TROY – Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo wants to get one thing straight … he’s not here to replace Nicklas Lidstrom.
“I want to make one thing clear, obviously the big hole is Nick Lidstrom not being here and I need to let everyone know I’m not coming in here to be Nick Lidstrom, no one can come in here and replace Nick Lidstrom,” Colaiacovo said after skating Friday morning for the first time with teammates at Troy Sports Center. “He was one of the best players to ever play this game.
“If there’s one thing I can bring to this team is a complement of what they already have,” Colaiacovo continued. “A guy that can move the puck, play the power play, play in all types of situations.”
The Wings, who also lost Brad Stuart this offseason, signed Colaiacovo late in the free agency period, to a two-year deal with $2.5 million a season.
“If I can even help our young guys and be a good complement in all situations because at the end of the day we just want to put the puck in our forwards’ hands,” said Colaiacovo, who turns 30 on Jan. 27. “They’ve got all the skill and are world class players. That’s what I’m ultimately going to try and do.”
Colaiacovo was not the top-tier defenseman the Wings were looking for this offseason, but he was the best option left on the free-agent market.
The biggest concern is his health. He has yet to play more than 67 games in any season.
And he starts camp with a shoulder injury he suffered in the championship game of the Spangler Cup.
Coincidently, it was another new Red Wing, Damien Brunner, who caused the injury.
“It was a tough play at the end there, kind of a stupid play,” Colaiacovo said. “I’m hoping to be ready by the start of the season. Each day it keeps getting better and keeps getting stronger. To be honest with you to this point I never thought I’d be feeling this good.”
Brunner, who was playing for HC Davos, shoved Colaiacovo from behind into the boards.
“It was just one of those things, obviously not intentional,” Colaiacovo said. “The thing with those boards they’re cement walls. There’s not much give. It’s the first time I’ve had a shoulder issue like that.”
Colaiacovo, who was drafted 17th overall by Toronto in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, has some offensive ability and moves the puck well.
“The one thing I’ve noticed is all the skill we have up front, guys are really putting the puck in the back of the net,” Colaiacovo said. “It’s a real exciting feeling for me.”
And that was without Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the ice.
“Playing with world class players makes you step up your game and probably brings the best out of you,” Colaiacovo said. “And that’s what I expect out of myself. To play up to their levels and ultimately do the best that I can and like I said put the puck in their hands so they do what they do for a living because they’re really good at it.”
Colaiacovo, who shoots left and can play the point on the power play, will start being paired with former teammate Ian White on the blue line.
“Whitey and me go way back,” Colaiacovo said. “We’re really good friends. We played together in the minors we played together in Toronto. But to me if I play with Whitey great, but it really doesn’t matter who I play with. I can play with Smitty, you look at with how I played with a young guy like (Alex) Pietrangelo last year. I consider myself a veteran guy that can help out the young guys whether it’s with Qunce, Ericsson or Kronny or Jakub. It really doesn’t matter. At the end of the day this is a team that competes to win the Cup every year and I’m just excited to be a part of that and I’m going to do whatever it takes to help out in the cause.”