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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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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.01.2011 / 4:10 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal
Gustav Nyquist

Gustav Nyquist will have plenty of support from his teammates, especially his countrymen, when he makes his NHL debut tonight as the Red Wings host the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena.

The Swedish forward will be paired on the second line with forward Todd Bertuzzi and center Johan Franzen, who called him a “really smart player out there. He creates a lot of chances and he's always open; feels like he wants the puck. Really good hockey sense in him, too. He'll do just fine. He'll be good for us.”

Forward Tomas Holmstrom called the 22-year-old, from Malmo, in southern Sweden, a fine two-way player.

“He’s a skilled player, he's quick, he's got great hockey sense and he's also responsible in his own zone,” said Holmstrom, who was 23-years-old when made his Wings’ debut in 1996. “He's a great player and it's great to see him get a chance like this early in his career.”


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POSTED ON Friday, 10.28.2011 / 5:58 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

To Mike Commodore, it probably seems a lot longer than it has been. But finally, after 30 days, the veteran defenseman was cleared to return to action by team doctors.
Mike Commodore was brought to Detroit to compete for a spot on the Red Wings' third defensive pairing. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

Commodore, who suffered a Grade 1 sprain to his left MCL last month, won’t play this weekend – tonight against San Jose nor Saturday in Minnesota. However, he’d like to make his Red Wings’ debut sooner than later, but he understands that certain obstacles are in the way.

“Hopefully we keep playing well, and if it takes a while for that opportunity then so be it,” said Commodore, 31. “That's fine. I just need to focus on myself and be ready when the time comes around.”

The Wings brought Commodore in during the off-season, signing the 6-foot-4 physical force to challenge for the sixth defensive spot. But in his absence, Jakub Kindl has played admirably while collecting two points with a +3 rating.

This is the first time that the Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, native has had to deal with a knee injury of any kind. He was recently fitted with a brace, which has taken some time getting used to, but for nothing more then piece of mind, he’ll likely wear it for the rest of the season.

“For the rest of the year for sure,” he said, “if not for the rest of my career. I don't actually mind it. First game I'll probably hate it, but it's been fine in practice. Some guys get used to is easily and keep wearing it in practice. Other guys hated it.”

The way the defensive corps is currently playing, cracking the lineup for Commodore won’t be easy, coach Mike Babcock said.

“Commodore's cleared healthy now, he's got to win a spot in the lineup,” the Wings’ coach said. “So the first step's getting healthy always and then you got to take someone's job.”



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POSTED ON Friday, 10.28.2011 / 4:15 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Justin Abdelkader won 227 face-offs last season, fifth best on the Red Wings. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
For the third straight game, the Red Wings will insert a new face in at fourth line center.

Tonight, Justin Abdelkader will start the game against the San Jose Sharks, playing between forwards Drew Miller and Tomas Holmstrom. Miller started Tuesday’s game in Columbus at fourth line center, and rookie Cory Emmerton drew the assignment in the previous five games.

“I'm comfortable. I played center pretty much my whole career,” Abdelkader said. “I feel pretty comfortable on wing, too. It's an easy switch. It's not going to affect me in any way. It'll be fun. I enjoy playing center or wing, just go out there and keep doing the same thing.”

Even though it’s the first time that he’s played the position this season, Abdelkader said he’s stayed sharp at taking face-offs in practice.

“You’ve got to be ready to jump in and take face-offs,” he said. “Sometimes it can be tougher when you only take one or two a game, to get into a groove. You don't get into a tendency. When you take more face-offs during a game you kind of know the tendencies of the other guy. You have a little feel for it, too.”

Through the first seven games, Abdelkader has been pressed into the circle 17 times. However, last season he won 52.8 percent of the 430 draws that he took.

“Last year working with (Kris) Draper quite a bit, just taking draws against Helmer and Fil and Pav, bounce some ideas off each other, just working at it,” he said. “When you get to this level all the guys are really good at face-offs and take pride in them. Just got to get that experience, see what works and what doesn't.”

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 3:56 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

When Jimmy Howard’s pregnant wife Rachel told him not to pack a bag for a routine checkup last weekend, the Red Wings’ goalie thought otherwise.

“My wife didn’t want to bring any of the bags to the hospital, thinking that it wasn’t going to be anything,” Howard said. “But I was like, ‘Well, we better bring them, just in case. You never know.’ ”

But like any quick-thinking goalie, Howard made the right move.

“Next think you know,” he said, “the doctors are saying, ‘You’re not going anywhere.’ ”

A few hours later, and six days earlier than the originally scheduled delivery date, Howard became a first-time dad with the birth of James Russell Howard IV at 2:52 p.m. Sunday.

“It was all sort of a whirlwind,” said Howard, with a big beaming smile as he answered questions from the media Wednesday. “It’s been a great couple of days for my family.”

The two Jimmys even watched the Wings’ game Tuesday. While they had hoped for a better outcome, it was a perfect bonding opportunity for father and son, Howard said.

Plus, ‘James the Fourth’ even got a mention on Tuesday’s Fox Sports Detroit game telecast.

“The little guy saw himself on TV last night for the first time,” Howard said. “It was cool to be able to sit down and watch the game.

“Finally, to have him out, I’ve been talking to him while he was in my wife’s belly. To finally see him face to face, and to see his little blue eyes and the (facial) expressions that he already has, it’s pretty special.”

The Wings’ goalie was back at practice Wednesday after spending the last three days with his wife and their new buddle of joy. But he was glad to be back to work at Joe Louis Arena.

