DETROIT - Center Landon Ferraro always expected to be nervous when he finally entered an NHL dressing room to make his league debut.
But when the 22-year-old walked into the Red Wings’ locker room, he felt right at home among ten of his teammates from the Grand Rapids Griffins 2013 Calder Cup championship team that are now playing in Detroit.
“That’s what I was laughing at,” Ferraro said. “I always figured that I’d be a little more nervous coming into an NHL room, but I feel like I’ve played with more than half the team already so it’s kind of a nice little reunion from last year’s championship team.”
Ferraro is the latest import from Grand Rapids to an injury-ridden Detroit team. With a revolving door of players between the Toledo Walleye, Griffins and Red Wings to compensate for the NHL club’s magnitude of injuries, change is something Ferraro has become accustomed to this season.
“I mean as much as there’s a mess going on here, we got the same thing going on there so it’s nice to get here and have my first recall,” Ferraro said. “If I get into the game that’s going to be awesome and it’s been something I’ve obviously waiting for forever but if not at least I got here, I got the pregame skate and kind of get my feet wet a little bit I guess you could say.”
The Trail, B.C. native was originally called up Monday on an emergency basis to potentially replace Justin Abdelkader against Toronto. Although Abdelkader will not dress Tuesday due to a cut sustained Sunday in Chicago, Todd Bertuzzi may be available to skate in place of his fellow forward after missing one game with a lower-body injury.
If Bertuzzi is unable to return, Ferraro will become the seventh player to make his NHL debut this season.
“Honestly, right now I’m just happy to be here,” Ferraro said. “This is the first time I’ve been recalled so I mean it was still really exciting. Yesterday, that’s the first time I’ve ever gotten that call from (Jeff) Blashill so I had a big smile on my face then and couldn’t wait to call my parents and my brothers and stuff like that.”
The son of former NHL player and current TSN broadcaster Ray Ferraro, Landon was drafted by Detroit in the second round of the 2009 NHL draft. In 60 games with the Griffins this season, the 6-foot, 179-lb center has earned 13 goals and 15 assists.
“I think his biggest asset is his skating,” said Griffins teammate Jordin Tootoo. “He's got a pretty good shot, a pretty deceiving shot. It's not overly heavy, but it's pretty accurate. He makes some plays and he works hard. He'll do a good job for sure.”
That is, if he gets the chance. Since Ferraro’s debut depends on Bertuzzi’s status, the 22-year-old will not know until Tuesday night whether or not he will take the ice against Toronto.
“I know that I just took my first pregame so I mean that was exciting but as of right now I’m not real sure what’s going on,” Ferraro said. “We have to wait and see what Babs has to say but I’m ready so just kind of wait and see now.”
If he does skate against the Maple Leafs, Ferraro couldn’t think of a better way to make his NHL debut.
“I grew up loving the Leafs and I always had to try and go against my dad growing up so I grew up loving the Leafs, and Mats Sundin,” Ferraro said. “So I mean this is the best thing that could’ve worked out if I get in. For me the biggest thing is this is where my dad played his last game in the ’02 playoffs when Detroit beat St. Louis so it will be pretty cool. His last game, my first game in the same building.”
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