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POSTED ON Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 6:25 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Jan Mursak is proving to be a pretty fast healer.

Originally thought to be sidelined with a fractured left ankle until after Christmas, the rookie forward is hoping to be back sooner.

“I think sometime around there (Christmas), maybe a week earlier,” said Mursak, who was injured in an exhibition game against Chicago in September. “It's looking pretty good right now and we'll see how it goes.”

While surgery wasn’t required, Mursak was in a cast up to his knee, which was removed two weeks earlier than expected. From the cast, he was wearing an immobilizing boot.

“It's going pretty good. Every day it's a lot better and I can do more stuff,” he said. “There's still certain things I can't do. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks it gets better and I can get back on the ice and start skating.”

Besides breaking the ankle, Mursak had some ligaments damaged in the incident. While there’s been some atrophy in the ankle, the 23-year-old Mursak is confident that he’s bounce back well.

“I don't think it will affect my speed. It's just an ankle,” he said. “The speed doesn't come really from the ankle it comes from your thighs and legs. So I don't worry about that stuff.”

Even though he isn’t skating yet, Mursak is still doing whatever off-ice condition that he can do, within limits, of course.

“I do almost everything except running or jumping,” he said. “It takes time to stretch that ankle because it's so stiff. We'll see in the next few weeks how it goes. … I still can't put much weight on my toes but it's getting better every day. I can do more and more stuff, so it's good.”

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POSTED ON Friday, 11.11.2011 / 6:12 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Danny Cleary is the 62nd player in Red Wings' history to wear No. 11. Former Wings Shawn Burr (11 seasons) and Mathieu Dandenault (9 seasons) are the only ones to wear it longer. (Getty Images)
Some people believe that the No. 1 signifies a new beginning. And doubling and tripling it can only mean far better luck.

That’s why today – 11/11/2011 – is such a big deal for numerologists, who say that people are fascinated with repetitive numbers because are brains are hardwired to be pattern-matching machines.

However, Danny Cleary, one of four repetitive number-wearing Red Wings on the current roster, isn’t necessarily a believer.

“I never really thought about it,” said Cleary, who at the urging of his wife, Jelena, chose No. 11 when he signed with the Wings as a free agent seven years ago.

The Wings’ other double-number wearers are defensemen Mike Commodore (22) and Niklas Kronwall (55), and forward Todd Bertuzzi (44).

Would Cleary be a convert if he kept with the theme tonight and racked up 11 points against Edmonton at Joe Louis Arena? As a matter of fact, if he were so fortunate, he’d top Darryl Sittler’s 35-plus year old NHL record set when the Maple Leafs’ captain scored six goals with four assists in Toronto’s 11-4 win over Boston.

“Can you imagine?” said Cleary, laughing. “Hopefully it brings good luck.”

However, we’re pretty certain that Cleary would be fine if he managed to duplicate his two-goal performance in the Wings’ 6-2 win over Edmonton last Nov. 11.

Cleary is the 62nd player to don No. 11 in Wings’ history, and just the sixth to wear it for more than five seasons, joining forwards Shawn Burr (1984-95), Mathieu Dandenault (1995-04), Marty Pavelich (1951-57), Eddie Wares (1937-43), and Walt McKechnie (1974-77, 1981-83).

He ranks fourth in all-time franchise scoring among No. 11 wearers with 211 points, trailing only Pavelich (252), McKechnie (256) and Burr (362).


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POSTED ON Friday, 11.11.2011 / 12:20 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Mike Babcock said Friday morning that Henrik Zetterberg is a game-time decision with a "middle-body" injury. (Getty Images)
Mike Babcock said that forward Henrik Zetterberg will be a game-time decision when the Red Wings host the Northwest Division-leading Edmonton Oilers tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

Zetterberg was at Friday’s morning skate, but left the ice early, and was not available to the media afterwards.

“I think (Z) is in but I'm not 100 percent sure,” Babcock said. “It’s not an upper body, it's not a lower body, it's a middle body. How's that? I don't know if it's anything.”

If Zetterberg isn’t available for tonight’s game, Babcock anticipates moving Valtteri Filppula to center with Johan Franzen on left wing and either Jiri Hudler or Fabian Brunnstrom on the right side.

“We’ll see what happens,” Babcock said. “Like I said, I’m going to spend the afternoon figuring it out.”

Asked if it was up to Zetterberg on whether he plays or not, Babcock said, “It’s always up to the player if he plays. I mean if he’s feeling good he’ll be playing, if he’s not feeling good he won’t be playing.”

Forward Patrick Eaves will return to the lineup after missing the last three games with a sore lower back. Still looking for his first point of the season, he’ll skate on the fourth line with rookie center Cory Emmerton and forward Drew Miller.

