The Red Wings gave away nearly 500 bikes to Detroit Public Schools kids today, and Justin Abdelkader, Danny DeKeyser and Darren Helm were on hand to help with the massive giveaway with co-sponsor Chevrolet.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a 6-minute clip of the trio speaking about both the giveaway, their offseasons thus far, and their hopes for the next season…
On the subject of exercise, all three said they’ve begun their off-season training. They’ve been doing so earlier this year and last, as the Wings have missed the playoffs two springs in a row. Can they get back in the mix as soon as next season? Of course all three said yes, as they should, but they explained why they see it as a possibility even though there’s unlikely to be much turnover personnel wise.
“I think in today’s NHL the league is so close that anybody can get into the playoffs,” DeKeyser said. “It’s just about us going out there and doing it. If we flip-flop some of those one-goal games, we could be right in there.”
The Wings did play better to start the 2017-18 season than the year before, but it did not result in victories. That can get demoralizing.
“Confidence is a big part of the game,” Helm said. “If we win some games early, get some confidence, get on a roll, that could be big for our team.”
They’ll pick sixth next month in the Entry Draft, have seven selections in the first three rounds, and appear in a full-fledged rebuild.
But in today’s NHL, where parity is such a common theme — heck, an expansion team is the Stanley Cup Final — Abdelkader believes the Wings can make a dramatic jump in the standings.
“Next season,” said Abdelkader, of how quickly the Wings can re-enter the playoff picture. “We’re real close as a team. We’re going to have some young players who’ll get an opportunity to play on the team. We’ll have growth from within, (if) veteran guys maintain their levels (of production), young players will an opportunity to play and help the team. It’s a league that’s so tight.”
The Wings lost 27 of 37 one-goal games (10-14-13) this past season, an indication they were certainly close in a lot of contests.
“There’s not a lot of difference,” DeKeyser said. “If you swing some of those one-goal games, just score a few extra goals here or there, your special teams improve a little bit, that all can make a big difference and add up points, for sure.”
WXYZ’s Brad Galli also filed a report from the giveaway…
“I remember how excited I was getting a bike, riding around as a kid,” Helm said. “I think I was on my bike all the time. To have that opportunity to get one and ride around, see how excited they are to be able to do that, it was pretty awesome.”
DeKeyser loved seeing the reactions of the kids when they found out the surprise.
“That was sweet, they were really excited,” DeKeyser said. “When Ryan announced all the kids here were getting a bike, they were all excited. It was good to see. I know these bikes are going to get a lot of use and they’re going to enjoy them.”
Seeing professional hockey players had a big impact on the kids, especially having Helm, Abdelkader and DeKeyser bike around Little Caesars Arena with them.
“I think having the Red Wings here is tremendous,” said Chrystal Wilson, spokesperson for the Detroit Public Schools Community District. “I was looking in the audience and when they were announcing the players, there was one little guy whose mouth was just gaping open and every player that came out, his mouth was gaping open. So this also lets kids know that things can come to fruition. They go in the classroom and they study and they learn. Dreams can come true, they get their bikes, they can meet their favorite players.”