Tag Archives: Detroit

Will the Wings retire No. 91?

DETROIT >> Let the debate begin.

That debate being, should the Detroit Red Wings retire No. 91.

And it all began with the signing for unrestricted free agent Brad Richards, who wore No. 91 his only season with the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said when asked if Richards would wear No. 91. “You’re a step ahead of me.”

The only Wings player to wear No. 91 is Sergei Fedorov, who was just named, along with Nicklas Lidstrom, to the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class.

“Jimmy D, Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch and at the appropriate time I’ll weigh in, whether his number should be in the rafters or not,” Holland said. “Certainly being selected to go in the Hall of Fame is an incredible accomplishment. He was a great player and a great Red Wing. So it’s certainly worth serious consideration.”
Lidstrom had his No. 5 retired last season by the Wings after spending all 20 seasons of his career in Detroit.

Richards wore No. 19 for the longest time, including his three seasons with the New York Rangers before having his contract bought out. He wore No. 91 with the Dallas Stars.

No. 19 is already retired by the Wings.

“I don’t want to gauge it, but we’re certainly going to have that conversation,” Holland said. “I’m not sure when we’re going to have that conversation. I think at the tail end of his career we tried to re-sign him and it didn’t work out and he ended up leaving.”

The Wings selected Fedorov in the fourth round (74th overall) in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.

He was as versatile as they come, being able to play wing, center and on the blue line.

Yzerman called Fedorov the “best skater” he had ever seen.

Fedorov won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1993-94, after racking up 56 goals and 120 points. He won the Selke Trophy twice, handed out to the league’s top defensive forward (1994 and 1996), and was part of three Cup-winning clubs in Detroit.

The first road block occurred when Fedorov, a restricted free agent at the time, had a lengthy holdout to start the 1997-98 season. He signed a six-year offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes worth $38 million.

The Wings matched it and because of the wording in the offer sheet Fedorov made $28 million that first year of the deal.

Fedorov finally left Detroit after signing a mega free agent offer sheet with Anaheim in 2003. He turned down four- and five-year offers by the Wings worth $10 million a season.

And the fans made him hear their disappointment as every time he touched the puck when he returned to Joe Louis Arena he was booed heavily.

“I don’t know, we’ve never talked about it,” Holland said if that would be a sticking point. “All I’m saying is he had a great career, he’s going into the Hockey Hall of Fame. At the
end of his career he left. It’s a little easier to make the decision when the player plays 20 years for you and he retires and it’s Steve Yzerman, who’s the captain and it’s Nick Lidstrom, who’s one of the greatest defenseman that ever played the game with seven Norris Trophies. Those are decisions that I think get made very quickly.

“In Sergei’s case, at the end of his career I think he left,” Holland continued. “Is that going to factor in? I think part of the reason we put players’ jerseys in the rafters is because of what they accomplished for the Detroit Red Wings. I think if we start just putting jerseys up there – if you think about the ’02 team, we could start putting jerseys up there every year. But many of those great careers were elsewhere. They came here for a very short period of time.”

He’s one of nine players from the Wings’ 2002 team in the Hall of Fame – Lidstrom (2015); Igor Larionov (2008); Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille (2009); Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan (2013) and Dominik Hasek (2014).

With the Wings, Fedorov finished with 400 goals and 954 points – fourth and fifth, respectively, on the franchise list.

“I think we’ve got to factor in and look at what they accomplished in a Red Wings jersey versus what they accomplished in their careers,” Holland said. “I think it’s a long answer to say you take a little bit of time to make sure. Those jerseys that go in the rafters are incredibly special. He’s certainly somebody that will be discussed and talked about but we haven’t got to that decision yet and I really don’t have an answer for you why.”

Fedorov’s career took a downturn from that point and had five undistinguished seasons with Anaheim, Columbus and Washington before finishing his career in his native Russia.

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Quote of the day … Mike Green

DETROIT >> Mike Green on whether he fielded many offers before choosing Detroit.

“I talked earlier in the week with Ken and you know, it was my first conversation and from that point on I was really intrigued with what he had said. Everything was very positive on his end and on my end and in my head. When it came down to today I was pretty confident with if there was an offer from Detroit that I would move forward and we really didn’t really take advantage of any other offers. So I was set in Detroit.”

Star studded 2002 Wings roster sends two more to Hockey Hall of Fame

DETROIT >> How star studded was that Detroit Red Wings’ 2002 roster?

Well, two more were named to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Monday.

Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov make it nine from that roster to enter the Hall.

“We played on some great teams together with some great players and I think we had a great coach in Scotty Bowman, too, that was able to lead us in the right path and we had a lot of fun along the way, too,” Lidstrom said during a conference call after the announcement. “We won lots but we had a lot of fun doing it too.”