“He’s in tonight because of the penalty-kill,” said Babcock, referring to Eaves. “Our penalty-kill’s got to be better. We think our structure has been better than our results. We don’t think we’re giving up that much, but it’s in our net all of the time. We want to be a great penalty-kill team, and Patty Eaves is a good penalty-killer.”

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 1:29 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Avs forward Gabriel Landeskog leads all NHL rookies with 51 shots on goal this season. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)
It’s been a whirl wind year for Gabriel Landeskog, the 18-year-old Stockholm native, who was the second-overall draft pick in last June’s NHL draft and who made his NHL debut last month against the Red Wings at Pepsi Center.

Like any wide-eyed teenager, Landeskog was mesmerized at the sight of seeing the Wings’ impressive group of all-star Swedes. The only thing that made the Avalanche’s Opening Night more special was that the player who Landeskog idolized most as a young boy was honored that evening.

“Peter Forsberg was my favorite player growing up,” said Landeskog, who leads all NHL rookies with 51 shots on goal through 14 games. “It was pretty surreal, but I still let myself enjoy that for a little bit, but not too much. I have to focus on what I’ve got to do, and focus on helping my team win. But at the same time, especially that first game, I was going to allow myself to soak it all in. You only play your first NHL game once, so I had fun with it.

“You couldn’t write a better script for my first NHL game, that’s for sure. I was able to fly my family over for the first game. Like any other Swedish kid, idolizing Forsberg, it was pretty cool, and then to be playing against all of those guys on the Red Wings.”

Landeskog had the opportunity to skate with a host of Swedish NHL stars during the offseason, including Douglas Murray, Henrik Tallinder, Nicklas Grossman, Jhonas Enroth, Marsuc Kruger and Jacob Josefson. It’s also where Stockholm native Niklas Kronwall first met the budding star.

“He’s a really low-key, down-to-earth kind of guy,” said Kronwall, of Landeskog. “He’s a hard working power-forward, who is strong on the puck. I think he’s going to have a great career in the NHL because you can kind of tell right away with some guys that they have a determination, and he’s definitely one of those guys.”

In the few times that he managed to skate along side established NHL stars this summer, Landeskog said it gave him a different perspective about what life is like as a pro hockey player.

“Skating with some NHL guys and getting to know them off of the ice, too, and hearing some of their stories, and learning how down-to-earth they are, it was a lot of fun, especially Niklas,” Landeskog said. “I mean, he’s won the Stanley Cup, it was a pretty cool experience.”

Making the jump from juniors to the pros has been a huge adjustment period for the young forward, who turns 19 on Nov. 23. The key, he said, is not to get caught up in star-gazing too much.

“I’ve been learning stuff every day by coming to the rink," he said. "Just being around the guys, and being on the road trips, and obviously playing the NHL schedule is a bit different from junior, but it’s a lot of fun, especially on nights like this when you play against Datsyuk, Kronwall, Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Franzen. It’s a pretty neat experience to look over the glass there and see them sitting on the other bench. It’s a pretty cool thing.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.07.2011 / 4:00 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Red Wings defenseman Mike Commodore once was
part-owner of Valkyrie Missile (above), a thoroughbred race horse.
Most players try to relax when they return home after a morning skate. For some that means picking up their kids from school, or for the young guys without family responsibilities that could mean heading to the grocery store to stock up for the week.

For Mike Commodore, relaxation last Saturday meant watching a dozen or so Breeders’ Cup horse races on TV from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Ever since the Red Wings’ defenseman was invited to Churchill Downs to watch Big Brown claim the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby from the 20th starting gate, Commodore was hooked.

“When I got traded to Ottawa there, and we lost out to Pittsburgh, I went back to Carolina – that’s where my stuff was – packed my stuff up,” said Commodore, who’s celebrating his 32nd birthday today. “I didn’t have a contract, I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know anything. I was just kind of sitting there for a few days and a buddy of mine called and said, ‘What are you doing this weekend?’ Want to go to the Kentucky Derby?’ I was like, ‘Sure, I might as well. I’ve got nothing else going on.’ ”

Commodore had so much fun at the Derby that horse-racing, you can say, is now in his blood.

“I bought a suit, one of those Seersucker suits, and went to the Kentucky Derby with a group through Little Red Feather Racing, who got us the tickets,” he said. “There were a couple of hockey guys: Barret Jackman was there, Ryan Johnson who was here with us at camp, was there. A couple of NFL football players were there. We had like 15 guys there and just had a blast.

“Then the company said, ‘It seems like you’re having fun, and if you’re ever interested in getting involved, just let us know.’ I really didn’t think too much of it, then I started watching a little bit more. I didn’t want to put a whole lot of money into it, I mean it’s horse racing, you know what I mean? I don’t know that much about it. But I do know that getting a good horse is like winning the lottery.”

