DETROIT – The dates for training camp to open haven’t been announced, but there is one thing for sure, the Wings won’t be holding it at Joe Louis Arena.
Joe Louis Arena won’t be available until Jan. 16 because of the Auto Show pre-event taking place.
“But it will be in Detroit,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “I’m just thrilled for the fans and thrilled for the people whose jobs rely on hockey. Today is a reason for optimism and I’m happy for our fans.”
There is a for certain with the roster, defenseman Brendan Smith will be with the Wings when the season starts.
“I don’t know what the rules are yet on how many players we can have at camp, but he’s on the team,” Holland said.
Smith has five goals and 15 assists in 32 games with Grand Rapids this season.
“Smith played real well in Grand Rapids,” Holland said. “(Tomas) Tatar and (Gustav) Nyquist will have a chance to compete (for jobs).”
There’s room for Smith this season with the retirement of Nicklas Lidsrom.
“We don’t have the star power on the blue line with the loss of Lidstrom and (Brian) Rafalski, but I believe our defense has the makings to be solid and effective,” said Holland, who lost out on bids from Ryan Suter and Shea Weber this past offseason.
They also lost Brad Stuart (trade).
The lockout has allowed the Wings to develop some players in the minors, who others – Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner – have developed into quite a potent duo.
“I’m excited about the potential of the team,” Holland said. “Brunner and Z played together in Switzerland. I’m hoping they can bring that chemistry to Detroit.
“We think we’re going to have good competition and will have the ability to roll four lines,” Holland added.
The status of Patrick Eaves (concussion) remains uncertain. He has yet to be cleared to play and will likely begin the season on long-term injured reserve.
Valtteri Filppula suffered a sprained MCL playing in Europe in October, but is expected to be ready for the start of the season.
Also defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who was signed this offseason, suffered a sprained shoulder at the Spengler Cup. He could be sidelined 2-3 weeks and could be ready when the season begins, which has yet to be announced.
“Nobody is getting away from anybody in the race for the playoffs,” Holland said. “It’s going to be real close. We have the potential to be right in the middle of things. Every night it’s going to be a playoff game, points are crucial.”
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