Detroit now has nine players from its 2002 team in the Hall of Fame – Igor Larionov (2008); Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille (2009); Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan (2013) and Dominik Hasek (2014).

“When I first came to Detroit, Steve Yzerman was our captain and he was the player I looked up to before I joined the Wings,” Lidstrom said. “He’s been a big influence. Being close to Steve and watching how hard he worked every day and showing up at games and playing even better in bigger games, I think he’s been a big influence.

“Sergei and I were roommates for quite a few years when we played together here,” Lidstrom continued. “So Sergei helped me out a lot too, seeing how he played and prepared every day. So those are a couple players that I looked up to.”

Both players were drafted by the Wings in 1989.

Lidstrom, 45, was taken in the third round (53rd overall) and they got Fedorov, 45, a round later (74th overall).

“That was the draft of the century, a fabulous, fabulous draft,” Jimmy Devellano said. “I’ve gone over every draft since 1969. There’s no team in the history of hockey that had a better draft than that one. It set us up for 15 years, maybe longer.”

Lidstrom, who had his No. 5 retired last season, spent all 20 seasons of his career with the Wings, will go down as one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history.
He helped the Red Wings win four Stanley Cups in 11 seasons.

He won seven Norris Trophies, one less than legendary Bobby Orr, and is a member of the exclusive “Triple-Gold” club, winning both an Olympic gold medal (2006) and an IIHF World Championship (1991) with Sweden.

Lidstrom is one of five Wings who played on all four of Detroit’s Stanley Cup championship teams since 1997.

“I played with Larry Robinson,” former teammate Chris Chelios said. “I played against (Raymond) Bourque. You go even further with Doug Harvey, but in my opinion there couldn’t have been anyone better than Nicklas Lidstrom.

“His demeanor was really something,” Chelios continued. “Because of the passion I played with, I got too high, too low. Nick kept it at an even keel. Watching Nick and the effect he had on players, not losing his composure, never panicking, I slowly but surely, like the rest of the team, caught onto that.”

Fedorov, who in 1990 became the second player to defect from the Soviet Union during the Goodwill Games in Seattle, was as versatile as they come, being able to play wing, center and on the blue line.

Yzerman called Fedorov the “best skater” he had ever seen.

“When I was coming to the Red Wings I was 20 years old, Fedorov said. “I had no idea what’s going to happen to me. But I love playing hockey and when I came and played my first year I see 20,000 people cheering me. So it was very exciting. Honestly, that’s all I can refer to.

“At the same time, I don’t know, it was unbelievable because from where I come from in Russia we don’t have those kind of huge arenas and we don’t have that kind of, or sort of venues where so many people cheer you on and like what you do,” Fedorov added. “I don’t know, I’m in Detroit right now with my mom and we’re hanging out and we heard the news and it’s exciting.”

Fedorov won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1993-94, after racking up 56 goals and 120 points. He won the Selke Trophy twice, handed out to the league’s top defensive forward (1994 and 1996), and was part of three Cup-winning clubs in Detroit.

With the Wings, Fedorov finished with 400 goals and 954 points – fourth and fifth, respectively, on the franchise list.

When he signed a mega free agent offer sheet with Anaheim in 2003 his career took a downturn. He had five undistinguished seasons with the Ducks, Columbus and Washington before finishing his career in his native Russia.

Defensemen Chris Pronger and Phil Housley as well as Angela Ruggiero were also named to the Hall of Fame by the 18-member selection committee. Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. and Bill Hay of the Hockey Hall of Fame were named in the builder’s category.

Wings’ blue line needs are the same as a year ago

DETROIT >> When July 1 rolled around last year, the Detroit Red Wings were in the market for a right-hand shooting defenseman that could slot into one of their top two pairings.

They weren’t able to land one.

With that still needing to be filled, it’ll be a bit more difficult to do so since this year’s blue line unrestricted free agents that fit what they’re looking for are slim.

The top three right-handed shots on the market are Mike Green, Zbynek Michalek and Cody Franson.

Green had a cap hit of just under $6.1 million last season with Washington and Michalek, who was dealt to St. Louis from Arizona prior to the trade deadline last season, had a cap hit of $4 million. Franson, who was traded from Toronto to Nashville last year, made $3.3 million.

“A year ago on July 1 we were looking for a right-shot defenseman we thought could get points,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “There were two or three on the market. When we didn’t get them we just stopped. We felt that the young players we had in our organization were the answer.

“I’d like to think by getting 100 points and making the playoffs, to a degree, validated the decisions we made,” Holland continued. “Certainly we’re disappointed we weren’t able to finish off, being up 3-2 on Tampa Bay. We’ve got to get better. Part of that improvement is going to be the experience that (Tomas) Tatar, (Gustav) Nyquist, (Danny) DeKeyser, (Luke) Glendening, (Petr) Mrazek, (Tomas) Jurco and (Riley) Sheahan have had in the Boston series and in the Tampa Bay series.”

