red Wings. Giacomin and Mark Howe are the others.
Besides Primeau and Howe, Philadelphia’s other Wings connections will be goalie Mark LaForest, and defensemen Terry Carkner, Derian Hatcher and Brad Marsh.
Meanwhile, the Rangers will deploy former Wings defenseman Mathieu Schneider, and forwards Ron Duguay and Kris King.
POSTED ON Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 5:52 PM
|Sure it's frustrating, but Patrick Eaves remains positive and prepared for when he's called upon to play, as he will Saturday against Nashville. (Photo by Getty Images)|
“There’s not really much to talk about. I’ve been waiting to get this opportunity,” said Eaves, who will play tonight against the Nashville Predators – his first time in the lineup since Nov. 15 in St. Louis. “I’ve just been staying in shape and keeping my mind in hockey mode; that’s all you can really do. You can only control what you can control.”
There was a time in Eaves’ career when he was considered a top-six forward. The Wings even tinkered with the idea in training camp of moving him up to the top forward line with Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary.
And despite signing a three-year contract worth $3.6 million last July, Eaves has appeared in just nine games with one assist and an even-rating.
But coach Mike Babcock says don’t read anything into Eaves’ situation that isn’t there.
“Eaves has been fine. The reality is the way our lineup is setup this year, I like Patty to play with two skaters,” Babcock said. “So he’s been the odd man out, not because of things he’s done. He played great in St. Louis. Other guys who aren’t quite as mobile have been using those two skaters. That’s just the way it goes.”
Against the Preds, Eaves will be paired with a pair of elite skaters in center Darren Helm and forward Jiri Hudler.
“As a player you want to play, so it's frustrating in that sense,” Eaves said. “I'm getting better every day (in practice). That's the beauty of the situation. Even though it's not what I want exactly, I'm getting better every day, I'm working hard and I'll be ready.”
Eaves replaces rookie Cory Emmerton in Saturday’s lineup. Emmerton was shaken up a bit in the third period of Friday’s 3-2 shoot-out win at Boston when he collided with Dennis Seidenberg, who received a kneeing penalty.
Emmerton said that he felt good enough to play, but Babcock made a decision to move Justin Abdelkader to the fourth line center role.
“It’s didn’t feel very good, obviously, at the start but I was fortunate,” Emmerton said. “I feel fine.”
Watch for Eaves to possibly play a physical role against Nashville. In 14 career games against the Preds, he has 23 hits, the most he’s had against any NHL opponent.
“I know the kind of player I am and the way I need to play,” he said. “That's what I try to focus on and I try to do my best at what I do.”
By the way, in case you're curious about the other eight players who have been healthy scratches, they are Fabian Brunnstrom (13), Mike Commodore (10), Emmerton (3), Drew Miller (2), Jakub Kindl (2), Tomas Holmstrom (2), Hudler (1), and Brendan Smith (1).
POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 4:17 PM
|Mickey Redmond (with glasses) and Mark Howe dropped ceremonial opening pucks prior to the Red Wings-Flames game Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Dave Reginek)|
Espo went onto to score more than 700 times and conventionally landed in the Hall in 1984. And while injuries cut-short Redmond’s career it didn’t stop him from blazing a different path to the Hall of Fame.
Last week, Redmond, the Wings’ longtime TV analysis, received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, which was first presented – ironically so at the same induction that honored Esposito – in 1984 by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association. The award recognizes members of the radio and television industry, who have made outstanding contributions to the profession and the game of hockey.
The award is named in honor of the late “Voice of Hockey” in Canada.
Redmond and newly-minted Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe, will be honored in a pre-game ceremony prior to Wednesday night’s Thanksgiving Eve game at Joe Louis Arena.
“It was a great, it was a whirlwind for 48 hours and it will more than likely set in and register a lot more once everything settles down,” said Redmond, referring to last weekend’s festivities in Toronto. “The fact that it was recognition for giving back to the game through broadcasting really meant the most to me because my mom and dad spent their lives giving to the game of hockey. It really meant a lot and felt good to me to be able to continue that tradition and continue to be a caretaker of the game, if you will, and to give back like my mom and dad did. That meant so much to me.”
Redmond, 63, has been a fan favorite for years with his whimsical repertoire of one-liners that he’s picked up long the way in his broadcasting career, like “Bingo Bango”, “Katie bar the door” and “No place for a nervous person”.
Dropping the puck tonight in front a raucous JLA crowd and a large TV audience isn’t a place for a nervous person either.
