Stuart on IR; a pair of Griffins called up
Veteran Downey and rookie Leino headed to Detroit to fill roles
A defensive stalwart with Niklas Kronwall, his usual pairing partner, Stuart has a goal and seven assists in 45 games. But it’s his physical nature that the Red Wings will miss in his absence. His 119 hits rank seventh in the Western Conference.
Stuart, who signed a four-year contract with the Wings in July, suffered back and rib injures in the final game – Jan. 20 at Phoenix -- leading up to the All-Star break when he slammed head-first into the boards. He did not play in Tuesday’s loss at Columbus.
Subsequently, the Red Wings have called-up a pair from their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, left wing Ville Leino and right wing Aaron Downey. Both forwards will participate in today’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena and be available for tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars.
Leino and Downey has each played 44 AHL games since starting the season out with the Griffins. Leino is the Griffins’ second-leading scorer with 37 points, including a team-high 26 assists.
In October, coach Mike Babcock said that Leino, 25, was one of the “best players that I have ever been involved in sending to the minors.”
Downey, 34, played in a career-high 56 NHL games during Detroit’s run to the Stanley Cup last season. His 116-penalty minutes and 10 fighting majors were team-highs last season. He signed with the Wings as a free agent in Oct. 2007.
In Grand Rapids, Downey leads the Griffins with 71-PIMs and seven fighting majors.