Detroit could also make a one-year pitch for Marek Zidlicky, who came to the Wings after the trade deadline from New Jersey.

The Wings are also in a better position, due to the depth they’ve got within the organization, to possibly make a trade to acquire what they need.

“I don’t want anyone to think ‘they’re making trades’ because the trades have got to make sense,” Holland said. “The other thing that factors into any decisions we make, if you forward to this summer and the summer of ’16, we’ve got to re-sign Nyquist, we’ve got to re-sign (Justin) Abdelkader, DeKeyser, (Darren) Helm, Sheahan, Mrazek, Jurco. We’ve got lots of people between the summer of ‘15 and summer of ‘16, when they get re-signed they go up in salary. They’re going to eat more cap space.

“Part of getting better is drafting, developing, staying patient, staying the course, try to tweak,” Holland continued. “We tried some things on the free agent market the last 2-3 years, it hasn’t worked out, hasn’t had the impact we wanted. Consider the free agent market again, what it probably did for me was reinforce the kids we got are pretty good. They can play in the league, but obviously our goal is to win a Stanley Cup, like 29 other teams. Sometimes it’s a process.”

Holland secures the only candidate he wanted to fill coaching vacancy

DETROIT >> Jeff Blashill was quite frank when he met with Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland a year ago.

“I told him if there was one team in the NHL I had an opportunity to coach it would be the Detroit Red Wings,” Blashill said.

Blashill got his wish.

In what Holland described as probably the “worst kept secret in recent Red Wings history,” Blashill was officially introduced as the franchise’s 27th head coach Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, replacing Mike Babcock, who left to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs after 10 seasons in Detroit.

“It’s probably unique,” said Blashill, who received a four-year deal which is one more year more than Holland has left on his deal. “I can tell you that I’m excited that I was the one that he chose. I think it’s unique in a sense that he’s had a chance to see me first hand. There didn’t even need to be an interview process I think. He’s seen what I do. It’s either what he wants or it’s not and in this case it was what he wanted and I’m thankful for that.”

Blashill, who was born in Detroit but grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, has been Holland’s choice to replace Babcock had he left for over year.

“No, no there wasn’t,” Holland said when asked if there were any other coaches he interviewed for the job. “I made my decision for the most part a year ago when we lost out to Boston and five teams called who wanted to interview Jeff about their opening.”

After spending one season as Babcock’s assistant in Detroit, Blashill has coached the Grand Rapids Griffins the past three seasons, leading them to the Calder Cup championship in his first season.

He was named the American Hockey League coach of the year in 2014.

“I’m big on development,” Holland said. “As fate would have it, (former Griffins coach) Curt Fraser got a job to be an assistant coach in Dallas and Blash was my first call. I told him there was an opening in Grand Rapids and asked if he wanted the job. He was my first choice. I gave him 24 hours and he called me back the next day and he took the opportunity to run Grand Rapids.”

Blashill, who led the Griffins to the Western Conference finals this year and compiled a 134-71-23 record there, will be the second youngest coach in the NHL at 41.

“A year ago I went to Blash and told him five teams had called wanting to talk to him,” Holland said. “I told him there was two ways we could go about it. We could let him interview and if he didn’t get a job he could come back or we could re-negotiate his contract. We negotiated a salary increase. We talked about the uncertainty of the Mike Babcock situation and I told Blash if we weren’t able to retain Babs he’d be my number one candidate.

“It’s a perfect time for Blash to take over our team,” Holland continued. “We’ve had a fabulous run with Mike Babcock for 10 years and I’m hoping the decision we made here is a decision that will have a good run for several years.”

Blashill has coached many current Wings, including 10 players he coached in Grand Rapids that appeared in the playoff series against Tampa Bay this year.

“I don’t think trust is anything you should take for granted, you have to earn and you earn it through your actions,” Blashill said. “I’ve coached almost all these guys on this team through some point. I think there’s trust, respect on both sides already so I think that helps me hit the ground running. I know lots of what makes a lot of these guys tick. You can’t treat everyone the same. You have to motivate each player differently and because there’s familiarity will allow that to happen in a more efficient manner.”

Blashill, who has also been an assistant coach at Ferris State and Miami University, guided Western Michigan to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 seasons his one and only year there, leading the Broncos to the CCHA tournament championship game.

In 2009, he was named head coach and general manager of the Indiana Ice, a Tier 1 junior hockey team in the United States Hockey League. In his only season there he guided the Ice to the championship.

