DETROIT >> Three games into the 2014-15 season and the Detroit Red Wings’ replacement for Valtteri Filppula has been a healthy scratch.
And he knew after how things went last season he wasn’t going to be handed an everyday job just like that.
Stephen Weiss, 31, managed to play just 26 games last season totaling two goals, two assists and a minus-4. He had sport hernia surgery on Dec. 23 and then a second procedure on April 21 to repair an issue with scar tissue.
“I knew with the way things went last year and the end of the year meetings I had with Mike (Babcock) and Kenny (Holland) that I was going to have to be real special in the preseason to get a chance here early,” Weiss said. “Especially with the way our young kids played last year. The lines were kind of set together. It was going to be tough to get in the lineup and I knew that.”
Weiss had a rough preseason, registering just an assist and was a minus-4 in six games.
“I did my best throughout the preseason to do what I could to get in the lineup and it wasn’t good enough,” Weiss said. “But it’s a long season. I’ve just got to keep working hard and keep trying to get better and when I get my chance to go I’ve got to be ready to go.
“I’m hungry to get back in the lineup,” Weiss continued. “It’s always a surprise and a shock when you’re not playing. It wasn’t just going to be handed to me on a silver platter.”
The Wings targeted Weiss on the first day of free agency two off-seasons ago and landed the center for a hefty five-year deal worth $24.5 million.
Filppula, who the Wings decided not to pursue, had a career-high 25 goals in his first season in Tampa Bay with 33 assists in 75 games.
Injuries have been a common occurrence for Weiss, who had scored 20 or more goals four times in his last seven seasons in Florida. He missed the final 26 games of the 2012-13 season with a wrist injury.
“You don’t just snap your fingers and go out and score five goals in six games (during the preseason),” Weiss said. “It doesn’t happen like that. It’s a process. I’ve been working real hard in practice to be scoring goals and getting sharp again in those situations. It’s coming. It’s just a matter of getting a chance now and hopefully getting a bounce here or there in a game to get on the board and things start to snowball in your direction and away you go.”