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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.20.2013 / 5:07 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

DETROIT Henrik Zetterberg doesn’t know Mary Mrdjenovic.

Regina senior
Mary Mrdjenovic

He’s never met the three-sport star, who is in the final semester of her senior year at Regina High School, an all-girls Catholic school in suburban Warren, Mich.

But her story struck a nerve with the Red Wings’ captain, which caused him to act.

Last month, Mrdjenovic broke her back when she lost a skate edge in practice, sending her hard into the net before crashing into the end boards. Both collisions were violent enough to fracture three vertebrae in her spine.

While he’s not met her, Zetterberg was familiar with Mary’s name. She had submitted an application as a finalist for this year’s scholarship, which Zetterberg has awarded to the state’s top high school female player in each of the past five years.

“We have our scholarship every year and thought it would be nice to give her a scholarship too,” Zetterberg said. “Obviously, with what happened to her, I think it’s for a good cause. It’s high school hockey. They’re good students and every time you have a chance to give back you should.”

Mary’s accident occurred Feb. 20, but Zetterberg wasn’t aware of it until last week, days before the banquet meant to honor the top boys and girls prep players from across the state. Mary attended the banquet, where she also received all-league and all-academic honors.

“I heard about her accident through the guy that helps me with the scholarship,” Zetterberg said. “They called me when we were in western Canada and asked if we could do anything. I think it’s a great opportunity to help her out.”

Zetterberg’s decision to award a separate $1,500 gift to Mary was made easy, because the Regina student-athlete has made helping others a priority.

Mary maintains a 4.0 grade-point average in the classroom, is a three-year member of Regina’s robotics team, and is chapter president for SADD – Students Against Destructive Decisions, which is formerly Students Against Driving Drunk. She also gives her time to Gleaners Community Food Bank; the Society of St. Vincent de Paul; a local nursing home; as well as working fundraisers at her parish.

“I’ve heard that she’s a fantastic kid,” Zetterberg said. “Hopefully I can meet her one day.”

Mary plans to attend Kettering University in the fall, where she will major in biochemistry and bioengineering. She also played field hockey and lacrosse at Regina.

Regina athletic director Diane Laffey said that Mary has been walking, and while her high school athletic career is done, she hopes to return to the classroom after Easter.

“She’s just a great kid, just super kid,” Laffey said. “She’s one of those kids who doesn’t go around flaunting herself around or talking about herself. She’s very, very concerned about all of her teammates and she always has been. She’s just a really good kid.”

News of Zetterberg’s generosity came as a huge surprise to the school community, Laffey said.

“I think everybody was probably shocked,” she said. “We knew that she had applied for the scholarship, but we had no idea that he was going to give it a special award.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.20.2013 / 12:17 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Gustav Nyquist
Center - DET
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 7 | +/-: -1
DETROIT – The Red Wings will have Gustav Nyquist back in the lineup when they welcome the Minnesota Wild to Joe Louis Arena this evening.

Nyquist, who leads the American Hockey League is scoring – with 23 goals and 37 assists in 58 games – will play in his fifth game with the Wings this season. His call-up was necessary after veteran forward Patrick Eaves was struck in the face by a puck in Tuesday’s practice.

Eaves, who has a history of post-concussion syndrome, suffered sprained temporomandibular (commonly known as TMJ) joints, which connect both sides of the jawbone to the skull. He is day to day.

In four games with the Wings this season, Nyquist has one assist with a minus-1 rating. He played in the Griffins’ 4-1 loss Tuesday night.

“We sent him to Peoria to play the game last night,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Gave him a six-hour bus ride. Let him sleep for a bit and we’ll let him play tonight see how mentally tough he is. That’s all part of the training to be a Red Wing.”

Nyquist is a former two-time finalist for the Hobey Baker Award when he was a member of the University of Maine hockey program. Nyquist has been a leading scorer at every level that he’s played. But his NHL career has been slow to start.

“The problem with the NHL is you have to come up and grab hold of something,” Babcock said. “You know, we called (Joakim Andersson) up for a game. He’s still play, just because he grabbed hold of something. That’s what Gus has to do.

“So you get another opportunity. Patty hurt his jaw. So if you’re Gus and you get in there tonight and you do great things, guess what happens? I think Cal Ripken played shortstop for 22 straight years, or something like that, didn’t he?”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.18.2013 / 10:15 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Oilers center Teemu Hartikainen left his feet to make a hit from behind on Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey during the second period of Friday's game at Rexall Place. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – It took a half a day for Kyle Quincey to definitively learn that he had a fractured cheekbone. And on Monday, another nugget of bad news came to light when team doctors told the Red Wings defenseman that the facial bone was broken in multiple spots.

