Monthly Archives: August 2010

Chelios role unveiled Tuesday

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings will formally introduce the newest member of their front office, former defenseman Chris Chelios, at a news conference at noon today at Joe Louis Arena.
Chelios is expected to assist in player development as well as acting as an ambassador.
Chelios, 48, played with the Wings from 1999 to 2009, where he won two Stanley Cups, played his final season in the league last year with the Atlanta Thrashers. He began the season with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.
In 1,651 games in the NHL, Chelios finished with 185 goals and 763 assists.

Abdelkader signs

The Wings have finally reached a deal with their last restricted free agent, Justin Abdelkader, signing him to a two-year contract.

He’ll make $750,000 this season and $825,000 next season, for an annual salary cap hit of $787,500.

Abdelkader, 23, will battle for playing time on the Wings’ fourth line, along with Darren Helm, Kris Draper, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller.

Abdelkader had three goals and three assists in 50 games last season.

He played 33 games with Grand Rapids a year ago as well, scoring 11 goals and 13 assists.

Getting on the Web

Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall has launched his own website …. NiklasKronwall.com.

Check it out.

Line combos

Here’s a look at how the Wings lines will look as they head into training camp in Traverse City in mid-September.

Forwards
Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom
Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi
Jiri Hudler, Mike Modano, Dan Cleary
Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves
Extra forwards: Kris Draper with either Mattias Ritola or Drew Miller

Defensemen
Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski
Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson, Ruslan Salei
Extra defenseman: Jakub Kindl

Goalies
Jimmy Howard
Chris Osgood

Wings sign defenseman

DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings’ ever growing roster just got a bit bigger.

The Wings signed veteran defenseman Ruslan Salei to a one-year deal worth $750,000. He could earn up to $350,000 more in bonuses, which can be applied to the 2011-12 salary cap.

This offseason Detroit has been searching for a veteran blue liner to skate with Jonathan Ericsson.

“He brings a little grit, he can skate, he can pass,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He brings a lot of different dimensions. Two things attracted him to us – he thinks we have a chance to win and he really likes playing for Mike Babcock.”

Salei, 35, played for Babcock for two seasons in Anaheim. He will help provide a physical presence along the blue line.

“He plays hard, he’s a competitive guy, he can skate, he can move the puck,” Babcock said. “He’s missed some time with injuries but he’s back in shape and feeling healthy.”

Salei (6-foot-2, 205) missed most of last season with a back injury. He played just 14 games with Colorado finishing with one goal, five assists and 10 penalty minutes.

“I think it really solidifies our top six,” Babcock said. “We think it improves our team drastically. We got six (defenseman) who can play 20 minutes. We don’t have to hide anybody.”

The signing all but means Derek Meech’s days in Detroit are all but over.

Meech, who recently agreed to a one-year deal worth $500,000, was hoping to stick with the Wings as their sixth defenseman to skate with Jonathan Ericsson.

Rookies Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith were also hoping to earn that sixth spot on the blue line, along with veteran Doug Janik.

The Wings now have 24 players under contract for this season – 14 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies – which brings their salary cap to just about $59 million.

This year’s cap is $59.4 million. Teams are allowed to go 10-percent over the cap, but must be on it or under it by the start of the season.

Holland also plans to re-sign restricted free agent Justin Abdelkader, which is expected to be a cap hit of $750,000 or $800,000.

With Abdelkader in the fold, it would put the Wings two players over the 23-man roster limit.

“We’re going to be cap friendly on the first day of the season,” Holland said recently. “I’ll worry about it up till that time. It’s an ongoing process. There are teams over the cap in the league and they have to work their way down. You have to be cap friendly once the season starts. That’s what the rules are.”

The likely candidates to be trimmed are Meech, along with either forwards Mattias Ritola or possibly Drew Miller.

Holland has said in the past that he would like to have a cushion of between $500,000 and $800,000 just in case a rash of short-term injuries occurred during the season.

Salei has an interesting tie to another new Red Wing, Mike Modano.

Salei was suspended for 10 games in October 1999 for checking the former Dallas Star from behind into the boards face first. Modano suffered a concussion, a broken nose and strained ligaments in his neck.

Salei, a native of Belarus, was a first-round pick of the Ducks in 1996 (ninth overall). In 842 career games he has 43 goals, 151 assists and 1,017 penalty minutes.

Quote of the day

“I didn’t think in a million years about playing in Detroit once I left,” Mike Modano said. “I was pretty much done coming back unless it was to visit my parents.”

Pick a number

DETROIT — Mike Modano will wear No. 90 this season with Detroit. He’s the first player to have that number in the franchise’s history.

Modano joked Friday saying he asked Ken Holland to speak to Gordie Howe about allowing him to wear the No. 9, which he wore for nearly his entire career with the Stars.

“I asked Kenny and he said he I’m not going to make that call,” Modano laughed. “That’s about the only thing he has said no to.”

Chelios retires, will return to Wings

DETROIT – Chris Chelios is not done with hockey yet, sort of.

Chelios told The Macomb Daily while in Chicago with his family, “It was time to retire. I want to stay involved in hockey. I’ve met with a couple of teams about doing that.”

That opportunity to stay in hockey will come with the Detroit Red Wings.

“I don’t have a title for him,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s going to be working for the Red Wings. We’re still in the process of putting it together. I’ve talked to Cheli through the years and have always told him to give me a call (when he’s done playing).

