Monthly Archives: April 2012

Wings goalie Joey MacDonald: “I want to be ready in July to start skating.”

DETROIT — Backup goalie Joey MacDonald plans to be ready for the start of training camp, which would me avoiding back surgery this offseason.

“I can see a big improvement over the last couple of weeks and I still believe if we would have continued on here I would have been skating probably within the next week or two, but not playing,” MacDonald said. “I’m going to stick around here for another three to four weeks and before I leave here I want to be 100-percent, ready to rock.”

MacDonald hasn’t been on the ice since March 14 when his back flared up in a 4-0 loss in Anaheim. It was learned later that he had a slightly bulging disc.

“I want to be ready in July to start skating,” MacDonald said. “That’s the plan. It’s going in the right direction. I’m 75-80 percent right now.”
MacDonald, 32, had back surgery in 2006, but doesn’t think that will be necessary this time around.

“I had two (cortisone) injections already,” MacDonald said. “I’m working out, doing stuff I wasn’t allowed to for three weeks, so hopefully within the next little bit (I will start skating).”

MacDonald has one year left on his contract that pays him $550,000. The Wings have plans for him to backup Jimmy Howard after he unseeded Ty Conklin for that role during the season.

“I was disappointed when I got hurt, but getting the opportunity to come in and play a lot, be put in tough situations, like when we had that home streak going, I thought overall it was a good season,” MacDonald said. “Even down in Grand Rapids I thought I played well. Getting a chance up here to prove I can be the second guy.”

MacDonald won seven games in a row as the starter and finished 8-5-1 with a 2.16 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

Wings coach Mike Babcock: “I don’t think you want to point at the Mule.”

DETROIT – Johan Franzen is known for this ability to score in the postseason.

After a 29-goal regular season, which led the team, Franzen scored just one goal and had no assists in the Wings’ first-round matchup with Nashville and the squad was bounced from the postseason in five games.

“It was a game-winner, don’t forget,” Franzen grinned. “I couldn’t really get anything going, that’s the way it was. I don’t really know why, I just couldn’t get it in the net. It’s always frustrating when you lose.”

Franzen’s goal didn’t come off a shot, it came when a shot from Brad Stuart went off his leg in Game 2.

His career playoff numbers are astonishing, scoring 37 goals to go with 35 assists in 87 games.

“Two years ago we played 12 playoff games and he had one point in every game,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s was one of the guys we look to score. (Nashville) did a real good job on him.”

In last year’s playoffs, Franzen had just two goals and one assist, but was hobbled by an ankle injury he suffered against Phoenix.

“I don’t think you want to point at the Mule,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t think we scored even strength at all. I think you want to point at all of us.”

Franzen is your classic streaky goal scorer and is often criticized because of that.

After a five-goal outburst in Ottawa two years ago, Franzen went 14 straight games without a goal and finished and had just two goals over his final 27 games.

“You always get that criticism when you lose,” Franzen said. “There are always haters when you lose. You know you’re going to have to listen to that, but you can’t pay too much attention to that.

“The year I scored 13 (in the playoffs), I had one goal in the first four or five games,” Franzen added. “You never know when you’re going to get going. It is what it is.”

Franzen felt the team looked drained on the ice.

“We need to have more fun out there, get some confidence back,” Franzen said. “We looked like a drained team kind of in most of the games. Get some joy back, believing in ourselves, knowing that we’re a good team and play for each other.”

The Wings ended the regular season going 7-11-4.

“We didn’t have a good ending to the season, including playoffs,” Franzen said. “You’ve got to come into playoffs with confidence.”

Franzen is averaging 29.5 goals per person since the 2007-08 campaign, which excludes his injury-shortened 2009-10 season. That makes the eight years left on his contract that has a salary-cap hit of $3.95 million a season, seems reasonable despite his lack of scoring consistency.

“We’ve got a super team in here,” Franzen said. “We’ve just got to realize that and find a way, because it’s so hard to score on some teams.

“We’ve got good players,” Franzen continued. “If we need to find more pieces, I don’t know, but the focus is on getting the pieces that we have going again and tell ourselves that we are a good team and we can do this.”

Patrick Eaves: “It’s a slow process but I think I’m getting better.”

DETROIT — Patrick Eaves said it, “I’ll be ready to go next year.”

Eaves has suffered from post-concussion symptoms after breaking his jaw on Nov. 26 when he was hit on the right side of his head going down on one knee to block a rising shot of Nashville’s Roman Josi.

“It’s a slow process but I think I’m getting better,” Eaves said. “It’s been baby steps every day. I’m having less and less headaches and able to work out a little harder. I’ve just got to stay with it. It’s all symptom-related, as soon as symptoms starts to go down I can do more without getting worse then I can move on.”

Eaves did skate a couple times with the Black Aces during the playoffs, but was unable to finish a full practice.

“I still have a ways to go but I’ll be ready next season,” Eaves said. “I’m very confident I’ll be ready. We have some time here I can recover and get treatment. I should be ready to go.”

