DETROIT >> When David Legwand heard the news the Detroit Red Wings were interested in trading for him it didn’t take the veteran center long to decide to waive his no-trade clause.
“It was pretty much a phone call home and that pretty much took care of it,” Legwand said Thursday after his first skate with his new teammates at Joe Louis Arena prior to the game against the Colorado Avalanche. “I never gave (Nashville) a list, was never asked to waive it and I never asked for a trade. This happened kind of, obviously with their injuries and the people going down the middle, happened. It’s a once in a lifetime chance.”
The deal to acquire Legwand, who attended Grosse Pointe North High School growing up, happened late in the afternoon on Wednesday as well.
“Around 12:30 (central time) it started and actually got finished around 1:59 central time,” Legwand said. “I think they got it in at the nick of time and they allowed it.”
After shutting down Pavel Datsyuk for three weeks due to an injured knee and learning that Darren Helm is battling headaches, the Wings ramped up their search for a first- or second-line center and landed Legwand from Nashville in exchange for Patrick Eaves, prospect Calle Jarnkrok and a third-round draft pick, which could turn into a second-rounder if they make the playoff this season, back to the Predators.
Detroit is also without Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery) and Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery).
“We needed a veteran guy to help these kids,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “These kids are real good players, but a little leadership helps. He’s got 40 points, can pass the puck, he can play on your power play and he can play against real players, so it’ll be a good fit for us. He’s been well-coached in Nashville. He knows how to play the game and he’s from this area and knows the guys good. He’s skated with them lots in the summers and that, so I think it’s a good fit for our team.”
Legwand did added that there were a few other teams interested in his services, but he didn’t want to elaborate on it.
“It was a long day, I can say that,” Legwand said.
Legwand, 33, has 10 goals and 30 assists this season for Nashville in 62 games.
“You just have to go out and play, do the right things and learn how they play as quickly as possible,” Legwand said. “I’ve played a ton against them in the past years. I played a lot of minutes in Nashville and Bab’s is going to count on me for big minutes here and in big times here. I’ve just got to be ready to help out the team.”
Legwand, who will wear No. 17, is in the final year of his contract, with a salary-cap hit of $4.5 million. There’s a good chance the Red Wings will re-sign him before he hits free agency in July.
“The hockey will take care of itself and the contract stuff will come after,” said Legwand, who added there was little talk about a contract extension to remain in Nashville. “We have to win some games here and get into the playoffs.
“They’re still a skilled team and they’re smart,” Legwand added. “The only difference now from the 2000s is they’re a little younger. The (Tomas) Tatar’s and (Gustav) Nyquist’s are coming up and they’re hell of players. They’re good young talent. It’s exciting. The old regime is gone and the young guys have come in here. They’ve done a hell of a job.”
Legwand will center the top line of Johan Franzen and Nyquist.
“Gus is a skater that can make plays,” Legwand said. “His hockey IQ is huge. Mule’s a big body and can skate. I think everyone has seen him score goals and he gets in those areas to score goals.”
He’ll also play on the second power play unit, along with Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser.
Legwand was drafted second overall by the Predators in the 1998 draft, behind Vincent Lecavalier. He leads in every franchise record in Nashville, including goals (210), assists (356) and games played (956).
“I think age is a number,” Legwand said. “I think guys that skate well and are smart are going to last a lot longer than guys who can’t. I’ll play as long as I can and I love playing, love being at the rink, love being around the guys and I’m excited to get started.”
Legwand also played his junior career with the Plymouth Whalers. In his final year of juniors he won the Red Tilson Award as the Ontario Hockey League’s most outstanding player after totaling 54 goals and 51 assists.