Commodore has been part-owner of several different horses over the last 3 ½ years, and as many as a half dozen horses at one time, including a gelding named Valkyrie Missile and a filly named Killagram.

Valkyrie Missile was sold before training camp, and Killagram suffered a life-threatening injury and had to be euthanized.

“She ended up hurting herself and we had to put her down, which was awful,” Commodore said. “It was her pelvis. She had a minor surgery, and she woke up in the middle of the night. I don’t know what the hell happened. But she woke up, and moved around and broke her pelvis. It was devastating.”

While he’d love to have a horse in the Running of the Roses, Commodore said he’s in it more for the entertainment value than an investment.

“First and foremost, it’s for fun,” he said. “I don’t look at these races like I’m making money off of them. I like when my horses win, I like collecting checks. I’d like to learn more about the sport and become more knowledgeable. I have a lot to learn. I still, when I go to the track, and get the program, I’m better than I was, but there’s still a lot of stuff on that sheet that I have absolutely no clue what it means. I’d like to become more knowledgeable.”

Still, Commodore hopes that his calendar won’t permit him to attend the race in May.

“Now I’m hooked, yeah. But hopefully, I don’t get to go to another Kentucky Derby until I’m retired,” he said, “which probably means I’m playing in the playoffs.”


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POSTED ON Monday, 11.07.2011 / 12:29 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Rookie center Cory Emmerton gave kudos to
Commodore's practice skills at right win Monday.
After snapping a six-game winless streak Saturday night, the Red Wings were back at work Monday morning, albeit short-handed.

Forwards Todd Bertuzzi and Jiri Hudler are battling colds, and center Darren Helm was not available as he nursed a charley horse, which he received in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Anaheim.

Coach Mike Babcock wasn’t certain about the status for his two forwards for Tuesday's game against the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena. But he said that Helm “got a bump on his leg the other night during the game. Just a maintenance day. We expect him back tomorrow.”

The Wings also received good news from forward Patrick Eaves, who skated for the second time since hurting his lower back last Tuesday against Minnesota.

“Back felt good today,” Eaves said. “I'll be aiming for Tuesday. It keeps getting better everyday. No troubles in the morning. It feels a lot better, that's all I can tell you.”

To help balance out the forward lines, defenseman Mike Commodore practiced at right wing Monday, and received kudos from rookie center Cory Emmerton, who tweeted, “Big shout out to @commie22 who celebrated his 32nd birthday today by playing right wing in practice, he looked comfortable.

Commodore said he felt as comfortable as he looked. But don’t look to see him play up anytime soon.

“If I had to I could,” he said. “But you wouldn’t' see me do anything spectacular. I don't mind it when you have the puck, it's like the races to the puck. I wouldn't mind fore-checking, but back-checking would suck. I think I could get by. I'm pretty sure I could be a good defensive forward, if anything else provide a third D out there.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill


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POSTED ON Friday, 11.04.2011 / 2:41 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Jiri Hudler has his face driven into the end-boards by Calgary defenseman Scott Hannan during second-period action Thursday at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Gregory Shamus)
If the old adage is correct – a picture can tell a thousand words – then what does the image, which shows Scott Hannan’s left arm driving Jiri Hudler’s face into the end-boards, possibly say?

Not too much, apparently.

After the hit, which occurred in the second period of Thursday’s game against Calgary, Hudler needed 26 stitches to close two nasty gashes – one above and one below – his left eye. He also needed a new plastic visor to replace the one broken when his face unceremoniously met the hard plastic ridge that sits atop the dasher boards.

As a result of the play, Hannan received a two-minute minor penalty for – get this – holding. The Red Wings scored on the ensuing power-play, but that wasn’t enough to stop them from dropping a 4-1 decision to the Flames.

Once sewn up, Hudler returned to action in the third period. But after the game, he was accompanied home by a reminder of the hit: A swollen face and headache that made for a restless night.

“I didn’t get much sleep, but what are you going to do with 26 stitches?” said Hudler, who practiced with the Wings Friday afternoon. “It’s not up to me to make the call, obviously. … I feel pretty lucky. I hit the boards pretty hard.”

The play started when Hudler chased a loose puck deep in the Flames’ zone. He engaged Hannan near the bottom of the right circle, and as the players’ momentum carried the pair toward the end-boards to the side of the Flames’ net, Hannah used his leverage to shove the Wings’ forward face-first into the boards.

It’s unlikely that Hannan, who is three-inches taller and nearly 40-pounds heavier than Hudler, will receive any further disciplinary action from the league office.

“I was protecting myself,” Hannan told the Calgary Herald after the game. “It looked like (Hudler) caught an edge, and I just put him into the boards a little bit.”

I didn’t see Hudler catch an edge. But I did see Hannan catch a big break.

