Monthly Archives: October 2013

Daniel Alfredsson ready for an emotional game against his former team, the Ottawa Senators

DETROIT – Daniel Alfredsson is ready to finish one chapter of his decision to leave Ottawa and join the Detroit Red Wings tonight.

But he knows there’s another one coming.

Alfredsson meets his former team for the first time at Joe Louis Arena.

“That (first game in OTT) is going to be more emotional, no question,” Alfredsson said. “The way the schedule works out maybe it is a good thing. But you’re going to have to deal with it. It’s not something I want to hide from either. These are two good teams going at it. I really hope we can pull out a win.”

He returns to Ottawa as a member of the Wings on Dec. 1.

“Obviously, I have a lot of good friends on the other side,” Alfredsson said. “I think it will be a relief once the puck drops, there will be a lot of emotion going into the game. It’s a big exciting too.”

Alfredsson, 40, signed a one-year worth $3.5 million on the first day of free agency, leaving Ottawa where he had spent his entire 17-year career prior. He had been the league’s longest serving captain until the move.

“It’s been mixed emotions,” Alfredsson said. “I miss a lot about Ottawa, no question, at the rink and being the guy but I also enjoy not being the guy and kind of worry about myself a little more.”

Alfredsson originally said he left Ottawa to join the Wings because he felt Detroit had a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup that has eluded him throughout his career.

Then, during a press conference in Ottawa on Aug. 15, he said the move was aided by a broken promise by the Senators.

“It was a process where I talked to some friends and family,” Alfredsson said. “It was a very tough decision, especially when it happened fairly quickly. The way I looked at it at the time and still do today, it’s a huge challenge for myself personally, both on and off the ice. It’s a big challenge for our family. I will look back on this down the road as something as a stepping stone in my life in a lot of different areas, moving my family and making sure they’re fitting into schools and sports and then also testing myself, proving myself to a new organization.”

Alfredsson helped the team reduce its salary-cap hit by adding a fourth year to a deal that ended last season. All parties thought at the time Alfredsson would retire after the deal.

When the 40-year-old forward felt he had another year left in him and Ottawa didn’t feel like paying him for what he felt he was worth he began looking elsewhere.

“(I have no hard feelings) towards anyone, it was just emotions toward leaving the city and all the friends and people behind that made my time there so special,” Alfredsson said. “There was no resentment towards anybody. When I decided to come over to Ottawa in ‘95, it was the same emotions, both Gothemberg (Sweden) and Ottawa are still going to be there, that’s a very comforting feeling.”

Alfredsson leads the team with eight assists to go along with one goal through 10 games.

“There is a lot of emotion when you’ve been in one place for so long,” Alfredsson said. “I was in Gothemberg for the first 22 years of my life, leaving that was definitely harder than this move because you’re going to a different continent, I didn’t know anybody on the team, English language was OK but not brilliant. That was a huge step. If I look back on my life right now, I don’t think I would be the person I am if I wouldn’t have taken that chance. This is another stepping stone for me and my family to grow and experience new adventures.”

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Ins and outs … Kronwall cleared to return; Ouellet sent back to Grand Rapids

DETROIT — Niklas Kronwall (mild concussion) has been cleared and will play Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators.

Xavier Ouellet, who made his NHL debut in Monday’s 1-0 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks, was sent back to Grand Rapids.

“I think it went good,” Ouellet said of his first game. “I was really excited that’s for sure, but I tried to keep it inside. I think I managed that pretty good.

“I just played my game,” Ouellet continued. “I felt as a player I was ready. I think I managed my game well and did good.”

Wings general manager Ken Holland said Patrick Eaves (sprained knee and ankle) will be ready to go Saturday against the New York Rangers.

The Wings don’t have to make any other roster move with Eaves coming back because Darren Helm (groin) will remain on long-term injured reserve.

Ericsson learns he’s out 2-3 weeks with dislocated shoulder after welcoming daughter Liv into world

DETROIT – Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson went from being on a brief maternity leave to being on the shelf for up to three weeks with a dislocated shoulder.

The injury, which medically is called a subluxation, occurred during the third period of Saturday’s loss in Phoenix.

“It felt bad right away, but then after the game it felt a lot better, but then the next day it was a lot worse again,” Ericsson said. “(It was) pretty much the same (Monday).

