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Injury list grows; Stafford called up for Chelios

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings’ infirmary added another patient when defenseman Chris Chelios was hit in the
Garrett Stafford
leg by a puck during Friday’s game at Calgary.

With four Wings’ defensemen now sidelined by injury, Detroit recalled Garrett Stafford from Grand Rapids on Saturday. The 28-year-old defenseman will be the second Wings rookie to make his NHL debut in as many days.

Chelios took a hit in the right leg by a shot off the stick of Calgary’s Adrian Aucoin in the opening minutes of the game. Chelios skated two more shifts, but didn’t return after the first intermission.

The 46-year-old defenseman joins follow defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom (knee), Brian Rafalski (groin) and Niklas Kronwall (clavicle) on the injury report. Without their core group of veteran blueliners, the Red Wings are forced to deploy six players in Vancouver tonight, whose combined experience is 601 NHL games – one more than Rafalski has played in seven-plus seasons.

The Wings’ defensive corps for tonight will include Andreas Lilja (381 career NHL games), Brett Lebda (182), Derek Meech (26), Kyle Quincey (11), rookie Jonathan Ericsson (1) and Stafford.

A native of Los Angeles, Stafford becomes the third defenseman and fifth player from the Griffins to be summoned by the Red Wings in the last two weeks. In his first season with Grand Rapids, he is tied for fourth overall and first among the team’s defensemen with 25 points (7-18—25) in 47 games.

Once property of the San Jose Sharks, Stafford, was signed by the Red Wings as a free agent last July.

Ericsson made his NHL debut Friday. Stafford will play his first NHL game tonight when the Red Wings visit Vancouver at 10 p.m. ET. Ericsson logged nearly 23-minutes in Friday’s 1-0 loss at Calgary. He had two shots on goals and a blocked shot in 34 shifts.

Stafford, an AHL Second-Team All-Star and All-Rookie Team defenseman in 2004, has tallied 175 points (47-128—175) in 345 pro games, all in the AHL. Stafford is tied with Ericsson for the Griffins’ scoring lead among defensemen with 25 points (including seven goals) in 47 games.

A total of 12 former Griffins are currently on the Red Wings’ roster, including three other regulars from this season’s squad: AHL All-Star goalie Jimmy Howard, who is expected to start tonight against the Canucks, leading scorer Mark Hartigan and defenseman Kyle Quincey.

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