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Brian Rafalski’s former coach Jeff Sauer: “He was a player that always was involved in the play.”

DETROIT >> When former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski announced his retirement from professional hockey following the 2010-2011 season with one year and $6 million left on a contract, it came as quite a shock.

Conversely, the announcement made Wednesday was no surprise.

Rafalski was among four people elected to the class of 2014 of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

“He was a player that always was involved in the play,” said his former coach at Wisconsin Jeff Sauer, who was also named as part of the class of 2014. “He was a guy that you could count on in all situations and circumstances along the way. He was the type of player that you looked down the bench and who’s the next guy that you need out there to kill a penalty or work the power play or be out there in a critical situation in a game? He certainly was the first guy you would pick.”

Rafalski ranks 10th all-time amongst American-born NHL defenseman with 515 points (79 goals, 436 assists) in 833 regular season games, while totaling 29 goals and 71 assists in 165 playoff games.

“I remember him telling us you come to college as a boy and you want to leave as a man,” Rafalski said of his former coach. “He gave you responsibility to grow up and learn what it took to be a professional athlete. You come to the rink every day, work the 3-4 hours and when you came out of there, you were ready to work hard and try to make a career out of hockey if you wanted to. It really allowed us to grow up and to go on to better things in our lives. It was something all the guys appreciated.”

Rafalski also finished in the top 10 in voting for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s best defenseman, three times, twice with the Wings.

Rafalski, who reached the playoffs all 11 seasons of his career, played in three Olympic Games, winning silver medals in 2002 and 2010, where he was named the best defenseman at the Vancouver Games.

“For me it was just that I got the chance to play with a lot of guys I grew up watching,” Rafalski said of playing in the 2002 Games. “It was a very high-profile team, a lot of great players. It was a great opportunity for us to perform well on home soil. Getting the opportunity to play for Herb Brooks was a great honor, something that I’ll cherish and remember. It’s a fond memory for me.”

In 2007, Rafalski, a Dearborn native, signed a five-year, $30 million free-agent contract to come to Detroit as the Wings lost Mathieu Schneider after he signed with Anaheim.

“I remember growing up in the 80s when the Wings were in the Norris Division and they had no chance of winning,” said Rafalski, who also won a bronze medal at the 1992 world juniors. “You’d get into Joe Louis (Arena) no problem and sit wherever you wanted. They really changed through the late 1980s and 90s with Steve Yzerman and Nick Lidstrom. They developed a great program there through great ownership with the Ilitches.

Rafalski won three Stanley Cups in his career, two with the New Jersey Devils and one in Detroit (2008).

“It was great to play in front of family and friends and have the opportunity to play with other great defensemen like Nick Lidstrom and Chris Chelios,” Rafalski said. “Throughout my whole career I had the opportunity to be coached and play with some of the best defensemen of all-time, going to back to Slava Fetisov, Larry Robinson, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Ken Daneyko in New Jersey.

“Going to Detroit, there was Mark Howe and Larry Murphy,” Rafalski continued. “Just being around the locker room when those guys would come through and playing with Chelios and Lidstrom, I’ve had so many different influences and people to learn from. I just tried to absorb all that.”

Rafalski, who played four seasons in Europe after four years at Wisconsin, attempted a comeback last season with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades which didn’t last long.

Also elected were Karen Bye Dietz and Lou Vairo. The induction ceremony will take place Dec. 4 at the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame in Minnesota.

Ferraro knows he’ll have to excel on the PK if he has any chance to make Wings

DETROIT >> Landon Ferraro got an opportunity last season with the Detroit Red Wings.

The young center will get another opportunity to stick in the NHL this year, signing a one-year contract on Friday.

It’s a two-way contract. He’ll make $550,000 if he plays in the NHL and $85,000 if he’s assigned to the American Hockey League.

Since he’s out of minor league options, Ferraro will have to make the club out of camp or he’ll have to clear waivers in order to be assigned to Grand Rapids.

Due to an abundance of injuries Ferraro, 22, was just one of a number of forwards that made their NHL debuts last season with Detroit.

He had no points in four games. He had two shots on goal and two penalty minutes.