Doctors wouldn’t rule out surgery, but they can’t make a final diagnosis until more swelling goes down.

“Quincey got checked by the doctors today,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He sees (the eye doctor) tomorrow, still won't know anything because of the swelling. Will re-evaluate in a week, but he's got multiple fractures.”

The loss of Quincey – who will likely be out a minimum of 4-6 weeks – definitely hurts the Red Wings on the back end. The veteran had really started playing well. He had a goal and an assist with a plus-8 rating in 26 games.

Quincey suffered the facial injury Friday night during the third period of the Red Wings’ 3-2 overtime win at Edmonton. He was struck in the face when a puck rode up the shaft of his stick from a shot by Oilers center Jordan Eberle.

Fortunately, the Red Wings had nine defensemen up at the time of Quincey’s injury.

Veteran defenseman Ian White replaced Quincey in the lineup Saturday in Vancouver. It’s expected that he’ll play Wednesday when the Red Wings host the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings also have an insurance card in veteran journeyman Kent Huskins, who is up with the big club and available to play.

“What are you going to do? We've been talking about this all year,” Babcock said. “The rest of it doesn't matter. We got to find a way to win a game. We found a way last game, we got to find away again.”

Beyond Huskins, depth on the back end becomes a problem as they’re still without veteran defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who has been sidelined by a shoulder injury since the season’s opening week.

“I don't know anything about Carlo's situation, but White played the last game and did a fine job,” Babcock said. “He's just got to get himself rolling like he can, get his confidence to the highest level and play.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 5:02 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Jonas Gustavsson
Goalie - DET
RECORD: 0-0-1
GAA: 2.65 | SVP: 0.885
SAN JOSE, Calif. Jonas Gustavsson has 96 career NHL starts since arriving in North America three seasons ago as an undrafted free agent with the Maple Leafs.

But tonight, the Swedish import expects to be just as nervous in his first start with the Red Wings as he always was in Toronto.

“I'm always nervous before I play, but not to a point where it's a bad thing,” said Gustavsson, who will start against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. “I like to feel that nervousness. It means that there's something going on and that makes me sharp. So that's the kind of feeling you like as a goalie.”

Gustavsson has had a tough go at it with his new team, battling a sore groin basically since he tweaked it during a relief appearance in the season-opening loss at St. Louis.

The 28-year-old is 0-0-1 with a 2.64 goals-against average when called upon to relieve starter Jimmy Howard twice this season. Gustavsson’s even chipped in with some offense, picking up a secondary assist on Pavel Datsyuk’s highlight reel goal at Nashville on Feb. 19.

Tonight’s start probably would be tougher if it were his first action with his new team, he said. But it’s not.

Still, an injury that has lingered for nearly the entire first half of the season, isn’t ideal, either.

“Of course that's probably not the best situation, but that's the way it is,” Gustavsson said. “Through your career you're going to have different challenges. Just got to find a way to handle them and stay positive. For me that is in the past and I'm just trying to look forward to the game tonight.”

Obviously, coach Mike Babcock is eager to see what Gustavsson can bring to the Wings.

“I think it’s important that your starting goalie doesn’t have to play every night,” Babcock said. “It’s a real good opportunity for him. We need a win on the road and he’s capable of doing that so get in there and play like you can.”

Gustavsson will face the Sharks for the first time in his three-plus season career. Though the Sharks have had their struggles of late, Gustavsson said tonight is very important for the Wings.

“They're a talented team, tough challenge for us,” he said. “That's what we like. Find a way to bounce back from yesterday and get a win.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.26.2013 / 4:42 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Coming off their two impressive home wins against Nashville and Vancouver, the Red Wings were back on the ice preparing for their Wednesday game against the defending Stanley Cup champions at Staples Center.

While forward Johan Franzen (hip) and defenseman Kyle Quincey (ankle) were back at work Tuesday afternoon at the Toyota Sports Center, top six forward Valtteri Filppula sat out with an undisclosed injury, according to general manager Ken Holland.

“You’ll see him tomorrow,” said Holland, as he watched practice with pro scout Bruce Haralson. “He has an injury, but it’s not his knee.”

Filppula, who has four goals and 10 points this season, suffered a sprained MCL while playing in Finland during the lockout. He is just one of nine Red Wings who have played in every game this season.

He admitted to the knee being a source of pain last month, which held him out of some practices.

