Matt Ellis is congratulated by his Red Wings' teammates following a goal this season.
DETROIT – On Thursday, the Los Angeles Kings picked left wing Matt Ellis off of waivers from the Red Wings.
Ellis, who played in 35 games with two goals and four assists for Detroit this season, was made available when he was placed on waivers after Wednesday’s practice.
Unfortunately for Ellis he wasn’t working into the team’s short-term plans and beyond.
“He was in a situation where I wasn’t using him,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He’ll go to LA and try to win a job there. If he’s a fit for them then that’s all the power to him. The bottom line is that he just wasn’t fitting in on a regular basis and getting into the lineup.”
Ellis, 26, had become an immensely popular player among teammates, but that didn’t translate into increased minutes. He logged fewer than six-minutes per game, and played in only two of the last 10 contests.
“We love him as a guy,” Babcock said. “We love his work ethic. We love his determination. I think he’s going to play in the NHL for a long time.”
Defenseman Derek Meech and Ellis were Red Wings roommates on road trips this season. On Wednesday, the two friends went out to dinner for the last time as Wings’ teammates.
“It’s tough to see a good buddy, a good teammate like Matty go,” Meech said. “He’s a guy who came in here and worked his butt off and did all the right things. I think right now it’s best for his career. He’s going to another NHL club and he’s going to get a chance to show them what he can do. It’s a new start for him and his family.”
Center Kris Draper and Ellis had locker room stalls next to one another in the Wings’ locker room at Joe Louis Arena. On Thursday, Draper said he came to appreciate Ellis’ positive attitude and determination.
“Whatever the coaches asked of him, he did it,” Draper said. “He always came to the rink with a smile. He was always on the weight room with the guys … just a solid individual. Those are the kind of guys that you love having around your dressing room, and now with him going to LA, you just hope for the best. Hope that he gets an opportunity and he makes the most of it.”
As teammates for four seasons in Grand Rapids, Meech said he’ll miss the support network that he and Ellis forged.
“We’ve been pretty close,” Meech said, “especially this year, because we’re both going through the same type of scenarios as the season has gone on. Earlier in the year I wasn’t in the lineup as much and we’ve been there to support each other.
“I took it kind of hard when he was put on waivers.”