Once restricted free agent Tomas Tatar is signed the Wings will have 14 forwards, the number they want to carry into the season, on one-way deals.

They could also add Daniel Alfredsson prior to training camp.

Ferraro, who was taken in the second round (32nd overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, knows his only chance of making the team will how well he can kill penalties.

“(Penalty kill is) where I’m going to have to try and make this team,” Ferraro said after a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. “And be solid five-on-five and then being really good on the PK. That’s where I’m going to have to try and earn my ice time and earn a spot.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock liked what he saw in his brief audition.

“He did a real good job (on the penalty kill),” Babcock said. “I like his speed. He’s got to get stronger, but he’s quick.”

In three seasons with the Griffins, Ferraro, who’s the son of long-time NHLer Ray, has 38 goals and 60 assists.

He scored a career-high 24 goals two years ago.

The Wings still have restricted free agent Danny DeKeyser to get a deal down with prior to training camp.

Anthony Mantha has a job with the Detroit Red Wings, if he can take it

DETROIT >> For Anthony Mantha it comes down to one thing: If he wants to make the Detroit Red Wings’ roster this season, he has to beat someone out.

“He’s going to have to beat someone out,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Thursday. “I think everybody has potential, some have more than others. If you don’t live up to that potential it really doesn’t matter.”

And it’s not just one of the 12 forwards Detroit dresses on a nightly basis, but one that’s slotted to be in the top six.

“When we open with Boston (on Oct. 9) and the coach says to me he wants Mantha in the lineup he’s in the lineup,” Holland said. “If he’s in the lineup it’s because basically we think he’s going to be a top six forward. I don’t know we’d put him on the fourth line and play him eight minutes.”

With Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk as locks on one of the top two lines, the skaters he’ll have to beat out to make the jump from juniors to the NHL are the likes of Johan Franzen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco.

“And does he do something special, bring some ingredients that complement the Zetterbergs and Datsyuks that the coach says to me that we need him to win the first game against Boston and I want him in the lineup,” Holland said. “If that’s not the case, he goes to Grand Rapids and we’ll go through the development process and develop him into that guy.”

Mantha, who’ll turn pro this season, has done all that he could in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League totaling 107 goals and 102 assists over the last two regular seasons, while adding 29 goals and 21 assists in the playoffs.

He also received the Michel Briere Trophy as the QMJHL MVP this past season.

“It appears he can score,” Holland said. “You don’t score as much as he has over the last couple of years. Not many can score as he’s scored in his tier group and he’s produced at the world juniors.”

But playing at that level is much different than playing in the NHL.

“Lots of times in those leagues scores are 5-4 or 6-5, while we play a lot 2-1 and 3-2 games,” Holland said. “So if you don’t score what else do you bring to the table? If you don’t score can you kill a penalty, are you good defensively, can you win physical battles, can you protect the puck down low, can you forecheck and force the defense to make mistakes.

“It’s more than just can you score,” Holland continued. “Unless you can score 80 goals, and nobody scores 80 goals let alone 50 goals.”

The Wings appear ready to give Mantha, won’t turn 20 until September, every opportunity to make the team out of camp.

“I know Mike Babcock wants to give Mantha some opportunities with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, with our best players,” said Holland, who selected Mantha 20th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. “We have eight exhibition games and I know we want him to play five or six. After we’ve watched him play for three weeks and we get to the end of September or early October, he’s got to take somebody’s job.”

Mantha is in Traverse City attending his second development camp that runs through Tuesday.

“They gave us the message to be every-dayers starting last year and that’s what I’m trying to do this year,” Mantha said. “It’s just about being calm, coming out here and doing what I should be doing here. If I’m doing the right things then I’ll get my chance. I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself.”

And he continues exude that level of confidence he did at last year’s training camp.

“I came here last year with that mentality and I’ll go to the main camp with the same mentality because you want to be an NHLer one day in your life, and as soon as that can come I will make every little step that I can do get there,” Mantha said.

Last year, Babcock didn’t take long to burst Mantha’s bubble of making the team out of training camp.