Danny Cleary: “I wouldn’t do the same thing over again.”

DETROIT – If Wings forward Danny Cleary had it all over to do again he’d choose surgery over playing.

“Well I’d hate to sprout off, but I have some significant issues going on,” Cleary said of his injured left knee. “They’ll know more when they get in there, you know? There are a lot of different things in there. There are some tears in there, loose cartilage, some bone on bone, a lot of fluid. The build-up of fluid was a major issue, so hoping that we can get it resolved.”

Cleary’s problems stem from Baker’s cysts that burst in his left knee and required fluid to be drained periodically throughout the season.

He was given pain-killing injections before each game in the playoffs, which was something he couldn’t do in the regular season.

“Well you know, just every day, just walking alone I couldn’t walk without a limp since November, so the games were really hard,” Cleary said. “I tried as hard as I could, what are you going to do? It’s hard playing on one leg.

“I wouldn’t do the same thing over again,” Cleary added. “Looking back on the fact, I was hoping that it would calm down, it just didn’t.”

Cleary will have surgery next week and expects to spend between six to eight weeks in rehabilitation. He hopes to be back and full strength for training camp, which is slated to begin in September in Traverse City.

“I just have to go in and have surgery on it and then just get on a maintenance program and it will be fine,” Cleary said.

Cleary’s injury problems began in training camp when he broke his ribs.

“Once they healed I hurt my knee,” Cleary said. “It was an injury-filled season. The broken ribs were another (crappy) thing to have, for me the way I have to play it’s not the ideal thing to have.”

Cleary struggled as the season wore on, scoring just one goal to go with five assists and was a minus-10 over the final 20 games of the regular season. And this after coming off career highs in goals (26) and points (46) last season with the Wings.

He sat out the final two games of the regular season, but played in all five games of the postseason. He even played well enough to be promoted on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen.

Cleary had no points in the playoffs.

Lidstrom fails to crack Top 3 in Norris Trophy voting

DETROIT — Seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom did not make the Top 3 in this year’s voting for the award handed out to the league’s top defenseman.

Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, Nashville’s Shea Weber and Boston’s Zdeno Chara are this year’s finalists.

It’s just the third time in the last 14 seasons that Lidstrom was not named a finalist.

Here is the release from the NHL.

NEW YORK (April 26, 2012) — Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators are the three finalists for the 2011-12 James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position,” the National Hockey League announced today.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 20, during the 2012 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2012 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBC Sports Network in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Following are the finalists for the Norris Trophy, in alphabetical order:

Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

Chara’s strong two-way play helped the Bruins capture their third Northeast Division title in the past four seasons. The Boston captain led all defensemen and tied for third in the NHL in plus-minus (+33) — matching his League-leading rating from 2010-11 — and recorded a career-high 52 points (12 goals, 40 assists) to rank fourth among all defenders in scoring. In addition, he led the Bruins in power-play goals (eight) and average ice time per game (25:00). Chara is a Norris Trophy
finalist for the fourth time in the past five seasons and for the fifth time overall; he captured the award in 2009, finished second in 2004 and was third in 2008 and 2011.

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

Karlsson enjoyed a breakout season, leading all NHL defensemen in scoring with 78 points (19 goals, 59 assists) in 81 games. He recorded 25 points more than any other League defenseman — the widest winning margin since Pittsburgh’s Paul Coffey lapped the field by 38 points in 1988-89 — and set Ottawa franchise records for blueline assists and points. The 21-year-old also is the youngest defenseman to tally as many as 78 points in a season since Coffey’s 96 with Edmonton in 1982-83. Karlsson topped NHL defensemen in shots (261), was ninth in the League in average ice time per game (25:19) and posted a +16 rating.

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Weber ranked near the top of several categories, helping the Predators earn their seventh Stanley Cup Playoff berth in the past eight seasons. The Nashville captain placed sixth in scoring among all defensemen with 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists), with his 19 goals tied with fellow Norris finalist Erik Karlsson for first place. He ranked fifth in the NHL in average ice time per game (26:09), tied a career high and led all defensemen with 10 power-play goals and posted a team-leading and career-best +21 rating. Weber is a Norris Trophy finalist for the second consecutive season; he finished second to Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom in 2010-11.

History

The James Norris Memorial Trophy was presented in 1953 by the four children of the late James Norris in memory of the former owner-president of the Detroit Red Wings.

Brad Stuart: “I love it here. If it was a purely hockey decision, I would stay.”

DETROIT – Wings defenseman Brad Stuart sounds like a player that has already made up his mind.

“I love it here,” Stuart said. “If it was a purely hockey decision, I would stay. But I’ve got other things to consider and other factors other than just hockey. Those are things I guess I’ll have to figure out in the next month and a half.”

Stuart just finished his four-year deal with the Wings that paid him $3.75 million a season and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He was dealt from the Los Angeles Kings to Detroit on Feb. 26, 2008.