“The play kind of ended in front of our net and the whistle blew, but I kind of bumped into someone,” Ericsson added. “I was relaxed with my arm, so that’s how it happened.”

Ericsson, who will be placed on short-term injured reserve, said surgery has been ruled out for now.

“For right now it’s just rehab, that’s the first step, the only step right now,” Ericsson said. “We’ll see if that works out.”

Ericsson was scheduled to have an MRI after the team arrived back from Phoenix on Sunday, but that was pushed back to Tuesday after he learned his wife’s water broke and soon after delivered a healthy baby girl.

“Yeah, (the) timing was awesome,” Ericsson said. “Evelina’s water broke 30 or 40 minutes before we landed in Detroit. (I) just made it home to bring her to the hospital and then, yeah, everything is just history from there.”

His daughter, Liv, came in weighing seven pounds and four ounces and was born at 11 a.m. Monday.

“We liked the name, but also it has some history with our very good friend, Stefan Liv,” Ericsson said. “So it’s kind of in honor of him too. He was a good friend and a guy that I really respected a lot. We really liked the name and then when it has the meaning too it even felt better. It just came natural.”

Helm suffers another setback; won’t play Saturday against Rangers

DETROIT — Darren Helm has suffered another setback in his hopes of returning to the Wings’ lineup and again it’s a groin that’s acting up.

“He felt it Friday in Grand Rapids and played Saturday,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He told me Sunday it won’t be an issue. It bothered him in practice Monday and he felt it again today, so the trainers told him to get off the ice.”

Helm had to leave practice early Tuesday because of it.

Helm will have an MRI later this afternoon to see if there’s a tear.

It’s not the same groin that gave him issues last month.

“It’s precautionary,” Holland said. “It appears he won’t be ready to go Saturday. If he can’t practice he can’t play Saturday. We believe it’s just a nagging groin injury.”

Helm, who played back-to-back nights with the Griffins, has played just one game over the last 18 months with the Wings.

“He’s had a tough go the last 18 months,” Holland said. “We need to make sure it’s nagging and not a tear.”

Kronwall, Ericsson out against Sharks; Ouellet makes NHL debut; Tatar returns to lineup; Weiss centers third line

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings will be without their top blue line pairing tonight against the San Jose Sharks.

Niklas Kronwall remains sidelined with a mild concussion and Jonathan Ericsson will miss after his wife went in labor Sunday night.

“Well, I think it’s a great opportunity for our guys,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We talk about that all of the time. When someone gets hurt, especially when you’re a young NHLer, there are opportunities for you. If you get stuck behind Cal Ripken for 20 years it’s not much fun, probably. So when you get your opportunity you’re allowed to establish yourself as a player and play every night.”

Xavier Ouellet was recalled from Grand Rapids and will make his NHL debut tonight.

“I’m a defenseman who the coaches can trust,” Ouellet said. “I’m an overall defenseman. I can be strong defensively, make the first right pass on tape, so that would be me.”

Ouellet will be paired with Brendan Smith on the blue line.

Kyle Quincey and Danny DeKeyser will make up the new top pairing, while Brian Lashoff will skate with Jakub Kindl.

Kronwall hopes to return Wednesday at home against the Ottawa Senators.

“I feel good,” Kronwall said. “I’m looking forward to hopefully playing on Wednesday. So far I’ve felt really good ever since day one, so hopefully I’ll be given the go-ahead. I’m sure there’s another test that I need to do before that but I feel good.

“You talk to several people who have said it could take several days before (symptoms) kick in, so far it’s been good, so knock on wood, I feel good,” Kronwall continued. “I look forward to tomorrow.”

The forward lines will also have a different look.

Justin Abdelkader was put back on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, while Stephen Weiss was dropped to the third line.

“Well, the first thing you have to do when you come to a new place is you have to breathe, and you have to give yourself a break, and you have to spend no time thinking and spend all your time playing,” Babcock said of Weiss. “That’s easy for me to say, but when you come in and get off to a good start and three bounce in off your leg and you get rolling you relax. And when you don’t you pressure up. So what I’ve done is I took him off the power play, put him on the penalty kill, and put him in the three hole and he can play against (Joe) Pavalski all night tonight. That will be a battle in itself. And just look after defense and once he settles down the rest will come.”

