Newbury's 'rollercoaster' weekend finishes with good result
Wings' newcomer puts exclamation point on four-game grind
The veteran forward, who has spent this year with the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, had just played three games in three days with the Griffins when he received a call Monday morning telling him to report to Joe Louis Arena for a game that evening.
Make that four games in four days.
“The day was kind of hectic,” Newbury said. “So I was driving down just thinking about what I had to do to be successful in Detroit. I wasn’t really nervous; I was just trying to find the hotel. And then by the time I got there I had enough time to get my suit on and come to the rink.”
It was all worth it when the latest Griffins acquisition scored on his second shift of the game, giving the Wings a 1-0 lead over the Phoenix Coyotes. It was Newbury's first NHL goal since Feb. 7, 2008 when his tally helped Toronto over Montreal.
“It was a rollercoaster first period for me,” Newbury said. “Obviously, taking that penalty and then coming out of the box and scoring. It was very exciting for me and I was very happy to contribute.”
Newbury’s hockey career can be best summed up the same way as his Red Wings’ debut. Originally drafted in the fifth round by San Jose in 2002, the Brampton, Ontario, native has toiled in the minor leagues for the last six years sprinkled with a few NHL games.
It was three years ago this month that Newbury made his NHL debut with the Maple Leafs. But much of his playing career has come in the AHL when he has logged 72 goals, 148 assists and 826 penalty minutes in 352 games.
“My first game was very exciting,” Newbury recounted. “It was about 20-minutes from my hometown at the ACC (Air Canada Centre), so there were a lot of friends and family there to support me. I had a really good time for the six years that I spent there. No regrets, but I was happy to move on and come to this organization.”
A scoring machine when he played juniors, Newbury -- out of necessity -- has morphed into a mucker at the pro level.
“I think I’ve known that for a while and obviously in my first year of pro I didn’t put up the points that I did in my last couple of years in juniors,” said Newbury, who scored 104 points in one season with the Sarnia Sting. “But I think as the years went on, I’ve succeeded in the American Hockey League and when I get my change to come up to the National Hockey League the roles obviously switch. I’ve just got to come down here, work hard and get into the face of the other team and hopefully stay out of the penalty box and help our team get a chance to win.”
Defenseman Doug Janik, whom the Wings called up from Grand Rapids this week, knows a little something about Newbury’s agitating skills.
“I remember Kris from when we played against one another in the American League,” Janik said. “He was hard to play against. He’s always talking, always hitting you with his stick. He’s just one of those guys; you hear it a lot, but you would rather have him on your team then have to play against him.”
A lot of Newbury’s agitation has often resulted in on-ice fisticuffs, and one such encounter with Pittsburgh’s Ron Petrovicky ended with Newbury being carted off the ice on a stretcher in Toronto.
“It was a scary incident, but that stuff does happen in hockey,” said Newbury, who suffered a concussion as a result of that fight. “For my case, I guess one or two days after that incident I felt pretty good head-wise. I was just excited to come back and play again when I did.”
INJURY UPDATE: Two of the Red Wings’ walking wounded were on the ice – albeit for a short period -- toward the end of Wednesday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena.
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall (sprained left knee) and power forward Johan Franzen (torn left ACL) skated for the first time since both were sidelined on Nov. 21 and Oct. 8, respectively.
“Any time when you’re able to get on the ice again it feels like you’re on the right track,” said Kronwall, whose injury came courtesy of a knee-on-knee hit by Montreal’s Georges Laraque. “It felt good and it was a step in the right direction. Now we have to start focusing in on getting the knee stronger and I’ll be back soon.”
Franzen’s injury was more severe, requiring surgery, which was performed on Oct. 16 in Birmingham, Ala. By the original diagnosis, Franzen is still two months away from returning to the Wings’ line-up.
“It felt good, so I wanted to get out there to play around, play with the puck a little bit,” Franzen said. “I wasn’t hoping for a good workout or anything like that. I wanted to smell the ice and feel my stick.”