“I don’t want to break the news to him but he ain’t making the team,” Babcock said last training camp. “He’s got to go back to juniors and learn to be an every-dayer. When you compete every day and when you compete on every puck, get strong enough, live it every day and one day you get to play here; in the meantime you get to play juniors or the American League.”

Wings set to sign McCollum; make offers to restricted free agents; part ways with Emmerton

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings feel goalie Tom McCollum might have finally found his game.

The team will resign McCollum, who Detroit selected with its top pick (30th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, to a one-year, two-way NHL contract.

After struggling for three straight seasons within the organization, McCollum is coming off his best season in the American Hockey League, going 24-12-4 with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

“He has made strides and is developing into the prospect we hoped he would be,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It’s a little slower than we thought, but he’s become a real solid goaltender in the (AHL). Some players bloom a little later.”

In McCollum’s lone appearance in the NHL he gave up three goals in 15 minutes before being pulled.

McCollum, 24, will again backup Petr Mrazek with the Griffins.

The other two goalies in the system are Jared Coreau and Jake Paterson.

The team also made qualifying offers to seven of its restricted free agents – Danny DeKeyser, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Landon Ferraro, Mitch Callahan, Adam Almquist and Andrej Nestrasil – to retain their rights.

Almquist signed a two-year deal in the KHL with Severestal Cherepovets.

The Wings didn’t make offers to Cory Emmerton, Trevor Parkes, Willie Coetzee, Gleason Fournier and Max Nicastro, thus relinquishing their rights.

Emmerton, who was the Wings’ top pick (41st overall) in 2006, played most of last season in Grand Rapids after being waived. He’s signed to play with the Sochi Leopards of the KHL next season.

Bloodline factors in as Wings add more depth at center

If the Detroit Red Wings were drafting bloodlines on the second day of the NHL Entry Draft they may have nailed it with their first pick.

The Wings moved up in the third round to pick center Dominic Turgeon of the Portland Winter Hawks (WHL) Saturday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

His father, Pierre, who was selected first overall by Buffalo in the 1987 NHL Draft, totaled 515 goals and 812 assists in 1,294 career NHL games.

“It plays into it a lot,” Detroit’s new director of amateur scouting said Tyler Wright when asked how does a bloodline factor in when selecting a player. “You can tell by the way he plays, he’s got great hockey sense.

“It’s a hard league to play in and it’s a hard league to excel in, and when you’re surrounded your whole life with a sport that is your ultimate thing, which means a lot to the family, it’s all about winning at the end of the day,” Wright continued. “We want guys who want to win. We don’t just want to be content with being a player in the NHL. Let’s be a good player and at the end of the day let’s win.”

Detroit traded up with Columbus, sending pick No. 76 and a third-round pick in 2015 to the Blue Jackets to select the two-way center.

Dominic’s uncle, Sylvain, played 12 seasons in the NHL.

“I guess we’re pretty different,” Dominic said when asked to compare his game to his father. “He was a highly offensive player in the NHL. I feel that right now my game is very strong defensively. But I feel as time goes on my offensive game is going to really jump.”

Dominic had 10 goals, 21 assists and was a plus-18 rating in 65 games with Portland last season. He had two goals and six assists in the playoffs leading his team to the WHL final before losing in seven games to the Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings.

“I’m going to be a two-way forward,” Dominic said. “I’m going to be a very strong defensive player but I’m also going to be able to produce a lot of offense in my game.”

Dominic was one of five centers the Wings drafted out of their seven picks. They also nabbed a goalie and winger.

Detroit also selected centers Christoffer Ehn (Frolunda Jr., Sweden, 106th), Axel Holmstrom (Skelleftea Jr., Sweden, 196th) and Alexander Kadeykin (Mytischi, Russia, 201st).

With their first pick on Friday, 15th overall, they nabbed Waterford native Dylan Larkin.

“Well, some of them play the wing but we took a lot of forwards, guys who are interchangeable,” Wright said. “But Larkin and Turgeon are both centermen. Dominic Turgeon is a guy that we targeted really high. If we would have had our second (round pick) we would have taken him there. So it prompted us to make a move. He was a guy that we thought if we could get him in the second and he fell into the third we didn’t want to risk that chance by waiting a couple of more picks. We wanted him and he’s got good blood lines.”