Weiss will center Daniel Cleary and Tomas Tatar, who will play in just his second game this season.

“Let’s be honest, if I were the other team and I watched us play, I say if I get a hold of 13 and 40 and 11 I can shut this thing down,” Babcock said of getting Tatar back in the lineup. “Depth in scoring hasn’t been there. We have to find a way to generate and have more offensive push than one line. You have to have it right through your group. We haven’t had it.”

Tatar knows he’s got to guard against trying to do too much.

“It’s going to be a little hard since I didn’t play for a little while but just try to make a play, play simple in the hard area, try to manage the puck and don’t do turnovers,” Tatar said. “I think the system should work for me as well. It’s going to take care of me and hopefully I will play good and try my best.”

Johan Franzen centers Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Alfredsson on the second line, while Joakim Andersson will play between Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo on the fourth line.

Gustavsson named NHL’s No. 1 star

DETROIT – Wings backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson capped off his best week between the pipes in two years by being named the NHL’s No. 1 star.

Gustavsson, who had to fill in for an injured Jimmy Howard, won all three of his starts and had a 1.67 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage.

“It’s important for us to have two good goaltenders and obviously we know what Howie’s capable of,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He gave us a chance to win every night. You got to give him credit.”

Gustavsson was rushed into duties in Boston when Howard couldn’t go due to an injured hand. After a 28-save performance against the Bruins, he had made 36 saves to top Columbus the very next night to win on consecutive days for the first time since Jan. 23-24, 2012 while with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It’s important for the team to know (he’s reliable), it’s important for him to know,” Babcock said. “It was real positive for us. We won three games with him in net. We feel good about it. It’s like anything, it’s three games, he wants to keep building on it.”

He ended his week by helping to hand Colorado its first loss of the season with 38 saves in a 4-2 win.

“It’s awesome to see,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “He comes in that first game and probably got the note five minutes before the game that he’s going in there. He played really good, really aggressive, played with a lot of confidence and kept going. He probably stole those two points in Colorado.”

The No. 2 star was Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, while San Jose’s Patrick Marleau was the third star.

Wings receive good news on Helm; Kronwall could return Wednesday

DETROIT – Wings general manager Ken Holland got news from Darren Helm he was hoping for Sunday afternoon.

Holland got a text message from Helm giving him an update of his two-game conditioning stint in Grand Rapids.

And it’s the best news Holland could have heard from a forward that has played just one game over the last 18 months with the Wings.

“He said his back feels great, so from a health standpoint everything is well and he’s looking forward to being in the lineup this weekend,” Holland said.

Helm, who has been sidelined with numerous injuries over that time, also texted that his conditioning and timing on the ice still has a ways to go.

All this means is Helm is still on course to make his season debut Saturday night at home against the New York Rangers.

Helm, who will be back on the ice in Detroit Monday, had no points and four shots on goal in those two games.

While all this is great news for Helm and the Wings it does leave a few question marks regarding their roster.

With Helm coming off long-term injured reserve and Patrick Eaves (sprained left knee and ankle) also set to be activated by Saturday as well, Detroit must clear to roster spots and some salary-cap space.

Both players can’t come off long-term IR, which requires a minimum 24-day stay, until Thursday.

Fourth-line center Luke Glendening will be one of the moves as he will head back to Grand Rapids.

The other in all likelihood will be Jordin Tootoo, who the Wings tried to deal this offseason.

If they’re unable to deal the gritty forward and unclaimed if waived the Wings would get just $925,000 in cap relief due to the new collective bargaining agreement that punishes teams for trying to bury veterans with a high salary-cap number in the minors.

Tootoo has another year left on a three-year deal worth $1.9 million a season.

Eaves is another possible candidate the Wings could try and deal or waived.

Holland also said that Niklas Kronwall (mild concussion) won’t play Monday against the San Jose Sharks, but could return for Wednesday’s home game against the Ottawa Senators if he has no setbacks in his recovery.

Kronwall had to be taken off on a stretcher after being hit from behind by Colorado’s Cody McLeod in the first period of the Wings’ 4-2 win over the Avalanche on Thursday.

Kronwall also suffered cuts on the right side of his face after his head was slammed into the glass just 2:13 into the first period.

Kronwall did remain with the team on its trip to Phoenix.