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Lidstrom offered help with big decision

Rookie was 'all ears' when legendary defenseman spoke

Saturday, 03.30.2013 / 6:43 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
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Lidstrom offered help with big decision

Red Wings newcomer Danny DeKeyser skated with his teammates for the first time Saturday morning at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – Danny DeKeyser could think of a hundred reasons to sign with another NHL club. But ultimately, the heart won out for this spring’s undrafted free agent catch.

“I definitely grew up a big Wings’ fan and to have a chance to play for you hometown team is definitely something special,” he said. “I just looked at what some of the best places would be to play and what they had on the blue line and where I would fit in. Here there are quite a few young guys and a good group of veterans. I thought it would be a good fit for me.”

The Red Wings won the sweepstakes for the former Western Michigan University standout that for more than a year was pursued by NHL general managers, who failed to convince the 6-foot-3 defenseman to leave school after his sophomore season.

DeKeyser is a smooth skating puck-mover with great size, but like most young players today, he needs to gain physical strength. Still, general manager Ken Holland indicated Saturday that fans will likely get to see the 22-year-old Clay Township, Mich., native in a Red Wings’ game this season.

The Wings signed DeKeyser to a two-year entry-level contract, which means he can be sent down to Grand Rapids at any time without having to clear waivers. Clubs will be able to increase their rosters on April 3, the same day as the league’s trade deadline.

“I think we’re going to keep him here for basically the whole year,” Holland said. “Now that doesn’t mean you can’t send him down for a day or two.”

DeKeyser grew-up in Macomb, where he was a huge Nicklas Lidstrom fan, and eventually graduated from De La Salle Collegiate, an all-boys Catholic high school in neighboring Warren, in 2008. Out of respect for his boyhood idol, DeKeyser wore No. 5 at WMU. But with that number out of circulation he will wear No. 65, as he did for his first practice with his new teammates Saturday.

“It was good. I hadn’t skated in a few days so I’m trying to get my legs back underneath me. It was a good skate, good tempo,” he said. “I just need to get adjusted to the next level. Guys a little bit bigger and stronger and quicker so that’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment there for me, but I think I can come in here and be fine.

“I want to be a big part of the team here. I just have to work hard and that’s all I can do then we’ll see what happens from there.”

Lidstrom, who is in Detroit this weekend and will attend Sunday’s matinee against the Chicago Blackhawks, certainly liked what he saw from the young defenseman in Saturday’s practice.

“He's a very good skater. He looked confident out there,” Lidstrom said. “I'm sure he was nervous on the inside coming out and skating for the first time with the guys. He looked confident, looks like he's a good puck-moving defenseman.”

As DeKeyser mulled over his options last week, he got to speak to his idol before finally meeting him at The Joe on Saturday.

“He called me the other day when I was going through the decision process and talked to me for a few minutes,” DeKeyser said. “Then I got to meet him here today. So it was pretty special. That helped in my decision definitely.”

Lidstrom was happy to help sway the young man’s mind.

“We had a good little chat,” Lidstrom said. “I just told him about the positive things I've seen and learned over the years here with the team. … He's coming to a very good organization, very committed organization, a team that wants to win, ownership that wants to win. He's from the area, so I'm sure he's very excited about playing here in front of his family.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose




1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
11 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47


D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89