Filppula missed one game last season, finishing third in team scoring with 23 goals and 43 assists.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.19.2013 / 8:52 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Lane Lambert produced 34 goals and 60 points during two seasons with the Red Wings. He also played for the New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Lane Lambert was among a group of hockey heavyweights drafted by the Red Wings in 1983. Twenty-one picks before him, Detroit selected some scrawny kid from Cranbrook, British Columbia, who went on to do some pretty great things at the NHL level.

“It was exciting for sure,” said Lambert, now in his second season as an assistant coach with the Predators. “It was eye-opening a little bit, but they brought me along slowly in the first 25 games or so. I sat out a few times, but I was brought along with the thought that I was young and would evolve from there.”

Lambert’s career started as if he were fired from a cannon. He produced 20 goals and 15 assists in 73 games as a rookie before injuries took a toll. His playing days end in 1989 in Quebec.

Besides the 18-year-old Steve Yzerman, who was the fourth-overall draft pick that summer, the 19-year-old Lambert was the youngest player on the Red Wings’ roster in 1983-84.

“You had to realize that when the games started you were lined up across from guys that you had been watching for years and years,” Lambert said.

However, Lambert and his young teammates – which also included 19-year-old Murray Craven and 20-year-old Claude Loiselle – did something special things that season, becoming the first time in the Ilitch-owned era to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. It was just the second time in 14 years that Detroit had played beyond the regular-season.

With the Wings, Lambert played in two postseasons with one victory in seven playoff games as Detroit was served opening round series losses to St. Louis in 1984 and Chicago a year later. Despite the early exits, the group had paved the way for the franchises future success, which still lives as the current squad is trying to reach the postseason for the 22nd consecutive season.

“Certainly the culture and the mindset around the hockey team with Jimmy Devellano coming in changed and that’s when the team’s upswing really started,” Lambert said. “It was the start of it all and that year was a big step for us to be involved in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the game that eliminated us was on an overtime winning goal, but we did make some strides there and some of those lessons that we learned then certainly benefited our team as the future went on.”

For 21 seasons and counting.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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POSTED ON Friday, 02.15.2013 / 4:40 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Ducks winger Teemu Selanne and former Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom battled each other since the two were teenagers. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – The NHL’s oldest player is looking forward to facing the Red Wings Friday night for one specific reason: No Nicklas Lidstrom.

“Maybe in 20 years, he has missed one or two games I have played,” said Teemu Selanne, the 42-year-old star, who leads Anaheim with 14 points in 12 games. “In many ways, that's a relief because he was an unbelievable hockey player.”

Lidstrom was arguably the toughest defender to exploit, Selanne said.

“You know you can't beat him one-on-one because he's so smart, good skater and everything,” Selanne said. “He was a threat all the time, offensively, too, and (and on the) power play. It’s good news for other teams. But I miss him. I played against him since I was 16 on junior national team. It was a fun road to watch him play and do things on the ice because he was just magic.

“For sure the guys here and the fans and even the guys who play against him miss him. You can't hate that guy, he was so classy and he plays so fair and he has no enemies. He was just so good and fair.”

Against the Red Wings, Selanne has produced 23 goals and 58 points – the fewest goals and points that he’s totaled against all NHL teams that he’s played against at least 66 times.

On a team that currently has eight skaters who have scored at least four goals each, Selanne continues to be impressive in this his 19th NHL season. He’s had two four-point games already this season, becoming the oldest player to record four points in a game since Gordie Howe (42 days, 326 days) did it in 1971.

Lidstrom, who retired last summer after earning seven Norris Trophy honors as the league’s best defenseman, and helping the Red Wings win four Stanley Cup championships, is in Detroit this week. He was at Joe Louis Arena on Friday morning, where he was asked what it is about aging players – like himself and Selanne – who still produce for their teams despite playing at an advanced age?

“I think the most important thing is the love of the game,” Lidstrom said. “If you love coming to the rink, love playing, love being in competition, and they're all real good players, too. They have to take care of themselves in the off-season, too, to play at this level. I think the main thing (though) is the love of playing hockey.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.13.2013 / 7:38 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Center Justin Abdelkader has engaged in one fight this season, going with Minnesota's Justin Falk in the third period of the Red Wings' 5-3 win on Jan. 25. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – Fighting is up in the NHL season, and it’s no different – though surprisingly so – for the Red Wings.

Through Tuesday night, there were 186 NHL games played and there have been 112 fights, which is up 26 fights from the same point last season.

Center Justin Abdelkader led the Wings with six fights in 2011-12. Agitator Jordin Tootoo already has four fights in 12 games, putting him on pace for 16 fights in a lockout shortened 48-game schedule.