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POSTED ON Friday, 11.04.2011 / 12:01 AM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Ian White has shown the ability to grow a pretty fine moustache, as he did in his Toronto days. (Getty Images)
When Ian White first attempted to grow a moustache it was out of protest. Now, the Red Wings’ defenseman will sport facial hair above his upper lip for a much better cause.

White is among five Wings’ players participating in Movember, a month-long global initiative started by the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG – the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which helps raise funds to continue the fight against cancers that affect men.

“Anytime that you can bring attention to cancer research it’s a huge thing, obviously,” White said. “It’s a terrible disease that pretty much affects everyone, so the more attention or awareness you can bring to it, it’s important.”

White is joined by goalie Ty Conklin, and forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader and Patrick Eaves, who have agreed to put the razor down this month.

This is the first year that the Wings have participated in Movember, but the second year for White, who was among four Carolina Hurricanes last November to grow for the cause.

But it was a few years earlier when White – then a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs – first sported a ’stache.

“It worked good at that time,” he said. “I started growing it out of a silent protest for being sat-out, being scratched for the first 11 games. I thought maybe they forgot about me, so I figured I’d grow a moustache and maybe they would see me.”

The ploy must have worked, though. When the Leafs finally inserted White into the lineup, the defenseman played up on a forward line where he responded with a six-game point streak, which is still his career best.

“I scored a goal in the first shift, and it seemed to work and I couldn’t get rid of it then,” White said. “I thought it was funny and we got a good rise out of the hockey community. People seemed to enjoy it, so I ended up keeping it for a year.”

If you would like to contribute to the Movember cause, click on the player’s photo to make a donation.

 
ABDELKADER CONKLIN EAVES WHITE ZETTERBERG

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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 1:29 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Drew Miller registered his third multi-penalty game of his NHL career with two minor infractions last Tuesday against Minnesota (Photo by Dave Reginek)
If Drew Miller were asked to serve his total career penalty-minutes in one continuous sitting, the Red Wings’ forward could do so in less time then it would take to watch an episode of “NCIS”.

That’s why Miller’s uncharacteristic charging penalty Tuesday drew a phone call from his older brother – Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller – who said he thought Drew had more respect for goaltenders.

Drew Miller’s penalty on Minnesota goalie Josh Harding gave the Wild a 5-on-3 power-play in the third period of Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss, the Wings’ fifth straight. The Wings managed to kill off the penalties.

“The pucks there, he plays it and I'm just trying to take the boards away,” Miller said. “It's just one of those things. I've got to be smarter. I went hard, seeing an opportunity to get the puck off the goalie. It's not a very good penalty to take. I won't be doing that again. It was one of those situations where it looked way worse than it was.”

Miller had two of the Wings' nine minor infractions called against them Tuesday, which prevented them from gaining any kind of continuity in the offensive end. Miller went to the penalty box early in the first period for inteference. Tuesday's minor penalties were the first of the season for Miller, who has served just 52-minutes in his career. It was also just his third career multiple penalty game.

“The common sense thing is the less time you're in the box the more you get to play your big guys,” Miller said. “We need to be responsible for our own actions. When things aren't going your way and you're trying to play really hard sometimes penalties happen. We need to control that, but continue to play hard. I think we just need to be smarter.”


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.02.2011 / 2:04 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Niklas Kronwall needed some assistance to get to the Wings' bench
following the overtime hit by Mikko Koivu (Photo by Dave Reginek)
Niklas Kronwall was woozy after the hit that he took from Minnesota centerMikko Koivu in the Red Wings’ 2-1 overtime loss Tuesday. But following Wednesday afternoon’s practice at Joe Louis Arena, the Wings’ defenseman declared that he was fine.

“I got a little ding right off of the hit for the first five or seven seconds or so,” said Kronwall, who underwent a concussion test after the game, as well as another one Wednesday morning. “Felt fine as soon as I got off of the ice. You never know with incidents like that.”

The hit initially left Kronwall stunned on the ice. He tried to get up immediately, but dropped to one knee before gathering his senses and eventually skating off after Koivu setup Devon Setoguchi’s game-winner.

The hit occurred after Koivu followed up his own rebound, which deflected into the right corner off of goalie Jimmy Howard. Upon retrieving his own rebound in the lower right circle, Koivu turned his back to Kronwall and took a hard step backward.

It appeared that Koivu’s right shoulder connected with Kronwall’s face, sending the Wings’ 6-foot defenseman hard to the ice. Replay shows Kronwall’s head snapping backwards and the back of his helmet striking the ice.

There was some question whether or not Koivu should have received an interference penalty for what essentially was a body check on a defensive player not in possession of the puck.

But Kronwall took responsibility for the play breaking down in the Wings’ end.

“It was a good play on his part,” Kronwall said. “He caught me off guard. It ended up costing us the game, so obviously I have to be a little bit more aware out there.”



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