DETROIT – Jordin Tootoo got the, “It’s not you, it’s me,” speech from the Detroit Red Wings after practice Wednesday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The Wings placed the tough-guy right winger on waivers.
“This is the situation here, we have too many right wingers,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re not giving him a fair opportunity. He’s done nothing wrong. He’s played hard. He’s been a good teammate. He’s done all those things right. We’ll see what happens.”
Tootoo practiced with the team, but was unavailable for comment after.
If Tootoo, 30, isn’t claimed by noon Thursday, Wings general manager Ken Holland said he won’t be assigned to Grand Rapids like most players are after clearing waivers.
The move won’t be necessary until defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder) comes off long-term injured reserve on Nov. 15.
If Tootoo goes unclaimed it’ll free up $925,000 from the salary cap.
“If Toot’s can get himself a place to play, where he gets to play every night that’s fantastic, good for him,” Babcock said. “If not, we’ll talk to him tomorrow and we’ll figure out what we’re doing here tomorrow.”
Tootoo, who has played in eight games this season and has yet to record a point, has one more year left on a three-year deal that paid him $1.9 million a season.
“It’s just a numbers game,” Babcock said. “That’s reality. I think Toot’s is a good man, good teammate and a good player.”
The move looked like it opened an opportunity for Gustav Nyquist to be recalled, but Holland said there was “no chance” of that happening.
Another roster move would need to be made to make room for Nyquist once Ericsson returns. And once he plays two more NHL games he will lose the exemption of not having to clear waivers to go back to the minors.
Tootoo, who’s a minus-4 this year, began the year on injured reserve with a bruised shoulder.
His name was bantered about this offseason as possibly heading back to Nashville in a trade that would help Detroit free up cap space and trim its roster down.
“I’ve been through a lot of shit over the years,” Tootoo said earlier this season. “This is what makes you a stronger person, both on and off the ice. It’s about mentally being strong and having the will and courage to overcome hard times.”
Tootoo played in just one of the Wings’ 14 playoff games last season, being a healthy scratch the other 13.
He was also a healthy scratch in six of the final 23 games in the regular season a year ago, registering three goals, five assists and a team-high 78 penalties in 42 games in his first season in Detroit.
“The game evolves every year and you’ve got to re-adjust to minor things here and there,” Tootoo said. “I’ve worked on a few things here and there over the summer, but I’m going to keep that to myself and when you’re asked to bring a certain role, you have to work on the little things that make you the best you can be.”
Despite last year being a lockout-shortened 48-game regular season, Tootoo registered his highest total of fighting majors, eight, since totaling 10 in the 2008-09 season with Nashville.