DETROIT – Jordin Tootoo is already sounding like a player that Wings coach Mike Babcock is going to love to have in the locker room.
“For me, it’s earning those situations and knowing that if you come to work every day and work hard good things happen,” Tootoo said at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday afternoon. “Over the last year and a half everything’s just been falling into place for me. I feel that I’m in the prime of my career. This is the place I feel we’re going to win the Stanley Cup.”
Tootoo, the former Nashville Predators forward, was one of four players the Wings signed on the opening day of free agency, agreeing to a three-year deal worth $1.9 million per season.
“It happened pretty quick, we were talking to a few other teams and then Detroit came over the top and obviously, it was just the right fit for me to come in here and play the role that I play,” Tootoo recalled the day he agreed to come to Detroit. “I think the biggest thing was staying in the Western Conference, which was also a big part of it. Just the style of play, it’s more fitting for me. At the same time, this is an organization that has been very successful in the past and I feel that it’s the right fit for me overall and a great opportunity.”
Tootoo provides a dimension the Wings have lacked for some time; he is an agitator who can also produce some offensively.
“They know what kind of role I play, bottom line is my being a physical presence out there, crashing and banging, but at the same time I know I can play in different situations,” Tootoo said. “I’m pretty sure a lot of teams know my style and I think it’s just in my blood. I’m a guy who gets out there and works. I love my teammates. I play for them. My ultimate goal is winning. I’m going to do whatever it takes. I’m fortunate to have that little spark in me that drive’s teams nuts. I think it’s going to be a great thing here.”
In 486 NHL games, all with the Predators, Tootoo has 46 goals, 79 assists and 725 penalty minutes.
“We wanted to get some physical play into our game,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said at the time of the signing. “We think he’ll provide an element of an edge to our team on the bottom six. He’s physical, he gets under your skin. It’s an ingredient we’ve always talked about.”
Tootoo is coming off a season where he set a career high for assists (24) and points (30).
“When you look after yourself both mentally and physically, everything falls into place,” Tootoo said. “For me, personally, I’ve been through a few issues. I’ve been living a healthy lifestyle. I think that just falls into place.
“When those things are looked after away from the game I think it really falls into how you play,” Tootoo continued. “I realized that and now I feel very comfortable in my own skin. The game just slowed down for me and I think that’s really helped.”
In December 2010, Tootoo voluntarily sought treatment for alcohol problems.
“It’s one day at a time,” Tootoo said. “For me, I’m looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. We don’t know what those are, but when you have a great group of guys in this dressing room – I played against a lot of these guys – I’ve heard nothing but great words about them.
“For me, I’m just going to be me and come to work every day,” Tootoo added. “I want to win a Stanley Cup. I feel the opportunity here is the best you’re going to get in the league. It’s one day at a time and enjoy every moment.”