“What we’re trying to do on the fly, and that’s the beauty of bringing in Jeff Blashill, is we’re trying to go younger, we’re trying to build a team here that we want to have some players that are going to be here for another five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 years,” Holland said. “We’ve got a portion of the team turned over. We got some young people in Grand Rapids that he’s familiar with that are going to be banging on the door, so we got some tough decisions to make over the summer and into September. He knows the organization as well as anybody here. He’s dealt with a lot of our future in Grand Rapids the last three years.”

The Wings hope to have Blashill’s two assistants in place by next week.

Tony Granato could return if he’s able to work out a new deal.

Blashill excited to work with both Howard and Mrazek

DETROIT >> Jeff Blashill had this to say when asked how he would handle the goalie situation in Detroit with Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek.

“The one thing that I know is that both Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek have proved at different points of their careers that they’re elite goalies. I think it’s great to have as much depth at every position you can and that’s what those guys have proven at different points of their careers. I know they’re elite competitors as well and character people. I’m excited to coach both of them.”

Mike Babcock: ‘It’s a career decision’

DETROIT >> In the end it came down to a new opportunity and a new challenge when Mike Babcock made his choice to leave from behind the bench he called home for the last 10 seasons.

And it wasn’t an easy one for him.

“Oh, it’s going to be hard,” said Babcock, who fought back tears numerous times addressing the media one last time Friday at Joe Louis Arena. “I have a burning desire to win. Winning where I’m going is going to be different. The immediate gratification thing that I’m used to every game day that I love is going to be hard. Yet, there’s a big plan there. They’ve made a big commitment, a long-term commitment to me. I’ve made a long-term commitment to them.

“We’re going to go grow that franchise,” Babcock continued. “The guys have already told me they’re happy to lay the boots to us when they play us. They already told me that. But what we’re going to do is we’re going to build a franchise that people of Toronto can be proud of.”

Babcock, 52, was named the Toronto Maple Leafs coach on Thursday and became the highest paid NHL coach – $50 million over eight years – in the process.

Detroit’s final offer to Babcock, who made $2 million last season, was $4 million for each of the next five seasons. The offer the Wings general manager Ken Holland made prior to that was a four-year deal worth $3.25 million a season.

“I didn’t want more than five years with Kenny,” Babcock said. “You already knew what you had here. When you’re going to these other places and they’re setup the way they are you needed more term. You needed more commitment. I even said to Kenny at one time just give me three. I wasn’t concerned about that at all. In the end what happened I think two pretty good friends sat down and talked it out. He’s my advisor too. In the end I had to make a decision.”

The Leafs, who have won 13 Stanley Cups, that last of which came in 1967, last made the playoffs in 2013, losing in the first round to the Boston Bruins in a heartbreaking Game 7.

The last trip to the postseason prior to that was 2004.

“It’s a career decision,” Babcock said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in my life chasing a dream thinking you can make it happen and it’s worked out thus far. Don’t get me wrong I love it here, but I also think it was time for me.”

The Leafs, who have the fifth and 24th overall picks in this year’s draft, finished 27th in the overall league standings last season.

“I wanted a different challenge and when I got it in my head I’m coaching an Original Six franchise, the model of the NHL, if I’m going to leave I have to go to an Original Six franchise,” Babcock said. “I went back and forth on it 100 times. I probably wore Kenny out being a pain in the butt and I know I wore my family out. It was gut-wrenching. As much of it is emotional for me right now I felt (Thursday) like I was 25. I was jacked up, scared to death. Only time will tell. I believe you put your foot on the gas and go get it and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Babcock, who leaves as the Wings’ all-time winningest coach, took over a winning organization and helped maintain its success.

He guided Detroit to winning the Stanley Cup in 2008 and then reached Game 7 of the Cup finals the following year. He’s also the only coach to guide a team to the playoffs every year in the salary-cap era.

Babcock said he spoke with the Wings’ core players Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and left a message for Niklas Kronwall.

“I don’t think the young guys needed it,” Babcock said when asked if the team needed a new voice. “I love those guys. I’m going to be friends with those guys forever. When Pav goes home one day and sets up his sports school, I’m going to go help him. They’re great men. You don’t win as a coach without great players and great leadership. They provided me an opportunity.

“When I talked about the age of Z and Pav and Kronner at the end and the new guys coming and they’ve got to do it,” Babcock added. “That’s what those guys did for this franchise for 10 years. They’re great people. Do they need a new voice? Ask them. The way I look at it is I’m proud when I walk out of here knowing that, one of the teams I talked to showed me that we averaged 106.4 points over my 10 years here and that we played 23 playoff rounds, both the most and the only team to make the playoffs (all 10 years).”

The Wings have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in three of the last four seasons and haven’t made it out of the second round of the playoffs since 2009.