“I’m very excited to get back here, especially today, to get back on the ice after having off, which felt like forever,” said Howard, who will start Friday when the Wings host San Jose. “We have to right the ship here and get back to paying attention to details and doing the little things in the defensive zone.”

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 10.25.2011 / 5:31 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Chris Pronger moments after getting hit in the face with a stick Monday in Toronto.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Three years ago, a scary incident forced Nicklas Lidstrom to rethink his personal on-ice safety.

“I wanted to protect my eyes,” said Lidstrom, who began wearing a visor only after he suffered a broken nose and took 25 stitches under the right eye when he was struck in the face by a puck during the 2008 preseason opener.

“It can still happen, you can still get a stick under there or even a puck,” he said. “But that was one of the precautions I wanted to take after I got hit.”

It’s not known whether or not a visor would have prevented the horrific injury that Philadelphia’s All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger suffered Monday in Toronto. But that was the talk among players in the Wings’ dressing room Tuesday morning at Nationwide Arena.

“My incident was more of a fluke play where (teammate Marian) Hossa put his stick there and (the puck) went off his stick and came right up,” Lidstrom said. “If I would have had a shield, it probably would have hit the shield, so that's why I put one on. It kind of gave me a wake-up call, not having worn a shield for 17-18 years. So that's why I put one on after I got the puck in the eye.”

At least six current Red Wings don’t wear a visor, including Johan Franzen, who needed 21 stitches last spring to close facial cuts received in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against Phoenix. Others who have said ‘no’ to visors are, forwards Tomas Holmstrom and Todd Bertuzzi, and defensemen Jonathan Ericsson, Ian White, and Mike Commodore.

Players are required to wear visors in the American Hockey League, but many of them choose to forgo the half-shields once they graduate to the NHL.

“The thing is, I had a lot more cuts when I had a visor on (in the AHL), the visor cut me,” Ericsson said. “If I run into a guy or hit someone … those screws in the visor are not super tight, so that thing comes down and can cut you. So, for me, it's safer without a visor so far, much safer.

“But I think smaller guys, where the sticks are kind of in the range, it's easier to get a stick up there. But I'm one of the taller guys, I think it's advantage to have no visor because I had a bad experience with a visor, so I would like to keep mine off.”

For veterans like Lidstrom, wearing a visor or cage takes some adjustment time.

“Especially where the visor ends, that's where your vision is sometimes,” he said. “When you're looking down at the puck, if the puck is right where the visor ends, that was a bit of an adjustment for me.”

But Lidstrom and Ericsson are divided on the visor debate with the captain siding with the players’ right to choose. For Ericsson, however, he believes visors are potentially more dangerous.

“I still believe it should be the player's choice,” Lidstrom said. “I would encourage them to wear them, start right away when they start skating to get used to it.''

“For me it's safer (without) and I see better, too,” Ericsson said. “Don't have an edge in your way. Absolutely, no question about it, 100 percent, I'm favoring no visors.”



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POSTED ON Monday, 10.24.2011 / 6:49 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

With 10 of his teammates already members of the Dad’s Club, there was plenty of fatherly advice for the newest member to the Red Wings’ father fraternity Monday afternoon.

As news of Jimmy Howard becoming a dad for the first time spread, Wings’ players showed genuine excitement for their goalie, and his wife, Rachel, who gave birth to the couple’s first child Sunday. James Russell Howard IV entered this world at 7 pounds, 13 ounces.

“I got a text message,” said Nicklas Lidstrom, referring to how he heard the news. “We're all happy for him."

How about some advice from the captain, who has three sons of his own? "Get ready for some sleepless night,” Lidstrom said

Even before players returned to Detroit prior to training camp, Howard had been growing more and more anxious about the arrival of his new son.

“He’s been looking forward to this for a long time,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’re all happy for him and we can’t wait to see him.”

Late Monday afternoon, coach Mike Babcock spoke to his goalie, who was back in metro Detroit enjoying his new family.
 
“Congratulations to Howie and Rachel,” Babcock said. “Kids are gift from God and it's the most awesome thing that will ever happen to you. It's the one thing they give you without any training. It's a gift. Now you have an obligation to do a good job.”


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POSTED ON Monday, 10.24.2011 / 6:12 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

The Red Wings returned to the ice Monday afternoon for the first time since taking a 7-1 loss, their first of the season, on the chin in Washington Saturday night. The Wings practiced for nearly 45-minutes in preparation for Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Before the team left for the airport Monday, coach Mike Babcock said that he wasn’t quite sure what his fourth forward line will look like.

“I'll decide tomorrow,” he said.

However, if the line combinations from Monday’s practice are any indication, the Wings’ coach may go with Drew Miller at center, and Patrick Eaves and Tomas Holmstrom on the wings.

That would leave forward Fabian Brunnstrom and rookie center Cory Emmerton has healthy scratches. It would be the first time this season that Emmerton, who has a goal and an assist with a +1 rating, would miss a game. 

Other absenses for Tuesday's game are forward Jan Mursak (ankle), defenseman Mike Commodore (knee) and goalie Jimmy Howard, whose wife, Rachel, delivered the couple's first child Sunday. Mursak will likely be out until after the Christmas holiday, but Commodore hopes to be ready, if called upon, this weekend.

For the third time this month, the Wings will back on back-to-back night when they host San Jose this Friday, and play in Minnesota Saturday evening.


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