Tag Archives: red wings

Tatar shines with new linemate Richards netting three goals in 4-1 win over Chicago

Detroit Red Wings' Tomas Tatar (21), of Slovakia, is pursued by Chicago Blackhawks’ Bryan Bickell (29) during the third period of a preseason NHL hockey game at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Detroit. Tatar scored three goals in the Red Wings 4-1 win. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Detroit Red Wings’ Tomas Tatar (21), of Slovakia, is pursued by Chicago Blackhawks’ Bryan Bickell (29) during the third period of a preseason NHL hockey game at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Detroit. Tatar scored three goals in the Red Wings 4-1 win. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)


DETROIT >> If this is how the regular season is going to go for Tomas Tatar it’s going to be a very successful offensive one.

Tatar scored three goals, the last coming in an empty net, to lead the Detroit Red Wings over the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-1, Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.

“Every season after the one before you try and change yourself to be better,” Tatar said. “At the end I want to one of those guys like Hank or Pav. I want to be a leader. I would like to pick up as much experience from those guys. They’re great hockey players. They’re great examples for us young hockey guys.

“We have lots and lots to learn,” Tatar added. “Every day for me when I’m watching those guys they are like learning days. Those guys are unreal. There is lots to take from those guys. I have lots to learn defensively and offensively. I like to watch those guys.”

It was also his first game with his newest linemate Brad Richards.

“Richie is a great player,” Tatar said. “He made some nice plays out there. I’m just hoping we can save a few of those for the regular season.”

Richards assisted on all three of Tatar’s goals.

Tatar and Richards worked a nice give-and-go in the Blackhawks’ zone for the first goal of the game.

“Brad is a really smart player,” Tatar said. “I saw him open there and as soon as I slid him with the puck two guys jumped on him and he passed it to me back and I shot it and it and it went into the net.”

Tatar and Richards each finished a plus-3.

“He knows how to score,” Richards said. “I like that. He finds ways to score. One of them was a great shot from the slot and the other one he’s going to the net and he’s in a hard area, even though he’s not the biggest guy.

“To score in this league – he got 29 last year – you can’t just shoot pucks from the perimeter and score anymore,” Richards added. “He obviously knows how to get to the net and when he’s there, he knows what to do with it. He’s giving and going. He’s a heady player. So far it’s been fun to play with him.”

This is exactly the kind of chemistry first-year coach Jeff Blashill was hoping to see out of that line.

“Tats is a real, real talented player who competes extremely hard, has a lot of confidence and wants to win badly,” Blashill said. “He’s got a lot of attributes that make you a real good player and I think he’s continued to progress and we’ll work together to make sure his game continues to progress.

“We want him to be an elite player in the league,” Blashill continued. “He scored 29 goals last year and there’s very few that had more than him, so he’s developing into that and we’re going to continue to help him.”

The Wings signed Richards on the first day of free agency after he had just won the Stanley Cup with Chicago.

“He’s a really smart player,” Tatar said. “I knew I’m going to have fun with him. I hope we stay healthy and play together.”

Tomas Jurco, who’s replacing Darren Helm on the line after he was injured on the first day of training camp, also finished a plus-3.

“It’s a tough game,” Tatar said. “It’s the preseason. We’re still working on the system. We have lots of stuff to work on. I didn’t feel the best on the ice. I found spots that I need to work on and be better in the system.

“We’ll take the win for sure,” Tatar added. “We battled. We’re still in learning mode. This was our first real game for us and this group. It was a good start. We have to get into it. We’re happy we won the game.”

Tatar is in the second year of a three-year deal that has an average salary-cap hit of $2.75 million.

“They seem to be playing good, they’re two real skilled players and I think they like to play a skilled game, they like to make plays, which I’m good with as long as we’re limiting the turnovers,” Blashill said of Richards and Tatar. “We had too many turnovers tonight probably in general. But I think they’re two guys that want to play that skilled type game so there’s definitely chemistry developing there.”

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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.

Wings lean ‘right,’ but not at any cost as free agency set to open Wednesday

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ free agency shopping list hasn’t changed from a season ago.

The only thing different is that the pool of potential fits to fill those needs is much smaller, which should make the end result the same … the Wings re-signing the players within their organization.

“If we don’t do anything I’m satisfied heading into the season,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview. “We probably have interest on the market of guys that are shorter term rather than longer term, depending who they are.

“Our young players are going to be our future and are going to work their way into the lineup and allow us to be competitive,” Holland added.

The Wings are still looking to add a right-handed shot defenseman — there are only 28 unrestricted ones available — that can quarterback the power play.

The top one available is Mike Green (Capitals), but he’s most likely looking for a long-term deal worth at least $6 million a season.

Green, 29, can run a power play and pile up points, but he’s not air tight defensively, especially in the defensive zone.

Johnny Oduya (Blackhawks) is another option, but he’s a left-handed shot and is not a big point producer. He’s a mobile defensive defenseman which the Wings’ blue line is full of already.

Cody Franson (Predators) could also fit. He’s a right-handed shot and has an offensive upside. He’s also been on Detroit’s radar in the past.

In all likelihood the Wings’ blue line will be made up of Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Danny DeKeyser, Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith, with Jakub Kindl, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Brian Lashoff fighting the final two spots.