“I really hadn’t thought about it,” Redmond said. “I guess I try to minimize things like that when you’re in the public eye or in the middle of a crowd like that; hadn’t thought about it at all. But dropping the puck shouldn’t be a big problem, though you never know.
“I’ll just go with the flow, soak it in, just enjoy the moment, and keep the nerves down the best I can.”
POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.22.2011 / 3:58 PM
|Niklas Kronwall is currently tied with Nicklas Lidstrom for second among NHL defensemen in goal-scoring this season. (Photo by Getty Images)|
Still, how have the Wings’ blue-liners had so much success to this point?
“Sometimes things like that just happen,” said Niklas Kornwall, who has six goals and is tied with Nicklas Lidstrom for second in goals among NHL defensemen. “I think that's something we would like to do on a more regular basis, and not just chip in here and there. Anytime you can spread out your offense it can only do your team good. We've had some success in the past with some goals from the D-men but everything starts from a solid overall game. Lately we've been doing OK.”
In some ways, the offense from the defensive corps has been a blessing, especially since Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have experienced uncharacteristically slow starts to the season with four goals each.
“We know when we're playing good and we know what we're doing right,” said Zetterberg, referring to himself and his Euro Twin. “We just have to figure why we're playing bad and just do better.”
Lidstrom, Kronwall, Ian White and Brad Stuart have scored a combined 18 of the Wings’ 53 goals. White and Stuart have three goals each. The team continues to lead the league in shots per game (35.2) while the defense is registering 10.3 of those shots taken.
But the most impressive first-quarter performance, Lidstrom said, just might be the all-around job that Kronwall has done.
“He's just so sound defensively, playing against the top lines, and he has some offensive skills too, whether it's knowing when to jump up into the play or moving the puck on the power play,” Lidstrom said. “It's great to see he's been rewarded by getting some points and scoring goals for us.
“And we have Stewie chipping in. … Anytime you can get the defense involved in the offense it can only help your team.”
POSTED ON Saturday, 11.19.2011 / 4:02 PM
|The NHL's float that Larry Murphy will ride on during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade next Thursday in New York City.
“I’ve been in a couple of parades, a couple of good ones down Woodward Avenue that I enjoyed,” said Murphy who won four Stanley Cup rings, including a pair with the Wings in 1997 and ’98. “But besides that I’ve never done a parade. I’m looking forward to it, there’s no bigger parade, and I’m flattered that the league asked me to do it.”
The NHL asked Murphy and former Boston forward Cam Neely if they would ride along on the league’s new float that will help promote the Thanksgiving Showdown game the following afternoon between the Wings and Bruins at 1 p.m. EST on NBC and TSN.
It was a no-brainer for Murphy, who’s a big kid at heart anyway.
“I’m just worried about making sure that I don’t fall off the float, I mean that’s goal No. 1,” he said. “I want to stay on it for the whole ride.”
The float depicts an autumn scene near a frozen pond turned into a makeshift hockey rink that features a scoreboard, a 25-foot tall turkey as a goalie, and a perch for watching the 8-10 youth skaters doing their thing on the synthetic ice.
“Being there for that part of the year, just being part of that huge event, it’s going to be spectacular,” Murphy said. “You look at big events throughout the year, and that’s one of them.”
Besides the thrill of the parade, Murphy, who claims to have been a very good boy this year, a chance to meet Jolly Old St. Nick is a bonus.
“I’m hoping to meet him,” Murphy said. “I mean it’s an opportunity, and there are a couple of things that I want for Christmas, so hopefully I’ll be able to corner him at some point.”
POSTED ON Friday, 11.18.2011 / 9:30 PM
|Smith made his debut Thursday, skating more than 19-minutes in the Wings 5-2 loss to the Sharks. (Getty Images)|
“Smith's playing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I liked him a lot, what I don't want him to do is be careful. He knows he belongs. He's just got to eliminate some mistakes. But he's like all kids, he's going to make some mistakes.”
Smith had a solid performance in making his NHL debut Thursday – a 5-2 loss to San Jose. He logged more than 19-minutes of ice-time, including two-minutes on the power play. The one mistake he made was on a giveaway deep in the Wings’ zone that led to the Sharks’ third goal of the game.
Still, Thursday’s game provided a look into Smith’s bright NHL future as a dominant two-way defenseman.
“I thought he played well, skated well,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom. “He's got that good shot. Played well with the puck, too.”
Shortly after the Wings’ practice here Friday at the Toyota Sports Center, Smith alerted his 6,300-followers on Twitter, writing, “As of right now looks like I will get another kick at the can in tomorrow's game. Excited to try to get my first NHL win/point.”