“He called in May or June,” Holland added. “I told him if he wanted to get involved in the front office, if he’s looking to learn the business, we’d have a spot for him and evolve his role. He’ll do a little scouting, player development, act as an ambassador. He’s going to come in and learn the business. Maybe Mike Babcock can use him at times.”

Chelios, 48, played nine-plus seasons with the Wings and 26 overall in the NHL.

He played most of last season with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves. He was called up late in the season by the Atlanta Thrashers where he played seven games.

“He’s one of the greatest American players ever,” Holland said. “Cheli stands for winning. When Chris Chelios talks to somebody while representing the Red Wings, people take note.

“Players that have been here a long time and been a part of us being successful, if I got a job open, I’d prefer to have one of our former players who helped us win get it rather than going outside the organization,” Holland added. “He’s made a home here. He doesn’t have a specific job but lots of important jobs. He can bring some things nobody else can bring because he’s Chris Chelios.”

Chelios, who still lives in metro-Detroit and owns two restaurants with his name attached to them, was attending a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch on Friday. He wore a Bob Probert No. 24 Chicago Blackhawks jersey. He had the jersey on backward to show Probert’s name. Probert played for both the Wings and Blackhawks.

He also aided in the recruitment of newest Red Wings Mike Modano.

OMG — Wings land Modano

— DETROIT

I thought my daughter, Samantha, had a texting problem.

Come to find out, texting may just be the norm these days.

During the Red Wings’ courtship of Mike Modano, that proved to be the case.

On July 6, just days into the NHL free agency period, Detroit made its pitch to the future Hall of Famer, who was tossed aside by the organization he had spent his entire career with.

Modano spent the day with general manger Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock and later took in a Tigers game in a suite at Comerica Park with his father.

The Wings had their sales pitch down.

They sold the Westland native on …

1. A chance to play in front of his parents.

2. A chance to play in the state he grew up in.

3. A chance to compete.

“We think we’ve got the makings of a real good team,” Holland said. “Let’s see when we get on the ice. We think if Mike Modano can play as well as I think he can and Mike Babcock thinks he can; and Nicklas Lidstrom can play as good; and Jimmy Howard, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk all play as well as they can, we have the potential to have a really good hockey team. We told him that.”

4. With veteran players, the Wings take some of their minutes and some responsibility away.
“You’re going to enjoy it because it’s a formula to success,” Holland said.

A day went by.

Two days were crossed off the calendar.

A week had gone by and still no word from Modano or his agent.

Holland began to panic, slightly.

“I was having a conversation with Mike Babcock trying to figure out what our next move should be,” Holland recalled. “We wanted to try and get him engaged.”
Holland got his wish the very next morning.

While driving somewhere in British Columbia, Holland heard what I hear a lot living under the same roof with a 13-year-old daughter, “PING”.

(Instead of a “PING” under my roof it’s ‘I Like It’ by Enrique Iglesias. I’m quickly starting to dislike that song for as many times as I hear it.)

Holland looked at his phone and it was a text from Modano.

The 40-year-old, who was still undecided with what he was going to do this season, sent Holland a text, “How’s it going?”

“Out of the blue Mike sent me a text,” Holland said. “I looked at it and it was 972, I know his number.

“That’s the first time I thought he was a little engaged and a little intrigued about playing hockey for the Red Wings,” Holland added. “We started texting back-and-forth the next few days and it kind of got us back on track. He and I have become text friends. We texted non-stop.”

All of the phone calls, and perhaps texts, from current and former Red Wings made to Modano seemed to have been working out.

But little did Holland know of the true ace he had up his sleeve.

Modano admitted to having no grudges towards the Dallas Stars for not re-signing him after spending his entire career with the organization. He did however say it would motivate him this season.

It’s his wife, Mandy, better known by her actress/stage name Willa Ford, that has more of an ax to grind with the Stars.

“I think it was more so on my wife’s radar than anything,” Modano said. “She wanted me to go play, and especially in Detroit to kind of shove it up everybody’s … you know what.

“That was her precise words, and she felt it was a great opportunity to do that in Detroit and loved the Red Wings and knew it was one of our rivals,” added Modano, whose first chance to stick it to his former team will come on Oct. 14 which coincidently is Dallas’ home opener. “She felt going in there and having the chance to play with good players was a real good opportunity.”

I don’t know if Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk got a text from Modano’s wife or not after the organization cut ties with him.
If he did, I don’t think a ring tone of Enrique Iglesias’ ‘I Like It’ was attached to it.

Chelios retires; will return to Wings

DETROIT — Former Detroit Red Wing Chris Chelios announced at the Chicago Cubs game Friday that he was retiring from hockey and will be joining the Wings front office in some form.

Wings general manager Ken Holland has confirmed that.

“I don’t have a title for him,” Holland said. “He’s going to be working for the Red Wings. We’re still in the process of putting it together. I’ve talked to Cheli through the years and have always told him to give me a call (when he’s done playing). He called in May or June.

“I told him if he wanted to get involved in the front office, if he’s looking to learn the business, we’d have a spot for him and evolve his role,” Holland added. “He’ll do a little scouting, player development, act as an ambassador. He’s going to come in and learn the business. Maybe Mike Babcock can use him at times.”