The Wings are also deep at forward, but could have interest in two players out there – Joel Ward (Capitals) and Matt Beleskey (Ducks).

The knock on Ward is his age; he turns 35 in December.

Beleskey, 27, is going to have teams lined up to sign him after scoring a career-high 22 goals last season. With the Wings’ top six forwards pretty much set in stone – Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist – they most likely aren’t willing to pay him top-six forward money if Beleskey is playing on the third line with Darren Helm and Luke Glendening.

Detroit also needs to slot Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco and Landon Ferraro in the lineup.

“I want to be able to have the flexibility that some of these kids can make our team or have an opportunity throughout the season to call them up if they’re playing well and we can wheel them up,” Holland said. “We’re going to explore free agency. It’s not a deep class. There’s lots of players there, but most of the players that are available we feel our young players can develop into that somewhat quickly.

“What we’ve been doing on the fly is develop some of our young players in Grand Rapids into NHL players, give them some opportunities and exposure for them so we know what they can do,” Holland added. “That’s the direction we’re going.”

Then there are prospects Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Tomas Nosek and Tyler Bertuzzi that could get a shot to show if they are NHL ready.

“We think, even if we don’t do anything, guys like Larkin, Athanasiou and Nosek are in the process of developing into Red Wings and some of them might be one more year and some of them may even be just 40 games,” Holland said. “Anthony Mantha had a year where he had some adversity. I think he’s still in our plans big time. Some of these guys are going to need two to three years in the American Hockey League. Dylan Larkin, we’re anxious to see what he can do in training camp.”

The one position Holland won’t be focused on during free agency is in goal where Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek will battle for playing time.

“We’ve got eight or nine defensemen in our system that we think can play in the NHL,” Holland said. “A couple of them are going to go back to Grand Rapids and one of them might make Detroit. Would we like a right-shot defenseman? Yes I would, but if I can’t have a right-shot defenseman we have one in Marchenko and Jensen. We’ve got good depth. Are we looking to upgrade? Whether it’s on defense on forward, yeah, if you upgrade it fits in.”

The Wings also have to look towards next season when they’ll need to re-sign Helm, Abdelkader, Sheahan, DeKeyser and Mrazek.

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.

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.

Wings PP tops in the NHL; PK ranked second

DETROIT >> Heading into play Wednesday, the Wings have the top ranked power play and the second ranked penalty kill in the league.

“I think it’s key for us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “All you have to do is look at the expectations for the Red Wings coming into the year. One of the reasons we’re not like that is because of our special teams. Our coaches have done a good job, our players have done a good job, our attention to detail has been good.

“The other thing about it is we didn’t get off to a good start on the power play, but I think through good teaching and guys buying in and a good plan and execution and having good players, we’ve been able to execute in both of those situations,” Babcock continued.

The power play is at 24.3 percent, scoring 34 goals on 140 chances. St. Louis has the second most power play goals in the league, 30.

“The power play didn’t start off the way we wanted to but I think we’ve been clicking here lately for a while now and that’s great,” Gustav Nyquist said. “The PK has been great all year, so that’s great to see as well.

“Special teams are a huge part of the outcome of the game and I think we’ve won a lot of games because of our special teams,” Nyquist added. “Hopefully we can keep that going and also improve a little on our 5 on 5 scoring as well.”

Nyquist leads the team with eight power play goals, which ranks him tied for second overall in the league.

The penalty kill success rate is 87.7 and that’s due in large part to the team’s fourth liners – mainly Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

“I’m a big believer in that helps your team be better because everyone’s important,” Babcock said. “We can spread the workload out. Don’t get me wrong, Pav and Z are really good penalty killers, they’re outstanding penalty killers, but we just feel that the wear and tear on them isn’t
worth it when we can put in on Glenny and Millsy and those guys and then they contribute to the team and they feel good about themselves.”

The PK units have allowed 16 goals on 130 chances.

“Usually you kind of get the same amount of power play and PKs during the game, so with everyone playing you’re not getting a lot of guys sitting out those minutes, because if there are a lot of penalties in a game some guys who don’t play either PK or PP they get to sit a lot and it’s hard to get a rhythm in a game,” Nyquist said. “But we have so much depth so we pretty much use all players in different situations and that just helps the team get kind of a good rhythm in the game.”

Ouellet only change to Wings lineup tonight against Florida

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Red Wings’ morning skate prior to the hosting the Florida Panthers at Joe Louis Arena.

Defenseman Xavier Ouellet will replace Danny DeKeyser in the lineup.

Ouellet made the two and a half hour trip from Grand Rapids to Detroit on Thursday.

“I think everybody’s been through this, especially in this organization, just like Nyquist, Sheahan, Mrazek, Tatar, even Smitty have been up and down, up and down for almost two years before being here for regular,” Ouellet said. “I’m just going through what everyone else has been through. I understand that. They support me.”

Ouellet has appeared in five games this season, recently filling in for an injured Brendan Smith, totaling a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating.

“I felt good last time I was here, went down and had a couple good games,” Ouellet said. “I’m back here. I’ve got to be consistent and play the same game I did when I was here last time.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock said that Ouellet will be the only change from the lineup he used in Wednesday’s shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.