As for Bertuzzi, his status for Saturday’s game isn’t as cut and dried. He was placed on short-term injured reserved last Sunday, and has missed the last six games with vertigo-like symptoms which began as a sinus infection.
Babcock said that Bertuzzi will be a game-time decision Saturday. However, if Bertuzzi has anything to say about it, he’ll either play Saturday afternoon or Sunday evening at Anaheim.
“I felt a lot better today. We'll see how it is tonight,” he said. “I didn't come all the way here without thinking there was a chance (to play). Got to see how I feel in the morning.”
POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 6:36 PM
That did not take long at all.
In just one day, the Red Wings sold all 23 special commemorative jerseys that paid homage to their former teammates and coach that perished in tragic plane crash that killed all onboard, including every member of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team last September in Russia.
The jerseys were those worn by the Red Wings in their Oct. 7 season-opening win over Ottawa at Joe Louis Arena. And Wings' fans stepped up by once again showing their incredible generosity and continued support for these families and the organization.
All 23 red jerseys in the set were sold out by Wednesday afternoon, raising more than $15,000 for the families of the former Wings.
Each jersey has an arm patch containing the initials BM*RS*SL in red letters along with a blue stripe. Red and blue are the Lokomotiv team colors. Recognized on the patch are the initials of Brad McCrimmon, an assistant coach from 2008-11 and defenseman from 1990-93; Ruslan Salei, a defenseman with Detroit last season; and goalie Stefan Liv, who was drafted by the Wings in 2000 and was a prospect until 2007.
Each jersey also contains a unique tag imprinted on the inside with game date and opponent as well as the words “Love For Lokomotiv”, guaranteeing that the jersey is a part of the Wings’ one-time opening night set. Each purchaser also received a photograph from the Oct. 7 depicting the player wearing the jersey.
POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 2:06 AM
|Brendan Smith is anxious to make his NHL debut. But will it come this week in California? That's the $64,000 question. (Photo by Rena Laverty)|
“Kind of like training camp, show what I got,” Smith said before the Wings’ 2-1 loss to the Blues.
With the injury to defenseman Ian White (fractured cheekbone) last weekend, Smith was recalled from Grand Rapids, which was an ideal time for him to serve the last of an eight-game NHL suspension, which he did Tuesday night.
The question before the Wings set-off on a seven-day trip Monday afternoon was would Smith stay with the team for the duration, or would he be returned at some point to the Griffins?
The question was answered Tuesday night, well, sort of.
Without knowing how Niklas Kronwall will fare from a first-period hit-from-behind that he took from the Blues’ Chris Stewart, Smith’s presence is insurance should Kronwall not be able to play Thursday in San Jose.
Coach Mike Babcock told the media immediately following Tuesday’s game that he “had a few minutes to think” about Smith’s travel itinerary.
Well moments later, Smith boarded Red Bird III and was California-bound with the rest of the Wings. Detroit also plays Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, and Sunday evening in Anaheim.
It’s no guarantee that Smith will make his NHL debut in the next three games, nor is it assured that he will be with the team for the rest of the seven-day trip. But at least the suspension is over, he said, and he can begin concentrating on making his debut.
“Finally, to get this out of the way, I can get my sights set to maybe playing an NHL game, my first game,” Smith said. “But we'll see how that goes.
“I'm excited that I'm still coming up and seeing some of the boys. It's been a long time, just bag skating here after the stuff and doing the fundamental stuff instead of getting my sights set on playing my first NHL game.”
POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 4:59 PM
ST. LOUIS – Todd Bertuzzi did not participate in Tuesday’s morning skate at Scottrade Center. The Wings’ forward has been battling a sinus infection and vertigo-like symptoms that have forced him to sit out the last four games.
Until this current illness, Bertuzzi had played in 197 out of a possible 198 games – regular-season and playoffs – since coming back to the Wings in 2009-10. Only captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who hasn't missed a game since then, has played more.
Bertuzzi has skated just once – last Thursday for half of practice – since Nov. 3. The dizziness and loss of balance has also limited any off-ice workouts that he can do, though he did manage to squeeze in some off-ice work the last two days.
“The medication is starting to kick in,” Bertuzzi said, Tuesday. “Hopefully within the next little while I can try to start skating and take it from there.
“I haven't missed games in a while. It's not fun missing games, but you can't go out there and play at 50-60 percent. What good are you? Kind of take a step back and get myself healthy and start over.”