After center Calle Jarnkrok was included as part of the deal to land David Legwand prior to the trade deadline it depleted Detroit’s depth chart up the middle.

The Wings’ top centers in the organization are Andreas Athanasiou, Mattias Janmark and Landon Ferraro, who is out of AHL options.

They also added center Tomas Nosek, of the Czech Republic, who’ll compete for a job at training camp.

“We have a bunch of guys that if one pans out, we might have a centerman for (Anthony) Mantha one day,” said Hakan Andersson, the Wings’ long-time director of European scouting. “That’s what we’re hoping. We’ll see. Draft a bunch of guys and then hope.”

They’re a little deeper at forward with Mantha, Teemu Pulkkinen, Martin Frk, Mitch Callahan, Zach Nastasiuk and Tyler Bertuzzi.

In the fifth round the Wings took goalie Thomas (Chase) Perry (Wenatchee, NAHL, 136th) and winger Julius Vahatalo (TPS Jr., Finland, 166th) in the sixth round.

“We always take the best player,” Andersson said. “If we end up with eight defensemen, if they’re just good enough, we can trade a few of them for other assets.

“Calle Jarnkrok was a good prospect for us, we traded him because we needed urgent help,” Andersson continued. “We looked down our lineup before this draft and we were a little bit thin at center. So we did talk about it a little. It just fell that way for us. If there would have been a defenseman we liked more we would have still drafted him. As it turned out, we drafted a couple of centermen that we seriously liked.”

Wings move up to take Turgeon in the third round

The Wings continued to stockpile centers as the second day of the NHL Entry Draft go underway Saturday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Trading up to the 63rd pick in the third round, sending No. 76 and a third-round pick in 2015 to Columbus, Detroit chose Dominic Turgeon.

With the Wings’ first pick, 15th overall, on Friday nabbed Waterford native Dylan Larkin.

His father, Pierre, was selected first overall by Buffalo in the 1987 NHL Draft totaled 515 goals and 812 assists in 1,294 career NHL games with the Sabres, New York Islanders, Montreal, St. Louis, Dallas and Colorado.

Turgeon, who plays a strong two-way game, had 10 goals, 21 assists and was a plus-18 rating in 65 games with Portland in the Western Hockey League last season. He had two goals and six assists in the playoffs for the Winterhawks, who advanced to the WHL final for the fourth straight year, losing in seven games to the Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings.

Hasek, Modano among six named to the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2014

DETROIT >> Two former Detroit Red Wings, Dominik Hasek and Mike Modano, were selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2014 on Monday.

It was the pairs first year of eligibility to get in.

Peter Forsberg and Rob Blake were the other two former players that will be inducted along with the late coach Pat Burns and former referee Bill MCreary.

The induction ceremony is Nov. 17 in Toronto.

Hasek’s resume is impressive – six consecutive Vezina Trophies, given to the NHL’s top goalie; a two-time Hart Trophy winner, awarded to the league MVP; an Olympic gold medal.

“After I retired I really began to appreciate what the game did for me,” Hasek said in a release from the HHOF. “My goal was just to make the NHL, and achieving this recognition is far beyond what I could have imagined.”

Hasek, 49, ranks 11th all-time in wins (389), sixth in shutouts (81) and his .922 career save percentage is first among all goalies with at least 200 games.

He won the Cup with the Wings in 2002 and was a member of the 2008 Cup winning team, backing up Chris Osgood.

Hasek is the sixth player — Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Brett Hull, Igor Larionov and Luc Robitaille — off the Wings’ 2001-02 roster to get entry into the Hall of Fame, along with coach Scotty Bowman.

Nicklas Lidstrom is a sure lock to be elected next year when he’s eligible.

Modano played one season in Detroit before retiring.

“When I played I always hoped that I could make an impact on the game, both on and off the ice, and this honor recognizes that,” Modano said in a statement. “I love this game and as an American-born player, I owe a lot to the people in Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) who helped me take my game to the next level.”

Modano is the NHL’s all-time leading scorer among U.S.-born players with 561 goals and 1,374 points.