Asked if he though the short season has caused some NHL players to have shorter wicks than usually, Abdelkader said, “Could be. Maybe that has something to do with it. Every game is important. That would be my guess as to the reason why.”

Last season, the Red Wings were involved in 15 fights, an average of one fight every 5.4 games played. Detroit has five fighting majors this season, meaning they average one fight every 2.4 games.

The increased numbers of fighting majors caught Abdelkader by surprise. But he believes tempers will cool as the season goes on.

“I think maybe the start of the season fluctuated the numbers a little bit,” said Abdelkader, who’s been in one fight this season. “Maybe you won’t see as much fighting as we go later into the season. But I think at the start, teams were sending messages.”

For those keeping score, Columbus forward Jared Boll leads the NHL with seven fights in 13 games. Brandon Prust of Montreal, B.J. Crombeen of Tampa Bay, and Rich Crune of Nashville have recorded five fights each.

Last season, Prust, then with the New York Rangers, led the league with 20 fights in 82 games.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.02.2013 / 10:27 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal
Brendan Smith side-stepped a hit by the Blue Jackets' Jared Boll in the first period of Saturday's game. Smith later suffered a shoulder injury. His status is unknown.(Photo by Getty Images)

For the second time this season, the Red Wings lost a defenseman during a game at Columbus’s Nationwide Arena when Brendan Smith suffered a shoulder injury in a first-period collision Saturday.

Having played Friday at home, the Wings were already at a disadvantage against the Blue Jackets who had Friday off. But with Smith’s injury, the Wings were forced to play the final two periods with only five defensemen, including Jakub Kindl, who skated six-minutes more than his 16 ½ minute average.

Smith logged 3:13 of ice-time before he left the game and did not return. He was injured while moving the puck out of the Red Wings’ zone when he was slammed along the boards by Jackets center Derek MacKenzie.

“That was a loss for us,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Smitty’s a competitive kid. He moves the puck and he competes ultra-hard. We’re already on fumes a bit and now losing him, so we don’t know how long he’ll be out, but obviously it’s a blow to us.”

The Red Wings have had a slew of injuries to defensemen with Carlo Colaiacovo, Jonathan Ericsson, Ian White and Kindl all missing action already in the first month of a compressed 48-game season. Smith is the second defensemen injured at Columbus this season. Colaiacovo suffered a left shoulder injury against the Blue Jackets on Jan. 21.

White said on Friday that he hopes to be ready to return Tuesday when the Wings host the Calgary Flames. If not, rookie Brian Lashoff, who has performed admirably in four relief appearances, will be ready to go.

In all, the Red Wings’ defensemen have lost 18 man games to injuries through the first eight games of the season.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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POSTED ON Friday, 02.01.2013 / 2:48 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal

Chef Mike Berend shows off the Royal Swedish Snowballs, which go on sale at Red Wings home games beginning this Friday. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – As word of the Royal Swedish Snowballs spread through the Red Wings locker room, some players thought they were being duped when told of their captain’s entrepreneurial endeavor.

“Com’on, is this for real?” asked Patrick Eaves, when told of Henrik Zetterberg’s new business venture. “I feel like I’m being punk’d right now.”

It’s no practical joke, Patrick.

Zetterberg is a co-owner of a Sweden-based company that introduced metro Detroit to the traditional Scandinavian treats last September. But the light vanilla crème, chocolate, and coconut concoction will finally make its Joe Louis Arena debut Friday night when the Red Wings host the St. Louis Blues.

Fans can gobble up the tasty morsels at all remaining home games. A four-pack of the delicious treats are just $6, and can be found at three JLA locations – East End Joe’s (section 116), Hockeytown Grill (section 126), and Mike’s Inside Scoop (section 112). Individual snowballs, for $1.50 each, can also be purchased at the Mike’s Inside Scoop location.

Sales for the Royal Swedish Snowballs – manufactured at Just Baked, a specialty cupcake and bakery with 12 locations across suburban Detroit – have been brisk enough for the company to take another step, Zetterberg said.

“It’s been good,” he said. “It’s exciting, and when we started it was a goal of ours to have them here at The Joe and now we’re here. It’s been a long wait, a long road, but it’s exciting to have them out there.”

Drew Miller likes them, but not before wondering what took so long for his teammates to learn of the low-calorie Swedish Snowballs.

“You would think that with him being the new captain and all that he would share with his teammates a little bit, have them on the plane,” said Miller, sarcastically.

When told of Miller’s request, Zetterberg was quick to point out how spoiled the players are on Red Bird III. “We have a lot of treats on there already,” he said. “But I will bring some along on one of these trips.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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