His wife and three children continued to live in Los Angeles while he played hockey in Detroit.

“I’ve been living here and my family’s been in California,” Stuart said. “I’ve got a stepdaughter that needs to finish high school so that’s how it is. There’s really no way to get around that. I guess it’ll be up to me to kind of decide what needs to be done. As much fun and as great as it’s been to play here, it’s been equally as tough not having my family by my side. Those are things I’d like to consider, at least try to fix.

“It’s not as easy as just picking and choosing where you want to go,” Stuart added. “I guess the decision I’ll have to make is am I going to go to free agency, see what happens, or not. I haven’t talked to Kenny (Holland) yet so I guess I’ll have to talk to him a little bit about it. I’m sure there will be a point where he wants to know one way or the other. I don’t really know that yet. It’ll be within a month, probably, I guess, month and a half.”

Holland, the Wings general manager, did approach Stuart during the regular season about an extension which led to speculation that the defenseman’s time in Detroit had lapsed.

And Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn’t sound like he is counting on having Stuart around next season.

“I know his family’s still living out West, so that’s probably going to happen,” Babcock said.

Stuart and Niklas Kronwall have formed a formidable pair along the blue line since he was dealt here from L.A. The duo helped lead the Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2009 and then back to the finals the very next season.

“I think we see the game pretty much the same,” Kronwall said. “We’re both pretty low-key guys, just get along really well for some reason.

“Family comes first, that’s just the way it has to be,” Kronwall added. “He’ll talk it over with his family, see how they feel. Everyone knows his family has been in California for a few years and it’s got to be tough on him. His kids are growing up and as much as I hate to see him leave he needs to do what’s right for him and his family.”

Stuart said he would miss playing alongside Kronwall.

“It’s going to be agonizing, playing with him has been awesome,” Stuart said. “We seem to have a good understanding of each other’s games since almost the first day I got here. It’s tough to find that with a lot of players. That’s closer to the middle of the factors in my decision than the top.”

Stuart has spent a majority of his 12-year career on the West Coast. He was drafted by San Jose in 1998 with the third overall pick and spent five and a half seasons with the Sharks before being traded to Boston. After a season and a half with the Bruins he was traded to Calgary before spending part of a season with the Kings.

“My family situation can’t change next year so the only way for that to work is for me to have to suck it up for another year,” Stuart said. “It’s been a few long years of doing it so I guess if as a family we decided we could do it for another year, I guess that would be the way. It’s been a draining couple of years for me, having to do that. So that’ll be a decision I guess we’ll have to make as a family.

“Obviously when I was traded here I didn’t really know anything about the Red Wings other than they were a good team, have always been a good team since I’ve been in the league,” Stuart added. “When I got here, I figured out why that is. It’s a great organization from the top to the bottom and everybody enjoys playing here and they’ve got a great core of players and some of the best players I’ve ever played with. It’s pretty easy to figure out why it’s such a good team.”

Stuart, 32, also has two young sons, four and five years old.

“My boys are getting older now, so it’s getting harder to be away from them,” Stuart said. “I don’t enjoy being away from my kids or her as much as I have in the last few years.

“The team was great,” Stuart continued. “There were times if we had a Sunday off and didn’t play again until Wednesday, they’d let me take Sunday and Monday off so I’d go home Sunday, come back Monday night, miss a practice. The team was great about that. I couldn’t tell you how many times I did it, but a few probably, maybe once a month, depending on the schedule. But again it’s hard, flying in for a day is sometimes worse than not coming at all because they get all emotional. I made it through the last few years. It’ll be a decision we have to make whether we can do it again.”

If Stuart leaves and Nicklas Lidstrom decides to retire, it’ll leave a huge hole along with blue line.

“There’s a chance,” Stuart said. “I’m not going to tell you what percentage that chance is but I’m not going to rule anything out because that would not be smart on my part. I’ve already said if it was a strictly hockey decision I wouldn’t probably be talking about this. So there’s a chance, but I don’t know what that is.”

Brad Stuart: “There’s a lot of other factors other than hockey.”

DETROIT — Quick quote from defenseman Brad Stuart, who is an unrestricted player and has been rumored to want to play the rest of his career on the West Coast.

“The situation isn’t normal, do I want to stay or do I want to not stay? There’s a lot of other factors other than hockey,” Stuart said. “That’ll be something that over the next little while I’ll have to figure out. I love it here. Yeah, if it was a purely hockey decision, I would stay. But I’ve got other things to consider and other factors other than just hockey. Those are things I guess I’ll have to figure out in the next month and a half.

“I’ve been living here, my family’s been in California,” Stuart added. “I’ve got a stepdaughter that needs to finish high school so that’s how it is. There’s really no way to get around that. I guess it’ll be up to me to kind of decide what needs to be done. It’s been a tough couple of years. As much fun and as great as it’s been to play here, it’s been equally as tough not he family side of it. Those are things I’d like to consider, at least try to fix.”