DetroitRedWings.com’s Jonathan Mills wrote a notebook article which focuses on the building of the Red Wings’ “taxi squad’s” worth of players–Dan Renouf, Luke Witkowski, Riley Barber and Victor Brattstrom:
“Ultimately, Steve Yzerman handles the Taxi Squad decisions,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said on Monday. “It has a lot to do with just roster management in a lot of facets, there’s a lot that goes into it beyond who’s here. Ultimately, the conversations that I have with it is just about making sure that we have enough guys to practice as best we can, and making sure that we have enough guys, certainly, to play. And then making sure that you don’t get caught with guys testing positive and then you don’t have enough guys. So that’s what the impetus is, and we’ll utilize it as we need to.”
Detroit currently has eight players in the NHL’s COVID protocol, including Adam Erne, Sam Gagner, Nick Leddy, Alex Nedeljkovic, Jordan Oesterle, Lucas Raymond, Joe Veleno, and Filip Zadina. Carter Rowney, Givani Smith and Pius Suter came out of protocol prior to Monday’s skate.
Players and coaches have varying timelines to exit protocol. Raymond tested positive prior to Christmas, so his timeline for a possible return to the club is different than Leddy’s.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill and assistant coach Alex Tanguay also exited protocol and were with the team on Monday. The Red Wings also held a light skate with available players on Sunday.
It’s clear that Detroit won’t be able to field a full lineup for Wednesday’s scheduled game on Long Island. But most teams across the league are in a similar predicament, and the goal remains the same, to win games with the roster available.
“Well certainly, there will be challenges. But I know that the Islanders won’t care. And they may still have some of their own challenges,” Blashill said. “I know they’ve faced some throughout the course of this year. If the league says that the right thing to do for the National Hockey League is to play the game, then we’re gonna go there and go to win the hockey game. I don’t believe in letting anything be an excuse. So will there be challenges? For sure, there’s challenges. There will be guys that haven’t skated much over the next couple of days that hopefully are able to get out of the protocol and be able to skate.”