Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill and forward Frans Nielsen spoke with the media prior to the Red Wings’ charity golf outing in Traverse City this morning…
Then the Wings went golfing…
And the beat writers filed their Thursday stories.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James filed a story regarding the comments made by Blashill and Nielsen…
Detroit Red Wings players spent a gray and chilly morning undergoing physicals and finding out their roster assignments before heading off to play a soggy round of golf.
This is routine the Thursday before on-ice activities commence at Centre Ice Arena. What isn’t routine is the general manager they have to impress through training camp and a nine-game exhibition slate: Steve Yzerman, whose reputation for excellence is fermenting jitters.
“I think Stevie coming in, you can see guys are really on their toes around here right now,” veteran forward Frans Nielsen said. “He brings a lot of respect. … You don’t know what he is thinking. You really have to show your best out there. It’s not his guys, so he has no issue moving guys. You have to bring it.”
There are 67 players on the training camp roster. Coach Jeff Blashill said Thursday that the only player he’s aware of who won’t be available is defense prospect Alec Regula (concussion). Veteran defensemen Mike Green, Trevor Daley and Jonathan Ericsson, all of whom missed significant time last season with a variety of ailments, are expected to be ready for Friday’s start of on-ice activities.
There’ll be three days of practices, plus Sunday’s Red-White game. Blashill eliminated scrimmages from the daily grind in Traverse City, explaining that Holland liked them but Yzerman didn’t have strong feelings one way or the other. Players are divided into three groups, with teams Howe and Delvecchio heavy on NHL regulars and top prospects, and Team Lindsay populated by minor leaguers and tryout hopefuls.
MLive’s Ansar Khan picks things up from there…
This year’s camp for the Detroit Red Wings could be even more spirited than usual. Several promising, young players will try to prove they are NHL-ready or at least close enough to be on the organization’s speed dial to Grand Rapids. Veterans who have underperformed in the past year or so have something to prove to new general manager Steve Yzerman.
The Red Wings open camp Friday at Centre I.C.E. in Traverse City, many fresh off their NHL Prospects Tournament championship on Tuesday.
“I hope those young guys push and make a real strong statement that they’re ready to help our team win,” Jeff Blashill, entering his fifth season as head coach, said. “Both myself and Steve (believe) it doesn’t make any sense to put guys on the team just to be on the team. We want guys that are going to help us win. So, if those guys are ready to make us a better hockey team, then that’s awesome.
“Our growth has to come from that group (of young players). It’s how quick are they ready to do it and how good are they going to be. Those are two unknowns. But they get a chance to answer every time they play in exhibition.”
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan took note of the health of the team…
Defensemen Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson and Mike Green, all of whom ended the season on the injured list — and missed substantial time during the regular season — will be able to begin practice on Friday, Blashill said.
“I’ve talked to all three of those guys; they all feel real good,” Blashill said. “I anticipate them all being healthy and ready to go.
“Green has had no setbacks at all, he felt good all summer, he’s trained hard. He feels like he’s in a good spot. Talked to Dales (Daley), same thing. Dales had a little bit of a tough year, it probably went unnoticed last year in terms of he was in, he was out, he was in, he was out (of the lineup). He feels great. He thought he had a great summer and the same things would go for Johnny.”
Kulfan then wrote up a main article regarding training camp’s storylines…
The Wings will have practices Friday and Saturday, then an intra-squad game Sunday, before ending training camp Monday at Centre Ice Arena with another practice.
They begin the nine-game exhibition schedule Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena, hosting Chicago.
Blashill wants to establish a tone this weekend in Traverse City.
“We’re going to start here by making sure we have a great mentality and work ethic and competitiveness, that’s number 1 thing we want to get out of Traverse City,” Blashill said. “We know we’re going to work and compete and training camp is hard, and we have to make sure when guys leave training camp they’ve put that time in.”
There is more of an emphasis on practices and drills in training camp, rather than holding intra-squad scrimmages, as there had been in the past.
“Ken (Holland, former GM) liked them, with Steve it didn’t matter as much, and this gives us the chance to get two good practices and play the red and white game,” Blashill said. “We play nine exhibition games, I didn’t think we needed more scrimmages. We’re going to play small games and three-on-three in the second half of those practices, so this just gives us the chance to get more practice time.”
DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji filed a notebook article…
Veteran forward Frans Nielsen has watched the development of several of the youngsters and knows they will be pushing the veterans for both jobs and ice time.
“We feel it and we see it, especially with Joe (Veleno) and Z (Filip Zadina),” Nielsen said. “You can see they’re good players. If not this year, for sure next year they’re gonna be here. But they’re really close. They probably should play, so it basically comes down to what they think is best for their development. It’s exciting to see those young guys come up. I think it helps our older guys, too. They push us every day.”
At the same time, the preference would be to have those young players like Moritz Seider, Zadina and Veleno playing alongside veterans.
“When you get to two teams, it does present some difficulties,” Blashill acknowledged. “I certainly want Seider to be with a D partner that’s a vet, Zadina when possible, Veleno. The problem is when you get to two teams, it just shows how hard it is, you have to beat certain guys out. We’ll put them together. The biggest thing I’d say is literally, it’s for two days, maybe three. My explanation to players today is it’s a start, it’s not where we finish. Their play will dictate where we finish.”
And The Athletic’s Max Bultman asked 8 training camp questions:
How will a crowded competition on the blue line sort itself out?
The most heated “position battle” of camp is really more of a Royal Rumble. And the stakes are different for all involved.
You can probably lock in Danny DeKeyser, Patrik Nemeth, Mike Green and Filip Hronek, but from there things get interesting. Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley are the veteran incumbents, but both are coming off tough seasons and have just one year remaining on their contracts — they’ll want to show something. Madison Bowey is 24 and in a contract year entering his first full season with the team that acquired him last trade deadline. Dennis Cholowski emerged from this same competition as a 20-year-old last season … only to be sent to Grand Rapids midyear and wind up right back in the thick of it again. Joe Hicketts, now 23, will want to make a run at the NHL after re-upping for two years this offseason. And Oliwer Kaski (more on him in a second) enters camp as the international man of mystery after being the Liiga MVP last season.
Injuries virtually nullified a similar competition last year by thrusting a ton of young defensemen into the Grand Rapids lineup early. Maybe a similar result happens this time around. But if not, the Red Wings have some hard choices to make.
Bultman continues (paywall)
Update: Also, from Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff:
Filppula, signed from the New York Islanders, is one of three NHL-experienced veterans the Wings added during the summer who all figure to make the club. The others are forward Adam Erne, acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning and defenseman Patrik Nemeth, signed as a free agent from the Colorado Avalanche.
Blashill believes he’s gained a pretty good handle about what all of them can bring to the team.
“I coached Fil when I was an assistant here so I’ve known Filppula for a long time, I’m very familiar with him,” Blashill said. “I had an opportunity to watch Erne play on tape since we traded for him, so I’ve gotten familiar with him. I spoke to Tampa’s staff, had a good conversation with Adam as well.
Actually, I knew him as a 15-year-old way, way, way back when. So I’m certainly familiar enough. Then Patrik’s a guy we targeted. We’ve got to make sure we’re a better defensive team and that’s what he’s really good at. I don’t know him great as a person. I’ve had some opportunity to be with him a little bit but I think Patrik knows what he is and I look forward to him making an impact.”
UpNorthLive filed a video report from the golf outing as well: