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Grigorenko called-up; must earn playing time

Tuesday, 10.23.2007 / 5:40 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Grigorenko called-up; must earn playing time
DETROIT – The Red Wings called up rookie forward Igor Grigorenko from Grand Rapids on
Igor Grigorenko beats Lightning goalie Marc Denis to give the Red Wings a 3-2 win in a preseason shootout last month.
Tuesday.

The former second round pick in 2001, Grigorenko, who has spent the first three weeks of the season with the team’s AHL affiliate in western Michigan, skated Tuesday morning with the Wings at City Sports Arena.

Grigorenko’s call-up to Detroit was made possible by the delay in the return of Johan Franzen (knee) to the line-up, which won’t likely occur before the end of the month.

In five games with the Griffins, Grigorenko was held without a point. Still, the Red Wings believe that he has tremendous potential at the NHL level.

“He’s in a situation here that’s straightforward,” coach Mike Babcock said. “The bottom line is that the best 20 players get to play. We’re in the winning business. If he’s one of them, great, if he’s not, no problem.”

A big problem for Grigorenko has been the language barrier. His English is extremely limited, and in Grand Rapids, he was the lone Russian on the Griffins’ roster.

At least in Detroit, he has countryman Pavel Datsyuk to help interpret.

“He won’t be alone without a translator (like) in Grand Rapids,” Datsyuk said. “He’ll get lots of practice here. He has good hands, but he needs to get a lot faster. It’s a little bit more harder for him after the accident. Before then he skated well. Now he needs to come back, but every year he gets better for sure.”

Grigorenko, 24, was involved in a near-fatal auto accident two years after the Red Wings selected him with the 64nd overall pick in 2001. The accident left him with fractures throughout his left leg.
Asked if he thought Grigorenko is in better physical condition then when he arrived for training camp last month, Babcock said, “He’s probably in better shape than he was. We’ll see and I’ll keep watching.”

As for cracking the line-up, Grigorenko will be competing with fourth line forwards Matt Ellis and Aaron Downey for ice time. Babcock indicated that Grigorenko must earn playing time, just as others have done.

“If someone has a bad game and someone is working their butt off, they’re the first one in – absolutely,” he said. “Ellis has gone from a guy who played very little to not dressing to playing to playing well to having three or four points and being a plus-four. It’s called a work ethic.

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
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5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
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10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
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12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

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2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 52 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 53 9 27 3 36
T. Tatar 52 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 53 14 15 -2 29
P. Datsyuk 38 8 20 12 28
J. Abdelkader 53 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 39 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 49 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 20 10 4 .933 1.97
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89